Sowing the Seed of the Law - The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood

Shakyamuni Buddha is the original teacher for all people, and moreover, he is endowed with the virtues of sovereign and parent (1). Because I have expounded this teaching, I have been exiled and almost killed. As the saying goes, “Good advice grates on the ear.” (2) But still I am not discouraged. The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field.

(Passage from “The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p746-749)

This letter was written in the eighth month of 1276 at Minobu. It is addressed to Soya, a lay follower who 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 a samurai who governed this province.

He was converted to Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching around 1260 and became one of the leading believers in the area, together with Akimoto Taro and Ota Jomya. Soya had social standing and was comparatively more affluent. The fact that most letters addressed to Soya by Nichiren Daishonin were written in classical Chinese indicates that he was also well-educated.

In this passage, Nichiren Daishonin made the point that people should understand who their fundamental teacher is. The word “Shakyamuni” here indicates that people should revere Shakyamuni Buddha as their teacher, as opposed to other Buddhas like Amida. The Japanese people during Daishonin’s time had to an extent “lost sight” of Shakyamuni Buddha and his most important teaching, the Lotus Sutra. Here, the Daishonin tried to establish he importance of the original teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha in the hope of leading people to the Lotus Sutra and ultimately to his teachings of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

From the view point of Nichiren Buddhism however, the Daishonin himself is the fundamental teacher who taught that the source of enlightenment is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, he faced a series of life-threatening persecutions. He was exiled to Izu and Sado, he was attacked with a sword at Komatsubara, and he was nearly beheaded at Tatsunokuchi.

In the face of all this, the Daishonin said, “Still I am not discouraged.” He courageously expressed the determination to never stop – to always propagate the great Law and lead people to happiness – no matter how great the difficulty.

As SGI members, it is our challenge to maintain the determination to practice faith and strive for kosen-rufu no matter what obstacles we may face. However if we become stagnant or backslide in faith, we will be going against the teachings of the Daishonin.

An important part of the determination to practice as the Daishonin intended involves telling others about the Law. The Daishonin taught in this passage, “The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field.” Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the fundamental seed of Buddhahood that allows people to attain limitless happiness and joy. Naturally, we should direct the lives of our friends and family towards enlightenment by “sowing the seed” of Buddhahood. Simply sharing with others, regardless of whether they choose to practice or not, implants benefit in their lives.

Because we are calling forth the Buddha nature of others when we share the Mystic Law with them, it is important to talk about Buddhism with sincerity.

President Ikeda said, “Nichiren Buddhism is the Buddhism of sowing. By sharing the teachings of the Daishonin we are advancing kosen-rufu. For this reason, such actions accrue boundless benefits and good fortune. Such actions constitute upholding justice and the eternal posterity of the true Law.”

Strengthening our Buddhist practice and sharing it with others promotes the advancement of our kosen-rufu movement. Good fortune and virtue lie in our efforts to spread Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is the correct way to sow the seed of happiness in people’s lives.

1. Virtues of sovereign and parent - The virtue of sovereign is the power to protect all living beings and the virtue of parent is the compassion to nature and support them.

2. “Good advice grates on the ear” - A saying of Confucius. It means that good advice given out of sincerity usually points to one’s mistakes or weakness and therefore, is not easy to accept.