The Three Phases through which the Buddha Benefits the People

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The Three Phases through which the Buddha Benefits the People:
Sowing, Maturing and Harvesting

by Reverend Yosai Yamada
and Reverend Daido Nakamoto

INTRODUCTION
There is a Japanese proverb which says, “A seed not sown cannot be
harvested.” (Out of nothing, comes nothing). If one hopes to harvest
grain or fruit, one must first start by planting seeds. Then, depending
on the season or the climate, one augments this with the necessary
fertilizer, nurtures the seeds carefully, and as the result of one’s
effort, the crop will be bountiful.
The behavior of the Buddha, who leads the people to Buddhahood by
appearing in the world and bestowing his teachings, strictly follows
the Law of Cause and Effect, never deviating from the same principle
involved in the harvesting of fruit. In Buddhism, the behavior of the
Buddha to lead the people to Buddhahood is known as “transforming
and guiding” (kedo), and the way the contents of the teachings
involved differ is described in the doctrine of “sanyaku,” which
means the “three phases through which the Buddha benefits the
people.” This doctrine of “sanyaku” figuratively divides the process
by which the Buddha guides the people to Buddhahood into three
separate phases Ñ sowing (geshu), maturing (chojuku), and
harvesting (gedatsu).1
In the first stage, known as the sowing phase, the Buddha plants the
Law of the entity of the Buddha, that is, the seed of Buddhahood, in
the lives of the people. In turn, due to their faith the people are able
to accept this Law.
In the next stage, known as the maturing phase, the Buddha nurtures
the seed of enlightenment planted in the lives of the people in the
past according to the capacity (nature/needs) of the people. In order
to successfully nurture them, the Buddha resorts to various devices
to educate and raise the people’s understanding.
Finally in the last stage, known as the harvesting phase, the Buddha
brings the people’s capacity to the level of complete fruition, making
them comprehend the fundamental truth, thus enabling them to
attain Buddhahood.
Nichiren Daishonin states in the “Letter to Akimoto,” “The doctrine of
sowing of the seed and its maturing and harvesting is the very heart
and core of the Lotus Sutra.” (Shinpen, p. 1447) Through this short
passage the Daishonin teaches us that this doctrine of “sanyaku,”
which was never revealed in the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, ranks as
one of the most important doctrines within the Lotus Sutra.
Moreover in “The True Object of Worship” the Daishonin explains:
They maintain that their doctrines are incomparably profound,
although nowhere do they clarify when the Buddha planted the seed
of Buddhahood, or when he nurtured and reaped it. These doctrines
are no different from Hinayana which demands that one reduce his
body to ashes and annihilate his consciousness, for they do not reveal
when the Buddha started teaching and when he finished. (M.W., Vol.
1, p. 70-71; Shinpen, p. 656)
Nichiren Daishonin strongly admonishes against people’s attachments
to the provisional Mahayana teachings and to the surface meaning of
the Lotus Sutra. In these provisional teachings the most fundamental
seed of Buddhahood, the true cause for Buddhahood, is not revealed.
Therefore, though their doctrines appear complex, in reality they
have no more substance than a mirage. These teachings, like the
Hinayana, contain neither the beginning nor the end of the process
by which the Buddha guides the people, making all efforts to practice
them ultimately in vain.
All Buddhas attain Buddhahood only when the process of “sanyaku”
is clearly proven, and the path to Buddhahood for the people is no
different. This is the meaning of the saying I mentioned at the
beginning of this lecture, “A seed not sown cannot be harvested.”
As you can see, “sanyaku” is the teaching that reveals the true way
that the Buddha leads the people to Buddhahood. For the people,
“sanyaku” is the most important doctrine for gaining an
understanding of the profound teachings revealed by the Buddha.
My lecture for today on the doctrine of “sanyaku” will be in two
sections Ñ “the doctrine of “sanyaku” as taught in the doctrinal
aspect2 of the Lotus Sutra” and “the Buddha and the Law.”

I. The doctrine of “sanyaku” expounded in the Lotus Sutra
Whenever the Buddha guides the people, without fail, he first
discerns the needs and the capacity of the people and considers the
time; only then does he proceed to reveal the proper Law (teaching).
