REPLY TO KYO'O (PART 5)
By Reverend Shotsu Nomura
Today, I would like to continue the lecture on "Reply to Kyo'o."
"Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune. Muster your faith and pray to this Gohonzon. Then what is there that cannot be achieved? You should believe the Lotus Sutra when it says, 'This sutra fulfils one's desires. It is a clear pond that quenches thirst', and 'They will have peace and security in this life and good circumstances in the next'."
This part of the Gosho is very famous and important, and talks about great benefits. This Gosho passage has a very deep meaning, and thus l have divided it into two parts. I will talk about first part of this Gosho passage today and the second part next month.
At the beginning of the Gosho passage, Nichiren Daishonin states: "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune.
This Gosho passage is but great very short, it has great significance. Firstly, I would like to talk about the following five points regarding this Gosho passage and then I will explain each sentence.
1. The meaning of the term "ten" that is translated as "change" in the sentence, "misfortunes will change into fortune."
2. Concerning "misfortune" and "fortune"
3. The meaning of "Soku".
4. Kyo'o Gozen will attain Buddhahood.
5. The experience of misfortunes will change into fortune.
Point No.1- the meaning of the term "ten" that is translated as "change" in the sentence, "misfortunes will change into fortune."
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the meaning of "change" is "become different", "replace", and "exchange" and so on. This term "change" does not mean "replace" or "exchange", but it is similar to "become different".
It can be said that Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will become a different aspect, which is fortune. Nichiren Daishonin states in the Exegesis on 'The Meaning of the True Entity of Myoho-Renge-Kyo':
"Question: What is the significance of the word 'ten' that is 'change' or 'transformation'? Answer: The word 'ten' refers to a condition in which it does not alter its entity, but a condition in which changes its appearance. Such the meaning of 'ten'."
Here, the key words are "entity" and "appearance". Entity" will not change, but "appearance" will. This is the meaning of "ten" or "change" in the Gosho passage.
This entity refers to Kyo'o Gozen himself and "appearance" means "misfortune" and "fortune" that could occur in his life. So Kyo'o Gozen himself did not change his form but his "misfortune" would change into "fortune".
For example, a pessimistic person will become optimistic without changing his entity, a mentally-disabled person will become a normal person, a physically-weak person will become a strong person, or a person with illness will be relieved from the illness.
If I explain using deeper Buddhist doctrine, one's Buddha nature is considered as the true entity of one's life, and it will influence one's "misfortune" appearance did change into a "fortunate" one by the power of faith and the power of practice.
To explain this further, even if the change had not yet appeared on the surface, internally the root of misfortune had already begun to change into one leading to a fortunate appearance.
Furthermore, we will be able to understand this more clearly when we consider the doctrine of 'naisho-jobutsu', which means internal enlightenment or 'sokushin-jobutsu', which refers to the attainment of Buddhahood in one's present form. For example, the three paths of earthly desires, karma and suffering will change into the three virtues of the properties of the Law, wisdom, and emancipation.
This is a deeper meaning of the sentence, "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune".
Even though there are two types of benefits, "Conspicuous Benefit" and "Inconspicuous Benefit", our misfortunes will change into fortune if we believe in the Gohonzon, chant Daimoku and conduct shakubuku.
Point No. 2- concerning "misfortune" and "fortune"
You may realise that the terms, "misfortune" and "fortune", which were used in the "Reply to Kyo'o", are antonyms. "Misfortune" is the word for a "negative" condition and "fortune" is the word for a "positive" one. In the Buddhist teaching, simply put, the negative aspect of our lives is called "darkness", while the positive aspect of our life is called "Nature of the Law".
When we think about all negative aspects of our lives such as earthly desires, karma and suffering, including misfortune as "darkness", and all positive aspect of our life as "Nature of the Law", we common mortals tend to think that these are all different aspect. We think, so to speak, that "darkness" and "Nature of the Law" are not of the same existence.
However, Nichiren Daishonin states in 'Ongi Kuden':
"The oneness of darkness and nature of the Law is called Myoho, the Mystic Law."
"Darkness"and "Nature of the Law" can be considered as one single entity. This means "misfortune" and "fortune" can be considered as one same existence, but they appear as different aspects. Here, those who have a deep knowledge of Buddhist teaching may realize that this relationship between "misfortune" and "fortune" can be explained by the teaching "Soku". For example, 'Bon'no-soku-bodai' is "Earthly desire are enlightenment" and 'Shoji-soku-nehan' is "The sufferings of birth and death can be transformed into nirvana."
Point No 3 - the meaning of "Soku"
The Buddhist term "Soku" has many meanings. The great principle "Soku" is revealed deep in the Buddhist doctrine of the Lotus Sutra. In order to explain the meaning of "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune", here l would like to talk about "Soku", especially from the concept of the "Gyaku-Soku-Zejun" or "Reverse-is-straightforward", which comes from the Lotus Sutra.
The word "Soku" literally means "transform into", "change into", "turn into", "immediate manifesting", "equal" or "to be". It has same meaning as "ten", which means "change that is used in the above Gosho passage.
