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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Soka Gakkai's public and private teachings

"The first requirement of a global citizen is to hold a view of life that respects the dignity of life, and respects the dignity of human beings. This view of life should also be supported by a cosmology with a far reaching vision. In the Life Span of the Thus Come One Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, a vast cosmology, spanning eternity is expounded using the metaphor of numberless major world system dust particle kalpas 五百塵点劫, and at the core of this cosmology lies the Eternal Buddha. The Eternal Buddha is at one with the Eternal Law, and the life of the universe itself is the manifestation of the Eternal Savior Buddha.

Secondly, based on the framework of the Eternal Savior Buddha, the mission as the “envoy of the Thus Come One, or the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who vow to spread the Buddha’s teachings after his demise is expounded...." -- Yoichi Kowada Director of the Soka Gakkai Institute of Oriental Philosophy and very top SGI leader. 

Daisaku Ikeda says, “the Original Buddha is Shakyamuni” when talking to scholars and scientists but when talking to commoners, his “dear” SGI members, he sometimes says, “The Original Buddha is Nichiren”, and at other times he says that "ordinary people are the original Buddha". Why would anyone follow someone who speaks out of both sides of their mouth, especially when one side of his mouth goes against the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin? 

In his lecture on the Opening of the Eyes for SGI members, Ikeda states:

“This sentence implies that the Daishonin is the original Buddha, the master of all other buddhas. Because of this, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas follow him and all good fortune is contained within the original life The Daishonin used analogies most easily understood by the people of his day. Water gods were thought to live in rivers and followed the lord of the ocean, and the mountain gods were all subservient to Mount Sumeru, the king of mountains. In his analogy, the Daishonin likened these lesser gods to all the buddhas and Bodhisattvas; and the lord of the ocean and king of Mount Sumeru to the votary of the Lotus Sutra.”

But his public stance can be summarized in this article:

“Space and Eternal Life”, with the astronomer, Dr. Weiramisinghe, 1998:

“Buddha is in its simplest interpretation, means a person who is incomparably wise and fully enlightened. Sakyamuni was portrayed as a real human being who reached a state of enlightenment and eventually entered Nirvana. He was a royal prince born to a society torn with strife – poverty, caste and race discrimination were everywhere. His own early life was one of absolute luxury. He renounced this life to seek enlightenment. The fruit of his untiring efforts over the years was the realization of the true nature of things and the discovery of a path that could lead to freedom from suffering. The Buddha held that the cause of suffering is the result of wrong attitudes; it is our craving or desire that makes us suffer. Although Sakyamuni Buddha set out the Eightfold path that could free us from suffering, he often exhorted his monks to discover the way for themselves as for instance in his last words to his disciple Ananda in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra.

“Self is the lord of self, for who else could lord be? Be ye lamps unto yourselves. Look not for refuge to any beside yourself.” In response to Ananda’s entreaty to preach one last time, Sakyamuni speaks about being a beacon of self and of being a beacon of the Law. Sakyamuni taught that it is none other than one’s self and the Law that are the guiding lights that illuminate the darkness of life and death. And the true self referred to by Sakyamuni is the self realized in the course of one’s actions in accordance with the Law of the Universe and of life.

Sakyamuni also said, in a statement made just before his death, that since all phenomena are transient, one should diligently apply oneself to the perfection of one’s practice. His leaving behind such a statement perfectly demonstrates the special character of Buddhism, which points to the path of endeavour and diligence to perfect oneself as a human being and to achieve self-realization.

One calls one who has awakened to the truth of life and the universe a “Buddha”. It is thought that many Buddhas have appeared in this universe, expounded the Law and saved human lives. Mahayana Buddhism teaches that many Buddhas have made their advent.

Here I would like to follow the currents of Buddhist history from the death of Sakyamuni Buddha to the rise of Mahayana Buddhism. Buddhist records indicate that following Sakyamuni’s death, people’s respect and admiration for him deepened and questions arose about the meaning of his death, and from this developed the theory of the Buddha’s three bodies.

