by Stephen L. Klick | 37,321 words
These are the Dharma lectures from the early years of the Buddhist Information ministry. The writing style is not as developed as it would later become but the content is wonderful because it is Dharma. Many of these lectures bring back fond memories of the very early days when we were not quite sure of the direction we would take. We often spent f...
We will be discussing, today, the teachings of the Buddha. Later on we will discuss re-birth, the essential teachings and we’ll also talk a little about Buddhist meditation. We will begin, however, by examining the theoretical teachings of the Buddha’s “Lotus Sutra.”
All beings want happiness and do not want suffering. Humans of every age and color, the birds in the air, the animals all around us, the denizens of the oceans, all of these are busily seeking happiness and trying to avoid suffering. No matter what kind of beings we encounter as we begin to explore the universe, this is one factor that all species have in common.
Suffering is all around us; it is built right into this Saha world system. Saha is a Buddhist term that means the world around us. Saha literally means ‘endurance.’ Isn’t that a great name for this system? We are always enduring things and we take it for granted. We’re used to it, we think of it as being just the way things are. We call it ‘normal’ because we have failed to analyze properly.
Take a few minutes to realize that everything you can think of can be analyzed as suffering. I talk to people every day about Buddhism, and I‘ve heard many different people argue about this point. Their answers fall into broad categories, but the most common response goes something like this: “how can you say that everything is suffering? Sex isn’t suffering, or sleep, or food, or movies.”
However, if you analyze any of these things properly, you will find the suffering. If sex, books, movies, food or sleep were inherently pleasurable, then the more of these things you did, the better it would be. In other words, an hour of sex would be fun, a week of sex would be great, and a year filled with continuous, unending sex would be bliss. We know this isn’t true, we know it, but have you asked yourself why?
Think about this carefully—analyze the system we live in for your self. Ending suffering is a process; you begin this process by understanding these things, but you have to do the work and you have to be the one who has realizations—no one can do it for you. The Buddha taught that there is suffering in life; it is the nature of reality.
It’s the truth; in fact it’s the first of “The Four Noble Truths.” The Four Noble Truths were part of the very first teaching the Buddha ever gave after becoming enlightened. These points must have been important because the Buddha taught them his whole career and even included them in “The Lotus Sutra,” which he called his highest teaching. (If you look in the “Phantom City” chapter of the ‘Burton Watson translation’ of “The Lotus Sutra” you will find them on page 131.)
The Four Noble Truths are:
1. ‘The Noble Truth of Suffering’ or life is suffering and has limits.
2. ‘The Noble truth of the cause of suffering’, which is ignorance of the nature of mind and its afflictions.
3. ‘The Noble truth of the cessation of suffering’, or end your suffering by attaining enlightenment.
4. ‘The Noble truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering’, or Buddhist practice leads to enlightenment, which is the end of suffering.
So the first Noble truth tells us that life is suffering, which we’ve talked about, and that life also has limits; and there are so many limits. Things that we want that we can’t have, or (sometimes) worse, things that we think we want—until we get them.
Even if you have everything you ever want, you will still get older every day until eventually you become ill and die. The nature of all beings (or anything else for that matter) is that they arise due to causes, exist for a time, and then decline, and die. The only permanent thing in the universe is ‘change.’ The second Noble truth tells us the cause of suffering, which is ignorance; ignorance of the nature of your own mind and it’s many sicknesses, or afflictions. Please notice the implication here—if we end ignorance we can live without suffering the same way a Buddha does, but we will do that right here, because there isn’t anywhere else for you to go!
There are no heaven realms, and there are no Pure Lands in the east or west. The sutra makes it very clear that there are not two lands, pure and impure. There is just this Saha world system. So when you view the experiences of your life without using the eyes of enlightenment you do not see things the way they really are—and you suffer.
I’m saying to you and “The Lotus Sutra” is saying to you, that the Pure Land is right here! The Buddha predicted that this planet would become a Pure Land in the future. (This is another way of saying that Kosen Rufu will be established.) I do not believe this means that every human will be practicing Buddhism, but it does mean that most people will be focusing on spiritual growth and development, as a way to eliminate ignorance.
Ignorance is my enemy, and it is your enemy. The Buddha tells us that our ignorance is the cause of this endless cycle of suffering that we endure. He tells us that because we do not understand the nature of our own mind, we are sick, and because we are sick we do not try to cure our own minds. In fact we very often add to the poison and garbage already present.
