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  • Writer's pictureAquarius

Bow In Front of A Mirror

The Lotus Sutra describes the story of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, a bodhisattva still in the early stages of practice, as a model for Buddhist practice in the 21st Century. Bodhisattva Never Disparaging greeted each person he encountered with a bow of praise and respect, saying: "I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you all practice the Bodhisattva way and will then be able to attain Buddhahood."

But people found this aggravating and reacted with hostility, showering him with abuse, beating him with sticks and staves, and throwing stones and tiles at him. Still, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was not deterred; rather, he would wisely retreat to a safe distance and shout to the effect: "Even so, I respect you. You will all become Buddhas!" He refused to stop showing respect and reverence to all.

The people who rejected Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s greeting and angrily attacked him are known as the arrogant four kinds of believers— namely, arrogant monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. This is because at the core of the refusal to accept the truth taught by the Buddha is arrogance arising from fundamental darkness or ignorance.

This passage from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings employs the simile of a mirror. When we bow before a mirror, the image in the mirror bows back to us. Likewise, the Buddha nature inherent in the arrogant four kinds of believers bows respectfully to Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, even if they themselves are not aware of it. From the profound perspective of Buddhism, this is the dynamic way that human life interacts.

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