“Following the Example of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging”
On the Occasion of the July Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
July 4, 2010
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji
Good morning, everyone!
On this occasion of the July Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony, conducted here today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance.
The month of July has arrived in this “Year of Advancing toward Kosen-rufu,” and the second half of this year has begun. I imagine each chapter is striving for the achievement of this year’s shakubuku goal, based on unity between priesthood and laity in the spirit of itai-doshin.
During the first half of this year, many chapters have built up the momentum of their shakubuku practice. There are even some chapters that got off to an excellent start, and already achieved their goals in January.
Inspired by the good results of these chapters, other chapters have engaged in shakubuku more actively than usual. They, too, are steadily producing good results. Among those chapters that already achieved their target for this year, some are striving to achieve 200 percent of their goals. This is truly gratifying.
As I often mention, in order to achieve our goals for 2015 and 2021, we must first achieve our goal for this year. If we fail to achieve this year’s goal, we will have to assume responsibility for it next year, which will be a huge burden. If a situation like this continues, we may fail to achieve our goal when 2015 arrives.
I hope none of us will be judged by the Gohonzon as having an ungrateful attitude. Our important challenge this year is for all the chapters, large, medium, and small, to achieve their goals without fail. I sincerely hope that all chapters exert their utmost efforts with powerful force, just like a ferocious lion, so that they definitely can achieve their goals.
The Teachers of the Law (Hosshi; tenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reads:
The sutras I have preached number immeasurable thousands, ten thousands millions. Among the sutras I have preached, now preach, and will preach, this Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand.
(Hokekyo, p. 325; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 164)
Concerning this passage, the “Genealogical Table of the Five Periods of Shakyamuni’s Lifetime” (“Ichidai goji keizu”) states:
The second volume of the Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra (Hokke shuku) states, “You must know this. The sutras of the first four periods that the Buddha has preached, the Sutra of Infinite Meanings (Muryogi-kyo) that the Buddha now preaches, and the Nirvana Sutra that the Buddha will preach are easy to believe and easy to understand, as they are the teachings expounded by the Buddha according to the capacity of the people (zui tai). The Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand, as it is the teaching expounded by the Buddha according to his own mind (zui ji’i). The Buddha’s teaching expounded according to his own mind is superior to his teaching expounded based on the level of understanding of the people.”
(Gosho, p. 1644)
In this passage, the Daishonin teaches that the sutras prior to the Lotus Sutra that the Buddha has preached, the Sutra of Infinite Meanings that the Buddha now preaches, and the Nirvana Sutra that the Buddha will preach are easy to believe and easy to understand, as they are expounded by the Buddha according to the capacity of the people. On the other hand, the Lotus Sutra, which transcends the three categories of sutras, is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand, as it is expounded in accordance with the Buddha’s own mind.
The Lotus Sutra, compared to the various other sutras, is the teaching that is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand, while the various other sutras are easy to believe and easy to understand. This is because these various other sutras are the teachings expounded according to the people’s minds, whereas the Lotus Sutra is the teaching expounded according to the Buddha’s own mind.
The Daishonin discusses this in the “Letter to Lord Ni’ike” (“Ni’ike dono-goshosoku”):
The Buddha taught two kinds of teachings: the teaching expounded by the Buddha according to the capacity of the people and the teaching expounded by the Buddha according to his own mind.
The Buddha’s teaching according to the minds of the people is like parents following the minds of their children. Making the children follow the minds of their parents represents the Buddha’s teaching based on his own mind. The Buddha taught various sutras, taking into account the people’s capacity. However, when the Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra, he expounded the teaching according to his own mind [revealing the truth of his own enlightenment], making all people follow the will of the Buddha.
Though various sutras were expounded by the Buddha, they will not lead one to the attainment of Buddhahood, as they are the teachings based on the minds of the people. The Lotus Sutra is the Buddha’s true teaching as well as his wisdom. If one sincerely believes in a single character or a single dot of it, one will immediately attain Buddhahood. This is like white paper turning black when it is dyed with ink. It is like black lacquer turning white when it is mixed with white ingredients. It is also like changing poison into medicine and attaining Buddhahood as a common mortal in one’s present form without changing one’s earthly desires. Therefore, it is referred to as the mystic Law (Myoho).
(Gosho, p. 1365)
The Lotus Sutra is the true teaching that the Buddha had to expound according to his own mind in order to save all living beings, regardless of the people’s level of understanding. Since it is the teaching based on the Buddha’s enlightenment, it is difficult to believe and difficult to understand.
Until the time when the Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra, the various other sutras were taught as expedient means to guide the people to the true teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Since they are the teachings expounded in accordance with people’s capacities and preferences, they are easy to believe and easy to understand.
Thus, the Gosho states, “Though various sutras were expounded by the Buddha, they will not lead one to the attainment of Buddhahood, as they are the teachings based on the minds of the people.” In contrast, “The Lotus Sutra is the Buddha’s true teaching as well as his wisdom. If one sincerely believes in a single character or a single dot of it, one will immediately attain Buddhahood.”
