The Blessings of the Lotus Sutra - The Benefit of Supporting the Votary of the Lotus Sutra

Every being, from the highest sage on down to the smallest mosquito or gnat, holds life to be its most precious possession. To deprive a being of life is to commit the gravest kind of sin… In providing another with sustenance, one obtains three kinds of benefit. First, one sustains one’s own life. Second, one brings colour to one’s face. Third, one gains strength.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p667)

This letter was written at Minobu in the intercalary third month of the second year of Kenji (1276) and addressed to Myomitsu, a believer who lived at Kuwagayatsu in Kamakura. While detailed information about Myomitsu is not available, it appeared that he and his wife frequently made offerings to the Daishonin at his small dwelling in the wilderness of Mount Minobu.

Miyomitsu and his wife, together with other followers centering around Shinjo Kingo, maintained their sinere faith in the Daishonin’s teachings even during the most difficult times of the Atsuhara Persecution.

The following explanation is based on SGI President Ikeda’s study series: “Learning from the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin: The Teachings for Victory” on the Gosho, “The Blessings of the Lotus Sutra”.

The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin teaches that all people can manifest the sublime power of the Mystic Law within their lives. It is a teaching that elucidates the fundamental dignity and sanctity of all life.

The Daishonin began this writing by stating that life is the most precious of all treasures. All living beings, even mosquitoes and gnats, he observed, prized their lives.

Shakyamuni Buddha himself valued all living beings and had immense compassion for them. Regarded as equally important, he added, is making offerings of sustenance, which sustain life.

By starting his letter in this way, the Daishonin seek to lavish the highest praise on Myomitsu for his invaluable offerings that supported and sustained the life of the votary of the Lotus Sutra, an act that will bring the giver unimaginably great benefit.

The Daishonin noted that because such offerings benefit the recipient by sustaining his life, brightening his complexion, and increasing his strength, the same benefits are also gained by the giver. (cf WND-1, p667)

In other words, offerings of sustenance function to support life, bring inner radiance, and strengthen vitality and life-force.

The Daishonin then went on to explain that the givers of such offerings are assured of receiving three kinds ofwondrous karmic reward.

First of all, in the human and heavenly realms, the benefit of having sustained another’s life will manifest as gaining long life; the benefit of having given strength to another will manifest as possessing virtue and influence and winning the trust and respect of many people; and the benefit of bringing colour to another’s face will manifest as being endowed with the thirty-two features and being as graceful and dignified as a lotus flower. (cf WND-1, p667)

The Daishonin also described the karmic rewards of such offerings in the realm of Buddhahood, which appear as the “three bodies of the Buddha” [embodiments of ultimate truth, wisdom, and compassion].

These benefits respectively consist of manifesting oneself as a Buddha of the Dharma body, a body that is as vast and boundless as space; manifesting oneself as a Buddha of the reward body, emanating the pure and brilliant light of supreme wisdom; and manifesting oneself as a Buddha of the manifested body, overflowing with compassion like Shakyamuni. (cf WND-1, p667)

Thus, because actions that support and nurture life are the very heart of Buddhist practice, the benefit of providing another with sustenance manifests not only as immense good fortune for the giver in the human and heavenly realms, but also manifests in the realm of Buddhahood by one’s life perfectly endowed with the three bodies of the Buddha in a single body.

Making offerings enables one to achieve good – the highest expression of which is the supreme good of attaining Buddhahood. In the Daishonin’s Buddhism, especially, the person or teaching to whom the offering is made is also very important.

The provisional teachings teach that if one makes offerings to a sage, one will be reborn in the human and heavenly realms. But by making offerings to the Lotus Sutra, the teaching for attaining Buddhahood, once can manifest the three bodies of the Buddha in one’s own life.

Accordingly, supporting and protecting a votary of the Lotus Sutra, who expounds and spreads the ultimate teaching for gaining enlightenment, is particularly praiseworthy.

The Opening of the Eyes - Establishing Faith to Strive On "When the Crucial Moment Comes"

Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbour doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood. Do not have any doubts simply because heaven does not lend you protection. Do not be discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life. This is what I have taught my disciples morning and evening, and yet they begin to harbor doubts and abandon their faith. Foolish men are likely to forget the promise they have made when the crucial moment comes.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p283)

“The Opening of the Eyes” was a treatise in which Nichiren Daishonin revealed his identity as the Buddha of the Latter of the Law, thereby establishing the basis for this treatise being designated as the writing that clarified the object of devotion in terms of the Person.

