Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin On the Occasion of the May Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony May 4, 2014

Faith is the Essential Point of One’s Buddhist Practice

Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin
On the Occasion of the May Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony May 4, 2014
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji

On this occasion of the May Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony, conducted here today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance.
The month of May, which is almost mid-year, already has begun. I imagine both the priesthood and laity have united, based on the spirit of itai doshin, and are devoting themselves to their practice, day and night, aiming toward the achievement of their shakubuku goals.

We are commemorating the 770th anniversary of the birth of Second High Priest, Nikko Shonin, in March of next year. By then, we must accomplish our goals—to increase the membership of all Hokkeko chapters by 50 percent, which the members of every chapter vowed to achieve in front of the three treasures [the Buddha, the Law, and the priesthood]. I sincerely pray that all chapters will achieve their goals and then report their achievement to the three treasures in high spirits, as the Buddha looks upon us.

The Daishonin states the following in the Gosho, “On the Six Difficult and Nine Easy Acts” (“Rokunan kui-sho”):
Even if one does not study the sutra, chanting the Daimoku alone is a tremendous good cause. [The Lotus Sutra states that] evil people, women, those of the worlds of animality and hell—those of all the ten worlds—will be able to attain enlightenment. This is analogous to a rock taken from the bottom of a river possessing the ability to ignite a fire, or a lamp having the ability to illuminate a place that has been dark for one hundred and ten million years. Such mysterious phenomena are found even in trivial matters of society, not to mention the mystic power of the Law of Buddhism. Our lives are fettered with evil karma, earthly desires, and the sufferings of life and death. We instantly, however, can manifest the three enlightened properties of the Law, wisdom, and compassionate action, due to the three inherent potentials—the innate Buddha nature, the wisdom to perceive the Buddha nature, and good causes and relations. The Great Teacher Dengyo gave the following interpretation: “One can attain enlightenment in one’s present form through the power of Myoho-Renge-Kyo.” This means that the power of the Lotus Sutra enabled even the Dragon king’s daughter to attain enlightenment without changing her present form. Do not harbor any doubts about this.
(Gosho, p. 1244)

This Gosho passage is rather long, but I will put it in simple language: Even if one does not understand the meaning of the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, just taking faith in and chanting it is a great good cause. Every single person residing in the ten worlds—even an evil man or woman, or one in the world of animality or hell—can attain Buddhahood in one’s present form due to the power of the mystic Law (Myoho). It is like a rock that has sunk to the bottom of a river being able to ignite a flame when it is rubbed. It is also like a place that has been cloaked in darkness for one hundred and ten million years being bright, once a light is turned on. Mystical things such as these can happen even in the secular world. How much more is this so with the mystic power of Buddhism? There is no doubt that we—who are tainted with evil karma, earthly desires, and the sufferings of life and death—instantly can transform ourselves into the manifestation of the three enlightened properties of the Law, wisdom, and compassionate action. This is possible due to the three inherent potentials—the innate Buddha nature, wisdom, and good causes and relations. Thus, in praising the Dragon king’s daughter’s enlightenment, the Great Teacher Dengyō stated in his Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra (Hokke shuku) that “One can attain Buddhahood in one’s present form through the power of Myoho-Renge-Kyo.” Due to the power of the mystic Law (Myoho), the Dragon kings’ daughter, who had the appearance of a snake, attained Buddhahood without changing her present form. There is absolutely no doubt about this.

These passages teach: “Our lives are fettered with evil karma, earthly desires, and the sufferings of life and death. We instantly, however, can manifest the three enlightened properties of the Law, wisdom, and compassionate action, due to the three inherent potentials—the innate Buddha nature, the wisdom to perceive the Buddha nature, and good causes and relations.” Because of the boundless benefits and the power of the mystic Law (Myoho) we, who transmigrate the cycle of the three paths of earthy desires, karma, and suffering, can transform ourselves into the manifestation of the three enlightened properties of the Law, wisdom, and compassionate action. We can do this through the three inherent potentials—the innate Buddha nature, wisdom, and good causes and relations, the three elements for the attainment of Buddhahood.

