Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

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Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Seeker12 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:02 pm

In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha in a discussion with Sariputta basically says that the wealthy man who wants to save his children from a burning house might tell them that there are three types of carts outside - one with a sheep, one with a deer, and one with an ox.

When the children get outside, there are no carts, but he does eventually give them three identical carts, all with oxen.

In the discussion, the Buddha asks Sariputta if the wealthy man lied to his children, and Sariputta says no. Furthermore, Sariputta says that even if the wealthy man had not given them any carts, he still would not have been lying because he would have been trying to save his children from the fire.

How exactly is that not lying? In general, I have felt that I got much from the Lotus Sutra, but I don't feel that I have understood this particular point.

Thanks for any clarification.

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Seishin » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:47 pm

The aim of the "three carts" is to get the kids (ie us) out of the burning house. In this case, they succeeded, therefore, the Buddha was not lying. But once out of the burning house (ie samsara), there is no need for the three carts - to put it another way, once we have 'crossed the shore' of enlightenment, there is no need for the three vehicles. They should be discarded once the shore has been crossed.

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:20 pm

I've generally taken it as expedient means, likewise the stories of the poor son and the phantom city; In the former the father doesn't reveal his parentage until the son has been trained to administer the estate, and the latter a phantom city is conjured to give the travellers courage to carry on. In a strict sense each proposition is untruthful from the perspective of the recipient but in each case a precisely correct statement of the situation would presumably not have the effect and therefore inadequate.

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Seeker12 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:36 pm

Seishin wrote:The aim of the "three carts" is to get the kids (ie us) out of the burning house. In this case, they succeeded, therefore, the Buddha was not lying. But once out of the burning house (ie samsara), there is no need for the three carts - to put it another way, once we have 'crossed the shore' of enlightenment, there is no need for the three vehicles. They should be discarded once the shore has been crossed.
Three responses.

First of all, when I re-read the passage from the BDK version of the Lotus Sutra, it says the following:

"The toys you are fond of are rare and hard to obtain. If you do not take
them you will certainly regret it later. Right now, outside the house,
there are three kinds of carts. One is yoked to a sheep, one to a deer,
and one to an ox. Go play with them. Children! Run out of this burning
house immediately and I will give you whatever you want!"

Technically, he didn't promise them the three different types of carts. He only said that the three types exist out there, and if they left the house then he would give them whatever they wanted.

Presumably, by getting them out of the house and giving them all the best carts, he gave them all what they wanted, so he didn't actually lie.

Secondly, however, when Sariputra then says, "If this affluent man had not given them even the smallest cart, it still would not have been a deception. Why is this? Because this affluent man thought before: I will help my children escape with skillful means" I still don't get how that is not a lie... unless you go back to exactly what was said, which was "I will give you whatever you want!". If, by leaving samsara/the burning house, the children (us) no longer actually want anything but to be outside of the house, I suppose that wasn't a lie either. Of course, given that the best of carts are within the affluent man's means, he gives them these anyway.

Thirdly, in this analogy, all three 'carts' ultimately lead to the exact same goal, that of being outside of the house, correct? And when the children get outside of the house, they all ultimately end up with the oxen carts, representing the Mahayana.

So does that mean that the other two carts are basically provisional in the sense that they lure those who want that type of cart to a degree, but at some point the desire for those carts ceases, leaving only the desire for the 'oxen cart' of the Mahayana?

Thank you for your response. It's helped me clarify my thoughts a bit.

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Seeker12 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:45 pm

narhwal90 wrote:I've generally taken it as expedient means, likewise the stories of the poor son and the phantom city; In the former the father doesn't reveal his parentage until the son has been trained to administer the estate, and the latter a phantom city is conjured to give the travellers courage to carry on. In a strict sense each proposition is untruthful from the perspective of the recipient but in each case a precisely correct statement of the situation would presumably not have the effect and therefore inadequate.
I think that would contradict the suttas, in which he says

"In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, yet unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, yet unendearing and disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others, he does not say them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, but unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others, he does not say them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing and agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings."

