SGI-USA Study Curriculum
Lectures on the Hoben and Juryo Chapters of the Lotus Sutra
by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda
The Importance of the Present Moment
Nyo ze. Ga jo-butsu irai. Jindai ku-on. Jumyo muryo.
Asogi ko. Joju fu-metsu. Sho zen-nanshi. Ga hon gyo bosatsu
do. Sho jo jumyo. Kon yu mi jin. Bu bai jo shu.
"Thus, since I attained Buddhahood, an extremely
long period of time has passed. My life span is an immeasurable
number of asamkhya kalpas, and during that time I have constantly
abided here without ever entering extinction. Good men,
originally I practiced the bodhisattva way, and the life
span that I acquired then has yet to come to an end but
will last twice the number of years that have already passed."
The spirit of the Buddhism of the true cause finds expression
in the practice of cultivating respect for the dignity of
It is the passage "Originally I practiced the bodhisattva
way," here in the "Life Span of the Thus Come
One" (16th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, that directly
As I mentioned last time, "I" indicates Shakyamuni
the ordinary human being --- just like us --- who carried
out bodhisattva practices in the remote past. He definitely
was not a superhuman being. "Remote past" means
the wellspring of life; Shakyamuni the practitioner of the
true cause represents the ordinary people of kuon ganjo
who base themselves on the wellspring of life.
Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism takes Shakyamuni the practitioner
of the true cause as the object of worship.
Shakyamuni in the remote past, who practiced the true cause,
is identified with Nichiren Daishonin, the original Buddha
of the Latter Day of the Law. This is the principle of "the
remote past is itself the Latter Day."
This is clear from such statements by the Daishonin as:
"The practice that Nichiren now carries out does not
differ in the least from the conduct of the [common mortal
Shakyamuni at the stage of] myoji-soku in the remote past"
(Gosho Zenshu, p. 863); and "There is no difference
of superior and inferior between Shakyamuni 's practices
in the remote past and Nichiren's practices today"
(Gosho Zenshu, p. 864).
In other words, he is saying that there is no difference
between his practices now in the Latter Day of the Law and
the practices of Shakyamuni the common mortal at the stage
of myoji-soku in the remote past.
Myoji-soku is the stage of practice of someone who has
embraced faith in the Mystic law. The 26th high priest Nichikan,
explains that we identify Shakyamuni the practitioner of
the true cause with the Daishonin, and the remote past with
the Latter Day, because there is absolutely no difference
in the "practices" or "stages" of the
In either case, "practice" means the practice
of embracing the Mystic Law. And "stage" means
the stage of practice of an ordinary person --- of myoji-soku,
that is, one who has taken faith in the Mystic Law.
The statement that the Daishonin and Shakyamuni are the
same in their practice and stage means that the practice
of thoroughly embracing the Mystic Law as a human being
is the same, whether in the remote past or in the Latter
The practice of upholding the Mystic Law is mystic and
incomprehensible. That's because it contains both the true
cause and the true effect of attaining Buddhahood-that is
to say, the fundamental principle for becoming happy. This
is the "mystic principle of true cause."
In the Latter Day of the Law, therefore, Nichiren Daishonin,
who is identical with Shakyamuni the practitioner of the
true cause, should be revered as the object of worship.
The Practice of Respecting Others
What is the bodhisattva way that Shakyamuni practiced in
the remote past? It is indicated in part by the practice
of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging (Fukyo). Bodhisattva Never
Disparaging was Shakyamuni 's name in a previous existence,
when he carried out bodhisattva practices during a decadent
age following the death of the Buddha Awesome Sound King
(Ionno). This episode is described in the Lotus Sutra.
The Daishonin says regarding Bodhisattva Never Disparaging:
"The word 'I' here refers to the Buddha when he was
carrying out the true cause of his original enlightenment.
This passage concerning how the Buddha 'originally practiced
the bodhisattva way' indicates practices such as those of
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 768).
In other words, the practice of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging
corresponds to the bodhisattva way of Shakyamuni the practitioner
of the true cause.
