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The Teacher Of Gods And Humans

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Posted by Glenn on November 17, 2001 03:51:54 UTC


Amidst all the verbage you seem to say that the last Buddha said that a man could become a Buddha, but not a god, implying that god existed......

It is because the eye and the master of all Buddhas is the Dharma(Law or truth) particularly the Eternal truth that is embodied in the Lotus sutra- the Mystic Law(Saddharma) of the Single Buddha vehicle- the great vehicle that lead all people to the path of Buddhahood or enlightenment, or absolute happiness.

The protective functions(is said to be as gods) in the universe and all life are nothing but a functions of the Mystic Law, the One fundamental Law which is the source of mutually inclusive relationship of all life and Phenomena.

Thus, gods in Buddhism are not viewed as external forces but rather the expression of the Mystic Law within our life which serve to protect us and strenghtened our resolved in our journey to the path to Buddhahood-the state of Oneness with the Law and the life of the Universe.The characteristics of the Buddha are courage, wisdom and life-force or endowed with 3 enlightened properties: the property of the LAW, WISDOM & EMANCIPATION. Which, we too,as common mortals are also endowed with this properties.
As Nichiren Daishonin states:" This is a sure indication that if you embrace the Lotus Sutra, you will certainly attain Buddhahood. Since the Lotus Sutra defines our life as the Buddha's life, our mind as the Buddha's wisdom and our actions as the Buddha's behavior, all who embrace and believe in even a single phrase or verse of this sutra will be endowed with these three properties."

.........

The Tibetian form of Buddhism, as exemplified by the Dai Lama differs with you as they claim to be atheists. They say there is no god.There is a supernatural but no god.

Who is that supernatural? Are they also mean to me as the protective functions or forces of the universe, in life and in the natural environment?

..............

Nowhere in the references to the Lotuses that you provided could I find any reference to a god.

In our Silent first prayer, we offer the blessings of the Mystic Law to the shoten zenjin(Buddhist gods), all the benevolent deities of the universe, so that their power to protect all who believe in true Buddhism will be strengthened.

According to the Jo (first) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, gods, arhats, bodhisattvas and others gathered on the summit of Eagle Peak to listen to the Buddha's teaching. The Anrakugyo (fourteenth) chapter states that all of them protect believers of the Mystic Law and thereby ensure the perpetuation of true Buddhism. Furthermore, devils and demons such as the asuras, yakshas, or Kishimojin and her ten daughters, once feared because they robbed people of their wisdom and vitality, also pledged in the Dharani (twenty-sixth) chapter to protect the sutra's votaries.

Shoten zenjin, or benevolent deities, are personifications of universal functions. They represent the ways that the people and objects, or situations in one's environment, can work for his benefit and protection, in accordance with the principle of the oneness of life and its environment (esho funi).

Bonten(Brahma) is said to live in the world of form above Mt. Sumeru and rule the saha, or mundane, world. Taishaku(Shakra) was originally the god of thunder and was adopted as a benevolent deity of Buddhism. Served by the Four Heavenly Kings, he is said to live in the Trayastrimsha Heaven on the peak of Mt. Sumeru and to reign over the other thirty-two gods of that heaven. Bonten and Taishaku are major tutelary gods of Buddhism, as are Nitten (the god of the sun), Gatten (the god of the moon) and Myojoten (the god of the stars).

In addition, anyone or anything working to protect and sustain life, or to support our efforts to attain enlightenment and achieve kosen-rufu(World Peace or the enlightenment of all), may be regarded as shoten zenjin.

Among them, for example, the sun is the major source of energy which nurtures and protects human life. Because of its merciful function the sun is regarded as a god in Buddhism. The sun appears in the east in the morning. That is why, when we do gongyo in the morning, we face east for the first prayer. We face toward the sun as the representative of all shoten zenjin; it is NOT the object of worship itself.

We chant daimoku(Mystic Law(Saddharma),the eternal truth that permeates the life-essence in all Phenomena) so that all of these shoten zenjin are empowered to protect us. Even when it may be necessary to do morning gongyo(reciting sutra) in the afternoon, when the sun is high above, we still do the first prayer facing east to adhere to the spirit of its purpose.

