The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra Vol. 5 Section 9 Discussion Questions:
1. On page 237 SGI President Ikeda says, “The ‘Entrustment’ chapter could therefore be termed the ‘Succession’ chapter or the or the ‘Mentor and Disciple’ chapter. It is the ‘Mentor and Disciple of Kosen-rufu’ chapter for accomplishing wide-propagation of the Law in the Latter Day.” In what ways is this chapter the “mentor and disciple of ‘kosen-rufu’” chapter? (WLS-5, 237-38)
2. On page 242 SGI President Ikeda says, “People who merely try to imitate their mentor in terms of appearance or manner tend to go astray.” Afterward, he talks about exerting ourselves for kosen-rufu in thought, words and deed. How are these connected and what does it means for us? (WLS-5, 242-43)
3. What does SGI President Ikeda say about the practice of shakubuku? How has reading this helped you to understand shakubuku? (WLS-5, 247-50)
4. On page 251 SGI President Ikeda says, “The bond of mentor and disciple comes down to the awareness of the disciple.” Describe what it means to “cut the power line” between oneself and one’s mentor. In this relationship, what is most important? (WLS-5, 251-52)
5. The word “Namas” implies dedication and and the sense of both “returning to” and taking action “based on” the Mystic Law. How does this apply to us and shakubuku practice? (WLS-5, 256-58)
Mentor & The Lions Roar....
Excerpts from “Mentor/Disciple” by Kathleen Olesky
From Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Vol. VI
Ikeda: When we carry out this struggle in the unity of mentor and disciple, we first experience the world of Buddhahood welling forth from our lives. Then the lotus flower of the Mystic Law begins to bloom.
Myo, or “mystic,’ corresponds to mentor and ho, or “law,' to disciple. They are indivisible.
Renge, or lotus flower,” symbolizes the simultaneity of cause and effect. Cause refers to the nine worlds and thus to the disciple, while effect indicates the world of Buddhahood and the mentor. Hence, mentor and disciple are one. The Mystic Law and the lotus flower both express oneness of mentor and disciple. This is the meaning of Myoho-renge-kyo. (p. 241)
Ikeda: Mr. Toda, the disciple who shared Mr. Makiguchi’s spirit, read the Lotus Sutra and perceived its essence at the same time as his mentor....
President Toda was enlightened to the oneness of mentor and disciple. He ‘remembered” the truth that he had been exerting himself with the same spirit as Nichiren Daishonin since the remote past. Understanding this, how could he begrudge his life? (p.244)
Ikeda: .. .The purpose of religion is to help each person become happy. But even a teaching whose original intent was to promote human happiness may start to restrict people. Even the Lotus Sutra could be used incorrectly to justify discrimination.
What is necessary to prevent the danger of such distortion from occurring? It is the mentor disciple relationship. It is the disciple’s inheritance of the resolute spirit and faith on the mentor to lead people to happiness.
Inheriting the Faith of the Mentor
Ikeda: It would be terrible if this spirit were to disappear from the SGI. What is the meaning of the oneness of mentor and disciple in Buddhism? Physically mentor and disciple are of course two different people. It is the heart, spirit and teaching that each uphold that make them inseparable. Therefore, it is important to seek a mentor who correctly practices the Law and to forge ahead with the aim of becoming one in spirit with that mentor.
A relationship not based on a shared principle or spirit, but where one blindly follows the orders of another in a relationship of boss and underling, or where one claims to be the disciple of the other but only in form, is not the correct way of Buddhism.
Buddhism is about the disciple taking on the spirit of the mentor to aspire eternally for kosen-rufu. Without the mentor-disciple relationship, there can be no advancement. There can only be decline.
Saito: It goes without saying that our faith is grounded on Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. He is the original mentor. Based on that understanding, Nikko Shonin, the Daishonin’s successor, emphasized that the mentor-disciple relationship is essential to Buddhist practice. He says:
In this teaching [of the Daishonin], the way to enlightenment is attained through correctly practicing the path of mentor and disciple. If we error in the path of mentor-disciple, then, even though we might uphold the Lotus Sutra, we will fall into the hell of incessant suffering.
Saito: And as proof that the relationship between mentor and disciple in Buddhism is not just a matter of form, Nikko Shonin clearly stated as his last instructions: “Do not follow even the high priest of the time if he goes against the Buddha’s teachings and propounds his own views”(GZ, 1618). What matters is whether one is correctly practicing the Buddha’s teaching. (pp.258-260)
From My Dear Friends in America, Collected US Addresses 1990-1996
In Buddhism, the offense of betraying the mentor is extremely grave. It amounts to destroying the very life of Buddhism. People who do so try to win acceptance for their false views by saying: ‘You should listen to what I say, irrespective of what my mentor wrote.’ And if someone presents them with written proof that shows their words or actions to be wrong, they try to gloss over the contradiction by saying: ‘That is a superficial level of interpretation. The true meaning is found elsewhere.’
