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 Post subject: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:32 pm 
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Does anyone practice and uphold the Lotus Sutra Dharani here? I am fascinated with these cryptic Dharanis in the 21st chapter of the Lotus sutra because they do not make any sense even in Sanskrit unlike other Dharanis from other Sutras which have literal meanings and which can be translated into other languages.

How effective are these Dharanis? Will it be wrong if someone who is not pure in precepts tries chant these Dharanis?


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:51 pm 
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I think the whole book is magical. There's great benefit in reciting the whole text from start to finish (chanting it rhythmically with some kind of percussion such as a mokugyo is particularly nice).

You raised an important point, though, when you mention the precepts. What does it mean to have the right motivation, the right habit-patterns if you will, for the purposes of reciting this sutra (inclusive of the dharani)? Here's Chapter 10 with the update:

Shakyamuni Buddha wrote:
Medicine-King! How should the good men or women who live after my extinction expound this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to the four kinds of devotees when they wish to? They should enter the room of the Tathagata, wear the robe of the Tathagata, sit on the seat of the Tathagata, and then expound this sutra to the four kinds of devotees. To enter the room of the Tathagata means to have great compassion towards all living beings. To wear the robe of the Tathagata means to be gentle and patient. To sit on the seat of the Tathagata means to see the voidness of all things. They should do these [three] things and then without indolence expound this Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma to Bodhisattvas and the four kinds of devotees.


Or just to yourself and the mice in the kitchen. I'd advise you to reflect carefully on these three points, and get yourself a copy of the Lotus Sutra, and chant it section by section at regular intervals. It also helps to copy it out by hand.

This is a good way to get the teachings into your very bones.

You'll get different answers to this question, but to my mind, this is the most sensible.

(translation by Senchu Murano)

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:17 pm 
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Rakshasa wrote:
Does anyone practice and uphold the Lotus Sutra Dharani here? I am fascinated with these cryptic Dharanis in the 21st chapter of the Lotus sutra because they do not make any sense even in Sanskrit unlike other Dharanis from other Sutras which have literal meanings and which can be translated into other languages.

How effective are these Dharanis? Will it be wrong if someone who is not pure in precepts tries chant these Dharanis?

Sorry, what do you mean by the dharani in Chapter 21 of the Lotus Sutra? I could not find any in that chapter.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:45 am 
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Hi Kaji,

I was referring to the following dharani from chapter 21:

" And the giantesses all simultaneously and in a chorus gave to the Lord the following words of spells: iti me, iti me, iti me, iti me, iti me; nime nime nime nime nime; ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe; stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe, svâhâ."

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/lotus/lot21.htm

I think some versions give the Dharani in chapter 26? Please correct me if I am wrong. A translation from Chinese version in Fodian website gives the Dharani in chapter 26:

http://www.fodian.net/world/0262_26.html

Finally, the Sanskrit version of Saddharmapundarika gives the Dharani in Chapter 21.

iti me iti me iti me iti me iti me| nime nime nime nime nime| ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe| stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe svāhā||

http://dsbc.uwest.edu/node/4275

On a more academic note, such cryptic Dharanis are one of the reasons many scholars believe that Lotus Sutra was first written in a Prakrit variant, and many of the first Chinese translations were also done from these middle-Indic langauge compared to later Sanskrit.


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:28 am 
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Rakshasa wrote:
Hi Kaji,

I was referring to the following dharani from chapter 21:

" And the giantesses all simultaneously and in a chorus gave to the Lord the following words of spells: iti me, iti me, iti me, iti me, iti me; nime nime nime nime nime; ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe; stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe, svâhâ."

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/lotus/lot21.htm

I think some versions give the Dharani in chapter 26? Please correct me if I am wrong. A translation from Chinese version in Fodian website gives the Dharani in chapter 26:

http://www.fodian.net/world/0262_26.html

Finally, the Sanskrit version of Saddharmapundarika gives the Dharani in Chapter 21.

iti me iti me iti me iti me iti me| nime nime nime nime nime| ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe ruhe| stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe stuhe svāhā||

http://dsbc.uwest.edu/node/4275

On a more academic note, such cryptic Dharanis are one of the reasons many scholars believe that Lotus Sutra was first written in a Prakrit variant, and many of the first Chinese translations were also done from these middle-Indic langauge compared to later Sanskrit.

Ah right. I copy below a Sanskrit transliteration of the dharani by Mr Chua, Boon Tuan (from http://www.dharanipitaka.net/2011/2008/ ... darika.pdf):
Quote:
Ide me, ide me, ide me, āde me, ide me; nir-me, nir-me, nir-me, nirme, nir-me; ruhi, ruhi, ruhi, ruhi, ruhi; tahi, tahi, tahi; dhū hi, nu hi,
svāhā.

I understand Mr Chua has self-studied Sanskrit, so he may know what those phrases may possibly mean. You can find his contacts in the above-linked PDF file.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:55 pm 
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Kaji,

How famous is Lotus Dharani amongst East Asians compared to Casket Seal Dharani and Mahacundi Dharani? Do you have any commentary on Lotus Dharani?

