Note; this has been modified for html from the scanned original but I have left the text alone (except to add links, correct bad scans, and improve layout). I am planning to improve the HTML, but I also plan to leave commentary and text out of this. It is a gem of a work, based on the traditional understanding of Nichiren's teachings as taught by the then Nichiren Shoshu and the then Sokagakkai.
By JOSEI TODA
The Seikyo Press
Third Edition, 1968
The Hokekyo (Lotus Sutra) not merely represents all the teachings of Shakyamuni which were revealed for the period of fifty years since he had attained enlightenment. It also is the very sutra that fulfilled the ultimate purpose of his advent in this world. This is a universally acknowledged fact.
Down in the Buddhist period of Zoho (Middle Day of the Law), Tendai (T‘ien-t‘ai) the Great of China wrote the Maka-Shikan (Mo-ho-chih-kuan). In this commentary treatise, he interpreted the Hokekyo and developed his doctrine of Ri-no Ichinen Sanzen.
In the current period of Mappo (Latter Day of the Law) the essence of the Hokekyo is only found in the True Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, as is well testified by the prophecy of Shakyamuni himself.
Nowadays, there are many lecturers on the Hokekyo in the world. For all that, some of them interpret the supreme sutra in the way of Tendai School, while the rest treat it with their minds preoccupied with Confucianism or other dogmas. They are all short of grasping or conveying the true meaning of the profound teachings - only leading the public astray. It is exactly as foretold by Dengyo the Great in his Hokke Shuku: "They will acclaim the Hokekyo. In effect, however, they will neutralize its true meaning."
Our revered teacher Josei Toda, the former president of the Soka Gakkai, read the depths of the true meaning of the Hokekyo strictly in accordance with the Ongi Kuden, the Record of Nichiren Daishonin‘s Oral Teachings. He thereafter undertook lecturing on the essentials of the sutra.
His lecture on the Hoben and Juryo Chapters, which was formally called ‘the First Class Lecture‘, lasted over seven years. This discourse proved to be as precious as gem. In fact, it has become an indispensable prop for the Soka Gakkai members who practice the True Buddhism precisely as Nichiren Daishonin taught it.
1 sincerely wish to have the true meaning of the Hokekyo widely known - not only to the believers in Nichiren Shoshu but also to the general seekers for a true religion - and thus to keep the Great Teachings for all humankind flourishing forever in its purity. Herein lies the reason for sending this book out to the world in an English edition.
October 12, 1967
The Third President
The Soka Gakkai
The Hokekyo is a Buddhist scripture compiled in eight volumes containing twenty-eight chapters. For those who attempt either to give or have a lecture on Buddhism, perhaps nothing is so difficult as to grasp the true meaning of this sutra.
Shakyamuni, the Buddha who appeared in India, is known as the original teacher of the Hokekyo. At the beginning of teaching what later was recorded in the sutra by his disciples, he declared that this doctrine was the ultimate reason for his advent. Then he went on to reveal all the esoteric cause of his enlightenment.
In his pre-Hokekyo teachings, Shakyamuni adopted methods to fit the motives of the people, thus helping them the better to understand the teachings. However, in the Hokekyo, he forsook this conventional method. Instead, he taught in a unique mode which accorded with his own motives as Buddha.
This is one of the reasons why the Hokekyo is the most profound and at once the most abstruse of all the sutras. Shakyamuni defined it himself as ‘the most incredible and the most recondite‘. The other reasons are as follows:
The 28-chapter Hokekyo is doctrinally divided into two parts - the Shakumon (the first 14 chapters) and the Honmon (the latter half. In the part of the Shakumon, Ri-no Ichinen Sanzen (the theoretical principle of Ichinen Sanzen) is expounded according to the general aspects of life. In contrast, the Honmon part reveals Ji-no Ichinen Sanzen (the practical principle of Ichinen Sanzen) according to the actual cause of the Buddha. Hence the Honmon is called the True Teaching; and the Shakumon, the Transient Teaching.
Yet these two teachings of the Hokekyo, when compared with Nichiren Daishonin‘s teachings, are alike reduced to transient teaching. The reason: In the period of Mappo, the Hokekyo taught by Shakyamuni is invalid like the chaff of grain; and San-dai-hiho (the Three Great Secret Laws) alone is valid or the grain itself. The San-dai-hiho had long been kept secret in the depths of the Juryo Chapter until Nichiren Daishonin revealed it. Ultimately, therefore, Nichiren Daishonin‘s teachings are the only true teachings.
This can be proven by observing the process of propagation of Buddhism after the death of Shakyamuni.
In the period of Shoho (ten centuries after Shakyamuni’s
death), Hinayana Buddhism spread during the first 500 years, followed by the spread of Provisional Mahayana Buddhism which lasted for the latter 500.
In the Zoho period (another ten centuries subsequent to the Shoho period), Tendai (T‘ien-t‘ai) the Great of China wrote three extensive treatises - Hokke Gengi, Hokke Mongu and Maka-Shikan. In these writings, he interpreted the Hokekyo from every phase and angle, propagating the sutra in China.
Nonetheless, Tendai the Great merely clarified the theoretical significance of the Hokekyo - Ri-no Ichinen Sanzen; yet far from its practical significance - Ji-no lchinen Sanzen. In other words, he elucidated the Hokekyo only in a theoretical way. Practical application of this profound sutra was not made by anyone.
With the arrival of the period of Mappo, 2,000 years after Shakyamuni’s death, Nichiren Daishonin made His advent in Japan. He propagated Buddhism strictly in accordance with the Hokekyo. On April 28, 1253, He initiated chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the core of the sutra, and finally on October 12, 1279, established the Dai-Gohonzon, the most important embodiment of the Three Great Secret Laws, for the salvation of all mankind from unhappiness and misfortune.
The embodiment of the Dai-Gohonzon was the ultimate purpose of the Daishonin‘s advent. For the Dai-Gohonzon is the very original cause for all living beings to attain Buddhahood as well as for all sutras to acquire their appropriate meanings. Therefore, our object of worship is the Dai-Gohonzon, and by no means the Hokekyo, the Hoben Chapter or the Juryo Chapter.
Then, how should faith in the Dai-Gohonzon be practiced?
As primary practice, we chant the Daimoku - Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. As secondary practice, we recite the Hoben and Juryo Chapters - the Hoben Chapter for repudiation‘s and quotation‘s sake; and the Juryo Chapter for repudiation‘s and utilization‘s sake. Here, repudiation means to disprove the superficial meaning of the Hoben Chapter; quotation to cite its sentences to indicate the profound meaning of Nichiren Daishonin‘s Buddhism; and utilization to employ the significant teachings of the Juryo Chapter latent between its lines.
In the history of Buddhism, innumerable scholars have undertaken to lecture on the Hokekyo. However, during the Zoho period, no lecturer surpassed Tendai the Great. Now in Mappo, any lecture on this sutra must be based on Nichiren Daishonin‘s True Buddhism for the above mentioned reason. The fact is, however, that most present-day lecturers still adhere to Tendai‘s interpretations. They must be disillusioned, for their fallacies have caused the current chaos in Buddhism.
In this chaotic world of Buddhism, Nichiren Shoshu alone has maintained the True Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin in its genuine purity. Over seven years ago, with my inauguration to the presidency of the Soka Gakkai, I undertook the weighty task of lecturing on the Hoben and Juryo Chapters. I have since given these lectures over and over again to convey the true meaning of the Hokekyo.
The Study Department of the Soka Gakkai has recently compiled a summary of my lectures for publication in book form. This book represents my sincere wish for all readers to become able to comprehend the Hokekyo in its original significance.
February 7, 1958
The Second President
The Soka Gakkai
It is desirable that the readers of this book be aware of the following:
The following is the Index of lecture on the Hoben and Juryo Chapters in reference to pages in ‘The Liturgy of Nichiren Shoshu‘ (the romanized text of Gongyo).[I will supply better html soon]
39 Sho-Za Shoshin myokaku jigyo no 185
40 Ni.za Namu Honmon juryo hon no 187
42 San-Za Namu hon‘ninmyo na kyoshu 191
43 San-Za Namu hossui shabyo 193
44 San-Za Namu ichienbudai no on-zasu 194
44 San-Za Namu Nichido Shonin 194
45 Yo-Za Kinen shi tatematsuru, warera 195
46 Yo-Za Soregashi kako on‘nongo 195
47 Ga.Za To monryu shinko no menmen 196
48 Ga-Za Soregashi senzo daidai no 196
48 Ga-Za Naishi hokai byodo riyaku 196
There are two main streams of Buddhism in mankind’s recorded history. One is what is generally called the Buddhism of Shakyamuni and the other, Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. The latter is known as True Buddhism as distinguished from the former.
Nearly 3,000 years ago, Shakyamuni in India expounded numerous sutras whose number is said to total 5,000 to 7,000. Of them, the Hokekyo (Lotus Sutra) was the main sutra which revealed Shakyamuni’s enlightenment. Some 100 years after his death, Buddhism spread to all of India and then to its neighboring countries through the efforts of King Asoka. Thus, Buddhism brought peace and security to India.
However, as predicted by Shakyamuni himself, Buddhism declined with the passing of time until it finally lost the power of redemption. This came about in the Latter Day of the Law (Mappo) when 2,000 years had passed after Shakyamuni’s death.
Around that time, Japan suffered a series of disasters while its religious world degenerated. People were thus forced to suffer such a severe destiny without any religion to rely on.
It was at that time that Nichiren Daishonin made His advent in Japan and established the True Buddhism for all mankind. The Daishonin’s advent in Mappo verified the prediction of Shakyamuni that the votary of the Hokekyo would propagate the Hokekyo in the fifth half millennium after his death. Without the Daishonin, Shakyamuni’s prophecy would have remained unfulfilled and the Hokekyo would have been lost.
Unlike Shakyamuni, who was born as the son of King Suddhodana, the Daishonin first saw the light of day as the son of a fisherman in what is now Chiba Prefecture in Japan. He called himself ‘the son of a Sudra family’. Sudra is of the lowest class in India comprising fishermen, butchers, etc.
As it was, the corrupt-minded people would not believe in the Daishonin, who testified to the validity of His teachings citing the sutras. Persecutions poured upon Him as the Hokekyo puts it, "All those who are ignorant of Buddhism shall abuse and hit him (the votary of the Hokekyo) with sticks... He shall be exiled more than once."
The Daishonin was exiled to Izu Peninsula in May, 1261 and then ten years later to Ado Island both on false charges. On September 12, 1271, the Daishonin was almost beheaded at Tatsuno-kuchi by warriors of the Hojo Regime who hated the Daishonin without good reason.
Shakyamuni faced persecutions but not such insurmountable ones as did the Daishonin. While Shakyamuni deserved the respect of the people for his outstanding physical features and social status as well as for his noble character, the Daishonin, born to a fisherman’s family, had to overcome every hardship and save His contemporaries who slandered and opposed Him.
This single fact suffices to endorse Nichiren Daishonin’s superiority to Shakyamuni.
Another striking difference is found in the method of’ teaching. Shakyamuni led his disciples to the Hokekyo with provisional teachings but the Daishonin declared the law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo once for all. Buddhist teachings to guide His people.
Shakyamuni was the first Buddha in recorded history, but from the viewpoint of eternal life clarified in Buddhism, Nichiren Daishonin is the original Buddha who awakened all other Buddhas to the truth of ‘life’ and the universe. The relationship between the two is comparable to that of the moon shining in the nocturnal sky and its reflection on the surface of a pond.
This is obvious from a phrase from the Juryo Chapter of the Hokekyo which reads, "Once I also practiced the Bodhisattva austerities." (Ga hon gyo bosatsu do). If he actually "practiced Bodhisattva austerities," he must have done so under some other Buddha. Yet, if he were the original Buddha, he would have made himself the object of worship. This is obviously irreconcilable. The truth is that he practiced Buddhism under the True Buddha who emerged in Mappo as Nichiren Daishonin.
In other words, Nichiren Daishonin is the ‘life’ of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo while Shakyamuni attained enlightenment by worshipping the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
With his Hokekyo, Shakyamuni not only made his disciples attain enlightenment but also predicted the advent in Mappo of the True Buddha whom he called in the sutra ‘the votary of the Hokekyo’. The True Buddha showed himself as Bodhisattva Jogyo at the ceremony of the Treasure Tower, where Shakyamuni transferred the essence of the Hokekyo to this ephemeral figure of the True Buddha.
Therefore, both the votary of the Hokekyo and Bodhisattva Jogyo in Shakyamuni’s supreme sutra (Hokekyo) signify Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha.
A passage from the Yakuo Chapter of the Hokekyo reads, "At the beginning of Mappo, you should achieve Kosen-rufu and never let it (True Buddhism) perish."
Another excerpt from the Jisriki Chapter says, "He (Bodhisattva Jogyo) will spread Buddhism in this world, dispelling the darkness from mankind and leading innumerable Bodhisattvas to the Supreme Vehicle [of Buddhahood] in the end."
