The Lotus sutra

Masaru
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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by Masaru » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:33 pm

Yuren wrote:The best one can give is that he was reprimanding ,warning; that he was like a stern father, and that he used strong language on purpose, to get attention; but he was strict and merciless to people because he worked for their salvation.
He was reprimanding, warning. He was like a stern father and used strong language, on purpose, to get attention; but he was strict and merciless to people because he worked for their salvation.

:namaste:

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dzogchungpa
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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:36 am

I think one of you guys had this as a signature for a while:
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
which I believe is from the Hagakure.

In all seriousness, what is up with that?
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Queequeg
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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by Queequeg » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:50 am

The necessity of shakubuku (samgraha) rather than shoju (parigrahana) as the method of propagating dharma.
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

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by DGA » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:54 am

Yuren wrote:
rory wrote:The way Nichiren spoke was normal for the time, if you are unaware of Buddhist history you think he is singular.
Not to defend jesse's insults - but it's not exactly true to say that some of Nichiren more vitriolic statements was just the norm at the time for monks... You don't see such things in Shinran, Honen, Ippen, Dogen,... That being said, I do believe it's possible to defend Nichiren. But I don't think the "it was the norm" defense is effective, because it's easy to point to other monks who never said such things. To give an example, when Pure Land teacher Ippen was asked: "Which is superior, Pure Land or Lotus?" he replied: "if other practices lead to birth, so be it; if not ,then not.. and if the Name [of Amitabha] is inferior to the Lotus, then let it be inferior; if it excels it, then may it excel ... This is a question of one who lacks aspiration for enlightenment." - How do you think Nichiren would reply to the same question? So you need to explain those "problematic" passages in another way, I believe... "it was the time" is not a good explanation.
The best one can give is that he was reprimanding ,warning; that he was like a stern father, and that he used strong language on purpose, to get attention; but he was strict and merciless to people because he worked for their salvation.
The question, in other words, shouldn't be Is Nichiren's mode of discourse defensible? but rather Was/is Nichiren's mode of discourse skillful and appropriate, and if so, how and in what way? How did it work? What kind of intervention was he trying to make? What kind of success did he have? and so on.

I'm inclined to give Nichiren the benefit of the doubt, in much the same way I'm inclined to give any other Buddhist leader the benefit of the doubt. I would like to understand what's at work behind his actions and words better than I do, though.

I don't think it's helpful to throw slanders and premature judgments around. On the contrary...

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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by DGA » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:56 am

Queequeg wrote:The necessity of shakubuku (samgraha) rather than shoju (parigrahana) as the method of propagating dharma.
Many of the posters now involved in this thread won't have a clear understanding of this distinction and why it matters. (I don't think I have a clear enough handle on it in the context of Nichiren's Buddhism.) Would you please give a few words to elucidate? thank you

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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by DGA » Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:58 am

Queequeg wrote:
Why Watson's translation? Of the English versions, the BDK or Hurvitz translations are considered better technical translations.

The people we associate with have a profound effect on us - much deeper than most of us ever realize. If you associate closely with those of wrong views, those wrong views will tend to rub off on you. On the other hand, if you associate with people of right views, those right views tend to rub off on you too.

Buddhas and great bodhisattvas are capable of mixing with the deluded and drawing them along the path to awakening without being affected by their wrong views.But none of us are Buddhas, and very few of us are great bodhisattvas. So, we have to guard our minds and cultivate them carefully - part of that is by being selective in who we associate with.

This is a pretty basic premise of Buddhist psychology.
For robban: these two points are really important. Especially the first one, if you wish to translate from English into any other language. I strongly encourage you to get a copy of the BDK translation of the Lotus Sutra. Try to read some commentaries too--this will help you.

I hope your project promotes interest in Buddha Dharma in your tongue! May the Dharma flourish.

