The True Entity of Life Shoho Jisso Sho

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The true entity, if it were not to exist as phenomena or possess the Ten Factors, could not be true any more. For example, such Buddhas as Dainichi (Skt., Mahavairochana), who appear in the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, do not possess the Ten Factors. They do not even have nyoze-so (form or appearance). Who on earth has ever seen Dainichi Buddha? Buddhas who are not endowed with appearance, nature and entity have no power to save people.

The Judeo-Christian religions may assert that their supreme beings do not appear in any real form, but the Lotus Sutra proclaims that there is no true entity outside of phenomena or the Ten Factors. Shakyamuni Buddha was a real person, and Nichiren Daishonin also plunged into the midst of actual society, shared the people's sufferings and gave his enlightenment equally to all mankind. I insist that the Buddha is not an imaginary or an abstract being but one who clearly expresses himself in real behavior through the function of his Ten Factors.

"The Ten Factors invariably function within the Ten Worlds" --- the Ten Factors are not indifferent to suffering and joy. Each factor represents a facet of the same momentary life-condition, and for that reason, all the Ten Factors are involved in any one of the Ten Worlds. The Ten Factors reflect Buddhahood just as easily as they reflect Hell. When you did not know about the Gohonzon, you created the causes for and received the effects of suffering. Your power and influence were weak. When filled with joy, it is impossible for you to look fierce; when overcome by sorrow, you cannot laugh with joy. When you suffered, all of your Ten Factors at one time reflected Hell or other lower conditions. But now you embrace the Gohonzon and are changing your life, so that you appear blessed with good fortune, with a gentle and generous nature, and you develop great power and influence to support your family and direct all your causes and effects toward creating a happier life. I hope that all of you will keep your Ten Factors this way throughout your lives.

Lastly, "the Ten Worlds invariably entail both life and its environment" --- the Ten Worlds we experience become apparent both within ourselves and our environment. When a person is in the state of Hell, he finds his environment in Hell, too. Conversely, a man whose life-condition is Buddhahood makes his place the Buddha's land. This is what we can attain by human revolution. Even if you enshrine the Gohonzon at home, if you leave your home untidy and remain inconsiderate to your neighbors, you are not practicing what the above passage tells you. Only when you each make a golden castle of your own home, fill it with pleasant laughter and contribute to the prosperity of your community can you advance toward making the whole world the Buddha's land. I hope you do so. Then you are truly making this passage part of your life.

The deepest meaning of this passage of Miao-lo comes out when we think about it in terms of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. It exactly represents the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws. Phenomena are composed of three thousand conditions including the Ten Worlds, and all are perfectly represented in the Gohonzon. All of the Ten Worlds are contained in the one Law, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is the Gohonzon. To be more specific, "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nichiren" written down the center of the Gohonzon represents the true entity of all phenomena of the Ten Worlds, while the representatives of the Ten Worlds on both sides are the Ten Worlds of the Daishonin's life, the ten differing activities of life illuminated by the eternal light of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

In the upper part on both sides of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are the names of Shakyamuni and Taho Buddhas. Sitting on each side of the original Buddha, they represent the state of Buddhahood. Further to their left and right are inscribed the names of the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jyogyo and Anryugyo. They represent the state of Bodhisattva. Lower down Shariputra and Mahakashyapa represent the two vehicles (Learning and Realization); Bonten and Taishaku, the gods of the sun and the moon, and the Devil of the Sixth Heaven represent the state of Heaven or Rapture; the Wheel-Rolling King represents the state of Humanity or Tranquillity; King Ashura represents the state of Anger; the Dragon King's daughter represents the state of Animality; Kishimojin and her ten daughters (Jurasetsunyo) represent the state of Hunger; and Devadatta represents the state of Hell. All these representatives of the Ten Worlds "consist of the Ten Factors."

The statement that the Ten Worlds are manifest in life and its environment can be interpreted to mean that the Daishonin's life is manifest in the scroll of the Gohonzon and its environment is the Buddhist altar.