Therefore, Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) said, "The Mystic Law will benefit [mankind] in the fifth ‘half-millennium’ and far beyond into the future." Myoraku (Miao-lo) interpreted Tendai’s words saying, "There are surely inconspicuous benefits at the beginning of Mappo." In addition, Dengyo of Japan said, "Shoho and Zoho have almost passed and Mappo is very near. It is the very time when people should believe in the Supreme Vehicle of Hokekyo."
Thus all the Buddhas paid highest respect to the True Buddha who was sure to appear in Mappo.
Nichiren Daishonin stated in His Senji Sho (On the Selection of the Time), "The time when, as predicted in the Daishikkyo, the pure Law is lost will be followed by the time when Kosen-rufu of the Great Pure Law of the Hokekyo will be achieved not only in Japan but also throughout the entire world."
In this passage, the ‘Pure Law’ indicates Shakyamuni’s Buddhism and the ‘Great Pure Law’, the Daishonin’s.
All these quotations lead to the conclusion that Shakyamuni’s Buddhism should be displaced by the True Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin in Mappo.
As for the distinction of the teachings of Shakyamuni and the Daishonin, the Gosho makes it clear in the passage which reads, "I, Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi ink so that you may believe with your whole heart. The Buddha’s will is the Hokekyo - to the soul of Nichiren, there is nothing which supersedes Nam-myoho-rengekyo."
The Hokekyo (abbreviation of Myoho-renge-kyo) which is commonly called the Sutra of the Lotus was expounded by Shakyamuni during his last eight years of teaching.
Shakyamuni, whose given name was Siddhartha, renounced the world at the age of nineteen and after twelve years of practice, attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, India when he was thirty.
He began his teaching in Mrgadava (the Deer Park) with Hinayana, and continued to teach his disciples for forty-two years. At that time he expounded the Hokekyo as being the reason for his advent into this world.
In the recorded history of Buddhism, Shakyamuni was the first Buddha, but from the viewpoint of enlightenment itself, Shakyamuni was not the original Buddha. He was but a transient Buddha, comparable to the moon shining in reflected sunlight or the image of the moon in a pond.
Shakyamuni was a great Buddha of the past whose teachings lost their validity 2,000 years after his death. Contemporary Buddhist sects who worship Shakyamuni are similar to a person who relies on last year’s calendar.
The name Shakyamuni literally means the Sage of the Sakyas. His formal designation is Shakyamuni Buddha. ‘Buddha’ means the Enlightened One and Shakyamuni is so called because he attained enlightenment after practicing austerities for twelve years from the age of nineteen.
When Prince Siddhartha left his castle, his father, Jobonno (King Suddhodana) ordered five monks including Kyojinnyo (Kaundinya) to accompany the Prince. The austerities ordered in those days were so severe that some seated themselves on rocks for days on end without taking any food, engaging in meditation.
Shakyamuni himself practiced such austerities for as long as twelve years without attaining enlightenment and became too exhausted to ponder the problems of life and the outlook on the world. Therefore, he broke his long fast by accepting the food offered by a young girl. This shocked his five companions, who said, "Gautama (by which Shakyamuni was known as he belonged to the Gautama clan) fell into heresy by breaking his fast. We can no longer accompany him," and thus they abandoned Shakyamuni.
Shakyamuni continued to eat and sleep moderately and ponder on life. While speculating on various hard-to-solve problems, one morning he saw the planet the Venus shine. At that very moment, he attained enlightenment. This is what Buddhism defines as the attainment of Buddhahood in an instant (Setsuna Jodo). This is the zenith of deductive Oriental philosophy and is actually the enlightenment of the Great Universe.
What was his enlightenment? The answer would be rather simple, like Columbus’s egg, if I were to explain it in a few words. However, we common mortals cannot attain enlightenment even if we should try to meditate for a million years. Shakyamuni was enlightened to the fact that he had been the Buddha since the immeasurably distant past known as Gohyaku-jintengo. (See Page 101) He instantly realized the eternity of life and the principle of Ichinen Sanzen or the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds (Jikkai Gogu).
Thus the practice of austerities was no longer necessary or him. Thinking out a method for expounding his enlightenment,
he first showed the three ways mankind should follow, leading them to Shomon (Learning), Engaku (Absorption) and Bosatsu (Bodhisattva). Preparing them for the teaching of Hokekyo, he waited to reveal his enlightenment in that supreme sutra.
He wanted to teach all the Brahminist teachers under whom he had practiced austerities for twelve years but finding they had passed away, he decided to teach the five old monks including Kyojinnyo. The five had agreed that they would not speak even a word to Gautama who had abandoned austerities, but on seeing the dignified figure of Shakyamuni, they became his disciples.
Thus, Shakyamuni came to be worshipped as the Buddha from that time, since the advent of the Buddha had been prophesied by the saints of Brahmanism. Many people gathered to listen to the Buddha’s teaching. To them Shakyamuni expounded Kegon-kyo, the second highest sutra next to the Hokekyo, which was rather beyond their understanding. The fame of Shakyamuni grew even more.
He went on to teach the three vehicles of Shomon, Engaku and Bosatsu, and finally to reveal the supreme vehicle of Buddhahood (Butsu) by refuting these three.
Thus the teaching of the Agon sutras followed the Kegon sutras. The former belonged to Hinayana which comprised a great many commandments. Then came the teaching of Hodo and Hannya sutras which belonged to provisional Mahayana.
All these teachings Shakyamuni explained for forty-two years. Seeing his disciples well qualified for the teaching of Hokekyo, actual Mahayana, Shakyamuni taught it for eight years until he passed away at the age of eighty.
As for various Buddhist sects, Ritsu Sect is based on Hinayana and Jodo (Pure Land), Shingon (True Word) and Zen Sects derive from provisional Mahayana. However, both Hinayana and provisional Mahayana were repudiated by Shakyamuni before the expounding of the Hokekyo. This is why all these sects are called heretical.
During the Hokke period, the introductory sutra to the Hokekyo came first, entitled Muryogi-kyo (the Sutra of Infinite Meaning). followed by the twenty-eight chapters of the Hokekyo. The concluding sutra was Fugen-kyo (the Sutra of Bodhisattva Fugen’s Practice).
The Hokekyo consists of eight volumes and twenty-eight chapters. Including the introductory and concluding sutras, the Hokekyo comprises ten volumes. Another sutra belonging to the Hokke period is Nehan-gyo (the Sutra of Nirvana) which Shakyamuni expounded just before he entered Nirvana, to prove the truth of the Hokekyo.
In order of increasing profundity, the five periods are arranged thus: Agon, Hodo, Hannya, Kegon and Hokke. However, in order of expowiding, (they are: Kegon, Agon, Hodo, Hannya and Hokke.
This is Shakyamuni’s way of explaining the Hokekyo. As is obvious from the Muryogi-kyo and the Hoben Chapter of the Hokekyo, the objective of Shakyamuni’s advent into this world was to make people attain Buddhahood through the Hokekyo. All the other sutras were but provisional teachings which led his disciples to the Hokekyo.
It therefore follows that the depths of Shakyamuni’s buddhism are described in the Hokekyo, without which there can be no understanding of the essence of his teachings.
Furthermore, the Hokekyo is the basis of realizing the striking difference between Shakyamuni’s Buddhism and the Daishonin’s. These are the two main streams of Buddhism.
The present confusion in the Buddhist world is attributable mainly to the fact that those Buddhists captivated by Shakyamuni’s Hokekyo have failed to draw a line between these two streams of Buddhism. The twenty-eight-chapter Hokekyo is Shakyamuni’s teaching and Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the Daishonin’s Buddhism. This is the essential knowledge for those who are interested in Buddhism as well as students of Buddhism.
Shakyamuni supposedly taught his Hokekyo in Sanskrit, and after his death, all of the 28 chapters of the Hokekyo were compiled in sutra form also in Sanskrit. Then it was translated into many languages. As for the Chinese translation, there are said to be six versions, but only three of them remain today.
Of these translations, Nichiren Daishonin stated that the translation of Raju Sanzo (Kumarajiva) is the only translation which conveys the true meaning of the Buddha. It is said to be the oldest translation and is established as the best translation among Asian Buddhist scholars. Therefore, Raju’s translation is widely used under the title of Myoho-Renge-Kyo (Hokekyo for short).
Who was Raju Sanzo, the translator of the Hokekyo? His father Kumaraen (Kumarayana) was an Indian of noble birth who married the sister of the King of Kucha. Their son was named Kumarajiva. Kumarajiva entered the priesthood at the stage of seven and showed unusual gifts even in his childhood.
He learned Mahayana from a Buddhist named Suriyasoma, who, transferring the Hokekyo to Kumarajiva, said, "This sutra is related to a northeastern country. You should spread it respectfully." Kumarajiva obeyed the instruction of his teacher and went to China, located to the northeast of India. There he completed the translation of the Hokekyo with his 3,000 disciples under the edict of the Emperor. The sutra then spread to Japan which is also situated to the northeast of China.
There is an interesting story about Kumarajiva’s translation. The Emperor of China earnestly recommended him to raise family. Thus he dared to disobey a Buddhist commandment and left the monastery.
Facing his death, Kumarajiva said, "Surely I broke a Buddhist commandment and followed the secular way of life taking a wife and having children. However, what I stated is not the least contradictory to the Buddha’s teachings. My impure body will, therefore, be burnt, but my pure tongue will remain unscorched. See it with your own eyes." His prophecy is said to have come true.
Nichiren Daishonin states in the Gosho:
"All those who introduced the sutras from India to China total 187 including the sutras of both new and old translations, but none of them except that of Raju Sanzo are free from mistakes... He made an oath, saying, ‘I tuade my body impure by taking a wife, but my tongue is pure since I never lied in Buddhism. When I die, you should burn my body. In that case, if my pure tongue is reduced to ashes, you may discard my sutra.’ This he used to say seated in a high position. All the people, both of high and low social status, wanted to die after Raju Sanzo. When finally he died, they burnt his body, and the impure parts were all reduced to ashes, but the pure tongue remained untouched with a blue lotus flower blooming on it. It radiated five colors of light and shone so brightly at night that it seemed as if it were day. In the daytime, it shone more brilliantly than the sun. This made the people ignore all the translations made by others, but the sutras translated by Raju Sanzo, especially the Hokekyo, spread to China with ease." (Senji Sho, On the Selection of the Time).
The Hokekyo consists of eight volumes and twenty-eight
chapters. The three sutras of the Hokekyo indicate Muryogi-kyo (the Sutra of Infinite Meaning), Hokekyo and Fugen-kyo (the Sutra of Bodhisattva Fugen’s Practice). Including these introductory and concluding sutras, the Hokekyo comprises ten volumes.
The first half of the 28-chapter Hockey - from Jo-hon to Anrakugyo-bon - is called Shakumon (transient teachings) and the last half - from Yujuppon to Kampatsu-bon - is known as Honmon (true teaching).
The core of Shakumon is the Hoben-pon or the Hoben Chapter which expounds the principle of Ichinen Sanzen but theoretically, and the essential of the Honmon is the Juryo-hon or the Juryo Chapter which clarifies the same principle in practice. The difference between Honmon and Shakumon will be made clear in a later chapter.
To put it simply, Shakumon is comparable to the image of the moon reflected on the pond and Honmon to the moon itself. Shakumon is likened to a blueprint and Hon-mon to a building. Thus Honmon is far superior to Shakumon.
When we speak of the Hokekyo, people think of Shakyainuni’s Myoho-renge-kyo which comprises twenty-eight chapters. However, in actuality, there are three kinds of Hokekyo according to the periods of Shoho, Zoho and Mappo.
Time is an indispensable factor of Buddhism. The first millennium after Shakyamuni’s death is Shoho, the second millennium, Zoho and the period which follows is Mappo which lasts for 10,000 years and more.
People in Shoho were closely related to Shakyamuni and people in Zoho were but slightly related to him. However, people in Mappo have no connection whatsoever with Shakyamuni. During Shoho and Zoho, Shakyamuni’s Buddhism benefitted the people, but in Mappo, even the Hokekyo which fulfilled the purpose of Shakyamuni’s advent in this world has lost its validity, retaining only its formality.
Today, only the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin who is the True Buddha of Mappo provides mankind with divine blessings. Many Buddhist sects such as Jodo (Pure Land); Zen and Shingon (True Word) are based on the provisional teachings which should be displaced by the Hokekyo. Therefore, they are extremely heretical sects which poison their believers.
The Hokekyo of Shoho is the twenty-eight-chapter Hokekyo revealed by Shakyamuni and that of Zoho is Tendai’s Maka-Shikan (T’ien-t’ai’s Mo-ho-chih-kuan). The Hokekyo of Mappo is the Nam-myoho-renge kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws (San-dai-hi ho) established by Nichiren Daishonin.
