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Monday, August 22, 2016

Original or Attained Enlightenment?



Hongaku means Original Enlightenment. Shigaku means attained of enlightenment. To explain the relationship between Hongaku and Shigaku here are two examples: A man is in a dark room with furniture but he can not see and make use of anything inside the room because it is dark. However, once he turns on the light, he can clearly see the furniture in the room. The furniture was there from the beginning, however, he sees it only after he turns on the light. It is not that the furniture suddenly appeared. The furniture was always there. It was just he could not see it. The fact that the furniture was there from the beginning stands for Hongaku and the fact that turning on the light and the ability to see the furniture stands for Shigaku. Another example is a blind man who meets an excellent physician who performs an operation on his eyes. The doctor cured his blind eyes. He is now is able to see the sun and the moon. The sun and the moon were originally there (Hongaku) but he saw them for the first time when his eyes were cured (Shigaku). 

Therefore, when one attains enlightenment (Shigaku), he never fail to attain original enlightenment (Hongaku). It is not until one has Shigaku that he becomes aware of Hongaku (Oh! Everything is originally in the enlightened state!!). 

So, until the time of Shigaku, we should make use of our power of belief that this world is in reality the Buddha's Pure Land. Nichiren Daishonin said in his writing named "Junyoze no koto", "Like waking up to reality from dream where one saw various illusion; after cleaning off the deluded thought and view, then you will see that everywhere in the dharma world is the Pure Land of tranquil light, and that the body of your own is the Tathagata of original enlightenment (Hongaku) possessing the three bodies in one." 

Some say that "Junyoze no koto" is a 'forgery'. However, this Gosho is one of the Roku-nai Goshos. So it should be considered a genuine Gosho. I think the attitude of discarding every Gosho that contradicts one's own opinion will prevent one from a proper understanding of Nichiren Buddhism. 

Needless to say, the explanation I wrote about Hongaku and Shigaku have nothing to do with the the Hongaku of old medieval T'ien T'ai which teaches that we need not practice because everyone is already enlightened. 

Rev. Sorin Yasuhara


September 22, 1998 

As you know the parables regarding "Hongaku and Shigaku" that I wrote before was from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra (pp.522-523 Vol,2) which Rev. Honda cited in his book along with "Junyoze no koto". 

Answer to Mr. Lamont's last note 

1) Lamont and some of the other sect's scholars thinks "Junyoze no Koto' is a forgery. But teachers of Jumonryu (followers of Nichiju) do not. Rev. Honda used this Gosho to support his view not only in "Daizokyo yogi" but also even in "Hokekyo Kogi" ("Lectures on the Lotus Sutra") the copy or which Lamont stated he had in his last note. Also Rev. Honda put this Gosho into his "Seigoroku" (analects of sacred words). Moreover, another famous teacher of Jumonryu, Rev. Nisshi Nakagawa also put this Gosho into his "Seigoroku" (analects of sacred words). I think the reason why he insists that this Gosho is a forgery is that it bothers his biased view on the Nichiren Buddhism. It is the matter of course that this Gosho does not bother the correct view of Jumonryu at all. 

2) Lamont brings forward the so-called "Hongaku shiso" (ideology of Hongaku) and refutes it citing Rev. Honda"s words in "Hokekyo kogi,"with which he thinks is a refutation to my last note regarding "Hongaku and Shigaku'. And Lamont hates Hongaku monism and thinks Hongaku monism is not the view of Jumonryu (followers of Nichiju). 

I agree with him on the point that "Hongaku shiso" is wrong. But it is totally beside the mark to refute us with refuting "Hongaku shiso". Because the term "Hongaku" itself never means nor imply the "Hongaku shiso". He misunderstands to take the term "Hongaku" immediately as "Hongaku shiso". This is the most critical and fundamental error in his view. 

As I explained before, the term "Hongaku" only means "Original Enlightenment".  This, as everyone can see very easily, is what is preached in the Honmon (Original Doctrine), especially in the Chapter 16 'Measure of life'. On the other hand, in the Shakumon (Manifestation Doctrine) it preaches on the basis of "Shigaku" (Attainment of Enlightenment). Therefore, needless to say the, subject of "Hongaku and Shigaku" is parallel to the subject of "Honmon and Shakumon". 

In the Shakumon, there is a matter of "attaining" but in the Honmom there is no such a matter because Honmon is the view or world which is preached from the stand point of the Original (Eternal) Buddha, In other words. Shakamon is based on dualism and preaches distinction (discrimination) between worldly beings and Buddha; Honmom is based on monism and preaches the ultimate equality of worldly beings and Buddha. If Buddhism does not preach monism and only upholds dualism, it loses its life. There are in the world many other religions like Judaism, Christianity or lslam which are based on dualism with the teachings of absolute discrimination between divinity and humanity. And they are wrong in their object of worship and doctrine of ultimate dualism. In other words, it is a matter of common knowledge that Nichiren Buddhism is a religion of monism, because the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo) is the teaching or One Vehicle (Ichi-jo). More importantly, it does not mean mechanical monism but means the monism that can only be attained through our faith of whole-hearted devotion (Namu). In this sense, chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo (Daimoku) wholeheartedly is essential for this monism. It is a bridge between dualism and monism. This is the theory of Sokushin-Jobutsu (attaining Buddhahood in this very body) of Nichiren Buddhism

So if we remain attached to the view that dualism is the ultimate substance of the doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism, where can we find the possibility of Jobutsu (attaining Buddhahood)? With such a wrong view, Buddha and we are forever parallel lines. In the "Kanjin Honzon Sho" (On the Object of Worship in Contemplation), Nichiren Daishonin states:

"Now the Saha World of the Original Time is the Ever-abiding Pure Land apart from the Three Calamities and outside of the Four Kalpas. The Buddha has not already been extinguished in the past and will not be born in the future. Those who are converted are of the same essence. This is identical to the complete possession of the three thousand (realms) of one's own mind, the three types world" (translated by Lamont). 