And, "Both the life and environment of Hell exist within the life of Buddha. On the other hand, the life and environment of Buddha do not transcend the lives of common mortals."

This also comes from the Kompeiron. Even the world of Hell and the people in it are entirely within the supreme life of the Buddha himself On the other hand, the supreme life and land of the Buddha exist within the lives of common mortals. In short, this reveals the principle of the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds through the examples of Hell and Buddhahood.

If we look deeper into this passage, we see that because both the supreme life of the Buddha and the life of common mortals are entities of Myoho-renge-kyo, even a Buddha has the potential to manifest the state of Hell, and common mortals equally have the potential to manifest Buddhahood.

Such precise explanations leave no room for doubt. Thus, all life in the universe is clearly Myoho-renge-kyo. Even the two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Taho, are the functions of Myoho-renge-kyo who appeared to bestow its blessings upon mankind. They manifested themselves as the two Buddhas and, seated together in the Treasure Tower, nodded in mutual agreement.

Nichiren Daishonin says that the phrase, "the true entity of all phenomena," reveals that all life in the universe is Myoho-renge-kyo. In the Lotus Sutra Shakyamuni preached the truth using principles, parables, or by explaining the relationship between himself and his disciples in past existences. In these three ways he enabled his disciples of shomon to attain enlightenment. The subsequent appearance of the Treasure Tower was for the benefit of those to come after Shakyamuni Buddha's passing. With it, the magnificent ceremony in the air (note)[The ceremony in which the entire assembly floats in space, and one of the three assemblies described in the Lotus Sutra, extending from the Hoto (11th) to the Zokurui (22nd) chapter. In this ceremony, Shakyamuni clarifies his original enlightenment in the remote past and transfers the essence of the sutra to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth led by Bodhisattva Jogyo, entrusting them with the mission to propagate it in the Latter Day of the Law.] began, centering on the Treasure Tower with Shakyamuni and Taho Buddhas seated side by side. The sentence, "Even the two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Taho, . . . ," means that the ceremony ultimately revealed Myoho-renge-kyo. This sentence also has another meaning. It signifies that the Law of Myoho-renge-kyo started working to bless the people through the actions of Shakyamuni and Taho. The two Buddhas are the functions of the Mystic Law, as is mentioned later: "The function is a provisional Buddha." All the magnificent Buddhas mentioned in various sutras are, in the final analysis, functions of Myoho-renge-kyo or the Buddhahood which pervades the universe. Myoho-renge-kyo functions in all life of the Ten Worlds including Buddhahood.

"They . . . in the Treasure Tower, nodded in mutual agreement" means that the Law which Shakyamuni and Taho Buddhas unveiled at the ceremony in the air is Myoho-renge-kyo. "Nodded in mutual agreement" symbolizes that Shakyamuni gave the teaching and that Taho agreed to it and testified to the validity of the Law. President Toda once lectured about the significance of the ceremony of the Treasure Tower:

With the ceremony of the Treasure Tower Shakyamuni revealed the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds and ichinen sanzen inherent in his life. In the same way, Nichiren Daishonin made use of the ceremony when he embodied on the scroll of the Gohonzon the ultimate teaching of enlightenment hidden within the Juryo chapter. The Gohonzon, therefore, depicts Shakyamuni's ceremony of the Treasure Tower only to reveal the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds and ichinen sanzen in the Daishonin's own life --- the life of the original Buddha. Since the Gohonzon is the expression of the eternal life of the original Buddha, it is the only object of worship that has the power to enable the people of the Latter Day to attain Buddhahood.


The True Entity of Life
- Shoho Jisso Sho -

Lecture 2 of 3 from Selected Lectures on the Gosho, vol. 1.



