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Re: ARTICLE : Religious conversion is wrong

Posted By Randy Leighton (leighton@hsc.usc.edu)
Fri, 10 Jan 1997 21:59:39 GMT

hokkekyo@aol.com (Matthew) wrote:

>On Tue, 7 Jan 1997 20:18:29 GMT, leighton@hsc.usc.edu (Randy Leighton)
>wrote:

>Your view of Buddhism is drastically wrong.........

>Read the Lotus Sutra and try to say such a thing.....

Well, here's part of the Lotus Sutra. What does it have to do with
God? ( BTW, chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo to a Gohonzon for material
benefit is not worship of God.)

Randy

The Lotus Sutra

This is a translation of Parts "B" and "C" of Gongyo

The Lotus Sutra; Translated by, Burton Watson;
Published by, Columbia University Press, New York;
Pages 224-232

CHAPTER 16: THE LIFE SPAN OF THE THUS COME ONE

[Start part "B"]

At that time the Buddha spoke to the bodhisattvas and all the great
assembly: "Good men, you must believe and understand the truthful
words of the Thus Come One." And again he said to the greaI
assembly: "You must believe and understand the truthful words of
the Thus Come One." And once more he said to the great assembly:
"You must believe and understand the truthful words of the Thus
Come One."

At that time the bodhisattvas and the great assembly, with Mai-
treya as their leader, pressed their palms together and addressed
the
Buddha, saying: "World-Honored One, we beg you to explain. We
will believe and accept the Buddha's words." They spoke in this
manner three times, and then said once more: "We beg you to explain
it. We will believe and accept the Buddha's words."

At that time the World-Honored One, seeing that the bodhisattvas
repeated their request three times and more, spoke to them, saying:

"You must listen carefully and hear of the Thus Come One's secret
and his transcendental powers. In all the worlds the heavenly and
human beings and asuras all believe that the present Shakyamuni
Buddha, after leaving the palace of the Shakyas, seated himself in
the
place of practice not far from the city of Gaya and there attained
anuttara-samyak-sambodhi- But good men, it has been immeasurable,
boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of
kalpas since I in fact attained Buddhahood.

"Suppose a person were to take five hundred, a thousand, ten
thousand, a million nayuta asamkhya thousand-millionfold worlds
and grind them to dust. Then, moving eastward, each time he passes
five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million nayuta asamkhya
worlds he drops a particle of dust. He continues eastward in this
way
until he has finished dropping all the particles. Good men, what is
your opinion? Can the total number of all these worlds be imagined
or calculated ?"

The bodhisattva Maitreya and the others said to the Buddha: "World-
Honored One, these worlds are immeasurable, boundless--one cannot
calculate their number, nor does the mind have the power to encom-
pass them. Even all the voice-hearers and pratyekabuddhas with their
wisdom free of outflows could not imagine or understand how many
there are. Although we abide in the stage of avivartika, we cannot
comprehend such a matter. World-Honored One, these worlds are
immeasurable and boundless."

At that time the Buddha said to the multitude of great bodhisattvas:

"Good men, now I will state this to you clearly. Suppose all these
worlds, whether they received a particle of dust or not, are once
more
reduced to dust. Let one particle represent one kalpa. The time that
has passed since I attained Buddhahood surpasses this by a hundred,
a
thousand, ten thousand, a million nayuta asamkhya kalpas.
"Ever since then I have been constantly in this saha world, preach-
ing the Law, teaching and converting. And elsewhere I have led and
benefited living beings in hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, mil-
lions of nayutas and asamkhyas of lands.

"Good men, during that time I have spoken about the Buddha
Burning Torch and others, and described how they entered nirvana.
All this I employed as an expedient means to make distinctions.

"Good men, if there are living beings who come to me, I employ
my Buddha eye to observe their faith and to see if their other
faculties
are keen or dull, and then depending upon how receptive they are to
salvation, I appear in different places and preach to them under
differ-
ent names, and describe the length of time during which my teachings
will be effective. Sometimes when I make my appearance I say that I
am about to enter nirvana, and also employ different expedient means
to preach the subtle and wonderful Law, thus causing living beings
to
awaken joyful minds.

"Good men, the Thus Come One observes how among living beings
there are those who delight in a little Law, meager in virtue and
heavy
with defilement. For such persons I describe how in my youth I left
my household and attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. But in truth
the time since I attained Buddhahood is extremely long, as I have
told
you. It is simply that I use this expedient means to teach and
convert
living beings and cause them to enter the Buddha way. That is why I
speak in this manner.

