Zen & the Lotus Sutra

Ryuei and Maylie with the Berkeley Zen Center

A Series of Seminars at the
Berkeley Zen Center ~ 1999
by Ryuei Michael McCormick

Table of Contents

Dedication to the memory of the late Zen Master, Kushin Seisho Maylie Scott (1935-2001)

Session One ~ April 1

  • Opening Verse and Statement (Ch.1)
  • Zen and the Lotus Sutra (Ch.2)
  • Parables of the Lotus Sutra (Ch.3-4)
  • Overview of the Seminar
  • Q&A from Session 1
  • Session Two ~ April 8

  • Overview of the Lotus Sutra
  • Bodhicitta (Ch.3-4)
  • Parables of Encouragement (Ch.5,7)
  • Parables of Buddha-nature (Ch.8,14)
  • Absolute and Relative Bodhicitta (Ch.10,14)
  • Q&A from Session 2
  • On the Odaimoku
  • Session Three ~ April 15

  • Appearance of the Precious Stupa (Ch.11-14)
  • The Emergent Bodhisattvas of the Earth (Ch.15)
  • The Eternal Buddha (Ch.16)
  • The Merits of the Single Moment of Faith and Rejoicing (Ch.17-19)
  • The Transmission of the Wonderful Dharma (Ch.21-22)
  • Q&A from Session 3
  • Session Four ~ April 22

  • Analysis of the Lotus Sutra
  • Bodhisattva Medicine King (Ch.23)
  • Bodhisattva Wonder Sound (Ch.24)
  • Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World (Ch.25)
  • Dharanis (Ch.26)
  • King Resplendent (Ch.27)
  • Encouragement of Bodhisattva Universal Virtue (Ch.28)
  • Q&A for Session 4
  • Session Five ~ April 29

  • Q&A for Session 5 after Shodaigyo Practice

    Appendix A: Verses for Opening the Sutra
    Appendix B: Practice Questions
  • Appendix C: The Seven Parables of the Lotus Sutra
    Appendix D: Zen Masters on the Lotus Sutra
    Appendix E: Recitation Passages
    Appendix F: Shodaigyo Meditation

    Overview of the Lotus Sutra

    Tonight I am going to briefly recap a couple of the points from last week about the role of the Lotus Sutra in the whole context of the Buddha's teachings. I also want to say a few words about the structure of the Lotus Sutra before I go into the discussion of bodhicitta, the aspiration to attain enlightenment, which will be tonight's theme. After that I will say a few words about the role of chanting in Buddhist practice.

    Last week I told the story of the Parable of the Prodigal Son which is in the fourth chapter of the Lotus Sutra. In that parable a young boy runs away from home, takes his inheritance and leaves and ends up in poverty taking odd jobs. Meanwhile, his father becomes a very wealthy man who nevertheless misses his son. Eventually the son passes by the estate of the father, and the father recognizes the son and sends a servant out to bring him back home. But the son does not recognize his father and being very poor and presumably homeless is very frightened that this wealthy man is sending his security guards to drag him back in to the estate. He is so afraid that his father sees this and says, "Let him go, let him go on his way." The father then tries another tactic of sending out a more humble looking servant to hire the son to work on the estate clearing out manure and doing other menial jobs, which he agrees to. Eventually the son is given more and more responsibility on the estate until he is finally managing the wealth and assets of the father. At the end of the parable the father is on his deathbed and decides that the time has come to reveal to family and friends, and everyone on the estate, that the manager is actually his son and that he will inherit his father's wealth.

    This parable is showing how the Buddha at first, under the Bodhi Tree, revealed the Flower Garland Sutra. Although actually he did not speak a word in that sutra. The various bodhisattvas who appeared before him taught about the bodhisattva way in that sutra. The Mahayana tradition teaches that this was such an exalted teaching that it was very intimidating to the average person; just as the son was intimidated and scared when he was brought back to his father's estate the first time. When the Buddha got up from the Bodhi Tree and ended the Flower Garland period he began to teach the four noble truths and the eightfold path so that people could purify their minds, and this was equivalent to the time when the son was clearing out the manure. Eventually, as the son matured he gained more responsibility. Likewise, the Mahayana teaches that the disciples of the Buddha matured in their understanding and more and more were able to take on the six perfections of the bodhisattva: generosity, virtue, patience, effort, meditation and wisdom. More and more they were able to understand the teaching of emptiness and to understand that compassion is the other side of wisdom. The Lotus Sutra corresponds to the part of the parable where the father finally reveals that the manager of the estate was his son all along and will inherit the father's wealth, because it is in the Lotus Sutra that the Buddha states that all the disciples, even those who only thought of themselves as shravakas or pratyekabuddhas who aspired only to the state of nirvana, would become buddhas. They would not merely attain nirvana, but buddhahood itself. They too would be able to help all sentient beings and not merely themselves. That is where the Lotus Sutra fits in the whole context of the Buddha's teaching. It is the final maturation of the teaching.

    The Lotus Sutra itself can be divided up in a lot of different ways. One can divide it in half. The first half is called the Trace Gate and consists of the first fourteen chapters in which the Buddha is still the historical Shakyamuni Buddha who was a prince in India who attained enlightenment 2,500 years ago. The last half of the sutra is then taken to be the Original Gate. In this part, the Buddha reveals that his enlightenment is actually endless, with no beginning or end, no appearance or disappearance, because these categories do not apply to enlightenment.

    Another way of analyzing the sutra is from the perspective of the three assemblies in two places. This refers to the first ten chapters of the Lotus Sutra in which the assembly takes place on the ground, on this earth, at a place called Vulture Peak 2,500 years ago. Then, in the central part of the Lotus Sutra, chapters 11-22, the action shifts to what is called the Ceremony in the Air, which I will be talking about next week. This is the more transcendent part of the Lotus Sutra. Finally, in the last six chapters, where the bodhisattva practices are related, the assembly returns to the ground. In other words, it returns to the practical realities of this world but now infused with the understanding of the transcendent aspect of enlightenment. I mentioned last week that this parallels the Zen saying:
    Before Zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers. During Zen, mountains and rivers are no longer mountains and rivers. After Zen, mountains and rivers are again mountains and rivers.
    The sutra as a whole is following this pattern. My sensei, the Venerable Ryusho Matsuda, pointed out that the sutra was actually written or composed in this way. First the verses were written down coming from an oral tradition, and then the prose sections were added as elaborations to the verse parts. Chapters one through ten were probably written first as a sutra just by itself. Later on, chapters eleven through twenty-two were added. Finally somebody tacked on the last six chapters to show the various aspects of bodhisattva practice. But if you did not know that, you would read the sutra and see that it works. It flows. It is an organic whole. You don't need to concern yourself with the history of its compilation.