However, I posted a response above to Seishin and it may be that there actually was no lie.

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jun 16, 2017 5:46 pm

The Parable of the Burning House is not the only story where the Buddha appears to be lying.

There are so called Seven Parables in the Lotus Sutra -

The Parable of the Burning House (Chapter 3)
The Parable of the Rich Man and his Poor Son (Chapter 4)
The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs (Chapter 5)
The Parable of the Phantom City (Chapter 7)
The Parable of the Parable of the Jewel in the Robe (Chapter 8)
The Parable of the Parable of the Bright Jewel (Chapter 10)
The Parable of the Skilled Physician and his Sick Children (Chapter 16)

There is an element of intentional misdirection in four of those parables (Chapters 3, 4, 7, and 16). While all of the stories involve some level of ignorance, two chapters emphasize the limited capacities of beings (Chapters 5 and 8), and one emphasizes the withholding of the complete story (Chapter 10)

For the sake of clarity, these are brief descriptions of the parables -

The Burning House has been addressed, but one element I would point out is the ignorance of the children as to the danger they face. They are utterly clueless that the house is burning, and even after they are drawn out of the house, its not clear they are the wiser. Further, when they first emerge from the house, there are no carts at all - the carts the father promised were complete fiction. As the Buddha explains in the second chapter:

With the power of skillful means
I have presented the teachings of the three vehicles.
Yet all of the Bhagavats
Teach the path of the single vehicle.
This great assembly
Should now rid itself of confusion.
The words of the buddhas are not inconsistent.
There is only the single vehicle;
There is no other.

I respectfully disagree with Seishin's description relating the three carts to the metaphor of the three vessels to be abandoned on passing to the other shore. This parable is about the Ekayana - the single vehicle. The point is that there is no such thing as the sravakayana, pratyekabuddhayana, or bodhisattvayana - these are mere distinctions taught to appeal to the inclinations and capacities of living beings that have no reality. They are the Dharma taught in accord with the minds of beings. The children in the burning house are of different inclinations - some think they only deserve a goat cart. Others have a little higher opinion of themselves and think they deserve a deer cart. Still others think they deserve an ox cart. Once outside, though, they all receive an ox cart that is beyond their wildest imaginations. This is the Ekayana. There is only the Ekayana. I would point out that in this parable, the children do not abandon the Ox Cart that is actually given to them, but rather they go riding off in them. But... wait... the Ox Cart that the father gives out... that's just a conjuration, too...

The Parable of the Rich Man and the Poor Son is told by some arhats who are overjoyed at hearing Sariputra's prediction of Buddhahood. Briefly, a father and son become separated from each other. The father subsequently becomes fabulously wealthy, while the son becomes utterly lost, even forgetting who he is. The father sees his son and send attendants to fetch him. The son freaks out, terrified that he is going to be enslaved by the rich man. The father order the son released, but then sends attendants to offer the son a job, cleaning toilets for meager wages. The son, thinking this is the only work he is worthy of, gladly accepts. The father takes off his robes and goes to work scrubbing toilets with the young man. Gradually, the son is promoted until he is managing the entire estate. At that time, the father gathers everyone and announces that the boy is actually his son, heir to the entire estate. The Arhats relate that all along they thought Buddhahood was not for them, and when the Buddha taught they Mahayana they felt left out, but hearing of Sariputra's Buddhahood, they are relieved and happy that Buddhahood is their destiny as well - they were the lost son and now understand that the Buddha was preparing them to hear the truth that they were destined for Buddhahood also - that they were Bodhisattvas all along.

The Parable of the medicinal herbs describes how though rain is of a single nature, it nourishes small, medium, and large plants, and small and large trees, all the same according to their need. This is the Ekayana nourishing beings according to their capacities and inclinations.

