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

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Guideposts in Faith
The Treasures of the Heart
Part Two
Myokyo, February, 1995

Let’s consider the purpose of faith as we continue last month’s
discussion of the treasures of the heart.
What is faith in Buddhism for, in the first place? There is a strong
tendency for us to lose sight of the fundamental purpose of faith in
Buddhism by falling into force of habit after many years. This is
more true of people who have been misled by mistaken ideas such as
the “cult of personality” in the SGI.
Each of us had our own particular motives for taking faith in Nichiren
Shoshu. Many had urgent or burdensome problems in health,
finances, work, family, or their own personal characters and joined
out of the desire to solve them. Although people who had practiced
since childhood because of their parents’ faith may not exactly have
had such a “motive for joining.” As common mortals, we are all faced
with an endless variety of problems in real life. We all equally hope
to free ourselves from these sufferings and to break through the
impasses we are confronted with.
Even after overcoming whatever sufferings that were our direct
motivation for taking faith, there is never an end to problems and
difficulties Ñ they keep appearing one after the other. Many of us
face desperate struggles against tremendous odds on a day-to-day
basis.
The more profoundly harsh the sufferings that confront us head on,
the more we make “breaking through them” our immediate goal of
faith. To become sunk in our problems and fixated on them,
forgetting the original goal of faith, is the short-sighted way of
common mortals.
Among human beings, there is no one who does not seek happiness.
We all want lives of fulfillment. We all seek a way of life that is truly
worth living. But how many worries and troubles block us from this
kind of happiness! Buddhism calls these trials the “four sufferings” Ñ
birth, old age, sickness and death (or the eight sufferings, when four
more sufferings are added.) As we all know, Shakyamuni Buddha’s
motivation for leaving secular life was to seek the solution to these
sufferings. There is no need to explain that Shakyamuni did not just
aim for a partial or temporary solution Ñ he sought the fundamental
solution to the sufferings of life. There are human sufferings inherent
in the lives of all people. It was the enlightenment of the Buddha
that brought about the essential solution to these, and it was the
enlightenment of the Buddha that will absolutely endure. “Buddhism”
is the teaching that is revealed using this enlightenment of the
Buddha, in order to save all people.
Then again, what kind of happiness and what sort of meaning do we
seek from life? The answer to this question varies as widely as the
number of people there are in the world. Even with the same person,
it changes as the years pass or shifts as circumstances alter.
In the final analysis, it is the “treasures of the storehouse” and
“treasures of the body” that people tend to chase after, as was
pointed out in last month’s issue. Yet if what one seeks is happiness
in this kind of dimension, it is not an overstatement to say that this
is not the reason to have faith in Buddhism! A person who thinks
that the purpose of Buddhism is to achieve the maximum benefit
through acquisition of treasures of the storehouse and body is
completely mistaken. Though these may be a valid motivation to
originally take faith, to be strict about it, it is not only inappropriate,
it is wrong to view these as the purpose of the Buddhist faith.
As was mentioned last month, the attainment of treasures of the
storehouse and body, however marvelous they may be, are rewards
of the state of rapture in the domain of the world of desire. Even the
enlightenment of so-called saints and sages is only a similar kind of
reward of the state of rapture, even though it is on a higher level
(the worlds of form and formlessness.) These states inevitably
undergo transmigration and fall into the three evil paths.
Shakyamuni Buddha led people who were wandering from state to
state among the six paths to a level where they could attain a certain
degree of awakening through listening to the Buddha’s words (this is
called shravaka, or “voice-hearer1) and to a level where they could
attain a certain degree of awakening through direct relations to
phenomena (called pratyekabuddha, or “relation-awakened.”2) Then
he guided them even further, to the level of Bodhisattva, a state of
aspiration for enlightenment and compassion to save others. These
three states, or worlds, are called the “three vehicles.”
However, when he began to preach the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni
denied these three vehicles and revealed that there is really only one
truth Ñ the One Vehicle of Buddhahood.
As the “Expedient Means” (second) Chapter of the Lotus Sutra clearly
explains, there is only one ultimate reason for the appearance of all
Buddhas: to open the wisdom of the Buddha to all people, to show the
wisdom of the Buddha to all people, to have all people awaken to the
wisdom of the Buddha, and to have all people enter the path of the
wisdom of the Buddha. (These four goals are called the “Fourfold
Purpose of the Buddha’s wisdom Ñ to open, show, awaken, and
enter.”) Needless to say, this holds true for Nichiren Daishonin, the
Original, True Buddha who appeared in this age, the Latter Day of the
Law, to sow the true seed of Buddhahood in the hearts of the people.
Nichiren Daishonin says:
The Buddhas of the three existences appear in the world with one
ultimate thought Ñthe Fourfold Purpose of the Buddha’s wisdom.
(Ongi Kuden, Shinpen, p. 1729)
Since this is the case then, we, the people who embrace the Three
Great Secret Laws, the only True Law for this age, should establish a
strong determination and powerful desire to attain Buddhahood,
because this is the attitude in faith that is fundamentally united with
the reason for the Buddha’s appearance in the world. If we do not,
we may commit grave errors that are in conflict with the purpose
and will of the Buddha.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches:
If votaries of the Lotus Sutra practice just as the Buddha taught, they
will be certain to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime, without
excepting even a single person . . .This sutra does not discriminate
against evil people, women, people of the two vehicles, or people of
incorrigible disbelief. That is why it is called the “path for all to
attain Buddhahood,” and why it is called the “great wisdom of
equality.” In hearing of the non-duality of good and evil, and the
essential identity3 of right and wrong, one then and there attains the
Buddhahood of the Inner Realization. This is why it is said that one
“attains Buddhahood in one’s present form.” Since one attains
enlightenment in this lifetime, it is called “myogaku (perfect
enlightenment) in this lifetime.” (“The Doctrine of Ichinen Sanzen,”
Shinpen, p.110)