    However, the reason I bring all this up is because these different divisions have different emphases. These different sides or emphases show the different aspects of the unfolding of our practice. The first ten chapters, which I will talk about tonight, are about that aspect of our practice which could be called bodhicitta, the aspiration to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. The middle chapters are about ashraya paravirti, which is a technical Consciousness-Only School term which means the "turn-about at the basis of consciousness." This is where delusion is overturned and transformed into enlightenment. Finally, the last six chapters are about parinirmana, another technical term which means the "dedication of merit to all beings." I will cover that the week after next week.


    Now, let's turn to bodhicitta. The first thing that needs to be understood is that to outsiders Buddhism often seems very sterile, almost cold and aloof, but it is not. The Lotus Sutra really shows the emotional side, the warmth of enlightenment. Let me share with you a passage in the Lotus Sutra where Shariputra is responding to the Buddha's teaching that all people can attain enlightenment. This is from chapter three:
    At that time Sariputra, ecstatic with joy, instantly rose up, folded his hands, and looking up at the honorable face, spoke to the Buddha, saying: "Now, hearing the sound of the Dharma from the World-honored One, I am filled with ecstasy, obtaining that which I have never experienced before. Wherefore? Because of yore when I heard of such a Dharma as this from the Buddha and saw bodhisattvas who were predicted to become buddhas, we were never prepared for these things and greatly distressed ourselves at having lost the Tathagata's infinite knowledge... Ever since then I have passed whole days and nights in self-reproach. But now, on hearing from the Buddha the unprecedented Dharma which I have never heard before, I have ended all doubts and regrets, am at ease in body and mind, and am happily at rest. Today I indeed know that I am really a son of the Buddha, born from the mouth of the Buddha, evolved from the Dharma, and have obtained a place in the Buddha-law."
    So there is an ecstatic joy that is involved here. There is a real celebration. This happens again and again throughout the Lotus Sutra, and not just with Shariputra, but will the other major disciples of the Buddha.

    Again, what was it that the Buddha taught? It was the One Buddha Vehicle, that no one was incapable of realizing buddhahood. As Shariputra mentions in that passage, he and the other monastic disciples thought that the Mahayana teachings were directed at someone else. They were being directed at people who were a little more capable, a little more energetic, and whose aspirations were much higher. They didn't realize that they were being included also, until the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. This is the teaching that Shariputra was responding to:
    The Buddha addressed Sariputra: "Such a wonderful Law as this is [only] preached by the buddha-tathagatas on [rare] occasions, just as the udambara flower is seen but once in [long] periods. Sariputra, believe me, all of you; in the Buddha's teaching no word is false. Sariputra, the meaning of the laws which the buddhas expound as opportunity serves is difficult to understand. Wherefore? [Because] I expound the laws by numberless tactful ways and with various reasonings and parabolic expressions. These laws cannot be understood by powers of thought or discrimination; only the buddhas can discern them. Wherefore? [Because] the buddhas, the world-honored ones, only on account of the one [very] great cause appear in the world. Sariputra, why [do I] say that the buddhas, the world-honored ones, only on account of the one [very] great cause appear in the world? Because the buddhas, the world-honored ones, desire to cause all living beings to open [their eyes] to the Buddha-knowledge so that they may gain the pure [mind], [therefore] they appear in the world; because they desire to show all living beings the Buddha-knowledge, they appear in the world; because they desire to cause all living beings to apprehend the Buddha-knowledge, they appear in the world; because they desire to cause all living beings to enter the way of the Buddha-knowledge, they appear in the world. Sariputra, this is why it is [only] on account of the one [very] great cause that buddhas appear in the world.
    This great cause of opening, showing, apprehending, and entering the buddha-knowledge is the theme of Dogen's essay Hokke-ten-hokke. He goes back to this again and again. This is why the buddhas appear in the world. This is why throughout the first ten chapters of the Lotus Sutra, the disciples are so ecstatic with joy. Some translations even say that their minds danced with joy. The Watson translation says that. The passage goes on to say:
    The Buddha addressed Sariputra: "The buddha-tathagatas teach only bodhisattvas. Whatever they do is always for one purpose, that is to take the Buddha-knowledge and reveal it to all living beings. Sariputra! The Tathagata, by means of the One Buddha-vehicle, preaches to all living beings the Law; there is no other vehicle, neither a second nor a third. Sariputra! The laws of all the buddhas in the universe also are like this. Sariputra! The buddhas in times past, by infinite, numberless tactful ways and with various reasonings and parabolic expressions, expound the laws for the sake of all living beings. All these laws are for the One Buddha-vehicle, [so that] all those living beings, who have heard the Law from the buddhas, might all finally obtain perfect knowledge."
    What he is saying is that the Buddha previously taught the Shravaka Vehicle, the disciple vehicle, for those who are ready for the four noble truths and the eightfold path. Those who needed to work on themselves you might say. He taught the Pratyekabuddha or private-buddha vehicle for those who wished to contemplate the causes and conditions which is the true nature of this world. But those vehicles are included within this One Buddha Vehicle. That if one is truly following the four noble truths, if one is truly realizing dependent origination, the causal and conditional nature of things, one will arrive at compassion and not merely insight or aloofness. Compassion is integral to real insight. This is what the Buddha is saying. This is what bodhicitta is all about, the aspiration to attain enlightenment, to realize what it really means to follow the four noble truths.