How does Lamont read this essential part of this Gosho? Does he reject the "Kanjin Honzon Sho" as a forgery, too? 

"Hongaku Shiso" is a distorted view derived from the erroneous understanding of the doctrine of the Buddha's Three Bodies. This view does not take into account the unity of the Three Bodies. Instead, it links the Dharma Body only to worldly beings and the other two bodies (Enjoyment Body and Response Body) to the Buddha.  One who has this view is conceited, thinking that it is the worldly beings who are the Original Buddha and Buddhas like Shakya and Taho are merely Manifestation Buddhas.This is an abstract view, equivalent to the man in the dark or the blind man before his operation in the parables I wrote in the first note. This view shuts the door to attaining Buddhahood since it denies the need for flipping the light switch and the excellent physician.

One must not take the Gosho passage, "Like waking up to reality from dream where one saw various illusion; after deluded thought and view, then you will see that everywhere in is the Pure Land of tranquil light, and that the body of your own is the Tathagata of original enlightenment possessing the three bodies in one.", out of context of a correct faith, practice, and study. It expresses the ultimate state of life which comes after cleaning off deluded thought and view (practice). 

The "Tathagata of original enlightenment possessing the three bodies in one" is the very "Actual Buddha" (Ji Butsu) revealed in the Chapter 16 of the Hokekyo. That is by no means the Ideality (Abstraction) of Unmanifest Original Enlightenment (Hongaku no ritai) or Abstract Buddha (Ributsu). 

Accordingly, there is no argument from the beginning save for Lamont's confusion and misunderstanding. If he has some more confusion in this regard, he should read carefully the writings of Nichiren Daishonin and the teachers of Jumonryu, especially Nichiju Daishoshi's "Fuju-sho". Then he will surely find a break-through. 

With Gassho,

Rev. Sorin Yasuhara


  1. Apropos:

    "Hongaku Shiso" is a distorted view derived from the erroneous understanding of the doctrine of the Buddha's Three Bodies. This view does not take into account the unity of the Three Bodies. Instead, it links the Dharma Body only to worldly beings and the other two bodies (Enjoyment Body and Response Body) to the Buddha.


    It is the apex of the Lotus and the Tendai teachings, it is not a distorted view. Often people misunderstand it. It does NOT say:

    1) it does not say practice can be abandoned;
    2) it does not say we're already accomplished buddhas;
    3) it does not link Dharma Body only to common mortals.

    the above text makes misinterpretation number 3

    Hongaku Shiso actually links the Dharma Body to EVERYTHING.

    Buddha-Nature is like space; the Dharma body, too, is like space. It cannot be said to belong to this or that entity. It is omnipresent and nowhere simultaneously.

    When we say that Amitabha and Shakyamuni are provisional Buddhas we only mean to say that they do not express the truth of Dharma Body being like space and interpenetrating the Dharmadhatu.

    Instead it is a focus on specific instantiations of Suchness and so they are provisional. The Dharma Body as revealed in the Lotus Sutra is the "true Buddha", other Buddhas are mere instantiations.

  2. Not according to Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren who taught the Eternity of all Three Buddha Bodies...

    The Lotus Sutra states:

    "Listen then all of you attentively to the secret, mysterious, and supernaturally pervading power of the Tathagata."*

    *"According to Chih-i, by "secret" is meant that the one body of the Buddha is three bodies, and by "mysterious" that the three bodies are in the one. Spiritually or supernaturally pervading power, or power of spiritual or supernatural pervasion, or ubiquity, is the function of the three bodies, or trikaya: the dharmakaya (truth-body or Law-body), the sambhogakaya (reward-body or bliss-body), and the nirmanakaya (mutation-body or response-body). Dharmakaya indicates the buddhahood in its universality, nirmanakaya the buddhahood embodied or personalized, and sambhogakaya the buddhahood as spiritualized. Chih-i attributes the revelation of the trikaya in this form to this passage and emphasizes the unity of the trinity as constituting the only correct doctrine of the Buddha's person and reality." -- Bunno translator of the Threefold Lotus Sutra

    Nichiren teaches, for example,

    "These three bodies of the Thus Come One are in no way something that is extraneous to us. Rather we should understand that we ourselves are none other than ultimate entities endowed with the three virtues, Buddhas of original enlightenment, who possess the three bodies within a single one. When we understand this, we may be called Thus Come Ones, sages, enlightened ones. While we do not understand this, we are called ordinary mortals, ordinary living beings, or people in a state of delusion."

    You Zakaj are promoting a Shingon reading of the Lotus Sutra. Are you SGI?