REPLY TO KYO'O (PART 6)
By Reverend Shotsu Nomura
Thank you very much for attending this important July Oko Ceremony. Today, I would like to continue Pre the lecture on "Reply to Kyo'o".
The section of the Gosho that we will focus on today reads: "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'"
"Reply to Kyo'o" contains much important guidance years and many teachings for our faith and practice. I will continue this part as the second lecture of the same Gosho passage.
The three points regarding "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune" are:
1. The meaning of the term "ten" is translated as "change" in the sentence, "Misfortunes will change into fortune."
2. Concerning "misfortune" and "fortune"
3 The meaning of "soku".
Today, I will explain the fourth point. "Kyo'o Gozen will attain Buddhahood" and the fifth point, "The experience of misfortunes will change into fortune."
4. "Kyo'o Gozen will attain Buddhahood".
Previously, I spoke about the great benefits of the Gohonzon based on the Gosho passage, "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune."
Although l explained it this way, one might think that, as Kyo'o Gozen was just two years old, even if he had be a Buddha nature, he could not have strong faith and practice, so he could not have attained Buddhahood.
I refute this kind of thinking and I say that Kyo'o Gozen attained Buddhahood, and I believe that those present here today also know that Kyo'o Gozen attained Buddhahood even though he was only two years of age.
For example, if a woman is pregnant and if she chants Daimoku to the Gohonzon with strong faith, then her baby who is in her womb can attain Buddhahood. I believe that many mothers will agree that a baby in the mother's womb is a part of the mother's body. If the baby is a part of the mother's body, when the mother chants Daimoku to the Gohonzon, both the mother and the baby will attain Buddhahood together.
Until the time of birth, the baby is connected to the mother by the umbilical cord. Even if the umbilical cord is cut, the baby's body is not much different from the mother's. Whether the baby is connected to the mother by the umbilical cord or not, the baby's body is similar to the parent's body.
Kyo'o Gozen was a two-year-old and he had illness at that time, so even if his mother, Nichigen-nyo, made an effort to chant together with him, he was too young to do it correctly, but Nichiren Daishonin states in 'Oko Kikigaki'.
"The enlightenment of the father and mother is the children's enlightenment. The children's enlightenment is the parents' enlightenment." (Gosho. P.1825)
So I am sure that Kyo'o Gozen attained Buddhahood through his mother's enlightenment, especially from her enlightenment through her strong faith and practice.
Furthermore, when we consider the doctrine of ichinen sanzen, even trees or stones can attain Buddhahood by the power of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, so there is no doubt that a two-year-old baby can attain Buddhahood.
5. "The experience of misfortunes will change into fortune."
Buddhist teachings say that everyone possesses fundamental darkness in their minds. This fundamental darkness will lead to earthly desires and the three poisons of greed, anger and stupidity. These earthly desires will lead to negative karma, which cause suffering in our daily life.
In order to overcome these sufferings, problems and misfortunes, we must conduct shodai and shaku buku with strong faith in the Gohonzon. By so doing, the functions of "ten" and "soku" will be active and we and will lead a fulfilling happy life.
Now I would like to share one Hokkeko member's experience as an example of "misfortunes will change into fortune".
This is the experience of a female believer, whose family and ancestors have been practitioners of a different religion. She was born with a deformed chest, severe atopic dermatitis all over her body and asthma. She bore much hatred for her parents, wondering "Why did they give birth to me in such a condition?"
After her marriage, she gave birth to a child. Unfortunately, her child was born with autism, so she could not feel and understand what she saw or heard like a normal child did. Furthermore, her child suffered from panic disorders, made strange noises, flew into a rage, and hurt herself and the people around her. There was never a moment of calm, and every day was a living hell. When her child entered elementary school, she could only repeat words she heard, like a parrot, but could not craft a reply in response to what was asked.
Raising a child under such circumstances was very draining both mentally and physically, pushing one beyond the limits. Just when she had a complete nervous breakdown and wanted to die, she met a Hokkeko believer who shakubuku and told her "Your child's illness can definitely be cured," thus convincing her to receive Gojukai.
After half a year of daily Gongyo and Daimoku together with all three family members without fail, she witnessed a miracle -her child became capable of voicing out her feeling using words. This spurred her to persist in practising. She went on tozan every month, and as a result of the benefits received, her child was able to progress so much that she could communicate with her friends. The teacher at the Development Centre, who had been taking care of her child since she was young, said "When I look at your child, the only thing I can say is that this is truly the power of Buddhism. I can only believe," and thereafter she received Gojukai.
Once, she had the opportunity to listen to the experience of a Hokkeko believer who, similarly, had a child with a serious brain handicap, and how, through her faith, she managed to overcome this hopelessly-severe illness that seemed impossible to cure. The believer shared joyously. "The answer is shakubuku. I conducted shakubuku so as to eradicate my negative karma. I shakubuku my relatives, acquaintances and all the people around me one by one. People talked behind my back and ostracized me, but I was saved time after time by the Gohonzon from the desperately-hopeless situation I was in with the benefits I received. The benefits of shakubuku are really immeasurable."
Till then, this believer had been afraid to do shakubuku, but she thought that if she accumulated the same cause, she should receive the same result. She therefore decided to shakubuku many people, so as to cure her child's illness. When she was rejected and even sadly cut off by those who have helped her or those important to her, a Hokkeko believer of it encouraged her, saying, "This is the eradication of your negative karma. Through shakubuku, you can eradicate the cause of suffering that is embedded in the depths of your life, into a lesser and lighter form. This is what will help your child recover."
Later, her child told her, "Mama, in the past, when I was in the kindergarten, I couldn't talk, right? It was very dark and very, very scary. I was so lonely and I cried a lot. But after I started chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, I could talk." She couldn't believe that her autistic child could now speak of that dark period of time when she was sealed up in her own world, with seemingly no feelings of her own.
