By Reverend Shotsu Nomura, April 2016 Oko Ceremony
For this April Oko Ceremony, I would like to continue the lecture on “Reply to Kyo’o.” The following is a part of the Gasho which we will focus on today.
“It is written that those who embrace the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra will be protected by Kishimojin and Ju-rasetsu-nyo. They will enjoy the happiness of Aizen and the good foryune of Bishamon. No harm will come no matter where they play. They will feel no fear like the lion king wherever they go.”
“Among Ju-rasetsu-nyo, the protection of Kodainyo is the most profound. But this protection is dependent on your faith. A sword will be useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith, making one even stronger just as the saying goes ‘like giving a metal rod to an ogre’.”
Here, “Kishimojin”, Ju-rasetsu-nyo”, “Aizen” and “Bishamon” are the names of Shoten Zenjin, who are the Guardian Deities. In this part, Nichiren Daishonin taught about the strong protection of Shoten Zenjin and encouraged us to believe in the Gohonzon with strong faith.
Since Nichiren Daishonin mentioned the Shoten Zenjin in this passage, I would like to talk about the following three points about the concept of the Shoten Zenjin.
1. Shoten Zenjin are the beings in the world of Rapture that is Heaven.
2. Shoten Zenjin are the heavenly beings who made the pledge to protect all people who believe in the Lotus Sutra.
3. The important points regarding the understanding of the Shoten Zenjin.
Point 1: Shoten Zenjin are the beings in the world of Rapture that is Heaven.
Buddhist teachings about gods or heavenly beings are not the same as the concept of monotheism in other religions. I believe that all of you have learned about the Ten Worlds of Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity, Rapture, Learning, Realization, Bodhisattva and Buddhahood. As you know, many people live in the human world that is the world of Humanity and just like in the human world, there are many heavenly being in the World of Rapture.
In Buddhism, it is said that all beings in the six worlds Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity and Rapture, except the practitioners of Buddhism, will always have reincarnation only inside of these six worlds after their death.
The Buddhist teachings also that all of them live in the threefold world that are the world of desire, the world of form and the world of formlessness.
In the threefold world, the 1st world is call the world of desire. The beings of Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity and the six heavens of the world of desire are living in this world. Here, the six heavens of the world of desire for fame and so on.
The 2nd world is called the world of form. In this world, there are 18 kinds of heavens and they are collectively called the four Meditation Heavens. All the heavenly beings is this world have physical bodies and are subject to certain material restrictions, but they have no desire, and feed in light.
The 3rd world is called the world of formlessness in this world, there are four kinds of heavens and they are collectively called the Four Heavens of Formlessness. It is called the world of Formlessness because the heavenly beings in this world have no shape or substance.
You may realize now that there are many heavens and many heavenly beings in the world of Rapture, which is taught in the Buddhist teachings.
Point 2: Shoten Zenjin are the heavenly beings who made the pledge to protect all people who believe in the Lotus Sutra.
According to the first, Jo chapter of the Lots Sutra, the heavenly beings were already present when Shakyamuni Buddha was getting ready to finally preach the Lotus Sutra, which was the purpose of his advent in the world:
“At this time, Shakudai Kan’in was there with his twenty-thousand followers; as were Myogetsu Tenshi, Fukou Tenshi, Houkou Tenshi, and the Four Heavenly Kings together with their ten thousand followers.” (Kaiketsu, p. 57)
Here, Shakudai Kan’in means Taishaku-ten, who is the Lord of the Tori-ten that is the second heaven of the six heavens of the world of desire and lives in the Kikenjo castle, which is located on the top of Mt. Sumeru. Myogetsu Tenshi is the Moon god. Fukou Tenshi is Myojo god or Venus god. Houkou Tenshi means the Sun god and the Four Heavenly Kings refers to Jikoku-ten, Zojo-ten, Komoku-ten and Bishamon-ten, also called Tamon-ten, who, as the protective gods, protect the east, west north and south parts of the world. They are the followers of Taishaku-ten.
Following this passage of Jo Chapter, it continues to reveal the heavenly beings, including “Dai-jizai Tenshi”, who is the top of the six heavens of the world of desire and also called the Devil of the Sixth Heaven and “Bonten-no”, also called “Dai-bonten-no”, who is the lord of the saha world and belongs to the world of form.
