edlogo-h.gif (1708 bytes)

a-gardn.gif (2869 bytes)

urhere2.gif (396 bytes)

9p-lotus.jpg (6077 bytes)

Welcome to EverLife’s Lotus Garden.

Enter this sacred space where insights abound. Your views, beliefs, feelings, and desires are the flowers you see all around you as you walk down the garden path — each one is a blossom emanating from your inner wisdom.

Your insights unceasingly teach you, nurture you, and protect you. Each is like an extraordinarily radiant lotus flower floating on the shimmering waters that flow through your mind. Now pick one out, admire it and smell its fragrance. Does it cause you to reflect on how you came to this point in your existence or to wonder about the challenges that loom before you? Here in the garden of your life the lotus flower represents your eternal self. It is your absolute essence — a blossom of supremely pure, indestructible fulfillment. All you need do is to wish the lotus within you to arise and you are ready for profound new insights.

Proceed to the spot where an ancient sage has taken permanent residence near the waterfall feeding the stream that circles this garden. Count on this venerable storyteller, Lifeforce, to bring you to the verge of divine inspiration, as you listen to him tell and decipher parables from the Lotus Sutra. They will cause your mind to blossom fields of new insights. Or, you may proceed to the center of the Lotus Garden. There you will encounter an 8-petal fountain. You may find that the streams of thought springing from each petal may be of personal importance to you. Although written more than 700 years ago by Nichiren, Japan’s quintessential sage of the Lotus Sutra, these valuable insights have contemporary relevance. Moreover, they may inspire the essential lotus within your life to manifest upon the waters of your present condition.

The Garden Path — On Truth and Faith

Lifeforce — Parables from the Lotus Sutra

Fountainhead of Pure Insights — Messages from Nichiren

 

 

 waterfallpath.jpg (40736 bytes)

 

The Garden Path

Beware of those, the expression goes, who would lead you down the garden path. The warning is a reminder that among us are some who would take advantage of our willingness to believe them. A person’s Faith (in something or someone), the proverb suggests, may be blind. It advises that anyone’s perceptual instincts may be vulnerable to falsehood. While wisdom one gains from life experience teaches that Truth and Faith are not interchangeable, a person who becomes a "believer" will always believe that the two are the same.

As the placebo effect used in scientific experiments confirms, just the perception of equating Faith and Truth, even if it is falsely placed, may create a powerful effect. At the heart of this matter is the natural and universal inclination people have to find Truth in that which they believe. As ultimate Truth is too abstract a notion for the conscious mind to pursue, human beings replace it with a conceivable goal: to find a "better place." Existence in a "better place" may be defined in innumerable ways — in life or in death, in sickness or in health, in material form or in spiritual terms, within oneself or in relationships.

No matter how it is constituted, however, the vision that any particular person has of their "better place" belies a deep and abiding desire for Truth. Ancient sages recognized that the apparent "better place" human beings instinctively desired in a variety of ways masked the "true" desire that compelled all to find pure Truth itself. The Buddha described the metaphoric substitutes arising from the subcognitive mind as "illusions" — a temporary substitute for the real thing. While Indic culture of his day regarded "illusions" as falsehoods that presented obstacles to enlightenment, the Buddha eventually explained that the "desires" humans exhibited actually facilitate the subcognitive search all humans are conducting for the Truth in all things. Invariably, he pointed out that while nothing of a temporary nature could measure up to absolute Truth, the inherent desire all beings possessed for absolute fulfillment beckoned the inner mind to continue the search.

As you progress along the Lotus Garden’s pathway, keep in mind that humans by nature are always in danger of misplacing their Faith and mistaking mere perceptions for Truth. Ironically, those who are determined to walk fearlessly through the garden of their own illusions will become truly discerning.
 

 

Lifeforce(new).JPG (11039 bytes)

Lifeforce

The path will lead you just beyond the Lotus Garden’s Falls where you will find EverLife’s resident storyteller. In a spot bathed in tranquil light a venerable Chinese sage, Lifeforce, sits on a raised cushion embroidered with the image of a lion. The stream spirals around him as if the water refuses to leave his side. His palms pressed together he chants continuously. His constant thought is for "all of humanity to receive the impartial blessings of the Supreme Treasure [of Everlasting Life] that is always spreading wisdom, peace and happiness throughout the world and the entire universe."