In this passage, the Lotus Sutra referred to is the Myoho-Renge-Kyo of actual ichinen sanzen (three thousand realms in a single life-moment) of the Buddhism of the sowing hidden in the depths of the Life Span chapter from the viewpoint of the observation of the mind on the meaning hidden in the depths. In other words, in the Latter Day of the Law, if one profoundly takes faith in a single character or a single dot of the Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the sowing hidden in the depths of the Life Span chapter, one instantly will be able to attain Buddhahood in one’s present form.
It is as if white paper changes its color to black, when ink is applied to it. It is like lacquer turning white, if it is mixed with white ingredients. It is also like poison turning to good medicine. Thus, a common mortal too will be able to attain Buddhahood without fail, if one chants Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the sowing hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra.
Therefore, our significant mission lies in single-mindedly devoting all our energies to the practice of Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the Buddhism of the sowing, hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra, and moving forward, aiming toward the aspiration of the achievement of worldwide kosen-rufu.
The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and laity are striving to achieve the goals for 2015 and 2021. I believe this is not an easy task at all, as the great Law of the sowing hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra is most difficult to believe and most difficult to understand. However, as the golden words of the True Buddha indicate, if we powerfully move forward, aiming toward the achievement of worldwide kosen-rufu, we definitely will receive immeasurable benefits.
One will encounter hardships and obstacles if one tries to uphold one’s practice for kosen-rufu. This is unavoidable. It is essential, however, to overcome every obstacle and to do shakubuku. This means, first of all, one must have absolute faith in the Dai-Gohonzon. Second, one must persistently practice based on one’s firm conviction.
The Gosho, “On Prayer” (“Kito-sho”) reads:
Even if one misses while pointing at the earth, even if one ties up the sky, even if the ebb and flow of the tide ceases, and even if the sun rises in the west, the prayers of the votary of the Lotus Sutra will never be unanswered.
(Gosho, p. 630)
Furthermore, the Daishonin teaches in “Reply to Kyo’o” (“Kyo’o dono-gohenji”):
Summon up your faith and pray to this Gohonzon. Is there any reason your prayers will not be answered?
(Gosho, p. 685)
The “Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden”) teaches:
Ichinen sanzen (three thousand realms in a single life-moment) arises from the single character “faith.” The attainment of Buddhahood by all Buddhas of the three existences is also based on the single character “faith.” A sword that extirpates fundamental darkness is the single character “faith.” Believing and understanding with no doubts leads one to overcome fundamental darkness.
(Gosho, p. 1737)
We must have absolute conviction in the Dai-Gohonzon and maintain faith with no doubts. If our words and actions are based on the firm belief that “taking faith in the Dai-Gohonzon is the only way to attain true happiness,” then we will touch people’s hearts. This will certainly lead us to achieve shakubuku.
Another important point is one’s constant actions. The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging (Fukyo; twentieth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra illustrates in detail the behavior of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, who appeared near the end of the Middle Day of the Law of Buddha Awesome sound King. Bodhisattva Never Disparaging taught that Buddhahood is inherent in the minds of all living beings. He recited the following:
I have profound reverence for you. I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you are all practicing the bodhisattva way and are certain to attain Buddhahood.
(Hokekyo, p. 500; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, pp. 266-7)
As this phrase consists of twenty-four characters, it is referred to as “the twenty-four-character Lotus Sutra.”
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, who simply went about bowing to people, was spoken ill of and cursed by those who were offended by his actions. He was even beaten and pelted with wooden sticks, or tiles and stones. Undaunted, however, he continued preaching the twenty-four-character Lotus Sutra. Through this practice, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was able to expiate all of his negative karma from the past.
Furthermore, when Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was at the point of death, he heard from up in the sky the verses of the Lotus Sutra that had been previously preached by the Buddha Awesome Sound King, and he immediately gained the benefit of achieving the purification of his six senses and extended his life by two hundred ten million nayutas of years. Until his death, he continued to preach the Lotus Sutra. Furthermore, after his passing, he encountered innumerable Buddhas and he widely preached the Lotus Sutra to the people. With the benefits of such deeds, he was able to attain Buddhahood. Those who had persecuted Bodhisattva Never Disparaging fell into hell once. They too, however, were saved through their reverse relationship formed by hearing the Lotus Sutra.
I think these strenuous actions of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging demonstrate the attitude that those in the Latter Day of the Law must have in conducting shakubuku. His practice of bowing and preaching the twenty-four-character Lotus Sutra to every person, believing that Buddhahood is inherent in the minds of all people, is extremely important. He endured the difficulties and obstacles caused by his persistence and continued to preach the Lotus Sutra. We must learn from his actions.
The remaining latter half of this year is a crucial period for our practice. With absolute conviction in the Dai-Gohonzon and following the example of the persistent practice of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, I pray that every chapter across the country will achieve this year’s goal without fail, based on unity between priesthood and laity in the spirit of itai-doshin.