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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by Queequeg » Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:01 pm

Consider an isolated society that had reached a considerable degree of intellectual and artistic refinement, literacy, peace and security, in which medieval Buddhism layered over an indigenous animism was the forefront of learning informing the most advanced and elite segments of society as to the causes that make the the sun and moon rise and set, the tides flow and ebb, determine when the earth will quake, volcanoes erupt, the wind blow, and the rains fall. Now consider that the societal order that had been in place for over 600 years, more or less, was in rapid and cataclysmic decline and authority was being usurped by relatively uneducated, unrefined warriors from the frontier who treated human life cheaply (for over 400 years before the fall of the imperial family, there had actually been very few official executions due to the deep hold that Buddhist ideas of morality and karma had held for a very long time). Consider that at this time there was a particularly active period of geological activity which was hitting centers of population very hard and epidemics of disease and famine were coming in waves. From the continent where all the higher learning had come from, there were stories of incredibly brutal barbarians who were laying the Middle Kingdom low, annihilating the inhabitants of entire cities as they forged through. And news was coming that they were headed to Japan.

In the midst of this, a particular form of Buddhist teaching was spreading like wildfire among the ordinary population telling them there was no hope for happiness in this world; it was a compelling narrative because that's exactly what they saw in their life. Other popular teachings were oriented to casting of spells and incantations to try and change the course of events in society, but they weren't having much effect, because the disasters kept coming, and civil war brewed under the constant threat of foreign invasion. Other teachings were spreading among the warrior elite encouraging them to ignore the world and look inward, effectively causing them to neglect their responsibilities as sovereign. Meanwhile, State Buddhism was dissipating its energy and resources under the control of the declining aristocratic elite and otherwise coming to be preoccupied with secret and exclusive rites.

This is the world that Nichiren lived in.

His first order of business was to call out this strain of thought masquerading as Buddhism telling people there was no hope in this world.

I don't know about you, but if everyone around me was moping that there was no hope in this world, my first impulse would be to grab them by the collar and say, "Snap out of it. Don't listen to those ass holes." Next, I might be compelled to confront those ass holes pushing this nonsense. It would of course help if I could appeal to the same authorities they based their ideas on and to present an alternative narrative to confront them with. I might consider the aspects that made this terrible idea so popular and appropriate what I could and frame it within a better, this life affirming framework. I might look around and see what good ideas were there to be resurrected from our collective history.

I might call out the leaders of society who were neglecting their responsibility for the greater good of society because they were too busy perfecting their breath counting and mind stilling.

I might call out the aristocratic elite who instead of doing something about their declining power and fulfilling their duty to the people retreated into their magical rites.

I might call out the leaders of the state church who had become absorbed in secret societies and magical rites on their mountain and were neglecting their responsibility to educate and tend to the people of the nation. (Nichiren's teachings are based on Tendai which was more or less the State Church - in this sense, Nichiren was trying to resurrect it and bring it to live up to its responsibility to the people, but he was just a country bumpkin so all he could do was agitate and criticize from outside the inner circles)

As an alternative to these teachings, Nichiren taught that the Sublime Dharma is always manifest, and that one's actions in this life, public and private, matter, countering the people who said this world offered no hope. He petitioned the government to adopt this teaching and thereby shake the aristocrats and warrior sovereigns out of their narcissistic stupors and start paying attention to their job to administer the state for the happiness of the people.

What language would have been appropriate for that context? Should Nichiren have used the inclusive vocabulary pleasing to the ear of a 21st century college campus liberal?

Saying that a person who corrupts dharma is destined for hell did not start with Nichiren. It is taught that the ground opened up beneath Devadatta and he fell into Avici alive. Saying that a teaching led to birth in hell was the strongest language you could use in Buddhist discourse to communicate that the teachings a person conveyed were wrong.

Whether copy pasta-ing passages from Nichiren's writings in response to present day concerns is an effective mode of propagating dharma in this day and age, well, that's something the Nichiren community is arguing among itself about right now.
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

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Queequeg
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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by Queequeg » Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:13 pm

Jikan wrote:
Queequeg wrote:The necessity of shakubuku (samgraha) rather than shoju (parigrahana) as the method of propagating dharma.
Many of the posters now involved in this thread won't have a clear understanding of this distinction and why it matters. (I don't think I have a clear enough handle on it in the context of Nichiren's Buddhism.) Would you please give a few words to elucidate? thank you
Shakubuku is a method of dharma propagation in which you confront wrong views directly. Shoju is a passive method of dharma propagation in which one concentrates on their own practice and lets their example be the mode of disseminating dharma.

