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.