The Properties of Rice

I entrust you with the propagation of Buddhism in your province. It is stated that “the seeds of Buddhahood sprout as a result of conditions, and for this reason they preach the single vehicle.”

(Passage from “The Properties of Rice”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p1,117-1,118)

Although the date and recipient of this letter remain unknown, judging from the style and content, Nichiren Daishonin probably wrote it after he moved to Mount Minobu, and it was likely addresses to the lay priest Takahashi Rokuro Hyoe. He was a central figure among believers in Fuji District of Suruga Province.

The wife of lay priest Tahahashi was Nikko Shonin’s aunt. As such, he was converted by Nikko Shonin and since then, he played an active role in assisting Nikko Shonin to spread the Daishonin’s teaching in the area. His residence was used as a venue for believers in the Fuji community to gather.

By writing “I entrust you with the propagation of Buddhism in your province”, Nichiren Daishonin showed his profound trust in his followers and encourages their initiative and sense of responsibility to spread Buddhism in their own communities.

The wide spread of Nichiren Buddhism in each community depends solely on the sense of responsibility of those who live and practice there, since there were no limitations on how much those living elsewhere can do.

In light of the Buddhist principle of “the oneness of life and its environment”, our environment and the land in which we live will begin to change when our lives change. As we strengthen our resolve to spread peace and happiness in our community and take consistent action, we will without doubt begin to see positive changes.

All people, no matter who they are, possess the Buddha nature, that is, the cause for attaining enlightenment. This Buddha nature is stimulated when one comes into contact with Buddhism, blossoming into the life condition of Buddhahood and bears the fruit of indestructible happiness. For this reason, the Buddha nature is sometimes referred to as the seed of Buddhahood.

In this passage, the Daishonin encourages us to share the teaching of the single vehicle – the Mystic Law – with others so that their seed of Buddhahood may be awakened.

Sharing Buddhism is an act of helping other open up their Buddha nature. It can be said to be an act of planting seeds of happiness in the lives of others. Although they may not immediately start practicing, their Buddha nature, once awakened, will undoubtedly become manifest in time. It is therefore of utmost importance that we communicate Buddhism with sincerity.

Human relationships begin with dialogue. Even if we ourselves are convinced of the validity of Nichiren Buddhism, unless we express our confidence in words, others may not understand. In this sense, dialogue and words possess great power to initiate a fundamental change in people and thereby create peace and happiness for all.

SGI President Ikeda said in his guidance, “Only human beings can fill the society and the world with dialogue. Dialogue has the power to create great value, irrespective of the wealth or social position of participants… Though meetings with people might be brief and involve an exchange of only a few words, those few words can open up and completely change people’s hearts.”

Let us create a positive change in our communities and move the times towards peace by engaging ourselves in sincere and honest dialogue with friends.

“The seeds of Buddhahood sprout as a result of conditions, and for this reason they preach the single vehicle”: Passage from the “Expedient Means” (2nd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. “Vehicle” refers to the Buddha’s teaching which helps to bring people to different life states, e.g. Learning, Realisation, Bodhisattva or Buddhahood. The “single vehicle” refers to the teaching that will lead people to Buddhahood. This passage expounds that the Buddha preaches the single vehicle because the Buddha nature inherent in all living beings are manifested as a results of conditions. The “seeds of Buddhahood” refers to the life state of Buddhahood inherent in all living beings. Specifically, “the single vehicle” refers to the implicit teachings hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra – Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.