Nichiren commented that neither method should be pursued exclusively and that one must carefully gauge the context for what is appropriate. Nichiren concluded based on his reading of the sutras that shakubuku was appropriate for Japan in the degenerate age of dharma, which he believed we had entered.

Another point which seems to be lost on some of us is that Nichiren only counseled monks to undertake shakubuku. Lay believers were discouraged from undertaking it and to instead focus on cultivating their faith and trust in the Buddha Dharma.
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

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

jiyu-no-bosatsu
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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by jiyu-no-bosatsu » Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:42 am

QQ, those were some very considered and comprehensive thoughts. Thank you.

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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by godhead » Thu Jun 04, 2015 4:38 pm

No one can reach Buddhahood without perfectly understanding word for word THE LOTUS SUTRA.
Lotus sutra is spoken by Guatam Buddha for those who are His firm believers.
In these days if one opens Lotus sutra on shallow forums of buddhism , one is bound to get abuses or hate mail or
is thrown out of the forums

Lotus sutra is not only very difficult to understand but it is also difficult to express in common words.
Words like ONE VEHICLE will take a 100 page book to open up, express so that it atleast reaches a very few persons.
Even word EMPTINESS requires a book to express.
Each and every title of 28 chapters needs a book.

But there are a few rare persons who understand and delight in lotus sutra and are totally content in themselves .
For them lotus sutra alone is source of full life and this existence of SIMPLE humans can not compete and disturb them.
They understand the limitations of normal human mind as Lotus sutra can come to one only and only in MEDITATION.
One experiences different planes of existence (32 planes) and forms of different life only when one"s AWARENESS in
meditation actulay goes through various experiences.
"All my writing are my personal opinion unless otherwise specifically mentioned."

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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by rory » Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:49 pm

jiyu-no-bosatsu wrote:QQ, those were some very considered and comprehensive thoughts. Thank you.
agreed, so thoughtfully and comprehensively done,thank you Queequeg
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by robban » Sun Jun 07, 2015 2:11 pm

Jikan wrote:
Queequeg wrote:
Why Watson's translation? Of the English versions, the BDK or Hurvitz translations are considered better technical translations.

The people we associate with have a profound effect on us - much deeper than most of us ever realize. If you associate closely with those of wrong views, those wrong views will tend to rub off on you. On the other hand, if you associate with people of right views, those right views tend to rub off on you too.

Buddhas and great bodhisattvas are capable of mixing with the deluded and drawing them along the path to awakening without being affected by their wrong views.But none of us are Buddhas, and very few of us are great bodhisattvas. So, we have to guard our minds and cultivate them carefully - part of that is by being selective in who we associate with.

This is a pretty basic premise of Buddhist psychology.
For robban: these two points are really important. Especially the first one, if you wish to translate from English into any other language. I strongly encourage you to get a copy of the BDK translation of the Lotus Sutra. Try to read some commentaries too--this will help you.

I hope your project promotes interest in Buddha Dharma in your tongue! May the Dharma flourish.
Thanks,i will get a BDK translation. Mostly SGI members in my country:)
English is not my first language

illarraza
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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by illarraza » Mon Jun 08, 2015 4:30 am

robban wrote:Illarraza
What is YOUR opinion?

I have read "on practicing......" and many of Nichirens, sometimes, "fantatic" statements.

Nichirens interpretations of the Lotus sutra and the words he used, i think he used as a "expedient means." He lived in violent and corrupt time and he said what he said because he had to. For the sake of the Japanese people.

But i dont think that kind of behavior is suitable for this age. I believe in buddhism that is warm, compassionate and thoughful.

That is why i have a hard time understanding parts of the Lotus:

"If a bodhisattva mahasattva takes his stand on perseverance, is gentle and compliant, never violent, and never alarmed in mind; and if with regard to phenomena he takes no action but observes the true aspect of phenomena without acting or making any distinction, then this I call the practices of a bodhisattva mahasattva."

