The Great Rain Cloud
The Burning Mansion

The Prodigal Son
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The Elixir of Wisdom

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Opening Statement by Lifeforce:

"It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you to EverLife’s Lotus Garden. Your arrival here is auspicious. As you have come a long way in seeking my advice, I will impart to you a parable from the Lotus Sutra. The Parable of the Great Rain Cloud reveals the presence of a divine power that can transform all beings. In this tale the Buddha is likened to a fabulously enormous cloud and its rain is a metaphor for the Lotus Sutra. Accordingly, when this sutra is evoked, the Buddha rains Perfect Enlightenment upon the mortal realm. Hence, the "downpour" of buddha-wisdom that flows from this sutra is the Cause of Perfect Enlightenment. It can quench the spiritual thirst of all who drink from it."

"Next, the Rain Cloud Parable addresses the question: how much "rainwater" does one need to "drink" for Perfect Enlightenment to blossom? The Parable instructs that just as different plants and species require different amounts of nourishment to thrive, individuals and communities can take from this sutra an appropriate amount of blessings — as required by their particular characteristics [i.e., karma]. While some will require more and others less "rain" to experience its full power, this universally benevolent sutra neither discriminates nor shows favor among its recipients. While one may drink more of its blessings than another, the sutra neither provides more blessings nor shows greater favor to one who "drinks" more of it. The Parable declares that one should take from it the appropriate amount of nourishment one needs to sustain a thriving life — in this case, "thriving" is synonymous with a state of absolute happiness."

"And now…here is the Parable I promised. Listen carefully."


The Parable of the Great Rain Cloud

A dense cloud, spreading over and everywhere covering the whole three-thousand great-thousand fold universe, pours down [its rain] equally at the same time. Its moisture universally fertilizes the plants, trees, thickets, forests, and medicinal herbs…[all] receive its share. From the rain of the one cloud [each plant] according to the nature of its kind acquires its development, opening its blossoms and bearing its fruit…The Declarer of Truth (Tathagata-Buddha) is also like this; he appears in the world like the rising of [that] great cloud…I am the Declarer of Truth, the Buddha, the World-honored One…I know the present world and the world to come as they really are…

I look upon all [living beings]
Everywhere [with] equal [eyes],
Without distinction of persons,
Or minds of love or hate.
I have no limitations [or partiality];
Ever to all [beings]
I preach the Law equally;
As [I preach] to one person,
So [I preach] to all…
[But] beings, according to their nature,
Receive it differently,
Just as among plants and trees
Each takes a varying supply.  


Closing remarks by Lifeforce:

"Through this Parable the Buddha declared that Perfect Enlightenment will rain down with equanimity upon all living beings. All who hear this sutra will be nourished by it. It was the Buddha’s intention to open the Way of Buddhahood to all people — regardless of the differences among them. The Great Rain Cloud represented his vast, unprejudiced and nourishing compassion for all that exists."

"The Great Rain Cloud, like Life itself, provides sustenance to the living and allows them the opportunity for growth. In this context, the Buddha and Life are interchangeable. Implied here is that the true identity of the Enlightened One — the Buddha— is Life itself, and conversely, that Life is the Enlightened One. Just as Life is compassionate and nondiscriminating in nourishing the entire plant kingdom, in like manner the Buddha offers his illuminating power and wisdom as nourishment to all beings. Thus, the Parable attributes to Perfect Enlightenment the power to sustain the living and bear the fruition of mortal life."

"Through this Parable, Sakyamuni urged his disciples to approach this sutra as a thirsty plant approaches rainwater. He encouraged them to take from the Lotus Sutra the "rain of Perfect Enlightenment" that will nourish their Life. Regardless of the type of being one may be or the state-of-being one may be in, he declares that one who drinks from the pure waters of this True Reality (Skt. Dharma) will partake of a universal enlightenment meant for one and all. Thus, he offers all living beings an equal opportunity to illuminate their existence."

"While it holds out such fantastic promise, this Parable also places its promise in your hands. It tells you that you have access to the Cause of Perfect Enlightenment, the opportunity to employ it and the responsibility for manifesting it. The Buddha has completed his personal responsibility to the mortal world by offering to you the means to illuminate yourself. Should you decide to "drink" from this sutra to your heart’s content, your Life will blossom with everlasting fulfillment. The strength of your desire to "drink" these pure waters and the amount of "nourishment" you need (which is defined by the type of nature and karma you have) will determine the magnitude of your self-actualized transformation."

"This parable’s Doctrine of Universal Access to Perfect Enlightenment revised an earlier notion held as an absolute fact by Sakyamuni’s disciples — that Perfect Enlightenment was beyond the reach of common mortals. Throughout his discourse Sakyamuni guided his followers toward lesser kinds of enlightenment than his own. In relation to their practices and abilities they could attain the enlightenment of Learning (Skt. arhat), the enlightenment of Realization (Skt. prateykabuddha) and/or the enlightenment of Selflessness (Skt. bodhissatva). However, through this Great Rain Cloud Parable the Lotus Sutra clarifies that all mortals possess access to Perfect Enlightenment — the unsurpassed enlightenment of all buddhas (Jpn. san-myaku san-bodai), the supreme Reality of All Existence, the illumination of eternal Truth."

"This metaphor illustrated that while only one kind of enlightenment really existed, Perfect Enlightenment manifested in a myriad of ways. Therein Sakyamuni Buddha negated the idea held by his followers that a buddha must exude an exalted outward appearance — such as he, Sakyamuni, had exhibited. On the contrary, according to this Parable, Buddhahood manifests in many forms. In this context, mortals could invoke Perfect Enlightenment to cause their own uniquely individual characteristics to blossom forth with enlightened fruition. Thus, the Parable repositions the state of Buddhahood from that of an Effect — as exemplified by the august appearance Sakyamuni had attained — to that of a Cause, wherein Perfect Enlightenment is not the goal but the vehicle of Life’s illumination."

"In stressing that the variable of thirst was the critical determining factor in actuating Perfect Enlightenment, Sakyamuni called upon his followers to put their faith in this sutra above all others past, present or future — something he had never asked of them in any of his previous teachings. In the Great Rain Cloud Parable the Buddha equates faith with the thirst of a plant for rainwater. Accordingly, the desire one harbors for hearing, seeing and discerning the Truth of the Reality of All Existence — which he reveals in a later chapter of the Lotus Sutra — determines how much one will be able to realize it. Accordingly, one who thirstily drinks the Buddha’s Perfect Enlightenment causes his own Buddhahood to blossom naturally, just as water causes a plant to grow."

"One who chants Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo with the passion of a thirsty plant may be said to be drinking the Cause of Perfect Enlightenment bequeathed in this venerable sutra to the people of this era. Those who recognize this rare gift is meant for them should heed this ancient message."


The Great Rain Cloud | The Burning Mansion | The Prodigal Son
The Gem in the Coat | The Elixir of Wisdom
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