The Daishonin began writing this treatise immediately after arriving on Sado Island and completed it in February 1272. It was addressed to Shijo Kingo, on behalf of his followers.

The title, “The Opening of the Eyes” means exactly that: “To open the eyes”. It is a call to all people in the Latter Day of the Law to “open their eyes to Nichiren”, who would lead them to happiness.

After experiencing a near execution at Tatsunokuchi on 12 September in the previous year, the Daishonin was exiled to Sado by the authorities. In the aftermath of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, many of his disciples were imprisoned, banished to exile, or had their lands confiscated.

As a result, a majority of his followers in Kamakura began to harbor doubts and abandoned their faith. The Daishonin described this situation in one of his writings in this manner: “…in Kamakura, among 999 out of 1,000 people… gave up their faith when I was arrested.” (WND-1, p469)

Many in society, including his disciples scathingly asked why, if the Daishonin were truly the votary of the Lotus Sutra as he claimed, he and his followers did not enjoy protection from the heaven.

It was against this setting that the Daishonin composed this treatise. In order to dispel people’s negativity and doubt and instill them with confidence and conviction, it was imperative that the Daishonin provided clear answers to the doubts raised by both his followers and the general populace.

The greater part of this treatise is devoted to clarifying such doubts.

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This is an important passage in which Nichiren Daishonin taught us on establishing faith for surmounting difficulties.

Prior to this passage, the Daishonin wrote: “This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assil me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law”. (WND-1 p280)

Ready to brave all consequences, the Daishonin articulated his own unshakeable vow to persevere in his efforts to spread the Mystic Law in order to lead all people of the Latter Day to enlightenment., irrespective of the difficulties this may entail and even though he may not receive any protection from the heavens.

The Daishonin then called forth to his disciples to respond to this lion’s roar and share his resolve to stand up and struggle aslongside him through this passage that we are studying this month which begins with the words, “Although I and my disciples…”

It is expounded in the Lotus Sutra that in the course of our endeavor to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime, the three obstacles and four devils will vie with one another to appear and the three powerful enemies will surely appear in our journey of kosen-rufu.

It I for this reason that the Daishonin empahsised here inthis passage that we must not harbor doubts because heaven does not lend us protection or be discouraged because we do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life.

Another reason for this admonition is because disbelief is the root of slander and this will destroy one’s faith.

Now, the question is how do we surmount and prevail over these hardships?

The Daishonin stated here very clearly, “if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts” – in other words, by sharing and maintaining strong faith based on the spirit of not begrudging one’s life demonstrated by the Daishonin himself, one will be able to summon forth the great life force that enables one to surmount and prevail over all kinds of obstacles. By doing so, we will “as a matter of course” attain Buddhahood.

This was what the Daishonin had been teaching his disciples all along but when obstacles appear in reality, many began to harbor doubts and abandon their faith.

“Crucial moments” are precisely the time when one should uphold and never forget the promises they made to their mentor and rise up to take on the challenges.

SGI President Ikeda said, “The principles that ‘obstacles lead to enlightenment’ and ‘persecutions lead to attaining Buddhahood’ signify that all obstacles we encounter in life or in the course of our practice of faith appear so that we can attain Buddhahood. Attaining Buddhahood means to attain absolute happiness and eternal victory. It means we can enjoy the same life state as the eternal Buddha and thereby manifest the ultimate strength as a human being.”

Let us be convicted that it is courageous faith to fight all obstacles at crucial moments that will enable us to manifest Buddhahood from within and charge ahead fearlessly.

(Translated and adapted from the May 2012 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai's monthly study journal.)

Letter to the Brothers - Times of Difficulties is Precisely the Opportunity to Attain Buddhahood

If you propagate it, devils will rise without fail. If they did not, there would be no way of knowing that this is the correct teaching. Once passage from the same volume reads: “As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere… One should be neither influenced or frightened by them. If one falls under their influence, one will be led into the paths of evil. If one is frightened by them, one will be prevented from practicing the correct teaching.” This statement not only applies to me, but also is a guide for my followers. Reverently make this teaching your own, and transmit it as an axiom of faith for future generations.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p501)

This is a letter that Nichiren Daishonin wrote to the Ikegami brothers who lived in Ikegami in the province of Musashi (present day Ota Ward in Tokyo) and their wives in which he taught the essence of “faith for surmounting obstacles”. The letter was originally thought to be written in 1275 but recent studies indicate that it was 1276.

