Lecture in Praise of Nichiren Daishonin
September, 2017 Oko Lecture
In the Gosho, The True Entity of All Phenomena (Shohō jissō-shō), Nichiren Daishonin states:
You must believe in the Gohonzon, the supreme object of worship in all of Jambudvipa. Strive forth with all your might to strengthen your faith. Then, you will receive the protection of the three Buddhas—Shakyamuni, Tahō, and the emanations of all the Buddhas in the ten directions. (Gosho, p. 667)
The Dai-Gohonzon of the oneness of the person and the Law and the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching is the foundation of our practice. It is the supreme object of worship in all of Jambudvipa (the entire world). The Dai-Gohonzon was established by Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, as the ultimate purpose for his advent into this world.
Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin described this in the following way:
Above all, the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching of the second year of Kō’an (1279) is the supreme of the supreme, the ultimate purpose of all ultimate purposes of advents. It is, in fact, the foremost of the Three Great Secret Laws, since it is the object of worship for all of Jambudvipa . (Gosho mondan, p. 197)
“The object of worship for all of Jambudvipa” (the entire world) refers to the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching. Thus, all other Gohonzons in Nichiren Shoshu are individual objects of worship that derive directly from the Dai-Gohonzon—the fundamental object of worship.
Furthermore, Nichikan Shonin stated the following about the benefits of the Dai-Gohonzon, the Object of Worship of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching:
In other words, the fundamental source of all Buddhas and all sutras, the benefits of all Buddhas, and the benefits of the sutras, as numerous as the particles of dust from the ten infinite directions and the three existences, all derive from this Gohonzon of the Buddhism of the sowing, hidden in the depths of the sutra. It is like the hundreds and thousands of branches and leaves originating from a single root. Thus, the benefits of upholding this Gohonzon are immeasurable and limitless, and they possess mystic functions that are expansive and profound. Hence, if one believes in this Gohonzon and chants Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo even for a brief while, no prayer will go unanswered, no sin will be uneradicated, no fortune will be unbestowed, and no truth will remain unrevealed….This, in essence, is the true purpose of the advent of our founder Nichiren Daishonin, the foremost of the Three Great Secret Laws of the Essential Teaching, the true entity of the Buddhism of the sowing of the Latter Day of the Law, and the clear mirror that reflects the exemplary practices of the votary. (Gosho mondan, p. 189)
We are the people in the Latter Day of the Law who believe in and uphold the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching. We are showered by mystic functions that are expansive and profound, and we are able to receive immeasurably great benefits. Furthermore, we are able to expiate our slanders and karmic offenses from the infinitely remote past, and turn our state of life into the one fulfilled with the benefits.
The principles of the person and the Law are inherent in the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching. In the Gosho, The Oral Transmission on the Attainment of Enlightenment of Insentient Beings (Sōmoku jōbutsu kuketsu), Nichiren Daishonin states:
I have refined the doctrine of ichinen sanzen (three thousand realms in a single life-moment) and revealed it in the form of the great Mandala. (Gosho, p. 523)
The Gohonzon of the great Mandala is characterized by the principle of the person himself is the Law. Nichiren Daishonin reveals the actual ichinen sanzen that is his inner enlightenment. Moreover, the Orally Transmitted Teachings (Ongi kuden) contains the following entry:
The object of worship is the very entity of the life of the votary of the Lotus Sutra. (Gosho, p. 1773)
In other words, the very entity of Nichiren Daishonin, who possesses the entity of the Law from the inconceivably remote past of kuon, is, in fact, the object of worship, characterized by the principle of “the Law is in itself the person.”
Therefore, the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary directly manifests the life, spirit, and very entity of Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha. This is what is meant by the oneness of the person and the Law and the single entity of the person and the Law.
Nichikan Shonin stated:
Therefore, the Buddha, out of great compassion, inscribed the entirety of the enlightenment that he achieved, in the form of a single (Gohonzon), to be bestowed upon to the common mortals in the Latter Day of the Law. (Gosho mondan, p. 203)
The object of worship that we in Nichiren Shoshu embrace and worship is none other than the Gohonzon that directly manifests the internal enlightenment of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, which also is referred to as the Dai-Gohonzon of the oneness of the person and the Law. As priests and lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu, we must never forget the great compassion of Nichiren Daishonin, who made his advent in the Latter Day of the Law, established the most supreme object of worship for all of Jambudvipa, and bestowed it upon us. Nichikan Shonin further stated:
If we believe in and embrace this Gohonzon and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo with no distractions in our mind, even if we do not know the underlying principles, it will be as though we naturally know the significance of the object of worship that manifests the principle that the Buddha with the property of perfect wisdom is himself ichinen sanzen—three thousand realms in a single life-moment. Since it will be equivalent to us already knowing the object of worship, it will be as though we understand that the entirety of our bodies and minds consists of the object of worship of the actual three thousand realms in a single life-moment. For example, it is like an infant drinking milk and naturally being nourished by it, even if he or she is not mindful of its taste. It is also like people taking Jivaka’s wonderful medicine and being cured of illnesses, even if they are unaware of how it was made. Such are the functions revealed by the powers of the Buddha and the Law. Never doubt this. (ibid.)
The benefits of believing in the Gohonzon with pure faith and chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo are tremendously great. We must sincerely believe in and embrace the Gohonzon and use our benefits and joy from doing so to lead the people in the world and teach them about faith in and practice to the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching.
High Priest Nichinyo Shonin stated:
In fact, by sincerely believing in the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching, regardless of who we are, we can attain enlightenment in our present form without fail. However, there is one condition to this. If we do not have faith, we will never be able to achieve enlightenment. Having faith is most important….When we sincerely believe in the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching and uphold our Buddhist practice for ourselves and for others, we will be able to attain enlightenment in our present form. (Dainichiren, No. 847, p. 25)
Based on the benefits and good fortune attained from our Buddhist practice for ourselves—carrying out Gongyo and chanting Daimoku—we must perform the practice for others, by doing shakubuku and helping people to develop their faith. This will directly enable us to proceed on the path to attain enlightenment in this lifetime. Furthermore, we must always propagate the true Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha, and advance with devotion toward our objective to establish the Buddha land.
Today, only the priests and lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu are able to bring salvation to the people living in the confusion and delusion of our society, in this evil world, steeped in the five impurities of the Latter Day of the Law. Let us deeply etch the High Priest’s guidance into our hearts and stand up to accomplish these objectives.
Our immediate goal is to establish a foundation for kōsen-rufu, as we strive to achieve a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers by 2021, the 800th anniversary of the advent of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin. Furthermore, let us brilliantly and cheerfully advance toward the achievement of kōsen-rufu throughout the entire world.