Following is a typical English service offered at the Greater Seattle Nichiren Buddhist Temple. Unless otherwise stated, all members read/chant the service along with the minister.
We begin the service by practicing a few minutes of silent meditation. The purpose of the meditation is to focus our intent on the representation of the teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
2. Gatha “Tachiwataru”
This is song that is sung in Japanese. A transliteration of the Japanese and the meaning in English are show below.
Tachi wataru mi no u ki kumo mo hare nube shi tae nu mi nori no wa shi no yama kaze.
Even the clouds of sadness that spread over me would be blown clear away by the winds of Mt Eagle filled with the sounds of the Lotus Sutra.
Honor be to the great Mandala, the perfect circle of all honorable ones, revealed by our founder, Nichiren Shonin. Honor be to the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni, our original teacher, the Lord of the Dharma, our great benefactor, who attained enlightenment in the remotest past. Honor be to the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, the teaching of equality, the great wisdom, the One Vehicle. Honor be to our founder, the great bodhisattva Nichiren Shonin, dispatched by our Original Buddha. Honor be to Renge Ajari Nichiji Shonin, the first overseas missionary. Honor be to the protective deities of the Dharma. We honor all of you. May you come to this consecrated place out of your compassion towards us, see us with the light of your wisdom, and accept our offering of chanting the Sutra and Namu Myo Ho Renge Kyo.
4. Verses for Opening the Sutra
The most profound and wonderful teaching is presented in this sutra. This sutra is difficult to meet even once in thousands and millions of eons. Now we have been able to see hear, received and keep this sutra. May we understand the most excellent teaching of the Tathagata.
The most excellent teaching of the Great Vehicle is very difficult for us to understand. We shall be able to approach enlightenment when see, hear, or touch this sutra. Expounded is the Buddha’s truth. Expounding is the Buddha’s essence. The letters composing this sutra are the Buddha’s manifestation.
Just as perfume is caught by something put nearby, so shall we be benefited by this sutra even when we are not aware of it. So many merits are accumulated in this sutra.
Everyone can expiate their sin, do good deeds, and attain Buddhahood by the merits of this sutra. It does not matter whether we are wise or not, or whether we believe the sutra or reject it.
This sutra is the most wonderful and most excellent taught by the Buddhas of the past, present and future. May we meet and receive it, birth after birth, world after world.
5. Lotus Sutra Chapter 2 “Expedients”
There upon the World Honored One emerged quietly from his samadhi and said to Sariputra:
The wisdom of the present Buddhas is profound and immeasurable. The gate to it is difficult to understand and difficult to enter. Their wisdom cannot be understood by any Sravaka or Pratyekabuddha because the present Buddhas attended on many hundreds of thousands of billions of past Buddhas, and practiced the innumerable teachings of those Buddhas bravely and strenuously to their far-flung fame until they attained the profound Dharma which you have never heard before, and became Buddhas, and also because since they became Buddhas they have been expounding the Dharma according to the capacities of all living beings in such various ways that the true purpose of their various teaching is difficult to understan
Sariputra! Since I became a Buddha, I also have been expounding various teachings with various stories of previous lives, with various parables, and with various similes. I have been leading all living beings with innumerable expedients in order to save them from various attachments, because I have the power to employ expedients and the power to perform the paramita of insight.
Sariputra! The insight of the Tathagatas is wide and deep. The Tathagatas have all the states of mind towards innumerable living beings, unhindered eloquence, powers, fearlessness, dhyana-concentrations, emancipations, and samadhis. They entered deep into boundlessness, and attained the Dharma which you have never heard before.
Sariputra! The Tathagatas divide the Dharma into various teachings, and expound those teachings to all living beings so skillfully and with such gentle voices that living beings are delighted. Sariputra! In short, the Buddhas attained the innumerable teachings which you have never heard before. No more, Sariputra, will I say because the Dharma attained by the Buddhas is the highest Truth, rare to hear and difficult to understand. Only the Buddhas attained the highest Truth, that is, the reality of all things in regard to their appearances as such, their natures as such, their entities as such, their powers as such, their activities as such, their primary causes as such, their environmental causes as such, their effects as such, their rewards and retributions as such, and their equality as such despite those differences.
6. Lotus Sutra Chapter 16 “The Duration of the life of the Tathagata”
It is many hundreds of thousands of billions of trillions of asamkhyas of kalpas since I become the Buddha.
For the past innumerable kalpas I have always been expounding the Dharma to many hundreds of millions of living beings in order to lead them into the Way to Buddhahood.
In order to save the perverted people, I expediently show my Nirvana to them. In reality I shall never pass away. I always live here and expound the Dharma.
Although I always live here with the perverted people, I disappear from their eyes by my supernatural powers.
When they see me seemingly pass away, and make offerings to my sariras, and adore me, admire me, and become devout, upright and gentle, and wish to see me with all their hearts at the cost of their lives, I reappear on Mt Sacred Eagle with my Samgha, and say to them: I always live here. I shall never be extinct. I show my extinction to you expediently although I never pass away. I also expound the unsurpassed Dharma to the living beings of the other worlds if they respect me, believe me, and wish to see me. You have never heard this; therefore you thought that I pass away.
I see the perverted people sinking in an ocean of suffering. Therefore, I disappear from their eyes and cause them to admire me. When they adore me, I appear and expound the Dharma to them.