This is especially important in the case of the Lotus Sutra, the final
stage of Shakyamuni’s lifetime of teaching. The teachings and the
time that are taught in the theoretical teaching (shakumon) and in
the essential teaching (honmon) of the Lotus Sutra are different, in
accordance with differences in the needs and capacity of the people.
The content of the doctrine of “sanyaku” also differs accordingly.
Furthermore, the content of this doctrine is also different when seen
in the light of the teaching hidden in the depths of the words
(montei) of the Lotus Sutra.

1. The Doctrine of “Sanyaku” in the Theoretical Teaching of the Lotus
Sutra
The doctrine of “sanyaku” in the theoretical teaching of the Lotus
Sutra is explicated in the Kejoyu (“Parable of the Phantom City”)
Chapter, the seventh chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This chapter teaches
of a Buddha called Daitsu-chisho (often shortened to Daitsu),3 who
appeared in the world, attained Buddhahood, and expounded the
Lotus Sutra in the remote past of Sanzen-jindengo (three thousand
dust-particle kalpas). It reveals that numerous people were able to
form a strong tie with the Lotus Sutra because of the sixteen sons of
Daitsu Buddha, who continued to preach the Lotus Sutra even after
the Buddha’s passing.
A passage from “The True Object of Worship” states:
If one inquires into the past formation of the relationship [between
Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples], he sowed the seed of the
fruition of Buddhahood [in their lives] at the time he was the
sixteenth son of Daitsu Buddha, and later formed an auxiliary
relationship [with them] through the Kegon Sutra and other teachings
of the first four flavors . . . Through forming a relationship with the
teachings of the first four flavors, common mortals and people of the
two vehicles gradually arrived at the Lotus Sutra. This was the
opportunity for them to reveal the seed of Buddhahood, to open up
[the provisional teachings] to reveal [the true teaching]. (Shinpen, p.
655)4
This is the explanation provided in the theoretical teaching about the
cycle of the causal relationship between the Buddha and the people.
The Japanese term for “the first four flavors” used in this passage is
“zen-shimi.” This comes from another concept, “gomi,” which means
“five flavors.” In T’ien-tai’s classification of Shakyamuni’s teachings,
five different flavors are used to differentiate the five periods of the
teachings Shakyamuni Buddha expounded over fifty years. These
“five flavors “are fresh milk, cream, curdled milk, butter and ghee.
These five flavors signify both the progression of the teachings in
time as well as the relative depth of the content of the teachings. The
deepest teaching is the Lotus Sutra, which corresponds to “ghee,” the
fifth and the last flavor, while the other pre-Lotus Sutra teachings
are known as “the first four flavors.”
The phrase “to open up to reveal” (kaiken)5 mentioned in the last
sentence of the above quotation means “to elucidate or reveal the
true meaning of the Buddha’s teachings.” However, what is “opened
up and revealed” in the theoretical teaching is not the same as what
is “opened up and revealed” in the essential teaching. In the
theoretical teaching this refers to “opening up the provisional
teachings to reveal the true teaching” (kaigon-kenjitsu)6 and
“opening up the three vehicles to reveal the one vehicle” (kaisan-ken’
ichi) In other words, the three vehicles of shomon (learning), engaku
(self-attained realization) and bodhisattva are refuted as mere
devices and the one Buddha vehicle alone is revealed as the True
Law.
In the essential teaching “to open up and reveal” refers to “opening
up the transient identity to reveal the original identity” (kaishaku-
kenpon) and “opening up the near to reveal the distant” (kaigon-
kennon), in other words, to refute the view that the Buddha first
attained enlightenment in India, thereby revealing the truth that he
did so in the remote past. This refutes the idea that the Buddha first
attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Gaya as a transient
teaching and reveals that his attainment of the Way (as the Buddha
of the True Effect) actually occurred in the distant past.
This passage from “The True Object of Worship” explains that in the
distant past called “Sanzen-jindengo” (three thousand dust-particle
kalpas) when these sixteen sons repeatedly expounded the Lotus
Sutra, they planted the “seed for the fruition of Buddhahood” in the
lives of the people (sowing). The people who received this seed
practiced Buddhism over many aeons (Rakko shugyo) and
accumulated good fortune (“roots of goodness”) over numerous
lifetimes. Born in India with Shakyamuni, they practiced the
provisional teachings of the Kegon, Agon, Hodo and Hannya periods
(the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings) whereby their wisdom and capacity
were nurtured (maturing). As the final stage, they were told that
they would surely attain Buddhahood some time in the future
(harvesting). The explanation of the doctrine of “sanyaku” in the
theoretical teaching (shakumon) is defined in this manner.
