The True Object of Worship Kanjin no Honzon Sho


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A small calculator often works faster and more accurately than we do in simple calculations, and a large computer makes short work of even massive figures. But even the largest computer is no match for the tiny cells in our brain when it comes to such sophisticated functions as making judgments or creating something. At the present state of the art, an artificial brain built with a capacity even approaching that of the cerebrum would cover the entire surface of the earth. And even if the labor, technology and sheer space needed were available, it is doubtful that it would approximate the human brain. Not just the brain, but every organ in this diminutive body of ours, performs operations which, if artificially reproduced, would be global, or even cosmic, in their magnitude. Seen in this perspective, a person uses only a fraction of his naturally-endowed abilities in the course of his life.

Deeper Energies of the Mind

When it comes to human spiritual functions, the scale expands hyperbolically. Our conscious spiritual activities alone are infinitely complicated and diverse, expressing themselves in the achievements of human civilization --- in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The world of the unconscious, however, is another matter altogether. It remains an almost untapped, vast reservoir of power and ability whose dimensions we can only begin to quantify through the work of psychoanalysts and, in the past, the a posteriori testimony of mystics. The conscious mind is the tip of the iceberg peeking above the waves, while the huge bulk below is the unconscious. It is difficult to counter the idea that in the long run, even though we think we act from conscious motives, the unconscious is universally dominant in man.

In Seishin Bunseki Nyamon (Introduction to Psychoanalysis), the Japanese psychologist Otoya Miyagi gives several examples of how the force of the unconscious dictates the workings of the conscious mind, and in turn controls our physical actions. Even an action that appears to be mere chance is, according to Miyagi, influenced by something in the unconscious, of which we know next to nothing. A person living in Zurich, for instance, is reported to have pondered over whether to spend his holiday at home or make a promised, but unsavored, visit to a friend who lived in Lucerne. He dallied over the matter, but finally decided to go on the trip and left home. On the way, he mechanically changed trains at a station while reading the morning paper. Only when the conductor came up to him a while later did he realize that he had changed to a train headed back to Zurich. Psychologists explain this as a case where the unconscious wish to spend the holiday at home was stronger than his sense of responsibility and conscious judgment, and that unconscious desire controlled his actions.

We sometimes quite casually forget a promise to do something or meet someone; but psychologically this is called "the oblivion of intention." In an interesting example of this type, a person was forced to invite one of his acquaintances to a particular function when he did not want to at all. He called and invited his acquaintance, but said that since he did not remember the exact date and time, he would send him a written invitation. Then he completely forgot, until the day after the function. In this case, too, the particular actions are explained by a dominant, unconscious urge. For most of us, actually, we are more likely to lose a letter with a bill in it than one containing a check, and will forget a dental appointment before we forget a party.

Experience and psychosomatic research have shown that the force of the unconscious always influences the body --- the physical aspect of life. Professor Torijiro Ikemi at Kyushu University cites several cases in his book Shinryo Naika (Internal Medical Examination and Treatment), to testify that the force of the unconscious causes many illnesses in the human body. The first is the story of a middle-aged widow who is president of her own company. At some point, both legs became numb from the waist down, and she was unable to stand or walk without holding on to something. Ever since her husband was killed in the war shortly after their marriage, she had toiled to care for their child by herself. Some four years ago she was finally able to establish her own firm. Two years later, however, the company suffered a huge deficit when an assistant, whom she had deeply trusted, cheated on the accounts. Profoundly shocked, she lost all trust in other people. About the same time she noticed her legs becoming numb. She began a series of various treatments but her legs did not get any better. The cause of her affliction was the shock she suffered two years before and the unconscious dimension of her distrust in others, but she has never connected the two. Only by restoring her trust in other people will she get better. The profound spiritual shock also disabled her physically.

In another case, a white-collar worker suffered from hives and nausea for several months. The doctor made him keep a daily diary of his condition. It soon became clear that every Saturday he felt nothing wrong, but by Sunday afternoon hives began to appear, and he felt nausea on Wednesdays. Asked about the situation in his company, he answered that he was on bad terms with his boss. In addition, he could not do the kind of work he wanted to on his job. The situation had continued unchanged since he first entered the firm. Professor Ikemi indicated that his unconscious resistance and resentment had built up since he began to work there, and they brought on the illness. Mixed emotions deep down inside, frustrated hopes for the future and distrust of his own ability combined to cause his body to react with hives and nausea. The diary testified to the unconscious force; he was free from worry on Saturday and so there was nothing wrong with him, but on Sunday afternoon he became gloomy and restless, and he would break out all over again.

These phenomena offer impressive testimony to the power of the unconscious to disturb the physical property of life and eventually cause sickness, but they occur in a relatively shallow realm of human life. Human life extends to a stratum of the unconscious far deeper than we can imagine. Professor Hayao Kawai at Kyoto University, a Jungian psychologist, discusses the mind in Muishiki no Kozo (The Structure of the Unconscious) : "Judging from these examples, Jung considered that the stratum of the human unconscious could be divided into two, the personal unconscious related to the individual life, and the collective unconscious common to all human beings. They lie in such a deep stratum, however, that we are hardly ever aware of them in our daily lives." He also said about the collective unconscious, "It is not personally acquired but inherently endowed, and universal among all mankind."

