“The Six Difficult and Nine Easy Acts”
On the Occasion of the September Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
September 5, 2010
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji
Good Morning, everyone!
On this occasion of the September 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 September has already arrived in this “Year of Advancing toward Kosen-rufu,” and we have four months remaining before the end of the year.
When I look at the status of shakubuku achievement, I see there are 130 chapters that already have achieved their goals. There are many others that have achieved 80 to 90 percent of their goals so far, and are close to accomplishing them. It is truly gratifying that the chapters across the country have gained momentum for shakubuku.
As I often mention, in order to achieve our goals for 2015 and 2021, it is extremely important that we first achieve our goals for this year. If we are successful this year, the entire Hokkeko will gain momentum, with a sense of fulfillment and joy from the benefits gained by achieving the goals after overcoming difficulties and obstacles. This will help us continue to make significant breakthroughs for the year ahead.
The chapters that have not yet achieved their goals still have four months left. With four months, 120 days to go, I am certain it can be done. There is a saying that goes, “If you make a determined effort to push your way through, the demons will gather around.” I sincerely hope that those who have not achieved this year’s goals will fulfill them without fail, with powerful force, just like a ferocious lion.
In the Treasure Tower (Ken hoto; eleventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, it states:
This sutra is hard to uphold; if one can uphold it even for a short while, I will surely rejoice and so will the other Buddhas.
(Hokekyo, p. 354; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 180)
This verse was expounded after the six difficult and nine easy acts were taught in the Treasure Tower (Ken hoto; eleventh) chapter. It shows how difficult it will be to embrace the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha’s passing.
Through comparison, the six difficult and nine easy acts show the extreme difficulty of maintaining faith in the Lotus Sutra after Shakyamuni’s death. The nine easy acts are impossible achievements under normal circumstances. By citing these impossible feats, the extreme difficulty of embracing the Lotus Sutra is emphasized. Some of them are:
- Kicking a major world system to other distant regions with one’s toe is an extremely difficult thing to do. However, it would not be as difficult as upholding the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law.
- Standing at the summit of the highest heaven and preaching countless other sutras for the sake of the assembly is an extremely difficult thing to do. However, it would not be as difficult as teaching the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after the Buddha’s death.
- Walking through a raging fire and carrying a bundle of dried grass on one’s back without getting burned is an extremely difficult thing to do. However, upholding the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after the Buddha’s passing and teaching it to even a single person is the most difficult thing to do.
These various examples show the extreme difficulty of embracing the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after the Buddha’s extinction.
Then, why is it so difficult to embrace the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after the Buddha’s passing? Why is the Lotus Sutra considered to be difficult to believe and difficult to understand? Citing a passage from the Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra (Hokke shuku), the Daishonin teaches the following in “The Compound Phrase of the Last Five Hundred-Year Period” (“Gogohyakusai-gobun”):
The passage from the Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra (Hokke shuku) states, “…you must know that the sutras the Buddha has preached during the four periods, the Sutra of Infinite Meanings (Muryogi-kyo) that the Buddha now preaches, and the Nirvana Sutra, which the Buddha will preach, are easy to believe and easy to understand, as they are the teachings expounded according to the minds of the people. The Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and most difficult to understand, as it is the teaching expounded according to the Buddha’s own mind. The teaching expounded based on the Buddha’s enlightenment is superior to the teaching expounded based on the people’s minds.”
(Gosho, p. 256)
As the Lotus Sutra is the teaching expounded based on the Buddha’s own mind, it is difficult to believe and difficult to understand. In contrast, the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings are those expounded based on the minds of the people, so they are easy to believe and easy to understand. The Daishonin teaches in “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 the Buddha taught various sutras, they are the teachings based on the minds of the people. Thus, one will never be able to attain enlightenment despite one’s faith in these sutras. 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 stroke of it, one will immediately attain Buddhahood.
(Gosho, p. 1365)
The Lotus Sutra is difficult to believe and difficult to understand, as it is the true teaching the Buddha taught based on his own enlightenment, regardless of the capacities of the people. On the other hand, the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings are easy to believe and easy to understand, as they are the expedient teachings the Buddha taught according to the capacities and preferences of the people, in order to induce them to follow the true teaching.
