Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Correct Teaching for Peace of the Land

From 1256 to 1257 Japan was facing some of the worst natural disasters and epidemics in its history.  Like most politicians, religious leaders and scholars across Japan, Nichiren was concerned and wanted to find a solution to the problem, and he believed the answers would be found in the Buddhist scriptures. 

At the beginning of 1258, Nichiren went to Jisso-ji temple (a Tendai temple with an extensive library of sutra) and embarked on 18 months of research, during which more and more disasters and epidemics continued to batter Japan and Kamakura.   Nichiren realized, based on his findings in the Buddha’s teachings, that these disasters were a result of the nation turning their back on the correct school of Buddhism and he wrote a treatise in the form of a dialogue between a host (Nichiren) and a guest (Hōjō Tokiyori) about the causes of Japan’s troubles, his predictions of what events would occur next and the way to put an end to this series of disasters and overcome them.

On 16th July 1260 he submitted this treaty “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”  (“Rissho Ankoku-Ron”) to Hōjō Tokiyori, one of the most influential men in Japan at that time.

It’s important to remember that these were disasters of biblical proportions and one of the key historical sources that attest to their intensity is the fact that the era name changed so many times during this period.  Traditionally the name of an era only changes with the accession of a new emperor, but it will also be changed to try and change the “bad luck” of a period as well.  The fact that some eras only lasted a year, shows just how extreme these conditions were and how devastating the rulers of Japan believed they were as well.


Below is a table showing the key disasters and events in Nichiren’s life, during these FOUR eras that Emperor Go-Fukakusa presided over, and the THREE eras his successor Emperor Kameyama presided over. 



Emperor

Go-Fukakusa

(1246–1260)

KENCHO ERA

Mar. 1249 –
Oct. 1256
On 28th April 1253, Nichiren Daishonin established his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  Due to risks on his life and for propagation, he moved to a small cottage in Kamakura.

1252-54  was a time of great prosperity in Kamakura and as well as many new temples being built, the Great Buddha statue in honour of Amida Buddha of the Pure Land School was completed at Kamakura.

On 6th August 1256, torrential rainstorms caused floods and landslides, destroying crops and devastating Kamakura, and in Sept. 1256, an epidemic claimed many lives in the city.
KOGEN ERA

Oct. 1256 - Mar. 1257
Just before the start of this new era on September 1st, the leading politician in Kamakura – the 4th Shogun Kujo Yoritsune (also known as Fujiwara Yoritsune) - died at the age of 39.  Six weeks later on October 14th his son and successor (now the 5th Shogun) also died at the age of 18.

SHOKA ERA

Mar. 1257 - Mar. 1259
Many violent earthquakes hit Kamakura in May and November of 1257, including one of the biggest ever to hit the city on 23rd August.  There was also a severe drought in June and July.

At the beginning of 1258 Nichiren went to Jissō-ji temple and began research to find a solution to the disasters facing Japan. 

1258 was no better, and August saw storms destroying crops across the country and floods in Kamakura that killed many people.  Heavy rain in October led to more floods in the city.

SHOGEN ERA

Mar. 1259 - Apr. 1260
1259 saw epidemics and famine throughout Japan and yet another violent storm that wiped out that year’s crops.

In 1259 Nichiren writes “On the Protection of the Nation” and in early 1260 “The Causes of Misfortunes” which are seen as preparatory treatises on the nation’s ongoing disasters.

Emperor

Kameyama

(1260–1274)



BUNNO ERA

Apr. 1260 - Feb. 1261
More crop failures in 1260 bring widespread starvation and in June all temples are ordered to pray for an end to epidemics.

16th July 1260 Nichiren submits “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” to Hōjō Tokiyori

Annoyed by his findings, on 27th August 1260, Nembutsu believers attack Nichiren’s home but he escapes unharmed.

Piracy was also increasing and becoming a serious problem.

KOCHO ERA

Feb. 1261 - Feb. 1264
Nichiren returned to Kamakura in Spring 1261, but after a serious of unfounded charges of defamation, the government sentenced him to exile on Izu on May 12th.  In February 1263 he was pardoned and returned to Kamakura.

The Kamakura Rebellion saw many conflicts in 1263 which included Imperial Prince Munetaka - the 6th Kamakura Shogun – being deposed and replaced by his 2 year old son!!!

BUNNEI ERA

Feb. 1264 - Apr. 1275
On 11th November 1264 Nichiren was attacked by sword and stave at Komatsubara.

