Two Gateways of Admonishment and Encouragement

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Audience for the First Overseas Believers General Tozan, Kofu-bo, Head Temple Taisekiji, August 27, 1994

….In his Gosho, the Daishonin presented instruction on the meaning and essence of our lives based on the most fundamental principle of Buddhism. These instructions explained how one could achieve true happiness, and they presented a description of the current state of our lives:

If you want to understand the causes made in the past, look at the results in the present. If you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that are made in the present.

(Gosho, p. 571)

I think you have all heard this passage. Our lives in the present exist as the manifestation of our good and bad deeds from the past.

It is necessary to always imbue your heart and mind with the Gosho from this perspective as well. However, there are various approaches for viewing the Gosho in order to understand it correctly. The Daishonin’s Goshos cannot be explained easily, because they are profound, far-reaching doctrines that are tremendously “difficult to believe and difficult to understand.” Even so, when you congregate at your temple or with your seniors, it is important for you to study the Daishonin’s Gosho—even if only a single passage—as a guideline for your own faith.

I would like to say a little more about this. Within the profound spirit of the Gosho, there are two viewpoints from which to regard the Daishonin’s words about how to carry out one’s faith. This does not mean that these are the only two ways. There are various other approaches to his doctrines. However, I would like to state that, considered from one angle, there are two ways of approaching the Gosho, based on the practical standpoint of “one teaching gives rise to two teachings.”

These are the “two ways of admonishment and encouragement.” In other words, there are thresholds that mark the correct path or route to embark upon one’s destination. These two procedures—admonishment and encouragement—are ways that help us find the correct path to enter into Buddhism. They represent entryways to the correct course of true Buddhism.

Admonishment and encouragement are truly important. One could say that all of the Daishonin’s Goshos are based on these two underlying procedures. For example, when the Daishonin teaches us, “If you maintain correct faith in this, you can definitely attain Buddhahood,” this corresponds to encouragement. You all know the passage from the Gosho:

Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there is no Buddhism. Persevere yourself and teach others.

(Gosho, p. 668)

“Exert yourself . . .” are words that urge us to take action, and offer encouragement, as the Daishonin tells us to take action. The warning, “Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism,” represents admonishment, which is also extremely important. In short, the Daishonin strictly teaches us, “Whether in terms of Buddhism or in terms of social law, if you continue to do mistaken, negative things without self-examination or atonement, you will fall into the three evil paths of hell, hunger, and animality!” We must firmly etch this teaching deep into our hearts.

What sorts of things, then, are negative? In actuality, there are so many of them it would be impossible to name them all. However, they are summed up in the Lotus Sutra and elsewhere have been further classified into fourteen essential categories. These are known as the “fourteen slanders,” and are clearly explained in the “Reply to Lord Matsuno” (“The Fourteen Slanders”).

The first of these is arrogance. A person who is arrogant is enamored by the perception of his own greatness. Daisaku Ikeda fosters such a perception. In Buddhism, we must never cultivate an attitude of superiority that places others in a lowly position.

(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.)