Buddhist Belief – The Lotus Sutra
Buddhist Belief – The Lotus Sutra
“Therefore, one should understand that the title of the Lotus Sutra, Myoho-renge-kyo, represents the soul of all the sutras.”
As the years accrue, the call to the inner life grows louder. It seems as though the greatest ally to those who follow Buddhist Belief, is to see the wisdom of the dharma, the teachings, and to strengthen our commitment to the practice. I also received several responses from readers of this blog to the question I asked a couple of weeks ago – Should I continue to stay on a path I had chosen for this time of my life, a path of contemplation focusing more on inner preparation for my final days – or – should I bring my focus more onto my current situation and learn to deal with it? I was finding being able to stay on my chosen path difficult because of the introduction into my daily home life of two teenage girls and a two-year-old boy, my wife’s grandchildren who now live with us.
Most of those who did write to me felt I should find ways to be able to live with “what is” and to still be able to follow what I felt were the necessary steps to go where my health was taking me. I knew these were all words of wisdom offered after careful thought on the part of the wonderful people who commented. I also knew I hadn’t a clue as to how to proceed. When I looked carefully at how I was currently dealing with the stress which rose up in me with all the chaos and disruption to the way I was accustomed to living, I knew I was facing a huge challenge – a challenge I truly didn’t want to accept. Where was I going to find the energy to accept AND fulfill what I felt I needed to do with my remaining life? I was already physically worn out with all the life-changes my age and illness were presenting.
So, I decided to do some more reading and studying of some of the Buddhist teachers who have helped me in so many ways over the years. In doing so I came across several references to Nichiren Buddhism. Nichiren Buddhism follows the teachings of Nichiren, a Buddhist monk who lived in thirteenth-century Japan. These teachings provide a way for anybody to readily draw out the enlightened wisdom and energy of Buddhahood from within their own lives, regardless of individual circumstances. Each person has the power to overcome all of life’s challenges, to live a life of value and become a positive influence in their community, society and the world. When Nichiren was a young monk he set out to study the Buddhist sutras hoping to find some answers as to why people weren’t living happy and empowered lives. He came to the conclusion that the Lotus Sutra contained the essence of the Buddha’s enlightenment and felt it held the key to transforming people’s suffering.
Considering my situation, this interested me, so I decided to dig in deeper. Thanks to my nearly constant companion, the Internet, I found plenty to study about the Lotus Sutra and translations of the Sutra itself. I’m still early in the process of this study but have added one new thing to my daily meditation practice — the invocation, or chant, of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This invocation is a universal practice to enable people to manifest Buddhahood in their lives, and gain the strength and wisdom to challenge and overcome any adverse circumstances.
I thought, “This is something I have to check out!”
I began chanting this aloud as I meditated, but my breath capacity wouldn’t let me do so without struggling to breathe, which obviously distracted me from the chant itself, so I am now “chanting” this in my mind as I sit. ( I trust that doing this is my mind will have the same effect as chanting it aloud.) These words “myoho-renge-kyo” are the essence of the Lotus Sutra. As Nichiren said, “Therefore, one should understand that the title of the Lotus Sutra, Myoho-renge-kyo, represents the soul of all the sutras.” He viewed the words of the sutras as expressions of the mind of the Buddha, and further revealed that all the teachings of the Buddha are encoded within the phrase of “Myoho-Renge-Kyo”. This phrase has the meanings of “The Wonderful Law of Life” – or the “Universal Law of Cause and Effect”. It is also referred to as the ultimate reality of life.
The Buddhist way of “attaining enlightenment” requires a dedicated practice of devoting one’s life to the Universal Law or the Dharma. The Sanskrit word, “Namu” means “devotion to”. By including the “Namu” (devotion) to Myoho-Rengo-Kyo (the Universal Law of Life), Nichiren revealed that the Law of Namu-Myoho-Rengo-Kyo is the direct path to Enlightenment, as it unifies one’s subjective self with the objective reality of life (the Dharma). It all comes down to this – the teaching of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo can be interpreted as expressing the state of being “one with the law” and thus manifesting the state of Buddhahood.
In addition to learning more about the Lotus Sutra in my reading, I also came across several other references to how I should take these circumstances in my life as a blessing, a teaching and a training.
My first thought was, “A blessing?” – you have to be kidding.
Yet, over these past couple of weeks with the addition of the Lotus Sutra chant to my practice I have noticed slightly more ability to be more adaptable. I won’t say I’m truly “accepting” at this point, but at least I’m not trying to find ways to disappear any longer. When all this chaos began here a few weeks ago, I was cursing my illness and the restrictions it was putting on my ability to be more mobile. Now I’m adapting to the reality that I’m here to stay and this is what life is all about now. My studies of the teachings of Buddhism have led me to the understanding that these teachings are the things I need to include in my life now. I included them before, but not to the degree I need to include them now. This is now the “major leagues” – and I need to “up my game!”
More on this in future posts. Thanks again to all who got back to me on my question.
Metta ….May I be well and happy. My I live in safety. May I be healthy and strong. May I live with ease. May all beings be well and happy. May all beings live in safety. May all beings be healthy and strong. May all beings live with ease.
Namaste — Be in Peace — Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo …
Just click the links that are sort of Grey in color to take you to where you can learn more about each book and how you can purchase a copy for your own library.
Stephanie Kaza — Hooked!: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume
Stephanie Kaza, an amazing writer and Buddhist teacher I knew from my 36 years living in Vermont, gathers key Buddhist thinkers to reflect upon aspects of consumerism, greed and economics. Certainly, many other authors have examined consumerism from the lens of their religious traditions, but this book’s Buddhist perspective is unusual, and its pairing of consumerist critiques with core Buddhist concepts is generally fruitful. Check this one out! Hooked!
Stephanie Kaza — Mindfully Green: A Personal and Spiritual Guide to Whole Earth Thinking
Another one from my Vermont friend — Stephanie Kaza, a biologist and professor of Environmental Studies at University of Vermont, combines Zen Buddhist practices and teachings with her 40 years as an environmentalist for this guide to enlightened environmentalism, proposing a belief in the interdependence of people and nature as the genuine way to “go green”: “When we come to see ourselves as part of the green web of life… we are naturally drawn to respond with compassion.” A good read for Buddhists or anyone from any religion. Mindfully Green
Anam Thubten — No Self – No Problem
No Self – No Problem
shows how to realize the ultimate meaning of life in each moment by dissolving all notions of ego-identity. It asks that spiritual seekers wake up to their true nature, which is already enlightened. Based on Buddhist wisdom traditions, this easy-to-read book discusses in simple, but profound and inspiring language, how we can live a life full of love, satisfaction, and happiness. No Self – No Problem
Sharon Salzberg — The Kindness Handbook
“It takes boldness, even audacity, to step out of our habitual patterns and experiment with a quality like kindness–to work with it and see just how it might shift and open up our lives. This book is an invitation to do just that. — From The Kindness Handbook
Eckhart Tolle’s amazing best seller, A New Earth
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s wonderful book, My Stroke of Insight: Nirvana is just a breath away!
And this one by Sharon Salzberg and is entitled: A Heart as Wide as the World: Living with Mindfulness, Wisdom and Compassion“.
This is a new one for you by Pema Chodron entitled: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Always remember this wonderful quote from Buddha ….
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Shanti everyone, … (A sanscrit word meaning, “Let there be Peace. Peace, beautiful Peace. Peace within, Peace without. Peace in this world. Peace for all beings.”)
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Have a peaceful day!! —