The protective power and influence of the shoten zenjin are fully activated by the emergence of Buddhahood from within our lives. Only when people devote themselves to true Buddhism(eternal truth embodied in the Lotus sutra) and offer the blessings of the Law to the shoten zenjin by reciting the Lotus Sutra and chanting daimoku do these protective forces inherent in the environment work fully and effectively.

We can find reference that provides this assertion...When the Lotus sutra, the final and highest teachings of Buddha which integrates all other Buddhist teachings(sutras)taught for the last 8 years of his life, introduce the cast of the assembly in the following order:

(1) Twelve thousand monks who had attained the state of arhat, the highest stage of the voice-hearers (persons of Learning). The names of twenty-one arhats are given as representatives of this group, including such well-known disciples of Shakyamuni as Ajnata Kaundinya, Mahakashyapa and Shariputra.

In addition, another two thousand voice-hearers--who either "were still learning" or "had completed their learning"--were also present. Those who "were still learning" refers to disciples who were still practicing the three types of learning necessary to attain the state of arhat, namely, the precepts, meditation and wisdom. Those who "had completed their learning" refers to disciples who had already attained the state of arhat and had nothing more to learn.

(2) The nun Mahaprajapati, Shakyamuni's aunt and step-mother; the nun Yashodhara, Shakyamuni's wife before his renunciation of secular life; and several thousands of their respective followers.

(3) Eighty thousand bodhisattvas. The names of eighteen, including Bodhisattva Manjushri and Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World's Sounds, are listed as representatives of this group.

After an introduction to these voice-hearers and bodhisattvas, we are acquainted with a variety of other sentient beings from the saha world who have come to participate in the assembly.

(4) The kings and sons of gods of various heavenly realms, such as Shakra Devanam Indra (Taishaku), the Four Great Heavenly Kings and King Brahma (Bonten). Their followers totaled anywhere from seventy to eighty thousand, to up to well over a hundred thousand, depending on how one calcu-lates.

(5) Eight dragon kings and their followers.

(6) Four kimnara kings and their followers.

(7) Four gandharva kings and their followers.

(8) Four asura kings and their followers.

(9) Four garuda kings and their followers.

(10) King Ajatashatru and his followers.

This vast number of beings--which when totaled comes to at least several hundreds of thousands or perhaps even several millions--gathered to hear the preaching of the Lotus Sutra.

This was a huge and extraordinarily diverse gathering. Heavenly deities, dragon kings, kimnara kings and many other nonhuman beings are also described as attending. Yet we know that such an enormous number of beings could not possibly have assembled at Eagle Peak all at once.

To reiterate the observation made by late second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda:

Those who gathered [at Eagle Peak] were the voice-hearers and the bodhisattvas who dwelled within Shakyamuni's own life. Hence, there is nothing to hinder even tens of millions of such voice-hearers and bodhisattvas from assembling.2

As President Toda indicates, the Lotus Sutra is an expression of the realm of the Buddha's own life, the world of enlightenment. This being the case, millions can Assemble without any problem.

In that sense, we can interpret all the different beings who have gathered to hear the sutra as symbolizing the different functions and workings inherent in life itself. In terms of the Ten Worlds(dharma-realms), the assembly on Eagle Peak is comprised of beings from the world of Bodhisattva, Learning, Heaven, Humanity, Anger, Animality--these six, we can assume, are meant to represent all nine worlds from Hell to Bodhisattva. In other words, the great assembly of the "Introduction" chapter is a manifestation of all beings of the nine worlds enfolded within the Buddha's own life.

If we interpret it in this fashion, then each of the members of the great assembly identified in the sutra should have a particular significance. Let's consider a few of the more well-known figures.

The first name to be mentioned is Ajnata Kaundinya, one of the five ascetics that Shakyamuni converted immediately after attaining enlightenment.He was Shakyamuni's first disciple. King Aiatashatru, meanwhile, is mentioned last. Guilty of plotting with Devadatta against Shakyamuni, King Ajatashatru came to deeply regret his actions and toward the end of the Buddha's life he converted to the Buddha's teachings. Perhaps we can regard this listing of Shakyamuni's first disciple and last disciple as a symbolic reference that is meant to include all of the Buddha's disciples during his lifetime.