    Bodhicitta is also about confidence and trust in the Buddha. One can aspire to enlightenment on one's own, but to have the teacher, the Buddha, directly predict your enlightenment puts the stamp of approval on your aspirations. This should fill us with confidence. That is what is really going on in these first ten chapters. Because, in that second chapter, "Expedients," the Buddha explains the One Buddha Vehicle. The Buddha explains that it is possible for all beings to attain enlightenment. But, the disciples can't quite get themselves to believe it. That is why, after the second chapter, the Buddha tells various parables and gives predictions by name to those who will become buddhas in the future. It is this face-to-face sharing, this face-to-face bestowal of confidence which really brings about that opening of heart and the mind. This happens through different means. Some of the disciples are able to get it conceptually. Shariputra gets it after the second chapter, when he hears this teaching of the One Vehicle. Some of the other disciples are able to pick up on this artistically through the various parables, which I will move on to in just a moment. Some of the disciples are able to get it directly through actual causes and conditions. In the latter part of these first ten chapters the Buddha actually talks about past-life connections with the disciples. So it is more than just hearing a song or a parable or studying a teaching. It is a relationship, a relationship with the Buddha, a relationship with others, that opens the disciples up to this possibility of attaining enlightenment for themselves.

    Parables of Encouragement

    In the Parable of the Herbs, which is in the fifth chapter, the Buddha compares the Dharma to a cloud which covers the whole world and rains down upon all the grass, and all the herbs, and all the trees. We should keep in mind that the Buddha was talking to an Indian audience who were thinking in terms of the dry season and the rainy season in India. Before the monsoon season started, that region of India would become desperately dry and hot, where the ground is baked and cracking. So for them, there is no question of saying, "Rain, rain go away, come again another day." These clouds are a great relief, a great blessing. This is what the Buddha is comparing his Dharma to. He points out in the parable, that while it is the same rain that falls upon the ground, each herb, each blade of grass, each tree, and each shrub is able to use that rain in a different way to bring life to the various properties which they may have. The flowers with their wonderful scents, different herbs with their medicinal properties, the fruit trees, each of them has a different way of appropriating that rain, the Dharma. In the same way, each of the disciples, each of us who study these teachings is going to be affected in a way that is appropriate to us and to our situation. The lesson of the Parable of the Herbs is that not only will each of us benefit in a different way, but we should not be discouraged by any of our shortcomings. We should not be envious if others are becoming great teachers or speakers, or if others are becoming great artists and making wonderful thangkas or scrolls like the one over there of Bodhidharma. Each of us have different talents, so there is no need to get discouraged, no need to push ourselves too much. We should just do what we can with what we have and that is enough if we keep advancing. This parable is really trying to encourage us to practice right where we are as we are.

    Now we move on to the Parable of the Magic City, which is in chapter seven. Before I go into this parable, let me point out something. The Lotus Sutra is constantly showing two sides to everything. It's constantly giving on the one hand and taking away on the other. Trying to pull the rug out from under you so that you do not get too comfortable. One big overriding pattern in the Lotus Sutra is that on the one hand it is trying to make the teachings very accessible, and on the other hand it tries to make the Dharma so exalted that you wonder if you can ever get it at all. For instance, towards the end of the second chapter it says that if you even scribble a picture of the Buddha, or if you even halfheartedly nod to the Buddha's image you will become a Buddha in the future. That's really easy. But on the other hand, you get to some passages further on which say that this sutra is difficult to understand and difficult to believe. In the eleventh chapter it says that it is easier to put the world on your toenail and kick it off into space than it is to understand these teachings. So which is it? Is it impossible to get, or is it as easy as falling off a log? Well, it's both and neither. That's not the only dichotomy that the Lotus Sutra is setting up. The parables play off of each other in the same way. While the Parable of the Herbs is saying, "Try to understand the Dharma in whichever way you can and just work with that," the Parable of the Magic City is saying, "Don't get too complacent. Don't get too comfortable with your understanding. Keep moving, keep going."

    In the Parable of the Magic City, what we have is the story of a great treasure which exists on the other side of a desert, a wild region inhabited by bandits and various other creatures. It almost sounds to me like a Dungeons and Dragons adventure. I see a party of treasure hunters off to find this great mound of gold and defeat whatever dragon is there to guard it. In this case, the treasure at the other side is not gold but buddhahood itself; and the dragon is not some kind of monster on the outside but the fear, discouragement,and frustrations of the travelers themselves. The story relates that the guide who carries them through the desert realizes that they are at the point where they are just ready to give up and turn back. In terms of our own practice-journey we may be thinking, "We've had enough of this. How much longer am I going to have to sit here staring at a blank wall, with my knees screaming in pain." In my tradition, "How much longer am I going to have to sit here chanting with my vocal cords burning out. How much longer am I going to have to try to be such a nice person to everybody so that I can be a good Buddhist." There are all these discouragements, all these frustrations. So the guide says, "Right on the other side of that dune is a city. We can go there and we can rest." Now I have an image of the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz. I imagine them topping the crest of a dune and there it is. They go inside and receive manicures and nice new clothes and all kinds of refreshments. Very much like the treatment Dorothy and her companions received in the Wizard of Oz. After they are all rested and have their second wind, the guide tells them, "Guess what, we're not done yet. This is a great place, but I created it through my magical power as a way of giving you a place to rest, and now we need to keep moving. The treasure is just a little further off. We were almost there. In fact, we are 3/4 of the way there. Now that you have your energy back, we can get there."

    What this parable is trying to relate is the difference between two different kinds of nirvana that crop up in the Mahayana tradition. It is important to keep this is mind. There is what is called pratistha nirvana and apratistha nirvana. Now forget the Sanskrit. I will tell you what it means straight out. Pratistha means abiding and apratistha means non-abiding. So there is abiding nirvana and non-abiding nirvana. Abiding nirvana, sometimes called static nirvana, is the goal of the shravakas and the pratyekabuddhas, the disciples and the private-buddhas, who just want peace of mind. There was a play several years ago called "Stop the World I Want to Get Off," and that is what they want to do. They want to stop the world and get off. They've had enough of this wild ride. That is abiding nirvana. They get to the other shore and that's it. They've arrived and have no need to move anymore. The goal of the bodhisattva, and judging from the Lotus Sutra the goal of the Buddha, is the non-abiding nirvana. A nirvana which is a peace that, while it transcends this world, is not fixed to any other world either. It is somehow a peace that is in the midst of the various fluctuations and problems and issues of this world. It does not abide anywhere. It does not even abide in peace, necessarily. But also it does not abide, the way most of us usually do, in the kind of greed, anger and frustration that most of us are used to. It moves. It flows. It is flexible and dynamic. It is a sharing, as opposed to a removal. The magic city is the abiding nirvana, and the non-abiding nirvana is the actual treasure itself, the real nirvana. The Buddha says, later on in the tenth chapter, and the seventh chapter as well, that this non-abiding nirvana is the only real nirvana. It can not be classified as either of this world or of another world. Any other kind of nirvana that you can talk about it just a way of helping people to find a resting point. Perhaps I should point out that it is not just that it is not real. All of us need time out on occasion, but it does not end there. We all need to move on beyond that.