Buddhism has the Three Treasures (Sampo) – the Buddha, the Law, and the Priest. Before explaining the Three Treasures, I must refer to six kinds of Buddhas. They are the Buddha of Hinayana, Buddha of Tsukyo, Buddha of Bekkyo*, Buddha of Shakumon (of the Hokekyo), Buddha of Honmon (of the Hokekyo), and the Buddha of Montei of Honmon. These six are classified according to the teachings they expounded. The first five are Shakyamuni of India and the last is Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha of Mappo.
It follows therefore that the Three Treasures of Hinayana are the Buddha of Hinayana (Buddha), Hinayana sutras (Law), and Anan (Ananda) and Kasho (Kasyapa) (Priests). The Three Treasures of Shakumon are the Buddha of Shakumon who did not disclose his eternal life (Buddha), the Hokekyo (Law), and Bodhisattvas Fugen (Samantabhadra) and Monju (Manjusri) (Priests).
The Three Treasures of Nichiren Shoshu are Nichiren Daishonin, the eternal and original Buddha (Buddha), Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws (Law), and Nikko Shonin, immediate successor to the Daishonin (Priest).
Heretical Nichiren sects fail to define these Three Treasures correctly since they regard Nichiren Daishonin as a mere Bodhisattva and not as the True Buddha.
Again, you should acknowledge that there are six kinds of Buddhas and that among them only the Buddha of Montei of Honmon (who is Nichiren Daishonin) is the only Buddha in Mappo who can lead mankind to eternal happiness.
Shakyamuni’s Hokekyo; when used for the purpose of learning, is quite different in meaning from that based on faith and practice.
Nikko Shonin, who was the founder of Head Temple Taisekiji and second High Priest, wrote in his Twenty-six Articles of Warning, "Article 10: My disciples should not study the doctrines of the Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) Sect unless they are well versed in the Truthful Teachings." Thus the study of the Hokekyo should be based on the Ongi Kuden - the record of Nichiren Daishonin’s oral teachings on the Hokekyo. From this standpoint, Tendai’s interpretation of the Hokekyo will help the study of Buddhism.
Nichiren Daishonin praised the perfect interpretation of the Hokekyo made by Tendai, and in the time of Mappo when Shakyamuni’s Hokekyo itself loses its power of redemption, Tendai’s interpretation may be used in explaining the Hokekyo of Mappo or the Gohonzon. However, it is incomplete for that purpose.
In a word, learning in Buddhism is a means to cornprehend the ultimate theory of Buddhism which is embodied in the Gohonzon and to deepen one’s faith in the Gohonzon. Tendai intended only to make people understand the literal meaning of the Hokekyo.
The study of Buddhism should be directed toward deepening one’s faith in the Gohonzon. Nichiren Shoshu believers should study the Gosho (the complete works of Nichiren Daishonin) and not the Hokekyo or its interpretations.
You may wonder why you must read the Hokekyo in Gongyo if it is useless, but you can understand from the above explanation that you need not read the Hokekyo for learning but for practice. This is explained more clearly in the work of Nikkan Shonin, the 26th High Priest who was known for his unparalleled knowledge of Buddhism.
The following is a brief account of what Nikkan Shonin wrote in the Rokkan Sho (Six-volume Writings):
"There are necessarily two ways of practicing Buddhism - primary and secondary. In this school (Nichiren Shoshu), the secondary practice is the recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters which adds to the profound blessing of chanting the Daimoku, ‘Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo’, in the primary practice just as seasoning makes food taste better."
Nikkan Shonin continues, "This secondary practice is further divided into two - main and subordinate practices. We read the Juryo Chapter for the former and the Hoben Chapter for the latter. This is because the Juryo Chapter is more closely related to Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo than is the Hoben Chapter. As Myoraku (Miao-lo) the Great stated, the simultaneous practice of both primary and secondary practices produces immeasurable benefits."
The relationship between primary and secondary practices is commonly seen in everyday life. In the drama of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, you will find actors and actresses performing their parts in earnest while music and lighting assist to make their performance more impressive and more striking. In this case, the effect of the drama becomes more conspicuous with music and lighting. Likewise, the Gohonzon’s blessings will increase even more through the secondary practice.
Now, the question is what the Hoben and Juryo Chapters represent.
Nichiren Shoshu has the Juryo Chapter as its basic sutra but it also uses the Hoben Chapter which is the most important part of Shakumon (transient teachings) comprising the first half of the 28-chapter Hokekyo.
However, what the Daishonin derives from the Hoben Chapter is much more profound than its literal meaning. The Daishonin calls it "Shakumon as I read it." In other words, it is the Hoben Chapter as interpreted from the viewpoint of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
The Daishonin read the chapter for two purposes - to repudiate and to borrow.
Sentences are the verbal expression of what one has in mind. As such, they have the two aspects of ‘expression’ and ‘content’. For instance, the words, "Let us promote world peace!" spoken by a liberal have quite a different meaning from exactly the same words uttered by a Communist.
Likewise, the sentences of the Hoben Chapter differ in meaning when they are interpreted literally and when they are understood from the viewpoint of the Daishonin‘s Buddhism.
The Daishonin borrowed sentences from the chapter but repudiated its incomplete contents. To repudiate and to borrow are not two things but two sides of one thing like light and shadow.
Here is an example. The Hoben Chapter reads:
"Niji seson ju sanmai anjo ni ki go sharihotsu:
shobut-chi-e jinjin muryo. Go chi-e mon nange nannyu..."
The first sentence literally means, "At this time, the Lord Buddha serenely arose from his deep meditation and addressed Sharihotsu (Sariputra)."
"At this time" in the above means the time when the Buddha appears to teach his doctrine because people have acquired the ability to understand it.
"Meditation" is the English for a Buddhist term Sanmai (samadhi) which means to concentrate one’s mind on a single subject. The Buddha had been meditating on the principle that all meanings come from the One Law.
"Sharihotsu" whom the Buddha addressed was the wisest disciple of the Buddha and also a man of the two vehicles (Learning and Absorption) or Nijo. The Buddha defined Nijo as being unable to attain enlightenment being self-satisfied with their own knowledge and failing to seek the supreme sutra of the Buddha.
Thus, the sentence cited from the sutra should be interpreted thus: "The time has come when the Buddha propounds the great principle of Ichinen Sanzen (which enables everyone to attain enlightenment) as his disciples have been sufficiently educated. Therefore, Shakyamuni Buddha arose with recollection and consciousness from his deep meditation that all meanings come from the One Law, and addressed Sharihotsu who was the representative of the men of two vehicles and for whom it was difficult to attain eniightenment."
From the standpoint of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, however, the quoted sutra sentence is interpreted as follows:
"The time has come when the Buddhism for people in Mappo who are unrelated with Shakyamuni should be expounded. The True Buddha (Nichiren Daishonin) who had been concentrating His mind on the Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo (which Shakyamuni could only suggest as the One Law) arose resolutely from His meditation and appeared in this world - in Japan which was a land filled with impure-hearted people. Then He addressed those who were devoid of good fortune and opposed the True Buddhism (whose essence is Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo). He was so merciful that He allowed even such people to know the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, which is the direct way to attain enlightenment."
You may not think that you are Sharihotsu to whom the Buddha spoke. Nor do you think you are the wisest in the world. However, Mappo is the time when you can obtain the greatest wisdom through faith in the Gohonzon as expounded in the Buddhist principle of changing faith into wisdom. In this sense, believers in the Gohonzon may Be called Sharihotsu.
Now you see how the same sentence has different meanings according to the viewpoint one takes. In the practice of Gongyo, you repudiate Shakyamuni’s Hoben Chapter and read the Daishonin’s Hoben Chapter as your secondary practice, although the sentences are exactly the same.
Thus you read the Hoben Chapter aloud by yourselves and at the same time listen to it with your own ears, but from the viewpoint of Buddhism, you are listening to the Daishonin’s lecture on the Hokekyo or Ongi Kuden.
You should then recite the Hoben Chapter keeping in mind that all philosophies other than Buddhism, Hinayana and provisional Mahayana (all the Mahayana teachings except the Hokekyo) and even the Shakumon of the Hokekyo are inferior to the Hoben Chapter as interpreted by Nichiren Daishonin and therefore should be discarded. This is the very spirit of Shakubuku.
At the same time, you exalt the wonderful law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and are convinced of its supremacy.
All the sentences of the Hoben Chapter have two different meanings but in this book, only the interpretation from the viewpoint of the Daishonin’s Buddhism is elucidated since it is the very thing you should know in doing Gongyo. The literal interpretation is not necessary for your daily practice.
As you have understood why you recite the Hoben Chapter in Gongyo, you can easily discover the purpose of reading the Juryo Chapter. It is to repudiate the contents of the chapter and use - not borrow - its sentences.
The most remarkable feature of the Juryo Chapter is the revelation of the Buddha. Shakyamuni revealed in the chapter that while people thought he had attained enlightenment at the age of thirty under the Bodhi Tree in India, actually he had attained it in an immeasurably distant past known as Gohyaku-jintengo.
In the realm of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism, this Gohyakujintengo is the era when Shakyamuni attained Buddhahood for the first time. In other words, Shakyamuni’s life is not eternal but only Gohyaku-jintengo.
This is the literal interpretation of the Hokekyo, unrelated to the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
From the viewpoint of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, the Buddha who had existed since Kuon Ganjo or the most distant past in the existence of the universe (which has no beginning), told people for the purpose of instruction, that he attained enlightenment at the time of Gohyaku-jintengo. However, this is still superficial and the truth is yet to be disclosed. What Nichiren Daishonin defined as "the Juryo Chapter in the eye of my ‘secret’ conviction" is the very Juryo Chapter which in itself elucidates the true aspect of the Daishonin. In this sense, Nichiren Shoshu believers ‘use’ the Juryo Chapter while ‘repudiating’ even the superficial interpretation of the Chapter in the light of the Diatonic´s Buddhism.
The reality of the Daishonin is that He has been the True Buddha since Kuon Ganjo, when there was no other teaching but Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. This is the very law which, implanted in the hearts of all people, leads them to Buddhahood. The Buddha who sowed the seeds of enlightenment was Nichiren Daishonin who is also called the Buddha of Musa Sanjin.
Therefore, there is no other way but to believe in this Buddha and chant ‘Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo’. This is what the Juryo Chapter reveals between its lines when it is used by Nichiren Daishonin.
The first verse of the Jiga-ge (the sutra in verse beginning with "Ji ga toku bur-rai") will be interpreted hereunder according to the aforementioned three points of view.
When literally interpreted, the verse "Ji ga toku bur-rai" means: "Since I (Shakyamuni) attained enlightenment prior to any other Buddha at Gohyakujintengo."
This interpretation was completed by Tendai the Great who spread Shakyamuni’s Hokekyo with his most perfect interpretation for people in Zoho. Such an interpretation, however, cannot benefit those who live today in Mappo when Shakyamuni’s Hokekyo itself has lost the power of redemption.
From the viewpoint of the Daishonin’s Buddhism, the same verse reads, "Since I appeared at Gohyaku-jintengo for the purpose of redeeming those who followed me when I attained enlightenment at Kuon Ganjo."
However, when the verse is interpreted completely as the Daishonin’s Juryo Chapter, its meaning is far more profound and philosophical.
Ga of "Ji ga toku bur-rai" means Hosshin (Buddha’s life), butsu means Hoshin (Buddha’s wisdom), and rai means Ojin (Buddha’s body). These three phases of life Nichiren Daishonin acquired by himself. Thus "Ji toku" means to ‘acquire by oneself’. The Daishonin obtained all of these at Kuon Ganjo or in other words, the Daishonin has been the True Buddha since the infinite past.
This is true interpretation of "Ji ga toku bur-rai." In the service of Gongyo, Nichiren Shoshu believers repudiate the superficial meaning of the sutra and use this interpretation, praising the supreme Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin.
Obviously, the cited verse, when used by the Daishonin, expounds the reality of ordinary people as well as the Buddha.
Now I will give you some brief account of Kuon Ganjo which is one of the most profound principles of Buddhism. In the realm of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism, Kuon Ganjo is indicative of an unimaginably distant past, but according to the Daishonin, it is with us today or in other words, the present moment is Kuon Ganjo.
Kuon Ganjo is the beginning of Mappo when the True Buddha who sows the seeds of Buddhahood in the minds of all people makes His advent. Mappo is the day when there are innumerable heretical teachings and the true teaching is buried in oblivion. For this reason, Mappo is very close to Kuon Ganjo when there was no teaching, leaving the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo unrevealed.
It is at this juncture that Buddhist philosophy becomes a practical teaching. It is no longer a mere theory or a mere idea. The profound Buddhist philosophy accords with reality.
It was explained that the verse "ji ga toku bur-rai" clarified the essential nature of ordinary people.
This life endowed with the three phases of life (Sanjin) is what we have obtained by ourselves. We can never learn Buddhahood from others.