The Parable of the Phantom City is the story of a guide leading a party to a treasure city. The party, treading the path is becoming tired and discouraged because the path is so long. The guide uses his magical powers to conjure an oasis city, telling the party that they've reached the destination. The party relaxes and enjoys the city, until the guide determines that they are rested and prepared. He makes the city disappear and explains that the goal is still further on. This parable is about the sense of achievement the sravakas, pratyakabuddhas and bodhisattvas feel on attaining nirvana. Then the Buddha makes Nirvana disappear and explains the goal is further along. Its not clear in this story what the goal actually is.

The Parable of the Jewel in the Robe is told by 500 arhats, and relates the story of two friends who are out drinking. One friend must leave early in the morning for a business trip, but before he leaves, he sews an invaluable jewel in the hem of his friend's robe. The friend wakes up with no money and wallows in poverty for years. The traveler returns from the business trip to find his friend destitute. At that time he tells his friend about the jewel, and the impoverished friend is overjoyed - he obviously also regrets the years of dire poverty which didn't have to happen. Again, this is a story about from the perspective of the arhats who realize they didn't need to toil in the Hinayana all those years.

The Parable of the Bright Jewel is about a king who rewards his soldiers with various gifts for their bravery in battle, but reserves the jewel in his top knot - a jewel signifying his kingship, for the greatest of his soldiers. This jewel in the top knot is compared to the Lotus Sutra which is offered only to the greatest of the Buddha's disciples. In the chapters that follow, the bodhisattvas led by Maitreya ask to receive the Lotus Sutra and the Buddha rebuffs them. Instead, he calls forth his disciples from beneath the Earth and after expounding his life span, entrusts the Lotus Sutra to these bodhisattvas of the Earth. He entrusts the Lotus Sutra to the rest of the assembly as a sort of afterthought...

The Parable of the Skilled Physician - this story is told in the 16th Chapter after the Buddha shocks the assembly by telling them his whole appearance as Siddhartha Gautama has been an artificial display, from his birth, to his enlightenment under the bodhi tree, to his turning the wheel at Sarnath. It was all a show he performed for the beings of this world. The truth, he explains, is that he attained enlightenment in the remote past and is constantly in the world teaching and leading beings, appearing in various guises, telling various stories - whatever he needs to tell beings to lead them to awakening. He explains that even his coming Nirvana is just another unreal appearance designed to cause people to awaken. He says, if he's around all the time, people become complacent and don't make efforts. So he tells them he enters nirvana to shock them and cause them to yearn for him. The Buddha then tells the story of the Physician who comes home to find his children have drunk poison and lost their minds. He prepares medicine for them, but no matter how he pleads, they won't listen. So he devises a plan - he leaves on a business trip and then sends a messenger back to tell his children that he is dead. The children freak out and are shocked out of their delirium enough that they take the medicine. Once they are cured, the doctor returns.

There is one more story that involves deception... in a past life, Devadatta was a brahmin and Shakyamuni was a man seeking the Lotus Sutra. If you are familiar with the jataka tales, this set up echoes some of the tales - particularly the last jataka tale where the evil brahmin asks the king for and receives the king's wife and child as slaves. In that story, the evil brahmin was also devadatta. In any event, in the Lotus Sutra, this evil brahmin tells the man that if the man will serve the brahmin faithfully, the brahmin will teach the Lotus Sutra to him. The man serves the brahmin for many years, but its not entirely clear if the brahmin actually ever teaches the Lotus Sutra to the man... nonetheless, the man's efforts in seeking the Lotus Sutra are said to not be in vain and resulted in his immense merit eventually leading to awakening...

What does all this misdirection mean?

There are said to be two primary messages in the Lotus Sutra - Upaya and the Buddha's reality (ie. his real life span).

