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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Another shallow SGI lecture on the Lotus Sutra

Actually it is most superficial. It not only fails to lecture on The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra Chapter 16 to which it is entitled, "The Lifespan of the Tathagata" [jumping to Chapter 24 Bodhisattva Wonder Sound], it fails to grasp the profound meaning of the central point of the lecture, "Voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma". 

The SGI lecturers maintain that we choose to be born into various circumstances [highlighting unfavorable circumstances] in order to eventually win and demonstrate the greatness of the Mystic Law. They use as an example the Bodhisattva Wonder Sound from Chapter 24 of the Lotus Sutra and they [Ikeda] quote the Ongi Kuden forgery [rather than the Lotus Sutra itself or an authentic writing of the Daishonin]: 

"He [Bodhisattva Wonder Sound] manifests thirty-four different forms, illustrating the Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds and preaching the Law so as to benefit others."

The Lotus Sutra states:

“Flower Virtue, you see only the body of Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound that is here. But this bodhisattva manifests himself in various different bodies and preaches this sutra for the sake of living beings in various different places. At times he appears as King Brahma, at times as the lord Shakra, at times as the heavenly being Freedom, at times as the heavenly being Great Freedom, at times as a great general of heaven, at times as the heavenly king Vaishravana, at times as a wheel-turning sage king, at times as one of the petty kings, at times as a rich man, at times as a householder, at times as a chief minister, at times as a Brahman, at times as a monk, a nun, a layman believer, or a laywoman believer, at times as the wife of a rich man or a householder, at times as the wife of a chief minister, at times as the wife of a Brahman, at times as a young boy or a young girl, at times as a heavenly being, a dragon, a yaksha, agandharva, an asura, a garuda, a kimnara, a mahoraga, a human or a nonhuman being, and so preaches this sutra. The hell dwellers, hungry spirits, beasts, and numerous others who are in difficult circumstances are thus all able to be saved. And for the sake of those who are in the women’s quarters of the royal palace, he changes himself into a woman’s form and preaches this sutra.

“Flower Virtue, this bodhisattva Wonderful Sound can save and protect the various living beings of the saha world. This bodhisattva Wonderful Sound performs various transformations, manifesting himself in different forms in this saha land and preaching this sutra for the sake of living beings, and yet his transcendental powers, his transformations, and his wisdom suffer no injury or diminution thereby. This bodhisattva employs various types of wisdom to illuminate the saha world, causing each one among all the living beings to acquire the appropriate understanding, and does the same in all the worlds in the ten directionsnumerous as Ganges sands.

“If the form of a voice-hearer is what is needed to bring salvation, he manifests himself in the form of a voice-hearer and proceeds to preach the Law. If the form of a pratyekabuddha will bring salvation, he manifests himself in the form of a pratyekabuddha and preaches the Law. If the form of a bodhisattva will bring salvation, he manifests a bodhisattva form and preaches the Law. If the form of a buddha will bring salvation, he immediately manifests a buddha form and preaches the Law. Thus he manifests himself in various different forms, depending upon what is appropriate for salvation. And if it is appropriate to enter extinction in order to bring salvation, he manifests himself as entering extinction.

“Flower Virtue, the bodhisattva mahasattva Wonderful Sound has acquired the great transcendental powers and the power of wisdom that enable him to do all this!”

At that time the bodhisattva Flower Virtue said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, this bodhisattva Wonderful Sound has planted the roots of goodness very deeply. World-Honored One, what samadhi does this bodhisattva dwell in, that he is able to carry out all these transformations and manifestations to save living beings?”

The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Flower Virtue, “Good man, this samadhi is called manifesting all kinds of bodies. The bodhisattva Wonderful Sound, dwelling in this samadhi, is able in this manner to enrich and benefit immeasurable living beings."

Question: What could be wrong with this, whether Ikeda or the lecturers quote the Ongi Kuden or the Lotus Sutra to make this valuable point?
Answer: This point is true from the perspective of the general rather than the specific, the more profound viewpoint taught by Shakyamuni Buddha in the Lifespan Chapter:

"I [Shakyamuni] either preach my own body or preach the body of another or show my own body or show the body of another or show my own matter or show the matter of another. The various words I preach are all true and not empty. What is the reason? The Tathagata knows and sees the appearance of the Three Worlds in accordance with reality: there is no Birth-and-Death, whether backsliding or emerging; likewise there is neither existence in the world nor extinction; they are not real; they are not void, they are not thus; they are not different. It is not as the Three Worlds see the Three Worlds. In such a matter as this the Tathagata sees clearly and is without error."

Nichiren comments on this matter from the Lifespan Chapter in an authenticated writing:

"The oral tradition says that the Buddha can become grass and trees. This means that the Shakyamuni Buddha of the “Life Span” chapter can manifest himself in grass and trees. The Lotus Sutra speaks of “the Thus Come One’s secret and his transcendental powers.” There is nothing in the entire realm of phenomena that is not the manifestation of the Thus Come One Shakyamuni." (The Enlightenment of Plants)

From the perspective of the specific, the more enlightened perspective, Bodhisattva Wonder Sound [and we] are manifestation of Shakyamuni Buddha. This is what the most profound chapter of the Lotus Sutra teaches and what the authentic Nichiren taught.

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