You may study Buddhism or hear lectures on the Hokekyo and ask someone to teach you what Buddhahood is like, without getting a definite answer. You can do nothing but realize it by yourself. ‘I have obtained these three phases of life by myself.’ This is how Buddha feels. As for the way to attain Buddhahood, Nichiren Daishonin taught us that to chant Daimoku to the Gohonzon is the only way to realize the life of Sanjin. This is the correct meaning of "Ji ga toku bur-rai."
As is obvious from the above, you cannot attain enlightenment or Buddhahood ‘by yourself’, but you must believe in the Gohonzon and chant Daimoku. Without the Daishonin, you can never realize the three phases of life which are inherent in everyone, latent but undeveloped. Only through the practice of Daimoku based on faith in the Gohonzon, can you draw these three from within yourself.
If you misunderstand this point, you will stray from the true path of life, and will be unable to attain enlightenment.
Now it is obvious why Nichiren Daishonin repudiates and borrows sentences from the Hoben Chapter, and repudiates and uses those from the Juryo Chapter.
Here is an explanation for why Nichiren Shoshu believers read only the Hoben and Juryc Chapters among the 28 chapters of the Hokekyo and why they do not read the other chapters.
This is because the Hoben Chapter is the most important among the 14 chapters of the Shakumon (the first half of the Hokekyo) and the Juryo Chapter is the core of the 14 chapters of Honmon (the last half of the same sutra), both revealing the law of Ichinen Sanzen in their own respective ways.
All the other chapters are introductory or application of these two main chapters. The Hoben and Juryo Chapters are comparable to the trunk of a tree and the remainder to its branches.
Nichiren Daishonin stated to the following effect:
"If you believe only in the Dai-Gohonzon with pure faith and without the least feeling for any philosophy other than Buddhism or the least sense of disobedience, and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo in earnest, then even ordinary people are ‘Buddhas’. This is obviously the only supreme enlightenment in this vast universe. Such an enlightenment is known as Sokushin Jobutsu."
He also taught:
"In the very moment of practicing Gongyo, the Daishonin’s wisdom illuminates us and our wisdom functions in relation with the Daishonin’s life of the Buddha, both becoming one. At this moment, the Buddha and common people are not different but are in the reality of eternal life. This is but a moment of enlightenment which is included in the teaching of Nam-myoho-rengekyo."
Bearing these words of the Daishonin deep in their hearts, all Nichiren Shoshu believers should do Gongyo devotedly every morning and evening. It is with this effort that they can attain ‘human revolution’ and enlightenment. They should keep their habit of Gongyo throughout life with the resolution that, as a verse from the Juryo Chapter reads, "In heartfelt desire to see the Buddha, their lives, they do not begrudge - "Isshin yok-ken butsu, Fu ji shaku shinmyo."
Is it very difficult to know what ‘Nam-myoho-rengekyo’ is? It is, in a word, the name of Nichiren Daishonin, the eternal True Buddha. Analytically speaking, each of ‘Nam’, ‘myoho’, ‘renge’ and ‘kyo’ has a very profound meaning.
The deductive logic of Oriental philosophy makes it still more difficult for the Western mind, accustomed to inductive logic, to realize the principle of the Hokekyo.
Deduction is ‘logical inference from a general rule or principle’ and Oriental philosophy begins with its supreme principle. For example, Shakyamuni first defined the ‘Myoho-renge-kyo’ (Hokekyo for short) and then he began to teach what it is. Another example is Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) the Great of China who expounded ‘Maka-Enton-Shikan’ (Also called Shikan or Maka-Shikan) as his highest principle and then proceeded to elucidate its contents.
In Mappo (the Latter Day of the Law), the True Buddha appeared as Nichiren Daishonin and established the Gohonzon of ‘Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo’ as the supreme object of worship. He taught that by worshipping the Gohonzon, everyone can discover the Ten Worlds (Jikkai) which are innate in his own life and attain Buddhahood or eternal happiness.
Some people draw a distinct line between science and religion, but they are one-sided. Science, be it natural, political or social, has its own particular object of study. Likewise, religion makes a close study of ‘life’. In a sense, religion is the ‘science of life’. It clarifies both the life of Buddha (Buddhahood) and that of ordinary people (Nine Worlds - because Buddhahood is excluded from the Ten Worlds) and establishes the way of living a truly happy life.
However, many contemporary religionists believe that religion is a sort of ‘mental culture’. They are mistaken. Since religion is ‘science of life’, it should reveal through theoretical and experimental studies how one can make his life happy and meaningful. It is because it adds much to your happiness that we urge you to chant more Daimoku and practice Shakubuku.
Apart from preparatory explanation, here is a brief account of ‘Nam~myoho~renge-kyo’.
‘Nam’ derives from the SanskritWamas. ‘Myoho-renge-kyo’ is composed of Chinese characters. The Sanskrit for ‘Myoho-renge-kyo’ is Saddharma Pundarika Sutram. This Sanskrit title was translated into Chinese by Raju Sanzo (Kumarajiva).
‘Nam’ means devotion of life which is the entity of body and mind. Therefore, it stands for devoting one’s body and mind to the object of worship. The object of worship is classified into two - the Person and the Law. A believer devotes himself to the Person who is Nichiren Daishonin and the Law which is Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. The Gohonzon is the entity of the Person and the Law.
The Daishonin states in His Ongi Kuden (The Record of the Daishonin’s Oral Teachings on the Hokekyo), "The inseparability of body and mind is called the supreme philosophy." One’s body and mind are combined into one and are inseparable.
Body and mind should be one in a single life. It would be extremely confusing if one’s body were seated in his office while his mind rested at home. One’s body and mind should be always in perfect harmony, but in actuality it is sometimes extremely difficult. The perfect oneness of body and mind is what Buddhism calls Shikishin Funi (the inseparability of body and mind).
‘Myoho’ literally means mysterious or inscrutable phenomena. ‘Myo’ whose literal meaning is mysterious or inscrutable stands for Hossho (Buddhahood or enlightenment) and ‘ho’ literally meaning the law or phenomena, for Mumyo (Darkness or ignorance). Thus ‘Myoho’ means that both enlightenment and darkness are two sides of one thing like light and shadow. It also means that all phenomena represent nothing but the Ten Worlds. Nothing is as mysterious as human life.
‘Renge’ signifies the law of cause and effect. The cause and effect are of simultaneous nature. This is the law of ‘Renge’. A lotus blossom which bears both flower and seed at the same time is used as the example of this law.
The simultaneous nature of cause and effect means that both cause and effect are contained in a single moment of the existence of life. For example, the instant you touch fire, you feel heat. This action can be divided into cause and effect, but it takes place in one moment. When one becomes angry, his looks change. The cause and effect in this change are also simultaneous.
From another viewpoint, the cause represents the Nine Worlds or the life of ordinary people and the effect, Buddhahood or the life of Buddha. These two exist simultaneously in a single person’s life. For this reason, by worshipping the Gohonzon, one can attain Buddhahood. The ‘mysterious law with the simultaneous nature of cause and effect’ is called ‘Myoho-renge’.
Shakyamuni’s Buddhism relates the following story. Some 100 years after Shakyamuni’s death, there was a distinguished king called Asoka. Why he became such a king was disclosed in Buddhism. In a previous existence of his life, Asoka was born as a boy named Tokusho Doji (literally meaning a boy with excellent virtue.)
One day, the five-year-old boy was playing with his brother on the sand when Shakyamuni Buddha happened to pass by. The boy who had nothing to offer to the Buddha made a cake out of sand and offered it to him. Through this pious deed, the boy became King Asoka in his following existence.
Thus Shakyamuni’s Buddhism teaches cause and effect in these words: "The cause in one’s past can be known if the present condition is observed, and if one’s present behavior is considered, the effect which will result in the future can be foreseen."
However, Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism teaches the law of ‘Myoho-renge’ or the law of the simultaneity of cause and effect. The difference between the two streams of Buddhism is obvious from the following:
Suppose there be a poor man. According to Shakyamuni’s Buddhism, he cannot make both ends meet and always finds himself in debt because he committed theft in a past existence. Therefore if he wants to become rich in the next life, he should offer alms to others.
However, the Daishonin is so merciful that He never leaves the poor man to his destiny even in this life. It was for this very reason that He established the Gohonzon for the salvation of all mankind. To worship the Gohonzon by chanting Daimoku is the cause for happiness and and so is Shakubuku. Then, even if one be lacking in the cause of becoming rich in his past existences, he will obtain the very cause by worshipping the Gohonzon.
A passage from the Kanjin-no Honzon Sho reads, "The two laws of cause and effect (Making the practice of religious austerity the cause, its meritorious result will be acquired) taught by Shakyamuni rest in the five characters of Myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo (which are indicative of the Gohonzon). If we have faith in these five, we shall be granted the benefit of the two laws."
There is not a single Buddha suffering from poverty. Likewise, those who worship the Gohonzon can acquire the two laws of cause and effect possessed by the Buddha and never fail to become rich.
Lastly, what is ‘Kyo’? It signifies the voices and sounds of all. ‘Kyo’ represents the voices of human speech, the barking of dogs - even the croaking of frogs. Shoan (Chang-an) the Great of China says, "Voice makes an essential part of Buddhist practice." In a broader sense, all the activities of the universe may well be called ‘Kyo’. ‘Kyo’ also represents the eternity of life.
The voices of those who are inherently possessed of Hossho (enlightenment) and Mumyo (darkness) and simultaneously obtain the cause and effect are the supreme ‘Kyo’. All these are part of the functions of ‘life’ contained in the universe. This is summed up in ‘Myoho-renge-kyo’.
As mentioned earlier, ‘Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo’ is the precious name of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. Furthermore, it is the ‘life’ of Nichiren Daishonin.
Since the Daishonin’s ‘life’ is Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the life of His disciples is also Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Hence a passage of the Gosho: "Do not seek the Gohonzon elsewhere. The Gohonzon actually exists in our hearts, the people who profess the Hokekyo and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo." (Reply to Nichinyo Goze)
Lecture on the Hoben Chapter
After expounding the Muryogi-kyo (Sutra of Infinite Meaning), Sakyamuni entered into deep meditation, Muryogi-sho Sanmai, which means to meditate on a sentence of the sutra, Muryogi-kyo; "Infinite meaning comes from the One Law."
At this moment, a deluge of flowers, Mandarake, Maka-Mandarake, Manjushage and Maka-Manjushage, fell from heaven, and the earth trembled in six different ways.
While those present, rejoicing at the auspicious omen, gazed at Sakyamuni, a ray of light was emitted from the middle of Sakyamuni’s forehead (Byakugo-so) to illuminate the 18,000 worlds to the east. The scene was exquisite and sublime, yet the Buddha uttered not a single word.
Observing the 18,000 worlds, all the people present clearly saw the countries, the Buddhas, and each state of Bosatsu (Bodhisattva), Shomon (Learning), Engaku (Absorption), Nin (Humanity), and Shura (Anger) there.
"What on earth is this ?" "Whom shall we ask about the reason for this event ? – These questions occurred to the minds of Bodhisattva Miroku (Maitreya) and others.
Then, calling the fact that Bodhisattva Monju (Manjusri) had intimate contacts with many Buddhas in the past, Miroku representing all the others, posed him a question. Answering the question, Bodhisattva Monju related the following story:
"Once there was a Buddha named Nichigetsu-tomyo-Butsu (literally, the Buddha with the Brilliance of the Sun, Moon and lights), who had three princely sons. Hearing that their father entered the priesthood and attained Buddhahood, these princes renounced their rights to ascend the throne and entered the priesthood, also. Then, Nichigetsu-tomyo Buddha propounded a teaching of Mahayana Buddhism, Muryogi Kyo-Bosatsu-ho Bussho-gonen.
"Following that, the Buddha entered a deep meditation of Muryogi-sho Sanmai and a great omen just as was seen at the present moment appeared. In the next moment, Nichigetsu-tomyo Buddha arose from his meditation and taught a sutra named Myoho-renge-Kyo-Bosatsu-ho Bussho-gonen to a Bodhisattva named Myoko, giving enlightenment to another Bodhisattva, Tokuzo, with the sutra, and then entered Nirvana. Bodhisattva Myoko, after the death of the Buddha, expounded the Buddha’s teaching among the people. Among his disciples was a man named Gumyo. Now, Miroku, I myself (Monju) am none other than the Bodhisattva, Myoko, and you are the disciple, Gumyo."
Bodhisattva Monju then remarked that Shakyamuni would surely teach the sutra Myoho-renge-Kyo-Bosatsuho Bussho-gonen of Mahayana because the omen appearing at that moment was identical to the one which appeared in the past.
The phrase, Myoho-renge-Kyo-Bosatsu-ho Bussho-gonen must be explained here. Literally, it means that Myoho-renge of the Mahayana Sutra is the law (ho) to instruct (Kyo) Bodhisattvas (Bosatsu), and which is observed and meditated on by all Buddhas (Bussho-gonen). To be exact, Myoho-renge-kyo is the object which all the Buddhas of the three existences (past, present and future) have guarded and meditated on.
