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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A post very dear to my heart.

Stace: Hi Mark. Did you read his article on “How the Mahayana Began”? He points out that in the essay you provide the “Corruption” of the Pali texts. The same could be applied to the Mahayana. Can you tell How this is possible: Chapter 10: The Teacher of the Law – This chapter presents the five practices of the teachers of the Lotus Sutra. These practices are accepting and upholding, reading, chanting, explaining and writing the Sutra. The Sutra begins, “Thus I Have Heard”. Ananda ,the Buddhas attendant recalling verbally, (orally) what the Buddha said. How and why would the Buddha then instruct the “hearers” of this sutra to READ and; WRITE it?

Mark: I just read it. I’m sure you are aware of one of the honorific titles of the Buddha, that of Omniscience. Gombrich disagrees with Rys David, whether “books” were mentioned in the canon. Let me say that it is probable that the Buddha who talked about the decline, not only of his teachings but of the capacities of individuals, would have realized that one day his words would be lost unless they were written down. Tientai and Nichiren taught that the Lotus Sutra was not ostensibly taught for the people of the Middle Day, let alone for the people of the Former Day. Why would anyone believe that such capable monks who could memorize thousands of lines of oral texts were incapable of keeping secret, a teaching meant for a later time? These were highly disciplined men, unlike our present day politicians and heads of state who have successfully kept secrets [documents] for hundreds or even thousands of years. This is hardly an anomally but rather a misunderstanding of the greatness of the Buddha and his followers.

Stace: Other anomalies in the sutra are the use of the term Hinayana and Mahayana. In the Buddha’s time there was only the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. No distinction of any Yanas. How could these terms be uttered by the Buddha or his followers when they hadn’t yet been created and would have no meaning?

Mark: Nearly the entire Buddhist Canon is devoted to correcting wrong thought. It is only natural that the words “Hinayana” and “Mahayana” were inserted when these words came into being. They don’t change one iota the words, “superficial thought and its adherents” and “superior thought and its adherents”, of the Buddha. This argument that anything was added too, is not tenable.

Stace: You wrote, “By the way, what I was referring to in the original post is the contention of some that the “Nikayas” are the actual words of the Buddha while the Lotus Sutra is not.”

All he is talking about are “corruptions” of the pali. I don’t see him addressing the validity of the Lotus Sutra as the actual words of the Buddha. This is what I thought, read “How the Mahayana Began”. He doesn’t necessariy refute your position.

Mark: Not him, others. Gombrich, in many ways supports our position. That is why I cited him, even though his understanding of the mind of the Buddha and the nature of the Sangha is incomplete.

Stace: You state that my summation is in err that SGI is a legitimate form of Buddhism in accord with teachings of Nichiren. I am arguing that “Nichiren Buddhism” and any lineage born from his teaching is valid because of the arguments put forth in the article you present so long as the purpose is Liberation.

Mark: I am very sorry if anyone misconstrues that the import of citing this article in any way supports the validity of Ikedaism and Gakkaism. Of course, this was not my intent. You know Stace, I don’t consider SGI to be Buddhism even though it has borrowed extensively from Buddhism. No Buddha, no Buddhahood is my contention.

Stace: I base it off of this excerpt:

”These processes are not random (adhicca-samuppanna) but causally determined. Any empirical phenomenon is seen as a causal sequence, and that applies to the sāsana too. ‘One thing leads to another,’ as the English idiom has it. Whether or not we can see features common to the religion of Mr Richard Causton, the late leader of the UK branch of Soka Gakkai International,(we could add here Kempon Hokke or any other Nichiren based group) and that of Nāgārjuna, or of the Buddha himself, there is a train of human events which causally connects them. Buddhism is not an inert object: it is a chain of events.” PG.3

Mark: Devedatta and Shakyamuni were causally connected. That Gombrich fails to see this [that SGI is to Buddhism as Devedatta was to Shakyamuni] relates to his inability to know the mind of the Buddha.

Stace: Anyway, I do not think the article you presented puts forth the superiority of any teaching over the other but simply points out that there are things in the canon which were added and that this to be understood in an orally preserved teaching, but we can separate the wheat for the chaff and know what the buddha said.

Mark: How much harder is it to know what the Buddha meant and to know the reality of the Buddha?

Stace: I cannot, I mean physically cannot, force my brain to take most religious statement literally and therefor will never be a true believer. I love Dharma and Liberation wherever it be found, as there are so many flowers and scents to delight our senses I believe there are many pathways to liberation. I do not doubt the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren offer such a pathway but I will never believe that it is the only door.

Mark: According to the Lotus Sutra itself and Nichiren, it is the only pathway out of the burning house. Certainly, a living High Priest or mentor in the seat of the Law is not the pathway. The only living mentor in the seat of the Law is Shakyamuni Buddha.