However, if one views the doctrine of “sanyaku” in the theoretical
teaching from the standpoint of the essential teaching, one sees that
at the time Shakyamuni predicted these disciples’ attainment of
Buddhahood, he had not yet revealed his original identity in the even
more distant past. For this reason, the core doctrines of the
theoretical teaching Ñ the ultimate truth of life and ichinen sanzen Ñ
are simply abstract concepts without substance. The same holds true
for these people’s attainment of enlightenment; it is merely a
hypothetical state of enlightenment without true substance.
According to the interpretation of Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan
Shonin, the sowing of the seed (geshu) of Buddhahood in the lives of
the people in the distant past of Sanzen-jindengo as taught in the
theoretical teaching was in fact the second sowing of the seed in
these people’s lives. This second sowing is known as “sowing the seed
to awaken faith” (hosshin geshu).
To explain, some people were unable to attain Buddhahood in Kuon
ganjo when they received the fundamental sowing of the seed from
the Buddha of the True Cause (this original sowing is known as
“sowing the seed by making the people hear the Law”{Monpo
geshu}). In order to undergo Buddhist practice again, they formed a
relationship with the Buddha of the True Effect. The formation of this
relationship is “sowing the seed to awaken faith.” This is the meaning
of the phrase “he sowed the seed of the fruition (effect) of
Buddhahood” in the above Gosho passage.

2. The Doctrine of “Sanyaku” in the Essential Teaching of the Lotus
Sutra
In the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, the Juryo (sixteenth)
Chapter reveals Shakyamuni’s first attainment of Buddhahood as the
Buddha of the True Effect in the remote past of Gohyaku-jindengo
(five hundred dust-particle kalpas). This is called “opening up the
near to reveal the distant (Kaigon kennon).” Through this, the True
Cause (the cause for the Buddha’s original enlightenment), the True
Effect (his original enlightenment) and the True Land (the place
where the Buddha lives and teaches) are revealed; this clarifies the
doctrine of “actual (ji) ichinen sanzen” (three thousand realms in one
mind) as the Entity of the Law. In opening up the provisional
teaching of his enlightenment in India to reveal his actual attainment
of Buddhahood in the distant past, Shakyamuni Buddha states in the
Lotus Sutra, “Ever since then, I have been constantly in this saha
world, expounding the Law, teaching and converting.”(Ga jo zai shi
shaba sekai, seppo kyoke). Here, Shakyamuni discloses the master
and disciple relationship between himself and the people that had
continued ever since the remote past of Gohyaku-jindengo.
Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin explains the doctrine of
“sanyaku” in the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra as follows:
[Five hundred dust particle kalpas ago] in the remote past, he
planted the seed [in their lives]. [As the sixteenth son of] Daitsu
Buddha and through the first four flavors and the theoretical
teaching, he nurtured it. When he reached the essential teaching, he
made them ascend to the levels of tomyo7 and thereby harvested it.
(Nichikan Shonin Mondan Shu, p. 507)
The word “tomyo” in the above passage refers to the last two of the
stages through which a Mahayana bodhisattva progresses in order to
attain Buddhahood. These stages are “ushin” (Ten stages of faith);
“juju” (ten stages of security); “jugyo” (ten stages of practice); “ju’
eko” (ten stages of devotion); “juchi” (ten stages of development);
“togaku” (a stage almost equal to enlightenment, or “preliminary
enlightenment”), the 51st and next to the last stage; and “myogaku”
(perfect enlightenment), the 52nd and final stage. These last two
stages can be grouped together under the single term “tomyo.” The
term “tomyo” is not a mere abbreviation, however; it has profound
significance. With the surface meaning of the Lotus Sutra, only
“togaku” (the second to the last stage, preliminary enlightenment) is
attainable. But by encountering the teaching of “opening up the near
to reveal the distant,” the disciples of Shakyamuni return to the time
when the Buddha of the True Cause originally planted the seed of
Buddhahood in their lives in Kuon ganjo8 and thereby return to the
level of “myoji-soku” that they attained at that time. It is only then
that they are able to attain the final stage, “myogaku.” As the Great
Teacher Miao-lo explained, “Even though the harvest exists in the
present, it more precisely is the transmission of the true seed.” In
Nichiren Shoshu, we express this using the phrase, “those at the state
of togaku turn back to the level of myoji-soku and thereby achieve
myogaku.”9
The term “myoji-soku” refers to the second of six levels of
bodhisattvas who practice the Lotus Sutra according to T’ien-t’ai
Buddhism. These six levels are called roku- soku, or the “six
identities.” Myoji-soku is also called the “stage of belief.” The “six
identities” are: 1) ri-soku; 2) myoji-soku; 3) kangyo-soku; 4) soji-
soku; 5) bunshin-soku; and 6) kukyo-soku. That there is a
progression from ri-soku to kukyo-soku indicates that there are
differences between each of the levels, while the word “soku” (not
two or ultimately equal) that is affixed to the name of each level
indicates that as a whole, when seen from the Buddha’s perspective
of the Entity of the Law, all the levels are necessary and equally
endowed with the potential for Buddhahood.
