Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin – October 4, 2009

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On the Occasion of the October Kōsen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
October 4, 2009
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji

Good Morning, everyone!

On the occasion of the October Kōsen-rufu Shodai Ceremony, conducted today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance.

On September 21 and 22, the Third General Meeting of the Great Assembly of 20,000 Overseas Believers was held in a splendid manner at the Head Temple. Approximately 3,000 believers from twenty countries and regions around the world came on tozan.

Some came to the Head Temple from countries nearby, such as South Korea and Taiwan, while others came from faraway nations, such as Ghana, Brazil, Argentina, England, and Germany—all of them yearning to see the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching. I felt deeply encouraged to see them all come on tozan, filled with great joy. I sincerely admire their strong faith.

In particular, when I heard the experiences and resolutions of the representatives from each country, I felt the overseas believers’ enthusiasm toward kosen-rufu. This had a sobering effect on me. These speeches appear in the November issue of Daibyakuho. If you haven’t read them already, please do so.

Furthermore, the shakubuku activities in Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and other countries are advancing at a pace outperforming Japan. I strongly feel that the believers in Japan, the home of the Daishonin’s Buddhism, must emulate them and practice harder.

The Daishonin teaches in the “Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden”):

“Accepting and upholding this Law is 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. 1764)

Fundamental darkness (ganpon no mumyō) is the essential illusion that all living beings are born with. “Ganpon” means basis or origin. “Mumyo” refers to ignorance of the truth, where one is hindered by evil thoughts and earthly desires. It is the root cause of all earthly desires, which prevents one from realizing the truth of the middle way.

Earthly Desires are classified into the three categories of illusion: illusions of thought and desire (kenji waku), illusions innumerable as particles of dust and sand (jinja waku), and the illusion of fundamental darkness (mumyō waku).

Illusions of thought and desire are further divided into illusions of thought (ken waku) and illusions of desire (shi waku). Both are the illusions of the threefold world. Illusions of thought are acquired, intellectual illusions where one cannot make reasonable judgments due to distorted perceptions. They consist of the five false views (go rishi) and the five delusive passions (go donshi). The five false views are: 1) one mistakenly regards the self as absolute (shinken); 2) one erroneously believes either that his life and the lives of others will end at death, or that they will continue after death [in some eternally unchanging form such as a soul] (henken); 3) one fails to recognize the law of cause and effect (jaken); 4) one adheres to one’s misconceptions so strongly that one regards inferior things as superior (kenshuken); and 5) one views erroneous practices or precepts as the true way to enlightenment (kaigonshuken). The five delusive passions are greed, anger, stupidity, arrogance, and doubt.

In contrast to the chiefly intellectual illusions of thought, the illusions of desire are instinctive and emotional, ruled by the base inclinations of greed, anger, stupidity, and arrogance.

In the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, the illusions of thought and desire are regarded as the cause for birth and death in the threefold world. The people of learning and realization can extirpate these illusions, so they are the first to be able to free themselves from rebirth in the threefold world.

In contrast, it is said that those in the world of bodhisattva can eliminate the subsequent two illusions: illusions innumerable as particles of dust and sand, and the illusion of fundamental darkness. As a result, they can free themselves from rebirth.

The illusions of thought and desire are also referred to as shared illusions (tsū waku), because they are connected to the three vehicles, such as the worlds of learning, realization and bodhisattva. The illusions innumerable as particles of dust and sand and the illusion of fundamental darkness can also be referred to as distinct illusions (betsu waku).

Illusions innumerable as particles of dust and sand are discussed in the Great Concentration and Insight (Maka shikan):

“Particles of dust and sand are likened to immeasurable ignorance.”

(Gakurinban shikanehon, vol.1, p.144)

As this passage teaches, these illusions arise due to the fact that one is not capable of judging precisely and coping with actual events, which are countless as particles of dust and sand. Since these illusions emerge when a bodhisattva guides people to the right path, they are also called “illusions of guiding the people.”

The illusion of fundamental darkness prevents one from awakening to the truth of the middle way. It signifies blindness to the true nature of life, because one cannot distinguish between existence and non-existence, and this obstructs one from grasping the concept of the middle way. This is the most fundamental illusion of all earthly desires and it prevents one from attaining Buddhahood. Tiantai’s Great Concentration and Insight (Maka shikan) teaches that the illusion of fundamental darkness can be extirpated by practicing the threefold contemplation of emptiness, temporary existence, and the middle way, and awakening to the truth of the middle way.

In the distinct teaching (bekkyō), the practice of eliminating the three categories of illusion is divided into twelve stages. In the perfect teaching (engyō) this practice is divided into forty-two stages. The last stage is eradicating the illusion of fundamental darkness, which is the most deeply rooted. It is taught that when one gradually breaks through the three categories of illusion and eliminates the last illusion of fundamental darkness, one is able to attain Buddhahood.

