1. The Treasures of the Heart are the Most Valuable of All

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Guideposts in Faith

“The Treasures of the Heart are the Most Valuable of All”
An essay from Myokyo magazine,
-the first in a series

New Year’s Day marks the first day, the first month, the beginning of
the year and the start of spring. A person who celebrates this day
will gain virtue and be loved by all, just as the moon becomes full
gradually, moving from west to east, and the sun shines more
brightly traveling from east to west. (M.W., Vol. 1, p. 271; Shinpen, p.
1551)
Following this passage from the “New Year’s Gosho,” Nichiren
Daishonin teaches that when we greet the new year, we each in our
own way try to express our deepest gratitude to the Gohonzon from
the depths of our heart, as we vow to make a new awakening in faith
and to devote ourselves more than ever on the path of Buddhism.
In this letter, the Daishonin also teaches, “Fortune comes from one’s
mind (heart)1 and makes one worthy of respect.” It goes without
saying that the “mind” or “heart” this refers to is one’s “mind of
faith.” In another respect, though, this encompasses the “treasures of
the heart” the Daishonin refers to in “The Three Kinds of Treasure”:
More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the
body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all.”
(M.W., Vol. 2, p. 279; Shinpen, p. 1173)
Brief though this passage may be, it teaches us a truly valuable
guideline for life.
These plain words of caution and encouragement were written for
Shijo Kingo, who was in the midst of a desperate struggle against
adversity, undergoing harsh mistreatment by the lord of his clan and
his colleagues. In this same letter, the Daishonin sternly instructs
Shijo Kingo:
It is rare to be born a human being. The number of those endowed
with human life is as small as the amount of earth one can place on a
fingernail. Life as a human being is hard to sustainÑas hard as it is
for the dew to remain on the grass. But it is better to live a single
day with honor than to live to one hundred and twenty and die in
disgrace. Live so that all the people of Kamakura will say in your
praise that Shijo Kingo is diligent in the service of his lord, in the
service of Buddhism, and in his concern for other people. (M.W., Vol.
2, p.279; Shinpen, p. 1173)
In this fleeting, transient life, it is most important to live truthfully
and honestly as a human being. “The treasures of the heart are the
most valuable of all.” The Daishonin then tells Shijo Kingo an essential
lesson about how to live: to make the “treasures of the heart” his first
priority. He says, “From the time you read this letter on, strive to
accumulate the treasures of the heart!”
At this point in time, Shijo Kingo was in terrible straits: he had been
penalized by a reduction in income, and it looked as if his lands
would be confiscated at any time. He had lost his lord’s trust, and his
formerly high reputation among his colleagues was crumbling. Bit by
bit, he was losing all his “treasures of the storehouse” and “treasures
of the body.” It was under these circumstances that the Daishonin
instructed him to live by putting the treasures of the heart before
everything else.
“Treasures of the storehouse” are money and material wealth; things
like land, buildings, and jewelry. “Treasures of the body” mean
attributes one possesses as a person; things like physical health,
education, personal abilities, knowledge, skills, and talents, position
and rank at work, and social reputation and honor. People normally
think of a rich or affluent person as someone who has lots of
“treasures of the storehouse.” And they think that the greater a
person’s “treasures of the body” the more outstanding a success he
has achieved.
Though “treasures of the body” are generally considered to be on a
higher level than “treasures of the storehouse,” people usually desire
fulfillment in both these respects and feel happy when these desires
are satisfied. We all do what we can to try to obtain such treasures.
Yet although “treasures of the storehouse and body” are necessary
conditions for happiness, they are not the condition for attaining
complete satisfaction.
Of course, it is much better to have enough treasures of the
storehouse and body than to have too little. We certainly feel
unhappy when we are impoverished in these ways. As common,
ordinary mortals it would be asking too much to tell us not to hope at
all to increase them. The fewer of these treasures we have the more
fervently we desire them, and a great many people have taken faith
in Nichiren Shoshu in the hope of fulfilling such desires.
There is nothing wrong with taking faith with this as an impetus. Nor
is it belittling the teachings of Buddhism to have desires for
“treasures of the storehouse” and “treasures of the body.” This may
actually only become a big problem when people who have accepted
faith in the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws never go
beyond these kinds of desires.
Buddhism calls the world in which ordinary mortals wander between
different states of life the “threefold world”: the world of desire, the
world of form, and the world of formlessness.2 The pursuit of
treasures of the storehouse and body belongs to the domain of the