    Parables of Buddha-nature

    Next, is the Parable of the Hidden Gem, and following that the Parable of the Gem in the Topknot. Here we have another dichotomy. On the one hand, in the Parable of the Hidden Gem, there is a discussion of the inherent buddha-nature within us, but in the Parable of the Gem in the Topknot there is the idea that enlightenment is a gift that is bestowed upon us. Both of these are true, and neither of these are true. Let me tell you about the parables.

    The Parable of the Hidden Gem in chapter eight is the story of two friends who are out drinking. One of them is very poor, and the other one is very wealthy. Now the wealthy one has to go on a business trip, so he wants to make sure that his friend is able to take care of himself when he is gone, so he takes this precious gem and ties it or somehow folds it into the robe of his poor friend. The next day he gets up and reminds his friend that the gem is there, "You can cash that in and take care of yourself until we see each other again." Then he goes off on his trip. Unfortunately, the poor friend is so hung over that he forgets completely about this hidden gem and spends the next few years begging in the streets and trying to find some menial jobs, a place to stay and scraps to eat. Eventually he runs into his wealthy friend again. The friend looks at him and says, "Why are you living like this? I gave you this gem. You should be living very comfortably right now. You should be living in a nice penthouse due to the value of that jewel and not a cardboard box in an alley." The poor man says, "I didn't even realize I had this." He finds that all along the wealth was already there. The idea is that this is how most of us are with our buddha-nature. We have this wealth. It's there. The possibility of awakening is there in each and every moment, but we are so wrapped up in our issues and our problems, our usual confusion that we don't see it. We don't take the time to look or remember that it is there. Really, that is what our practice is about. Every time we practice, every time we sit down, or in my tradition whenever we chant, recite the title of the Lotus Sutra, whenever we come before the Buddha, is the meeting between the wealthy man and the poor man. It is where the wealthy man says, "Look! That gem is right there. Right there."

    Now the next parable, the Parable of the Gem in the Topknot takes a different perspective on this. In this story, the Buddha is compared to a great sovereign, a great emperor who sends his armies out to conquer the enemies of the Dharma. Of course the enemies are actually greed, anger, and ignorance, the armies of Mara. The bodhisattvas are the heroes of this army, the great generals and commanders. In the old days, one wouldn't just receive medals or commendations, one would actually receive some of the spoils from the battle. One might even receive some of the personal treasures of the ruler that one was fighting for. The sovereign would give various treasures to his different commanders and generals; in the Buddha's case the bodhisattvas are the recipients. But there is one gem, the gem in the topknot, which is the crown jewel, the sign of his kingship, and that is the one thing he can not give. But in the parable, there is a victory that is so great, that the sovereign decides that now is the time when he will give even this, his own jewel, to these heroes. In the same way, in our practice, we are not just practicing by ourselves, we are practicing with all sentient beings. We are practicing with the Buddha in the presence of the Buddha. Our practice is also pulling something out from within ourselves. From another point of view, we are opening ourselves up to reality as it is. It is allowing us to receive what is there right in front of us. That is the gem in the topknot, the Buddha Dharma itself, buddhahood itself.

    Having looked at those two parables I do want to point out that this is all rhetoric. The buddha-nature is not something that can be owned or given, received, lost, or found. It is not some little thing or photon that exists in the pineal gland or anything else. The buddha-nature is the dynamic process of life itself. It is the process of our practice, of opening up to life, opening up to ourselves, opening up to others, opening up to the Buddha in others. This is what it is. It is not a thing. In fact, in the second chapter of the Lotus Sutra, there are a couple of passages in the verse section that I find particularly noteworthy. The one says:
    All things are devoid of substantiality. The seed of buddhahood comes from dependent origination.
    The seed of buddhahood comes from dependent origination. Our buddha-nature is the dynamic relationality of life itself. The other passage states:
    All things are from the outset in the state of tranquil extinction.
    Wow. That is difficult. Especially when you watch the evening news or you get in a fight with your wife or a friend. Where is the tranquil extinction in that situation? But it is there. It is there. As soon as you drop all of these unnecessary burdens of greed, anger, and ignorance that you have picked up, there it is. It is very difficult though. That is why the Lotus Sutra says that on the one hand it is so easy, because it is right there. All you have to do is drop everything. On the other hand it is so difficult, like kicking this world off to the other end of the universe. We don't want to drop this stuff. We are so comfortable with our confusion that God forbid we get rid of it, because then what would we do? In a sense, that is what practice is all about. Helping us loosen up. Helping us learn that we can drop it all, and that it will be o.k.

    Absolute and Relative Bodhicitta

    Let me wrap up tonight's discussion with a talk about ultimate and relative bodhicitta. This is another dichotomy that appears in the Lotus Sutra. In the East Asian tradition, this idea of ultimate and relative bodhicitta has not received much attention. I'm not even sure if it's been explicitly recognized. The Tibetans talk about it a lot. I've found it very useful, so I would like to share it with you. These are two aspects of the same thing. These are also different aspects of our practice. Ultimate bodhicitta is the aspiration to attain enlightenment, to attain insight into emptiness and dependent origination. Relative bodhicitta is the aspiration to liberate all beings. They are really two sides of the same coin. Once you aspire to the enlightenment that perceives the emptiness of all things, once you go through with that aspiration, once you actually begin to get a little bit of an understanding of this, getting your feet wet on the edge of the pool of sunyata, or emptiness, then you will simultaneously realize that your life is inextricably bound with all others. This emptiness means that there is no barrier between yourself and others. That is the actual basis of compassion. So you can not separate this relative and this ultimate bodhicitta. This understanding of emptiness, and the actual living out of that emptiness in one's relationships with others in the spirit of generosity and the spirit of caring and patience is one and the same thing.

    In chapter fourteen, "Peaceful Practices," they talk about the four peaceful practices of the bodhisattvas: the ministry of the body, the ministry of the speech, the ministry of thought, and ministry of the vow. I would invite you, if you have a copy of the Lotus Sutra, to examine them on your own. It's a little too involved to go into tonight. But if you are able to read chapter fourteen, I really encourage you to do so and to look at the constant interplay between the relative and the ultimate aspects. They are constantly moving back and forth, constantly interrelated.