The Buddha employs upaya to prepare people for the revelation of his reality. This reality is incomprehensible to anyone but a buddha. To prepare people for the revelation, the Buddha indulges all sorts of fancies and conceits of living beings, telling them to aim for this goal or that, when in reality there is no goal there - like a matador waving his cape at a bull.

The way I see it, the whole Lotus Sutra is told with a knowing grin ... a story to prepare the listener for exposure to reality...

“Listen carefully to the Tathāgata’s secret and transcendent powers. The devas, humans, and asuras in all the worlds all think that the present Buddha, Śākyamuni, left the palace of the Śākyas, sat on the terrace of enlightenment not far from the city of Gayā, and attained highest, complete enlightenment. However, O sons of a virtuous family, immeasurable, limitless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of kalpas have passed since I actually attained buddhahood."

as Minobu put it the other day in another thread, the Lotus Sutra is like a nod from the carney inviting you to look behind the curtain and see what's really going on.

Or, maybe that whole story about a giant UFO levitating the assembly is 100% true... :thinking:
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jun 16, 2017 5:52 pm

Seeker12 wrote: Thirdly, in this analogy, all three 'carts' ultimately lead to the exact same goal, that of being outside of the house, correct? And when the children get outside of the house, they all ultimately end up with the oxen carts, representing the Mahayana.
If you look carefully, the ox carts that the rich man actually gives are not the same as the ox cart he promises.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:13 pm

Seeker12 wrote:
narhwal90 wrote:I've generally taken it as expedient means, likewise the stories of the poor son and the phantom city; In the former the father doesn't reveal his parentage until the son has been trained to administer the estate, and the latter a phantom city is conjured to give the travellers courage to carry on. In a strict sense each proposition is untruthful from the perspective of the recipient but in each case a precisely correct statement of the situation would presumably not have the effect and therefore inadequate.
I think that would contradict the suttas, in which he says

"In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, yet unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, yet unendearing and disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others, he does not say them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, but unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others, he does not say them.

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing and agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings."

However, I posted a response above to Seishin and it may be that there actually was no lie.
It is widely acknowledged that the Lotus Sutra seems to contradict many things taught before - and that's exactly what is being addressed by this question about whether the Buddha is a liar.

If you want to see how the Lotus with all its apparent contradictions is received in the Lotus tradition in East Asia, I suggest this:
Emptiness and Omnipresence

Ziporyn's explanation is that the Lotus Sutra is telling us that none of us have the slightest clue about what is really happening. Only the Buddha knows the real situation... And that situation might not be what you expect... We are stumbling around with all kinds of notions about what we are doing, but all of it is wrong. Even people diligently following the Buddhist teachings have absolutely no clue. They might think they are meditating and developing prajna, but its not true, at least in the way they think its true. The Buddha guides us through by telling us a series of stories and tall tales that motivate us to do this thing or that, but what we are actually accomplishing - we have no clue. The Buddha is herding us through the gauntlet of our own delusions. He tells us stories about suffering and its cause and its alleviation, but its just a story. He tells us stories about paramitas and Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of various worlds... but they're all just stories he makes up because he figures it moves us along the path... In the process of being led through this gauntlet, we come to know how clueless we are, and we eventually learn the skills to counteract these impulses and tendencies that propel us into all sorts of fantasies which end up hurting us because they're simply lies that we've told ourselves. The wisdom we achieve is understanding the confusing nature of reality... The message seems to be, wake up, dude. Get out of bed. Deal. And now you're back into the world, still totally clueless, but at least now you know...

Ziporyn puts it cynically... but what is the truth of the unconditioned? Its that all the narratives you have are insubstantial. They are mirages. But the thing is, the mirages are indistinguishable from subjectivity. If there is subjective mind, there is the entire dharmadhatu. The only thing is to see this and learn to tolerate and thrive in it. In a way, learn how to drive on LSD while the whole freaking world is melting around you.