‘Buddha’ is the state of life in which a person has attained enlightenment through practice of Buddhism. There are ten categories or worlds in man’s life. More particularly, there are 3,000. This is Ichinen Sanzen (3,000 worlds in the momentary existence of life). Roughly divided, they are called Jikkai (Ten Worlds):
Butsu (Buddhahood), Bosatsu (Bodhisattva), Engaku (Absorption), Shomon (Learning), Ten (Rapture), Nin (Tranquility), Shura (Anger), Chikusho (Animality), Gaki (Hunger) and Jigoku (Hell).
If a man is in agony and anguish, he is said to be in the state of Jigoku (Hell). A man unceasingly troubled by bill collectors or afflicted with sickness can be said to be in the state of Hell.
Gaki (Hunger) is the endless agony pursuing money, food or the like.
In the state of Chikusho (Animality), a man will think only of immediate matters, and truckling to the strong, he is overhearing to the weak.
Shura (Anger) appears when a man is provoked. Also a man who is in this state of life is distorted in character and cannot see things in a correct manner.
Nin (Tranquility) is the normal, tranquil state usually observed in man’s life.
Ten (Rapture) is a life filled with joy.
Shomon (Learning) and Engaku (Absorption) are called Nijo (literally, two vehicles). A man in these states will seek only theory, and is content if only he is safe.
Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) indicates a man who is willing to save others, help others with wisdom, and always considerate of his companions.
Finally, if a man is in a state of life which is established on absolute security, is filled with everlasting joy, indestructible by anyone, and in possession of eternal happiness, he is then said to be in the state of Butsu (Buddhahood).
These states of life exist even in life after death. This view of life ‘over the three existences of past, present and future’ is a basic tenet of Buddhism, and is an eternal truth.
Our present existence consists of the mutation of life in the Rokudo (Six Paths, or the first six of the Ten Worlds from Hell to Rapture); so one can never enter another world of absolute security after death. The Six Paths actually exist in our daily lives.
For instance, when a. man gets up early in the morning and is feeling calm with a fresh outlook; he is in the state of Ten (Rapture). Then, at the next moment, he may feel hungry; he is in the state of Gaki (Hunger). If he goes to the kitchen to find his wife has not yet prepared breakfast, and gets angry, then he is already in the state of Shutra (Anger). If he stands in danger of his wife’s violence, he will be full of fear; thus in the state of Chikusho (Animality). When afterwards the couple is reconciled, they will be in Nin (Tranquility). Thus, man’s life is in constant mutation within these Six Paths, which are applicable to life after death also.
In the Jo-hon Chapter, Bodhisattva Monju proclaims that Shakyamuni-Buddha will expound the great doctrine of Myoho-renge-kyo, which is protected and meditated on by all the Buddhas of the three existences. After this, the Buddha will expound the Hoben-pon, the second chapter.
In the Hoben Chapter of the Hokekyo, it is decreed "Obediently discarding the provisional teachings, now I will reveal only the truth." The provisional teachings in this case indicate the Hinayana and Mahayana sutras which Shakyamuni had taught during the forty-two years before he revealed the Hokekyo.
To explain the Hoben-pon, the second chapter, there are three means (Hoben) set forth - Hoyu Hoben, Notsu Hoben and Himyo Hoben. Of these, the first two are used in Hinayana and Provisional Mahayana sutras. Both of them are given as preparatory means for leading people to the true teaching of the Hokekyo. Thus, one should discard these two.
Of the two provisional means, Hoyu Hoben is used for introducing the teachings which are best suited for the people’s religious capacity, thereby leading them gradually to the true teaching. Notsu Hoben is used to make people realize that their knowledge of provisional teachings of Buddhism is useless’ and thus lead them to the true teaching.
The last means, Himyo Hoben, has the true purpose of teaching the Hoben-pon. Hi (secret) of Himyo means what only the Buddha knows, and myo (mystic) is a mysterious state of life which one cannot imagine.
Then what is the Himyo Hoben ? Nichiren Daishonin explains it through the parables of Eriju (a priceless gem hidden in a robe) and Choja Guji (The wealthy man and his son).
This is the parable presented in the Shinge Chapter of the Hokekyo, and is famous for the fact that Four Great Bodhisattvas - Shubodai, Kasen’nen, Kasho and Mokkenren - came to understand Shakyamuni’s teachings through this parable.
Once there was a son who in his youth left his home and father. After travelling in many countries, he found himself already at the age of over fifty. However, he could only live from hand to mouth to maintain his aged and poor life.
The father, worried about his son, constantly wished to find his heir from the very time of his departure, but he could never find out where the son lived. The father was a very rich man, lived in a castle, and his wealth was said to be uncountable. His treasury was filled with gold, silver, rubies, coral, amber, crystal and other rare things. Also he had countless number of servants and clansmen.
Even though the father was respected and envied by many, he had one worry - his son who had been away from home for over fifty years. The father’s only wish was to bequeath his property to his son. Unless he could hand over the treasure to his son, they would be scattered.
Meanwhile the wandering son, not knowing of his father’s worry, passed by the father’s castle one day. The destitute son was seeking some work, but seeing his father wealthy as a king, surrounded by many servants, he was dumbfounded. He said, "Ah, I am in the wrong place. This must be a king, and it is not a place where my poor self can come and get work. I had better run away before I am caught and made his slave." So saying, the cowardly son fled.
The father, observing the man at the gate knew that it was his own son. Deeply gladdened in his heart, he ordered two of his retainers to run after him and bring him back. The base man was frightened and screamed, "I have done nothing wrong. Why do you arrest me? Help !" Moreover, fearing that he might be killed, he lost his senses.
The wealthy father, looking at him, splashed water to the son, and let him go. The distressed son was relieved and ran away to a town where poor men lived. The father as a Hoben (means) sent to his son two of shabbylooking retainers pretending to be night-soil men. The two men said, "Why don’t you come collecting night soil with us ?"
The prodigal son was very pleased and said, "I will work with you but pay me first." Then, after receiving the money in advance, the son began to work. The father, looking at his son dipping up night soil, felt sorry for his mean character. He arrayed himself in shabby clothes and approached the son, saying:
"You are a man. Stop doing such a menial and dirty job. Pull yourself together and engage in proper work here. If you work hard, I will increase your income. Tell me whatever you want, be it salt or rice. You have some merits worthy of note. I am now so old that I will take care of you like a father. From now on stop your cunning lying, getting angry, being jealous of or reviling others."
The unhappy son was impressed with the exceptional treatment by the wealthy man but he kept on thinking that he was still a night-soil man. After a lapse of twenty years, he gradually became intimate with the rich man’s family and became familiar with the rich man.
One day, the wealthy man fell ill. He knew he was soon to die, so he called his son and taught him the place where the gold, silver and all his property were kept. He said, "I will hand them over to you. You may freely run a business with it, but take care not to lose it." The son used all the property of the rich man and became so honest that he never filched even a penny. However, he did not know that the property actually belonged to him. He was conscious only that he was a mere clerk for the rich man.
Knowing that he was about to die, the wealthy man assembled his relatives, the king and his men, and all other responsible persons to a room of his castle and said, "Now, everyone, this is my son who fled my home, suffered many hardships for more than fifty years, travelling in many lands, and at last came back to my home. All of my property will be handed over to him. I hope you will be friendly to him."
The honest son, upon hearing his father’s words, felt unprecedented delight and said, "I never dreamed that I was his son. I have gained uncountable treasures without even seeking them."
The wealthy father in this parable is Nichiren Daishonin himself or the Dai-Gohonzon. The wandering son stands for the people born in Mappo, and that he travelled through many countries away from his father shows that people live unhappy lives, completely forgetting the true faith. The fact that the destitute son ran away even after he was found by his father shows that people do not want to accept Buddhism smoothly even after they are introduced to the Gohonzon. That the son was happy in the mean occupation of night-soil carrier represents that believers are satisfied with small benefits after accepting true faith. The unprecedented pleasure the son felt when he inherited all his father’s property shows that the believers gain Buddhahood and cherish the cbnfidence that "I am a Buddha."
In the above parable, the unhappy son works as a poor man until he realizes that he is in reality the son of the wealthy man. This is the Himyo Hoben (mystic means).
In the same way, people in Mappo are all common mortals but in reality the original disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha. The acts of the Daishonin in Mappo are the same as those He did as the original Buddha in the infinite past. Once we realize that we ourselves are Buddhas, we will be behaving the same as we have done in the limitless past as the true disciples of the True Buddha. This is called the Himyo Hoben.
Nyorai Himitsu Jinzu shi riki of the Juryo Chapter shows that Buddha can make all common mortals Buddhas. It is the Himyo Hoben of Buddha in which, before revealing the mysterious power of Jinzu shi riki, the Buddha convinces of the fact that even they, common mortals, can attain Buddhahood. (See Page 92)
In the Hoben Chapter, there is a long phrase after the parable in which is revealed the Himyo Hoben. The phrase is condensed as follows: "You are in the states of Shomon or Engaku, but these are not the true purpose of your life. To attain Buddhahood is the final object of life." The fact that we are mere common mortals is in itself Himyo Hoben, and the truth is that we are Buddhas. The Gohonzon is enshrined in our altar. The basic understanding of our faith should be to know that the Gohonzon in the family altar exists also in ourselves.
This is a parable set forth in the Gohyaku-deshi Juki-bon (the eighth chapter) of the Hokekyo.
One day, a man visited one of his friends. While being warmly treated by his friend, the man chatted vigorously, became intoxicated with liquor, and finally passed out. His intimate friend, however, had an official duty that night, and so he left the man asleep and went out. Before leaving, however, the friend wanted to give the visitor a splendid jewel which was called the ’priceless gem of perfection’. The gem was invaluable with a mysterious power to make any prayer come true without fail.
The friend, seeing that the man was fast asleep, sewed the priceless gem secretly inside the man’s robe so that it would not be lost. Not knowing of it, the man awoke from his sleep, wandered in many lands, was engaged in many kinds of work, failed in all of them, and spent a hard life. Thus, both his heart and appearance became haggard, and he returned to his friend’s home. The friend who was an official was much surprised to see the man’s shabby mien and asked him as if in reproach, "Why are you so poor-looking? Why didn’t you use the priceless gem which I gave you?"
The poor fellow, however, did not understand what he meant and stood there dumbstruck. The intimate friend explained that he had sewn the priceless gem inside his robe and said, "It must still be inside your robe. Look and find it." The man looked for the gem and found it neatly sewn inside his robe. The man was surprised, ashamed of his foolishness, and at the same time much delighted with such a splendid gem.
Now according to Nichiren Daishonin, to sew a gem inside a robe means to accept the treasure of the faith of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The liquor signifies inferior religions or mistaken thoughts, and to be intoxicated with the liquor is to be misled into unhappy life by false religions. People who do not embrace the faith of Nichiren Shoshu are same as those who are asleep after drinking liquor. When people embrace the True Buddhism and begin worshipping the Gohonzon, they may be said to be awakened from their sleep.
We have the life of Buddha within ourselves but, being unaware of it, we go through many troubles and difficulties. Therefore, through faith in the Gohonzon, we can enjoy the utmost happiness.
In reality, however, few people are leading delightful lives, giving full play to the Buddha’s life inherent in themselves. Many people suffer from poverty, illness or family discord, and they are likened to the man who wandered in poverty without using the priceless gem even though he had it inside his robe. Life without the Gohonzon is same as the man ignorant of his own priceless gem.
Those who have taken faith in the Dai-Gohonzon, or have become convinced that they themselves are the real entity of the Mystic Law and are Bodhisattvas of the Earth, can be said to be living a life filled with happiness, fully utilizing the priceless gem of perfection.
Fortunately, the believers of Nichiren Shoshu have awakened from the intoxication of false religions, but there are still many others who are not yet awakened from the life of illusion. To awaken and lead them to the true teachings is the mission for all Nichiren Shoshu believers.
The man in the parable who was delighted to find the priceless gem and the man still suffering from a poor state of life are the same and one person. This is a mysterious means only the Buddha knows. Until the gem was found, the man did not know it was there. Thus the parable represents the Himyo Hoben (literally) Secret and Mysterious Means).
Aside from the aforementioned three kinds of Hoben, there are two Hoben - (means) in the True Buddhism. They are ‘punishment’ and ‘blessing’.
In practicing Shakubuku for others, you may find that they will not listen to you even though you say, "You are in reality none other than the true entity of the Gohonzon of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. You will surely become a Buddha, so take the faith." They will only answer, "I am satisfied as I am. I shall become a Buddha after death."
This is why there is punishment for those who oppose the falth, and divine blessings for those who take faith and earnestly practice it.