In January 1268 the Mongols sent a letter threatening invasion of Japan.  When this was ignored an attack was made on the island of Tsushima (1269) and more envoys were sent in 1271

In 1268,  Nichiren returned to Kamikura and wrote to religious and political leaders calling for a debate on Buddhist teachings now that his predictions regarding civil war and invasion were coming true.

Late spring and early summer of 1271 saw another drought, during the rainy season, with the threat of more failed crops. 

The government asked Ryokan, a priest of the True-Word Precepts School to pray for rain, and he promised it would rain within a week.  When it didn’t, Nichiren promised to become a disciple of Ryokan if Ryokan could make it rain within the next seven days.  This event led to false allegations against him, his near execution on Tatsunokuchi Beach (12th Sept. 1271) and his subsequent exile to Sado Island from October 1271.

There was a civil war in Feb. 1272 and another in Feb. 1274 involving the Regent of Kamikura and his brother. 

Also in Feb. 1274, the Regent gave Nichiren permission to leave Sado Island, and Hei no Saemon wanted to see him to learn more about predictions for a Mongol invasion.  The government wanted Nichiren to pray for Japan, but they still refused to listen to his solution of embracing the Buddhism of the Lotus Sutra, so in accordance with the Chinese custom of being rejected three times, Nichiren retired to Mount Minobu, where he continued to write, lecture and encourage his disciples.

Nine months later (19 Nov, 1274) the Mongol forces landed at Hakata Bay near Fukuoka.  After some armed skirmishes and looting, the invaders withdrew to spend the night on their ships.  That night, a storm sank several ships, and the fleet retreated to Korea.   (The Mongols would return again in May 1281)

Friday, 3 July 2015

Mentor-Disciple Origins: Shakyamuni

Siddhartha Gautama
In the Lotus Sutra, after Shakyamuni has repeatedly explained that there is only one vehicle and that the wisdom of the buddhas is difficult to understand and difficult to enter, we come to the Ceremony in the Air.  A treasure tower arises from the ground and we meet Many Treasures Buddha who confirms that what Shakamuni is saying is true.  Everyone wonders who will spread this teaching far and wide, and while various groups within the assembly offer to propagate it, it’s only when the ground opens up and the Bodhisattvas of the Earth (Shakyamuni’s students from previous lifetimes) appear that we see the true disciples of the mentor Shakyamuni. 

In the March 2007 “Art of Living” magazine, Barbara Cahill explains that “Shakyamuni himself established the way forward in the ceremony in the air when he passed the baton of propagation to Bodhisattva Superior Practices and to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.  At that point he made it clear that practice to, and reverence for, the idealised image of a remote and superior Buddha must be replaced by the understanding that the cause for Buddhahood exists in every life.” (p37)


Throughout Shakyamuni’s life, Shariputra and others saw themselves as the disciples of the Buddha, but after the Buddha’s death, rather than propagate the Lotus Sutra, many of them returned to the earlier teachings or started to revere Shakyamuni as a God.   Akemi Baynes explains “When his followers lost the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple, Shakyamuni became merely an object of worship, a godlike being, rather than a model of what an enlightened person can achieve.”  (Art of Living, September 2007, p30-31)


So as well as the confusion among the various teachings, there is also confusion among the various disciples.  This is why it is essential that the disciples of Buddhism, of Shakyamuni and of Nichiren Daishonin, study and understand the heart of their teachings, their practice and their intent.  Disciples who fail to do this will stray from the path of the mentor’s teachings and run the risk of continuing to spread outdated teachings and  ineffective practices, while at the same time causing confusion and hindering, rather than promoting, the spread of Buddhism, especially the Buddhism of the Lotus Sutra.

In a dialogue on the Lotus Sutra between President Ikeda, and the Soka Gakkai Study Department chief and vice chiefs (published as “The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: Vol. IV”), they discuss India’s first prime minister’s opinion on why Buddhism died out In India:

Ikeda: [Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister] once discussed the question of why Buddhism died out in India with the French author Andre Malraux.   … At one point in their conversation, Nehru remarked: "The genius of the Buddha has to do with the fact that he is a man. The originator of one of the most profound systems of thought in the history of humanity, an inflexible spirit and the most noble compassion. " … After Shakyamuni's death, however, as Nehru deftly observed, "He became deified, he merged with that multitude, which closed round him," in effect, eclipsing his human side. [Andre Malraux, Anti-memoirs, trans. Terence Kilmartin (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968), p. 228.]