Or not. Don't listen to me. I'm just a burnt out hippy.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Minobu » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:32 pm

(looking for brownie points from Above Minobu goes on a rant)

It's absurd to even discuss.
why?
It goes like this..
a man tells a fable about an aspect of life in order to teach something .
In the tale he has the father tell a lie in order to show that without the lie the people would not listen to him and understand his intent.

So the man telling the tale is a lier?

thats just nutso. because everyone knows that he is lieing in the tale...

i mean wow...do you really deserve to practice under the guise of the Buddha if you are going to question His style of teaching in some cases and call
Him a lier, cause He gives a tale which includes someone telling a lie.

He shows us how deluded we are.. and the lengths He needs to go to help out...IN A TALE!!!! not in real life...he did not sell you swamp land...

GRRRRRRR!

(looking for brownie points from above Minobu goes on a rant) ((Frightens his wife with weird crying sounds)) (((Police are called in from neighbor)))
the length i go to make you lol......

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:48 pm

:rolling:

Good point, Minobu...

Wink and a nod... its all a story - but, its a story pointing to something that is true...

Anyone who has read a masterpiece of fiction can appreciate that even though the entire story is ... a lie ... great fiction can actually tell profound truths that transcend the words of the story... The Lotus in the very least is a masterpiece of literature...
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:11 pm

Thanks for the word "misdirection" which is I think is more appropriate than untruthful. But since the sutra itself mentions the question of truthfulness or not at least in the burning house parable, I think its appropriate to consider the question in those terms. The character of the misdirection is different in the burning house vs the poor son vs the phantom city and to say is there a lie or not is to turn the question into a false dilemma. At least from the burning house perspective the result of the misdirection is to not take something from the children ie misdirection to cheat them of something, but to use a promise of something to entice them out of the house, and then to deliver something different than promised but better, thus there is no complaint and each is surprised. The promise of the individually tailored carts are to please the childrens' sensibilities, but in the end each is given a cart of equal splendor.

I'm inclined to the carnie proposition as well.

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Minobu » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:28 pm

I actually believe Buddhas preach this and like in the Lotus Sutra in some level or realm or plain of existence , or Buddha field or ....i dunno...somewhere it happens as told...there is the tales to get us to understand how the Buddha teaches , and then there is the promise thing and the multitudes of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas and Mystical Beings converging to receive some uber blessing happening..... He stoked everyone's head three times...gotta be a good thing...gotta to have happened.. Taho Buddha said more or less He always attends these events and is happy when a Buddha reveals the Sad Dharma Pundarika Sutra and teaches it...

I recall in the olden Gakki days it was said it happened on Eagle Peak over a period of 7 or 8 years...can't recall the number...if an ordinary person walked by they would see Buddha as a human preaching or what ever to a crowd of people..but for the special ones you would see the event as it is told....
i like that...

for me when we chant with Gohonzon it brings the event into the present moment and we are like washing our universe with "IT'S" Blessing...as we chant. As Nichiren DaiShonin said "A practice for oneself and others"

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:58 pm

I get a little ahead of myself when I tell these stories... but its my way of explaining a story delivered in stiff prose and verse, twice removed in translation from the source text... that is supposed to be, at least in part, an entertaining story, not just some drab "teaching" to be soaked up with utter solemnity. Just look at the 11th chapter when the Prabhutaratna's Stupa comes up out of the ground... particularly, the description of the door opening... straight Hollywood (Bollywood?) - the giant lock clanks and then the door swings open with a loud creak, and inside is... a mummified Buddha.

What we seem to lose is that these stories were originally told orally - by skilled story tellers who probably had props with them, like pictures (mandala) of stupas with two buddhas sitting inside...