world of desire. When desires are fulfilled, the reward of rapture
appears. But the rewards of the world of desire are transitory;
without exception, we inevitably fall into the three evil paths (greed,
anger, and delusion), and continue to wander from one condition to
another.
A few years ago, the Yomiuri Giants won the Japan series baseball
championship. The athletes fulfilled a dream cherished for many
years (gaining a “treasure of the body”) and jumped for joy. But after
a week or a month, such joy will naturally dissipate, vanishing like
transient bubbles of water. If someone wins first prize in a lottery,
he might feel he has experienced the absolute summit of happiness
when he gets that huge sum of money (“treasure of the storehouse”)
in his hands. Yet it would be impossible to maintain that feeling of
rapture forever. One often hears of people who experience a tragedy
they never imagined could happen because of having an unexpected
windfall of a large amount of money.
The fewer “treasures of the heart” a person has accumulated, the
harder his fall from that feeling of heaven,and the more devastating
the tragedy. There isn’t enough room here to illustrate the many
different ways such suffering can overtake us.
Also, when people are rich in “treasures of the storehouse” (such as
wealthy people) or superior in “treasures of the body” (for example,
top executives or academic authorities), they often depend on these
assets and become conceited. Their spirit to seek spiritual treasures
may weaken because of this self-complacency until they lose it
altogether. One can think of many people whose lives ultimately
ended up in misery as a result. Since ancient times, it has been said
that such people are “lacking in virtue.”
Confucianism sets forth five virtues Ñ benevolence, righteousness,
propriety, wisdom, and faith. Benevolence is to love humanity,
righteousness is to judge affairs properly, propriety is to follow the
correct path, wisdom is to discern right and wrong, and faith is to
uphold the true and not be disloyal. There were many other morals
and lessons in Confucianism, and the acquisition of these teachings
was considered to be the most important meaning of learning.
To be sure, such morals and virtues are valuable from the standpoint
of polishing and nurturing one’s character. However, these principles
are still not the complete answer to how to correctly and honestly
carry out life as a human being. As “treasures of the heart” they are
still crude and imperfect.
What, then, are the real “treasures of the heart”?
The following words of High Priest Nikken Shonin should help to
clarify this. Here, he comments on the opening passage of “The True
Object of Worship”: “A mind (heart) is endowed with the ten worlds.”
This passage points directly to the true nature of the “treasures of
the heart.” Nikken Shonin explains:
This “mind” indicates nothing other than the one great mandala,
which is in and of itself the life state of the three thousand factors of
the realm of the ultimate reality of the Buddha of Intrinsically
Perfect Wisdom, and which is possessed of the mind of Nichiren
Daishonin, the Original Buddha of time without beginning who
appeared in this Latter Day of the Law. . .
The true way to attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form lies in
reading the sutra and chanting the Daimoku . . . with the resolve
(ichinen) of faith to believe in this Gohonzon, in having one’s own life
emerge as the Object of Worship, exactly the same as the ichinen
sanzen of the Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom of the realm of
the ultimate reality.”
In other words, to fervently do Gongyo and chant Daimoku with a
mind and heart filled with belief in the Gohonzon is the way to
accumulate treasures of the heart. We must become profoundly
aware that the great merit of attaining Buddhahood in one’s present
form through this practice of chanting Daimoku is what “treasures of
the heart” means.
We of the Latter Day of the Law, when the three poisons of greed,
anger and stupidity are so obstinately persistent, are strongly
attached to the pursuit of “treasures of the storehouse and body.” Yet
we only begin to walk the true path of faith when we decisively
transform our purpose, once and for all, from the pursuit of the
“treasures of the storehouse” and “treasures of the body” to seek the
“treasures of the heart.”
Even if you are now poor in the “treasures of the storehouse and
body,” this is not something to look down on yourself for at all, not
even the least little bit. The people who should be ashamed are those
who have little interest in seeking the treasures of the heart and
neglect to accumulate them. Have conviction that people who believe
that the treasures of the heart are the “most valuable of all” and
earnestly seek them are following the best path in life.
True worth is created and made good use of when the “treasures of
the storehouse,” “treasures of the body,” and “treasures of the heart”
are all manifested to the fullest.

Footnote
1 Kokoro in Japanese.
2 The world of form corresponds to the material realm, and the
world of formlessness corresponds to the spiritual.

©1995 Nichiren Shoshu Monthly. All rights reserved

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