The Mind of Benefiting Oneself and Benefiting Others – October 3, 2010

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“The Mind of Benefiting Oneself and Benefiting Others”
On the Occasion of the October Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
October 3, 2010
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji

Good Morning, everyone!

On this occasion of the October 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 October has already arrived in this “Year of Advancing toward Kosen-rufu,” and we only have three months remaining before the end of the year.

As I often mention, in order to achieve the goals for 2015 and 2021, it is extremely important that we first achieve our goals for this year.

Our challenge to achieve kosen-rufu is not easy. I sincerely hope that the priesthood and laity will unite together, based on the spirit of itai-doshin, and overcome every difficulty and obstacle, so that they achieve this year’s goals without fail.

The Parable of the Phantom City (Kejoyu; seventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reads:

We beg that the merit gained through these gifts may be spread far and wide to everyone, so that we and other living beings all together may attain the Buddha way.

(Hokekyo, p. 268;
The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 130)

It has been said since ancient times that this verse expresses the spirit of the Bodhisattvas of Mahayana. What it signifies is the mind of benefiting oneself and benefiting others (jiri rita).

This means that one makes efforts not only in the practice of attaining enlightenment, but also does the favor of saving others. The spirit of Mahayana is to fulfill both acts thoroughly. It carries the same significance as practice for oneself and others (jigyo keta).

Nichiren Daishonin teaches in “On the Transmission of the Three Great Secret Laws” (“Sandai hiho bonjo ji”):

Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, the Daimoku that Nichiren chants is different from that of previous ages. It is the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the practice for oneself [for Nichiren Daishonin himself as the True Buddha], and the practice for others [enabling others to attain enlightenment as well].

(Gosho, p. 1594)

He also teaches in “Questions and Answers on Embracing the Lotus Sutra” (“Jimyo hokke mondo-sho”):

Single-mindedly chant Nam-Myoho- Renge-Kyo and urge others to do the same. This will remain as the only memory of your present life in this human world.

(Gosho, p. 300)

If I apply this teaching to our faith and practice, it is evident that the faith of pursuing one’s own happiness alone is based on the faith of Hinayana Buddhism, and is not the spirit of Mahayana Buddhism.

The Daishonin explains the difference between Mahayana and Hinayana in “The Superiority of the Law” (“Letter to Otogozen” [“Otogozen goshosoku”]):

What is referred to as Hinayana Buddhism [literally “lesser vehicle”] is like a small boat. It can carry a few people, but not a hundred or a thousand people. Even if it transports a few people, it does so only on this side of the shore [the saha world]. It’s difficult to carry people over to the other side of the shore [the world of enlightenment]. Hinayana can stow small storage, but not large cargo. On the contrary, Mahayana Buddhism [literally “great vehicle”] is likened to a large ship.

(Gosho, p. 895)

Shakyamuni expounded Hinayana Buddhism for those in the worlds of learning and realization in the early part of his preaching, during the Agama period. Hinayana sets various precepts and teaches people to sever their earthly desires. However, it is after all, a teaching for personal benefits, taking no notice of others. While Hinayana is egocentric, Mahayana fulfills benefiting both oneself and others. Mahayana not only aims for self-emancipation, but also is a teaching for a bodhisattva who wishes for all the people to be equally saved and attain Buddhahood. Accordingly, Mahayana Buddhism teaches profound doctrines. The difference between Hinayana and Mahayana is like night and day.

The four universal vows of bodhisattvas are known as the pledges made by the bodhisattvas of Mahayana, when they first awaken their faith. They are: to save innumerable living beings, to eradicate countless earthly desires, to master immeasurable Buddhist teachings, and to attain the supreme enlightenment. Since these four vows are the pledges all bodhisattvas should make, they also are called “the general vows of the bodhisattvas.”

The first vow, to save innumerable living beings, is to make a pledge to rescue suffering people as much as one can and lead them to enlightenment.

The second vow, to eradicate countless earthly desires, is to swear to extirpate innumerable earthly desires.

The third vow, to master immeasurable Buddhist teachings, is to make a pledge to learn the boundless teachings of the Buddha.

The fourth vow, to attain the supreme enlightenment, is the pledge to reach the supreme life condition of Buddhahood in one’s Buddhist practice.

Among these four, the first vow, to save innumerable living beings, can be restated as devoting oneself for the benefit of others. The remaining three vows can be summarized as practicing for the benefit of oneself. It is noteworthy that the vow to save innumerable living beings is specified as the first vow, and that the emphasis is on benefiting others. This is something a bodhisattva must try to do first.

In our daily life, it is not possible for us to become happy alone, just by ourselves. Only when happiness is shared among oneself and others can it be regarded as true happiness.

In light of the Daishonin’s teaching, the only way to realize happiness for both oneself and others is to do shakubuku. This is because the secret Law that will save all living beings is none other than the great Law of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, hidden in the depths of the Life Span (Juryo; sixteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

The Daishonin teaches in “Repaying Debts of Gratitude” (“Ho’on-sho”):

Since Nichiren’s compassion is vast, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo will prevail for ten thousand years and beyond into the future. It possesses the beneficial power to open the blind eyes of all the people in Japan, and it blocks the path to the hell of incessant suffering. Its benefits surpass those of the teachings of Dengyo and Tiantai, and are far superior to those of Nagarjuna and Mahakashyapa.

(Gosho, p. 1036)

Thus, as the followers of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, we must single-mindedly devote ourselves to propagate the great Law of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, based on the great aspiration to save all living beings. This is the supreme Buddhist practice that will meet the Buddha’s will.

In the Rissho ankoku-ron, it is taught:

You must immediately renounce your erroneous belief and take faith in the supreme teaching of the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra. Then, this entire threefold world will become the Buddha land. How could the Buddha land ever decline? All the lands in the ten directions will transform into treasure realms. How could a treasure realm ever fall to ruin? If the nation never declines and the land is indestructible, you will find safety and peace of mind. These are the very words that you must believe and revere.

(Gosho, p. 250)

I sincerely pray that you will take these golden words to heart, and make further efforts toward the achievement of our goals for 2015 and 2021, aiming for the realization of the establishment of the Buddha land. •