REPLY TO THE WIFE OF LORD UENO PART 2
By Reverend Shotsu Nomura, November 2015 Oko Ceremony
Today is the second lecture on “Reply to the wife of lord Ueno.”
The significance of the Buddha’s advent in this world is to enable all living beings to attain Buddhahood. The Hoben chapter of the Lotus Sutra states:
“The Buddhas, the World-Honoured Ones, wish to open the door of Buddha wisdom to all living beings, to allow them to attain purity. That is why they appear in the world. They wish to show the Buddha wisdom to living beings, and therefore they appear in the world. They wish to cause living being to awaken to Buddha wisdom, and therefore they appear in the world. They wish to introduce living beings to enter the path of Buddha wisdom, and therefore they appear in the world.”
So it is most important for Buddhists to attain Buddhahood. If all people are following the Law of Cause and Effect, then everyone can attain Buddhahood. The teaching of first cause then later effect is taught in various sutra in the period of Kegon, Agon, Hodo and Han-nya. As such, all pre-Lotus Sutra teachings state that one must first accumulate good causes before one can obtain Buddhahood as an effect.
Nichiren Daishonin states in “Reply to the wife of Lord Ueno”:
“All other teachings explain that one must first perform good deeds in order to later attain Buddhahood. It is, therefore, not clear whether it will ever be attained.”
Here, “All other teachings” means all sutra excluding the Lotus Sutra. According to these pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, after receiving the cause for the attainment of Buddhahood, people have to practice for very long time in order to attain Buddhahood as an effect.
This practice is not only one lifetime of practice but people have to conduct strict practices for many lifetimes in order to attain Buddhahood. The Lotus Sutra revealed that these people have been practicing from the countless kalpa of Sanzen-jintengo or Gohyaku-jintengo. In the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, they taught cause first then later the effect but in order to obtain the effect, which is Buddhahood, they spent a very long time practicing.
Following Gosho passage, Nichiren Daishonin teaches the immediate enlightenment based on the teaching of the simultaneity of cause and effect.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
“However, the Lotus Sutra teaches that the hands used to hold the Lotus Sutra will immediately enter Buddhahood, and the mouth that chants the Daimoku will instantly become Buddha.”
This passage teaches the amazing power of the Lotus Sutra that will never be revealed in other sutras.
In the pre-Lotus Sutra doctrines, the practice and the attainment of enlightenment are temporarily separated and undermined. By contrast, in the Lotus Sutra, the practice and the resultant enlightenment occur simultaneously, just as Lotus flower produces the blossoms and the fruit at the same time.
At the beginning of this Gosho that I talked about at the last Oko Ceremony, it is stated, “Myoho-Renge-Kyo” is symbolically represented by the lotus.
Myoho-Renge-Kyo contains the significance of the simultaneity of cause and effect. Nichiren Daishonin states two kinds of “Renge” in the “Entity of the Mystic Law.”
“In the beginning of the kalpa, a plant existed. The sage observed its principle and gave it the name “Renge” or “Lotus”. The lotus plant resembles the principle of Myoho-Renge in that it simultaneously contains both cause [blossom] and effect [seed]. Hence the plant come to bear the same name as the principle ….When we speak of figurative lotus or the lotus that is a metaphor, it is this lotus plant we mean. This lotus plant is used to help clarify the difficult concept of Myoho-Renge. That is what the great teacher T'ien-t’ai means when he says that through the use of this metaphor, the difficult to understand Mystic Law rendered more comprehensible.” (Gosho 695-696)
As this Gosho passage says, since the great Law Myoho-Renge is difficult to understand, the name of flower “Renge” that is “Lotus” was used as a metaphor. So this metaphor is called “Hiyu Renge” that is “Mystic Law” itself is called “Totai Renge” that Renge as the Actual Entity of the Law.
You may realise that this Gosho “Reply to the wife of Lord Ueno”, Nichiren Daishonin talks about “Hiyu Renge” that is the Renge as a metaphor
Next Nichiren Daishonin explains about the immediate enlightenment that is simultaneity of cause and effect with the example of moon and a sound.
“This is similar to the reflection of the moon as it rises above the eastern mountains, which immediately appears to float on the surface the water or a sound and its resonance occurring simultaneously.”
