The Buddha expounded his teachings in order to reveal the True Law that leads to Buddhahood, so that people could practice those teachings and manifest the Buddha nature within their own lives. The True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin revealed that the entity of that Law is embodied within the five and seven characters of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. He manifested Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws in the form of the Gohonzon.
What is Myoho-Renge-Kyo? The Lotus Sutra is the master of all the sutras that Shakyamuni ever taught. Within the Juryo (“Lifespan”—16th) Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha hid the essential Law of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the vital entity that allows all people to become Buddhas.
The true Juryo Chapter of the Lotus Sutra referred to here is not the literal version that Shakyamuni taught. The Daishonin clarifies:
It is the Juryo Chapter within my own life.
(Gosho, p. 657; “The True Object of Worship”)
In other words, the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin is referring to the one true portal to the realm of Buddhahood, hidden within the depths of the Juryo Chapter that He “read” with His own life. The same Gosho refers to that “vital entity” in the following excerpt:
…the Buddha…summoned the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. He bestowed upon them the five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the vital entity of the Juryo Chapter, for the sake of all people on earth.
(Gosho, p. 657)
This passage demonstrates that the five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo form the vital entity, or core, of the Juryo Chapter. It further reveals that Nichiren Daishonin’s life is endowed with this Mystic Law, which is the entity of the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws meant for dissemination during the Latter Day of the Law.
Nichijun Shonin, the sixty-fifth High Priest of the Head Temple, wrote the following explanation:
Many people commonly believe that the Daishonin’s teachings focus on Daimoku, and neglect the Gohonzon in favor of the Daimoku. … This is because fundamentally, people only see Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo as a Law, which leads them to the limited belief that the Daimoku is merely the principle of the Mystic Law that pervades the entire universe. This is a serious misconception, because in fact, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo also includes the Buddha’s body. … One must begin with the understanding that within the life of the Buddha, the Mystic Law is one with the Buddha’s body. Only then does practice based on faith in and acceptance of the Gohonzon become true Daimoku.
(“The Collected Writings of Nichijun Shonin,” p. 981)
This passage refutes the commonly held, shallow and Law-preponderant idea that Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is bound to a principle. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the Gohonzon of the oneness of the Person and the Law, also incorporates the body of the Buddha. In other words, the Daimoku of Myoho-Renge-Kyo that the Daishonin expounds is not merely the title of the Lotus Sutra. It is also the name of the seed of Buddhahood hidden in the depths of the Juryo Chapter and the name of the actual manifestation of Ichinen sanzen. It is the Mystic Law of the original, elusive realm of eternal reality grasped by the Buddha’s inherent wisdom.
The Mystic Law of the Original Elusive Realm
In “The Teaching Judged and Approved by all Buddhas of the Three Existences” (Sokanmon sho), the Daishonin writes:
When Shakyamuni Buddha was a common mortal prior to the time of five hundred [myriad] dust particle kalpas ago (gohyaku jindengo), he realized that his body was composed of the five universal elements of earth, water, fire, air and space, and instantly attained enlightenment.
(Gosho, p. 1419)
This passage reveals the profound truth of the Buddha’s enlightenment to the Mystic Law in the remotest past of kuon-ganjo. The place of that original enlightenment is referred to as the original realm. Because the Mystic Law of this original realm is extremely difficult to experience, it is called elusive. It is intellectually unfathomable. Nichikan Shonin gives the following guidance about this issue in his “Commentary on ‘The Essentials of the Lotus Sutra’” (Hokke shuyo sho mondan):
The inherent wisdom of the Buddha that can grasp the original elusive realm is none other than the original mind of the Mystic Law from the remotest past of kuon ganjo that experiences the eternity of the past, present and future. Can the mind experience the eternity of past, present and future without a realm from which to do so? Because this elusive realm is mystic, the sutra tells us, “My law is mystic because it is difficult to experience.”
(Mondan shu, p. 521)
(Note: This chapter can be read in its entirety in the book: The Doctrines and Practice of Nichiren Shoshu.)
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