The Three Rules of Preaching

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 Myokyo Magazine – December 2010 (pp. 8-9, 11-14)

….What is the meaning of “sitting on the throne of the Thus Come One”?

The Teachers of the Law (Hosshi, tenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reads:

The Thus Come One’s throne is the emptiness of all phenomena. 

(Hokekyo, p. 329; cf. The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 166)

All matters and circumstances that exist in our society have both a differentiating aspect and a common and equal aspect. The “emptiness of all phenomena” refers to explaining the Law from the standpoint of viewing all things as being equal. For example, with regards to people, we can discern that there are older, younger, male, female, healthy, and unhealthy individuals. Furthermore, there are those who are economically prosperous while others are impoverished. Some are highly educated and have advanced degrees, while others have little formal education. Again, some people are wise while others are foolish. Among all of these classifications, there are numerous differences and discriminations. The common aspect, however, which makes them all equal, is that they all are “people” or “human beings.” 

According to the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, all living beings possess the Buddha nature, and through upholding Myoho-Renge-Kyo and advancing in faith and practice, all people without fail will be able to attain enlightenment. This is an aspect of equality among human beings. When propagating the Law from this standpoint, even if the individual to whom one is speaking has status in society or possesses numerous academic degrees, and regardless of whether he or she is affluent, one should never think of oneself as inferior or be self-deprecating. Instead, one should explain the Law to this individual as an equal. 

Sometimes, a member who is plagued by a serious illness feels that it would be impossible to shakubuku a healthy person. However, if you are seated on the Thus Come One’s throne, where all things are viewed as equal, no matter how ill you may be, you will be able to propagate the Law without discrimination to individuals with excellent health. On the contrary, even if the individual whom you are addressing has no position in society, limited education, is struggling financially, or battling serious illness, one must never harbor even the slightest bit of arrogance or superiority in ones’ heart. Instead, one must explain the Law to this person as an individual who is worthy of respect and viewed as an equal. 

The Daishonin states the following in the “Orally Transmitted Teachings”: 

The seat indicates the practice of not begrudging one’s life for the Law. Thus, it should be emptiness.

 (Gosho, p. 1750)

The Daishonin teaches us that “all phenomena are without substance” and instructs us to have the mind to do shakubuku without ever begrudging or regretting one’s life. It is important to possess such an attitude at all times, as we advance in carrying out our shakubuku activities. 

What is the meaning of “entering the room of the Thus Come One”?

 The Teachers of the Law (Hosshi, tenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reads:

 The Thus Come One’s room is the state of mind that shows great pity and compassion toward all living beings. 

(Hokekyo, p. 329; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 166)

 This means to dwell in the residence of the Buddha’s compassion and to spread the Law. The Chinese character for “ji” of “jihi” (mercy) means to provide solace to living beings. “Hi” means to remove their suffering. In Buddhism, there is a term known as the three causal relations of compassion (san en no jihi), which explains the three kinds of compassion. The first is the compassion toward living beings. It refers to the compassion of common mortals that arises when one develops a causal relation with all living beings. This constitutes thinking of all living beings throughout the ten directions as your father, mother, brothers, sisters, and children—and to remove their suffering and give them relief. 

The second type is often referred to as the compassion of the relationship of the Law. It is the compassion that arises when the sages of the three vehicles encounter the Buddhist truth of emptiness [phenomena have no absolute or fixed existence of their own]. One extinguishes the discrimination between oneself and others and removes suffering and gives relief. 

The third type is referred to as the compassion of unrelatedness. One does not dwell in the past, present, or future; and departs from the numerous causal relations created within society, recognizing that they are inconstant, collapsible, and empty. From this, the Buddha summons up absolute and undiscriminating boundless compassion based on his understanding of the true entity of all phenomena (shoho jisso). The Buddha’s great compassion, therefore, does not discriminate among living beings. 

 

(Note: This article can be read in its entirety in the July, 2011 edition of the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly magazine. For more information, please contact your local temple)