Whenever he met someone, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging
would make a gesture of reverence to the person and exclaim,
"I deeply respect you ." This was because he recognized
that everyone could become a Buddha. His practice was based
on feelings of the most profound sympathy for his fellow
Respecting others, which is the supreme practice for cultivating
an appreciation of life's dignity, was an important part
of the bodhisattva way that Shakyamuni practiced in the
remote past. Bodhisattva Never Disparaging single-mindedly
persevered in putting into practice this belief in the dignity
However, he lived in a corrupt and impure age. People could
not understand the nobility of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging's
actions. Rather, a defiled age is one in which there are
many arrogant people who sneer at a person of true greatness,
while shamelessly making a display of their own cunning
to appear great themselves. Such foolish people repay a
person of justice, who refuses to surrender his convictions,
People beat Bodhisattva Never Disparaging with sticks and
drove him away with rocks. Under such circumstances, he
adopted an interesting strategy. When he was driven off,
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging would retreat a little way
but would not leave. When he was out of reach of the sticks
and rocks he would turn around and return to carrying out
his practice of veneration, saying, "I deeply respect
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was very flexible in his
actions. He was not submissive; nor did he have a confrontational
attitude. He was not in the least cowardly; nor was he zealously
heroic or motivated by a kind of tragic spirit.
Within his flexibility, he possessed great strength. No
matter how great the persecutions he encountered, he absolutely
never wavered in his conviction. He never abandoned the
philosophy in which he believed. He never backslid in his
Upholding the Mystic Law in a sense means to put one's
conviction into practice. This became the cause for Bodhisattva
Never Disparaging to attain Buddhahood, and he was later
reborn as Shakyamuni Buddha.
This practice of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging --- lighthearted,
persistent and among the people --- is the true cause for
attaining Buddhahood. It seems to me, in other words, that
his practice must typify Shakyamuni's original practice
of the bodhisattva way in the remote past.
The practice of discussing and praising the Mystic Law
among people deepens an individual's own faith in the Mystic
Law and ultimately enables him or her to attain the true
effect of Buddhahood. Practice is itself mystic.
Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the first Soka Gakkai president,
said, "Just as people who don't have daily lives won't
understand the principles of daily life, those who lead
lives of medium or minor good cannot possibly understand
the way of life of great good. Unless people practice, they
cannot possibly cherish true faith."
Only when we carry out bodhisattva practice can we understand
true faith. Only if we practice can we comprehend the profound
significance and manifest the immeasurable benefit of faith.
A way of life based on the principle of true cause is that
of those who practice among the people without putting on
airs. There is no need whatsoever for such people to "get
all dressed up," as it were. Honest and straightforward,
they give others peace of mind and plant the seeds of happiness
in others' hearts through their unaffected actions. This
is the bodhisattva practice of the true cause.
Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddha of the "mystic principle
of true cause." Though the original Buddha, he always
practiced the bodhisattva way as an ordinary person. From
start to finish, he struggled as a common mortal. The ordinary
person is supreme. This is the essence of the Daishonin's
Even after he had cast aside his transient role, as Bodhisattva
Superior Practices (Jogyo), and revealed his true identity
as the original Buddha at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution,
Nichiren Daishonin did not manifest any special physical
characteristics such as the 32 features. Nonetheless, the
Law of kuon ganjo shone brightly in his heart. And he carried
out the actions of the original Buddha for the people of
the 10,000 years of the Latter Day. The Daishonin manifested
ultimate humanity. This was his "casting off the transient
and revealing the true."
Our Buddhist practice is not one of revering the true effect.
Since embracing the Mystic Law is in itself enlightenment,
when we embrace the Gohonzon we can immediately manifest
the world of Buddhahood in our lives. The bodhisattva practice
of the Buddhism of the true cause is to direct ourselves
toward the nine worlds while basing ourselves on the life
of Buddhahood. It is, it might be said, to dive headlong
into the mundane reality of society dominated by the nine
worlds, based on the life of Buddhahood.
In other words, our practice entails constantly going back
and forth between the practice for oneself of doing gongyo
and chanting daimoku and the practice for others of spreading
the Mystic Law. The key to manifesting the world of Buddhahood
lies in this continuing activity.
Accordingly, the Buddhism of the true cause exists in the
way of life, the practice, of ceaselessly striving to improve
one's immediate, everyday surroundings and to carry the
age and society forward. The principles "faith manifests
itself in daily life" and "Buddhism manifests
itself in society" are thus central to the Daishonin's
Now Is the Time to Take Action
The 65th high priest, Nichijun, as I have mentioned many
times in the past, discussed the spirit of the Buddhism
of the true cause as follows:
If people think of it merely as characterizing the Buddha's
aspect in teaching others and fail to realize that it is
the model for their own lives, then the teaching of the
Buddhism of sowing of the true cause is dead.
