Jozo and Jogen

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Tales from the Gosho

Jozo and Jogen

This month we will discuss the two brothers, Jozo and Jogen, who
along with their mother, tried to convince their father who had
opposed their beliefs in the Buddhist practice to take faith. This tale
of Jozo and Jogen is explained in detail in the twenty-seventh
chapter of “The Former Deeds of King Myoshogon” (Myosho Gonno
Honji) of the Lotus Sutra.
There once was a Buddha called “King Wisdom of the Cloud Thunder-
Sound Constellation” (Unraion-shukuo Kechi). The ruler of the
country where this Buddha resided was King Myoshogon (Mystic
Splendor) and his queen was Jotoku. The king had two sons who
were called Jozo and Jogen.
The two boys, together with their mother, Jotoku, believed in the
teachings of the Buddha and carried out their Buddhist practice while
receiving many benefits. One day the Buddha preached a sermon on
the Law of Buddhism. Upon hearing the Buddha’s teachings, the two
brothers, Jozo and Jogen, felt a strong desire for their father who had
not yet embraced Buddhism, to hear the Buddha’s sermon on the
teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
The two boys asked their mother, “What can we do so that we can
take father to listen to the Buddha?”
The mother replied, “Since your father embraces the mistaken
teachings of a non-Buddhist religion, (Brahmanism) go to your father
and show him the magnificent, divine and magical powers that you
have acquired from your faith and the practice of Buddhist
austerities. If you do this, your father will be able to go to the
Buddha.”
The two brothers then walked through the sky in front of the father,
and while in mid-air, stopped and sat down. They then brought forth
water from their bodies, followed by fire. They continued by
enlarging their bodies, and then made them small. Just as it seemed
as though they had disappeared from the sky, they went through the
middle of the earth. They proceeded showing their father they could
easily walk upon water.
King Myoshogon was profoundly impressed by the two boys’
overwhelming feats from magical powers and exclaimed, “Certainly, I
too want to go to your master, Unraion-shukuo Kechi Buddha, and
become his disciple.”
The king became a Buddhist priest and earnestly devoted his life to
the practice of the Lotus Sutra. He attained benefits and in the end
became a Buddha named Sharajuo (“the King of the Sal Trees”).
The following ancient tale seems to be related to the family of King
Myoshogon:
In a certain area in ancient India there were four people who carried
out their practice of Buddhist austerities. Amongst these four
persons, there was one who would prepare meals and cook the rice,
perform other kitchen and house work, and do the laundry. This
person would remain at home and take care of all the household
chores so that the other three could leave home to earnestly pursue
their practice of Buddhism. Because of this one person’s efforts, the
three were able to receive benefit from the Buddha and were thus
able to attain enlightenment. However, the one person who had
remained home was not yet able to carry out the faith and practice
of Buddhism, so was not able to attain enlightenment.
The other three promised each other, “We must do everything we
can to save the other person who remained at home for us when we
attained enlightenment.” Through the benefit of the faith and
practice of Buddhism, the one person who had remained at home was
therefore able to become a very wealthy and prosperous king. The
three Buddhist practitioners who had pledged to save the other
person were reborn as the wife and two children of the ruler of the
country, helping the King to embrace faith in Buddhism and guiding
him on the road to enlightenment.
During the lifetime of Nichiren Daishonin, there were two brothers
called Munenaka and Munenaga Ikegami. These two were both
disciples of Nichiren Daishonin and upheld extraordinary faith in the
Daishonin’s Buddhism. However, due to their father’s extreme
opposition to their faith in True Buddhism, one of the brothers was
eventually disowned by the father. However, not being overcome by
this turn of events, the two Ikegami brothers continued to exert
themselves to the best of their ability in faith and practice. Nichiren
Daishonin heartily praised the two brothers, saying that they were
“similar to Jozo and Jogen”.
Some believers may find themselves in similar circumstances as
these two brothers whereas they are in a family that someone
opposes their faith in Nichiren Shoshu. However, if we keep up our
daily recitation of the sutra and Daimoku together with study of
Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, we will all eventually be able to
show our family a splendid life condition due to our sincere faith in
True Buddhism. We will eventually, without a doubt, be able to
attain a faith such as King Myoshogon. This tale of Jozo and Jogen
appears in Shinpen Gosho on page 1481.

©1995 Nichiren Shoshu Monthly

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