Chris: Note he is referring to Shakyamuni Buddha, the Lord of Teachings. This is not the same as his "transient status". You could say that this "Lord of Teachings" is the Well of Wisdom from which each of us draws our water. Nichiren calls him Shakyamuni, but the members of the Fuji School were not totally remise to call the "Buddha of this well" Nichiren. Where they were remis was in calling each other names over the nomenclature rather than seeking to understand the point of the teaching -- which is that the Buddha Wisdom is available to all.
Response: Nomenclature? Nichiren was talking about Ri-Butsu or a very real Buddha, the Father, Teacher, and Parent of all the other Buddhas in the universe. His name is not Nichiren nor is his name Myoho renge kyo. His name is Shakyamuni.
Nichiren had faith in this reality and taught it extensively, second only to his teachings on the Daimoku. But the SGI and the Nichiren Shoshu would change these teachings.
Nichiren said that because of the severe times [as predicted in the Daijuku Sutra and others] in which we live, self power is not enough to attain the fruits of Buddhist practice. By necessity, we need to take refuge in the Law of Namu Myoho renge kyo [the Law to which the Eternal Buddha has been eternally Enlightened] by chanting it repeatedly and believe in the Original Eternal Buddha known as Shakyamuni. Our lack of concentration, memory, volition, fortitude and compassion is so attenuated [by merely having been born in this age], we may not, by our powers alone, attain the same unsurpassed Enlightenment as the Original Buddha.
Therefore, the Buddha by virtue of his limitless compassion leaves for us, the people of this Latter Age, the Great Medicine of his Supreme and Perfect Enlightenmentin order to gain the very same inconceivable field of cognition as he. All we have to do is take (chant and believe in) the medicine [Namu Myoho renge kyo] and by virtue of the vast merit power of the Law and Eternal Buddha, the power to perceive Supreme and Perfect Enlightenment is transfered to us.
Another way to put it is, thus augmented by the Buddha's limitless Enlightenment, mercy, and teaching (Namu Myoho renge kyo), we become more powerful than even the lion king.
To attempt to separate The Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni's Enlightenment from the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni is as futile as attempting to separate carbon from diamond. Namu Myoho renge kyo is the essential element of the Eternal Buddha as carbon is the essential element of the diamond. Without Namu Myoho renge kyo there is no Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni and without carbon there is no diamond.
Similarly, just as there would be no proof of the unsurpassed utility and magnificent beauty possible with elemental carbon were it not for the diamond, there would be no proof of the supreme benefits of Namu Myoho renge kyo without the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni. Certainly this newsgroup is not absolute proof of the supreme benefits of Namu Myoho renge kyo and not even Nichiren affords such absolute proof.
Nichiren wrote in the True Object of Worship in the section, The Pure Land of the Eternal Buddha:
"Now, when the Eternal Buddha was revealed in the essential section of the Lotus Sutra, this world of endurance (Saha-World) became the Eternal Pure Land, indestructible even by the three calamities of conflagration, flooding, and strong winds which are said to destroy the world. It transcends the four periods of cosmic change: the kalpa of construction, continuance, destruction, and emptiness. Sakyamuni Buddha, the Lord-preacher of this pure land, has never died in the past, nor will He be born in the future. He exists forever throughout the past, present, and future. All those who receive His guidance are one with this Eternal Buddha...."
And in the section, The Form of the true Object of Worship, he writes:
"The object of worship (honzon) at the scene of this transmission of "Namu Myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo" from the Eternal Buddha to his original disciples is: Suspended in the sky above the Eternal Buddha Sakyamuni's Saha-world is a stupa of treasures, in which Buddhas Sakyamuni and Taho sit to the left and right of "Myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo". They are waited on by four bodhisattvas such as Jogyo (Superior Practice)representing the original disciples of the Eternal Buddha called out from underground. Four more bodhisattvas including Manjusri and Maitreya, take lower seats as followers, other great and minor bodhisattvas---those converted by the Buddha in the theoretical section and those who came from other lands---resemble numerous people sitting on the ground and looking up at court nobles. also lined up on the ground are Buddhas in manifestation (funjin Buddhas) who gathered together from all the worlds in the universe in praise of the Buddha's preaching, representing provisional Buddhas in their respective lands.
The true object of worship (honzon) such as this was not revealed anywhere else by Sakyamuni Buddha during more than fifty years of His preaching in this life. Though He spent eight years preaching the Lotus Sutra, the scene was limited to the preaching in the sky above Mt. Sacred Eagle recounted in eight chapters, from the fifteenth to the twenty-second chapters.. During two milleniums after the death of Sakyamuni Buddha, the Ages of the True Dharma and the Imitative Dharma, some worshipped Sakyamuni Buddha accompanied by Kasyapa and Ananda as described in the Hinayana sutras; others worshipped Him accompanied by such bodhisattvas as Manjusri and Samantabhadra as he appeared in quasi-Mahayana sutras. the Nirvana Sutra, or the theoretical section of the Lotus Sutra.. Many wooden statues and portraits were made of Sakyamuni as He preached Hinayana or quasi-Mahayana sutras, but statues and portraits of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha revealed in the Duration of Life of the buddha" chapter of the lotus sutra were never made. Now in the beginning of the Latter Age of the Decadent Dharma, is it not the time that such statues and portraits are made?"