    I will close this discussion with a few more passages from chapter ten which also shows the relative and ultimate aspects of bodhicitta:
    Medicine King! If there be any good son or good daughter who after the extinction of the Tathagata desires to preach the Law-Flower Sutra to the four groups, how should he preach it? That good son or good daughter, entering into the abode of the Tathagata, wearing the robe of the Tathagata, and sitting on the throne of the Tathagata, should then widely proclaim this sutra to the four groups [of hearers].

    The abode of the Tathagata is the great compassionate heart within all living beings; the robe of the Tathagata is the gentle and forbearing heart; the throne of the Tathagata is the voidness of all law. Established in these, then with unflagging mind to bodhisattvas and the four groups [of hearers] he will preach this Law-Flower Sutra.
    We are being invited here to put ourselves in the place of the Buddha, and by doing that to have the same compassion, the same insight into emptiness, interrelatedness, as the Buddha himself. Here is another passage from chapter ten, where the Buddha says:
    Medicine King! Do you see in this assembly innumerable gods, dragon kings...human and non-human beings...? All such beings as these, in the presence of the Buddha, if they hear a single verse or a single word of the Wonderful Law-Flower Sutra and even by a single thought delight in it, I predict that they will attain Perfect Enlightenment... Moreover, after the extinction of the Tathagata, if there be any people who hear even a single verse or a single word of the Wonderful Law-Flower Sutra, and by a single thought delight in it, I also predict for them Perfect Enlightenment... these people have already paid homage to ten myriad kotis of buddhas and under the buddhas performed their great vows; therefore, out of compassion for all living beings they are born among men... Know, Medicine King! These people will of themselves abandon the recompense of their purified karma, and after my extinction, out of pity for all living beings, will be born in the evil world and widely proclaim this sutra. If these good sons and good daughters, after my extinction, should be able [even] by stealth to preach to one person even one word of the Law-Flower Sutra, know these people are Tathagata-apostles sent by the Tathagata to perform Tathagata-deeds. How much more so those who in great assemblies widely preach to others.
    On the one hand, this bodhicitta, raising the aspiration to attain enlightenment, seems very difficult and very heroic. It is an effort that could last many, many ages and eons and in fact, when you understand the implications of non-abiding nirvana, is actually supposed to be endless. On the other hand, it comes down to a moment. A single moment of rejoicing. A single moment of taking faith in even one word of the sutra. Being able to share even one word, one verse, one phrase. It really comes down to the moment that you are living in.

    Maylie Scott: Could you say something about the title, "Tathagata."

    Michael: When the Buddha predicts the enlightenment of Shariputra, this is what he says:
    Shariputra! In a world to come, after infinite, boundless, and inconceivable kalpas, when you shall have served some thousand myriad kotis of buddhas, maintained the Right Dharma, and completed the way which bodhisattvas walk, you shall become a buddha whose title will be Flower Light Tathagata...
    Then he goes into a list of names, epithets, that always follow the prediction of the Buddha. In fact, this comes from the Pali Canon and earlier sources where it comprised the good reputation the Buddha had among all the people of India at that time. The list reads:
    ...Worshipful, All Wise, Perfectly Enlightened in Conduct, Well Departed, Understander of the World, Peerless Leader, Controller, Teacher of Gods and Men, Buddha, World Honored One...
    And of course Tathagata, Flower Light Tathagata in this case, was the first title. These are all the different ways that you can appreciate the Buddha, and Tathagata is an especially suggestive term because it can be interpreted in one of two ways. Tathagata can mean the "One Who Comes" from the realm of truth, or the "One Who Goes" to the realm of truth. Strangely enough, this idea pops up in the Gospels too, where they talk about the Son of Man who can be seen coming and going from Heaven. There was this idea that the Buddha somehow inhabited both worlds. At the same time, the Buddha was pulling us into a different way of seeing things. The Buddha was returning to us from his perspective and rejoining us in our way of seeing things so there could be a relationship, communication. That is the position that we are also being asked to join him in, in that position of going and coming, coming and going from the Dharmadhatu, the Realm of Truth. But there is no coming or going actually.

    Q&A from Session 2

    Question: I want to see if I am reading more into this than you said. I know that in some early Buddhism, not like early Pali Canon Buddhism, but early in the tradition, in order to become a buddha you needed to have a prediction of buddhahood. So then there was a lot of attention to merit making activity in order to be born in the time of the Buddha in order to get the prediction, etc, etc, etc... So, are you saying that in the Lotus Sutra, everyone is basically getting a prediction to buddhahood?

    Michael: Everyone, everyone. I will explain the logic of this. The Lotus Sutra is doing something interesting. It's taking the logic of those earlier forms of Buddhism at their word, but playing with them, working with them, revealing implications that really opens it all up because they are very narrow when you first hear about them. In chapter eight, the five-hundred disciples receive the prediction of their destiny. The Buddha moves from just predicting that certain disciples will attain enlightenment to bestowing a prediction upon whole groups of people en masse. In theory he states in the second chapter that they will all become buddhas, and then he actually names people in the following chapters. Finally, in chapters eight, nine, and ten he opens it up to whole groups of people. He gives a prediction of buddhahood to the five hundred arhats. Then the Buddha extends his prediction to all his disciples, including those who are no longer present, and to all who rejoice upon hearing the Lotus Sutra.

    Now does anyone realize the significance of the five hundred arhats? After the Buddha died the first assembly was called so that the original historical disciples of the Buddha could get together and agree on what his teachings were and what the discipline was that he had laid down. This first assembly was composed of five hundred arhats. Ananda, the one who opens all the sutras with "Thus I have heard" is also included. Although he squeaked in at the last minute. He attained enlightenment after an all night meditation binge. In fact, it wasn't his desperate last ditch efforts which allowed him to attain enlightenment, it was the fact that early in the morning of the first day of the counsel he realized "I'm just not going to get it after all. I give up." Bang! That was it. Strangely enough it was letting go of his need to attain enlightenment which allowed him to attain it. Another one of those dichotomies. Nevertheless, when the Buddha predicted enlightenment for those five hundred arhats, that is the same as saying that even that first assembly, that source of the Buddhist tradition itself, the so-called Hinayana teachings, has been endowed with buddhahood through the sutra. Really, nobody is left out.