These are my sentiments exactly. Discussion of Buddhism
divorced from real life destroys the spirit of the original
Nichijun also remarked, "It could be said that the
Buddhism of sowing of the true cause means to always have
a forward-looking spirit." This, too, I have said repeatedly.
The spirit of the Buddhism of the true cause exists in a
heart brimming with hope for the future.
When we have the sense that "Now is the time!"
"It's my efforts from now on that count!" we can
continually challenge our present circumstances with a forward-looking
attitude. This is what it means to live based on the "mystic
principle of true cause." I hope all of you will attain
such a way of life.
Once the brilliant sun of the "mystic principle of
true cause" rises in our hearts, the causality of fate
or karma originating in the past rapidly loses its glow,
as do the stars and other celestial bodies at daybreak.
Time and again President Toda explained that when we dedicate
ourselves to the Mystic Law, the causes and effects created
in the interim all disappear and the "common mortal
of kuon ganjo" appears.
The common mortal of kuon ganjo is another name for the
Bodhisattvas of the Earth. The Bodhisattvas of the Earth
are born of their own volition in this corrupt world to
lead suffering people to happiness. Of their own free will,
they position themselves where they can practice to make
good causes, and they are born in the world with a karmic
destiny that they themselves have chosen. They do this to
enact the drama of transforming destiny and proving the
greatness of Buddhism.
Therefore, while we each have a unique destiny, by exerting
ourselves for kosen-rufu based on faith, we can use all
the circumstances we encounter lessen karmic retribution
and transform destiny. The Daishonin says, "The sufferings
of hell will vanish instantly" (MW-1, 17). When we
embrace the Mystic Law, our karmic impediments cease to
be karmic impediments.
When we embrace the Gohonzon, we can acquire in our lives
both the Buddha's practices (causes) and benefits (effects).
Karmic impediments originating in the past all become the
key for us to open the great state of life of Buddhahood.
Earthly desires themselves become enlightenment, and we
can create comfort and tranquillity in suffering and hardship.
The world of Buddhahood contains the nine worlds of suffering,
and the world of Buddhahood can only become manifest in
concert with the reality of the nine worlds. Only thus does
the true aspect of life of the mutual possession of the
ten worlds appear.
The important thing is to not shrink back in the face of
hardship. We must not have a weak spirit full of lamentation
or doubt. When we have a powerful forward-looking inner
resolve, we can change all aspects of our existence and
manifest a great state of life of indestructible happiness.
This is based on the principle of " 3,000 realms in
a single moment of life."
Whether experiencing suffering or joy, we need to continue
chanting the Mystic Law with the prayer in our hearts to
attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. No matter what happens,
we need to continue advancing one step at a time toward
kosen-rufu, in high spirits and with robust hearts. Those
who maintain such a strong mind of faith moment by moment
will be embraced in the immense and boundless compassion
of the original Buddha. 'This is the wonderful essence of
the Buddhism of the "mystic principle of true cause."
- Do not pursue the past
- do not idly hold out hopes for the future.
- The past is already discarded,
- And the future has not yet arrived.
- Thoroughly discern the nature of the present
- in the midst of reality.
- One who, without swaying or moving,
- clearly grasps the present
- deepens his state of life.
- Simply set your heart on doing
- what must be done today.
The important thing is right now --- the present moment.
Our present inner resolve, our determination, enables us
to sever the bonds of karmic causality by the strength arising
from within and enter the sure path of happiness.
Faith of the Buddhism of the true cause, which constantly
arises from the wellspring of life, enables us to develop
a state of eternal happiness and to lead a supreme existence.
The spirit of the Buddhism of the true cause is the spirit
of limitless hope and eternal advance.
Therefore, each day we return to the point of departure
at life's wellspring, and from there we begin to advance
anew. Doing gongyo and chanting daimoku is the secret teaching
for returning to the world of kuon ganjo. Every day, we
set forth from kuon ganjo. Faith to continually set forth
from this eternal prime point is faith of the Buddhism of
the true cause.
[ Previous |
Contents | Next