Even though the existence of something is very negative, it can be changed into something positive because of the principle of "souk". For example, "Earthly desires are enlightenment", "The sufferings of birth and death can be transformed into nirvana" and "Hell is itself the enlightened land"
You may wonder how then can Hell be the enlightened land ? This is a very mystic theory that comes from "Myo" of Myoho-Renge-Kyo. The principle of "Soku" or "Reverse-is-straightforward" is one of the functions of "Myo"
The Daishonin states in his Gosho, 'Hell and Buddhahood':
"Devadatta changed the hell of incessant suffering into the enlightened paradise and the Dragon King's daughter also was able to attain enlightenment without changing her dragon form. The Lotus Sutra can bring enlightenment even to those who at first oppose it. Such great benefits are contained in the single character Myo." (M.W. 2-242)
The theory of "Reverse-is-straightforward" comes from the example of Devadatta taught in the Lotus Sutra. Davadatta, who was a terrible killer, was able to achieve Buddhahood because of the principle of "ichinen sanzen" and the fact that all people possess "Buddha nature". These truths are revealed in the Lotus Sutra.
Now I would like to explain the meaning of "Soku" with another example, using one of Tiantai's teachings written by Shimei Chirei called "Jippu-Nimon-Shiyo- Sho"
Here, earthly desires are considered as appearance and enlightenment is understood as nature. The "Ten Factors of Life" teaches that appearance contains nature; therefore, earthly desires and enlightenment are one single entity.
Earthly desires and enlightenment are originally one and the same entity. When one looks at it from the side of ignorance, it is recognised as earthly desires. When one looks at it from the side of realisation, it recognised as enlightenment. Therefore, it can be said that earthly desires are enlightenment.
Earthly desires and enlightenment seem to be different existences from the viewpoint of a common mortal. From the viewpoint of the Buddha's wisdom, however, they are two existences but also a single existence just like the relationship between wave and water.
Figure "A" is called "Nimotsu-Sogo", "B" is "Haimen- Sohon" and "C" is "Totai-zenze". These three ideas explain the meaning of "Soku" The principle of "Soku" is not clear in figure "A" or "B", but it is clear in figure "C".
"A" shows that earthly desires and enlightenment are not two separate existences; which means the existence of "being not two".
"B" show that earthly desires and enlightenment are "being not two", but one will have to look at its entity from the two different sides of "ignorance" and "realisation" before can understand about earthly desires and enlightenment. This means that this one same entity has not only one aspect and it can be said that it is of not only "one".
"C" shows that earthly desires and enlightenment are "being not two" and its entity is consider as "one".
When we consider the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, Figure "C" is the most appropriate explanation for the principle of "Soku".
However, without the Daishonin's actual teaching, that is, the "Three Great Secret Laws", it is just a theory. Figure "C" shows one's potential and neutral state that can be easily influenced by the external causes and one's environment.
Therefore, without the True object of Worship, earthly desires are nothing but earthly desires. Earthly desires, so to speak, can be changed into enlightenment only by one's sincere chanting of Daimoku to the Gohonzon.
When we consider the Gosho passage, "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune", we can say the same thing. Misfortunes are like the water of the ocean and fortune is like the wave of the water. These are the same entity that appears differently.
Let us think again about the following Gosho passage:
"The oneness of darkness and nature of the Law is called Myoho, the Mystic Law.
"Darkness" refers to the root cause of earthly desires, karma and suffering, including misfortune. "Nature of the Law" means "Buddha nature". Both of term can be of one same existence, So when one chants Daimoku to the Gohonzon, one's Buddha nature will activated and misfortunes will become fortune. Without strong faith and practice, misfortune are nothing but misfortunes and one's Buddha nature cannot be activated.
Nichiren Daishonin states in "On the Meaning of the True Entity of Myoho-Renge-Kyo":
"Those who honestly discard the expedient teaching, put faith only in the Lotus Sutra, and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, will transform the three paths of earthly desires, karma and suffering into the three virtues of the properties of the Law, wisdom and emancipation. The threefold contemplation and the three truths will immediately manifest themselves in their minds and where they dwell will become the land of eternally tranquil light." (Gosho, p.694)
The term "misfortunes" of "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune" can be understood as "earthly desires", "karma" and "suffering", and the term "fortune" of "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune" corresponds to the properties of the Law, wisdom, and emancipation.
When we think in this way about this Gosho passage, "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune", we can say that Nichiren Daishonin was saying that even though Kyo'o Gozen had grave illness and his life ended at a young age, he became a Buddha since he had Buddha nature in his life. With the encouragement and instruction from his parents, he became a believer of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. I think this is one of the meanings that Nichiren Daishonin wanted to convey through this Gosho passage.
Now I have come to the end of my lecture. Due to lack of time, I will continue my next Oko lecture on:
Point No. 4 - Kyo'o Gozen will attain Buddhahood, and
Point No. 5 -- the experience of misfortunes will change into fortune.
I would like to conclude my lecture by praying for your continued good health, happiness and kosen-rufu in Singapore. Thank you very much.
Kaimyo, 84, Aug-Sep 2016, pp 13-16.