Shakyamuni’s original identity is the Buddha of the True Effect of the
remote past of Gohyaku-jindengo. This is so distant in the past it is
hard even to compare it to the remote past of Sanzen-jindengo
taught in the theoretical teaching. The length of time expressed in
the concept “Gohyaku-jindengo” extends so far into the past that it is
close to eternity. However, upon a more profound interpretation
from the viewpoint of the meaning hidden in the depths of the sutra,
one finds that even in this distant past of Gohyaku-jindengo, when
Shakyamuni first attained Buddhahood, his teaching was for the sake
of maturation and harvest, using expedient devices to lead the
people. In short, the sowing at the time of Gohyaku-jindengo was not
the fundamental sowing of the original Entity of the Law directly into
the lives of the people (“sowing the seed by making the people hear
the Law”) In reality, it was “sowing the seed to awaken faith.” In
other words, the Buddha of True Effect is a Buddha whose purpose is
to make the people attain maturation and harvest, and Gohyaku-
jindengo indicates the initial time when the people first formed a
relationship with the Buddha of True Effect.

3. The Doctrine of “Sanyaku” From the Viewpoint of the Meaning
Hidden in the Depths (Montei) of the Lotus Sutra
As I have already explained, the sowing of the seed (geshu) as
expounded in the theoretical teaching and essential teaching of the
Lotus Sutra (in the remote past times of “Sanzen-jindengo” and
“Gohyaku-jindengo”) is called “sowing the seed to awaken faith”
(hosshin geshu). This is not the original, fundamental sowing of the
seed of Buddhahood.
Nichiren Daishonin states in the “Soya Nyudo Dono Moto Gosho”
(Letter to Lord Soya):
The scholars of this age . . . preach the one vehicle, but they do not
understand the origins of why the sowing must be done with the
seed of the five characters of the Daimoku. (Shinpen, p. 778)
Here, he teaches that only the five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo,
the Entity of the Law of the Original Buddha, are the original seed of
Buddhahood and indicates that not even the one vehicle of
Buddhahood expounded in the Lotus Sutra is this original seed.
Furthermore, the same Gosho states:
If one inquires into the past of those who received the capacity for
and causal relationship to the four or eight teachings . . . one will find
that the seed of the pure, perfect [teaching] was sown [into their
lives] at the time of Daitsu-chisho Buddha, but because these people
slandered the sutra of the one vehicle, they had to undergo a practice
of three thousand dust particle kalpas or five hundred dust particle
kalpas. Nevertheless, because of the pure maturing of the seed that
was sown, when the time came the priceless gem naturally appeared.