Nichiren Daishonin states in “Letter to Horen”:
“Bishamon and the others who comprise the Four Heavenly Kings are the great kings who preside freely over the four continents… The heavenly being called Taishaku is the lord of the Tori-ten. The Devil of the Sixth Heaven dwells at the summit of the world of desire and rules over the threefold world… The heavenly king known as Daibonten is the most highly honored among the heavenly beings in the threefold world. He dwells at the summit of the world of form, is attended by the Devil of the Sixth Heaven and Taishaku, and holds a major world system in his hand.”(Gosho p.811)
The first, Jo chapter, revealed that a great number of heavenly beings attended the ceremony for the Lotus Sutra, and the fourteenth or Anrakugyo chapter depicts how the deities who were present at the Ceremony in the Air all pledged to protect the votary of the Lotus Sutra:
“All deities will always protect him day and night for the sake of the Law.” (Kaiketsu, p.396)
And it further states:
“The young sons of the heavenly deities will wait on and serve him. Swords and stavs will not touch him, and poison will have no power to harm him.” (Kaiketsu, p.402)
Also the twenty-sixth, Dharani chapter, depicts the scene where the two sages of Yakuo Bodhisattva and Yuse Bodhisattva, the two guards of heaven, Bishamon-ten and Jiku-ten, also Kishimojin and Ju-rasetsu-nyo, who are the ten daughters of Kishimojin pledged in the Buddha’s presence to protect those who uphold the Lotus Sutra.
So, Nichiren DAishonin states in this Gosho, “Reply to Kyo’o: “Those who embrace the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra will be protected by kishimojin and Ju-rasetsu-nyo.” You may understand what Nichiren Daishonin said was proven by the Lotus Sutra.
Point 3: The important points regarding the understanding of the Shoten Zenjin.
Earlier, I just mentioned the names of the Shoten Zenjin, such as Taishaku-ten, Myogetsu Tenshi, Fukou Tenshi, Houkou Tenshi, Four Heavenly Kings of Jikoku-ten, Zojo-ten, Komoku-ten and Bishamon-ten, Dai-jizai Tenshi, Dai-boten-no, Kishimojin and Ju-rasetsu-nyo.
I would like to emphasise the important points regarding the understanding of the Shoten Zenjin. I think most of you know the teachings of the Fivefold Comparison”.
1. The Comparison between Buddhist and non-Buddhist teachings.
2. The Comparison between Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism.
3. The Comparison between the Lotus Sutra and the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings.
4. The Comparison between the essential teaching and the theoretical teaching.
5. The Comparison between the Buddhism of the Sowing and the Buddhism of the Harvest.
Through the teachings of the Fivefold Comparison, we can understand that the teaching of the Buddhism of sowing is superior to any other teachings in the world. You may understand that non-Buddhist teachings are not the same as the teaching of the Buddhism of Sowing.
Most of the names of the Shoten Zenjin were also revealed in non-Buddhist teachings or the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings in Buddhism, but we should understand that there is a difference in the significance of these names between non-Buddhist teachings and the Lotus Sutra. The point is that all Shoten Zenjin made the pledge to protect the people who believe in the Lotus Sutra. Even if a person believe in the Lotus Sutra, we can understand that the Shoten Zenjin will protect only the person who believes in the Gohonzon that is the True Object of Worship when we consider the comparison between the essential teaching and the theoretical teaching and the comparison between the Buddhism of the Sowing and the Buddhism of the Harvest.
To put it concretely, even though you can see the name of the Sun god on the Gohozon, please do not think that this is the Egyptian Sun god or the Greek Sun god. The same thing can be said for other gods in the Gohonzon. We should never mix the Gohozon with other religions. We should understand that these Shoten Zenjin came from the teaching of the Guddhism of Sowing.
The second High Priest Nikko Shonin, who had received the Heritage of the Law directly from Nichiren Daishonin Daishonin stated in the “Gohonzon shichikano sojo” that is the “Seven teachings on the Gohonzon transmitted from master to disciple” about the significance of writing the name of the Nichiren on the Gohonzon:
“It has the significance that all the Daimoku, Shakyamuni. Taho, Jogyo, Muhengyo etc, Fugen, Monju etc, Shariputra, Mahakashyapa etc, Dai-Bonten, Taishakuten, Four Heavenly Kings, Sun god, Moon god etc, Kishimojin, Ju-rasetsu-nyo etc, Tensho and Hachiman etc, are Nichiren.” (Showa Shintei p. 2721)
We should understand that only Nichiren Daishonin and the successive High Priests who inherited the Heritage of the Law can understand the true meaning of the Gohonzon. So please never think that you understand all aspects of the significance of the Gohonzon including the Shoten Zenjin, since the teachings on the Gohonzon are the transmitted teachings of the Heritage of the Law that can only be received by the High Priest. This is very important.
Now that you have understood some basic points about the Shoen Zenjin, I shall proceed with today’s Gosho passage:
“It is written that those who embrace the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra will be protected by Kishimojin and Ju-rasetsu-nyo.”
Here, the following names of Guardian deities are mentioned: “Kishimojin” means “demon children’s mother god” and “Ju-rasetsu-nyo” means “ten demon women”. You may wonder why demons can also be guardian Deities.