Only approach Lifeforce if you wish to gain his advice. To hear him speak of the Lotus Sutra is to hear Truth and Faith in perfect harmony. If you are ready to do so, a large, white Lotus Flower seat will appear from the spiral stream. If you sit upon it, Lifeforce will begin to unravel one of these Parables from the Lotus Sutra:

#1: The Great Rain Cloud Perfect Enlightenment manifests in different ways among different types of beings. The confluence of the unique aspects of individuals and Buddhism’s singularly all-encompassing cosmic Law is the subject of this celebration of human diversity. While a great rainfall nourishes all plants equally, different species of plant life use the water to grow and express their identity in different ways.

#2: The Burning Mansion — A group of children are trapped in a burning mansion. Their father calls out to them to run out of the house. However, they are so completely engrossed in play that they do not hear him. How does he save them? [More to come]

#3: The Prodigal Son — This is the original version of an ancient religious story. It serves as an oracle to predict the restoration of Humanity’s lost birthright: the rediscovery of Perfect Enlightenment. [More to come]

#4: The Gem in the Coat — A rich and kindly man attaches a jewel inside the coat of a poor friend asleep in a drunken stupor. This parable speaks of original grace: a time before time when all beings received the gift of Life. It suggests that while people suffer, the means for "everlasting wealth" has always been theirs. [More to come]

#5: The Elixir of Wisdom — Innocent children ingest a poison that makes them lose their mind. Although their father is a physician, when he offers them an antidote they refuse to take it. He then must take unusual steps to deal with the situation. [More to come]



8-PetalFountain.jpg (18996 bytes)

Fountainhead of Pure Insights

Relax to the sound of the water and take this wisp of time to sit here and reflect on your life — past, present and future. Then look into one of the eight petals that form the lotus-shaped fountain. Each petal opens to reveal relevant excerpts from Nichiren’s Messages (Jpn. Gosho) — a collection of his hand written documents, including letters, observations, analyses and doctrinal commentaries. Select a petal and follow his words as they guide you deep into your ultimate self. May the pure insights contained in these messages inspire you to find the peace, direction and meaning you are seeking. (Parenthesis: name of recipient and year message was written, if available).

 

The eight petals are:

#1: The Petal of Good Fortune
‘Our eyebrows are very close and heaven is very far, yet we cannot see either of them. The Buddha exists in our hearts, but we cannot see him either. How could that be, you wonder? Our body originates from sperm and egg. It harbors the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance. It is a prisoner to carnal desire. How can the Buddha dwell in such a place? Let me explain. A white lotus flower blooms upon a muddy pond, fragrant sandalwood grows in compost soil, delicate cherry blossoms arise from the hard bark of trees...similarly, unfortunate words can emanate from a sweet mouth to ruin a person, while great deeds can arise from a shallow mind to bring one good fortune and the respect of the wise...misfortune will follow those who defame the Lotus Sutra, even if they appear to have a kind disposition...those who praise it will be graced by the Buddha with a life that is as fragrant as sandalwood, even if they be wanting of any wisdom whatsoever.’
— NICHIREN (Lady Omosu, Date unavailable. New Year’s Message)

#2: The Petal of Compassion
‘Since the lifetime of Sakyamuni (appx. c. 500. B.C.E.) when wisdom was more abundant, the general capacity of people to develop spiritually has deteriorated gradually to its shallowest point in this present Age [of Decadence]. As he foresaw that at this time it will be needed most, the Enlightened One bequeathed his most profound, most compassionate and most powerful teaching to the people of our time...As the fury of a wave increases with the strength of the wind, and the intensity of a flame grows when wood is added...[likewise] a person who puts this legacy to practice for only a single day in this difficult and impure world can grow in wisdom more than if he had practiced for a hundred years in the heavenly circumstances of a pure land.’
— NICHIREN (Priest Sammi Ajari, c. 1275 or 1277)

#3: The Petal of Fruition
‘Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the complete title of the Lotus Sutra. The symbol of the lotus in this context is profound...The diverse nature of the plant world is such that flowers may precede the appearance of fruit or the fruit may appear before any flowers...The lotus is the only known exception. It produces both blossom and fruit simultaneously. Moreover, its fruit is its seedpod. Similarly, all the other sutras teach that one must cultivate good causes and avoid planting bad ones until hopefully one would attain enlightenment at some future time. The Lotus Sutra is uniquely different in that its effects coincide with the making of a cause...A mouth that utters its title instantly evokes Perfect Enlightenment, much as the reflection of the moon may be seen on a pond as soon as it peeks from behind the eastern mountains, or an echo is heard reflected from the mountains as soon as one calls out...[Therefore] whether one hundred, a thousand, or more people delight in this Lotus Sutra, without a single exception, the blossom of buddhahood emerges in their life along with the seedpod that brings buddhahood to others.’
— NICHIREN (Ueno-ama Gozen, c. 1281)