What is it that we do not understand about the nature of our own mind? We do not realize that the nature of our mind, like everything else that exists, is empty. “The Lotus Sutra” says: “if there are good men and good women who… wish to expound this “Lotus Sutra”… how should they expound (or teach) it? These good men and good women should enter the Buddhas room, put on the Buddha’s robe, sit in the Buddha’s seat, and then teach this sutra.”
It goes on to explain, “The Buddha’s room is the state of mind that shows great pity and compassion towards all living beings. The Buddha’s robe is the mind that is gentle and forbearing. The Buddha’s seat is the emptiness of all phenomena.” In a later chapter we read: “… the practitioner should view all phenomena as empty, that being their true entity… they are like empty space, without innate nature, beyond the reach of words… it is only through causes and conditions that they exist.
In part one of “The Opening of the Eyes” Nichiren tells us of a mantra (composed by Shan-Wu-Wei): it reads, “hail to the universal Buddha who…opens, shows all the Buddha’s wisdom and understanding so that we understand the empty nature…” Nichiren writes, “This mantra expresses the heart of “The Lotus Sutra.’” So … the true nature of everything, you, me, the cars outside, the whole planet, all the planets everywhere, the entire universe, the nature of everything is emptiness. What does that mean? It means that there is no eternal, inherent, you. You are the result of causes made in the past.
Using the dialectics of “The Diamond Sutra,” a rose is not a rose—that is how we know that it is a real rose. In other words, when we look at a rose with the eyes of enlightenment, we see that the rose is made of non-flower elements, soil, sun, water, minerals, and so on. If you remove any of those elements, the rose will be gone.
There is no eternally perfect rose that just sprang into existence. That is a fantasy rose. We already have too many fantasies in our head—that is why we continue to suffer. When we really understand and realize that everything is empty, our suffering is greatly reduced. How can you take something personally when there is no person present—ever? The concept we have of “person” is wrong—it leads us only to suffering. Eliminate the concept, and we eliminate the suffering that comes with it.
Also realize that when someone is unkind to us it is because of causes we have made in the past. Since we are practicing Buddhism we are purifying our lives, and the karma we experience is often greatly reduced. So someone being unkind to us can burn off karma that would have otherwise have produced terrible suffering. This person you perceive as being unkind is actually your friend! Really! All the beings around you are very precious—you cannot attain enlightenment without them.
In the Gosho (or the writings of Nichiren) we read: “all living beings of the six paths and the four forms of birth are our fathers and mothers.” This means all the people around you loved, supported, and protected you at sometime in the past. We owe these people a debt that can only be repaid by our attainment of enlightenment. If we can become Buddhas we can benefit so many people! Right now we are limited because of all the sickness in our mind. These afflictions will be gradually removed and purified by correct practice.
Chanting, Daily Gongyo, and steady, constant study, will “brighten the mirror of your mind” removing the ignorance that causes needless suffering. The third Noble truth tells us that we can end suffering by reaching enlightenment. The Buddha tells us this because he wants us to be certain that we too can reach the goal.
Buddhas are always human beings, just like you and I, but they have developed their wisdom potential. They use their eyes of enlightenment to see things just the way they are. A Buddha would not look out into this audience and see friends, enemies, and then other people that he cares nothing about. He views all of us with compassion, knowing that that we are all the same in wanting happiness, and not wanting to suffer. A Buddha does make such distinctions; he sees the “such-ness” of things.
It is possible for us to attain enlightenment. My teacher wrote in the Gosho: “…The Buddha’s enlightenment is to be found in human life, thus showing that common mortals can attain enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death can be transformed into nirvana.” The fourth Noble truth is the Noble truth of the path or dharma practice leads to enlightenment.
The Buddha’s early life as a prince was dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. His early religious training after he left home was meditation training under two different teachers, and when this did not satisfy him, he went out on his own and began to do ascetic practices. He starved himself until he could see these practices led only to death, not enlightenment. (Many people of his time believed that if you starved yourself to death doing these practices, earnestly seeking the truth, when you died, you would become enlightened.)
So the Buddha dropped these severe ascetic practices and realized the middle way. The fourth noble truth is teaching us that middle way which is the classic list of the “Noble Eightfold Path:”
As far as I am concerned everything depends upon number two, right intention. If you have right intention, you will naturally have right view. Right view cannot be taught, you can guide people but you can’t do it for them. Right view means that you will practice right speech and right action—you will only want to help people, never hurt them. Right intention means that you will practice right effort. Right effort implies that you will take action when it becomes necessary.