    He elaborates on this in the seventh chapter, where he talks about his past-life relationships with all of the disciples. There he says that, "In the past all of you disciples had made the aspiration to attain enlightenment. In the past you were taught by all of these various buddhas, but you have forgotten." What the Lotus Sutra is saying is that maybe in this lifetime you haven't met a buddha, and haven't received any kind of prediction, but your life is more than just what you think it is. It is more than just this body, this mind, and these particular circumstances. It reaches out to all time and space, and within that it is almost certain that you have been able to meet not just one buddha but countless buddhas and have most likely already had your enlightenment predicted. This is going to get even more radical next week when we talk about the middle chapters where there is the implication that we have not only had our prediction in the past, even though we may not remember it, but we have actually had our awakening in the distant past. But I will save that for next week.

    So the Lotus Sutra is really opening things up. Since you have brought it up, chapter 12 is also worth looking at, where Devadatta, the so-called Buddhist Judas, the one who was constantly trying to roll boulders over the Buddha or stampede elephants or send assassins after him, the Dr. No of Buddhism, even he has his enlightenment predicted. Then the dragon king's daughter, an eight year old dragon girl, kind of like a mermaid, comes up from the sea and she becomes a buddha in an instant. Nichiren, the founder of the tradition I belong to, said, "This proves that if even someone as evil as Devadatta can become a buddha, then all of our fathers can become buddhas too, and if even an eight year old dragon girl can become a buddha in an instant, then even our mothers can become buddhas as well." So chapter 12 is the chapter of filial piety for Nichiren because that is the chapter that you can use to encourage your parents to become buddhas.

    Question: I was wondering if you could talk about the different translations here. I think that there are two translations of the Lotus Sutra in English.

    Michael: More than that. There are a plethora. This might be a good time to plug my books. There is the Threefold Lotus Sutra, which is available in most bookstores that have good selections on Buddhism. I personally like this one a lot, even though it's language is occasionally awkward, because it is the only translation which includes the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings and the Sutra of Meditation on Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. I personally find those very important. That is why it is called the Threefold Lotus Sutra, because of its inclusion of the prologue and epilogue sutras. So this is a good translation.

    Maylie: Shambhala has it in stock.

    Michael: There is also Senchu Murano's translation of The Lotus Sutra. Senchu Murano is a bishop and one of the most revered scholars in the Nichiren school back in Japan. His translation is very readable and Murano is a very careful scholar. So this is a good one to get.

    Then there is there is the Bukkyo Dendo, also known as the Numata Translation Society. They have been trying to translate the whole Taisho, the Japanese collection of all the sutras and commentaries and writings in East Asia. It is a monumental task that they are taking on. They have already translated around a dozen texts so far, and one of those is the Lotus Sutra. That one I haven't heard such great reviews on.

    Then there is the Hurvitz translation. That is one the best scholarly translations. Especially because of the appendix with the Sanskrit sections which differ from the Chinese of Kumarajiva's translation. Kumarajiva, for whatever reasons, decided to leave whole sections out and switch other things around.

    Then there is the Burton Watson translation with the Monet lotus flowers on the front. That is also a very readable translation. I especially like Watson's prose. So that is a good one.

    Those are the ones that are available. The ones that you will have the most ease finding are the Threefold and the Watson translation. As far as I am concerned, it comes down to whether or not you want the epilogue and the prologue. That's my long answer to a short question.

    Question: During your lecture you read two or three statements about the nature of buddha-mind or buddha-nature and they turned my mind inside out. I can't remember what they were. Are they written down somewhere?

    Michael: Yes, they are from the second chapter of the Lotus Sutra in the verse section. In fact, I think one or both of them appear in the Lotus Petals book. They are not in the hand-out. I could read them again if you would like. In fact, why don't I do that. The passages read:
    All things are devoid of substantiality. The seed of buddhahood comes from dependent origination.
    And then:
    All things are from the outset in the state of tranquil extinction.
    Dogen, of course, wrote about buddha-nature being impermanence. He also wrote, in his essay Buddha-nature, that we don't have buddha-nature, we are buddha-nature. I find that those statements tie in very well with those passages in the second chapter of the Lotus Sutra. I would have to reread his essays again, but he might have even referred directly to those passages. I'm not sure, but most likely he had them in mind when he was writing them.

    Anybody else? Questions, comments, answers? I have a lot of questions too.

    Question: Just one question. What is your question?

    Michael: My question is to find out what Namu Myoho Renge Kyo really means. That's my question. That's what's been pulling me along all these years. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. Thank you for reminding me of my question.

    Question: You mentioned several times the New Testament and you started off with the Parable of the Prodigal Son. My first thought was of the New Testament rendition of that universal parable.

    Michael: I'm sure the story was traveling back and forth along the silk route.

    Question: Or it is part of human nature. Very interesting. But the reading of it is quite different. Do you have any suggestions about looking at the two of them? Would you look at them side by side.

    Michael: I would. I wouldn't equate them necessarily. I wouldn't say that they are the same parable. The Parable of the Herbs is also one that Jesus used. In fact, there is a great parallel or many parallels I should say between Buddha's teaching in the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra and the Last Supper speech in the Gospel of John. Earlier on in John, Jesus refers to himself as a shepherd with other flocks that the disciples do not know about, which is what the Buddha also says in the 16th chapter. So there are a lot of strange parallels and similarities between the Lotus Sutra and some of the gospels. I suspect that some of this might be, as you said, universal human nature. Some of it might be certain Gospel writers in Alexandria hearing Buddhist stories from the merchants or even from missionary monks who might have passed through. Who knows?

    In brief, the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible is really about, on the one hand, the most superficial level, the forgiveness of the father who takes the son back. But it is also about, and this may be the actual point, the son who stayed at home who thought, "Well, I've been here all along. How come there isn't a feast for me?" That adds a whole other dimension to that parable which has nothing to do with the parable in the sutra. The Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Lotus Sutra is not an instant welcome back. It is not the "sudden enlightenment" of the parable of Jesus, but a gradual awakening, a gradual maturation, and a gradual change in teaching tactics of the father, or the Buddha, with us. So they are kind of the same story, but they go in very different directions.

    Question: We talk about being turned by the sutra or turning the sutra. Could you say a little more about that? I'm not sure that I understand what is meant by "turning."