And then:

"As for the associations proper for them, bodhisattvas mahasattva should not associate closely with rulers, princes, high ministers, or heads of offices. They should not associate closely with non-Buddhists, Brahmans, or Jains, or with those who compose works of secular literature or books extolling the non-Buddhists,
nor should they be closely associated with Lokayatas or Anti-Lokayatas.They should not be closely associated with hazardous amusements, boxing, or wrestling, or with actors or others engaged in various kinds of illusionary entertainments, or with chandalas, persons engaged in raising pigs, sheep, chickens, or dogs, or those who engage in hunting or fishing or other evil activities. If such persons at times come to them, then they may preach the Law for them, but they should expect nothing from it. Again they should not associate with monks, nuns, laymen, or laywomen who seek to become voice-hearers, nor should they question or visit them. They should not stay with them in the same room, or in the place of exercise, or in the lecture hall. If at times they come to them, they may preach the Law in accordance with what is appropriate, but should expect nothing from it."

So bodhisattvas mahasattva should not associate closely with those mentioned above, ok.

In chapter 10, it says:

“Medicine King, if someone should ask what living beings will be able to attain buddhahood in future existences, then you should show him that all these people are certain to attain buddhahood in future existences. Why? Because if good men and good women embrace, read, recite, expound, and copy the Lotus Sutra, even one phrase of it, offer various kinds of alms to the sutra, flowers, incense, necklaces, powdered incense, paste incense, incense for burning, silken canopies, streamers and banners, clothing and music, and press their palms together in reverence, then these people will be looked up to and honored by all the world. Alms will be offered to them such as would be offered to the thus come one. You should understand that these people are great bodhisattvas who have succeeded in attaining supreme perfect enlightenment. Pitying living beings, they have vowed to be born among them where they may broadly expound and make distinctions regarding the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law. How much more so is this true, then, of those who can embrace the entire sutra and offer various types of alms to it!
“Medicine King, you should understand that these people voluntarily relinquish the reward due them for their pure deeds and, in the time after I have passed into extinction, because they pity living beings, they are born in this evil world so they may broadly expound this sutra. If one of these good men or good women in the time after I have passed into extinction is able to secretly expound the Lotus Sutra to one person, even one phrase of it, then you should know that he or she is the envoy of the thus come one. He has been dispatched by the thus come one and carries out the thus come one’s work. And how much more so those who in the midst of the great assembly broadly expound the sutra for others!"

Wonderful words! The bodhisattvas choose where they will be born because of pity for living beings but does that mean all living beings?
From what i know of even pigraisers, non-buddhists are also living beings.

What is the difference between a bodhisattva and a bodhisattva mahasattva besides that the mahasattva is "great"?
Nichiren, for the most part, performed the gentle practices with his disciples and believers and break and subdue practices with everyone else. Those who criticize Nichiren [not talking about you Robban but the offensive Jesse] couldn't live a day as Nichiren did for almost thirty years. By his own admission, he was a priest without precepts but still, he never killed so much as a mole cricket [intentionally]. Were one forced to eat grass, snow, and bracken day after day, month after month, and year after year, one's robe and beard bedecked with icicles, one's only visitors raccoons and squirrels, and several serious attempts on your life thanks to your oppressors, you too might have a few choice words for them.

Illarraza

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Re: The Lotus sutra

Post by JazzIsTvRicky » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:20 am

robban wrote:Hi
I've been translating Burton Watsons Lotus sutra to my native language. Although it is a wonderful text in many ways, it sometimes feel a little bit "rough". In one chapter it has a very altruistic view on people and in other chapters it says that bodhisattvas mahasattva shouldn't associate closely with non-budhists, women, pig raisers, actors and so on.
In that sense i have trouble finding the red thread in the sutra.

I know that one must understand the circumstances when it was written and even "political" views among the different buddhist organizations.

What's your opinion about the Lotus sutra?
(from a Nichiren-buddhist point of view)
To truly learn how to read any translation of the Lotus Sutra.i suggest you study the Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin for he in fact tells you how to read the Lotus Sutra correctly and he provides wonderful explanations.


Nichiren's writings can be found here

http://nichiren.info/gosho.html

http://www.nichirenlibrary.org
A فوتاري أوف ذي غوهونزون أوف نام ميوهو رينج كيو

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