"Modern editors of the Pali Canon, however, have generally contented themselves with trying to establish a textus receptus or ‘received text’. Let me explain. Most of our physical evidence for the Pali Canon is astonishingly recent, far more recent than our physical evidence for the western classical and biblical texts.

While talking of this, I want to take the opportunity to correct a mistake in something I published earlier this year. In Professor K. R. Norman’s splendid revision of Geiger’s Pali Grammar, published by the Pali Text Society (Geiger, 1994), I wrote an introduction called ‘What is Pali?’ (Gombrich, 1994a). In that I wrote (p. xxv) that a Kathmandu manuscript of c.800 A.D. is ‘the oldest substantial piece of written Pali to survive’ if we except the inscriptions from Devnimori and Ratnagiri, which differ somewhat in phonetics from standard Pali. This is wrong. One can quibble about what ‘substantial’ means; but it must surely include a set of twenty gold leaves found in the Khin Ba Gôn trove near Śrī Ketra, Burma, by Duroiselle in 1926-7. The leaves are inscribed with eight excerpts from the Pali Canon. Professor Harry Falk has now dated them, on paleographic grounds, to the second half of the fifth century A.D., which makes them by far the earliest physical evidence for the Pali canonical texts (Stargardt, 1995). -- Richard F. Gombrich

Therefore, according to this reliable information, the Sanskrit text of the Lotus Sutra is older than the Pali texts that the Hinayana Buddhists arrogantly claim to be the only authoritative texts of what the Buddha actually taught.

"It is now clear that none of the existing Buddhist collections of early Indian scriptures—not the Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, nor even the Gandhari—“can be privileged as the most authentic or original words of the Buddha.” -- Linda Heuman

"Only the Lotus Sutra represents the wonderful teaching preached directly from the golden mouth of Shakyamuni Buddha, who is perfectly endowed with the three bodies." -- Nichiren Daishonin

There are various teaching methods employed by the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra: simile; metaphor; parable [of which there are seven]; skillful or expedient means; logic; historical precedent; narration [current events and prior birth stories]; questions and answers; and most importantly, a direct exposition of his Enlightenment. When studying the Lotus Sutra one can reflect, "here the Buddha is speaking of his experience in a previous existence and here the Buddha is answering the question of Sariputra", etc. Are there worlds where the Buddha actually experienced parthenogenesis as the physiological method of reproducing the species or is it a metaphor or is it something else? Is the Treasure Tower a metaphor only? Bodhisattvas 500 feet tall on other worlds? Flying cars? Some things are fruitless to question or contemplate and the Buddha was silent.

Lastly the principle of Ichinen Sanzen is unsurpassed whether theoretical, the 3000 Realms in a Momentary Existence of Life of person, society, and environment simultaneously and the reality of Actual Ichinen Sanzen [the Daimoku and the Gohonzon]. Let me expound a bit more on the Lotus Sutra and other religious faiths:

Each person, society, and environment, even the Buddha's land has a defiled and pure aspect. When the pure aspect is manifest we speak in terms of Enlightenment. When the defiled aspect manifests, we speak of delusion. Were there not the inferior teachings to contrast with the Lotus Sutra there would be no way of ascertaining the truth. Likewise, were there no deluded teachers, we could never come to know the merits and virtues of Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin, teachers without peer. 

Generally, those who have faith in and practice the Lotus Sutra are Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Specifically, Nichiren Daishonin is the Supreme Votary of the Lotus Sutra. Generally we are all Buddhas but specifically, from a deeper sense, Shakyamuni Buddha is the Original Eternal Buddha. From the deepest sense, we are the Three Bodied Tathagata of Original Enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha ourselves. Nichiren teaches that this most difficult to believe and most difficult to understand teaching should not be bandied about lightly. In our mundane thoughts and activities, it is best to think in terms of the general meaning, having gratitude for and giving praise to the Lotus Sutra [Law], Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin. Similar reasonings can be given in the case of our relationship to the Law. Generally, everyone is a manifestation of the Mystic Law, even a dust mite. Specifically, Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin are those who are one with the Mystic Law. There is a saying derived from the Infinite Meanings Sutra, the introduction to the Lotus Sutra: "Infinite meanings derive from the one Law." Equally, infinite phenomena derive from the one Law. 

Even Nichiren Daishonin and the Buddha couldn't convert everyone. "To the best of our ability" while employing the strategy of the Lotus Sutra and the wisdom of the Buddha is the means outlined by the Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin to awaken the masses of beings. The Three Proofs, documentary, theoretical, and actual is what will capture other's attention. For example, in converting a Christian or Muslim, documentary proof is comparing and contrasting the Bible or Q'uran with the Lotus Sutra. Theoretical proof is pointing out the reasonableness and sound logic of such concepts as the Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds and 3000 Realms in a Momentary Existence of Life [Ichinen Sanzen], and the functioning of the Law of Cause and effect. Proof of actual fact is the joy of practicing this teaching, overcoming our limitations and pointing out the hellish reality of a society based on Judeo-Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and even scientific rationalism.

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