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Friday, August 10, 2018

Buddhas just as we are?

Buddhas as we are?

SGI member: 

"Present within our lives is the Lord Shalyamuni who obtained the three enlightened properties of life before gohyaku-jintengo, the Original Buddha since time without begining." (MW vol 1, The True Object of Worship, pg 65) 


"The Lord Shakyamuni who declared 'I alone can save them,' at a time even more distant than gohyaku-jintengo, is none other than each of us." (MW vol 2, I2U Exile, pg 55)

So, since Shakyamuni, Nichiren and each of us are the same, then we must all be the eternal Buddha Shakyamuni. Then how can one deny that Nichiren is also the eternal, original Buddha? (And each of us too).


First of all, the happiest New Years to you and yours. Thank you so much for your question. I have pondered your question all day, chanted about it, and hope that I can answer it to your satisfaction.

Nichiren Daishonin stated: "If you confuse the general with the specific, even in the slightest, you will fail to attain Buddhahood."

The Daishonin states in the Gosho, Dialogue on the Way to Correctly Hold the Sublime Lotus Sutra (Ji Myo Hokke Mondo Sho)

"The Lotus Sutra teaches:

If, in the future, there should be in any world, a good son or good daughter having a pure heart and reverential belief, free from doubt, such a one shall not fall into hell or become a hungry spirit or animal, but shall be born, instead, into the presence of the Buddhas of the universe."

You should definitely understand and embrace this passage, expecting, in the next lifetime, to be born into the presence of the Buddhas.

If you find yourself at the foot of a high cliff and, unable to scale the bank, discover that someone has lowered a rope to pull you up and asks that you seize it, should you hesitate to grasp the rope because you doubt the strength of your rescuer or the security of the rope? If you refuse to take hold of the rope, how can you be lifted from the depths? If you place trust in the words of the rescuer and stretch out your hands to clasp the rope, then you may be pulled from the abyss.

So then, how can you be saved if you doubt the strength of the Buddha who declares: "I alone can save and protect you?" How can you be saved if you question the security of the rope of the Lotus Sutra that teaches: "Only with faith can you enter into Buddhahood?" The Sublime Dharma reveals that, "If you believe in, and devote yourself to this Law you will, without fail, create the destiny to become a Buddha." If you hesitate to chant the Daimoku of the Sublime Dharma, it will be impossible for you to reach the peak of the precipice of enlightenment. Those who refuse to believe this will fall into hell. Thus, the Sutra teaches: "Those who doubt and disbelieve this Sutra will fall into the evil paths."

How could you possibly spend your life in vain, after having received a human life which is so difficult to receive, after having encountered Buddhism which is so rare to encounter?

If all of your relatives depart from your native village, leaving the path to your home abandoned and overgrown, your eagerness to return there will wane. If a loved one cannot be depended upon, and refuses to make a vow together with you for the future, then your longing to see the loved one will naturally diminish.

Then why do people not visit the Pure Land of Eagle Peak, an easy place to reach, and much more wonderful than the mansions of nobility? Why do people not long to see the Buddha’s figure, who tenderly declares, "I am your Father?" This thought causes me such overwhelming grief that my heart aches within my chest and my sleeves are heavy with tears.

Pensive or melancholy feelings may arise within you as you note the hue of the clouds in the evening sky, or the pale light of the moon as night gives way to dawn. At these moments, and at any and all other times, you should think of your eternal life. Think of it in the late afternoon of a day colored by the blossoms of spring; think of it on the morning of a heavy snow fall. Remember it on an evening as you watch the winds drive tufts of clouds across the sky. An outgoing breath does not wait for the incoming one. You should not at any moment forget the Buddha’s merciful pledge, "I am always thinking of how to save all living beings." Nor should you abandon the Sutra that reads, "There is no being who cannot become a Buddha." 

Yesterday became today and last year became this year, but can you be certain that you will see this year pass into the next? When we count the years that have passed since birth, we know exactly how long we have been living, but one is assured of not even one day more, nor of even a moment longer. Even with the knowledge that they may die at any moment, many people still are filled with self-conceit and stubbornly adhere to their own narrow ideas, or they foolishly waste themselves striving after fame and profit, neglecting to chant the Daimoku of the Sublime Law. It is truly lamentable that even though this Law allows anyone to realize Buddhahood, such people are unable to enter into the Buddha’s Path. How can the moon-light be reflected off the sleeve of a cold-hearted person?

As a life is nothing more than what exists in a single moment (Ichinen), the Buddha taught that it is a great benefit to believe in the Lotus Sutra and feel the joy of that belief for even a moment. If it were necessary to practice for even two or three moments to realize such joy, it would contradict the Buddha’s vow to allow all beings to enter, equally, the Buddha’s great wisdom, and therefore, it could not be the teaching to bring all beings to immediate enlightenment.

If a person is not in the seat of Eternal Tranquil Light, then any place will be full of agony. What pleasures can be enjoyed by those who are away from the home of true enlightenment?