When they tell the story about proud monks and nuns who think they know and get up an leave... that's probably a fictionalization of what people who heard these original stories saw in real life... haughty monks inside their monasteries looking down at the samsaric world of white robed lay people. Another sutra from this same period is the Vimalakirti and that one holds no punches punking the arhats and mighty bodhisattvas. Its polemics. The Lotus is saying - those guys in the monastery don't get it. They're clueless. They think the expedients the Buddha employed are substantial. They're missing the implications of the Buddha's teachings... and this sort of mockery of the monastics continues right up to the time that Buddhism is wiped out in India. The stories of the siddhas who make a mockery of the serious monastics who are just going through the motions but don't actually get it.

The story of Buddhism is cycles of authentic dharma which becomes institutionalized and sclerotic, revived by the real saints dwelling in the periphery of the Buddhist world, whose insights are at first heresy, but are then coopted into the institutions. The Lotus is about this dynamic and several chapters speak directly to this - the Peaceful Practices, for instance.

In making light of these stories, I can tell you, I take these stories absolutely seriously. Every morning I conjure a giant stupa and it rises up in the air with all the special effects of a billion dollar movie, I see the hosts of bodhisattvas pouring out of the ground and floating like clouds through the air... to my son playing with his train set next to me, I'm just mumbling things with my eyes half opened... "Daddy, are you sleepy? Why are you sleeping sitting up?"
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Minobu » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:12 pm

Erm you are forgetting these scrolls were retrieved from the safe keeping of the Nagas.

just saying....

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:17 pm

Minobu wrote:Erm you are forgetting these scrolls were retrieved from the safe keeping of the Nagas.

just saying....
Yes. Of course.

There's a goat cart waiting for you outside Minobu. Go get it now before the goat wanders off!
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Anonymous X » Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:55 am

Queequeg wrote::rolling:

Good point, Minobu...

Wink and a nod... its all a story - but, its a story pointing to something that is true...

Anyone who has read a masterpiece of fiction can appreciate that even though the entire story is ... a lie ... great fiction can actually tell profound truths that transcend the words of the story... The Lotus in the very least is a masterpiece of literature...
Taking your example of fiction, we begin to apply it to ourselves, to what we call 'me', the greatest fiction of all, the mother of all fictions.

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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by shaunc » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:19 am

Seeker12 wrote:In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha in a discussion with Sariputta basically says that the wealthy man who wants to save his children from a burning house might tell them that there are three types of carts outside - one with a sheep, one with a deer, and one with an ox.

When the children get outside, there are no carts, but he does eventually give them three identical carts, all with oxen.

In the discussion, the Buddha asks Sariputta if the wealthy man lied to his children, and Sariputta says no. Furthermore, Sariputta says that even if the wealthy man had not given them any carts, he still would not have been lying because he would have been trying to save his children from the fire.

How exactly is that not lying? In general, I have felt that I got much from the Lotus Sutra, but I don't feel that I have understood this particular point.

Thanks for any clarification.
Yes, the man is a liar but he also saved his children.
I think that most of us can agree with this much.
However to me it's the Buddha's way of telling us that he understands that sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
The pureland path was designed for ordinary lay people such as ourselves that can't live a perfect life and although we're not perfect, maybe because we're not perfect we too will be saved.
This is just my opinion.

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Minobu
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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Minobu » Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:08 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Minobu wrote:Erm you are forgetting these scrolls were retrieved from the safe keeping of the Nagas.

just saying....
Yes. Of course.

There's a goat cart waiting for you outside Minobu. Go get it now before the goat wanders off!
of course then there is the question as to what Lord Nagarjuna actually experienced in recovering these scrolls, or more aptly where id His Mind Go.

Long ago I read where this accomplished person, from India ,in India, through the art of raising Kundalini, found that he could write
this incredible poetry in high German .
:hi:

I cannot recall if He knew what he was writing,

what lurks at the bottom of that Ocean.

I can't blame you for being so grounded in scholarism . lol..
Maybe your too hung up on one book as of late...

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The Cicada
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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by The Cicada » Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:09 pm

If someone asked, "why to asteroids always land in craters," upaya would be responding, "because the movement of bodies in space causes each asteroid to align with their respective craters." This is technically true, but it answers the question without dealing with the underlying misconceptions that motivated the questioner.

