What is Benefit ?
When we practice to the Gohonzon with faith, the great life condition of Buddhahood will manifest in the depths of our lives. We can expiate our negative karma from the past and experience it as a lesser effect. We are, at once, able to lessen the heavy suffering, both material and spiritual, that would have manifested in our present life as a result of negative past causes.
What is more, for the practitioner of Nichiren Shoshu, the lesser negative effects can be changed into great benefit. This is called hendoku iyaku, the Buddhist term for “changing poison into medicine.” No matter how many problems and sufferings may arise, if we muster our strong faith and never give up this practice, these situations will be resolved. Moreover, our life condition will open up to a life of greater happiness. This is the Gohonzon’s great benefit, changing misfortune into happiness. To state a few examples, poor health can change intogood health, poverty can turn around into a stable financial condition, a selfish person can become a person of noble character, and family discord can be transformed into true family happiness.
Thus, by overcoming numerous sufferings and problems, we are filled with a strong life force and enjoy true fulfillment. The force that impels us to accomplish this is Buddhahood welling up within our heart as a result of our faith in the Gohonzon. The greatest benefit is the attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form.
Nichiren Daishonin stated:
Great achievement means happiness. To subdue evil is the great achievement. To accumulate goodness is called virtue. In Buddhism, great achievement and virtue (benefit) mean attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form.
(Gosho, p. 1775)
Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life and continue chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, no matter what happens. Then you will experience boundless joy from the Law. Strengthen your faith more than ever.
(MW, Vol. 1, p. 161; Gosho, p. 991)
The attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form does not mean that we will become detached from people in the world or be without troubles or sufferings. Rather, it is the ability to live a life filled with joy, challenging various problems and powerfully resolving them.
The attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form is the life condition symbolized by the four virtues of jo, raku, ga, and jo. Jo (eternity) is an indestructible eternal life. Raku (tranquality) is a feeling of absolute (as opposed to “relative”) happiness from enjoyment in living itself. Ga (true self) is a strong and harmonious will, undisturbed by any outside influence. Jo (purity) is a pure life, unaffected by outside influences.
(Note: This Chapter can be read in its entirety in the book: Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice. For more information, please contact your local temple.)