The collective unconscious, which forms the deepest stratum of each human life, also forms a foundation common to all mankind. It is said that the entire spiritual heritage of man, gathered over two million years, flows within this deepest stratum. One of Jung's followers, C. S. Hall, analyzed man's fear of snakes and darkness, and concluded that such fears could not be fully explained by the experiences of a single lifetime. Personal experiences only seem to strengthen and reaffirm the inborn fear. We have inherited a fear of snakes and darkness from ancestors back in the unknown past. This is, then, a hereditary fear, according to Hall, which proves that ancestral experience is an engrained memory living in the deepest stratum of human life.

The unconscious contains not only all the experiences of our human ancestors; it also contains the experiences of our pre-human predecessors as well. The footprints of each change in the course of our development are etched into the deepest stratum of each human life, reflecting in some way the vicissitudes of the universe. I suspect that Jung conceived of some four billion human beings on the earth living as one being, and the great universe as a huge living existence. Each human being perhaps seemed like a cell which absorbs vital energy from the original force --- universal life itself. This, I think, is the reality that Jung tried to articulate by his concept of the collective unconscious.

As Vast as the Universe

"Our life pervades the entire universe, physically and spiritually." This is the Buddhist intuitive conception of the vast expanse of one's life on a cosmic scale, which modern natural science has only just begun to recognize. Penetrating insights that arose out of Buddhist truths were thus able to uncover the boundless potential of human beings well before anyone could identify or quantify them scientifically. By now, natural science, too, has begun to find ways to identify the cosmic reach of the human potential, but the Buddhist approach to man allows for a still vaster expanse of life, reaching through the universe.

Jijuyushin, the Buddha of unrestricted freedom, means the full manifestation of this cosmic potential in a single human life. It is the state one can obtain for himself. Nichiren Daishonin redefines it in the Ongi Kuden: " . . . the entity of life which one receives to do as he wishes." The Buddha of unrestricted freedom is the life force which manifests itself freely and moves even the macrocosm. Therefore, the principle of "the macrocosm is identical with the individual microcosm" is not some abstract idea but a solid reality for those who devote themselves to the salvation of the unhappy with Buddhahood established as the basis of their lives.

This principle makes it clear that our individual life is completely fused with the cosmic life and it has the same power as the life of the Buddha. How, then, can we bring forth the same life force as that of the original Buddha of kuon ganjo? For that purpose, Nichiren Daishonin inscribed his own life in the form of the true object of worship. "To embrace" is "to observe one's mind" and it is possible solely because the Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon, the only power that enables us "to observe one's mind" and "to manifest the Buddha's enlightenment." Nichiren Daishonin waged a lifelong battle for the single purpose of inscribing the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws. That is why he declared that he had fulfilled the purpose of his advent when he inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon on October 12, 1279.

The persecutions which he confronted to fulfill his mission were of terrible magnitude. He did not inscribe the Dai-Gohonzon until exactly the right time. The peasants of Atsuhara, who represented all those with pure faith in the Latter Day, inspired Nichiren Daishonin to inscribe the Dai-Gohonzon when they persisted in their faith in the face of severe persecutions. The Dai-Gohonzon inscribed that October, seven hundred years ago, is the priceless entity joining the ultimate principle of Buddhism with the original Buddha's boundless compassion. It is the source of unified light which illuminates the darkness of mankind throughout the entire Latter Day.

Hundreds of years have passed since he inscribed it, and the compassionate light of the Dai-Gohonzon has brightened the lives of more than ten million in this country alone. It is now spreading on into the world, just as the Daishonin wrote, "If Nichiren's mercy is truly great, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity." Now, in the second "Year of Study," we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Soka Gakkai (1980) and the seven hundredth memorial service for Nichiren Daishonin (1981).* I will close now, in the deep hope that you dedicate yourselves and your lives to the two ways of practice and study. I hope you will strengthen your faith to achieve your own enlightenment in this life and work for the happiness and prosperity of all mankind.

*Since Nichiren Daishonin died on October 13, 1282,, it may seem like the memorial service in 1981 should be called the 699th and not the 700th. According to Japanese tradition, however, the date of one's death is actually the first anniversary. In this light, it might be assumed that Nichiren Daishonin's second memorial was observed on October 13, 1283. Tradition confuses the issue, however, by calling this first-year service the "first anniversary" rather than the second, as would be expected. On the second anniversary (for instance, on October 13, 1784, for Nichiren Daishonin) the service becomes the "third anniversary" and it adheres to strict numerical computation from there on. (There is no second anniversary.) So 1981 is the 700th anniversary, using this system.

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