#4: The Petal of Reality
‘Heaven and hell exist only within our human hearts. One who is deluded on this point [believing on the contrary that these “places” actually exist in the afterlife] is an ordinary mortal. However, once awakened to the truth [that all conditions of existence are inherently and simultaneously omnipresent], this mortal may be called a buddha [who dwells in an enlightened land]. As the Lotus Sutra possesses the power to awaken any person to this perfectly endowed [mystic] Reality, those who embrace it realize that hell and the buddha-land manifest in the same place.’
— NICHIREN (Lady Ueno, c. 1274).

#5: The Petal of Fortitude
‘When they first embrace the [Lotus] sutra, people experience such an abundance of happiness that tears of joy flow from their eyes...with the passing of time their original enthusiasm is likely to fade, even if they continue to practice with belief...those who lose the spark of devotion sooner or later may stop revering the teachings and those who teach them, or, even more frightening, lose their way and fall upon paths that lead to distorted views. To avoid regrets, you should be mindful of these pitfalls and be diligent in your pursuit until the last moment of your life. Remember, it takes twelve days to journey across Japan from Kyoto to Kamakura. One who stops after traveling only eleven days will be unable to admire the legendary view of the clear moon as it appears over the capital.’
— NICHIREN (Niike Saemon-no-jo, c. 1280)

#6: The Petal of Blessings
‘The Supreme Treasure of Everlasting Life (Jpn. Gohonzon) which I have sent for the sake of your young child embodies the compassionate heart of the Lotus Sutra and the wisdom eye for all of Sakyamuni’s sutras. Your prayers and this incomparable mandala are what the moon and sun are to the sky. The blessings you receive will protect you like a powerful and benevolent sovereign, will maintain you like the blood in your body, will provide for your needs like a wish-granting jewel, and will uphold you like a pillar supports a house. When you venerate it, you call forth all the buddhas and heavenly forces to gather around you. They will accompany you like a shadow and watch over you night and day, just as guards protect a head of state, parents look after their children, water takes care of fish, rain nourishes plant life, and trees provide shelter for birds. Trust in this cluster of blessings with your whole heart.’
— NICHIREN (Myoshin-ama, c. 1275)

#7: The Petal of Perfect Enlightenment
‘As you steadily continue to chant, one step at a time, whether in difficult or happy times, both for your own fulfillment and for the sake of helping others, you unknowingly climb the wonderful mountain of enlightenment. By the time you reach the end of your life’s journey, you will have scaled its summit. From that vantage you will be able to view the Land of Tranquil Light. Smooth lapis lazuli will cover the ground in every direction across the whole universe. The Eightfold Noble Path will be lined with golden cord. Heavenly flowers will rain from the sky and celestial music will fill the air. Seated beneath their bejeweled trees all the buddhas and bodhisattvas will express their absolute joy to see you. Here you will be caressed by the four gentle breezes of Perfect Enlightenment: eternal boundlessness, indestructible joy, perfect purity, and supreme essence.’
— NICHIREN (Lord Matsuno, c. 1276)

#8: The Petal of Everlasting Life
‘For those who wonder what to make of Sakyamuni’s shocking declaration that he initially attained enlightenment before the beginning of time, I will take you into my confidence regarding my own inner realization on this matter. First, the Buddha had recounted that we, mortal beings, have suffered since time immemorial through a myriad of births and deaths — so much so that we cannot conceive of reaching the ever-distant shore of enlightenment even in our dreams. [While his disciples watched with gaping mouths,] in the Lotus Sutra he revealed that the inception of his Perfect Enlightenment was as old as eternity [and, that his aim in revealing this was to help every mortal achieve an identity equal to his own]. In this way, he conveyed that we, ordinary humans, possess the enlightened essence originally endowed to all buddhas before the beginning of space and time. The Lotus Sutra is the most compassionate of all sutras as it produces the jewel that all mortals, without exception, have always possessed: that is, the Perfectly Enlightened Threefold Body of Everlasting Life [whose Universal Reality, Blissful Wisdom, and Mortal Manifestation constitute our whole self]. From this perspective, you should be able to assert to those who are unaware of it that the Lotus Sutra is supreme among all the Buddha’s teachings.’
— NICHIREN (Priest Sammi Ajari, c. 1275 or 1277) 

 

 

1998 - 2012 EverLife Foundation. All worldwide and U.S. rights reserved.