The True Envoys

No one but Nichiren has ever revealed these teachings. T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo knew in their hearts but did not declare them aloud. There was reason for their silence: The Buddha had not entrusted them with this mission, the time had not yet come, and they had not been the Buddha's disciples from ages past. No one but Jogyo, Muhengyo and the other leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth can appear during the first five hundred years of the Latter Day to spread the Law of Myoho-renge-kyo. Only they are qualified to inscribe the object of worship which physically manifests the ceremony of the two Buddhas seated together in the Treasure Tower. This is because both the Law and the object of worship are the reality of ichinen sanzen revealed in the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching.

Nichiren Daishonin was the first person ever to reveal that "the true entity of all phenomena" taught in the Hoben chapter and the ceremony in the air that takes place in the essential teaching both express Myoho-renge-kyo. However, since the true aim of the Lotus Sutra is to reveal Myoho-renge-kyo, T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo, who so thoroughly mastered the Lotus Sutra, must have known this truth in their hearts. This is why the Daishonin was able to say, "T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo knew in their hearts but did not declare them aloud."

"Declare them aloud" of course means to teach what they knew to others, but why didn't T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo teach anyone else what they had realized within their own hearts? The Daishonin gives us three reasons: One is that the Buddha did not direct them to carry out the mission. During the ceremony of the Lotus Sutra Shakyamuni Buddha singled out his original disciples, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, for the mission of propagating the sutra's most important teaching. In comparison, T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo were bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching, whom the Buddha had excluded from this mission.

The second reason is that the time was not yet right. For in the Yakuo (23rd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra it is stated, "In the fifth five hundred years after my death, accomplish worldwide kosen-rufu." The time to commence propagation of the ultimate teaching of the Lotus Sutra, he said, would be the fifth half-millennium after Shakyamuni's death --- the first five hundred years of the Latter Day of the Law. "The time" is the most important condition for the spreading of the Law. Only a Buddha who thoroughly understands the three existences of life can know when the time is right for propagation. That is why the Buddha himself clearly set the time for the teaching of the Mystic Law. The age when T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo made their advent in this world fell in the fourth half-millennium, and that is why they did not "declare aloud" the Mystic Law to the people of their day.

The third reason is that they were not among the original disciples of the Buddha. The original disciples of the Buddha are those totally in one mind with the Buddha and sharing his enlightenment. The Bodhisattvas of the Earth are the disciples of the original Buddha himself. They temporarily appeared in the ceremony of the sutra to receive the mission of propagating the Mystic Law. Only those who have attained the same level of enlightenment as the Buddha and are in every way equal to the Buddha can teach and propagate the Mystic Law. To propagate the Mystic Law is, as the sutra states, "to carry out the Buddha's work as the envoy of the Buddha."

At this point, let me say a few words about the relationship between the original Buddha's disciples, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, and the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching. As to where the Bodhisattvas of the Earth live, the Lotus Sutra says it is "the space below the earth," and T'ien-t'ai, "the ultimate depth of life, that being the absolute reality." Nichiren Daishonin defined it simply as "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo." It is Bodhisattvas of the Earth who realize Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as their very life and take on the propagation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as their mission and life's work.

In contrast, the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching work to benefit the people through their various capacities --- Kannon with the ability to recognize the trends of society, Myo'on by soothing people with beautiful music, Miroku with a merciful heart, and Yakuo by relieving people of their illness with medicine. Using their special skills, these bodhisattvas contribute to the welfare of the people. Those today who serve others and contribute to society with all the talents at their command and a truly benevolent heart are considered to correspond to these bodhisattvas. However, we are the only ones in the world who devote their lives to the people by propagating the supreme law, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Only we are Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

According to the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni did not allow the transient bodhisattvas to propagate the teaching after his death. He said, "Desist, men of good faith!" and then pointedly summoned clouds of bodhisattvas from under the ground. He entrusted these Bodhisattvas of the Earth with the task of spreading the ultimate teaching. Only the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, disciples of the original Buddha, can devote their lives to benefiting the people and society of our day by propagating the supreme teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. And that is the fundamental practice in the Latter Day of the Law.

