Shakyamuni’s practices and the virtues he consequently attained are all contained within the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. If we believe in these five characters, we will naturally be granted the same benefits as he was.
With full understanding of Shakyamuni’s teachings, the four great voice-hearers said, “This cluster of unsurpassed jewels has come to us unsought.” They represent the world of the voice-hearer that is within ourselves. The Buddha stated, “At the start I took a vow, hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinction between us, and what I long ago hoped for has now been fulfilled. I have converted all living beings and caused them all to enter the Buddha way.” ShakyamuniBuddha, who has attained perfect enlightenment, is our own flesh and blood. His practices and the resulting virtues are our bones and marrow. The “Treasure Tower” chapter of the Lotus Sutra says, “He who is capable of guarding the Law of this sutra will thereby have offered alms to me and to Many Treasures. . . . One who guards this sutra will also have offered alms to the emanation Buddhas who have come here adorning and making brilliant all the various worlds.” Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions represent the world of Buddhahood within ourselves. By searching them out within us, we can receive the benefits of all these Buddhas. This is what is meant by the following passage: “If one listens to them [the preachers of the Law] for even a moment, one will immediately attain supreme perfect enlightenment.” The “Life Span” chapter reads, “It has been immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of kalpas since I in fact attained Buddhahood.” The Shakyamuni Buddha within our lives is the eternal Buddha since time without beginning, who obtained the three bodies more thannumberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago. The “Life Span” chapter states, “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.” He was speaking of the world of the bodhisattva within ourselves. The bodhisattvas, as numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds, who emerged from beneath the earth, are the followers of the Shakyamuni Buddha present in our lives. They follow the Buddha just as T’ai-kung Wang and Tan, the Duke of Chou, served as ministers to King Wu of the Chou dynasty and later assisted his son and successor, the infant King Ch’eng; or just as the Chief Minister Takenouchi supported Empress Jingū and later her grandson Crown Prince Nintoku as a highly valued minister. The bodhisattvas Superior Practices, Boundless Practices, Pure Practices, andFirmly Established Practices represent the world of the bodhisattvawithin ourselves. The Great Teacher Miao-lo says: “You should understand that one’s life and its environment at a single moment encompass the three thousand realms. Therefore, when one attains the Buddha way, one puts oneself in accord with this fundamental principle, and one’s body and mind at a single moment pervade the entire realm of phenomena.”