    Michael: For those of you who might not have been here or may not remember, last week we were talking about the meeting between the 6th Patriarch and a monk named Fa-ta. In the story, the monk Fa-ta had been reciting the sutra 3,000 times and had still been unable to get the point, so the 6th Patriarch taught that if he were enlightened he would be able to turn the Lotus Sutra, but if he were not enlightened then his practice was just the Lotus Sutra turning him. Dogen took this as the theme for Hokke-ten-Hokke and broadened and expanded it. In the original story of the 6th Patriarch, the idea is that if we turn the Lotus Sutra into a fetish, an idol, an object of bibliolatry as it were, then we are being turned by the sutra. It is using us. We are living for the sake of the sutra and that is silly. This is a book. More than that, of course. Myoho Renge Kyo, the Wonderful Dharma of the Lotus Flower Teaching, is not just a book but the teaching; and not just the teaching but the enlightenment of the Buddha itself. But even as the enlightenment of the Buddha itself, if we don't get it, if we are trying to grasp it or cling to it, or use it as a way of feeling superior to others, if we feel like we are in on the big secret and no one else is getting it, then it is turning us. It is making our minds confused and turning us around. Once we understand the true value of the sutra, the true value of the teaching which the sutra embodies, the true value of enlightenment itself and are living it from the depth of our life then we turn the sutra. We turn it and share it with others. Now the sutra is serving us. Now the sutra is helping us. Now the sutra is being turned in the sense of bringing harmony and relationship into a situation where before there might have been indifference, coldness, confusion. Dogen took this to a whole new level when he said that the Flower of the Dharma was turning the Flower of the Dharma. In one sense, it is not that there is me and then there is this teaching of the Lotus Sutra, or there is me and the enlightenment of the Buddha. I am also the teaching. I am the enlightenment of the Buddha. There is no dichotomy here. But until I realize that, I am still confused. But even in my confusion this world is still what it is. This world is still the Buddha's world. But if I awaken to it, then I am at home. I am at ease. So in the one case, I am still the Flower of Dharma, but I am the confused Flower of Dharma. I am being turned by it. But in the other case, I am the Flower of Dharma in harmony with the Flower of Dharma, bringing consciousness and compassion into the Flower of Dharma for my own part. It is still the Flower of Dharma turning the Flower of Dharma. Of course, it is better to have it that way than the other way, where the Flower of Dharma is turning the Flower of Dharma but we don't know it. We are missing out on the big picture. Missing out on what is right there in front of us. Does that clear it up at all?

    Question: I was thinking of another place in Dogen, where he states that the self advancing to confirm the myriad dharmas is delusion; while the myriad dharmas advancing to confirm the self is enlightenment. I was wondering if there was any relationship there?

    Michael: I would think that they are different ways of expressing the same thing. Maybe Maylie could say something about that.

    Maylie: Yes, I would say that completely. That if I am putting myself forth and seeing things from my grasping point of view, that is all I get. But if I can get out of the way, and receive, be, what is coming to me, then I am confirmed by all beings. I think it is really wonderful. This is a very difficult teaching. What is buddha-nature? You hear that things are in a state of tranquil extinction and you think "What?" But after you have heard it maybe ten times, you begin to have some relationship with it. You've heard it before. It is entered. And a wonderful way of integrating this is to read the Crooked Cucumber, which many of us are doing. David Chadwick is sitting in the back seat of a car driving Suzuki Roshi somewhere or other and he decides he is just going to ask a really bad question. He asks Suzuki Roshi, "What's the teaching? What is all this business about? Tell me the secret." It is just like the Lotus Sutra. "Tell me!" Suzuki Roshi doesn't usually respond to such bad questions, but he turns around and says, "Everything is changing." If you just read the Crooked Cucumber or go back and read Ma >Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind again, always a good thing to do, you just hear the Lotus Sutra. That is what I think.

    Question: I just wanted to mention that the name of the monk who was confused, Fa-ta, actually means "Great Understanding."

    Michael: Ah, that is interesting. I didn't know that.

    Question: I have heard this before about the first vehicle and the second vehicle. So, is the idea that the Buddha at one period of his life expressed the first vehicle and some years later expressed the second vehicle? What is the chronology?

    Michael: It's very strange because there are three vehicles according to the first part of the Lotus Sutra. There is the vehicle of the shravakas, which means one who hears the Dharma while sitting at the Buddha's feet. Then there is the vehicle for the pratyekabuddhas, who are the private-buddhas, the ones who realize enlightenment for themselves without the help of a teacher. Then there is the bodhisattva vehicle. Well this is very strange because the second vehicle is for those who do not even come into contact with the Buddha. So how can he be teaching them a vehicle? How can it be a vehicle for people who do not want a vehicle? They want to go off on their own. Or they are born in a time when there is no buddha. So really, the vehicle of the pratyekabuddhas doesn't fit in chronologically anywhere in the Buddha's teachings, whether Hinayana or Mahayana. The shravaka vehicle is taught primarily in the first few years of the Buddha's life after he gets up from the Bodhi Tree according to the Mahayana tradition. While he is sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree, that is the Flower Garland period, and that is the full-blown Mahayana with no concessions to anybody's understanding at all. It is just "Here it is! Get it or not. There you go." Then, starting with the Deer Park sermon on up to the Vimalakirti Sutra or the Pure Land Sutras, he just teaches the four noble truths, the eightfold path, and the precepts for the Hinayana monks and nuns. That is the shravaka vehicle. After that he starts to tell people, "Now I am going to tell you about these pure lands. Now I am going to tell you about these great bodhisattvas who have made vows to save all beings. Now I am going to tell you about all these buddhas in the other regions of the universe who are helping us. Now I am going to tell you about the six perfections and how you too can become a buddha. And now I am going to criticize these people who think that nirvana is the end all and be all of Buddhism." This last part refers to the static nirvana. The Vimalakirti Sutra is a really good example of this if you ever read it. Again, I highly recommend it. It is short, sweet and hilarious. The idea is that he shifts from teaching the four noble truths to then criticizing the people who followed them for not aspiring high enough. It sets up a new aspiration, this time for buddhahood, and it reveals the possibility of entering into the pure lands so that one can then become a buddha. After that he teaches the Prajnaparamita or emptiness teachings to clear away all these dichotomies between nirvana and this world, between bodhisattvas and those who are not bodhisattvas. You see this in the Heart Sutra where he negates the four noble truths and the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination. He says, "There is no birth and death, there is no ignorance." All of this he just sweeps away. In the Lotus Sutra, he finally brings it all together. He says: "Well, look, I know I was criticizing you disciples before, but actually all along I was just trying to get you to move to the bodhisattva vehicle. From the beginning the four noble truths were just the first step to get you into the one vehicle of the bodhisattvas." So the last period of his life was the period of integration.