Saito: … The problem is that as soon as Shakyamuni was deified, the path he had revealed for human beings to attain enlightenment disappeared.

Ikeda: Yes. Fundamentally, Buddhism is a teaching about how to live, a teaching transmitted from mentor to disciple. … But if the Buddha as the mentor ceases to be a human being and becomes a "god," then, practically speaking, the path of mentor and disciple cannot exist. …

Saito: In Hinayana Buddhism, which emerged relatively early after Shakyamuni's death, the people gradually viewed Shakyamuni as a deity. Consequently they felt  it was enough if they could just strive to attain the enlightenment of persons of learning, or voice-hearers (i.e., the stage of arhat).  In Mahayana Buddhism, other than the Lotus Sutra, which was systematized at a later time as a countermovement to Hinayana, a large number of Buddhas are introduced besides Shakyamuni Buddha. These include, for example, Amida, Mahavairochana and Vairochana. But there is an unbridgeable gap between these Buddhas and actual people. They are presented largely as beings to whom people can entrust their hopes for salvation; not as potential mentors.  Thus, the path of mentor and disciple exists neither in the Hinayana nor in the provisional Mahayana teachings.

Ikeda: When "Shakyamuni the human being" was forgotten, Buddhism ceased to be a teaching about how to live the best possible life. The path of mentor and disciple disappeared.  Consequently, Buddhism declined and became authoritarian.

Saito:  When followers fail to continue along the same path as the mentor, the very life of Buddhism is extinguished. One cannot fail to be impressed by Nehru's wisdom in discerning that Buddhism died out in India when Shakyamuni ceased to be viewed as a human being.”  
(Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: Vol. IV p30 – 33)



Saito: Because direct contact with the Buddha was impossible, in time the concept of the "great Buddha" took on a kind of life of its own. People thought that Shakyamuni alone had attained the Buddha's enlightenment, and that it was far beyond them to ever become Buddhas themselves.

Endo: The enlightenment toward which they strove was the highest enlightenment of voice-hearers - the stage of arhat. The state of the Buddha was seen as unattainable.

Suda: In the meantime, the precepts gradually grew in complexity. Also, to maintain the order, the monks created an air of mystery around their temples, going so far as to expound teachings arrogating authority to themselves.  At the same time, they placed the Buddha on a pedestal rending him inaccessible to ordinary people.

Ikeda: Still, things weren't quite as bad as they could have been as long as Shakyamuni's direct disciples were around. The first compilation of sutras is said to have taken place about a century after Shakyamuni's death. By then Shakyamuni's deification may have already been fairly well advanced. …

Saito: The Sanskrit term that, in the Chinese Buddhist canon, is translated as "World-Honored One" is bhagavat, an ancient Indian literary term. This was apparently an appellation that disciples used in addressing a teacher. But as Shakyamuni's deification became solidified, people came to refer to him instead as the "supreme deity" or as the "god of gods."

Amidha Buddha
Suda: When we come to Mahayana Buddhism, we find an emphasis on a personal Buddha as a "savior" figure who leads people to enlightenment. …  The problem is that as a result of this Mahayana Buddhist movement, people came to make light of Shakyamuni, the originator of Buddhism. Instead, they revered imaginary Buddhas [such as Amida, Vairochana and Mahavairochana] as "gods." Ultimately, this closed off the path whereby people could discover the "Law at one with the Buddha" within their own lives.

Endo: Moreover, the teaching of such Buddhas, rather than encouraging people to place importance on their own inherent strength, only reinforced the tendency to depend on the Buddha's compassion for salvation. The Pure Land or Nembutsu school of Buddhism, in which people seek salvation through the benevolence of Amida Buddha, is a case in point.

Ikeda: In short, both the Hinayana and Mahayana teachings completely deviate from the spirit of Shakyamuni’s teaching to make the Law and the self our foundation. … The Lotus Sutra’s spirit  is to resist the dehumanization of religion and religion's tendency to become divorced from reality but instead to steadfastly redirect religion to focus on the human being.

Suda: I recall the Daishonin's declaration in "On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings" that he has "[launched] the battle between the provisional and the true teachings" and "the battle goes on even today" (WND1, p392).   The true legacy of Buddhism can be found only within unceasing spiritual struggle.