I pray for you to cherish the Sublime Law, the Law of security in this life time and of wonderful existence in the next. Upholding the Sublime Law is the only real honor of this life time, the only genuine path guiding us into the next. Wholeheartedly chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo yourself and teach it to others. To chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is the purpose of this human life and is the only support we can carry with us into the next.

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.

It is a good thing not to doubt one's own power. It is a sublime thing not to doubt the power of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni and the Gohonzon.

Now, let us look at the first Gosho quote you posted:

"Present within our lives is the Lord Shakyamuni who obtained the three enlightened properties of life before gohyaku-jintengo, the Original Buddha since time without beginning." (MW vol 1, The True Object of Worship, pg 65)

An alternative translation is as follows:

"...Shakyamuni Buddha, within our minds, is an ancient Buddha without beginning, manifesting Himself in three bodies he attained Buddhahood in the eternal past......(Kanjin Honzon Sho, translated by Kyotsu Hori  P.94)

The Daishonin states in the Hoon Sho:

"Yet it was not I, Nichiren who made these important pronouncements. Rather it was in all cases the spirit of Shakyamuni Buddha that had entered into my body. And at having personally experienced this I am beside myself with joy." (MW vol 3, Ibid, pg 171)

In The Supremacy of the Law he states:

"When I was about to be beheaded, the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni took my place." (MW vol 3, The Supremacy of the Law, pg 199).

These passages are not inconsistent with the passage you posted. When we practice correctly, the Buddha enters into our mind. The Eternal Shakyamuni entered into the minds of the Great Saints and Sages of Buddhism such as Buddhamitra, Nagarjuna, Kumarujiva, Nan Yueh, Tientai, Chang-an, Miao-le, and Saicho in order to correctly expound the Lotus Sutra. The Daishonin states in the Kanjin Honzon Sho:

"The Causal Practices and the Virtues of the Effect of Buddhahood of Lord Shakya are fully possesed in the Five characters "Myoho renge kyo." When we receive and keep these Five Characters, he spontaneously yields and cedes to us the merit of those causes and effects."(Kempon Hokke Seiten).

The second passage you posted reads:

"The Lord Shakyamuni who declared 'I alone can save them,' at a time even more distant than gohyaku-jintengo, is none other than each of us." (MW vol 2, I2U Exile, pg 55)

Let us contrast this with three passages from three other writings of Nichiren Daishonin

"Shakyamuni Buddha, our father and mother, who is endowed with the three virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent, is the very one who encourages us, the people driven out by all other Buddha, saying, "I alone can save them." The debt of gratitude we owe him is deeper than the ocean, weightier than the earth, vaster than the sky. Though we were to pluck out our two eyes and place them before him as an offering until there were more eyes there than stars in the sky, though we were to strip off our skins and spread them out by the hundreds of thousands of ten thousands until they blanketed the ceiling of heaven, though we were to give him our tears as offerings of water and present him with flowers for the space of a hundred billion kalpas, though we were to offer him our flesh and blood for innumerable kalpas, until our flesh piled up like mountains and our blood overflowed like vast seas, we could never repay a fraction of the debt we owe to this Buddha! (MW vol. 4, The Learned Doctor Shan-wu-wei) 

"However, later seeking and entering the deep cave, you see a single hermitage. The voices of the reading and reciting of the Hokekyo echo against blue heaven and the words of discussing the doctrine of the One Vehicle are heard in the midst of the mountains. Informing [them, of your presence and requesting] admittance, you enter the chamber, place your mother's bones before the Master of Teachings Lord Shakya, cast your five limbs to the ground, press your palms together, and opening your two eyes, look up to the Holy Face: joy overflows your body and the pain of your heart suddenly ceases." (On Forgetting Ones Copy Of The Lotus Sutra, NOPPA Translation) 

"........, I was banished to Ito in the province of Izu. Eventually, on the second day of the second month of the third year of Kocho(1263), the year with the cyclical sign mizonoto-i, I was pardoned and allowed to return. After that, I became more determined than ever to attain enlightenment and continued to speak out." (Repaying Debts of Gratitude, 1276)

The passage from the Izu exile teaches that we are the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni ourselves. Nevertheless, the Daishonin qualifies this in the Hoon Sho, where he states, "I became more determined than ever to attain enlightenment". This is not the eternal nature of the enlightenment of the Original Buddha Shakya, the teacher of the Daishonin. The other two Gosho passages also give the impression that there is a distinction between the Eternal Shakyamuni and oneself. What are we to make of these seeming contradictions? 

We should examine to whom the Daishonin is speaking. Yasoboru was a Nembutsu believer before taking faith in the true Buddhism. The Daishonin probably felt that he had to break Yasoboru's attachment to something [another being] outside himself for his own salvation. Another example is the teaching to Abutsubo in On the Treasure Tower. The Hoon Sho, on the other hand, is one of the Daishonin's most important works. It was entrusted to Niko with Joken, Gijo, Dozen-bo, and all mankind, the recipients of this treatise. 

