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Record of the Orally Transmitted
Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin

- Ongi Kuden -

Chapter 4: Faith and Understanding [Shinge]

Chapter six of the Hokke Mongu states, "In the Cheng-fa-hua [ching], this chapter is titled 'Faith and Joy.' While the meaning comes through, 'joy' is not equal to 'understanding.' This present [chapter] expresses the acceptance and understanding [of the four great on hearing the teaching of the one vehicle]. How could 'joy' be most appropriate?"

Among the titles of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, this chapter has the title 'Faith and Understanding.' The three thousand realms in a single instant arise from the character 'faith.' The attainment of the Way by all Buddhas of the three existences also derives from the character 'faith.' This character 'faith' or 'belief' is a sharp sword that can sever fundamental darkness. As expressed in the statement, 'Having no doubt is called belief,' faith is a sharp sword to sever and destroy doubts and delusions. 'Understanding' is another word for wisdom. Faith is like the price [of a jewel], and wisdom, like the jewel itself. (Gosho Zenshu p. 724)

The single character 'faith' will purchase the wisdom of all Buddhas of the three existences of past, present and future. 'Wisdom' means Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Faith is the cause of wisdom and represents the stage of verbal identity. Apart from faith, there can be no understanding, and apart from understanding, there can be no faith. The character 'faith' is defined as the seed of wonderful enlightenment. Now because Nichiren and his disciples believe and accept Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, they obtain a great precious jewel, as stated in the sutra, "This cluster of unsurpassed jewels has come to us unsought." (LS p. 87, 3LS p. 116)  Faith is the seed of wisdom, and disbelief is the cause for falling into hell. 'Faith' corresponds to the principle of true being that is unchanging. The reason is that 'faith' means one arrives at 'understanding that all laws are the Mystic Law' and believes in this as the single principle of the true aspect. 'Understanding' corresponds to the wisdom of true being that accords with conditions. It indicates the wisdom of the Buddha of absolute freedom. (Gosho Zenshu p. 725)

Chapter Nine of the Hokke Mongu states, "Having no doubt is called belief; a clear grasp is called understanding." Chapter Six of the Hokke Mongu states, "When people of intermediate capacity heard the Buddha expound the [of the three carts and burning house], their doubts and confusion were removed, for the first time, and they entered understanding of the Mahayana Teaching; therefore this is called 'faith.' Because they advanced in the Mahayana Teaching, that is called 'understanding.'"

The commentary also states, "Here the two words [faith and understanding] are treated separately with respect to the Mahayana teaching and applied to 'discerning the Way' and 'cultivating the Way.' Because doubts are removed, that is 'faith,' and because one further advances, that is 'understanding.' 'Faith' applies to both discerning and cultivating, while 'understanding' only applies to cultivation. Therefore, cultivation of the Way is called 'understanding.'"

The sutra states, "This is my son, and I in truth am his father. Now everything that belongs to me, all of my wealth and possessions, shall belong entirely to this one of mine." (LS p. 85, 3LS p. 114)

I, Nichiren am the father of all the people of Japan. (Gosho Zenshu p. 726)

The sutra states, "This cluster of unsurpassed jewels has come to us unsought." (LS p. 87, 3LS p. 116)

Now from the standpoint of Nichiren and his disciples, 'unsurpassed' indicates Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which is most unsurpassed among the unsurpassed. The sutra speaks of the 'unsurpassed cluster of jewels' to indicate the Mystic law. [This phrase] means that Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is the treasure in which are clustered all the beneficial practices and meritorious deeds of all Buddhas of the three existences. Faith enables us, without painful practices or merit accumulated through austerities, to receive the peerless treasure through a single utterance. This is the meaning of '[H]as come to us unsought.' (Gosho Zenshu p. 728)

The sutra states, "Now we have become voice-hearers in truth, for we will take the voice of the Buddha way and cause it to be heard by all." (LS p. 94, 3LS p. 124)

Thus, Shariputra expressed his understanding of the Law by saying in [the 3rd] chapter 'listening to the voice.' 'Listening' means to take faith in the sutra and 'the voice' indicates the voice and sound of all phenomena which signifies the Mystic Way. Regarding this voice, [this] chapter states [the above phrase]. 'All' means humans living in the phenomenal world and 'voice' means Nam Myoho Renge Kyo(Gosho Zenshu p. 728)

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