Lecture in Praise of Nichiren Daishonin
March, 2019 Oko Lecture
The True Entity of All Phenomena
Although I, Nichiren alone, at first chanted Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, two, three, and a hundred people gradually began to chant and propagate it. So shall it continue into the future. Indeed, this is none other than the principle of “emerging from the earth”. Just as an arrow aimed at the vast earth will never miss its target, the entire Japanese nation will chant Nam-Myoho-Renge- Kyo, at the time of kōsen-rufu. At this point, you must establish a reputation as a votary of the Lotus Sutra and entrust your life to it.
(Gosho, p. 666)
Nichiren was the only person, at first, who was chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, but gradually, two, three, and a hundred people began to chant and propagate it. The same will happen in the future. This is, indeed, the significance of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Not only that, when kōsen-rufu is achieved, people throughout Japan will chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo together. This is as much a certainty as shooting an arrow with the earth as the target. Regardless, you must establish yourselves as the votaries of the Lotus Sutra and entrust your lives to the Gohonzon.
Explanation of the Major Terms
Emerging from the earth (jiyu): This refers to the bodhisattvas, equal in number to the sands of sixty-thousand Ganges Rivers, who emerged from the earth, led by Bodhisattva Jōgyō, as described in the Emerging from the Earth (Jūji yujutsu; fifteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
In the Wondrous Powers of the Tathagata (Jinriki; twenty-first) chapter, Bodhisattva Jōgyōreceives the transfer from Shakyamuni and is entrusted with the propagation of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. The true identity of Bodhisattva Jōgyōis the Buddha with the property of intrinsically perfect wisdom from the infinite past of kuon-ganjo. During the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, the Daishonin discarded his transient identity as the reincarnation of Bodhisattva Jōgyōand revealed his true identity as the True Buddha from the infinite past of kuon-ganjo.
The principle of emerging from the earth (jiyu no gi)describes the continual appearance, one after another, of people who will propagate the Daishonin’s mystic Law (Myōhō)in the Latter Day of the Law, and likens it to the emergence of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
Background and Summary
This Goshowas written on the 17th day of the fifth month of the tenth year of Bunnei (1273), when Nichiren Daishonin was 52 years of age and living in Ichinosawa in Sado. It is addressed
to Sairen-bōNichijōwho also lived in Sado. Sairen-bō, who had been a Tendai scholar-priest, had become a disciple of the Daishonin. This Gosho is the Daishonin’s response to Sairenbō’s query to him about the doctrine of the true entity of all phenomena (shohōjissō), expounded in the Expedient Means (Hōben; second) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. In the conclusion of this
Gosho, the Daishonin states:
Strive forth in the two ways of practice and study. (Gosho, p. 668)
He instructs us to exert our utmost efforts in our Buddhist practice, based on faith and studying the doctrines of true Buddhism. Furthermore, he states:
You must propagate to others with all your might, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase. (ibid.)
He teaches us to advance with devotion to do shakubuku to the best of our ability.
Essential Points of the Lecture
Spend as Much Time as Possible Doing Shakubuku
The Daishonin states the following in a paragraph that precedes the passage that we are studying here:
If your mind is one with Nichiren, you must be one of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
(Gosho, p. 666)
In other words, when we assiduously perform shakubuku by making the Daishonin’s intentions our own, we can go shoulder to shoulder with the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Furthermore, this means that when we exert our efforts in doing shakubuku to serve the True Buddha, we can transform our own lives, for the first time, to become followers of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. It is at this point that we will be solemnly endowed with the great benefits of Myoho- Renge-Kyo. For this reason, we must never lose sight of the instructions presented in the phrase: “At this point, you must establish a reputation as a votary of the Lotus Sutra and entrust your life to it.” We should be willing to risk our lives to uphold our Buddhist practice.
High Priest Nichinyo Shonin states:
Our lifetime, in fact, represents the time that has been bestowed upon us. Therefore, we can say that dedicating our lives refers to how much of that precious time we will be able to dedicate to the Buddha during our lifetime.
