Buddhism,  Courage,  Faith,  Karma,  Life, Death

The Great Ship of the Lotus Sutra

…all the Buddhist sutras are like gold, but some are finer and more profound than others.

The Supremacy of the Law WND-1 p. 612

The Supremacy of the Law

As more Buddhist sutras were brought to China, it became apparent that some were superior in content or more profound than others. They belonged to different categories such as Hinayana and Mahayana, exoteric and esoteric, provisional and true. To illustrate, all stones are invariably inferior to gold, but gold itself is divided into several grades. No gold found in the human world can match the gold mined from the Jambu River.1 But the gold from the Jambu River is in turn far less valuable than the gold stored in the Brahmā heaven. In the same way, all the Buddhist sutras are like gold, but some are finer and more profound than others.

Those sutras that are called Hinayana are like small boats. They can carry two or three passengers, but not a hundred or a thousand. Even with only two or three persons aboard, they must remain close to this shore and cannot cross over to the other shore. They can be loaded with a small amount of cargo, but not with a large amount. In contrast, the Mahayana sutras are like those huge vessels that, carrying ten or twenty people and loaded with large quantities of cargo, can sail from Kamakura as far as Tsukushi or Mutsu Province.

Big Sur, California

But the ship of the true Mahayana sutra is incomparably greater than those huge ships that are the other Mahayana sutras. Loaded with a hoard of rare treasures and carrying a hundred or a thousand passengers, it can sail all the way to the land of Korea. The sutra called the Lotus Sutra of the one vehicle is like this. Devadatta was the most evil man in the entire land of Jambudvīpa, but the Lotus Sutra predicted that he would become the Thus Come One Heavenly King. Although Ajātashatru was a wicked king who killed his own father, he was among those present when the Lotus Sutra was preached, and after hearing only a verse or a phrase, formed a connection with the sutra [that would enable him to attain enlightenment in the future].

The dragon king’s daughter, a woman with a reptile’s body, attained Buddhahood by listening to Bodhisattva Manjushrī preach the Lotus Sutra. Furthermore, the Buddha designated the evil era of the Latter Day of the Law as the very time for the Lotus Sutra to be propagated, and bequeathed it to the men and women of that impure age. The Lotus Sutra, the teaching of the one vehicle, is then a sutra as great and as powerful as the ships of the China trade.

Thus all the Buddhist sutras are to the non-Buddhist scriptures as gold is to stones. And all the various Mahayana sutras, such as the Flower Garland, Mahāvairochana, Meditation, Amida, and Wisdom sutras, are to the Lotus Sutra as fireflies are to the sun or moon, or anthills to Mount Hua.2 Moreover, there is superiority and inferiority not only among the sutras, but also among their adherents. The various teachers of the True Word school, who believe in the Mahāvairochana Sutra, are like fire being put out by water, or dew being blown away by the wind when confronted in debate by the votary of the Lotus Sutra. If a dog barks at a lion, its bowels will rot. The asura demon who shot an arrow at the sun had his head split into seven pieces. The True Word teachers are like the dog or the asura, while the votary of the Lotus Sutra is like the sun or the lion.

The Painted Mandolin

Nichiren Daishonin asserts that the practitioners of the different sutras [or differing belief systems] can also be ranked in a corresponding manner to the sutras themselves…

The people of our time should have been asking these questions about their leaders such as whether their leadership benefitted the people or merely seek to bolster their own power and authority? Did they lead people to happiness or consign them to misfortune? Did they combat the devilish nature of power or collude with it? The people were often deceived by their seeming virtue and wisdom as frauds are skilled at duping people.

That is why the only real solution lies with people becoming wiser.

“The Lotus Sutra is the Great Ship for the Enlightenment of All People” Living Buddhism September 2021 p. 32
Coit Tower, San Francisco

Blue dye comes from indigo, but when something is repeatedly dyed in it, the color is better than that of the indigo plant.10 The Lotus Sutra remains the same, but if you repeatedly strengthen your resolve, your color will be better than that of others, and you will receive more blessings than they do.

The Supremacy of the Law WND-1 p. 615

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