It seems that, in a society structured by caste, it would only be natural for disciples to first organize into various cliques and then establish a definite pecking order. The Buddha is saying, "I didn't have time to deal with all of your BS. We'd all be dead before any of you got over it, so I played along with your delusions to get through to you well enough to get you all past them."

Queequeg compared Buddha-nature to a drag queen elsewhere on the forum. This is the Buddha's "Mrs. Doubtfire" upaya that works through the peculiarities of our own to delusions, appearing within their framework, to help us work through the dysphoria about our true nature.

To prove his point to us, he manifests the Treasure Tower, which is longer and of greater circumference than the entire Earth—not unlike a yuge golden tower somewhere in Chicago. He makes it clear to us, "this is true. This is really happening. This is reality."

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Minobu
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Re: Question about Burning House Parable in Lotus Sutra

Post by Minobu » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:03 am

The latter days of the Law are upon us folks.

when we do Buddhist Tantra we visualize ourselves as various Buddhas holding various things at times, and then we do stuff with light and all along we try to make it as real as possible and believe we are this Buddha doing this at this moment in time.

If you hammer home to the person that it is just fantasy and make believe ....what results is ,not the desired effect.

when we pray we are asked to have faith . when we wish to heal ourselves or others we are asked to have faith in what ever methodology we are using at the time.

if you say this is actually quite useless what effect are you going to have ....

I knew a Nigerian lawyer who worked for the United Nations. He was in Canada for psychiatric therapy due to becoming catatonic after viewing as a witness the opening of mass graves due to war crimes.
He explained to me if you see this stuff on telly or in a movie your mind knows it is not real and you don't start to wretch and vomit and cry .
your body and mind on a primal level knows when it is real .

when it was very real for my friend after a few of these he went into catatonic shock.

I say this here for it is important when doing Buddhist practice to have faith in what you are doing and being taught. It's not so different from what he explained to me about the difference about watching something on telly and having to witness hundreds of dead bodies in a mass grave. Over and over in a job setting!!!

So in the thread we have a worry about a tale we know is a parable about being lied to...and then of course other parts of the Sutra that I'm sure in the former and middle days of the Law people believed with all their heart and soul that it happened.

I'm sure Nichiren Daishonin even believed the Sutra was done directly from Buddha and stored in safe keeping by Nagas....The man prayed whole heartedly to Hachiman a god of Japan.....prayed to spirits near a pond for rain...etc...etc...

So now we have this society all grown up in the Latter Day of The Law when the power of the medicine is lost on us...so foretold by the Buddha..
why?

cause you have people telling the children that the upside down clowns walking on their hands in the Santa Claus Parade are not real...it's a costume..They are not walking on their hands

The effect is lost....the child grows up and loses a certain ability to maintain their imagination...

i wonder if this is what is meant by the Latter Day of Law...it just doesn't drum up the brain power to make stuff happen....like it did for me when i first encountered the whole thing and cured me dad of the incurable cancer ....then of course the leaders got to me...and taught me what i did not know...i recall the wonder i had in front of Gohonzon those first few weeks where it all happened...and then the complete loss when i packed it in after they got to me and taught me what it really was all about...

Having Faith is hard when someone with powerful knowledge tells you it's all fake news.


and there is a difference between the parables in the Lotus Sutra and the Event that Taho Buddha comes to witness.


Is the Latter Day of The Law nothing more than education and knowing it could never have happened..

So like i'm still in the former days of the Law then .

I Know it is true...i know that the Ceremony in the air takes place from time to time in reality...it's not some boogy man story...

sigh...I think back in the day it was easier and more effective to do Buddhist Tantra and Live out The Lotus Sutra with all those Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and special beings .....

Nichiren Daishonin told us to have faith for a reason...Your Guru tells you to live the Sadhana for a reason...

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