I can do all this by my supernatural powers. I live on Mt Sacred Eagle and also in the other abodes for asamkhya kalpas.
The perverted people think: this world is in a great fire. The end of the kalpa of destruction is coming. In reality this world of mine is peaceful. It is filled with gods and men. The gardens, forests, and stately buildings are adorned with various treasures; the jeweled trees have many flowers and fruits; the living beings are enjoying themselves; and the gods are beating heavenly drums, making various kinds of music, and raining mandarava-flowers on the great multitude and me.
This pure world of mine is indestructible. But the perverted people think: It is full of sorrow, fear, and other sufferings. It will soon burn away.
Because of their evil karmas, these sinful people will not be able to hear even the names of the Three Treasures during asamkhya kalpas.
To those who have accumulated merits, and who are gentle and upright, and who see me living here, expounding the Dharma, I say: the duration of my life is immeasurable. To those who see me after a long time, I say: It is difficult to see a Buddha.
I can do all this by the power of my wisdom. The light of my wisdom knows no bound. The duration of my life is innumerable kalpas. I obtained this longevity by ages of practice.
All of you, wise men! Have no doubts about this! Remove your doubts, have no more! My words are true, not false.
The physician, who sent a man expediently to tell his perverted sons of the death of their father in order to cure them, was not accused of falsehood although he was still alive.
In the same manner, I am the father of the world. I am saving all living beings from suffering. Because they are perverted, I say that I shall pass away although I shall not. If they always see me, they will become arrogant and licentious, and cling to the five desires so much that they will fall into evil regions.
I know who is practicing the Way and who is not. Therefore, I expound various teachings to all living beings according to their capacities.
I am always thinking: How shall I cause all living beings to enter into the unsurpassed Way and quickly become Buddhas?
7. Nichiren Shonin’s Writing
Learning and Practicing “Shoho Jisso Sho”
Have faith in the Great Mandala Gohonzon, the most superlative in the world. Endeavor! Endeavor to strengthen your faith, so that you may be blessed with all the protective powers of all the Buddhas. Learn and practice to strengthen your faith. Without learning and practicing there is no Buddhism. To learn and practice are a part of faith. Follow these yourself and influence others to do the same. Even if only a word or a phrase, spread it to others.
“Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,”
is chanted by all for short time. Please offer incense during the chanting.
“Myoho Renge Kyo” is the Japanese name of the Lotus Sutra . “Namu” means “devotion.” Thus Namu Myoho Renge Kyo means “Devotion to the Wonderful Truth of the Lotus Flower Teaching.”
9. Difficulty of Keeping the Sutra
It is difficult to keep the Sutra. I shall be glad to see anyone keeping it even for a moment. So will all the other Buddhas. He will be praised by all the Buddhas. He will be a man of valor, a man of endeavor. He should be considered to have already observed the precepts and practiced the dhuta. He will quickly attain the unsurpassed enlightenment of the Buddhas.
Anyone who reads and recites this Sutra in the future is a true son of mine. He shall be considered to live on the stage of purity and good.
Anyone, after my extinction, who understands the meaning of this Sutra, will be the eyes of the worlds of gods and men.
Anyone who expounds this Sutra even for a moment in this dreadful world should be honored with offerings by all gods and men.
We respectfully dedicate all our merits gathered up till now to the Great Benevolent Teacher, Sakyamuni the Eternal Buddha; to the supreme teaching, the Lotus Sutra; to the leader of the Declining Latter Age of the Dharma, our founder, the great bodhisattva Nichiren Shonin; and to the protective deities of the Dharma. May all beings under the heavens and within the four seas live in accordance with the wonderful Dharma. May the wonderful Dharma spread throughout the ten thousand years of the Declining Latter Age of the Dharma. May we realize this world is the Eternal Buddha’s Pure Land. May peace permeate all the world and al people enjoy peace and happiness. May all people live in safety and live long without misfortune. May peace and happiness last forever and all beings be prosperous. May we purify our minds, limit our desires, learn to be content, feel free to experience the quiet unassuming joys of life, and learn to abandon all attachments formed in the mind. We pray for the spirits of our ancestors and for all the spirits of the universe. We pray that all beings awaken to the true nature of reality which is the Buddha Dharma, and by the merits of following the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. May all beings of all realms be helped equally and overcome suffering, and gain the happiness of blissful liberation. With this prayer we endeavor to increase our understanding and appreciation of what others have given and contributed to us and to develop constant, mindful consideration of how our thoughts and actions will beneficially contribute to others.
Namu Myo Ho Renge Kyo
11. The Four Great Vows
- Sentient beings are innumerable. I vow to save them all.
- Our delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to quench them all.
- The teachings are innumerable. I vow to study them all.
- The Buddha’s Way is unexcelled. I vow to attain the path sublime.
12. Gatha “When We See the Golden Sun”
This song is sung in English.
When we see the gold sun shining from above, we are mindful of the Buddha’s Love. O’er us all his pure compassion sheds its steadfast glow, by his doctrine wisdom’s way to show.
When we see the silver moon gleaming in the sky, we remember still our lord is nigh. By his blessed law to guide us thru this earthly night, out of sorrow into joy and light.
13. The Three Treasures
- I put my faith in the Buddha.
- I put my faith in the Dharma.
- I put my faith in the Sangha.
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