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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
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Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai

What the Symbol of the Lotus Teaches

President Nichiko NiwanoThe Japanese poet Saigyo (1118-90), know for such works as his Sankashu (Mountain Cottage Collection), left us this verse:

The lotus blooming,
The waves beating
On the shore -
My mind hears them
As the preaching of the Dharma.

The poem means that from the sound of waves and the lotus, which pushes up its stem from within muddy water and puts forth with a slight popping sound a beautiful blossom unsullied by the mud, we can learn the Buddha’s teaching.

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law (the Lotus Sutra) is one of the sutras that preaches the Dharma through the symbol of the lotus blossom. As representative of such sutras it has given people encouragement and joy in life since ancient times by a verse that cites the lotus as an example of being untainted by worldly things.

Chapter 12 of the sutra (“Devadatta”) contains the profound verse, “If they are born into the presence of buddhas, they will be born from lotus flowers,” which teaches us that even bad people who have the opportunity to hear the Buddha’s teaching can reach a state of purity untainted, like the lotus blossom.

From this, we can also receive a powerful message from the Buddha, teaching us that, even if we are experiencing severe circumstances in which many things seem almost unbearable, once we believe in and accept the Dharma, the negative aspects of our lives will be transformed into positive ones.

The life of the lotus blossom lasts a mere four days. It opens with an audible sound in the early morning and between late morning to midafternoon it closes (depending on the day’s temperature). It repeats this for three days, and on the fourth day its petals drop off.

September 2009
From “Kosei” Translated by Kosei Publishing

Read past Guidance messages from President Niwano.

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