Instant Versus Gradual – August 24, 2012 Meditation

Instant Versus Gradual

“Great Saint, turn the wheel of the Dharma and reveal the reality of all things!
Save the suffering beings and cause them to have great joy!” (Lotus Sutra, Chapter VII)

The parable of the Magic City presents us with a story of a group of individuals who wish to go to a splendid city they had heard about. They did not know how to get there, they knew it was difficult but lacked the necessary skill to reach their destination.

It is noteworthy in this parable to reflect that we are not told about how the people came to know of this magic city. Unlike in the parable of the burning house where the children are confronted directly, even if unaware, by the fire raging in the house, the folks in the magic city are presented to us with their destination in mind. Also there isn’t the sense that where they are is something they are fleeing from.

To my mind the distinction might be similar to the difference between someone who is immediately faced with some crisis in their life and desire immediate change and someone who has come to a realization that things might be better. One is a case of immediate need and the other is more a general desire.

For some of us, and perhaps many, we come to Buddhism because we have heard about it or been exposed to it in some way. Because of our exposure a desire awakens in our life to seek out something different and possibly better. There may have been no immediate crisis, which is driving us, yet as we learn in our practice there has always been the crisis, though we may have been blind to it.

In the burning house the children are enticed to flee from their circumstances with the promise of great rewards. In the magic city the people are motivated to seek out a different environment, though the road is rough and treacherous.

The children run excitedly out of the house the travelers proceed methodically with the aid of a guide. The children are instantly rewarded with their treasures; the travelers undergo a journey.

Some people may have come to Nichiren Buddhism because of the promise of rewards, the immediate resolution of a crisis or seeking some material reward. Yet this is not the truth of the Lotus Sutra, nor the entire truth of Nichiren’s life and teachings. While some immediate concern may be resolved through our initial practice we should never be deluded into thinking that is the end destination.

“I, the Tathagata, am like the leader. I am your great leader. I know that the bad road, which is made of birth-and-death and illusions, is dangerous and long, and that we should pass through it and get off it. If you had heard only of the One Vehicle of the Buddha, you would not have wished to see or approach the Buddha, but would have thought, ‘the Way to Buddhahood is too long for us to pass through unless we make painstaking efforts for a long time.’” (Lotus Sutra, Chapter VII)

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About Ryusho 龍昇

Nichiren Shu Buddhist priest. My home temple is Myosho-ji, Wonderful Voice Temple, in Charlotte, NC. You may visit the temple’s web page by going to I am also training at Carolinas Medical Center as a Chaplain intern. It is my hope that I eventually become a Board Certified Chaplain. Currently I am also taking healing touch classes leading to become a certified Healing Touch Practitioner. I do volunteer work with the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (you may learn more about them by following the link) caring for individuals who are HIV+ or who have AIDS/SIDA.