(Selected Gosho Passages on Faith and Practice. [Shingyōyōmon], Vol. 7, p. 284)
Then, we must consider how many hours during a day we dedicate to our Buddhist practice. How about during a week, and how about during a month? We should carefully take a fresh look to review our lives and try to exert our best efforts in various ways, so that we will use as much time as possible in service to the Gohonzon.
Moreover, as priests and lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu, we are advancing forward at full force toward the establishment of a Hokkeko organization of 800,000 believers two years from now. This is, in fact, a prime opportunity to understand and acknowledge our mission as followers of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. This is a great chance for us to receive tremendous benefits in our lives.
Shakubuku Begins with One-on-One Encounters
Although I, Nichiren alone, at first chanted Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, two, three, and a hundred people gradually began to chant and propagate it. (Gosho, p. 666)
Referring to this passage, High Priest Nichinyo Shonin states:
Shakubuku is always performed one-on-one. In fact, our thoughtful wish “to want to make a person happy” will prove effective only when there is a one-to-one dialogue in which we open our hearts and speak our minds….Just as we saw in the conduct of the Daishonin, we must start by telling one person. Then, we gradually tell two, three, and a hundred people. This is the fundamental form of shakubuku.
(Selected Gosho Passages on Shakubuku. [Shakubuku yōmon],p. 145)
As the High Priest teaches, the foundation for doing shakubuku is our true sincerity “to want to make a person happy.” It is also a one-on-one open-hearted dialogue with a person. Therefore, we first must make a strong determination as individuals to stand alone. Then, we should reach out to those who have not yet embraced this faith and approach them with the spirit to save them through any possible means. Let us share the experiences of our own benefits with one person after another and challenge ourselves to carry out steady and systematic shakubuku.
We Will Achieve Kōsen-rufu Without Fail
In this Gosho, the Daishonin states that we will be able to achieve kōsen-rufu. In other words, the time will come when all the people in the world will chant Daimoku together. This is what he means when he says that it is “as certain as an arrow aimed at the vast earth will never miss its target.” He definitively declares that kōsen-rufu will be attained without fail.
Furthermore, in the Reply to Ueno(Ueno dono-gohenji), the Daishonin writes:
Through the workings of the Heavenly Kings Daibon, Taishaku, and others, all the people throughout the nation of Japan together will take faith [in the Lotus Sutra]. (Gosho, p. 1123)
Thus, without a doubt, due to the workings of the guardian deities, kōsen-rufu will be achieved. However, we cannot wait passively for this to happen. Kōsen-rufu only can be accomplished successfully when we continue to exert our utmost efforts in shakubuku activities and raising the new believers in faith and practice. These are efforts that are powerful enough to move the heavenly deities.
Directions From High Priest Nichinyo Shonin
It is important that each one of us…not be a bystander. We must struggle as the main players in this challenge. There is an obvious distinction between a bystander and a main player. A main player refers to someone who is active….What can we do to become main players? For this, I am convinced that first and foremost, we must have a solid self-awareness. In other words, we, as individuals, must possess a strong self-awareness as a follower of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
In The True Entity of all Phenomena (Shohō jissō-shō), the Daishonin states:
“Whatever may happen, you now must practice assiduously, maintain your faith as a votary of the Lotus Sutra, and be a follower of Nichiren throughout your life. If your mind is one with Nichiren, you must be one of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.”(Gosho, p. 666)
We must sincerely embrace the phrase, “If your mind is one with Nichiren, you must be one of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.” (Dainichiren, May 2007)
This marks the first Okō Ceremony of the “Year of Courageously Advancing Forward.” As you are aware, we are two years away from the great occasion of the 800th anniversary of the advent of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin. This is all the more reason for us to unite together as Hokkekō members and courageously advance to successfully achieve our designated chapter shakubuku goals and forge ahead to establish a Hokkekō organization of 800,000 believers. To achieve this, we should strive to have as many people as possible attend the January Shōdai Activity at this temple, as we follow the lead of the Head Temple. Let us make this a powerful beginning to the New Year.
Moreover, attending the monthly Okō Ceremony is the fundamental basis of all forms of practice. Therefore, I ask you to attend it with your entire family. Furthermore, I ask you to invite your fellow believers and strive to attend it together with them, without missing any lectures. Let us continue to advance with devotion and unity throughout this year.