She realized then that the one who had suffered the most was neither her husband, nor her - it was the child who could not find any way to express herself; she was the one who was experiencing all the pain and suffering throughout all that time. At that moment, she felt that her feelings towards her the child had further deepened, and she finally bonded strongly with her-something she never thought she would experience with her autistic baby who had previously been sealed off from the world.
Thereafter, her child slowly developed her character as a person, and progressed through life, moving into middle school and high school. The autistic child who could not talk, made strange noises and flew into a rage was now a character in a dream long gone.
The believer herself used to suffer from very bad rashes that were so itchy and sensitive, she would bleed when she scratched herself. Now, her severe atopic dermatitis has recovered naturally. She also and used to have asthma but that has disappeared, too, and she is now healthy.
Subsequently, her child graduated from high school and began working in the Employment Support Centre for the Handicapped, and she has grown into do a person who is trusted by the people around her.
The believer concluded by saying, "If I had not received shakubuku and met the Gohonzon 14 years ago, the "me" you see now, together with my family, would not be around anymore. It's scary when I think ever of it now, but back then, the only solution I could think of was for all of us to commit suicide together. However, now when I look back on my life, because I was able to meet the Gohonzon, I was able to overcome everything. The fact that I am healthy now despite being born with my karmic illness -that I am able to live with my child, and the whole family can laugh together, cry together, overcome problems together, and enjoy such strong bonds - is a cause for such indescribable joy that I am so grateful to the Gohonzon for. I am now able to taste the joy and pleasures of life.
This precious experience is just like an actual proof of the great benefits stated in 'On the Meaning of the True Entity of Myoho-Renge-Kyo':
"Those who honestly discard the expedient teachings, 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)
It is really wonderful that this Hokkeko member and her daughter could actually change misfortune into fortune in this lifetime by chanting Daimoku and conducting shakubuku. This is a good example of the significance of "changing misfortune into fortune".
Another instance of "changing misfortune into fortune" is the attainment of Buddhahood by Kyo'o Gozen. Even though he could not have a long life like the daughter of this believer, and whether he had a long life or not, no one should doubt that he attained Buddhahood and changed misfortune into fortune. This is also the important meaning of "changing misfortune into fortune". When you think deeply about the prince of ichinen sanzen and the eternal life throughout the three existences of life, you may understand more clearly that he had made good cause and received great benefits from the Gohonzon.
Now I would like to talk about this Gosho passage one at a time.
"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."
As I have explained before, Kyo'o Gozen had a severe illness and in the next part of this Gosho passage, which is the final part of this Gosho, Nichiren Daishonin states. "I only lament his transient life."
This means Nichiren Daishonin well understood that Kyo'o Gozen's condition was critical and he would die soon. But Nichiren Daishonin said, "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune." He is saying that Kyo'o Gozen would die soon but would obtain fortune. So to understand the correct meaning of this "fortune" is important. I believe this "fortune" does not refer only to the matters in our temporary existence, but it is the attainment of Buddhahood through which one can gain the virtue of true self, happiness, eternity and purity.
Next, Nichiren Daishonin states "Muster your faith and pray to this Gohonzon. Then what is there that cannot be achieved?"
Nichiren Daishonin gave the guidance to Kyo'o Gozen's mother, Nichigen-nyo, to have strong faith and pray to the Gohonzon in order to have her prayers come true.
Even though Buddhist teachings say "Earthly desires and enlightenment", "The sufferings of birth and death can be transformed into nirvana", "Hell is itself the enlightened land" and "Misfortunes will change into fortune", some people might still have doubts about whether such things will actually happen. All people must believe in the great power of the Gohonzon and they must believe that common mortals can become Buddhas through the great power of the Gohonzon if they have strong faith and practice.
For example, if a person knows what a chicken is, but has never seen its egg, he cannot believe that the small egg will become a chicken. Even if he has doubts about it, the egg will still change its form and become a chicken.
Likewise, one may have doubts listening to this in the beginning, but as long as on muster one's faith and chants Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the Gohonzon, one will attain Buddhahood and be able to change misfortune into fortune.
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 first passage of the Lotus Sutra comes from the twenty-third chapter, 'The Former Deeds of Bodhisattva Medicine King', and it reveals the great benefits as follows;
"This sutra can save all living beings to free themselves from suffering and anguish. The sutra can bring great benefits to living beings and fulfil their desires, as a clear pond can satisfy all those who are thirsty. It is like a fire to one who is cold, a robe to one who is naked, like a band of merchants finding a leader, the child finding its mother, someone finding a ship in which to cross the water, a sick man finding a doctor, someone in darkness finding a lamp, the poor finding riches, the people finding a ruler, a travelling merchant finding his way to the sea. It is like a torch that banishes darkness, such is this Lotus Sutra. It can cause living beings to cast off all distress, all sickness and pain. It can unloose all the bonds of birth and death." (Kaiketsu, p.535)
The next Gosho passage is quoted from the fifth chapter, 'The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs', of the Lotus Sutra:
"Once these living beings have heard the law, they will have peace and security in this life and good circumstances in the next, when they will receive joy through the way and again be able to hear the Law." (Kaiketsu, p.217)
These passages of the Lotus Sutra are the documentary proofs of the great benefits of taking faith in the Gohonzon and chanting Daimoku to the Gohonzon.
The Gosho, "Reply to Kyo'o", is a very important Gosho for our faith and practice. The Gohonzon contains great beneficial powers and saves all people in the Latter Day of the Law throughout the three existences of life, so we should take action to conduct shakubuku.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
"You must propagate to others with all you might, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.
("The True Entity of All Phenomena" Gosho p 688)
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 33-37.