We know our religious activities befit bodhisattvas who fulfill the Buddha's mission, but what about our secular activities? Although our social activities are just like those of transient bodhisattvas, who use their skills for the people, when we understand that it is our life's work to live only by Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and propagate it to society, we are truly Bodhisattvas of the Earth. To put it another way, we are Bodhisattvas of the Earth who contribute to society in two ways: religious or essential, and secular or phenomenal. But if we forget that our mission is to propagate and live by the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we will be unable to carry out the benevolent acts of transient bodhisattvas. We would become too involved in the pursuit of fame or power, lose control of ourselves in daily life, and finally fall into the four evil paths (Hell, Hunger, Animality and Anger). Those who devote themselves to kosen-rufu, be they students, housewives, scholars or working men, are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth, which is what we must all strive to become. If a housewife or a student thinks of faith only as something to help in overcoming personal troubles, that person will be lost in a very shallow view of his or her mission. We must get to the core of our true identity as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and root our entire being in the Gohonzon, the Soka Gakkai, and work for kosen-rufu.

Because T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo lacked the three requirements that were specified for propagation, they were unable to spread the ultimate teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Only the Bodhisattvas of the Earth --- the original Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, and his disciples --- can propagate this teaching. 'No one but Jogyo, Muhengyo and the other leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth can. . . spread the Law of Myoho-renge-kyo" corresponds to the words: "the Buddha had not entrusted them [T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo] with this mission." Further, the Buddha's statement in the Yujutsu (15th) chapter, "I have taught these people [the Bodhisattvas of the Earth] since the remotest past" verifies the passage in the Gosho, "[T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo] had not been the Buddha's disciples from ages past." Certainly, "No one but Jogyo . . . can appear during the first five hundred years of the Latter Day" states very clearly the meaning of "the time had not yet come." Nichiren Daishonin is the very person who fulfills all of the above mentioned three conditions.

"No one but Jogyo . . . can appear . . . to spread the Law of Myoho-renge-kyo" is saying that the Daishonin first propagated the daimoku of true Buddhism. "No one but Jogyo . . . are qualified to inscribe the object of worship which physically manifests the ceremony of the two Buddhas seated together in the Treasure Tower" signifies that the Daishonin established the object of worship of true Buddhism. If the only purpose of the Daishonin's advent was to propagate the daimoku, he would not have stated that he would also embody the ceremony of the Treasure Tower. Therefore, there can be no question that the purpose of Nichiren Daishonin's advent was to inscribe the Dai-Gohonzon.

Why is it that no one but the leaders of Bodhisattvas of the Earth can spread the daimoku and inscribe the Gohonzon? The Gosho says, "This is because both the Law and the object of worship are the reality of ichinen sanzen revealed in the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching." As you know, ichinen sanzen was explained by T'ien-t'ai in his perfect analysis of life. But a theory is not enough to help all people make the truth of life their-own. This is why Nichiren Daishonin embodied his own life of ichinen sanzen in the form of Gohonzon to enable everyone to attain enlightenment by chanting daimoku to the Gohonzon. The four leaders of those bodhisattvas --- Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jyogyo and Anryugyo --- represent the four virtues of the original Buddha, the integrity, freedom, purity and happiness of Nichiren Daishonin's life. Then, "Jogyo and the other leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth" indicates a single person, Nichiren Daishonin, who possesses all their virtues in his own life. The original Buddha is the object of worship as the Person, and ichinen sanzen the object of worship as the Law. Because the original Buddha's life is ichinen sanzen itself, they are not two different things but one. That is the oneness of the Person and the Law. Whereas the Bodhisattvas of the Earth can propagate the teaching, the other bodhisattvas cannot; they spread only the theoretical teaching in the former half of the Lotus Sutra.

I think you can see that ichinen sanzen as used in the passage quoted does not indicate the theory T'ien-t'ai expounded. Rather, seen in the light of the Daishonin's enlightenment, it refers to the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the core of the Juryo chapter in the latter half (essential teaching) of Lotus Sutra.