(Shinpen, p.778)
The disciples of Shakyamuni first received the original seed of
Buddhahood from the Buddha of the True Cause in the remote past of
Kuon ganjo. This initial sowing of the seed is called “sowing the seed
by making the people hear the Law.” Through this, the seed (the five
characters of the Mystic Law) is planted directly into the lives
(spiritual field) of the people. Yet, some of the disciples had a strong
tendency to slander the teachings of Buddhism and were thus unable
to attain Buddhahood because they discarded their faith or
committed acts against the teachings of Buddhism. In order to save
those disciples, the Original Buddha of Kuon ganjo made a transient
Buddha appear in the remote past (in Gohyaku-jindengo and Sanzen-
jindengo), who employed the Lotus Sutra to replant the seed of
Buddhahood in their lives. This we call “sowing the seed to awaken
faith.” That Buddha possessed the 32 remarkable physical features of
the Buddha as well as the 80 supplementary characteristics of the
Buddha, and was the “Buddha of the True Effect.” The lives of those
people were contaminated by the poison of heretical beliefs, so their
capacity was immature (not ripe). Furthermore, they had completely
forgotten about the seed of Buddhahood planted in them in the
remote past. Therefore, they practiced Buddhism over many aeons
(Ryakko shugyo) while undergoing numerous cycles of rebirth. In
this way they accumulated good fortune, gradually bringing their
capacity to attain Buddhahood to maturation. As the final stage of
their practice, they achieved the capacity to understand the Lotus
Sutra, and attained the perfect fruition of Buddhahood.
From the viewpoint of the meaning hidden in the depths of the Lotus
Sutra, the disciples of Shakyamuni underwent the phase of sowing in
Kuon ganjo. The next stage, maturation, began in Gohyaku-jindengo
and continued into Sanzen-jindengo and through Shakyamuni’s
advent in India all the way up until the preaching of the essential
teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Then, through their understanding of the
revelation of “opening up the near to reveal the distant” in the
essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, they accomplished “those at the
stage of togaku turning back to the level of myoji-soku and thereby
achieving myogaku,” thus returning to the stage of “myoji-soku” and
bringing the seed of Buddhahood to complete fruition.
Furthermore, the meaning hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra
reveals that all of the teaching throughout all of these periods is the
working of a single Buddha who consistently leads the people to
Buddhahood, from the teaching performed by the Buddha of the True
Cause in Kuon ganjo up to the teaching performed by Shakyamuni as
the Buddha of True Effect.
Shakyamuni expounded his teachings centering on the needs and
capacity of the people, adjusting the Law for the sake of “teaching
others.” In contrast, in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism in the Latter
Day of the Law (Mappo), the sowing, maturing, and harvesting
(sanyaku) center on teaching the five characters of the Mystic Law,
the “practice for oneself” that the Buddha himself performed. This
manner of transforming and guiding the people in accordance with
the Law takes the form of simultaneity of cause and effect (inga
guji).
A passage from the “Lecture on the Lotus Sutra”10 clarifies this:
The “cause” is realized within the realm of faith. The “true cause” is
when one reverently embraces this sutra. That this true cause in
itself is the attainment of Buddhahood is the “true effect.” (Shinpen,
p. 1820)
Thus, the three stages of sowing, maturing, and harvesting in
Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism are such that the stages of maturing
and harvesting (True Effect) exist simultaneously within the stage of
sowing (True Cause), which is received through faith.
“The Doctrine of Ichinen Sanzen”11 explains:
If the votaries of the Lotus Sutra practice just as the Buddha taught,
they will be certain to attain Buddhahood during this lifetime,
without excepting a single person. To illustrate, if a rice field is
cultivated in spring and summer it is certain that there will be a
harvest within the year, whether sooner or later. Likewise, although
their capacities may be superior, average, or inferior, votaries of the
Lotus Sutra are sure to attain enlightenment during this lifetime.
(Shinpen, p.110)
As in the above passage, Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism assures us
that those who practice the correct faith will, without exception,
attain the three stages of sowing, maturing, and harvesting during
this lifetime. In other words, unlike the disciples of Shakyamuni, who
had to practice Buddhism over countless aeons after they first
received the seed of Buddhahood, Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism
teaches that one can receive the seed of Buddhahood and harvest it
all within one short lifetime.

II. Two types of Buddha and Law
There are numerous Buddhist sects in Japan. However, they fail to
understand that there are two types of “Buddha” and “Law” within
the Buddha’s actions to lead the people. Thus they fail to recognize
that in this period, known as the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren
Daishonin is the Original Buddha and that Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is
the only Law that has merit, the only Law that can benefit the
people.
The two types of Buddha are 1) the Buddha who expounds the Law
in order to sow the seed; and 2) the Buddha who expounds the Law
for the stages of maturation and harvest.