This is what the Huddha taught: "We have obtained the priceless gem of perfection without seeking it earnestly". Here the priceless gem is nothing other than the Gohonzon. It is we, the Nichiren Shoshu believers, who gained the Gohonzon without seeking the Gohonzon.
Niji seson ju sanmai anjo ni ki go sharihotsu:
Shobut-chi-e jinjin muryo. Go chi-e mon
nange nannyu. Issai shomon hyakushibutsu
sho fu no chi.
This first passage of the Hoben Chapter means, "At this time of Moppo (the Latter Day of the Law), the True Buddha who had been in the universe emerged in Japan as Nichiren Daishonin and addressed the people of Mappo: ‘The wisdom of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo covers eternity and the entire universe, and therefore is infinitely profound and immeasurable. The law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is difficult to comprehend and its portals difficult to enter. No scholar or artist, egoistic by nature, is able to fathom the depths of this wisdom."
Niji means the time of Mappo, the period following 2,000 years after the death of Sakyamuni Buddha, and Seson, Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha of Mappo. The eternal True Buddha or the life of Nam-myohorenge-kyo in the universe appeared in this world – in Japan - as Nichiren Daishonin. He then addressed Sharihotsu (representing people in Mappo):
"The law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is infinitely profound and immeasurable." (shobutsu chi-e jinjin muryo) All the Buddhas attained enlightenment through the practice of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Therefore, their wisdom which enabled them to attain enlightenment is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, another name for the ‘life’ of Nichiren Daishonin. It is obvious then that Nichiren Daishonin is the original Buddha who awakened all other Buddhas to the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, although Sakyamuni was the first Buddha in recorded history.
For this reason, the Daishonin added, "Their (Buddhas’) wisdom is difficult to comprehend and its portals difficult to enter." (Go chi-e mon nange nannyu)
According to the Buddhist principle of changing belief into wisdom, "their wisdom" means "their belief" in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or the Gohonzon, the object of worship established by the Daishonin for the redemption of all people. Thus we can obtain the infinite wisdom from the Mystic Law by believing in the Gohonzon.
However, the teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo "is difficult to comprehend and its portals difficult to enter," and it is no easy task to make other people understand this religion or be converted through Shakubuku.
The so-called intelligentsia who are described in the Hoben Chapter as "issai shomon hyakushibutsu" cannot understand the Gohonzon because they persistently hold to their own views of the world and never seek to know what they do not. They are selfishly blind to the unhappiness of other people because they are only satisfied with their own studies. Such people are called in Buddhism Nijo (literally, the two vehicles) or people belonging to the worlds of Learning and Absorption of the Ten Worlds (Jikkai).
As this is the first part of the Hoben Chapter, further explanation is given below. Niji is a Buddhist term meaning ‘time’. It is the time when a Buddha, realizing that people are seeking Buddhism in their hearts, makes his advent for them. Then the Buddha expounds his law.
In Buddhism, ‘time’ is classified into three - Shoho, Zoho, and Mappo. Shoho is the first millennium after the death of Sakyamuni Buddha, the first Buddha in recorded history, and Zoho the second millennium. Mappo, as explained earlier, is the time which comes after those 2,000 years and lasts eternally.
The Buddhism of Shakyamuni benefited the people during the 2,000 years of Shoho and Zoho, but in Mappo it no longer has the power of redemption. One of the most frequently used words, Mappo, literally means the Latter Day of the Law when the law of Shakyamuni Buddha perishes. Therefore, the advent of a new Buddha is needed in the time of Mappo.
In order to meet the needs of the people in Mappo, Nichiren Daishonin appeared in this world to save, with His limitless mercy, the unhappy from their worries and troubles. For this purpose, the Daishonin established the Dai-Gohonzon, the original object of worship, on October 12, 1279.
Seson literally means the Buddha. Buddha, to the Western mind, means Shakyamuni (Gautama) Buddha of India. However, as the sutra mentions shobutsu (all the Buddhas), there are numerous Buddhas in the universe.
The Buddha who taught all other Buddhas the way to attain enlightenment is called the True Buddha (Honbutsu). He is Nichiren Daishonin. The life of Nichiren Daishonin or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo exists in the universe from the infinite past to the eternal future.
Sanmai or samadhi in Sanskrit means to concentrate one’s mind on one point and meditate on the philosophy of Buddhism. Nichiren Daishonin who had been meditating on Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the universe made His advent in this world some 700 years ago.
Sharihotsu (Sariputra in Sanskrit) literally is the name for one of the ten great disciples of Sakyamuni who is known for his unparalleled wisdom. At the age of eight, he went to a festival and saw a crowd of people gathered around a high seat set in the center of the ground. They put various questions to the man seated there. Then, Sharihotsu seated himself and promptly gave correct answers to all the questions people asked. However, even this wisest disciple could attain enlightenment not through his own wisdom but through belief in the Buddha.
The Hoben Chapter was expounded to instruct all people in Mappo on their way to enlightenment. Therefore, Sharihotsu in the sutra indicates the people of Mappo.
Most people do not have the excellent wisdom to understand Buddhism, but according to the Buddhist principle of changing belief into wisdom, they can attain enlightenment through the practice of worshipping the Gohonzon in the morning and evening services of Gongyo (dai1y worship) and chanting the Daimoku.
Incidentally, there are twelve forms of preaching in Shakyamuni’s teaching. Therefore, Shakyamuni’s sutras are called Junibukyo (twelve-part sutras). The form of expounding the Hoben Chapter is that of teaching the law spontaneously without being asked to do so (Mumon-jisetsu). No one asked the Buddha to teach the law, but the Buddha began to state, "Go chi-e mon nange nannyu..."
Therefore, the Hoben Chapter begins with the sentence, "In Mappo, Nichiren Daishonin arose from His deep meditation on the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and then addressed the people, saying, ..."
There are always four types of people when Buddha expounds his law.
1) Questioners (Hokkishu): Those who ask the Buddha questions, or beg him to teach the law, thus helping him expound his law. 2) Sympathizers (Tokishu): Those who understand and become convinced of the Buddha’s teachings. 3) Listeners (Kechienshu): Those who listen to the teachings of the Buddha and later attain enlightenment. 4) Assistants (Yogoshu): Those who always follow the Buddha wherever he teaches the law and prove that his teachings are true.
Sharihotsu and Miroku-Bosatsu (Maitreya-bodhisattva) who asked Shakyamuni Buddha questions are Questioners and Monju-Bosatsu (Manjusri-bodhisattVa) and Kannon (Avalokitesvara) who helped Shakyamuni teach the law are Assistants.
Among these four types, Questioners are most important. Believers who ask questions at discussion meetings or at question-and-answer sessions are the Questioners. Their questions can make the meetings either successful or unsuccessful, impressive or tiresome.
As mentioned earlier, the form of teaching the Hoben Chapter is without Buddha being begged to do so. The Buddha began to speak spontaneously. This form is called in Japanese Mumon-jisetsu.
Now returning to the subject, the sutra reads, "shobut-chi-e-jinjin muryo." (The wisdom of all the Buddhas is infinitely profound and immeasurable.) Their wisdom is the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or the wisdom of Nichiren Daishonin. All the Buddhas attained enlightenment not through their own wisdom but through the practice of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo which only the True Buddha knows. Even the wisdom of Shakyamuni Buddha is incomparably superficial but he was able to have the wisdom of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo when he practiced the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the unimaginably distant past known as Gohyaku-jintengo. (See page 101)
"Go chi-e mon nange nanyu" – "Their wisdom is difficult to comprehend and its portals difficult to enter." Since Buddhist philosophy is profound, general explanations will not make a person understand what it really is.
When one practices Shakubuku, some people say, "I will take the faith when I understand it without believing in it. They can only realize that it may be right or at least coherent. It is to comprehend the Buddhist philosophy that believers in the True Buddhism (known as Nichiren Shoshu) are practicing it. Through the practice, believers can change their faith into wisdom and therefore can realize enlightenment.
Then the sutra reads, "Issai shomon hyakushibutsu sho fu no chi." (No intelligent people can understand the depths of Buddhism.)
The worlds of Learning (Shomon) and Absorption (Engaku) are called the two vehicles (Nijo). Their selfish minds are disliked by people and are contemptuously called the ‘disposition of Nijo’. The world of Learning is indicative of those who overestimate themselves as being enlightened because they have realized that everything in this world is transient. The world of Absorption is significant of those who boast of themselves since they have realized the uncertainty of this world after seeing the transient phenomena. These two types of people are satisfied only if they themselves can escape from suffering in this world. In Shakyamuni’s age, Shakyamuni declared that they never could attain enlightenment just as rivers never flow backward and a broken stone can never be mended.
In this age, the two vehicles indicate the so-called intelligentsia such as scholars who take a preconceived view of Buddhism without seeking it earnestly. They hold their views of the world and never desire to seek a higher one.
Those who do not believe in the Daishonin can never comprehend the supreme law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and its profound philosophy.
The contemporary scholars who believe that science is almighty will never know it. Japan has been devoted to the development of science for these 100 years since it was far behind Western nations in the progress of science. Thus people came to neglect the necessity of Buddhism which is the essence of Oriental philosophy, being so impressed with the remarkable progress of science which appears to realize the long-cherished dream of man travelling to the moon. This is rather an international tendency today.
Electricity is applied to every aspect of daily life.
Television-sets and washing machines have made home life comfortable and pleasant. Science surely makes home life cozy and convenient.
It is said that the development of science corresponds with the increase of individual happiness but in actuality this is not true. Even when new devices are produced, a person may feel unhappy if he cannot afford one while his neighbors can.
What is worse, as you well know, the invention of nuclear weapons is threatening the existence of mankind. We never deny the wonderful power of science but we deny the idea that the development of science is proportional to the increase of individual happiness.
Just think which is greater, the happiness of a farmer some 200 years ago or that of contemporary man?
Happiness will be in our hands only when we realize the true philosophy of life. It is not until we worship the Gohonzon that we can attain true happiness. Not knowing this, many people speak of science and learning as a means to happiness. However, they are what the Hoben Chapter describes as "Issai shomon hyakushibutsu sho fu no chi" (No intelligent people can understand the depths of Buddhism).
Some people say they are too shy to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Indeed I know a Japanese novelist who was converted to this religion when his child was critically ill. Therefore, I instructed him to worship the Gohonzon with his heart and soul. Then he secretly chanted the Daimoku to the Gohonzon, confining himself in a locked room. He is a novelist and belongs to the two vehicles. He could not comprehend what Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is. Thus, those who play with theory can hardly know it.
- Shoi sha ga. Butsu zo shin gon hyaku senman
- noku musho sho butsu jin gyo sho butsu muryo
- doho, yumyo shojin, myosho fu mon. Joju
- jinjin mizo u ho. Zui gi sho setsu, ishu nange.
Even intelligent people can hardly learn the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo by themselves. So states the final sentence of the foregoing passage. Its reason is explained in the above quotation which means:
"The reason is that the Buddha of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (Gohonzon) is the source of all the Buddhas whose number, according to the sutra, is ‘hyaku sen man noku mushu’ (100 x 1,000 x 10,000 x 100,000 x infinity).
"Therefore people in Mappo only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon can obtain even greater blessings than can those who have practiced an immeasurably large number of teachings under as many Buddhas. Believers in the Gohonzon are Bodhisattvas of the Earth who devote themselves to the ‘valiant and untiring practise´ of chanting Daimoku and are acclaimed throughout the universe. The Dai-Gohonzon comprising the Law (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) and the Person (Nichiren Daishonin) is ‘the profound and unprecedented law’ which solves all kinds of worry for the people of Mappo. The wisdom of the Dai-Gohonzon is difficult to comprehend."
Therefore, no intelligent person can comprehend the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo without practicing it. However, we, believers in the Gohonzon, can attain enlightenment by chanting Daimoku to the Gohonzon. Therefore, chanting Daimoku is equal to practicing an immeasurable number of austerities (muryo doho). To embrace the Gohonzon and chant Daimoku is the ‘valiant and untiring practice’ (yumyo shojin).
It is known to all the Buddhist gods in the universe (myosho Lu mon) that we embrace the Gohonzon and chant Daimoku. Thus we can realize the profound and unprecedented law (mizou ho) or in other words, the Gohonzon. The Gohonzon is the entity of the True Buddha.
It is difficult for us to understand that the Gohonzon teaches us to solve our worries and troubles (Zui gi sho setsu, ishu nange).
The most remarkable difference between the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and that of Shakyamuni is the term of attaining enlightenment. In Shakyamuni’s Buddhism, people had to practice Buddhism and follow innumerable Buddhas for a hundred thousand myriads of kotis of Aeons. However, believers in Nichiren Daishonin can attain enlightenment in their own lifetimes. Thus the superiority of the True Buddhism over Shakyamuni’s Buddhism is as clear as day.
"Yumyo shojin" which is often mentioned in Buddhism literally means valiant and untiring practice. It is only Nichiren Shoshu believers who embrace the Gohonzon and devote themselves to chanting the Daimoku.