It is not clear when the Ikegami brothers took faith in the Daishonin’s teachings but they were generally thought to have been the Daishonin’s earliest followers. The brothers belonged to the Ikegami clan, a prominent samurai family that served as a leading construction contractor for government building projects.

However, after the Daishonin went to live in Mount Minobu, their father opposed their faith in the Lotus Sutra disowned Munenaka, the elder of the two. The guidance in this letter was written in response to the report of this development.

The Daishonin revealed the the true nature of hardships that the brothers were confronting. He explained that hardships arise due to the devil king of the sixth heaven harassing practitioners by negatively influencing those around them.

The Daishonin also explained that practitioners encounter hardships due to their own karma from past lifetimes and that they should in fact be considered a benefit in the form of lessening one’s karmic retribution.

Finally, the Daishonin further explained that hardships can also be seen as an ordeal devised by the heavenly deities - the protective functions of the universe - to test the strength of a person’s faith.

In addition, the Daishonin taught that the appearance of the three obstacles and four devils serves to show that the Ikegami brothers were on the correct path of Buddhist practice and urged them to remain united, and together with their wives, prevailed over the adversity that they were confronting then, based on faith.

Some time after this letter was written, the elder brother was disowned for the second time (after he was reinstated after the first disownment). However, the brothers practiced exactly in accordance with the Daishonin’s teachings and finally wn their father over by successfully converting him to the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

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The practice of Buddhism entails a struggle between the forces of the Buddha and devilish functions.

To the beleaguered Ikegami brothers who were confronting one of the most serious crises in their lives, the Daishonin encouraged them that they must on no account be defeated by such negative forces.

The first point that the Daishon encouraged them that they must on no account be beaten be defeated by such negative functions.

The first point that the Daishonin revealed in this passage is that when one carries out one’s Buddhist practice correctly, the working of negative forces will surely appear.

The Daishonin’s Buddhism is a religion of transformation that uphold the universal enlightenment of al people. It is preciously for this reason, when once strives in one’s Buddhist practice based on resolute faith, that negative functions appear to hinder one’s progress in one’s faith and practice.

In this passage the Daishonin cited a message from the Great Teacher T’ien T’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight which reads: “As practice regresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere.” In our context, we can say that when we strive on the two paths of study and practice and when our conviction in faith is about to be further strengthened, that is the crucial when negative forces will appear to hintder us from doing so.

On top of this, the point to note is that the passage stated that the “three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form”.

These negative functions seek to catch practitioners of the Daishonin’s Buddhism off guard, and through various insidious means, they vie with one another to tempt, discourage or exhaust them.

Now, the question is how do we remain unaffected by the three obstacles and four devils? Here, the Daishonin outlined two key ingredients for the find of faith needed to conquer them - (1) “not being influenced by them” and (2) “not being frightened by them”.

“Not being influenced by them” manifest the “wisdom” to see devilish functions for what they are and not be swayed by them, while “not being frightened by them” means to summon forth the “courage” to stand up to them without fear. In terms of our daily practice, it is by carrying out the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge kyo that will enable us to manifest the wisdom and courage from within our lives to defeat such negative forces.

Nichiren Daishon himself set an example by walking along this very path of battling and thoroughly triumphing over devilish functions in exact accordance with the passage from Great Concentration and Insight expounds. Based on the actual proof, the Daishonin stated, “This statement not only applies to me, but also is a guide for my followers. Reverently make this teaching your own, and transmit it as an axiom of faith for future generations.”

In this way, the Daishonin called forth to his disciples to courageously wage a struggle against all obstacles that appear before us in the shared commitment of mentor and disciple.

SGI President said, “It is because we strive to realise kosen-rufu that devilish functions appear to obstruct us. And their appearance is precisely your opportunity to attain Buddhahood. Struggling against the three obstacles and four devils is the path to Buddhahood. This is the formula for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.”

Let’s us strive based on faith that remains undaunted in the face of the three obstacles and four devils and open forth a victorious state of life.

(Translated and adapted from the April 2012 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai's monthly study journal.)

The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood - Sowing Seeds of Happiness in Life of Others

Because I have expounded this teaching, I have been exiled and almost killed. As the saying goes, “Good advice grates not the ear”. But still I am not discouraged. The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p748)

This letter was written from Mount Minobu on August 1276 to Soya, a lay follower who had lived in Soya Village in Shimosa Province.

His full name and title were Soya Jiro Hyoe-no-jo Kyoshin, and he was thought to have been an officer of the high court of the Kamakura shogunate. Together with Toki Jonin and Ota Jomyo, he was one of the leading believers in Shimosa.