However, this is merely the theory expounded in the teachings of the Buddhism of the harvest. The illusion of fundamental darkness is extremely subtle. It is difficult to perceive from the beginning. Thus, using the provisional means, one first eliminates the illusions of thought and desire, then, extirpates the illusions innumerable as particles of dust and sand. Lastly, one eradicates the illusion of fundamental darkness. Essentially, however, these illusions are all integrated as one, within the illusion of fundamental darkness.

The Gosho passage cited earlier from the “Orally Transmitted Teachings” states that in the Latter Day of the Law, the single character “faith” is the sword to extirpate the ignorance of fundamental darkness. One can attain Buddhahood in one’s present form by instantly eradicating the illusion of fundamental darkness, the basis of all earthly desires. This can be achieved through upholding doubt-free faith in the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, rather than gradually eliminating the three categories of illusion, starting with the illusions of thought and desire, continuing with the illusions innumerable as particles of dust and sand, and finally eradicating the illusion of fundamental darkness. Thus, taking faith in the Gohonzon with no doubt enables one to eliminate the illusion of fundamental darkness. It is the key to open the path for one’s life.

The pre-Lotus Sutra teachings expound that cutting off earthly desires is the way to attain Buddhahood. However, in the Lotus Sutra, where the doctrines of the mutual possession of the ten worlds (jikkai gogu) and three thousand realms in a single life-moment (ichinen sanzen) are taught, earthly desires are enlightenment at the root. Without eradicating earthly desires, one can transform them into enlightenment, due to the boundless benefits of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, and attain Buddhahood as a common mortal.

The Daishonin teaches in “The Meaning of the True Entity of Myoho-Renge-Kyo” (“Tōtai gishō”):

“Those who honestly discard the expedient teachings, put faith only in the Lotus Sutra, and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, will transform the three paths of earthly desires, karma, and suffering into the three virtues of the property of the Law, wisdom, and emancipation. The threefold contemplation and the three truths will immediately manifest in their minds. The place where they dwell will become the land of eternally tranquil light.”

(Gosho, p. 694)

“Those persons who honestly discard the expedient teachings, put faith only in the Lotus Sutra, and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo” means “those who discard the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and take faith only in the Daishonin’s golden words hidden in the depths of the Life Span chapter of the Essential Teaching of the Lotus Sutra.”

As for the passage, “transform the three paths of earthly desires, karma, and suffering into the three virtues of the property of the Law, wisdom, and emancipation,” earthly desires are the three categories of illusion: illusions of thought and desire, illusions innumerable as particles of dust and sand, and the illusion of fundamental darkness. Karma is the three categories of action: thoughts, words, and deeds, which arise from earthly desires, such as the five cardinal sins and ten evil acts. Suffering is what one has to go through as a result of earthly desires and the accumulation of evil karma. Since these three mutually exist as cause and effect, they are referred to as the three paths.

These three paths will be transformed into the three virtues of the property of the Law, wisdom, and emancipation possessed by the Buddha through taking faith in Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the Buddhism of the sowing hidden in the depths. This is due to the benefits of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, which are boundless beyond human understanding.

“Transform” means to change its appearance without changing its true identity. In other words, rather than eliminating the three paths and manifesting the three virtues, one can transform the three paths into the three virtues by encountering and creating a relationship with the mystic Law (Myōhō) of the Buddhism of the sowing hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra.

“The place where they dwell will become the land of eternally tranquil light,” reveals the oneness of life and its environment. In other words, “they” in this passage, refers to the people who transform the three paths into the three virtues. “They” refers to life, while “the place” refers to the objective environment. Based on the principle of the oneness of life and its environment (eshō funi), by taking faith in the Gohonzon of the Essential Teaching, the supreme Three Great Secret Laws, the place where they dwell will become the land of eternally tranquil light, due to the mystic and boundless benefits of the Gohonzon.

We have welcomed the auspicious occasion of the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Risshō ankoku-ron. We must take these golden words to heart and single-mindedly devote ourselves to practice for oneself and others, aiming at the realization of the establishment of the Buddha land.

Then, what is the most important thing that we must do now?  It is shakubuku. We must teach the immeasurable benefits of the Dai-Gohonzon of the three paths transformed into the three virtues, to the people who suffer from the three paths of earthly desires, karma and suffering due to evil teachings. Both the priesthood and laity of Nichiren Shoshu must recognize the fateful mission of shakubuku: sowing the seeds of the true cause of Myoho-Renge-Kyo.

I sincerely hope you will conduct shakubuku based on increasingly firm faith, so that each chapter will accomplish this year’s shakubuku goal. With the joy and benefits of this accomplishment, I hope that you will single-mindedly devote yourselves to the practice, aiming toward our new goal. This will conclude my address for today.