Chapter III: Part 3 – Rejoice

Chap 3 RejoiceChapter III provides me with many different inspirational passages which have defined my practice of the Lotus Sutra and how I have tried to encourage others.  I am using page 81 from the Murano 3rd edition translation of the Lotus Sutra. 

You may have by now noticed a trend or theme in my choices so far.  Mostly I have selected passages which have allowed me to highlight my joy of practice.  This is perhaps a good place for me to say that my choices are simply that and they do not need to be your choices.  Each of us will read the Lotus Sutra from our own perspective and understanding.  It could even be said that our persepectives have shapped our individual interpretation even as the text has shaped us.  The two have happened at the same time and will continue to evolve over time.  

For me, the Lotus Sutra has provided great joy and happiness.  My practice has allowed me to live a life much different from what I thought it might have been.  I’ve shared with you previously where I was in my life before I began to chant the Odaimoku.  I’ve also shared how much my life has changed over these many years.  I hope I have also conveyed to you the deep feeling of appreciation and profound sense of gratitude I owe the Buddha and the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra.  It is from those places my art work comes from, it is from those places that certain passages stand out and resonate with me.  This may not be your experience and so the passages I select might not be the ones you would choose.

Please choose your own passages, the ones which most closely describe your experiences.  Select the ones which stand out to you.  

The themes of joy, sharing that joy with others, enlightenment of self, and gratitude among others are important to me.  They have in many ways defined my understanding of the Lotus Sutra and the mission the Buddha has left me with.  

The little piece of art I am sharing with you now is all about joy, rejoicing, and sharing that joy and source from which it came.  The Buddha appeared “in order to give peace to all living beings.”  Not a single living thing on this globe is excluded.  There is no listing of exceptions to this list.  You and I are certainly included and the Buddha wishes for both of us to be in peace.  In this poem section of Chapter III the Buddha tells Shariputra that he has a mission to expound, to share the Dharma.  The Buddha does request it not be done carelessly.  Yet he does say in the place where he lives.  

Later on in the sutra I believe the Buddha becomes more specific in his instructions to us, the practitioners today living in this latter age of the Dharma.  Our instructions include the notion of offering any other teaching of the Buddha if the person does not wish to believe in the Lotus Sutra.  Yet in both instances the instruction consistently says to benefit others and cause them to have joy.  

So benefit and joy for others is crucial.  The means to best provide this to others is through the teachings of the Buddha and ultimately the Lotus Sutra.  It is up to us to carry this out in a way that is in keeping with our fundamental self, our true nature, our talents, our lived experiences.  It is hard for me to imagine having ever taken up the practice of chanting the Odaimoku if the only people who spoke to me about it were lifeless, sad, unhappy, miserable, or so forth.  I would have probably figured they offered me no improvement.  It is because they were happy, it is because they had a sense of purpose, it is because they encouraged me, and they were not afraid to declare their joy and benefit.  Yes, they did teach me some basic theory and doctrine.  Honestly though, I don’t think it was what convinced me to practice.  The things they taught me agreed with my own understanding and thinking, but without some hope of improving my life the theory was nothing more than additional words which offered nothing new.  

It was the practice, it was the hope, it was the sense of purpose the reason to live which I feel attracted me so deeply that even when faced with harassment for practicing I kept going.  Further on this page it says:  “Anyone who rejoices at hearing…receives it respectfully…believes and receives this sutra should be considered to have already seen the past Buddhas.”  I can honestly declare I am alive because of this sutra, because of this practice, because of the many people along the way who have given to me in various ways the gift of the Dharma.  

Rejoice!  That’s what inspired my decoration of the sutra for tis piece.  I used some dimensional paints to experiment with adding textures to my embellishments.  Over these acrylic textures, which are flexible and non-cracking even as the paper my bend, I then used water colors and water based stamp pad ink.  Two Buddhas appear here as they will also appear later on.  Joy and rejoice are all over my life and so it is on here.  I tried out a new gold paste which is far more metallic and shiny than the gold pens I had previously used.  That gold paste is also more expensive but what the heck.  There are three times the letter ’e’ is upside down (though one of them is difficult to find in the photo).  As I did this and mistakenly did the first ‘e’ wrong I though wait I can use that mistake and have them stand for the Three Jewels, and so I declare the upside down ‘e’ herein represents the Three Jewels.  

I hope you enJOY this little offering in celebration of the Lotus Sutra.  

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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 http://www.myoshoji.org. 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.