"Good men, the scriptures expounded by the Thus Come One are
all for the purpose of saving and emancipating living beings. Some-
times I speak of myself, sometimes of others; sometimes I present
myself, sometimes others; sometimes I show my own actions, some-
times those of others. All that I preach is true and not false.

"Why do I do this? The Thus Come One perceives the true aspect
of the threefold world exactly as it is. There is no ebb or flow of
birth
and death, and there is no existing in this world and later entering
extinction. It is neither substantial nor empty, neither consistent
nor
diverse. Nor is it what those who dwell in the threefold world
perceive
it to be. All such things the Thus Come One sees clearly and without
error.

"Because living beings have different natures, different desires,
different actions, and different ways of thinking and making
distinc-
tions, and because I want to enable them to put down good roots, I
employ a variety of causes and conditions, similes, parables, and
phrases
and preach different doctrines. This, the Buddha's work, I have
never
for a moment neglected.

"Thus, since I attained Buddhahood, an extremely long period of
time has passed. My life span is an immeasurable number of asamkhya
kalpas, and during that time I have constantly abided here without
ever entering extinction. Good men, originally I practiced the
bodhi-
sattva way, and the life span that I acquired then has yet to come
to
an end but will last twice the number of years that have already
passed. Now, however, although in fact I do not actually enter
extinc-
tion, I announce that I am going to adopt the course of extinction.
This is an expedient means which the Thus Come One uses to teach
and convert living beings.

"Why do I do this? Because if the Buddha remains in the world for
a long time, those persons with shallow virtue will fail to plant
good
roots but, living in poverty and lowliness, will become attached to
the
five desires and be caught in the net of deluded thoughts and
imagin-
ings. If they see that the Thus Come One is constantly in the world
and never enters extinction, they will grow arrogant and selfish, or
become discouraged and neglectful. They will fail to realize how
diffi-
cult it is to encounter the Buddha and will not approach him with a
respectful and reverent mind.

"Therefore as an expedient means the Thus Come One says: 'Monks,
you should know that it is a rare thing to live at a time when one
of
the Buddhas appears in the world.' Why does he do this? Because
persons of shallow virtue may pass immeasurable hundreds, thou-
sands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas with some of them chancing
to see a Buddha and others never seeing one at all. For this reason
I
say to them: 'Monks, the Thus Come One is hard to get to see.' When
living beings hear these words, they are certain to realize how
difficult
it is to encounter the Buddha. In their minds they will harbor a
longing and will thirst to gaze upon the Buddha, and then they will
work to plant good roots. Therefore the Thus Come One, though in
truth he does not enter extinction, speaks of passing into
extinction.

"Good men, the Buddhas and Thus Come Ones all preach a Law
such as this. They act in order to save living beings, so what they
do
is true and not false.

"Suppose, for example, that there is a skilled physician who is wise
and understanding and knows how to compound medicines to effec-
tively cure all kinds of diseases. He has many sons, perhaps ten,
twenty, or even a hundred. He goes off to some other land far away
to see about a certain affair. After he has gone, the children drink
some kind of poison that makes them distraught with pain and they
fall writhing to the ground.

"At that time the father returns to his home and finds that his
children have drunk poison. Some are completely out of their minds,
while others are not. Seeing their father from far off, all are
overjoyed
and kneel down and entreat him, saying: 'How fine that you have
returned safely. We were stupid and by mistake drank some poison.
We beg you to cure us and let us live out our lives!'

"The father, seeing his children suffering like this, follows
various
prescriptions. Gathering fine medicinal herbs that meet all the
require-
ments of color, fragrance and flavor, he grinds, sifts and mixes
them
together. Giving a dose of these to his children, he tells them:
'This
is
a highly effective medicine, meeting all the requirements of color,
fragrance and flavor. Take it and you will quickly be relieved of
your
sufferings and will be free of all illness.'

"Those children who have not lost their senses can see that this is
good medicine, outstanding in both color and fragrance, so they take
it immediately and are completely cured of their sickness. Those who
are out of their minds are equally delighted to see their father
return
and beg him to cure their sickness, but when they are given the
medicine, they refuse to take it. Why? Because the poison has pene-
trated deeply and their minds no longer function as before. So al-
though the medicine is of excellent color and fragrance, they do not
perceive it as good.

"The father thinks to himself: My poor children! Because of the
poison in them, their minds are completely befuddled. Although they
are happy to see me and ask me to cure them, they refuse to take
this
excellent medicine. I must now resort to some expedient means to
induce them to take the medicine. So he says to them: 'You should
know that I am now old and worn out, and the time of my death has
come. I will leave this good medicine here. You should take it and
not
worry that it will not cure you.' Having given these instructions,
he
then goes off to another land, where he sends a messenger home to
announce, 'Your father is dead.'