Mr. Ikeda, in his book “For Today and Tomorrow” tells us: “Buddhism is action. Without action, we cannot say that we are practicing Nam Myoho Renge Kyo; it would merely remain a concept. Only through action are we able to truly gain the great benefit of the mystic law.” If you have right intention you will develop right mindfulness. This means that we will stay in the present moment.
Much of our suffering comes from dwelling on things that happened in the past—keep this stuff out of your mind! Learn from the things that happen to us and then forget them. They only bring unnecessary suffering. The same is true of the future; plan wisely and then bring your mind back to the present. Don’t dwell on the seven million things that could go wrong—nothing has happened yet! So again, it is mindless, unnecessary suffering. Teach yourself to bring your mind back to the present; not only will you suffer less but also everything you do will be enhanced by your new and improved focus.
Mindfulness also means that we don’t look at things dualistically. As soon as something happens, we slap a label on it, but this concept is not reality, it is not true! So something happens, and you label it as ‘a problem’ and from that moment on it becomes a problem. We don’t need problems! We already have enough suffering! This is so simple, if you don’t label this ‘something’ as a problem, your mind will respond to it in a different way, and there won’t be any problem.
If there is action you can take to deal with this something, then do it and don’t worry about it—worry has no value—it is unneeded suffering. If there is nothing you can do about it, then there is nothing you can do—so don’t worry about it because worry is bad for you. This applies to people as well. We tend to slap labels on others, ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ ‘friend,’ ‘enemy,’ ‘stranger’—none of these things are real! People are precious—they are all potential Buddhas. They have all done wonderful things for us in the infinite past and we cannot practice properly without them. All people are just like you and me—they want happiness, and do not want even the slightest suffering.
We all need to practice mindfulness and it begins with right intention. Right intention will also produce right concentration. We need right concentration when we sit in front of the Gohonzon. This concentration will increase as you continue to practice, your mind will become sharper, and any activity you participate in will be improved.
Before we take a break I’d like to deal with the classic explanation of dependant origination taught by the Buddha in many different sutras, including “The Lotus Sutra.” Actually the Buddha taught different levels of dependent origination, because people have different capacities. One version has three links,
(From afflictions comes Karma, Karma causes the fruit of suffering, which in turn leads to afflictions.)
Another has 5 links:
5. Aging, Sickness, and Death.
Another has 9 links, and still another has ten: but the classic list of twelve links is the traditional, and it is the version found in ”The Lotus Sutra.” There are places in the Pali canon where expansions beyond twelve links are made so the goal was to help students comprehend, and any of these versions are correct, if they help you understand.
The twelve links are:
1. Ignorance conditions Karma
2. Karma causes Consciousness
3. Consciousness causes Mind and Body
4. Mind and Body cause the Six Senses
5. The Six Senses cause Contact
6. Contact causes Feeling
7. Feeling causes Craving
8. Craving causes Clinging
9. Clinging causes Becoming
10. Becoming causes Birth
11. Birth causes---
12. Aging sickness and death.
These twelve links are connecting three lifetimes together. 1 and 2 belong to your last life, 3-10 belongs to this life, and 11 and 12, belong to the future.
We will end this discussion of the theoretical teachings with a quote from the Daishonin. “As long as Birth is foretold, then death is inevitable. As long as death is foretold than birth will follow by necessity. This is called the Prophesy of eternal life that applies throughout the three existences.” The next portion of this lecture will deal with re-birth and the essential teachings of the Buddha.
We’ll take a break now and be back in a little bit.
(10 minutes pass)
Okay, we’re back-- we’re going to talk about re-birth, reincarnation, or dependent origination. Most of the world’s religions have teachings on rebirth. We will skip over the obvious ones, Buddhism, Hinduism, and some others; because of where we are, and the culture most of us come out of, let’s look at, first, Judaism.
This beginning passage comes out of the “Zohar,” a Kabalistic classic that has been studied since the first century of the Common Era, or the Christian A.D. It Reads: “all souls are subject to the trials of transmigration; (or rebirth) … the souls must reenter the absolute substance whence they have emerged. But to accomplish this end they must develop all the perfections… and if they have not fulfilled this condition during one life, they must commence another, a third, and so forth until they have acquired the condition which fits them for reunion with god.”