Since other Dharanis are more famous amongst the Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese, I guess Lotus Dharani must be one of the more difficult ones which require greater prerequisites for practicing. Ou-I, the Buddhist monk, who wrote Buddhist I Ching, said that for lay disciples all the mantras and dharanis are risky (I wonder why he said so, though I guess it may have to do with the strength of precepts maintaining of the individuals), and only the Nianfo is the safest. Which is why I practice Nianfo. But recently, I have been reading more about the Mantras and Dharanis from other Mahayana scriptures.


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:40 pm 
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Rakshasa wrote:
Kaji,

How famous is Lotus Dharani amongst East Asians compared to Casket Seal Dharani and Mahacundi Dharani? Do you have any commentary on Lotus Dharani?

Since other Dharanis are more famous amongst the Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese, I guess Lotus Dharani must be one of the more difficult ones which require greater prerequisites for practicing. Ou-I, the Buddhist monk, who wrote Buddhist I Ching, said that for lay disciples all the mantras and dharanis are risky (I wonder why he said so, though I guess it may have to do with the strength of precepts maintaining of the individuals), and only the Nianfo is the safest. Which is why I practice Nianfo. But recently, I have been reading more about the Mantras and Dharanis from other Mahayana scriptures.

Coming from a Chinese Buddhist background, my observation of the most famous and widely-practised/upheld dharani/mantra would give me this list:

Great Compassion Dharani
Om Mani Padme Hum
Cundi Dharani
Medicine Buddha Mantra
Amitabha Dharani
Shurangama Mantra
Casket Seal Dharani
Hundred-Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva
Usnisa Vijaya Dharani
Great White Umbrella Dharani (my rough translation)
Great Wish-Granting Dharani (my rough translation)

There might be a few more that could make it to the list but I can't think of right now. However, Lotus Dharani would not be one of them. I know it is very popular amongst Chinese Buddhists to chant the whole Lotus Sutra, but not specifically the Lotus Dharani.

In terms of a desirable level of purity to be maintain by a practitioner to use and uphold these dharani, I have read that even though the sutra may not explicit state them they are implied to greatly help the dharani practice. For daily practice by a lay person, purity would mainly consist of upholding the Five Precepts and a vegetarian diet (including no egg and pungent vegetables like garlic, onion, chives, etc.).

The Cundi Dharani is the exception, the sutra of which explicitly states this practice is also suited for people who cannot immediately refrain from e.g. eating meat, drinking alcohol, having a marital relationship.

I have recently read that the Ten Hearts as taught in the Great Compassion Dharani Sutra are also applicable to all dharani/mantra.

I agree that Nianfo is very safe. The practitioner's purity would be helpful too, but probably not critically essential as I understand it. I would extrapolate the teaching about the Ten Hearts to be applicable to Nianfo also. Nianfo has the additional benefit that one could practise Chan/Zen using it, whereas I have seldom heard people do that with dharani/mantra practice.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:19 pm 
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I have also heard that the Cundi Mantra is one of the mantras/esoteric practices that some Chan/Zen lineages especially uphold (as a part of regular cultivation). And yes, I also have been taught that NianFo is compatible with Chan/Zen.


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:02 am 
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Quote:
And yes, I also have been taught that NianFo is compatible with Chan/Zen.


Yea, in China, there has been a "ch'an-pure land synthesis" since about the 11th century. Modern Chinese Buddhists largely do not discriminate between the two at at all. For this reason and a few others I think that Kaji's answer may be a bit off, and perhaps a bit Tibetan-centric. In my experience, Chinese Buddhists are much more likely to repeat Amitabha Buddha's name than a mantra such as om mani padme hum, although it is true that this mantra is somewhat popular within Chinese Buddhism. The Great Compassion Dharani is indeed very important/popular in Chinese Buddhist circles but it is odd to rank the Amitabha Dharani so low on this list or even beneath the great compassion dharani, At least in modern Chinese Buddhism, Amitabha practice is central, as far as deity practices go.

EDIT: I just want to clarify that I don't think that I am an authority on this subject. I just mean to present an alternative perspective. I would be interested to see if my experience is a minority one, which would force me to actually rethink a lot of my (pre)conceptions,


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus Sutra Dharani
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:01 am 
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plassma wrote:
For this reason and a few others I think that Kaji's answer may be a bit off, and perhaps a bit Tibetan-centric.

I am quite surprised by this comment. As far as I know, all the dharani and mantra in the list I posted are found in the Chinese-translated sutra. Dharani/mantra practice is very common and widely practised amongst Chinese Buddhists.

plassma wrote:
In my experience, Chinese Buddhists are much more likely to repeat Amitabha Buddha's name than a mantra such as om mani padme hum, although it is true that this mantra is somewhat popular within Chinese Buddhism.

Pure Land practice, especially nianfo, is indeed popular amongst Chinese Buddhists. However, I don't have any statistics as to how that compares to dharani/mantra practices.

plassma wrote:
The Great Compassion Dharani is indeed very important/popular in Chinese Buddhist circles but it is odd to rank the Amitabha Dharani so low on this list or even beneath the great compassion dharani, At least in modern Chinese Buddhism, Amitabha practice is central, as far as deity practices go.

The list I posted does not follow any particular order. For example, I understand that all Chinese monks and nuns recite the Shurangama Mantra every morning, so it most probably is more popular than Om Mani Padme Hum.

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