Nikko Shonin strictly instructed [Hakiri]: ‘Although the mentor has died, his writings remain.’...When the Daishonin is no longer in the world, it is his writings that we should make our mentor. So long as we continue practicing in accordance with the Gosho, what possible cause for confusion can there be? Here Nikko Shonin teaches the fundamental attitude for the Daishonin’s followers.
From “The Heart of the Lion King: The Courageous Roar of Mentor and Disciple”
The World of the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin ~8, Living Buddhism Nov. 2002
Ikeda: From the perspective of those who are the Buddha’s disciples, people who just revere the Buddha from afar as mere bystanders do not qualify as genuine disciples.
Unless we wage a great struggle for the happiness of all people with the same dedication as the mentor-just as the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas of the Earth have struggled together as one since the distant past-we cannot call ourselves the lion’s cubs. Worse, if we are lion cubs whose actions incur the ridicule of “foxes, then we do not qualify as successors of the lion king.
We only carry on the legacy of the Lotus Sutra, the scripture of the oneness of mentor and disciple, when we firmly make the heart of a lion king our own and struggle as one with the mentor.
None of us believe from the start that we possess great power and ability. But when we gain courage from the mentor, the strength to take action and fight wells forth in our lives. We already possess that strength and ability within us. When we embrace the Mystic Law that is the lion king, that power and ability naturally well forth.
The Daishonin writes: Suppose a lion has a hundred cubs. When the lion king sees its cubs attacked by other beasts or birds of prey, he roars; the hundred cubs will then feel emboldened, and the heads of those other beasts and birds of prey will be split in seven pieces. (WND, 949)
The practice of the hundred cubs, who represent the disciples, is to gain courage from the roar of the lion king, the mentor, and defeat other beasts and birds of prey that attack them.
Saito: In other words, if the disciples only rely on the mentor to battle and defeat devilish forces without taking on the struggle themselves and emerging victorious, they cannot possibly carry on the mentor’s spirit.
The Lion’s Roar and the Oneness of Mentor and Disciple
Morinaka: [Concerning the phrase ‘To raise the lion’s roar (cf. LS13, 193),] The Orally Transmitted Teachings state: The lion’s roar indicates the preaching of the Buddha. The preaching of the Law refers to the Lotus Sutra and specifically to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The first Chinese character [of the word lion], meaning ‘teacher,” represents the Mystic Law as it is passed on by the mentor. The second Chinese character [of the word lion], meaning “child,” indicates the Mystic Law as it is received by the disciples. ‘Roar,” meanwhile, refers to the sound of mentor and disciple chanting [daimoku] together in unison. “To raise” [the lion’s roar] refers to initiating Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the Latter Day of the Law. (GZ, 748)
Ikeda: This expresses the principle of the Oneness of mentor and disciple. It is the action of “initiating” that is important. “Initiating” implies not being passive, but actively standing up to take action. Ultimately, everything depends on the awareness and determination of the disciple.
As a matter of fact, in the “Encouraging Devotion” (13th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni urges the bodhisattvas to make a vow pledging to roar the same lion’s roar as he.
While we speak of disciples in this Buddhism, there is no formal initiation process to become one. It is those actually giving voice to the lion’s roar and striving for kosen-rufu right now who are disciples. In contrast, a person who dons the mask of a disciple but fails to roar the lion’s roar is not a true disciple. The important thing is action.
Saito: The lion’s roar isn’t something special like speaking out at an international conference. It’s simply a matter of conducting sincere dialogue that speaks directly to the life of the person with whom you are talking.
Ikeda: To awaken the heart of a lion king within our life and to manifest it, we have to roar the lion’s roar. When the mentor roars the lion’s roar, disciples follow suit. One after another enlightened individuals begin to raise the lion’s roar with powerful voices. The roaring of these lions will vanquish the devilish nature of all scheming “foxes.” Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda said:
The Daishonin’s vow in “The Opening of the Eyes” represents] his determination as the Buddha endowed with the three virtues [of sovereign, teacher and parent] to deliver the people of Japan from the depths of suffering. As upstanding disciples of the Daishonin who carry on the legacy of this great lion’s roar, and as true patriots, we must endeavor to save those who have sunk into great suffering at the present time.
In response to this lion’s roar of President Toda, I also stood up, as did one youth after another. As a result, we have built the Soka Gakkai into the organization it is today.
Now it is the youth of the twenty-first century’s turn to roar the lion’s roar. If youth throughout the globe stand up and form an inspiring network of roaring lions, the SGI of the twenty-first century will be secure, and their emergence will be a source of great hope for the world of the twenty-first century (p. 42)