Rabbi Manasseh Ben Israel was a theologian and a statesman who convinced Oliver Cromwell to remove the unfair laws oppressing Jews in England. These laws had existed some 350 years, since the time of King Edward the First. The Rabbi wrote, “The belief of the doctrine of transmigration of souls is a firm and infallible dogma accepted by the whole assemblage of our church with one accord, so there is none to be found who would dare deny it… Indeed there are a great number of sages in Israel who hold firm to this doctrine, so that they made it a dogma, a fundamental point of our religion.”
Christianity has some interesting things to say on the subject. The last book of the Old Testament is the book of Malachi. The closing words of this book (Malachi 4:5) reads: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come.” Now, Elijah had already lived once among the Jews and he was dead. However the book of the New Testament refers to this prophesy in three different places. Mathew 16:13 says “when Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked ‘whom do men say that I am?’ And they said ‘some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” (Sometimes the Greek form of Elijah, Elias, is used.)
Matthew 17:9 reads: “and as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them saying ‘tell the vision to no man until the son of man be risen again from the dead.’ And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them ‘Elijah truly shall come first, and restore all things, but I say unto you, that Elijah is come already and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed…’ and then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (who had already been beheaded by Herod).
Finally Mathew 11:11 says: “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist… and if you will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear let him hear!”
The early founders of Christianity taught re-birth; Justin Martyr (100-165) speaks of the soul inhabiting more than one body. Origen (185-154) wrote, “Is it not rational that souls should be introduced into bodies, in accordance with their merits and previous deeds, and that those who have used their bodies to do the utmost good, should have a right to bodies endowed with qualities superior to the bodies of others?”
Saint Gregory (257-332) said, “it is absolutely necessary that that the soul should be healed and purified, and if that does not take place during its life on earth, it must be accomplished in future lives.” Saint Jerome (340-420) wrote: “the doctrine of transmigration has been secretly taught from ancient times to small numbers of people, as a traditional truth not divulged.”
Touching briefly on the subject of Islam, the Koran reads: “god generates beings, and sends them back over and over again, until they return to him.” ([2.28] How do you deny Allah and you were dead and He gave you life? Again He will cause you to die and again bring you to life, then you shall be brought back to Him. ("The Koran" chapter 2 "The Cow")
This is a small sampling of Western thought on rebirth. The Buddha teaches that each moment of mind is the cause of the next moment. You never get an effect without a cause, so there never could be an original cause because something never comes from nothing. My Teacher says in the Gosho, “The Nirvana Sutra states ‘people have been suffering since numberless, uncountable, kalpas ago. (A small kalpa is approximately 16 million years). The bones each individual leaves behind pile up as high as Mount Vilupa, near Rajagriha, and the milk he sucks is equal to the quantity of water in the four seas. The blood one sheds surpasses the quantity of water in the four seas, and so do the tears he sheds over the death of parents, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, children, and relatives. And though one used all the plants and trees growing on the earth to make four inch tally sticks to count them, one could not count all the parents one has had in the past existences of life. These are the words the Buddha uttered lying in the grove of Sal trees on the final day of his earthly life. You should pay the strictest attention to them.”
Before we pass on to the essential teachings of the Buddha, let’s talk about who or what it is that becomes reborn. First, I tell you that everything is empty, because it is dependent, then I tell you that life is eternal. Who is it then, inheriting this good and bad karma that is being produced? I’m asked this question three or four times every month, so I know it’s something that we’re not all clear on. Think of your mind when you were four years old. Now think of how your mind is now. The two are not the same, but it is easy to see the connection between the two. Think of a fire you build in the forest at night. You feed it fuel all night long to keep it burning. You cannot say that the fire from the night before is the same as the fire now—but you can’t say that they are different either. Think about the connection between the mind you possessed at fours years of age and the mind you have now. That is the same kind of connection that exists between this life and the next. That’s simple, isn’t it?
I’d like to move on now to the essential teachings, which are the doctrines that the Buddha considered his highest teachings—for all of his students. Nichiren states in the Gosho entitled “On Establishing the Correct Teachings for the Peace of the Land”: “the Lotus and the Nirvana sutras represent the very heart of the doctrines that Shakyamuni preached during the five periods of his teaching life.”
