During the Children’s Division General Meeting at the Head Temple in August of last year, our High Priest Nichinyo Shonin lectured on the Gosho, “Letter to Akimoto” (“Akimoto Gosho”), to encourage the boys and girls to improve their faith and practice and to give them guidance about benefits. I would like to discuss the High Priest’s guidance from that occasion.
Citing a passage from the “Letter to Akimoto,” High Priest Nichinyo Shonin explained the principle of the four imperfections of a vessel: overturning, leaking, being contaminated, and being mixed. The passage reads:
A perfect vessel is one that is devoid of these four imperfections of overturning, leaking, being contaminated, and being mixed. If a moat has embankments that do not leak, then the water will never drain out. If one’s spirit in faith is perfect, then the water of great, impartial wisdom will never run dry.
(Gosho, p. 1448)
Based on this passage, our High Priest gave the following guidance:
The Daishonin states that, if our faith is strong, unshakable, and steady, then the flow of the Buddha’s wellspring of wisdom and great compassion that washes away all suffering and distress will brim over, never to dry, in our bodies and minds. He says that it will never leak and disappear. To ensure this, however, we must be extremely mindful of the four imperfections of overturning, leaking, being contaminated, and being mixed. We must sincerely exert our efforts in faith and be resolutely prepared at all times.
(Dai-Nichiren, vol. 77, p. 65)
This passage explains the connection between our strong faith and the Gohonzon’s benefits. First and foremost, the perfect vessel is used as a metaphor
to denote strong and unshakable faith. Our life is likened to a vessel that enables us to conquer our inherent faults and weaknesses and to receive the pure water of the Law.
Let me briefly explain the mind that is like the vessel that is free of the four imperfections. First, we must eliminate any notion of “overturning” or destruction. In other words, we must discard the attachments that we have formed as a result of past slanders and open our hearts to the true Law. We must cultivate a life condition in which we honestly are able to listen to and follow true Buddhism.
Secondly, a mind devoid of “leaking” signifies a strong heart. We must uphold strong determination and conviction.
Thirdly, a mind without “contamination” refers to the absence of arbitrary perspectives and arrogance in an individual. It characterizes a person with a pure heart who never arbitrarily interprets the doctrines of true Buddhism.
Fourthly, a mind that is not “mixed” or confused represents a person who gives faith the highest priority. One who is not confused would never accept or embrace erroneous teachings.
Therefore, our practice must be based on a “perfect vessel,” with strong and unshakable faith. We continuously must strive to maintain single-minded, undistracted, and solid faith without ever harboring confusion through arbitrary issues, arbitrary action, and arbitrary thoughts against the precious three treasures of the Buddhism of the sowing.
High Priest Nichinyo Shonin further stated:
If we are not careful, we can easily descend into the four imperfections of overturning, leaking, being contaminated, and
being mixed. It is important for us to be cautious and mindful at all times. In particular, the most important daily action is to steadily and vigorously do our morning and evening Gongyo.
Our High Priest warns that, since the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity are entrenched strongly in our lives, if we are not cautious, we easily can descend into these four imperfections. To avoid this we resolutely must do our daily morning and evening Gongyo and chant Daimoku, and we must put forth our utmost efforts in our faith and practice, following the guidance of the High Priest. By so doing, our lives will advance in the correct direction and we will be able to defeat all of the three obstacles and four devils that vie with one another to prevent our progress.
Nichiren Daishonin explained that we can attain enlightenment in our present form (sokushin jobutsu) by achieving the fusion of reality and wisdom (kyochi myogo) between ourselves and the Gohonzon. He wrote the following in his Gosho, “Admonitions Against Slander” (“Soya-nyudo dono gohenji”):
The sutra and its interpretation essentially explain that the path to Buddhahood exists only within the two principles of reality (kyo) and wisdom (chi). Reality refers to the entity of all phenomena of the ten thousand laws, and wisdom signifies the manifestation of this entity in the life of an individual. Thus, when the reality is boundless and deep, the wisdom, like water, will flow forth ceaselessly. When one achieves the fusion of reality and wisdom, he will attain enlightenment in his present form.
(Gosho, p. 1038)
We must uphold the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching as the one and only true reality—the internal enlightenment of Nichiren
Daishonin, the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. Furthermore, we must chant Daimoku sincerely and with a pure heart. Then, there will be a fusion of reality and wisdom (kyochi myogo) between the Dai-Gohonzon (reality/kyo) and our individual, single-minded determination in faith (wisdom/chi). As a result, we will receive the tremendous benefit of being able to achieve enlightenment in our present form.
(Note: This lecture can be read in its entirety in the May, 2011 edition of the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly magazine. For more information, please contact your local temple.)