Saito: The Daishonin constantly proclaimed: "Return to Shakyamuni!" …

Endo: He condemns as utterly confused those who try to do away with the actual person Shakyamuni while making much of imaginary Buddhas of uncertain origins. …

Ikeda: That suggests just how strong the tendency of religion is to depart from the human being. And when that happens, religion becomes little more than a means for controlling people.
(Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: Vol. IV p44 – 48)


During this conversation, study department chief, Katsuji Saito also explains “[A]fter Shakyamuni's death the Law necessarily becomes fundamental. That is inevitable. The only way to attain Buddhahood is to have a direct connection with the Law and, in effect, make the Law one's mentor.”  
(Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: Vol. IV p43)


And in “Buddhism Day by Day”, Daisaku Ikeda writes, “The highest offering to the Buddha is not to worship something reminiscent of the Buddha.  Rather, it is to inherit the Buddha’s spirit.  In other words, the highest offering lies in struggling to manifest, as one’s own way of life, even a part of the spirit of the Buddha, who upheld the philosophy that everyone is a Buddha and tirelessly strove to save all from suffering.”  (p297)

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Previously... On Mentor-Disciple Day


Over the last few years I have written several posts on the significance of the SGI’s Mentor-Disciple Day and the mentor-disciple relationship.

Please click on the links below to go to previous posts:


Leaders of the Park (see Part IV)



“Only one person can make a breakthrough,
the second and a third will follow.
This is the formula for victory! 
Become a pioneer of the new era
and shine in your community.”
               Daisaku Ikeda, "To My Friends", 3 July 2014

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Gongyo Style (독경 스타일)


THE DAIMOKU (NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO) 

“Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is only one phrase or verse, but it is no ordinary phrase, for it is the essence of the entire sutra. ... Included within the title, or daimoku, of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the entire sutra … Truly, if you chant this in the morning and evening, you are correctly reading the entire Lotus Sutra.  Chanting daimoku twice is the same as reading the entire sutra twice, one hundred daimoku equal one hundred readings of the sutra, and one thousand daimoku, one thousand readings of the sutra.  Thus, if you ceaselessly chant daimoku, you will be continually reading the Lotus Sutra.”   (“The One Essential Phrase”, WND-1, p922-923)

So, even though the beginners in Buddhist practice may not understand their significance, by practicing these five characters, they will naturally conform to the sutra’s intent.”   (“On The Four Stages of Faith”, WND-1, p788)

“The Lotus Sutra of the Correct Law says that, if one hears this sutra and proclaims and embraces its title, one will enjoy merit beyond measure.”    (“Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra”, WND-1, p143)
“Only the ship of Myoho-renge-kyo enables one to cross the sea of the sufferings of birth and death.”                                                               (“A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering”, WND-1, p 33)
  
DAILY RECITATION OF CHAPTERS 2 AND 16 OF THE LOTUS SUTRA
In 1264, Nichiren Daishonin replied to a question from the wife of Daigaku Saburō concerning how to perform gongyo. 
“You say that you used to recite one chapter of the Lotus Sutra every day, completing the entire sutra in the space of twenty-eight days, but that now you read the “Medicine King” chapter once a day. You ask if you should simply read each chapter in turn, as you were originally doing.” (WND-1, p68)
“Though no chapter of the Lotus Sutra is negligible, among the entire twenty-eight chapters, the “Expedient Means” chapter and the “Life Span” chapter are particularly outstanding. The remaining chapters are all in a sense the branches and leaves of these two chapters. Therefore, for your regular recitation, I recommend that you practice reading the prose sections of the “Expedient Means” and “Life Span” chapters.  … As for the remaining chapters, you may turn to them from time to time when you have a moment of leisure.”  (WND-1, p71)

It’s clear from this letter that the Daishonin had already established the daily practice of reciting extracts from these two chapters of the Lotus Sutra…

 COMPREHENSIVE, ABBREVIATED AND ESSENTIAL PRACTICE
“To accept, uphold, read, recite, take delight in, and protect all ... twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra is called the comprehensive practice. 
To accept, uphold, and protect the “Expedient Means” chapter and the “Life Span” chapter is called the abbreviated practice.
And simply to chant one four-phrase verse or the daimoku, and to protect those who do so, is called the essential practice.
Hence, among these three kinds of practice, comprehensive, abbreviated, and essential, the daimoku is defined as the essential practice.   (WND-1, p143)



Friday, 12 June 2015

Nichiren on Sado Island




After being saved from execution at Tatsunokuchi Beach, Nichiren was held at Echi, near the Teradomari harbour, where he would set sail for Sado Island.  It took more than a week before the sea was calm enough to cross, but it was still a dangerous journey.  In the picture below you can see Nichiren calming the sea by chanting daimoku.



