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Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Lotus Sutra and transmigration

"The Lotus Sutra reads, "The true aspect of all phenomena [can only be understood and shared between Buddhas. This reality consists of the appearance, nature . . . and] their consistency from beginning to end." The "Life Span" chapter states, "It has been immeasurable, boundless [hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of kalpas] since I in fact attained Buddhahood." In this passage, "I" refers to all beings in the Ten Worlds. Because all beings of the Ten Worlds are inherently Buddhas, they dwell in the pure land. The "Expedient Means" chapter reads, "These phenomena are part of an abiding Law, [and] the characteristics of the world are constantly abiding." Since it is the way of the world that birth and death are eternally unchanging characteristics of life in the three existences of past, present, and future, there is no need to grieve or to be surprised. The single word "characteristic" represents the eight characteristics, or phases, of the Buddha's existence. Even these eight phases do not transcend the two words birth and death. To be enlightened in this way is referred to as the attainment of Buddhahood in one's present form by the votaries of the Lotus Sutra."(Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light)

"The sufferings of birth and death are nirvana" exists only in realizing that the entity of life throughout its cycle of birth and death is neither born nor destroyed. The Universal Worthy Sutra states, "Without either cutting off earthly desires or separating themselves from the five desires, they can purify all their senses and wipe away all their offenses." Great Concentration and Insight says, "The ignorance and dust of desires are enlightenment, and the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana." The "Life Span" chapter of the Lotus Sutra says, "At all times I think to myself: How can I cause living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?" The "Expedient Means" chapter says, "The characteristics of the world are constantly abiding." Surely such statements refer to these principles. Thus what is called the entity is none other than Namu-myoho-renge- kyo."(Sufferings Of Birth and Death are Nirvana)

"For example, Shakyamuni Buddha once ascended to the heaven of the thirty-three gods to fulfill his obligations to his deceased mother. But because of the Buddha's transcendental powers, with the exception of the Venerable Maudgalyayana, no one in the entire land of Jambudvipa was aware of it. Thus, even though Buddhism is before their very eyes, if people lack the proper capacity, it will not be revealed, and if the time is not right, it will not spread. This is a principle of nature. It is as if, for instance, the tides of the ocean were ebbing and flowing in accordance with the time, or the moon in the heavens were waning and waxing."

"Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, treasured this Gohonzon in his heart for numberless major world system dust particle kalpas, and even after he appeared in this world, he did not expound it until more than forty years after his first preaching. Even in the Lotus Sutra he did not allude to it in the earlier chapters of the theoretical teaching. He began things in the "Treasure Tower" chapter, he revealed it in the "Life Span" chapter, and he brought things to a close in the "Supernatural Powers" and "Entrustment" chapters."(Reply to Niiama)

Thus we are not aware of the phases of life and death because appearance and nature, the way in which we quantify and qualify phenomena, change so radically between life and death, much more so than the union of microscopic egg and sperm becoming a great blue whale. Even Kirlian photography, infrared cameras, gamma ray detectors, Bodhisattvas of the Kegon or Mahavarochaina Sutra etc. are not adequate to see the appearance and nature through the phases of life and death. A Buddha with a Buddha sees these things and one day we may have the technology to see the appearances.

"Transmigrating" is used in the Lotus Sutra to describe the process of change from life to death:

"Transmigrating in the six states of existence,
They suffer the utmost misery.
Received into the womb in minute form,
Life after life they ever increase and grow,
Poor in virtue and of little happiness.
They are oppressed by all the distresses;
They have entered the thickets of heretical views,
such as 'existence' or 'non-existence' ;
Relying on these (false) views,
Altogether sixty-two,
They are deeply attatched to these false laws,
Firmly holding unable to give them up,
Self-sufficient and self-inflated,
Suspicious, crooked, and faithless in mind;
During thousands and milliards of kalpas
They have not heard the name of the Buddha,
Nor have they heard the True Law;" 
(Lotus Sutra Chapter 2, Expedient Means)

"The Benevolent Kings Sutra states: "If persons destroy the teachings of the Buddha, they will have no filial sons, no harmony with their six kinds of relatives, and no aid from the heavenly deities and dragons. Disease and evil demons will come day after day to torment them, disasters will descend on them incessantly, and misfortunes will dog them wherever they go. And when they die, they will fall into the realms of hell, hungry spirits, and animals. Even if they should be reborn as human beings, they will be destined to become soldiers or slaves. Retribution will follow as an echo follows a sound, or a shadow follows a form. Someone writing at night may put out the lamp, but the words he has written will still remain. It is the same with the effect of the deeds we perform in the threefold world."

The second volume of the Lotus Sutra says, “If a person fails to have faith but instead slanders this sutra . . . When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avīchi hell.” And in the “Never Disparaging” chapter in the seventh volume, it says, “For a thousand kalpas they underwent great suffering in the Avīchi hell.”

In the Nirvana Sutra, we read: “If a person separates himself from good friends, refuses to listen to the correct teaching, and instead embraces evil teachings, then as a result he will sink down into theAvīchi hell, where the size of his body will become eighty-four thousand yojanas in total length and breadth.”

When we examine this wide variety of sutras, we find that they all stress how grave a matter it is to slander the correct teaching. How pitiful that people should all go out of the gate of the correct teaching and enter so deep into the prison of these distorted doctrines! How stupid that they should fall one after another into the snares of these evil doctrines and remain for so long entangled in this net of slanderous teachings! They lose their way in these mists and miasmas, and sink down amid the raging flames of hell. How could one not grieve? How could one not suffer?

Therefore, you must quickly reform the tenets that you hold in your heart and embrace the one true vehicle, the single good doctrine [of the Lotus Sutra]. If you do so, then the threefold world will become theBuddha land, and how could a Buddha land ever decline? The regions in the ten directions will all become treasure realms, and how could a treasure realm ever suffer harm? If you live in a country that knows no decline or diminution, in a land that suffers no harm or disruption, then your body will find peace and security, and your mind will be calm and untroubled. You must believe my words; heed what I say!" (On Establishing theCorrect Teaching for the Peace of the Land)

One should, by all means, carefully examine the teachings one embraces so as to avoid slander.

"With their teachings for a ship, could one ever cross over the sea of the sufferings of birth and death? With their teachings for a bridge, could one ever escape from the maze of the six paths? But the Buddha, our great teacher, has advanced beyond even transmigration with change and advance, let alone transmigration with differences and limitations. " (Opening of the Eyes)

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