He received many important writings containing the essential doctrines of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. The content of these letter clearly indicated that he had strong faith and was highly educated.

In this letter, the Daishonin first explained that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo constitutes the two elements of reality and wisdom, the way to Buddhahood.

The Daishonin also pointed out at the end of the letter that one who ignores those who commit slander will not be able to attain Buddhahood. In this way, as the title of the Gosho suggested, the Daishonin laid down the essentials for attaining Buddhahood.

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To whom do we owe this debt of gratitude for the fact that we are practising the teaching of the Mystic Law today? As memories raced through our minds, probably the faces of seniors in faith, fellow members or family members who did their utmost best to share Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings with us appear vividly.

However, if we were to trace to the beginning of it all, the wellspring is none other that Nichiren Daishonin himself.

The Daishonon established the teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the essence of the Lotus Sutra, as the fundamental teaching for all people in the Latter Day of the Law to enjoy peace and happiness in their lives. Thereafter, he initiated a movement to spread this teaching far and wide.

In this letter, the Daishonin taught that if one forgets the original teacher, one would surely lose sight of the correct path to enlightenment. During the Daishonin’s time, various Buddhist schools slandered and criticised Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra.

It was in response to this religious landscape that the Daishonin called forth that one should never forget the originsl teacher for all people, and tried to awaken these schools from their erroneous thoughts by expounding “this teaching”.

For this reason, as the Daishonin said in this Gosho, “Good advice grates on the ear”, the Daishonin was intensely hated by people with deep attachments to erroneous thoughts and teachings.

As a result, the Daishonin was harshly persecuted, experiencing life-threathening oppressions, including a near-execution and exiles.

Despite having experienced such adversities, the Daishon stated, “But still I am not discouraged.” Though short, this statement expresses the Daishonin’s indomitable resolve to continue waging the struggle for kosen-rufu and that he would never give up this endeavour no matter what happens.

This is because the Daishonin was well aware that he did not overcome these great obstacles and spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, the Law that would lead all people of the Latter Day to happiness will perish.

The Daishonin revealed the underlying profound significance of the teaching he had establish in this manner: “The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field.”

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the seed of Buddhahood that enables all ordinary beings to become a Buddha.

The Buddha is like a sower, who sow the seeds of Buddhahood in the lives of the people.

Likewise, when we share the teachings of the Mystic Law with someone, our efforts can help awaken the innate Buddhahood that exists in the depths of his or her life.

In this way, there is no doubt the practice of propagation constitutes the “Buddha’s action” of sowing the seed of Buddhahood in life of the others.

SGI President Ikeda explained in this guidance: “Kosen-rufu is an endeavour to sow the seeds of absolute happiness - seeds that enable people to feel that living is itself a joy - in the lives of all people.”

Let’s us continue carrying out the noble endeavour of sowing seeds of happiness in the lives of others by initiating sincere dialogues based on prayers for the happiness of our friends.

(Translated and adapted from the November 2011 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai's monthly study journal.)

Winter Always Turns to Spring - Advancing Fearlessly towards the Spring of Victory

Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are a if in winter, but winter always turn to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back to autumn. Nor have we ever heard of a believer in the Lotus Sutra who turned into an ordinary person. The sutra reads, “If there are those who hear the Law, then not one will fail to attain Buddhahood.”

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p997)

This letter, written in the fifth month of 1275 when Nichiren Daishonin was 54, was addressed to lay nun Myoichi, who lived in Kamakura.

Lay nun Myoichi and her husband were strong believers who maintained pure faith throughout the most difficult times of the Daishonin’s life from the Tatsunokuchi Persecution to the Sado exile.

But because of their faith in the Lotus Sutra, their estate was confiscated and on top of this, Myoichi’s husband passed away before the Daishonin was pardoned from his sentence of exile on Sado. Besides losing her husband, Myoichi was struggling to raise her children alone. Despite her many difficulties, Myoichi sent her attendant to where the Daishonin was in Sado to serve and protect him.

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter to encourage her, explaining that believers of the Lotus Sutra are as if in the midst of winter, but that winter unfailingly turns to spring. The Daishonin assured her that there is no doubt about her husband’s attainment of enlightenment since he displayed strong faith by continuing to follow the Daishonin even when his estate was confiscated because of his faith.

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Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is a teaching of hope that expounds the possibility of changing any kind of karma. The purpose of our practice of faith is to accumulate good fortune each time we overcome hardships in life to attain a life state of absolute happiness that remain indestructible for eternity.