However many students misunderstand the correct teachings, and believe that the provisional teachings should be discarded—some students will even tell you that the theoretical teachings of “The Lotus Sutra” should be discarded. I have no idea where these concepts come from. In the Gosho entitled “Four Bodhisattvas” the Daishonin states, “In the beginning of the latter day, the essential teaching alone spreads, but even so, the theoretical teaching should not be discarded. Nowhere in the entire “Lotus Sutra” do we find a passage suggesting that we discard the first 14 chapters of the Lotus Sutra, (which comprise the theoretical teachings). In this time the essential teaching is primary, while the theoretical teaching is subordinate. However, those who therefore discard the latter, saying it is not the way to enlightenment, and believe only in the former, have not yet learned the teaching of Nichiren’s true intention. Theirs is a completely distorted view. The doctrine concerning the theoretical and essential teachings is not my own, but was expounded by the Buddha. Those who would distort it can only be possessed by devils, and will topple others along with themselves into the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering.”
The message here is clear. Do not discard the first half of “The Lotus Sutra,” the part that contains the Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, and The Twelve Link of Dependant Origination. Do not discard the teaching on emptiness. Your views will be distorted if you do.
Well, what about the earlier sutras? I hear some S.G.I people tell me that these teachings have no value—they even tell you that it’s wrong to read or study other sutras. This is another one of those distorted concepts that seems to come from nowhere. In the Gosho entitled “Opening of the Eyes” Nichiren states in the third sentence, “there are three types of doctrines that are to be studied. They are Confucianism, Brahmanism, and Buddhism.” Later in the same Gosho, we read, “The words of the sages and wise men are preserved in the scriptures and teachings of Confucianism, and Brahmanism, and as we have noted, is free from error, and the words match the spirit in which they were spoken. But how much more true is this in the case of the Buddha, who from countless kalpas in the past has never spoken in error! In comparison to the non-Buddhist scriptures and teachings, the doctrine that he expounded over a period of 50 years represent the great vehicle, the true words of a great man. Everything that he preached from the dawn of his enlightenment to the evening that he entered nirvana is none other than the truth.”
That seems pretty clear. Later in part two of the same Gosho we find “…it does not do to hate others. If one has eyes, one should examine the sutra texts, and compare ones behavior with them.” So why is there a problem? Why the confusion? Well, Nichiren goes on to say, “The doctrines the Buddha taught over a period of fifty years number eighty thousand… but among these sutras, “The Lotus Sutra” represents the correct teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, the true words of the Buddhas of the ten directions in the past, present, and future. The Sutras… that the Buddha preached during the first 40 years or so of his teaching life belong to the time when, as the Buddha said, he had “not yet revealed the truth.” The eight years that he preached “The Lotus Sutra” he called the time when he “now must reveal the truth.”
This one page shows us exactly what the problem is. In one paragraph Nichiren states that all the words of the Buddha are ‘none other than the truth.’ In the very next paragraph he says all sutras before “The Lotus” belong to a time when he had not yet revealed the truth. Our teacher wasn’t crazy, and there is no contradiction. The point is subtle, and it must be easy to become confused.
Well, what’s the difference between the sutras? What is the message of “The Lotus Sutra” that does not appear in the earlier works? Since the sutras taught by the Buddhas are all true, what was left out of the earlier teachings? What truth had not yet been revealed? Let’s look at the Gosho entitled “The Treatment of Illness,” “‘The Lotus Sutra’ is divided into two categories, the theoretical, and the essential teaching. One is as different from the other as fire is from water or heaven is from earth. The difference is even greater between “The Lotus Sutra” and the sutras that preceded it. These sutras and the theoretical teaching of “The Lotus Sutra” are certainly different but they still have some points of similarity.”
So, What’s different? Nichiren says that in all the sutras, before “The Lotus,” and in the first half of “The Lotus Sutra” itself, the Buddha invariably depicted himself as having attained enlightenment for the first time in this world. “The difference” he says “is like that between a one hundred year old man and a one year old baby. The disciples of these two teachings are also as different as fire is from water, to say nothing of the difference between their lands.” (The disciples of these two teachings are as different as fire is from water… explains why the Buddha refused to let the Voice—Hearer (Shoman) followers present at the preaching of “The Lotus Sutra” propagate these teachings in the Saha world. “The followers are as different as fire and water, to say nothing of the difference of their lands,” is very important to understand.
Until the last half of “The Lotus Sutra” the Buddha land was thought to be somewhere apart from the Saha world (or the real world) and the Buddha only came here temporarily to teach the law and to save people. However, chapter sixteen teaches us there are not two lands, pure and impure, there is only the Saha world, and the Buddha has always dwelt here since his original enlightenment in the far distant past.