If we compare the Lotus Sutra, which is difficult to believe and difficult to understand, with the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, which are easy to believe and easy to understand, the difference between the two is like night and day. The former enables one to attain Buddhahood, while the latter will not. This is indicated in the Gosho passage, “Thus, one will never be able to attain enlightenment despite one’s faith in these sutras. 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 stroke of it, one will immediately attain Buddhahood.”
The [Lotus] Sutra teaches, “If one can uphold it even for a short while, I will surely rejoice and so will the other Buddhas.” The benefits of upholding the Lotus Sutra even for a short while are truly tremendous, though continuing is difficult. Not only will Shakyamuni Buddha rejoice, but all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three existences of life also will rejoice.
The Lotus Sutra referred to here is not the surface meaning of the words. It is the great Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, which is hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra. Furthermore, the “Shakyamuni Buddha” referred to in this passage does not mean Shakyamuni Buddha of the Buddhism of the harvest—it actually refers to Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha of the Buddhism of the sowing.
In other words, now in the Latter Day of the Law, it is indeed difficult to uphold Myoho-Renge-Kyo. However, because it is such a difficult thing to do, the benefit of upholding the mystic Law (Myoho) is immeasurable. There is no doubt that “one will quickly attain the unsurpassed Buddha way.” (Hokekyo, p. 355; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 181)
“One will quickly attain the unsurpassed Buddha way,” means those who uphold Myoho-Renge-Kyo in the Latter Day of the Law after the Buddha’s passing will immediately attain enlightenment. This indicates the attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form.
When all people take faith in the great Law of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra, and devote themselves to their practice, they will be able to attain Buddhahood without changing their present form.
The Daishonin teaches in “Reply to Shijo Kingo” (“Shijo kingo dono-gohenji”):
There are many people who hear and accept the Lotus Sutra. However, if they encounter great difficulties due to accepting it, very few will take it to heart and remember it. Accepting is easy, while continuing is difficult. However, the attainment of Buddhahood lies in sustaining one’s faith in the Lotus Sutra. Those who uphold this sutra should be aware that they will encounter difficulties. However, there is no doubt that “one will quickly attain the unsurpassed Buddha way.” Sustaining means embracing and chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the great doctrine of the Buddhas of the three existences of life.
(Gosho, p. 775)
Accepting the Gohonzon in itself is difficult. However, sustaining one’s faith is even more difficult. Here, we should bear in mind that the emphasis is on sustaining rather than accepting. The Daishonin teaches that those who accept and uphold the Gohonzon will encounter difficulties without fail. Because of the difficulty in maintaining one’s faith when hardships arise, it is expounded, “continuing is difficult.”
As the Daishonin teaches, “the attainment of Buddhahood lies in sustaining one’s faith in the Lotus Sutra.” Thus, upholding the Gohonzon no matter what happens, while overcoming all difficulties, will enable one to achieve true happiness.
If one single-mindedly chants Daimoku with absolute conviction in the Dai-Gohonzon and faces hardships in a courageous manner, one will be able to overcome all difficulties, including the three obstacles and four devils. The Daishonin teaches the following in “A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering” (“Shiiji shirodono-gosho”):
The greater the hardship one encounters, the greater the delight one feels, because of one’s strong faith…without great adversity, there would be no votary of the Lotus Sutra.
(Gosho, p. 1555)
In this passage, the Daishonin teaches that no matter what difficulty may arise, having resolute faith, which enables one to overcome every difficulty, is the key to the attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form.
Nichiren Shoshu is now moving forward based on unity between priesthood and laity, aiming toward the goals for 2015 and 2021. At this crucial time, we must achieve the goals that we set, no matter what, based on the spirit of itai-doshin. Observing today’s chaotic world, I strongly feel that there are no teachings other than the Daishonin’s Buddhism that can rescue the people, who suffer from the poison of heretical teachings. Conducting shakubuku is the most important mission for the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and laity.
Therefore, each individual must have firm faith, in order to overcome every difficulty and obstacle that one confronts, and courageously sow the seed of the Daishonin’s Buddhism into the lives of as many people as possible through conducting shakubuku.
I sincerely pray that you devote yourselves to do shakubuku, so that you will be able to achieve this year’s goals without fail, and that you make further assiduous efforts in your practice.