Even though we may be in the midst of a harsh winter in life, there is no doubt that we will usher in the spring of life underscored by victory. The winter of life is filled with harsh adversities is in fact, a turning point that serves as an opportunity for us to establish a life state of Buddhahood, that is, absolute happiness.

This was precisely what Nichiren Daishonin perceived in the life of Myoichi. The Daishonin perceived that this was the crucial moment for Myoichi. She must have been experiencing extreme hardship having lost her husband and left alone to raise her children, one of whom was sickly.

However, from the perspective of the eternity of life, there is absolutely no doubt that both Myoichi and her husband who strove together with the Daishonin through the most difficult times, had already entered the orbit of attaining Buddhahood, that is, realising a life state of absolute happiness that remains indestructible for eternity.

The Daishonin experienced successive persecutions, some of which were life-threatening, for the sake of propagating the teaching of the Mystic Law that leads all people in the Latter Day to happiness. However, no matter how great the persecution, the Daishonin’s heart remained undefeated. Even in the midst of adversities, the Daishonin wrote, “Not once have I thought of retreat” (WND-2, p465); “I feel immeasurable delight” (WND-1, p386).

The Daishonin established a magnificent life state that remained unaffected by the trials and tribulations in life. Not only did he remain undefeated, the Daishonin waged a tremendous struggle and turned the tables around by actually returning to mainland Japan alive from his exile on Sado, scoring an unprecedented victory.

On top of this, the righteousness of the Daishonin’s teachings was proven when his prediction of foreign invasion was realised with the Mongols’ invasion of Japan.

Based on these actual proofs of victories that the Daishonin demonstrated with his life, the Daishonin called forth to Myoichi with absolute conviction: “Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turns to spring.” The Daishonin powerfully convinced Myoichi that it is simply not possible that one who believes in the Lotus Sutra would continue suffering forever.

Through these words, the Daishonin urged Myoichi that she must never harbour any doubts in her practice of faith and that she must continue forging ahead, no matter how difficult it is.

SGI President said in his novel, The New Human Revolution, “When the spring of victory comes after a winter of harsh trials, everything is transformed into happiness and joy. Without having cried, you cannot genuinely laugh; without having suffered, you cannot savour real joy. I’m sure there are times when, in the midst of some difficulties, you think, ‘Why me?’ But that in fact is your change to fulfil the mission you have chosen. The deeper your suffering, the greater your mission.”

Let’s us be convinced of the spring of victory in our lives and continue in our courageous endeavour to construct a youthful SGI.

(Translated and adapted from the February 2012 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai's monthly study journal.)

The True Aspect of All Phenomena - The "Two Ways of Practice and Study" is the Way to Happiness

Believe in the Gohonzon, the supreme object of devotion in all of Jambudvipa. Be sure to strengthen your faith, and receive the protection of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions. Exert yourself in two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach otters. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach otters to the best of our ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin-1, p386)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter to Sairen-bo Nichijo while at Ichinosawa on Sado Island in the fifth month of the tenth year of Bun’ei (1273). For some reasons, Sairen-bo was also exiled on Sado, where he had been converted by the Daishonin in the second month of 1272.

A former Tendai priest, he was a disciple with a strong seeking mind and passionately asked the Daishonin on the significance and meaning of various important Buddhist doctrines. In response, the Daishonin explained many fundamental and important doctrines in his reply to Sairen-bo, including Budhist doctrinal thesis, such as “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life” (WND-1, p216) and “The Oral Tradition regarding the Enlightenment of Plants” (WND-2, P429).

“The True Aspect of All Phenomena” was also in the Daishonin’s reply to Sairen-bo’s request for the Daishonin to explain the term, “true aspect of all phenomena”.

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Right at the outset of this passage, Nichiren Daishonin declared that the Gohonzon, the mandala he inscribed with his life, as “the supreme object of devotion in all Jambudvipa”. In modern terms, it means “the foremost object of devotion in the world”.

The Gohonzon is the manifestation of the great teaching that enables all people, regardless of who they are or how harsh their current circumstances may be, to manifest their Buddhahood, a life state of supreme victory. It is for this reason that the Daishonin stated that the Gohonzon is “the foremost in the world”.

However, there is one important point to remember. No matter how great the power, there is no way of tapping it without strong faith. This is why the Daishonin said, “Be sure to strengthen your faith, and receive the protection of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions.”

The Daishonin is encouraging us that the greater the adversities, the stronger our faith should be. Only by summoning forth such firm faith will we be able to activate the protective forces of Shakyamuni , Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions.