Nichiren was nearly fifty when he was exiled to Sado Island and on the 1st November 1271, three days after arriving on the island, Nichiren was taken to an abandoned field that was used as a graveyard and given a small dilapidated hut.  He writes:


“The chances are one in ten thousand that I will survive the year or even the month.”  (WND-1. P402)

“Among those sent to Sado, most die; few live. And after I had finally managed to reach my place of exile, I was looked upon as someone who had committed a crime worse than murder or treason.”(WND1, p519)   

“The hearts of the people are like those of birds and beasts; they recognize neither sovereign, teacher, nor parent. Even less do they distinguish between correct and incorrect in Buddhism, or good and evil in their teachers.”  (WND1, p213)

“There, true to the nature of that northern land, I found the wind particularly strong in winter, the snows deep, the clothing thin, and the food scarce.”  (WND1, p519)

“I lived in a graveyard called Tsukahara, at a place between the meadows and the mountains that was far removed from human habitation. I lived in a small hut [Sammai-dō] built with four posts. The roof boards did not shut out the sky, and the walls were crumbling. Rain came in as though there were no roof at all, and the snow piled up inside.”  (WND2, p773-774)

“[T]he walls did not keep out the wind. Day and night the only sound reaching my ears was the sighing of the wind by my pillow; each morning the sight that met my eyes was the snow that buried the roads far and near. I felt as though I had passed through the realm of hungry spirits and fallen alive into one of the cold hells.    (WND1, p519)

“There was no image of the Buddha, and no trace of matting or other floor covering. But I set up the figure of Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, that I have carried with me from times past, and held the Lotus Sutra in my hand, and with a straw coat around me and a straw hat on my head, I managed to live there.”  (WND2, p774)

“I am sending back some of the young priests. You can ask them what this province is like and about the circumstances in which I live. It is impossible to describe these matters in writing.”  (WND1, p214)

“Please tell the young priests that they should not neglect their studies. You absolutely must not lament over my exile.”   (WND1, p214)

Nichiren always stressed to his followers that “from the very day you listen to [and take faith in] this sutra, you should be fully prepared to face the great persecutions of the three types of enemies" (WND1.p391) but wrote “although my disciples had already heard this, when both great and small persecutions confronted us, some were so astounded and terrified that they even forsook their faith. (ibid.)  

Even worse though, were that some disciples tried to persuade other followers to reject the Daishonin:  “When persecutions befell me, [Shō-bō, Noto-bō, and the lay nun of Nagoe] took advantage of these to convince many of my followers to drop out.”  (WND1, p800)

Nichiren also wrote about the journey from Kamakura to Sado Island being “more than a thousand ri  [450km / 280 miles]  over treacherous mountains and raging seas. There are sudden onslaughts of wind and rain, bandits lurk in the mountains, and pirates lie in wait on the sea. The people at every stage and every post town are as bestial as dogs or tigers” (WND1, p325)


This is the route that his closest disciples would have had to follow to deliver food, paper and religious texts to him, and then they would return back the same way with his letters of encouragement and guidance for other disciples.  This really shows the depth of commitment that Nichiren Daishonin and his early disciples had to ensure the continued flow of Nichiren Buddhism. 

In this modern age of e-mails it can be difficult enough to reflect on the good old days of writing letters, buying stamps and finding a post-box, let alone the physical and emotional hardships of delivering food and communication between the capital city and an inhospitable island via a dangerous and demanding trip over “treacherous mountains and raging seas”.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Inherit the Buddha's Spirit




“The highest offering to the Buddha is not to worship something reminiscent of the Buddha.  Rather, it is to inherit the Buddha’s spirit.  In other words, the highest offering lies in struggling to manifest, as one’s own way of life, even a part of the spirit of the Buddha, who upheld the philosophy that everyone is a Buddha and tirelessly strove to save all from suffering.” 

Daisaku Ikeda (Buddhism Day by Day, p297)      

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year 2015



While there are many special days throughout the year - religious, secular, birthdays and personal anniversaries – which we may attach significance to as new beginnings, most people have universally accepted that New Year’s Day is a day of fresh starts, renewals and making fresh determinations in their lives.  