In reality, the fundamental Entity of the Law remains the same. But
in order to bring his actions to lead the people to completion, the
Buddha appears in this saha world in two forms, that of the Original
Buddha and that of a transient Buddha. The following passage from
the “Sokan Monsho” describes this:
When the Thus Come One Shakyamuni was a common mortal at the
beginning, before the age five hundred dust-particle kalpas [in the
past], he at once attained enlightenment, understanding that one’s
life is in itself [the five elements] Ñ earth, water, fire, wind, and
emptiness (ku). Later, in order to teach others (keta); he successively
appeared in various worlds and attained the Way, in various places
demonstrating the eight aspects of becoming a Buddha. He was born
into a king’s palace and, making it seem to the people that he first
became a Buddha by attaining the Way under a tree, led the people
for forty-some years by conceiving expedient teachings. (Shinpen,
p.1419)
The phrase in the above passage, “at the beginning, before the age
five hundred dust-particle kalpas in the past” signifies the remote
past of Kuon ganjo, or time without beginning. Up to “he at once
attained enlightenment” describes the Buddha’s own behavior to
“practice for oneself” (jigyo), indicating the Buddha of the True Cause.
This is called “practice for oneself” since this Buddha, even when
propagating the Law to the people, reveals the Law directly using the
five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo without resorting to any
expedient teachings.
The section after this, beginning with, “later, in order to teach
others,” indicates the behavior of the Buddha of the True Effect. In
order to save people who failed to attain Buddhahood in Kuon ganjo,
the Buddha of the True Cause makes a provisional Buddha appear,
who leads the people by employing expedients that suit the capacity
of the people, centering in this way on “teaching others” (keta).
This successive appearance of the Buddha of True Cause and the
Buddha of True Effect brings the action of the Original Buddha to lead
the people to a perfect fruition.
The Shakyamuni Buddha whom we know is the Buddha of True
Effect who, as mentioned in the above quote, taught the people by
preaching the four teachings of doctrine (the Tripitaka, connecting,
specific, and perfect teachings) in order to “teach others.” However,
the original entity of this Buddha is none other than the Original
Buddha of Kuon ganjo.
In “The Practice of this School,”12 Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan
states:
The treasure of the Buddha of Kuon ganjo can be no one else. This is
our founder, Nichiren Daishonin. Ever since the beginning of the age
five hundred dust-particle kalpas [in the past], he has “always
pondered how to cause living beings to gain entry into the Supreme
Way and quickly attain the life of Buddha.” With the power of this
great compassionate desire, he appeared in the Latter Day of the Law
and risked his body and life to bestow this Supreme Law.
From this explanation it is clear that all the activities of both the
Buddha of True Cause and the Buddha of True Effect are, in fact, the
acts of great compassion and mercy of the Original Buddha.
Nichiren Daishonin’s compassionate behavior in this period of Mappo
is exactly the same as that of the Buddha of the True Cause of Kuon
ganjo.
“On the True Cause”13 teaches:
The practice of the life of Shakyamuni in Kuon ganjo at the stage of
myoji-soku has moved to the life of Nichiren, [the common mortal at
the stage of] myoji-soku, in the present time of Mappo. (Shinpen, p.
1684)
This indicates the Daishonin’s behavior to “practice for oneself” as the
Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom. Moreover, the same Gosho
states:
The [teaching] hidden in the depths [of the Juryo Chapter] is the
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of “direct attainment of enlightenment,” the
ichinen sanzen of the true practice, whereby the Mystic Law [through
which the common mortal at the stage] of myoji-soku “actually
attained enlightenment in the remote past” does not extend to any
other practices. (Shinpen, p. 1684)
This passage shows that the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo expounded by
Nichiren Daishonin is the same Law that was the original seed of
Buddhahood sown in Kuon ganjo.
Owing to the Buddha of the True Cause, we have received the
“sowing of the seed by making the people hear the Law.” This means
that we are blessed with the fortune to be living at the right time to
practice the fundamental Law that enables us to attain Buddhahood
in this present lifetime.

Conclusion
A passage from the Gosho, “On the True Cause” states:
The fundamental basis is the Mystic Law of the [common mortal at
the stage of] myoji-soku in Kuon ganjo. Because [one] has strong,
robust faith and chants Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo without any other
thoughts, the “life of the common mortal is in itself the life of
Buddha.” This is called “attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present
form” through naturally realizing enlightenment through innate
disposition. (Shinpen, p. 1679)
The Original Buddha of Kuon ganjo is clearly a common mortal at the
level of “myoji-soku.” This means that an ordinary common mortal in
his natural form has become a Buddha without any essential
alteration in form.