And, in order to cultivate such strong faith, one must exert oneself in “the two ways of practice and study”. Faith is not simply an issue of having a positive mind. Without carrying out the concrete practice of sharing Buddhism with others, chanting daimoku and reciting the gongyo, studying Buddhism, there can be no Buddhism.

On top of this, what is most important in our practice is not only carrying out these Buddhist practice ourselves but to enable others to do the same. With the spirit of compassion and courage, we strive to encourage others to stand up on their feet again and together, we advance towards victory. This is what our Buddhist practice entails.

Faith, practice and study is enhanced and works in mutual synchronisation with faith as its axis. It is faith that motivates one to practice and study while the enhancement of practice and study in turn strengthens one’s faith. Furthermore, contact with the vibrant life states of fellow practitioners will serve as stimulus that accelerates the momentum of one’s practice.

In concluding this passage, the Daishonin stated, “Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.” The Daishonin is urging us to share Buddhism with others to the best of our ability, in whatever way we can. Summoning forth the courage to take this first step will help open up a refreshing life state and a new way forward in kosen-rufu.

SGI President Ikeda said, “Maintaining courageous faith throughout one’s life; striving against the evil forces that obstruct the flow of kosen-rufu; always basing oneself on faith in the Gohonzon and on the writings of Nichiren Daishonin - these are the key requirements that make possible the momentous advancement of kosen-rufu. It is because the Soka Gakkai had advanced along this path of champion that it will continue to grow and prosper for eternity.”

While anchoring our lives on the basic practice of faith, practice and study, let us initiate new challenges with renewed determination and invigorating life force.

(Translated and adapted from the October 2009 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.)

On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime - The Practice of Chanting Daimoku is the key to Inner Change

It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deeded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin-1, p4)

Although the original is no longer extant and the precise date and name of the recipient are unknown, this letter is traditionally held to have been written around 1255 and addressed to Toki Jonin.

The title, “On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime”, refers to an ordinary person becoming enlightened during the curse of his or her present existence.

In this writing, Nichiren Daishonin revealed that the practice of chanting daimoku is the key to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime and explained the significance of chanting daimoku in terms of both theory and practice.

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Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is a religion that is based on the transformative principles of life. And the key to attaining Buddhahood - the ultimate transformation of our life-state - lies in our inner transformation, that is, a change in our heart or mind.

Generally, it is thought that an “ordinary being” and “Buddha” are completely separate and removed from one another. But the Daishonin overturned this common concept by revealing that there is no chasm whatsoever between the two and revealed that the difference between “delusion” and “enlightenment” in the minds of ordinary people.

How then, can we transform delusion into enlightenment?

What makes this transformation possible is the practice of chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Here in this passage, the Daishonin used the metaphor of a mirror to explain this point in simple terms.

The Daishonin likened the suffering life state of an ordinary being shrouded by the innate darkness of life, which is he fundamental root cause of delusion, to “a tarnished mirror”. On the other hand, he likened the enlightened life state that is awakened to the true aspect of reality to “a clear mirror”.

A “tarnished mirror” will not reflect anything, but by polishing it, it will become a clear mirror that reflects everything clearly. Likewise, by chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with sincere faith, our lives will be polished, thereby wiping away the dust of innate darkness and manifest the Buddhahood with which we are originally endowed.

The practice of chanting daimoku, which is the practice for polishing our lives, may be seen as having two aspects. In this passage, the Daishonin elucidated the first aspect when he said “arouse deep faith” while the second aspect is articulated through the phrase, “diligently polish your mirror day and night”.

Through this, the Daishonin taught us the importance of summoning the “courageous fighting spirit” to battle our inner darkness, the fundamental delusion that hinders the attainment of enlightenment and to continue making steadfast efforts to maintain “continuing faith” for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

SGI President Ikeda said, “Sonorously chanting the daimoku of the Mystic Law and courageously engaging ourselves in Gakkai activities on a daily basis is the greatest way of polishing our lives. Our lives will be polished into a clear mirror that correctly reflects the view of life, the society, the world and the universe without any distortions in one’s life. The brilliance of the wisdom of value creation will shine forth, enabling you to correctly discern all phenomena in the most appropriate manner and thereby remain undefeated no matter what happens.”

Let us base our lives in the practice of chanting daimoku, which is the key to polishing and changing our lives, and construct an indestructible life state of absolute happiness.

(Translated and adapted from the January 2012 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.)