In addition, the provisional teachings state that both good and evil remain in your life through all the stages of Bodhisattva training right up until you hit the fifty-first stage. (There are fifty-two stages of Bodhisattva realization.) The fifty-first and fifty-second stage of Bodhisattva development theoretically meant that evil had been completely removed from your life but “The Lotus Sutra” teaches us the concept of Ichinen Sanzen. In other words, good and evil exist in everybody because we all mutually posses the ten worlds.
A last key point is that up until “The Lotus Sutra” was preached, the Buddhas followers believed that only certain students could attain enlightenment. They split themselves into three categories, and only the Bodhisattvas were thought to be able to eventually attain Buddhahood.
Chapter three, “Simile and Parable,” reveals that there are not three vehicles for different kinds of people; there is only the one Buddha vehicle. In other words, all people can attain Buddhahood, because everybody has Buddha potential inherent in them, or everyone has the ten worlds. The Devadatta chapter teaches us that even “evil” people can eventually attain enlightenment. The second half of the chapter deals with a non-human female who becomes a Buddha in the amount of time it took her to hand a jewel to the Buddha! This is really different! Up until this chapter was taught, everyone knew that women could not become enlightened—they even had a list of reasons explaining why this was impossible. It was a terrible prejudice that existed during that period of Indian culture. (Well… they are still working on these issues today, in modern India).
So why, suddenly, could women become enlightened, and do not pass over the non-human thing, either! A lot of people do. Why could this NON-HUMAN FEMALE attain Buddhahood? It was because she has the same ten factors and the same ten worlds that we all possess. Human women receive a direct prediction of enlightenment in chapter thirteen.
These are the things that are different; these are the truths that had “yet too be revealed.” I hope we’re clear on this, but the best thing for you to do is to read the sutra for yourself—find out for yourself—this is always the message of Buddhism. When you practice “Rely on sutras that are complete and final” and never mix your practice, chant only “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”—but do rely on other sutras to give you guidance for your daily life.
We should also respect the other religions around us—it’s okay if a person is Christian or whatever. In the Gosho entitled “The Opening of The Eyes” Nichiren writes, “The Nirvana Sutra remarks all scriptures or teachings, from whatever source, are ultimately the revelation of Buddhist truth. They are not non-- Buddhist teachings.” This also applies to the other Buddhist groups around us.
The latter half of “The Lotus Sutra” has a chapter entitled “Entrustment.” In that chapter we find “In future ages if there are good men and good women who have faith in the wisdom of the thus come one, you should preach and expound the Lotus Sutra for them, so that they may hear it and understand it. For in this way, you can cause them to gain the Buddha wisdom. If there are living beings that do not believe and accept it, you should use some of the other profound doctrines of the Buddha to teach, benefit and bring joy to them. If you do all this, you will have repaid the debt of gratitude that you owe the Buddhas.”
Mr. Ikeda tells us, “whether a person takes faith in the Gohonzon or not depends entirely on the relationship he formed with Buddhism in the past.” In “The Opening of the Eyes” part two we read, “ those who seek the truth of Buddhism…should reject…one sided views, transcending disputes between ones own sect and others and should not treat others with contempt.” In the same Gosho, we find “…I believe that the devotees and followers of the provisional sutras…will undoubtedly be protected by the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and heavenly beings of the respective sutras they uphold.”
So, the message is apparent. We need to practice tolerance for other spiritual groups—this applies equally to the other Buddhist groups around us. Remember, Nichiren never taught anyone to hate.
Okay, this last segment will deal with the concept of Ichinen Sanzen, the nine consciousnesses, and the concept of Buddhist meditation. Ichinen literally means ‘ one mind’ or ‘life moment.’ Sanzen means three thousand, so together Ichinen Sanzen means three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
To begin to understand this principal, we must first understand the ten worlds. As we’ve said earlier, everyone possesses the ten worlds. The ten worlds are states or conditions that exist in our minds.
The ten worlds are:
1. Hell (rage, suffering, intense fear)
2. Hunger (greed never satisfied)
3. Animality (lack of wisdom, lack self of control, foolish behavior)
5. Humanity (calmness and reason)
6. Heaven (dependent joy)
9. Bodhisattva (intense compassion and the desire to benefit all beings every where)
10. Buddhahood (someone who is awake to the way things really are)
These states exist (at least potentially) in all of our minds. An individual is capable of experiencing all of these states anytime to moment to moment. The reality is, however, that people who do not have any kind of spiritual practice spend most of their time bouncing around in the lower six realms: hell, hunger, animality, anger, humanity and heaven. Sometimes their environment treats them well and they have a good day. Other times the environment is hostile and they have a bad day.
