Audience for Overseas Believers at the Fourth Overseas Believers Summer Study Tozan, Temporary Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji, August 24, 1996
Thank you very much for coming on pilgrimage to the Head Temple from far-away countries with such pure-hearted faith. My words are in Japanese, so I imagine that many of you will not understand what I say, but I would like to speak to you for a little while anyway, since you have come to the Head Temple.
….Now, I would like to offer a few words about “faith.”
In Japan, there is a saying, “To travel to a distant destination, one must always begin from the place close at hand, and to climb to the top of a mountain, one must always begin from the bottom.” It is by planting one foot in front of the other on the ground right in front of your feet that you will be able to reach a distant goal. To climb to the top of a tall mountain, you must start one step at a time from the low place right in front of you.
I think this principle applies to everything in human life. Faith is the same. I believe that first, it is vital that we firmly offer the Silent Prayer, “I pray to eradicate my many past and present slanders against the Law,” to the Gohonzon with an attitude that gives the utmost seriousness to its meaning.
Of course, the prayer for Kosen-rufu, [the world-wide propagation of the Buddhism of the True Cause,] comes first. Although the contents of what each person prays for differs depending on the individual. When you pray to “eradicate my many past and present slanders against the Law,” you will naturally come to a self realization that there are karmic hindrances due to slanders of the Law within your own life. There are many people, however, who are enmeshed in the innumerable incorrect religions that exist in the world and who, clinging to various mistaken ideas, ideologies, and views of life, cannot awaken to this fact.
An extremely large number of people think that we are each suddenly born into the world, and that when we die after living out our lives, there is nothing left. However, this is not the case at all. The causes that we made in our past lives and the causal relationships that exist with our parents combine to form a truly profound karmic bond that caused us to be born into this world.
Therefore, the things that we did in the past can truly be well understood if we look at your condition in the present. In other words, if we are encountering disillusionment, unhappiness, or various sufferings in the present, this is because we definitely made the causes in past lives. Again, the various causes that we have made in this lifetime are not simply a matter of what we experience while we are alive now. After we die they will continue to exist as karma into the eternal future, and will take form as our future life. Consequently, the first thing that all people
should ponder is the fact that they all have negative karma from offenses of slandering the Law that extend from the past into the present.
Viewed in this way, from now on, we must transform our karmic destiny by changing the elements for our unhappiness into elements for our happiness, and by changing our mistaken thinking and defiled lives into correct lives. I think this is the great goal of our faith.
Everyone thinks that happiness is better than unhappiness and comfort is better than pain. All existence constantly desires to be happy and comfortable, and progress forward toward realizing a stronger, more correct life. I think this is the real significance of being born as a human being.
In the Eastern tradition, there is an expression, “living as if drunk, thinking of dreams.” This is a state lacking concrete faith, a state of action without substance, one of not knowing about the true teaching and leading one’s life aimlessly without reflection, thinking only of things as insubstantial as a dream as if in a drunken stupor. There are many who do this, among the people here in Japan and in the world.
However, we must not “live as if drunk, thinking of dreams.” We must have a clear idea of progressing one step at a time, from the standpoint of transforming our own past slanders of the Law and our karmic destiny, and of “awakening to and fulfilling our mission.” If each of you individually think deeply about “Why was I born?” you will see that you have a noble, valuable mission. It is vital that you realize for yourself, “What was the meaning for me to be born into this world, and in what sense do I have my own mission?” And then, based on that awakening, it is vital for you to firmly carry out that mission.
Within this there are two paths, however. The first is the great path that pulls everything together as a whole. The other is the mission that lies within the matters of your daily life and job, the things formed based on your individual causal relationships.
Regular people in society think of, “awakening to the noble significance of being born in the world,” and “choosing a path to follow” in terms of the latter, they find the path from the standpoint of their own lives, daily circumstances, and work. Nevertheless, in various senses, you cannot find your true self through this alone, or attain a realization on an overall basis of the worth of your valuable life.
While the causes for our trials and sufferings exist within us, at the same time they also press in on us from the outside in various forms as karmic hindrances from our past and present offenses of slandering the Law.
A case in point is people who become attached to their desires and, even though they have gone to all the trouble of proceeding along the true path, have lost sight of that original, true path.
(Note: This lecture can be read in its entirety in the book: Sermons 1992-2002 by Sixty-seventh High Priest Nikken Shonin. For more information, please contact your local temple.)