That we embrace the Gohonzon is widely known to all Bodhisattvas and Buddhist gods in the universe. This is what the sutra defines as "Myosho fu mon". Those who worship the Gohonzon and are devoted to the practice of True Buddhism are Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Thus they are acclaimed throughout the world for their ‘valiant and untiring practice’. This is why we can receive the protection of many Bodhisattvas and Buddhist gods in our daily lives.
The Buddha acquired this profound and unprecedented law. From the viewpoint of believers, it means that one has established the Gohonzon in his mind. In other words, he was able to derive the life of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo from within his life.
The Gohonzon we worship is the entity of the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the Person of Nichiren Daishonin. This is known in Buddhism as Ninpo-Ikka (Oneness of the Law and the Person).
The explanation of Ninpo-Ikka follows. Shakyamuni Buddha is not the entity of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo but one who attained enlightenment by practicing the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It was in the time of Gohyaku-jintengo or the immemorial past which is revealed in the Juryo Chapter. However, Nichiren Daishonin is identified as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo itself and therefore is the original Buddha who leads all other Buddhas to enlightenment. Hence we call Nichiren Daishonin the True Buddha and Shakyamuni and all other Buddhas simply the Buddha.
As you see now, the Gohonzon which is the embodiment of the life of the True Buddha is the entity of the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the Person of Nichiren Daishonin. A passage from A Reply to Kyo-o-dono reads,
"I, Nichiren, therefore, have inscribed my life in sumi ink, so that you may believe with your whole heart."
Ninpo-Ikka is a principle important to our daily lives. For example, a student of medicine will not become a lawyer because of his lack of knowledge of law. How ever a law student in college is likely to qualify as a lawyer. The two students are the Persons and their fields of study - medical science and law - are the Laws. The Law should fit the Person. The former is not Ninpo-Iicka but the latter is.
The Daishonin revealed the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo according, to the sufferings of the believers. Such a profound consideration of the True Buddha is beyond our understanding. Some people complain, "Nothing goes well although I worship the Gohonzon earnestly." Qthers grumble, "My business never prospers while I am devoted to this faith. I will change my business."
However, in actuality, when they stop complaining and practice the True Buddhism in earnest, they will come to say, "I should have prayed to the Gohonzon more earnestly."
The first president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi often said, "While a fool thinks, opportunities slip through his fingers. Therefore, don’t complain but worship the Gohonzon devotedly. You cannot understand the intention of the Buddha."
The Buddha foresees everything while we are blind to the future. We cannot foresee but can only reflect. It is difficult to comprehend the wisdom of the Gohonzon. All we have to do is to believe in the Gohonzon. Then we will have great blessings. If we doubt the Gohonzon, we cannot receive any blessings.
Im Buddhism, Buddha ‘in the position of Myoji-soku means the person who knows that every phenomenon is the function of Buddhism. You should do your best in your faith and work in the belief that everything is based on Buddhism.
There is the Buddhist principle of Juji-soku-Kanjin which means that to embrace the Gohonzon leads to enlightenment. Chanting Daimoku to the Gohonzon will ensure you far greater blessings than those Shakyamuni Buddha provided for his disciples.
Nichiren Daishonin cited a passage from the Muryogi-kyo (the Sutra of Infinite Meaning) in His Kanjin-no Honzon Sho to expound the benefits of the Gohonzon.
It reads, "Although you have not yet practiced the Six Paramitas (six types of austerities to enter into Nirvana), you will have the same blessings as you have done so if only you chant the Daimoku to the Gohonzon."
Thus, those who chant the Daimoku to the Gohonzon of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can enjoy absolute happiness without practicing any austerities, such as the Six Paramitas - austerities of 1) offering alms, 2) keeping precepts, 3) practicing endurance, 4) self-purification, 5) meditation and 6) deepening wisdom.
How can we attain enlightenment in our single life span when in Shakyamuni’s Buddhism it requires millions of years of austerity? In the Daibadatta Chapter (On Devadatta) of the Hokekyo, there is a story of a hermit named Ashi Sennin whom Shakyamuni served for 1,000 years massaging his legs and gathering kindling wood to attain enlightenment.
Nichiren Daishonin repudiated such austerities which are impractical today in Mappo and expounded the new way to enlightenment. This is to face the Gohonzon and chant the invocation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
A passage from the Kanjin-no Honzon Sko reads, "The two laws of cause and effect (making the practice of religious austerity the cause, meritorious results will be acquired) taught by Shakyamuni rest in the five characters of Myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo (which are indicative of the Gohonzon). If we have faith in these five, we shall be granted the two laws."
- Sharihotsu, go ju jobutsu irai, shuju innen
- shuju hiyu, ko en gonkyo mu shu hoben indo
- shujo ryo ri sho jaku.
The quotation means,
"Addressing the people of Mappo, Nichiren Daishonin states that from Kuon Ganjo, He has been expounding the teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with variops dependent causations and many parables and thus has spread the Gohonzon. He has led all mankind with innumerable kinds of blessings and punishment as the methods of teaching them to make clear their attachment to the affairs of the world."
Nichiren Daishonin addressed Sharihotsu (people in Mappo):
"Since the time called Kuon Ganjo or from the infinite past, the True Buddha has expounded various relations with His disciples (shuju innen) and many parables (shuju hiyu)."
Our relationship with the Daishonin dates back to Kuon Ganjo when we were His disciples. In Mappo, we Bodhisattvas of the Earth appeared in this world to help unhappy people. Born as the poor and unhappy in this chaotic world, we prove to other people the power of the Gohonzon by attaining absolute happiness.
Any trouble will disappear when you call to your mind that you pledged to the Daishonin in Kuon Ganjo to help the troubled people and pacify the war-stricken world by propagating the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
One of the parables (hiyu) is that faithful believers in Nichiren Daishonin’s days propagated the True Buddhism even at the risk of their lives and enjoyed the immeasurable blessings of the Gohonzon.
"Ko en gonkyo" means to widely propagate the Gohonzon.
The means of guidance in Mappo is blessing and punishment. This is the Hoben (skilful means) of Mappo. With this Hoben, the Gohonzon leads us to enlightenment. Although the Gohonzon does not speak, He favors us with great benefits when we practice the True Buddhism correctly and He punishes us when we stray from the true path of life. Benefit and punishment are, in other words, gain and loss in daily life.
Sakyamuni Buddha taught that one is unhappy because he is attached to something. Without such attachments, he said, one can become happy. However, in actuality, no one can live without being attached to life. If everyone lost attachment to everything, there would he no education, no culture and no economy in our society.
It is evident then that Shakyamuni’s Buddhism falls within something like idealism. It is devoid of the absolute power of changing human life.
On the contrary, Nichiren Daishonin expounded that one should make it clear whether or not he should be attached to something. If one absorbs himself in gambling, he will lose all his property and make his family extremely miserable. Thus he should stop it. However, if he loves to work, he will be all right. The True Buddhism will inspire its believers with the reason to form correct judgment and with the vital life-force to control themselves.
Let us be attached to our work and Shakubuku. Then we will become happy.
As for relations and parables, there are three groups of Shomon (Men of Learning among the Ten Worlds) in the Buddhism of Sakyamuni. In the first half of his Hokekyo which is known as Shakumon, Shakyamuni defined the objective of life as nothing but attaining enlightenment, although in the pre-Hokekyo teachings, he revealed three objectives according to the inborn capacity of people. They were Shomon (Men of Learning), Engaku (Men of Absorption) and Bosatsu (Bodhisattva).
Here, Shakyamuni’s disciples who had been Shomon attained enlightenment through his various teachings. The first group of Shomon realized the essence of Buddhism by understanding the theory of the Hoben Chapter. It is known as Hossetsu-shu, those who understood Buddhism through theory.
The second group of Shomon is the Hiyu-shu who attained enlightenment hearing various parables of a wealthy man’s son and of a burning house.
The third group of Shomon could reach enlightenment when Shakyamuni expounded the relationship with his disciples in some past existence. They are known as Innen-shu.
Since the. question of ‘attachment’ clarifies the difference between the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and that of Shakyamuni Buddha, it should be further explained.
Sakyamuni said that he guided the people through numerous means to enable them to "cast off their attachment to the affairs of the world." However, Nichiren Daishonin stated in His Ongi Kuden that "to cast off their attachment" should be changed into "to make clear their attachment." It is, in reality, impossible to "cast off" one’s attachment to the affairs of the world.
According to Nichiren Daishonin, one should never be swayed by his attachment to mundane affairs or his earthly desires. For example, some people smoke more than fifty cigarettes a day and feel uncomfortable. Yet they cannot control their desire for smoking. They should smoke only the proper number of cigarettes to refresh themselves. This is what the Daishonin meant by "make clear" our attachment.
All you have to do is to form a calm judgment on whether or not you should cease your attachment to something. Or you should have a good reason to say that you have a strong attachment to this thing or that.
It is the teaching of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism to let everyone "cast off" his attachment to anything. There is no such precept in the period of Mappo. It may have been necessary in ancient India where there prevailed an inferior thought. Today in Mappo, however, such a teaching is useless. Therefore it is urgently necessary to distinguish the Daishonin’s Buddhism from Shakyamuni’s.
- Shoi sha ga. Nyoral hoben chiken haramitsu
- Kai i gusoku.
This passage means that "This is because the Buddha holds the highest perfection of the means to redeem mankind and the greatest insight into mundane matters."
It is only Nichiren Daishonin who has such a great power. In His Kanjin-no Honzon Sho. (Writings on the Supreme Object of Worship), the Daishonin expounded that only by chanting the Daimoku, can one enjoy the benefits which all the Buddhas including Shakyamuni acquired after practicing hard various Buddhist austerities.
The Dai-Gohonzon can bestow upon us the cause of attaining enlightenment - the practice of numerous austerities -and its meritorious result - innumerable blessings. Therefore, another name for the Dai-Gohonzon is the cluster of great blessings.
Since the Dai-Gohonzon is the cluster of blessings, the Dai-Gohonzon has the power to produce the cause of absolute happiness experienced by all the Buddhas and the merits resulting from the cause. This is why one can cure illness given up by physicians as incurable by heartily worshipping the Dai-Gohonzon.
- Sharihotsu, nyoral chiken kodai jinnon.
- Muryo muge riki mushoi zenjo gedas-sanmai,
- jin iiyu musai, joju issai mizou ho.
This passage means, "The Daishonin states. ‘People of Mappo, the perception of the True Buddha is infinite and eternal. Endowed with a vast mentality, limitless wisdom and power - fearless, contemplative and unrestrained in mind, He is free for profound meditation. He has reached into eternity and realized the unprecedented law.’"
Nichiren Daishonin told the people in Mappo (Sharihotsu) that His perception (chiken) is infinite (kodai) and eternal (jinnon). Indeed the Daishonin’s power is incomparably greater than Shakyamuni’s.
We, believers in Nichiren Shoshu, have received the Dai-Gohonzon without making an effort ourselves, just as the sutra put it, "We have obtained the priceless gem of perfection without seeking it earnestly." "The priceless gem of perfection" is the Dai-Gohonzon. We did not seek the Dai-Gohonzon before we were converted to this religion. Many of us thought before being converted that Nichiren Shoshu was something mysterious or had nothing to do with us.
By worshipping the Gohonzon which we received without any difficulty, we can enjoy all the blessings which all the Buddhas obtained through numerous austerities. We worship the Gohonzon during the morning and evening services of Gongyo, reciting the sutra and chanting as many Daimoku as possible.
On the left side of the gohonzon is written, "Fortune exceeds that of the transient Buddha (Shakyamuni)." Through belief in the Gohonzon, we can obtain a blessing even greater than that which Shakyamuni Buddha acquired after his unimaginably long practice over many existences. This evidently shows the difference between the power of the Gohonzon and that of Shakyamuns.
Therefore, we can attain "muryo muge riki mushoi zenjo gedas-(gedatsu) sanmai" through the practice of the True Buddhism. Each of these terms will be explained below to display the superiority of the True Buddhism.
Muryo (vast mentality) is classified into four parts.
Muge (limitless wisdom) is also classified into four. The Buddha has the limitless wisdom:
Riki (power) is divided into ten.
- The power to tell the reasonable law of cause and effect from an unreasonable one neglecting the causal law.
- The power to know the causal relationships ranging over the three existences of life—past, present and future.
- The power to keep himself in the state of enlightenment.
- The power to realize the various functions of mind.
- The power to know the intellect of people.
- The power to know the living conditions of people.
- The power to foresee the future of people.
- The power to know the causal relationships of people.
- The power to realize the life of the past existence and he way to enlightenment.
- The power to obliterate past karma.
Mushoi which means that the Buddha is fearless, will be understood from four viewpoints.
- The Buddha is fearless because he knows all phenomena in the universe’ and has unyielding conviction.
