The Lotus Sutra

‘If there be any who receive and keep, read and recite, rightly remember, practice and copy this Law-Flower Sutra, know that such are attending on Sakyamuni Buddha as if they were hearing this sutra from the Buddha’s mouth; know that they are paying homage to Sakyamuni Buddha; know that the Buddha is praising them – ‘Well done’; know that the heads of such are being caressed by the hands of Sakyamuni Buddha; know that such are covered by the robe of Sakyamuni Buddha. Such as these will not again be eager for worldly pleasure, nor be fond of heretical scriptures and writings, nor ever again take pleasure in intimacy with such men or other evil persons, whether butchers, or herders of pigs, sheep, fowl, and dogs, or hunters, or panderers. But such as these will be right-minded, have correct aims, and be auspicious. Such will not be harassed by the three poisons, not be harassed by envy, pride, haughtiness, and arrogance. Such will be content with few desires, and able to do the works of Universal Virtue.’

The sutra contains a number of passages like this, bestowing merit in advance on those who uphold it in various ways. I am endeavouring not to have ulterior motives by copying it; more to the point, I am still harassed by some of the negative traits that I am assured will not afflict me, and I may even hang out with panderers from time to time. As elsewhere in the sutra, some of the language can be problematic (I chose this one because it was one of the few that did not default to the men-only language that does pervade other parts), but the important take-away is the intimate connection to Buddha and his experience. This is the same connection that Sekito affirms at the beginning of the Sandokai , and that Dogen insists on in the Jijuyu Zanmai: ‘This being so, the zazen of even one person at one moment imperceptibly accords with all things and fully resonates through all time. Thus in the past, future, and present of the limitless universe this zazen carries on the Buddha’s teaching endlessly. Each moment of zazen is equally wholeness of practice, equally wholeness of realization.’ Wonderful benefits, and can we do this without ulterior motives?

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