People with no spiritual practice at all consider this normal. But, it isn’t normal, what it is really, is unnecessary suffering. If you live in the lower six worlds, you’re not in control of your own life—your environment is in control. The best way to climb into the upper four worlds and stay there is to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo every day without fail, but be careful! It is better to live in the state of hell then it is to spend all of your time in Learning or Realization! Why, because those who live in these worlds, called Shoman and Engaku, tend to look down on other people and treat them with contempt. This may very well be the worst cause you can make.
President Ikeda wrote, “ committing such acts as ostracizing, bullying, or treating contemptuously the comrades of the Bodhisattvas of the earth who embrace the mystic law is an immeasurably grave offense. People who are guilty of this type of conduct will without fail experience the hell of incessant suffering. The outcome will be the same whether or not one practices this faith. Perhaps this principle applies even more so in this case of the person who does embrace this faith.”
To avoid this problem, always check your motivation before speaking—if you have any doubt at all about why you are saying something—be quiet. It’s very easy to control your mouth if it’s closed. Every day make a determination in front of the Gohonzon to benefit as many beings as possible, generate a mind of love and compassion, this will make you happier and keep you from burning out, which can happen.
Now, the ten worlds mutually possess the ten worlds bringing our total to one hundred. This now becomes subtler. What we’re saying is that you can be in a state, of say, learning/Bodhisattva or humanity/Bodhisattva or any combination you can think of. I use learning, humanity, or any of the worlds and mix it with Bodhisattva because this is the path that leads to the end of suffering—to Nirvana.
President Ikeda stated, “Only those who directly attain the world of the original Buddha, or the embodiment of the Eternal Law, can gain release from human suffering.” Let me make this clearer—learning and realization can be very dangerous, we need them, but we must be careful not to fall into the dreadful pit that treating other with contempt can create for us.
If you mix learning or realization with Bodhisattva (or intense compassion) you will not have anything to worry about. Clear? So, the ten world contain the ten worlds but reality is still more subtle then that. Each individual has ten factors that make him who he is.
The ten factors are:
1. Appearance (or how you look, that’s simple isn’t it?)
2. Nature (is what makes you who you are. It is the reason you know that you are the same mind now that when you were when you were four years old)
3. Entity (Christians would call this your soul. This life entity has existed forever—from time without beginning. Entity will remain unchanged throughout your life and reappear with you after are reborn.)
4. Power (your life force, the strength you have to achieve something or effect your environment.)
5. Influence (is the use of thought or deed to create good or evil.) It is the amount of power you bring to whatever work you produce.
6. Internal Cause (is the latent karmic seeds in your mind.)
7. Relation or External Cause (any stimulus in our environment that causes us to react.)
8. Latent Effect: when we take action the latent effect is lodged in us as energy and will appear as…
9. Manifest Effect when it meets the right circumstances in the future. (No cause you make, good or bad is ever lost) Finally,
10. Their consistency from beginning to end (all of these factors work together—if you are in the state of Buddhahood your life condition will be high, you will not be depressed. If you are in hell, your life condition will not be great.) So, the ten worlds contain the ten worlds and ten times ten equals one hundred. The ten factors make up the individual, so a hundred times ten equals a thousand.
(From audience: “There’s math in this?” (Shocked) Yes, (laughing) there will be a math test later!) Seriously, we need to look briefly at the three realms of existence. They are:
1. Self (the Buddha taught that each individual is composed of heaps or aggregates) these aggregates are: Consciousness, (form has to do with your physical appearance, the other four are your mental makeup.)
2. The society we live in, or the other living beings around us.
3. The land or environment you live in. 1000X3=3000 realms in each moment of life.
Now, remember when we were talking about latent effect? We said that when we take action the latent effect is lodged in us as energy and will appear as manifest effect when it meets the right circumstances in the future.
Every time we make a cause, it is stored in us as latent effect, until the time and circumstances are right and then this energy will manifest itself in our lives. This energy may be present 10 minutes or 10 million years—it will wait until everything needed is present—then karma is produced. This energy is stored in our eighth level of consciousness; every one of us has nine levels of consciousness in our mind.
The first five are our senses, taste, and touch, hearing, sight, and smell. The sixth level is called ‘integration’ because it decides what will be reported to your brain. Interestingly, modern science also teaches this level of consciousness. If you are positive that your keys could not be on the table, this level of consciousness will not report their presence to you. The keys will be there but you won’t see them because your eyes are not reporting everything it sees to your brain. You can then spend the next half hour looking for your ‘missing’ keys, or you can have someone else use their eyes.
