Repaying Our Debt of Gratitude Constitutes Achieving Victory in Kosen-Rufu - On Repaying Debts of Gratitude

The old fox never forgets the hillock where he was born; the white turtle repaid the kindness he had received from Mao Pao. If even lowly creatures know enough to do this, then how much more should human beings! Thus Yu Jang, a worthy man of old, fell on his sword in order to repay the debt he owed his lord Chih Po, and the minister Hung Yen for similar reasons cut open his stomach and inserted the liver of his dead lord, Duke Yi of Wei. What can we say, then of persons who are devoting themselves to Buddhism? Surely they should not forget the debts of gratitude they owe their parents, their teachers and their country.

(Passage from “On Repaying Debts of Gratitude”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p690-745)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this treatise on the 21st day of the seventh month of 1276 upon receiving news of the death of Dozen-bo, a priest of Seicho-ji temple in Awa Province, who had been the Daishonin’s teacher when he first entered the temple as a boy of 12. The Daishonin wrote this treatise to express his gratitude to Dozen-bo and sent it to Joken-bo and Giji-bo, senior priests at the time he entered the temple, who later became his followers. He requested them to read this treatise aloud in front of the tomb of his late teacher and again at Kasagamori on the summit of Mount Kiyosumi where he first chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

This treatise is one of Nichiren Daishonin’s 10 major writings. In it, the Daishonin declared that the propagation of the supreme teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws will enable the people for the 10,000 years and more of the latter Day of the Law to attain enlightenment. He stated that all the benefits he obtained from propagating the Law would be transferred to his mentor, Dozen-bo, thus indicating that the path of repaying gratitude is the supreme path of humanism.

The act of repaying one’s debt of gratitude constitutes a fundamental aspect of human behaviour.

Nichiren Daishonin taught us what is the greatest way of repaying one’s debt of gratitude in this Gosho.

At the outset of this passage, the Daishonin cited stories relating how even animals repaid their debt of gratitude and historical instances where wise men repaid it at the cost of their lives. On top of this, the Daishonin taught that as Buddhist practitioners who practice the supreme way of humanism, we must never forget to repay our debt of gratitude we owe our parents, teacher and country.

Of these debts of gratitude, the Daishonin stressed specifically on the importance of repaying the debt to one’s teacher. The fundamental principle that enables one to grow as an individual human being lies in the mentor-disciple relationship.

The greatest way of repaying one’s debt of gratitude is to enable oneself and others to attain supreme happiness based on the supreme teachings of Buddhism.

The Daishonin also revealed here that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws is the supreme law that leads all people to enlightenment. The Daishonin devoted his entire life, waging a struggle against the three powerful enemies in order to propagate the Mystic Law.

In the concluding portion of this treatise, the Daishonin revealed his absolute conviction in the realization of kosen-rufu in this manner: “If Nichiren’s compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will spread for 10,000 years and more, for all eternity for it has the beneficial power to open the blind eyes of every living being in the country of Japan, and it blocks off the road that leads to the hell of incessant suffering.” (WND, p736)

Finally, the Daishonin stated that the great benefit he received from propagating the Mystic Law will surely accumulate in the life of his late teacher, Dozen-bo. In other words, the greatest way of repaying one’s debt of gratitude is to live out one’s life for the sake of kosen-rufu.

SGI President Ikeda said, “Those who cherish a mentor n their hearts are strong; such people can tap a wellspring of inexhaustible wisdom. Those who never forget the debt they owe their mentor are eternally beautiful. Betrayal is ugly. One who betrays others suffers for all time. I have carried the message of Mr Makiguchi and Mr Toda to the entire world. I am working unceasingly to repay my debt of gratitude to them. This is the path of mentor and disciple. This is the life I choose when I was still a young man. In this spirit lies the true essence of the SGI.”

Let us continue to strive for kosen-rufu in the spirit of repaying our debt of gratitude no matter what happens.