Another quotation from the same Gosho states:
I, Nichiren, am at the stage of myoji-soku. My disciples and lay
believers are at the stage of ri-soku. (Shinpen, p. 1680)
This passage means that our attachments to earthly desires remain
so strong as to prevent our complete fusion with the Mystic Law;
hence we are at the stage of “ri-soku.” Nichiren Daishonin manifested
the Dai-Gohonzon, wherein his wisdom and mind as the Original
Buddha are one with all laws of the universe; this we call the true
life of harmonious fusion of reality and wisdom (kyochi myogo).
We should perceive the Dai-Gohonzon not simply as an object of
reverence, but more as something that plants the seed of all wisdom,
compassion and virtue of the Buddha into us. This is called the
“sowing of the seed.” The way to “sow the seed” is to believe in the
Daishonin’s Buddhism with a pure, honest heart and chant the
Daimoku. This is why it is called “sowing of the seed by making the
people hear the Law.”
Even if we chant the Daimoku, we will be unable to attain
Buddhahood if erroneous attitudes regarding faith or arbitrary,
egotistical views creep into our faith. This is why the Daishonin
admonishes us to have faith “without any other thoughts.”
On the other hand, if our faith in the Mystic Law is pure, when we
sincerely and seriously chant Daimoku our life will fuse as one with
the Gohonzon, which enables us to acquire all the wisdom,
compassion and virtue of the Buddha. This fusion of one’s life with
the Gohonzon is the condition called “kyochi-myogo” (fusion of reality
and wisdom), and is also known as “sokushin jobutsu” (to attain
Buddhahood in one’s present form). Our faith means to strive to
make this “momentary” state of Buddhahood last into eternity.
The Daishonin teaches, “Do not spend this life in vain and regret it for
ten thousand years to come.”14 By this he warns us: Never forget
your good fortune to have encountered the sowing of the seed of the
True Cause. Should you be swept away by the flow of current
ideologies, or commit slanders against the true faith, as a result you
will throw away your chance to attain Buddhahood in this present
lifetime. In your next lifetime you will definitely regret this, as you
will have to start your Buddhist practice afresh, spending many
aeons of effort in order to attain Buddhahood.
Nikko Shonin alone revered the Daishonin as the Original Buddha,
discharging his full duties as his true disciple. We should learn Nikko
Shonin’s correct attitude in faith from the successive High Priests
who have inherited the Heritage of the Law and in turn, make this
our own faith. This is the correct way of master and disciple in
Nichiren Shoshu.
I hope all of you will continuously reflect upon yourselves to make
sure you don’t become controlled by egotistical views, and attain
Buddhahood in this lifetime by continuing your pure faith.
Thank you very much.

Footnotes:
1. The full terms in Japanese are: sowing, geshu-yaku maturing,
chojuku-yaku; and harvesting, gedatsu-yaku
2. Doctrinal aspect: kyoso. Literally, the “appearance of a teaching.”
3. Victorious through Great Penetrating Wisdom Buddha
4. For reference, see M.W., Vol. 1, p. 69.
5. Kaigon-kennon: In “opening up the near to reveal the distant,” the
“near” refers to the pre-essential teaching that Shakyamuni Buddha
first attained Buddhahood in this lifetime in India, i.e., the idea that
he attained Buddhahood in the recent (near) past. The “distant”
refers to the revelation that he actually first attained Buddhahood in
the distant past of Gohyaku-jindengo.
6. Watson, The Lotus Sutra, p. 225.
7. Tomyo is short for “togaku”(preliminary enlightenment) +
“myogaku” (perfect enlightenment), the last two of the fifty-two
stages.
8. This refers to monpo geshu, “sowing the seed by making the
people hear the Law.”
9. In Japanese: togaku-itten-myoji-myogaku
10. The “Oko Kikigaki,” the notes taken by Niko from the Daishonin’s
lecture on the Lotus Sutra.
11. “Ichinen Sanzen Homon”
12.”Toryu Gyoji Sho,” one of the Six Volume Writings.
13. “Honnin-myo Sho”
14. M.W., Vol. 5, p. 173; Shinpen, p. 1169.

©1995 Nichiren Shoshu Monthly. All rights reserved