“The Power of Great Faith, the Power of Aspiration, and the Power of Performing Good Deeds”
On the Occasion of the June Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
June 5, 2011
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji
Good morning, everyone!
On this occasion of the June 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.
We have already arrived at the middle stage of our challenge for this year. I am sure that you are striving in your practice, day and night, aiming toward the achievement of your shakubuku goals.
The Teachers of the Law (Hosshi; tenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reads:
Bodhisattva Medicine King, you should know that after the Thus Come One has passed into extinction, those who transcribe and uphold, read and recite this sutra, make offerings, and teach this Law for the sake of others will be enfolded by the Thus Come One’s robe. They also will be protected by the Buddhas who are present in other lands. Such persons possess the power of great faith, the power of aspiration, and the power of performing good deeds. You must know, these persons dwell in the same place together with the Thus Come One. He pats them on their heads.
(Hokekyo, p. 326)
This passage indicates the Buddha’s words to Bodhisattva Medicine King, praising those who embrace the Lotus Sutra. To put it simply, those who accept and uphold the Lotus Sutra and teach the Law to others will be protected by the Buddha, who will cover them with his own robe. They also will be protected by the Buddhas who exist in other worlds. Such people have the power of great faith, the power of aspiration, and the power of performing good deeds. There is no doubt that these persons are always with the Buddha and admired by the Buddha, who pats them on their heads.
The Daishonin teaches in his Gosho, “Reply to the Mother of Lord Ueno” (“Ueno dono haha amagozen-gohenji”) that those who embrace the Lotus Sutra will be protected by both Shakyamuni Buddha and various Buddhas in other lands:
When I open the Lotus Sutra, I read the passage [in the Teachers of the Law chapter,] that states: “…will be enfolded by the Thus Come One’s robe. They also will be protected by the Buddhas who are present in other lands…”
The heart of this sutra reveals that all the Buddhas in the ten directions immediately will come, one after another, until they fill up the space throughout the north, south, east and west, as well as the space of a major world system1 and four hundred myriads of millions of nayutas2 of lands.
Forming lines like the stars in the heaven and lining up like rice and hemp on the ground, innumerable Buddhas protect the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, just like vassals guarding the royal prince of a great king.
(Gosho, p. 1510)
As this passage states, innumerable Buddhas from all directions will protect those who embrace the Lotus Sutra.
Furthermore, all Four Heavenly Kings, all the constellations, the sun and the moon, Taishaku and Bonten—and in addition to these, those of the two vehicles, all bodhisattvas, Bodhisattva Maitreya dwelling in Tushita Heaven, Earth Repository of Mount Karata, Avalokiteshvara of Mount Fudaraku, and Bodhisattva Manjushri of Mount Shoryo, and so on—all of them accompanied by their followers, will protect the votaries of the Lotus Sutra. Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha, and various Buddhas in the ten directions will gather to protect the votaries of the Lotus Sutra constantly, day and night. In this passage, one can see just how many Buddhas, bodhisattvas, people of the two vehicles3, and guardian deities will protect those who embrace and propagate the Lotus Sutra.
Furthermore, the sutra says, “Such people have the power of great faith, the power of aspiration, and the power of performing good deeds.”
“The power of great faith” refers to the strength of one’s devout belief in the Buddha. High Priest Nichikan Shonin teaches in his Exegesis on the “True Object of Worship” (“Kanjin no honzon-sho” mondan):
The power of faith means to single-mindedly believe only in this Gohonzon and to have the firm conviction that there is no way to attain Buddhahood other than taking faith in this Gohonzon. This is, in other words, the power of faith.
(Mondan, p. 228)
The power of great faith is to devote oneself to the practice with absolute faith in the Gohonzon.
“The power of aspiration” is to offer oneself [to save the people]. It carries the same meaning as making a vow. This refers to the four universal vows: the vow to save innumerable living beings, the vow to eradicate countless earthly desires, the vow to master limitless Buddhist doctrines, and the vow to attain the supreme enlightenment. In particular, the vow to save innumerable living beings is the heart of all four vows.
“The power of performing good deeds” refers to the fundamental good deeds that bring forth good effects.
“The True Entity of All Phenomena” (“Shoho jisso-sho”) states:
One who is born in the Latter Day of the Law and propagates the Lotus Sutra will encounter the three powerful enemies4, who will persecute and sentence him to exile or the death penalty.
However, Shakyamuni Buddha will enfold in his robe a person who endures such hardships and continues to propagate the Law. The guardian deities will make offerings to him, placing him on their shoulders and carrying him on their backs. He is a person of great good deeds.
(Gosho, p. 666)
If one tries to propagate the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law, the three powerful enemies will appear. Even if one should be persecuted and sentenced to exile or the death penalty, the Buddha, with his boundless compassion, will enfold in his robe the one who bears these hardships and pain, in order to propagate the Lotus Sutra. The guardian deities, too, will make offerings to him and protect him, by placing him on their shoulders or carrying him on their backs. Such a person who has been accumulating good deeds is referred to as a person of great virtue.