    The pratyekabuddha vehicle, the private-buddha vehicle, is equated in the Lotus Sutra with the teaching of dependent origination. As I mentioned before, he couldn't have taught the private-buddhas dependent origination because they were not there. If they were there, they wouldn't be private-buddhas anymore. I believe the private-buddha vehicle is equated with dependent origination because the idea is that even if you are born in a country with no Buddha Dharma, even if you never hear the words Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, even if you are a member of another religion, if you can realize dependent origination you will be able to wake up, at least for yourself. You may not have the ability to teach it. You may be unable to articulate it. You may have to articulate it in terms of whatever religion you were born into, and that might distort it. The idea is anyone can realize that for themselves, even without explicit contact with the Buddha Dharma. You could read Rumi for instance, and you will see that he is saying many of the same things about emptiness that Buddhism does. Rumi, of course, had a lot of warmth and compassion as well. You might read Meister Eckhart, another example of someone who seems to have realized these things. The private-buddha vehicle really stands outside the Buddha's teachings and is available to everybody in whatever tradition they belong to, or even if they do not belong to any tradition. Does that help?

    Question: The Lotus Sutra is the final teaching according to the Lotus Sutra?

    Michael: Right. I will point out that the place of the Lotus Sutra as the pinnacle of the Buddha's teachings is the mainstay of the T'ien-t'ai tradition, the Chinese scholastic school. In Japanese Zen, Tendai Buddhism is the underlying ideology or scholastic background of Dogen, and Hakuin and others. All Mahayana schools recognize that the Lotus Sutra was taught towards the end of the Buddha's life as a way of integrating everything. The Hua-yen tradition, the Flower Garland tradition, that was the rival of the T'ien-t'ai in China and has since become the underlying source for the Chinese schools and is extremely influential in Korean Zen, teaches that the Flower Garland Sutra is the most important because it makes no concessions. It does not attempt to bring the Dharma down to anyone's level. It is simply direct. The T'ien-t'ai tradition and the Nichiren tradition which I follow argue that this shows how there is another step which the Flower Garland needed to take to include the others. It is not good enough to just present the Buddha Mind. It has to be the Buddha Mind in relation to others. That is what is going on there.


    Thank you for your questions. Now we'll come to the more devotional aspect. Let me tell you a little bit about chanting practice in Buddhism. Chanting, of course, is the mainstay of the Nichiren tradition that I belong to, especially chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra - Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. Namu is "I devote myself to;" Myoho is Wonderful Dharma; Renge is Lotus Flower; and Kyo is Teaching. That is our practice, and other forms of Buddhism have different mantras that they chant. Other schools of Buddhism, as well as the Soto Shu in Japan, will also recite passages from the Sutras. In fact, the Soto Shu in Japan regularly recites the 16th and the 25th chapters of the Lotus Sutra. These are also popular in Tendai as well. All this chanting is not just a Mahayana innovation. It goes back to even the Pali Canon tradition which has several short suttas like the Metta Sutta, the sutta on friendliness or loving-kindness, which is recited especially by lay people in that tradition. I believe the monks and nuns also recite it. There are also different protective spells that you can find in the Pali Canon which are recited to call upon different spirits to protect the practitioner of the Dharma. This idea of reciting passages is something that has a very long history and goes back to the very beginnings of Buddhism. In an oral tradition, in a society that passed down information orally, the Buddha's teachings had to be recited. They had to be memorized and repeated so that they would not be lost. It was only about 500 years later that they were finally written down. All along there is this idea that one interacts with the Dharma by reciting it. Through repetition one brings it into one's heart and mind.

    In fact, one of the practices in early Buddhism are the six recollections where one meditates upon the qualities of the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, generosity, virtue, and the heavenly realms. There are different little formulas for each one of those topics that one memorizes and then repeats over and over again, whether out loud or silently in meditation in order to identify with those qualities in oneself. The practice that is most relevant here is Dharmanusmrti, which is mindfulness or recollection of the Dharma. In this case it is the Dharma of the Lotus Flower Teaching.

    As always, this has to go beyond mere verbal repetition. It can not be just flapping our gums. Nichiren also recognized this and here is a passage from one of his writings where he says:
    Others read the Lotus Sutra with their mouths alone, reading only the words but they do not read it with their hearts. And even if they read it with their hearts, they do not read it with their actions. Praiseworthy indeed are those like you who read the sutra with both body and mind.
    Even those traditions where the Dharma is engaged through voice as well as posture, heart, and mind, and where the voice carries one's dedication to the Dharma and energizes it, one has to go beyond that. It has to be a full realization in the moment of the meaning of what you are reciting. Also, Nichiren said this:

    Moreover, as life does not go beyond the moment, the Buddha expounded the blessings that come from a single moment of rejoicing on hearing the Lotus Sutra. If two or three moments were required, this could no longer be called the original vow of the Buddha of indifferentiating wisdom, the single vehicle of the teaching of immediate enlightenment that enables all beings to attain buddhahood.

    That goes back to the passage from the tenth chapter that I read earlier this evening, the merit of even a single moment of rejoicing. In this case, Nichiren taught that simply reciting the title of the Lotus Sutra, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, which takes just a moment - Namu Myoho Renge Kyo - that is an expression of the single moment of rejoicing. In doing that we can open ourselves up to that rejoicing, that faith, and the full realization in the moment of what the Dharma is as our own life.

    Session One | Session Two | Session Three | Session Four | Session Five

    Copyright by Ryuei Michael McCormick. 1999. 2002.

    Hakuin's Letter to a Hokke Nun 1747
    Dogen's Hokke-ten-Hokke 1241
    The Seven Parables of the LS
    Zen & the LS Dogen/Hakuin
    Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
    An Overview of Buddhism
    Heart Sutra Commentary
    Odaimoku as Hua-t'ou
    FAQs for Christians
    Practice Questions
    Hua Yen

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