- The Buddha is fearless because he is free from all earthly troubles.
- The Buddha is fearless and teaches us of the various obstacles lying ahead of us.
- The Buddha is fearless and expounds the way of ending numerous sufferings.
Zenjo means to fix one’s mind on one point,
Gedatsu means to attain enlightenment, and
Sanmai means to remain in the supreme state of life.
All the Buddhas have all these merits but even greater blessings will be bestowed upon us through faith in the Gohonzon.
- Sharihotsu, nyorai no shuju fun betsu gyo
- ses-sho ho, gon ji nyunan, ekka shushin.
The quotation means,
"People of Mappo, the True Buddha has the power to define the various laws, teach them in a skilful way and gladden the hearts of all with merciful words."
Nichiren Daishonin told people in Mappo (Sharihotsu) how He was able to give them immeasurable delight, as the sutra reads, "Ekka shushin" (gladden the hearts of all).
Nichiren Daishonin assumed a very strict attitude in redeeming people from unhappiness. If He did not expound the True Buddhism simply because people disliked to hear it, He could not have delivered a single person from suffering.
Likewise, in the practice of Shakubuku, if we hesitate to introduce other people to this religion, we cannot make them happy. They may at first be critical of Nichiren Shoshu because they know no real aspect of the True Buddhism.
However, when their reason functions, they can understand the reasonable teaching of Nichiren Daishonin and be converted to the true religion. Then they will enjoy the unexpectedly great blessings through the practice of Buddhism.
This is how the True Buddha "gladdens the hearts of all."
All of you, believers in Nichiren Shoshu, may have not taken faith as soon as you heard of this religion. Some of you may have said, "It’s for Orientals." Others may have said, "I have no time to practice." Still others may have insisted, "I cannot discard the religion handed down from my ancestors."
However, when you were converted, you found the Daishonin’s Buddhism to be wonderful. The more you practice, the happier you become.
In the end, "Ekka shushin" is true. As one practices the True Buddhism, he can change his destiny for the better and lead a happy life. Devote yourself to this faith. Ten years after your conversion, you will have changed. However, your nature will not change. If you are stingy, you will be stingy even if you take faith in this religion. However, you will be liked by others after conversion because you will come to know what you should be stingy about.
This will be understood from the example of a river. Suppose there is a river filled with turbid water. You cannot drink it. Even after 10 years, the river will not have changed its course, but the water may have become clean.
The change in believers brought about through faith in the Gohonzon is just like the river whose turbid water becomes clean.
It is a mistake to say, "Even if you have been in this religion for more than ten years, your nose still remains unchanged. It shou1d have become better shaped." However, as the life of a believer is purified, his looks, behavior and manner of conversation become noble and attractive. This is the very blessing of the Dai-Gohonzon.
Such a believer is always cheerful, bright and joyful. If a girl works at a shop, she will have many customers who prefer to buy there.
If the believer is a man, people will say, "He may look like a gangster, but he is good. I feel like buying at his shop." If he works with a company he may be promoted or receive a higher salary. If he is single, he will find an excellent bride.
It is natural then the Gohonzon will "gladden the hearts of all."
- Sharihotsu, shu yo gon shi, muryo muhen
- mizou ho Bus-shiitsu joju.
To sum it up, the True Buddha in Mappo, Nichiren Daishonin, established the Dai-Gohonzon which no other Buddha could. The Daishonin has the infinite, unbounded and unparalleled law (muryo muhen mizou ho).
- Shi sharihotsu fu shu bu setsu. Shoi sha ga.
- Bus-sho joju dai ichi keu nange shi ho. Yui
- butsu yo butsu. Nai no kujin sho ho jisso.
This passage means, "That which the True Buddha has achieved is the rarest and most difficult law to comprehend. The realities of universal phenomena can only be understood and shared between two Buddhas."
That which has been achieved by transient Buddhas such as Shakyamuni is superficial and far from the truth revealed by the True Buddha, the Dai-Gobonzon.
The Dai-Gohonzon is "the rarest and most difficult law to comprehend" (dal ichi keu nange shi ho). Only Nichiren Daishonin knows it. However, as the sutra puts it, "The realities of universal phenomena can only be understood and shared between two Buddhas," Nikko Shonin, successor to the Daishonin, knew the real aspect of the Dai-Gohonzon.
Nichiren Daishonin was merciful in expounding the realities of universal phenomena which He realized to all people in Mappo in the form of the Three Great Secret Laws (San-dai-hiho) ".
The realities which the Buddha has achieved are beyond the understanding of ordinary people. Even the wisest disciple of Shakyamuni named Sharihotsu (Sariputra) could not comprehend the law expounded by his teacher. The law of Shakyamuni is far more superficial than that of Nichiren Daishonin. However, Sharihotsu who was famous for his unparalleled wisdom could not comprehend Shakyamuni’s Buddhism.
Thus, he pledged that he would believe in any teaching of the Buddha even if he could not grasp its meaning. Then and only then Sharihotsu could attain enlightenment. This is known as the Buddhist principle of changing belief into wisdom.
When we practice Shakubuku, some people say, "I will take faith only if I can comprehend it." However, they cannot :understand the profound doctrine of Buddhism without belief. To believe is an essential factor of religion.
It is not until one is converted to this religion that he can study the Buddhist doctrine with faith as the, basis and follow it.
The Hoben Chapter defines the objective of life as attaining enlightenment. This is the same with our Shakubuku campaign. In practicing Shakubuku, it is stressed that the objective of life consists in pursuing happiness.
Some people believe that if they can become healthy, they will be happy. Others think that if they can obtain wealth, they will be happy. Still others are convinced that they will become happy if they win a doctorate or become a cabinet minister.
They are all mistaken. We teach them that they can attain absolute happiness only through belief in the Gohonzon. This is the true objective of life.
- Shoi sho ho, nyo ze so, nyo ze sho, nyo ze tai,
- nyo ze riki, nyo ze sa, nyo ze in, nyo ze en,
- nyo ze ka, nyo ze ho, nyo ze honmak-kukyo to.
The passage means, "These realities are the aspect, the nature, the entity, the power, the action, the cause, the relationship, the effect, the reward, and the consistency from beginning to end."
If you do not understand the reason for which the Hokekyo (the Sutra of the Lotus) was expounded, you cannot read it correctly. The Hokekyo reveals the figure and power of the Gohonzon. It pictures the Gohonzon in mind so that it enables one to establish the Gohonzon in his ‘life’. This is the most important teaching of the Hokekyo. No one before Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon itself, however. Yet the 28-chapter Hokekyo is nothing but the explanation of the figure and power of the Gohonzon.
The essential teaching of the Hoben Chapter is "Shoho Jisso" which literally means that all phenomena in the universe reveal the true aspect of life. Many sutras use the word Jisso (the true aspect) but it means different things according to the profundity of the sutra.
Nichiren Daishonin defined Jisso as the Gohonzon. T’ien-t’ai the Great wrote, "The profound meaning of Jisso is the eternal truth of Myoho-renge-kyo (or the Gohonzon)." In His writings entitled Shoho Jisso Sho, Nichiren Daishonin stated, "Jisso is another word for Myoho-renge-kyo (the Gohonzon.)"
Thus obviously from the viewpoint of the Daishonin’s Buddhism, Jisso means the Gohonzon. The Gohonzon is the entity of the Ten Aspects (Junyoze) and the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds (Jikkai-Gogu). All is revealed in the Gohonzon that is eternal.
A passage from the Juryo Chapter reads:
- In heartfelt desire to see the Buddha,
- Their lives they do not begrudge.
- Then, accompanied by priests
- In Grdhrakuta I appear.
- Thus I speak then to the crowd:
- Deathless am I, and always here.
- They are but means - my birth and death.
The quotation, as will be explained in the Juryo Chapter, describes the figure of the Gohonzon. Likewise, in this part of the Hoben Chapter known as Junyoze, we can find the figure of’ the Gohonzon.
However, no one but Nichiren Daishonin could inscribe the Gohonzon. Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) the Great in China pictured the Gohonzon in his heart through his method of’ speculation called Kannen-Kampo. This, however, is extremely difficult. However those who have seen the figure of the Buddha in some past existence can recall to their minds the figure of the Gohonzon gradually through T’ien-t’ai’s method of speculation.
We can know from the Daishonin’s writings that Tendai, Myoraku (Miao-lo), and other Buddhas were well versed in the teachings of the Gohonzon. Then, why couldn’t they inscribe the Gohonzon instead of relying on their ineffective and difficult practice of speculation? This is because they were not entrusted with the mission of establishing the Gohonzon, because it was not yet the time, for inscribing the Gohonzon, because the people of their day had no inborn character of worshipping the Gohonzon, and because those Buddhas - Tendai, Myoraku, etc. - were not qualified to inscribe the Gohonzon.
However, today in Mappo, we have the Gohonzon which the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin who was qualified in every respect for establishing the Gohonzon, inscribed on October 12, 1279. Nichiren Daishonin denied the necessity of reading Tendai’s Maka-Shikan or practicing Kannen-Kampo for attaining enlightenment. He emphasized only the practice of worshipping the Gohonzon with chanting of Daimoku.
In the preceding ages of Shoho and Zoho, those who were related to the Buddha in some past existence, could picture the Gohonzon in their hearts and attain enlightenment. However, in Mappo there is no need for such a round-about way of practice. Only by chanting the Daimoku to the Gohonzon can one acquire the wisdom of the Gohonzon within himself. Through this simple practice, the Gohonzon in one’s life shows itself more brilliantly and more powerfully.
Another name for the Gohonzon is Ichinen Sanzen (three thousand worlds in the momentary existence of life). Therefore, in the silent prayer of Niza (the second prayer) in the morning service of Gongyo, we pray to the Gohonzon, saying in our hearts, "Ji-no Ichinen Sanzen, Ninpo-Ikka, ..." (See page 190)
The Junyoze of the Hoben Chapter is a part of the principle of Ichinen Sanzen. The Ten Worlds and their mutual possession were earlier expounded but without the Ten Aspects (Junyoze), there is no knowing the ‘true aspect’(Jisso). Hence the Ten Aspects of the Hoben Chapter.
From the viewpoint of the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, even these Ten Aspects reveal the Gohonzon. The explanation of each of the Ten Aspects follows:
Nyo ze riki
Nyo ze ka
Take a thief as an example. He looks like a thief (the aspect), he has the nature of a thief and he steals (the action). Thus he is also consistent from beginning (the aspect) to end (the reward).
It is not possible to have the aspect of a Buddha, the nature of a thief and the entity of a cat at the same time.
Without knowing the Gohonzon, one can only read the superficial meaning of the Ten Aspects in this part of the Hoben Chapter.
Next, the question is why we should read the Junyoze three times in Gongyo. It is so we can attain the three phases of life - Ku, Ke and Chu, - or Hosshin, Hoshin and Ojin and the three merits of life - Hosshin, Hannya and Gedatsu.
A passage from the Gosho, Junyozeji (On the Ten Aspects) reads, "First, Nyo ze so is the aspect of one’s physical figure and it is named either Ojin Nyorai, Gedatsu or Ketai. Secondly, Nyo ze sho is the nature of one’s mind and it is termed either Hoshin Nyorai, Hannya or Ku-tai. Thirdly, Nyo ze tai is one’s entity which is called Hosshin Nyorai, Chudo or Hossho."
The three phases of life - Ku, Ke and Chu - are called Ku Ke Chu no San-tai. The tai of San-tai means to be clear or obvious, and San means three. To take an obvious view of things in these three aspects, Ku, Ke and Chu, is the only way to grasp the truth of life. These three are naturally possessed by all things. Ke signifies that what all things look like is transient. Ku means that all things are a temporary combination of fundamental elements in the universe. Chu or the middle of the road means that the essential nature of things is unchangeable, though they vary in phenomena.
Aside from these complicated theories, to attain Ku Ke Chu no San-tai or the three phases of Hosshin, Hoshin and Ojin means to attain Buddhahood or enlightenment.
In the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, the only object of worship is the Dai-Gohonzon inscribed on October 12, 1279.
There are two types of practice - the primary one of chanting the Daimoku and the secondary one of reciting the Hoben and Juryo Chapters. The secondary practice may be likened to salt and pepper in cooking. It adds to the blessings of the primary practice.
We read the Hoben Chapter as expounded by Sakyamuni but interpret it from the viewpoint of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
Nichiren Daishonin repudiated the superficial meaning of the Hoben Chapter as revealed by Shakyamuni and borrowed sentences from the Chapter in explaining the profound theory of True Buddhism.
This lecture introduces the profound meaning of the Hoben Chapter as disclosed by the Daishonin1. You should bear this deep in your hearts.
To continue click this link: jt_lls_b.html | skip to last chapter
Return to Index
1 For the sake of integrity, I have put all my own comments and feelings into a separate file called comments.html and into links from this work. I am also putting links so that you can move around within this document or look-up information on keywords.