"At that time the children, hearing that their father has deserted
them and died, are filled with great grief and consternation and
think
to themselves: If our father were alive he would have pity on us and
see that we are protected. But now he has abandoned us and died in
some other country far away. We are shelterless orphans with no one
to rely on!

"Constantly harboring such feelings of grief, they at last come to
their senses and realize that the medicine is in fact excellent in
color
and fragrance and flavor, and so they take it and are healed of all
the
effects of the poison. The father, hearing that his children are all
cured, immediately returns home and appears to them all once more.

"Good men, what is your opinion? Can anyone say that this skilled
physician is guilty of lying?"

"No, World-Honored One."

The Buddha said: "It is the same with me. It has been immeasur-
able, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of na-
yuta and asamkhya kalpas since I attained Buddhahood. But for the
sake of living beings I employ the power of expedient means and say
that I am about to pass into extinction. In view of the
circumstances,
however, no one can say that I have been guilty of lies or
falsehoods."
At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning
once more, spoke in verse form, saying:

[Start Part "C"]

Since I attained Buddhahood
the number of kalpas that have passed
is an immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands,
millions, trillions, asamkhyas.
Constantly I have preached the Law, teaching, converting
countless millions of living beings,
causing them to enter the Buddha way,
all this for immeasurable kalpas.
In order to save living beings,
as an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana
but in truth I do not pass into extinction.
I am always here, preaching the Law.
I am always here,
but through my transcendental powers
I make it so that living beings in their befuddlement
do not see me even when close by.
When the multitude see that I have passed into extinction,
far and wide they offer alms to my relics.
All harbor thoughts of yearning
and in their minds thirst to gaze at me.
When living beings have become truly faithful,
honest and upright, gentle in intent,
single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha,
not hesitating even if it costs them their lives,
then I and the assembly of monks
appear together on Holy Eagle Peak.
At that time I tell the living beings
that I am always here, never entering extinction,
but that because of the power of an expedient means
at times I appear to be extinct, at other times not,
and that if there are living beings in other lands
who are reverent and sincere in their wish to believe,
then among them too
I will preach the unsurpassed Law.
But you have not heard of this,
so you suppose that I enter extinction.
When I look at living beings
I see them drowned in a sea of suffering;
therefore I do not show myself,
causing them to thirst for me.
Then when their minds are filled with yearning,
at last I appear and preach the Law for them.
Such are my transcendental powers.
For asamkhya kalpas
constantly I have dwelled on Holy Eagle Peak
and in various other places.
When living beings witness the end of a kalpa
and all is consumed in a great fire,
this, my land, remains safe and tranquil,
constantly filled with heavenly and human beings.
The halls and pavilions in its gardens and groves
are adorned with various kinds of gems.
leweled trees abound in flowers and fruit
where living beings enjoy themselves at ease.
The gods strike heavenly drums,
constantly making many kinds of music.
Mandarava blossoms rain down,
scattering over the Buddha and the great assembly.
My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude see it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear and other sufferings
filling it everywhere.
These living beings with their various offenses,
through causes arising from their evil actions,
spend asamkhya kalpas
without hearing the name of the Three Treasures.
But those who practice meritorious ways,
who are gentle, peaceful, honest and upright,
all of them will see me
here in person, preaching the Law.
At times for this multitude
I describe the Buddha's life span as immeasurable,
and to those who see the Buddha only after a long time
I explain how difficult it is to meet the Buddha.
Such is the power of my wisdom
that its sagacious beams shine without measure.
This life span of countless kalpas
I gained as the result of lengthy practice.
You who are possessed of wisdom,
entertain no doubts on this point!
Cast them off, end them forever,
for the Buddha's words are true, not false.
He is like a skilled physician
who uses an expedient means to cure his deranged sons.
Though in fact alive, he gives out word he is dead,
yet no one can say he speaks falsely.
I am the father of this world,
saving those who suffer and are afflicted.
Because of the befuddlement of ordinary people,
though I live, I give out word I have entered extinction.
For if they see me constantly,
arrogance and selfishness arise in their minds.
Abandoning restraint, they give themselves up to the
five desires
and fall into the evil paths of existence.
Always I am aware of which living beings
practice the way, and which do not,
and in response to their needs for salvation
I preach various doctrines for them.
At all times I think to myself:
How can I cause living beings
to gain entry into the unsurpassed way
and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha ?

The Lotus Sutra; Translated by, Burton Watson;
Published by, Columbia University Press, New York;
Pages 224-232

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