Since heavenly beings have great potential powers, in one meaning, if they act in a negative way by misusing their powers, we call them demons: if they act to protect people by using their powers, we call them Gudadian Deities. In the case of “Kishimojin” and “Ju-rasetsu-nyo”, they made the pledge to use their great power to protect all people who believe in the Lotus Sutra.
As you have already learned about the teachings of the “Fivefold Comparison”, please listen while recalling the teachings. These names, “Kishimojin” and “Ju-rasetsu-nyo”, came from Pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and their behavior was just like demons that had strong power in the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings. But they were revealed again in the Lotus Sutra. So even though the name is the same, the significance is different between Pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and the Lotus Sutra teachings.
The Dharani chapter of the Lotus Sutra states:
“These Ju-rasetsu-nyo, along with the Kishimojin, her offspring, and her attendants all proceeded to the place where the Buddha was and spoke to the Buddha in unison, saying “World-Honoured One, we too wish to shield uphold the Lotus Sutra and spare them from decline or harm.” (Kaiketsu p.581)
Even though you can see the same names – Ju-rasetsu-nyo and Kishimon – on the Gohonzon, without the Heritage of the Law, we will never understand the true meaning of them in the Gohonzon. We must just believe in Gohonzon without doubt and we should never think that one understanding of the Fourteen Slanders. Just as and the successive High Priests who inherited the Heritage of the Law can understand the true meaning of the Gohonzon.
So let us believe in the Gohonzon and uphold tis part of the Gosho passage:
“Those who embrace the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra will be protected by Kishimojin and Ju-rasetsu-nyo.”
Following hat Nichiren Daishonin states:
“They will enjoy the happiness of Aizen and the good fortune of Bishamon.”
Here we can understand that Aizen has the significane of happiness and Bishamon expresses good fortune through this Gosho passage. Those who chant Daimoku will obtain great happiness and good fortune throughout the three existences of life. We can understand that SHoten Zenjin also work to obtain benefits for us, the believers of the Gohonzon. Then, Nichiren Daishonin states:
“No harm will come no matter where they play. They will feel no fear like the lion king wherever they go.”
This passage came from the Anrakugyo chapter of the Lotus Sutra:
“Anyone who reads this sutra will at all times be free of worry and anxiety; likewise he will be without illness or pain, his expression fresh and bright. He will not be born in poverty or want, in humble or ugly circumstances…..If people speak ill and revile him, their mouths will be closed and stopped up. He will stroll about without fear like the lion king.” (Kaiketsu, p.402)
Those who believe in the Gohonzon will receive countless great benefits ad protections.
Next, Nichiren Daishonin states:
“Among Ju-rasetsu-nyo, the protection of kodai-nyo is the most profound. But this protection is dependent on your faith. A sword will be useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith, making one even stronger just as the saying goes ‘like giving a metal rod to an ogre’.”
The reason why “the protection of Kodai-nyo is the most profound” is that in the Dharani chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Guddha called the name of Kadai-nyo, one of the Ju-rasetsu-nyo, and ordered her to protect the teachers of the Law.
It is stated”
“Kodainyo, you and your attendants should shield and guard the teachers of the law such as these!” (Kaiketsu p.581)
Until this part, Nichiren Daishonin mentioned the great protection of the SHoten Zenjin and from the next passage onwards, He clarified that without strong faith in the Gohazon, one cannot receive Relistically speaking, we may face difficulties from time to time. We cannot deny the possibility that people will have problems or die to typhoons, heavy rains, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, heavy snow, tornadoes, bacteria, viruses and radioactivity and so on. Even if one tries to use modem technologies, one cannot stop earthquakes or tsunamis. Then what should we do when they actually strike? I think there are many occasions when we will seriously seek the protection from the Gohozon and Shoten Zenjin in our lives. I believe that Kyo’o Gozen and Nichigen-nyo especially, as well as their family members, needed the protection at that time too.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
“But this protection is dependent on your faith.”
If one does not believe in the Gohonzon, one will not receive all the protection that was revealed in the Lotus Sutra. On the other hand, those who have strong faith in the Gohonzon will have the strong protection of the Shotenzenjin.
Nichiren Daishonin also states in “The Latter to Horen”:
“Trying to practice the doctrines of this sutra without faith is tantamount to entering a treasure-filled mountain without hands or attempting to walk on a journey of a thousand ri without feet.” (Gosho, p.814)
If you need protection, if you need benefits, please conduct Shodai and shakubuku with strong faith in the Gohonzon by following the High Priest’s Nichinyo Shonin’s guidance.
I will continue this Gosho, “Reply to Kyo’o”, at the next Oko lecture and I will start from the following passage:
“A sword will be useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith, making one even stronger just as the saying goes ‘like giving a metal rod to an ogre’.”
I would like to conclude my lecture with my prayers for your continued progress in faith and practice.
Thank you very much!