Therefore, those who embrace and propagate the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law, overcoming every difficulty, will obtain these three powers. They will be protected by all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the people of the two vehicles, and the guardian deities.
The sutra also states, “These persons dwell in the same place together with the Thus Come One.” The Daishonin teaches in the “Benefits of Receiving the Precepts” (“Tokuju shokunin kudoku homon-sho”):
Since the Buddha has the perfect, all-encompassing ability to lead the people to enlightenment because of his transcendent power, he easily can expound this sutra.
On the contrary, common mortals who do not possess such free power have difficulty teaching others this sutra. For this reason, the benefit of praising a common mortal is even greater than that of praising the Buddha for more than a kalpa. Thus, those who propagate the Lotus Sutra are the ones described as “the persons who dwell in the same place together with the Thus Come One.”
(Gosho, p. 593)
Unlike the Buddha, who preaches this Law with his free, transcendent power, it is extremely difficult for common mortals without such free power to propagate the Law. Thus, the benefit of making offerings to and praising an ordinary practitioner is superior to that of making offerings to and admiring the Buddha for a period of one kalpa. Therefore, those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law are exactly the “ones who dwell in the same place together with the Thus Come One.”
If we read this passage from the standpoint of the profound meaning, we see that the reference to a common mortal who is superior to the Buddha signifies the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law—the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin. This is the specific interpretation. However, based on the general interpretation, it refers to a person who accepts and upholds the Lotus Sutra. In this passage, the general interpretation is indicated. Thus, the common practitioners correspond to the ones who dwell in the same place with the Buddha. The Buddha will pat them on the head, admire them, and affirm that they will attain Buddhahood. This passage reveals how extensive the benefits of upholding the Lotus Sutra will be, if one embraces the Lotus Sutra.
Needless to say, from the viewpoint of the Latter Day of the Law, the Lotus Sutra referred to in this passage is not the surface meaning of the words. It is the meaning hidden in the depths of the Life Span chapter of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo—the Dai-Gohonzon of the oneness of the person and the Law.
Those who embrace and propagate the Dai-Gohonzon of the oneness of the person and the Law will definitely be protected by all Buddhas, bodhisattvas, people of the two vehicles, and the guardian deities; all accompanied by their followers. This is solely because this Law that one embraces is supreme.
The Gosho, “Questions and Answers on Embracing the Lotus Sutra” (“Jimyo hokke mondo-sho”) reads:
If the Law that one embraces is supreme, the person who upholds it also must be supreme.
(Gosho, p. 298)
Furthermore, “The Benefits of Receiving the Precepts” (“Tokuju shokunin kudoku homon-sho”) states:
This Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the profound teaching concealed in the depths. It is the great pure Law that is the true purpose of the Buddha’s advent. It surpasses the three categories of sutras, and its benefit is greater than that of praising the Buddha for the long period of a kalpa. This Law enables all people to attain enlightenment in this lifetime and the next. Thus, those who receive the precepts of this Law will receive boundless benefits. [The Great Teacher Tiantai] comments, “Because the Law is ineffably supreme, the person is venerable.”
(Gosho, p. 594)
Currently, Nichiren Shoshu is advancing forth with concerted efforts, based on unity between priesthood and laity, aiming toward the achievement of our goals for 2015 and 2021.
At this crucial time, we must take to heart these golden words, have absolute faith in the Dai-Gohonzon, and firmly believe in its boundless benefits. Then, every one of us must rally around the challenge of doing shakubuku and offer ourselves toward the achievement of the goals.
In order to attain our goals for 2015 and 2021, we first must achieve this year’s goal right before us, without fail. Before anything else, we must take action without fear of failure, as faith means actual practice.
If anyone around you has not joined Nichiren Shoshu, you must immediately take action and do shakubuku. When conducting shakubuku, you must wholeheartedly teach others about the great benefits of the Gohonzon. Furthermore, it is important to sincerely pray for their happiness.
I pray that you courageously will strive further to do shakubuku, keeping in mind that that those who embrace the Dai-Gohonzon will receive immeasurable benefits and will be protected by all Buddhas, bodhisattvas, people of the two vehicles, and the guardian deities. •
1 Major world system: In ancient Indian cosmology, a world system included a circle of wind supporting a Mt. Sumeru, the seas and mountain ranges surrounding it, and a sun, a moon, and various celestial bodies. One billion of these world systems comprise a major world system.
2 Nayuta: One hundred billion. Some sources give different figures for this ancient Indian numerical unit.
3 People of the two vehicles: Those in the worlds of learning and realization
4 Three powerful enemies: Extremely arrogant lay people, extremely arrogant priests, and extremely arrogant false sages