The Lotus Sutra offers a secret means for leading all living beings to
Buddhahood.” (“Letter to Horen,” Shinpen, p. 815)

Before all else, above all else, bring forth uncompromising great
power of faith and [chant] Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo with the prayer to
have the correct mind [of faith] at the final moment of your life.
Never seek the Heritage (Lifeblood) of the ultimate matter of life and
death anywhere else but here. (“Heritage of the Ultimate Matter of
Life and Death,” Shinpen, p. 515; For reference, see: M.W., Vol. 1, p.
25)

First learn about the matter of the final moment of one’s life; after
that, one may learn of other matters. (“Reply to Myoho-ama,”
Shinpen, p. 1482)

When we read these and the many other Gosho passages that guide
us toward attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime, we can see how
important it is to strive to make “attaining Buddhahood in this
lifetime” our basic goal of faith, as soon after joining Nichiren Shoshu
as we can. What can we say to the True Buddha if we don’t? We need
to have a deep self-awakening that the basic goal of the Buddhist
practice is attaining Buddhahood, and understand that if we forget
this basic goal, it is not a real Buddhist practice even if we enshrine
the Gohonzon and chant the Mystic Law with our mouths.
However Ñ when we sit down in front of the Gohonzon, shake off our
apathy and inertia, fix our minds on how fortunate we are to be able
to revere the Gohonzon, and strongly draw forth our feeling of
heartfelt gratitude to the Three Treasures of the Buddhism of sowing
Ñ then doing Gongyo and chanting Daimoku to the Gohonzon becomes
a wonderful Buddhist practice. We need to develop a strong belief
that this, right then and there, is the benefit (merit) of attaining
Buddhahood in our present form. Only by accumulating this merit
over and over again are we promised the great reward of attaining
Buddhahood in this lifetime, at the final moment of our lives.
“Merit” is the reward of purification of the six senses.4 “Merit” (the
great happiness)5 is attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form, and
the purification of the six senses. (Ongi Kuden, Shinpen, p. 1775)
Truly, to put the treasures of the heart before everything else means
to have faith with a life and death determination about the ultimate
matter of human existence; to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.
One’s six senses gradually become purified through the merit gained
by straightening out one’s faith and chanting wholehearted Daimoku.
We have accumulated karmic hindrances since time without
beginning by disregarding the truth of Buddhism, but these will also
be gradually eliminated. We will achieve profundity in our
interactions with others by changing the way that the three poisons
(greed, anger, and delusion) appear in our lives, and most of all, our
spirit to look at ourselves the way we really are will become
stronger.
By enriching our hearts and becoming better people in these ways,
our way of living as human beings itself will improve, so that we can
live up to Nichiren Daishonin’s instruction to Shijo Kingo, “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.” Isn’t that the way to live, by putting
the treasures of the heart before everything else? The actual proof of
the benefit of faith is to have a character and way of life in which the
“treasures of the heart” are manifested.
When “treasures of the storehouse and body” appear in the course of
developing fulfillment and richness in the treasures of the heart,
then they are true benefits of faith. Ultimately, what meaning do
treasures of the storehouse and body have in themselves? In faith, it
is putting things backwards to be caught up in these lesser benefits
and forget the great benefit of attaining Buddhahood. Then even
small benefits can become things that cause us trouble. Yet with faith
that is the real thing, seeking to attain Buddhahood, all kinds of
lesser benefits will appear and all our problems will be solved one
by one.
We believe in the great True Law of Nichiren Daishonin, the True
Buddha. More than anyone, we can follow a truly fulfilled path in
life, in which we seek the treasures of the heart, become enriched
with the treasures of the heart, and show actual proof of the merit of
Buddhism.

Footnotes:
1. Shomon in Japanese
2. Engaku in Japanese
3. Essential sameness: ichinyo, non-discrimination between or
essential sameness of two things.
4. The six senses are sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mind.
5. “Merit” is a translation of the term “kudoku,” which is also
sometimes translated “benefit.” This passage of the Ongi Kuden
indicates that the Chinese characters used to write the word
“kudoku” in this case are to be read as meaning “great happiness.”

©1995 Nichiren Shoshu Monthly. All rights reserved