I think it would be wise to keep in mind that the Daishonin's teachings and understanding continued to develop throughout his life. Early on, before Tatsunokuchi and Sado. Nichiren Daishonin more fully embraced the principles of Original Enlightenment, that we are all Buddhas endowed with the Three Properties of the Buddha's life. Later, after Tatsunokuchi and during the Sado exile, he realized that it was only due to the Original Teacher, the Eternal Lord Buddha Shakyamuni's enlightenment, that we can  experience the boundless joy and benefit of the Lotus Sutra. For example, in the Opening of the Eyes we read, 

"But now that it has become apparent that Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment countless aeons ago, then the Bodhisattvas Nikko and Gakko, who attend the Buddha Yakushi of the eastern region, the Bodhisattvas Kannon and Seishi, who attend the Buddha Amida of the western region, along with the disciples of all the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten direction and the great bodhisattvas who are disciples of the Buddha Dainichi as they are shown in the Dainichi and Kongocho sutras --- all of these beings are disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha. Since the various Buddhas themselves are emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha, it goes without saying that their disciples must be disciples of Shakyamuni. And of course the various deities of the sun, moon and stars, who have dwelt in this world from countless ages in the past, must likewise be disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha."

Lastly, let us look carefully at the entire paragraph of the passage that you cite: 

"We common mortals all have dwelt in the sea of suffering since time without beginning. But now that we have become votaries of the Lotus Sutra, we WILL (certain words capitalized for emphasis) without fail become Buddhas who are enlightened to the entity of body and mind which has existed since the infinite past. We WILL reveal the unchangeable nature innate within us, as well as the mystic wisdom which enables us to realize the mystic truth. We WILL enjoy a state of life as indestructible as a diamond. THEN how can we be in any way different from the Buddha who appeared from the sea? The Lord Shakyamuni, who declared, "I alone can save them," at a time even more distant than gohyaku jintengo, is none other than each of us. This is the teaching of ichinen sanzen expounded in the Lotus Sutra . Our Behavior is a personal demonstration of "I am here always, teaching the Law." Thus we are all entities embodying the supreme teaching of the Lotus Sutra and the august life of Shakyamuni Buddha, though ordinary people never realize this. This is the meaning of the passage in the Juryo chapter, ".....the deluded people cannot see me even when I am nearby." The difference between delusion and enlightenment is like the four different views of the grove of sal trees. Let it be known that the Buddha of ichinen sanzen is anyone in any of the ten worlds who manifests his inherent Buddha nature." 

We see in this long paragraph that the Daishonin teaches that we will attain Buddhahood in the future. He then goes on to delineate who will go on to attain Buddhahood; those who embody the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and the "august life of Shakyamuni Buddha" will go on to attain Buddhahood. This excludes the SGI and NST members who have abandoned the Lotus Sutra and Lord Shakyamuni. He then goes on to restate his teachings of the difference between a Buddha and a common mortal; the common mortal is deluded while a Buddha is enlightened. He concludes this paragraph defining Buddha, " Let it be known that the Buddha of ichinen sanzen is anyone in any of the ten worlds who manifests his inherent Buddha nature." 

Taking the paragraph in its entirety we must conclude that those who embrace the Lotus Sutra and embody the life of Shakyamuni Buddha will without fail reach the seat of enlightenment in the future. 

Please also, don't forget the doctrine of the specific and the general: When Nichiren teaches, "The Lord Shakyamuni who declared 'I alone can save them,' at a time even more distant than gohyaku-jintengo, is none other than each of us." he is teaching from the general standpoint. When he teaches in another Gosho,  "Regarding the passage that begins, 'I alone can save them, at a time even more distant than gohyaku-jintengo', "I" means Shakyamuni Buddha, he is teaching from the specific standpoint. He further teaches that "If you confuse the general with the specific, even in the slightest, you will fail to attain Buddhahood."

The snippet you cite, can only be understood correctly taken in light of the above paragraph: The entire Izu Gosho; the Five Major Works; the entire body of the Daishonin's teachings (keeping in mind the question of the accuracy of the NSIC translation and remembering that this Gosho falls into the pre-Tatsunokuchi teachings); and the doctrine of the general and the specific. "A common mortal is a Buddha, and a Buddha a common mortal" when and only when certain criteria are met: Embodying the Lotus Sutra and Lord Shakyamuni and manifesting one's inherent Buddhahood completely (is no longer deluded). To interpret the Daishonin's teachings to mean that we are the Buddha just as we are is irrational, egotistical, and simplistic. If we look at the Fukyo chapter of the Lotus Sutra which the Daishonin embodied, we read, "I dare not slight you, because you are all to become Buddhas." No where, not in one place, does the Lotus Sutra state you are Buddhas just as you are. SGI doctrines are distorted and lead to delusion.

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