At first it was said that the Buddha , as the eternal and indestructible “body of the law” who is one with the law of life and the universe appeared in this world to save people in the physical form of Sakyamuni – in other words, as the “manifested” body. Later when the Buddha who jointly possessed the two kinds of body – “the body of the Law” and the “manifested body” – became widely revered, the idea of the “bliss body” or spiritual strength to perceive the truth, developed. And along with the theory of the bodies, or aspects of Buddhas, a theory evolved concerning the appearance of Buddhas. First the concept of past Buddhas developed, in which it was held that Sakyamuni and various other Buddhas also appeared in the past. Then the concept of future Buddhas developed, in which it is said that Bodhisattva Maitreya will be reborn in this world as a Buddha in the future. The concepts of Buddhas in other worlds and of becoming a Buddha in the next life also arose. For instance, Amitabha Buddha is said to dwell in the western region of the universe. Akshobya Buddha, in the eastern region of the universe, and bodhisattvas, to be reborn in the Tushita heaven before attaining Buddhahood. Finally a concept of present lifetime Buddhas took shape in which it is taught that Buddhas exist throughout the ten directions of the universe.

The Lotus Sutra is the scripture that incorporates and unites the theories of the three bodies of the Buddha and of the appearance of the Buddhas. This scripture is respected as a pivotal text in Japanese Buddhism and has many followers.

In the 16th and most important chapter, entitled “The Life Span of the Thus Come One”, Sakyamuni reveals that he has been a Buddha since the infinite past, that he has all along been preaching in this mundane world and leading people to enlightenment, and that he has appeared as various Buddhas in order to save all living beings and preached the Law in accord with his listener’s capacity. He states that the reason he is now about to leave this world is that, although the life span he has attained by practicing the bodhisattva way is of infinite duration, through the means of his death he can teach and instruct people.

Here, principally in the 16th chapter, the concept of the original Buddha of the remotest past is revealed. In connection with this concept, Tien-tai of China commented that because it is shown in the “Life Span” chapter that Sakyamuni has appeared as various Buddhas in response to the capacity of the people he will teach and enlighten, all the Buddhas who appear in Mahayana Buddhism are united in the one Buddha, Sakyamuni.

Based upon this Tien-tai called the Sakyamuni revealed in the “Life Span” chapter, the Original Buddha and stated that he simultaneously embodies the Law Body, the manifested body and the bliss body, and that he is the Buddha whose true nature lies in the bliss body aspect. In other words, the “Life Span” chapter identifies the historical personage of Sakyamuni as the Original Buddha, presenting him as the manifestation in historical reality of the suprahistorical or Original Buddha.

Accordingly it {the 16th chapter] teaches that the Buddha’s life span is infinite. This is the concept of the Original Buddha of the remotest past. The distinguishing characteristic of the Lotus is the fact that it unites all Buddhas in the Original Buddha and perceives eternal life or an infinite life span, in the person of the historical figure Sakyamuni.

In this way, the concept of the original Buddha of the remotest past revealed in the “Life Span” chapter incorporates and unifies the Mahayana concepts of the three bodies and of the appearance of Buddhas; this new concept clearly reveals the outstanding personality of Sakyamuni, who is endowed with both eternity and reality, and filled with great compassion to save the people.

Private Stance [for SGI Consumption]:

April 17 WT (1998), speech by Daisaku Ikeda delivered March 13, 1998:

“In contrast, this Gosho passage states that Shakyamuni Buddha resides in the hearts of those with sincere faith. Read in terms of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, “Shakyamuni’ here refers to the original Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin himself.” p. 12, right hand column.

And today, if you view the July 6, 2015 Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra lecture, 
Ikeda is teaching that the ordinary person is the Original Buddha.

As an aside, the SGI teachings on members surpassing the mentor is too ridiculous to even address.

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