It can be said that the above passage is the theoretical proof of the three proofs for immediate enlightenment and the following passage is the documentary proof for it. The Lotus Sutra states, “Among those who hear this Law, there is not one who shall not attain enlightenment.” This passage means that if there are a hundred or even a thousand people who embrace this sutra, all become Buddhas without exception.
Here, I wish to tell you one important point. Nichiren Daishonin interprets the term “those who hear this Law” from the Lotus Sutra as “people who embrace this sutra” in this Gosho passage.
Here, “to hear the Law” does not mean just hearing the law but to embrace the Law. This term “embrace” has the meaning of faith and practice, not just listening. Concerning “to hear the Law”, I wish to let you know a basic Buddhist concept called “Mon-Shi-Shu” that is “hearing, thinking and practicing”. “Mon-Shi-Shu” means that when one listens to the Buddhist teaching, one must believe in it without any doubt, grasp the meaning by considering it and actually take action and practice it. So hearing is not just hearing but after hearing the True Law, one must have strong faith and practice.
The passage of “if there are a hundred or even a thousand people who embrace this sutra, all will become Buddhas without exception” means everyone can become a Buddha by believing and practicing Myoho-Renge-Kyo even if he has problems, a criminal record, a negative mind or an illness, or is a president or a rich person.
The same can be said for us, Kaimyo-in members. If all of us have strong faith and practice, we will become Buddhas without exception.
This Gosho passage is considered as the documentary proof and Nichiren Daishonin quotes the story of “Wu-long and Yi-long” as the actual proof of immediate enlightenment.
Next, Nichiren Daishonin mentions the contents of the letter from the wife of Lord Ueno to Nichiren Daishonin:
Your letter mentions the anniversary of the passing of your father, the honorable Matsuno Rokuro Zaemon Nyudo. You say that since he had many children, there will likely be various kinds of memorial services and that unless the services are held in strict accordance with the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, they will be rites of slander.”
I think even nowadays there are similar causes depending on the family’s situation. It is true that if one conducts the ceremony with Pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, it will be against the will of the Buddha, so it will be considered as the slandering of the Law. The wife of Lord Ueno understood that.
Nichiren Daishonin writes about the documentary proof by quoting from the Lotus Sutra, “With his golden mouth, Shakyamuni Buddha taught, ‘The World-Honoured One has long set forth his expedient doctrines but will now reveal the truth.’ Taho Buddha lent credence to shakyamuni’s words proclaiming, ‘all the teachings of Myoho-Renge-Kyo are true.’ To verify this, all the Buddhas of the ten directions extended their tongues upwards until they reached the Brahma Heaven.”
These passages of the Lotus Sutra assert that the Lotus Sutra is the true teaching that had the power to lead her father, Matsuno Rokuro Zaemon Nyudo, to attain Buddhahood.
Next, Nichiren Daishonin introduces the story of ‘Wu-long and Yi-long”:
“Southwest of Japan, across a great expanse of ocean, there is a country called China. In that country, there are some who revere the Buddha but not the gods, while there are others who revere the gods but not Buddha. The circumstances in ancient Japan were most likely the same.”
In ancient Japan, it is said that people started to believe in Buddhism around 522 and the Emperor of Japan accepted Buddhism around 552. Then Japan became a Mahayana Buddhist country after that. Before that, the Japanese believed in Japanese gods. During the time of “Wu-long and Yi-long” in China, the people believed either in the teachings of gods or Buddhist teachings. According to the “Hokkedenki”, Wu-long was a believer of Taoism and he hated Buddhist teachings so much that he ordered his son Yi-long not to write the Buddhist sutra as his testament or he would have a face big problems.
I hope you will learn about the following five points from the story of “Wu-long and Yi-long.”
- The great power of the Lotus Sutra
- Immediate enlightenment
- The true way of repaying debts of gratitude to one’s parents
- The relationship between parents and children
- After one’s death, one cannot change one’s karma in the world of death. One can only change it in the present lifetime.
I will talk about the story of “Wu-long and Yi-long” at the next Oko lecture. I would like to conclude my lecture with my prayers for your continued progress in faith and practice. Thank you very much!