In the "Ongi Kuden," the [Nichiren]Daishonin elucidates the significance of the great assembly in terms of an explanation of life itself.

The presence of Ajnata Kaundinya, he says, "indicates the principles of 'earthly desires are enlightenment' and 'life and death are nirvana' at work in the lives of us votaries of the Lotus Sutra" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 710).

Ajatashatru, we may recall, murdered his father, King Bimbisara, and attempted to kill his mother, Queen Vaidehi, as well as plotting against Shakyamuni. The Daishonin describes Ajatashatru's betrayal as an example of the principle that "the reverse relationship and the positive relationship are ultimately one." This principle states that both those who oppose or follow the Lotus Sutra can ultimately attain enlightenment. Therefore, even those who have committed evil can attain Buddhahood through the reverse relationship they have formed with Buddhism--caused by their slandering the Law--when finally they "kill" or eradicate their lack of faith in the Lotus Sutra and the poisons of greed and ignorance in their lives.

To continue, The next members of the assembly to be mentioned are the eighty thousand bodhisattvas, along with words of praise for their compassionate activities to save others.

First the voice-hearers and then the bodhisattvas are mentioned. Also when we look at the Lotus Sutra as a whole, the representatives of the assembly to whom Shakyamuni speaks are voice-hearers like Shariputra in the first nine chapters, but from the "Teacher of the Law" (tenth) chapter onward this changes to Bodhisattva Medicine King and other bodhisattvas.

The names of the bodhisattvas in the "Introduction" are also quite interesting. While figures such as Bodhisattva Manjushri (Monju), Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World's Sounds (Kanzeon, or more commonly Kannon), Bodhisattva Maitreya (Miroku) and Bodhisattva Medicine King (Yakuo) are very well known, the names of relatively unknown bodhisattvas are also mentioned, such as Bodhisattva Constant Exertion, Bodhisattva Never Resting, Bodhisattva Jeweled Palm, Bodhisattva Great Strength and Bodhisattva Jeweled Moon.

We can interpret these bodhisattvas as representing various aspects of the state of Bodhisattva. For example, just as their names indicate, Bodhisattva Constant Exertion and Bodhisattva Never Resting are symbolic of the unending struggle for the sake of the Buddhist Law. The name "Never Resting" comes from the Sanskrit anikshiptadhura, meaning "one who does not put down a heavy burden."

The name of Bodhisattva Jeweled Palm means "to hold a treasure," while that of Bodhisattva Brave Donor means "a champion of charity." Bodhisattva Jeweled Moon, Bodhisattva Moonlight and Bodhisattva Full Moon are thought to symbolize the workings of the bodhisattva in illuminating people's lives with the light of diverse wisdom.

The name of Bodhisattva Maitreya means to compassionate teacher," and that of Bodhisattva Jeweled Accumulation means "the source of treasures." The name of the last of the bodhisattvas mentioned in the "Introduction," Bodhisattva Guiding Leader, means "a caravan leader," representing the function of a leader to guide many to enlightenment.

After the bodhisattvas, various heavenly beings are introduced. The very first is Shakra Devanam Indra (Taishaku), the ruler of the Heavens. Indra was originally the god of thunder and one of the central deities in ancient Indian mythology.

The sons of gods Freedom and Great Freedom trace their origin to Shiva, the ancient Indian god of destruction and a leading deity of Brahmanism. Freedom and Great Freedom seem to have been variant names for this deity.

Even Brahma (Bonten), the world-creator and supreme deity of Brahmanism, is in attendance with his followers at the assembly on Eagle Peak.

The attendance of all of these deities at the preaching of the Lotus Sutra is meant to show that the Buddha is superior to these deities, and that he is their teacher and their guide. One of the titles of the Buddha is "Teacher of Gods and Humans," affirming his role as a teacher who can guide heavenly, as well as human, beings.

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