The seventh level of consciousness is called the mano consciousness. This level of consciousness is where abstract thought takes place. This is what we mistakenly call ‘self.’ It is the home of our ego. The eight level of consciousness is called the Alaya consciousness. It is the storehouse where all the energies of the causes that you have made are stored. The ninth level is our Buddha nature. If you do not tap into this level, your life and your destiny is fixed by what is already in your ‘storehouse’ consciousness.
By tapping this pure consciousness, any circumstance or situation in your life can be changed. How do we do this—only by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo? Nam Myoho Renge Kyo literally means devotion to the mystic law of “The Lotus Sutra.” Anyone can sit in front of the Gohonzon and manifest a state of Buddhahood by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.
If you have already done so then congratulations! You are already a part time Buddha! Now that you know how to manifest your Buddhahood, the trick is to close up your Butsudan, or place of the Buddha, and demonstrate this life condition all day long in the real world. The Gohonzon is a ‘picture’ of the inner life condition of a Buddha or enlightened being. The ten worlds are present on this Mandela, but the life condition being manifested is that of Buddhahood.
The Daishonin described the Gohonzon as the true object of worship for observing one’s mind. This is the most effective form of Buddhist meditation ever devised.
Does the Lotus Sutra tell us that we have to meditate to practice correctly? Yes. In Chapter fourteen, we find the statement, “he (or the practitioner) should constantly take pleasure in sitting in meditation, being in quite surroundings, and learning to still his mind.” In chapter eighteen we read, “How much more so if one upholds this sutra, and at the same time dispenses alms, keeps the precepts, is forbearing, delights in meditation, and never gives way to anger or evil speaking. “ So “The Lotus Sutra” tells us that to practice properly, we must meditate.
Mr. Ikeda writes, “Just as you look into a mirror when you make up your face, to beautify your soul, you need a mirror that reflects the depths of your life. This mirror is none other than the Gohonzon of “observing one’s mind,” or more precisely, observing one’s life. Observing one’s life means to perceive that one’s life contains the ten worlds, and in particular, the world of Buddhahood. It was to enable people to do this, that Nichiren Daishonin bestowed the Gohonzon of ‘observing one’s mind’ upon all human kind.”
In the Gosho entitled “A Sage And An Unenlightened Man” Nichiren Writes “In the final analysis, this sutra of ‘Myoho Renge Kyo’ sums up all the teachings and meditational practices of Shakyamuni Buddha’s life time in a single moment of life, and Encompasses all the living beings of the ten worlds and their environments in the three thousand realms.”
Volume four of the “Major Writings” defines ‘observation of the mind’ as the perception, through meditation, of the ultimate reality inherent in one’s life. The Daishonin makes clear in his writings that chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo constitutes the practice of ‘observing the mind’ in the latter day of the law.”
From these passages it is clear that chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is meditation training for your mind. (See “Stop Suffering: A Buddhist Guide To Happiness”) Remember all of your problems, your friends, enemies; all of these come from your own mind. Because of the oneness of yourself and your environment, you must change yourself to have any kind of impact on the people and things around you.
Leo Tolstoy said, “everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.” There is only one thing in the entire universe that must be conquered, your own mind. The Buddha tells us “he is a great giver of gifts to all living beings. You should respond by studying this law… you must not be stingy or begrudging.” We’ve all heard guidance from Mr. Ikeda that tells us how necessary study is for growth. Your mind is like a computer, if you program the system with junk then that is what your mind will produce.
While “you are what you eat” has some truth, you are what you read is totally true. Nichiren writes in the Gosho, “Persons of wisdom of course devote themselves to the study of all the eighty thousand doctrines of Buddhism, and should become familiar with all the twelve divisions of the scriptures.” Following these directions will put you on course to develop “The Eyes Of Enlightenment.”
And I would like to thank you for coming here today, and thank you for listening if you are hearing this on tape. Buddhist Information of America operates twenty—four hours a day, every day of the year. There is always somebody here to answer your phone calls. We will help you find a practice anywhere in the United States and we provide free study material for anyone who wants it. In the Kansas City Area the number is (913) 722-0900, in the rest of North America please call (800) 576-9212.
There is never any charge for any service from Buddhist Information. We want to take this opportunity to dedicate the merit for what we’ve done here today. May all beings find peace and happiness, may all beings find the path that leads directly to Nirvana! Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, may all beings benefit. Thank You.