Shakyamuni, T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo all attained Buddhahood by realizing the Mystic Law. They appeared among people to prepare the way for Nichiren Daishonin. The Law which they sought for their entire lives is embodied in the Gohonzon. We embrace the Daishonin's philosophy --- the supreme philosophy of life. Let us renew our determination to carry out our great mission in this world.

Entity and Function

The two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Taho, are merely functions of the true Buddha, while Myoho-renge-kyo actually is the true Buddha. The sutra explains this as "the Tathagata's secret and his mystic power." The "secret" refers to the entity of the Buddha's three properties and the "mystic power" to their functions. The entity is the true Buddha and the function, a provisional Buddha.

The Daishonin says here that Myoho-renge-kyo or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the eternal and indestructible basis of the Buddha's life, and that Shakyamuni and Taho Buddhas are functions of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The relationship between entity and function appears clearly in the Gohonzon. Written in the center of the Gohonzon is "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nichiren," while Shakyamuni and Taho Buddhas are inscribed on the left and right sides. In other words, the two Buddhas are situated in positions to express the intrinsic functions of the Mystic Law. Not only Shakyamuni and Taho but all other Buddhas in the universe as well are functions of the Mystic Law. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is Nichiren Daishonin's life itself; therefore, the Daishonin can move all other Buddhas in the universe. By embracing the Gohonzon we too can stir these Buddhas and bodhisattvas at our command. What a great ocean of life we can discover! When we really develop our powers of faith and practice, the life of the Daishonin wells up from our depths, just as stated in Nichikan Shonin's annotation of the Totaigi Sho (The Entity of the Mystic Law), "As the result of embracing and believing in the Mystic Law we can manifest ourselves as Nichiren Daishonin."

The difference between "true" and "provisional" is that the former means the actual self of our life, while the latter is the temporal reflection or image of that self. To explain in easier language, T'ien-t'ai compares the relationship between "true" and provisional to that between the moon in the sky and its reflection on the surface of a pond. The moon shining in the nocturnal sky is "true" and its reflection on the surface of a pond, "provisional."

The moon is of course reflected in many surfaces --- the sea, a pond or even a glass of water. Reflections appear in any smooth reflective surface. A movie screen is also a good surface for reflecting light. In the latter half, or essential teaching, of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni revealed that he had attained enlightenment in the distant past. When the Buddha taught he had attained enlightenment long ago in gohyaku-jintengo, he revealed his true identity, but in all the earlier teachings when he taught that his enlightenment came for the first time in India, he was only revealing the image projected on the screen of ancient Indian society. The same can be said of Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Their true identity is the original Buddha. Therefore, it follows that they are images which the original Buddha projected on the screen of the ceremony of the Lotus Sutra. In addition, Shakyamuni and Taho Buddhas are also images which Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or the entity of the original Buddha projected on the screen of the ceremony in the air.

Let us apply this to our life. We project our various images on the screens of society: the image of father on the screen of the family; a director on the screen of the company; a block chief on the screen of the Soka Gakkai organization; a Japanese on the screen of international society; and a human being on the screen of the biological world. When these screens shake, their images also shake. Some images disappear, even though the screens themselves do not change. The image as a student disappears with graduation. Students sometimes seem to want to erase their images on the screen of school as soon as possible and project a new image on the screen of society, but find themselves in a bind because they cannot graduate.

What then is the "true" and unchangeable thing that produces and transcends these ever-changing images? It is the eternal source, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. People tend to regard their fleeting images projected on various screens of endeavor as being "true" and constant, and herein lies the main source of human misery. Each of us is a human being, which is an image relatively close to this "true" and eternal thing. As long as we live and breathe, this should not be forgotten, but even life as a human being is a "provisional" existence which is eventually subject to death. That is why Buddhism always stresses the continual flux of human existence --- birth, old age, sickness and death --- piercing into the eternal unchanging entity that goes beyond life and death. Buddhism arrived at the truth that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo itself is eternal and indestructible, the true entity of our life and all things in the universe. Thus the Daishonin declares that Myoho-renge-kyo is the true Buddha and that Shakyamuni and Taho are its function, or provisional Buddhas.




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