Concerning the three enlightened properties of the Law, wisdom, and compassionate action, the property of the Law indicates the truth of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The property of wisdom signifies the wisdom of the people who acquire the truth. It also indicates the property of the Buddha’s life that enables the Buddha to perceive this truth. The property of compassionate action bestows compassion upon the people. It also represents the manifested Buddha who appears in this world in order to save the people. These enlightened properties show the Buddha from three different aspects. The Buddha invariably possesses these three enlightened properties. However, this is not restricted to the Buddha alone. The three enlightened properties are naturally possessed by all living beings as the true entity of the mutual possession of the ten worlds. Through the benefits of taking faith in Myoho-Renge-Kyo, one can manifest the three enlightened properties in one’s single body. This means that even we, common mortals, whose lives are tainted by the three poisons, can transform ourselves into the Buddha.

As evidence, the Daishonin uses the example of the Dragon king’s daughter, who attained enlightenment without changing her present form, due to the power of the mystic Law (Myoho).

The Dragon king’s daughter, who was in the world of animality, summoned her seeking spirit when she heard a sermon of Manjushri. She attended the assembly at Eagle Peak and offered a jewel to the Buddha and attained Buddhahood. This revealed the attainment of Buddhahood by women, which was never possible in the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings. It also revealed the instantaneous attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form without practicing over a period of countless kalpas.

In the “Opening of the Eyes” (“Kaimoku-sho”), the Daishonin teaches:
The Dragon King’s daughter’s enlightenment is not restricted to her alone. It represents the attainment of Buddhahood by all other women. In the various Hinayana sutras preached prior to the Lotus Sutra, the possibility for women to attain enlightenment was denied. In the various Mahayana sutras, it seems that it may be possible for women to attain enlightenment or rebirth [into the pure land]. However, it is not possible to do so in their present form. Since this attainment of enlightenment or rebirth [into the pure land] is not based on the principle of ichinen sanzen, such enlightenment is only in name and not in substance. One example represents all the others. The attainment of enlightenment by the Dragon King’s daughter opens the path to enlightenment for all women in the Latter Day of the Law. 
(Gosho, p. 563)

The benefit of taking faith in the mystic Law (Myoho) enables one to attain Buddhahood in one’s present form, even if one may be a woman, an evil person, or anyone else. However, in the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings it was taught that in order to attain Buddhahood, one had to practice for innumerable kalpas and that a women had to be reborn as a man in order to attain enlightenment.

However, there is a significant requirement. We must not forget that the most important thing is to revere the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching as the Gohonzon to which we devote our lives and solely take faith in it with no doubts.

In the Parable (Hiyu; third) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, even Shariputra, who was said to be the foremost in wisdom, was able to attain Buddhahood through faith. It is expounded that faith is the essential point of one’s Buddhist practice. All living beings, without exception, can attain Buddhahood through faith.

The “Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden”) teaches:
One can accept and uphold this Law [Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo] only through the single character faith. The sword that can cut through fundamental darkness is the single character faith. One must consider deeply the meaning of the principle “faith means to have no doubt.”
(Gosho, p. 1764)

Furthermore, it is taught in “Letter to Horen” (“Horen-sho”):
Practicing the teachings of this sutra without correct faith is like entering a jeweled mountain without hands and trying to pick up the treasures, or trying to make a thousand-mile journey without feet.
(Gosho, p. 814)

Moreover, one’s faith must not be for one’s own sake alone. Rather, one must uphold faith and practice for both oneself and others. The Daishonin teaches the following in the Gosho, “On the Transmission of the Three Great Secret Laws” (“Sandai hiho bonjo-ji”):
Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, the Daimoku that Nichiren chants is different from that of previous ages. It is the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the practice for oneself [for Nichiren Daishonin himself as the True Buddha], and the practice for others [enabling others to attain enlightenment as well]. 
(Gosho, pp. 1594-1595)

Nichiren Shoshu will be commemorating the auspicious occasion of the 770th anniversary of the birth of Nikko Shonin next year. Today, the members of every chapter, based on unity between the priesthood and laity, in the spirit of itai dōshin, are striving to conduct shakubuku, day and night, aiming toward the achievement of their goals. The attainment of our goals is not only our desire, but also our important mission to fulfill.

Thus, during the remaining ten months before we celebrate the auspicious occasion of the 770th anniversary of the birth of Nikko Shonin in March of 2015, we must concentrate our efforts and devote ourselves to do shakubuku, so that we can joyfully report our achievement to the three treasures.

I sincerely pray that, based on firm faith, you will further strive in your practice, making today a turning point, and that every chapter will achieve its goals without fail.