In his New Year Gosho, Nichiren writes “New Year’s Day marks the first day, the first month, the beginning of the year, and the start of spring.”  (WND-1, p1137)  and we can see from this that New Year’s Day is actually a day of four beginnings – a new day, a new month, a new year, and, according to the old lunar calendar in Japan, a new season.

I’m sure an examination of Nichiren’s life would reveal a lifetime of new beginnings and fresh departures, but as a brief overview we can see four key firsts:

(i)       He may have claimed “I, Nichiren, am not the founder of any school” (WND-1. p669), but through his studies, teachings, treaties and letters, he did lead the way in re-focusing attention on the heart of Shakyamuni’s teachings and devotion to the Lotus Sutra - a journey which led to the start of Nichiren Buddhism in Japan.

(ii)     He introduced the practice of daimoku to Japan and wrote “In the entire country of Japan, I am the only one who has been chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”  (WND-1, p672)

(iii)   He was the first to inscribe the Gohonzon, a mandala based on the “Ceremony in the Air” from the Lotus Sutra and writes “I was the first to reveal as the banner of propagation of the Lotus Sutra this great mandala that even those such as Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu, T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo were unable to express.”  (WND-1, p831)

(iv)  Finally, Nichiren led the way when it came to propagating the Lotus Sutra and ensuring that the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra would spread far and wide, writing “At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others.”  (WND-1, p385)


Later in the New Year Gosho, the Daishonin writes:

“The sincerity of making offerings to the Lotus Sutra at the beginning of the New Year is like cherry blossoms blooming from trees, a lotus unfolding in a pond, sandalwood leaves unfurling on the Snow Mountains, or the moon beginning to rise.” (WND-1, p1137)


So what new departures can we initiate on this day of new beginnings, and how can we make sincere offerings to the Lotus Sutra? 

In most things the greatest offering we can make is not necessarily financial, but the commitment of ourselves.  And, when it comes to the Lotus Sutra, I think the greatest offering we can make is the commitment of our time, our energy, our hearts and our lives.  

In his message for the 5th Soka Gakkai HQ Leader’s Meeting in 2014, Daisaku Ikeda recalled a 1954 meeting saying “At that time, President Toda declared that the essence of the Soka Gakkai spirit is “to return to the time of the Daishonin”.  What he meant by this, he said, is for each of us to take the Daishonin’s spirit as our own and strive to help others embrace faith in the Mystic Law and realize genuine happiness.”  President Ikeda then went on to say that we should ensure that this vow – “embodying the Soka Gakkai spirit and directly connected to the spirit of the Daishonin is transmitted to the future and endures for all eternity” (Newsletter 8982)


Today – New Year’s Day 2015 - is an excellent opportunity for us to do just that and we can make sincere offerings to the Lotus Sutra by renewing our vow to “dedicate our lives to the great vow of kosen-rufu, just like the Daishonin” (Newsletter 8538), making a determination to commit time each day to study the Daishonin’s writings, and chanting with renewed energy to feel the power of our daimoku within our own lives and within our communities throughout 2015.  

See Also:

"The Same As Last Year" (from 1st January 2014)

"New Year Resolutions"  (from 1st January 2013)

"Ready, Willing & Able"  (from May 2012)



Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Buddha's Warning




Okay, maybe not the last one, but in the Kalama Sutra, Shakyamuni states: 
“Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher."  When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness" — then you should enter & remain in them.”

The key point of the Kalama Sutra is to teach us that the source of any information, or even our own reasoning or contemplation, shouldn't be accepted at face value.  It is essential for us to distance ourselves from blind faith and to "know for ourselves" through actual practice and testing the claims of that knowledge or wisdom.  Once we have proved through our own investigation, research, action and results that this practice leads to a state of happiness for ourselves and society, then, and only then, should we adopt and pursue that practice.

Throughout his years of teaching, Shakyamuni taught many different sutras, continually updating the depth and breadth of his teachings in accordance with the growing capacity of his audience.  Finally, after 40 years, he taught the complete truth of the mystic law of the universe that he had awakened to under the Bodhi tree in his penultimate teaching - the Lotus Sutra.

Before he died, Shakyamuni taught one final sutra - the Nirvana Sutra - in which he confirmed that the Lotus Sutra contained his complete and all-encompassing philosophy - the king of all sutra - and that it would never be replaced by a future teaching.  He also issued a final warning to his disciples at that time, and for the future, to focus on the teaching itself and not to be led astray by the words of religious leaders, wise men, other people or one's own thoughts:



FOLLOW THE LAW
NOT THE PERSON