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

  

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Shakyamuni's Approval

In the Sahassavagga section of the Dhammapada,  Shakyamuni says:
“Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.
… Better it is to live one day seeing the Supreme Truth than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the Supreme Truth”

This comes from one of Shakyamuni’s earlier teachings and while we know that Shakyamuni revealed his ultimate teaching in The Lotus Sutra, we can also see that this earlier teaching contains universal truths about awakening to the Mystic Law and the reality of all phenomena.
In fact from the teachings of the four noble truths and the eightfold path onwards, Shakyamuni was encouraging us to understand the causes of our suffering and teaching us a path to happiness. 
Since those early days, the Buddha taught many different teachings in relation to the time and capabilities of the hearers, and three key principles became established among future generations of buddhists which were judged to guarantee the authenticity of a doctrine as a Buddhist doctrine. 
These three criteria, also known as the three Dharma seals, were the concepts of impermanence, non-self and nirvana. 

1 IMPERMANENCE (EVERYTHING CHANGES)
Everything is in a constant state of change.  We are born.  We grow old.  We get sick.  We die.  Fruit ripens then spoils.  The movement of the sea erodes coastlines.  A movie star’s career rises or declines.  Fashions change.  Companies go bankrupt.  We fall in love.  We get married.  We grow apart.  We get divorced.  Empires rise and fall. 
Does this mean that impermanence has to be a source of suffering?  Not at all.  It may seem like a negative and pessimistic view of life, but it’s our failure to understand impermanence that causes us suffering.  Once we awaken to this universal truth we are encouraged in two ways.  Firstly, it  allows you to make the most of every moment during the good times.  This could be an opportunity to reconnect with a loved one you have lost touch with or to cherish the person right in front of you.  Secondly, if you are going through bad times, impermanence gives you hope that things will change for the better. 
Nichiren’s famous words of encouragement in his letter “Happiness in This World” are “Suffer what there is to suffer.  Enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens.  How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law?  Strengthen your power of faith more than ever.”   (WND1, p681)
His advice isn’t just to go with the flow of life and to suffer and enjoy whatever life brings, but to “see” the impermance of all phenomena and wake up to the true reality of our suffering and joy.   Nichiren is teaching us to use our faith and practice to make the most of every moment of our life.
The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains that “The Buddha implored us not just to talk about impermanence, but to use it as an instrument to help us penetrate deeply into reality and obtain liberating insight. … Without impermanence, life is not possible. How can we transform our suffering if things are not impermanent?  How can our daughter grow up into a beautiful young lady? How can the situation in the world improve?  We need impermanence for social justice and for hope.”

2 NON-SELF (AN ETERNITY OF NON-INDEPENDENCE)
The concept of non-self is based on the view that our present identity is not eternal, and even though we will be reborn with a new identity based on our eternal entity’s accumulated causes and effects, there is no eternal independent self that will continue life on another plane of existence, such as the Christian concept of heaven or hell. 
Also it’s impossible to live a life where we exist independently from others and our environment, and we are constantly influencing, and are influenced by, our environment and the people we come into contact with, both directly and indirectly (through TV, literature, blogs, etc.). 

3 NIRVANA (ETERNAL HAPPINESS)
When unenlightened our ignorance, greed and anger, and our inability to clearly understand IMPERMANENCE and NON-SELF, leads us to a life of suffering, but when we awaken to these realities that life, and even our own identity, are changeable and that everything is connected, we can achieve the highest state of calm and serenity – NIRVANA.

THE LOTUS SUTRA AND THE ONE DHARMA SEAL
The SGI Dictionary of Buddhism describes the THREE DHARMA SEALS   as standards to determine whether or not a sutra or a doctrine was valid”  and continues that within Chinese Mahayana Buddhism these three seals were seen as a concept of early Buddhism.  “It established instead the one Dharma seal, which was the principle of the ultimate reality, or the true aspect of all phenomena.  The Dharma seal of the ultimate reality is based on the Lotus Sutra, which sets forth this true aspect of all phenomena.”

2005 PEACE PROPOSAL

Every year since 1983 President Ikeda has written a Peace Proposal (see also For the Sake of Peace) with a Buddhist perspective on how to bring peace to society through committees, treaties and dialogue. 
  
In his 2005 Peace Proposal, ”Towards a New Era of Dialogue: Humanism  Explored”,  he summarised the Buddhist concept of these three Dharma seals:

“The impermanence of all phenomena (shogyo-mujo) explains that all things, events and experiences can be understood as an unbroken continuity of change and transformation.  Because everything changes, there is nothing that has a fixed, independent existence or substance (shoho-muga).  The enlightened state realized through the fully developed capacity to discern this reality is referred to as the tranquility of nirvana (nehan-jakujo).

This describes the initial awakening achieved by Shakyamuni when he realized that all things arise in the context of their interrelatedness;  this is a world woven of the rich threads of diversity, as all things exist in a web of interdependence, each serving as the cause or connection by which all other things come into being.”
(Daisaku Ikeda, 2005 Peace Proposal, p5)
Most Buddhist schools claim they are following Shakyamuni’s true intent through their own faith and practice of one or more of his teachings, so Shakyamuni also gave a warning of who to trust in the future…  

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

THE GREAT SPEECH

Charlie Chaplin is most famous for his memorable on-screen character “The Tramp” from the silent era of movies, and when talking movies first began, he tried to buck the trend believing that talking pictures would undermine the artistry of acting.  In 1940 though, after releasing two movies which were soundtracked but still avoided the spoken word, he made his first true talking movie, The Great Dictator, which features one of the greatest speeches of all time.

The movie is a political satire about two identical characters - a Jewish barber and a dictator called Adenoid Hynkel – both played by Chaplin, and after a series of persecutions, mix ups and confusion, the barber finds himself in a situation where people think he is the dictator.  The movie ends with the barber giving a speech, but instead of a message of hate, it is a call for people to open their eyes, stand up and fight oppression and dictators.  

Below is a video of this wonderful speech.  Charlie Chaplin may have spent most of his life in silence, but when he did talk he had something important to say, and even though this movie premièred in New York City on 15th October 1940, the words are as fresh and relevant today as they were 74 years ago.
  

video



I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an Emperor - that's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible -- Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another; human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there's room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful.  But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me I say, "Do not despair." The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators die; and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers: Don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel; who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate; only the unloved hate, the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers: Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written, "the kingdom of God is within man" -- not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men, in you, you the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power! Let us all unite!! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie! They do not fulfill their promise; they never will. Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people!! Now, let us fight to fulfill that promise!! Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.

Soldiers: In the name of democracy, let us all unite!!!

Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality.

Look up, Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow -- into the light of hope, into the future, the glorious future that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us. Look up, Hannah. Look up.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Nichiren Daishonin's RPE


NICHIREN'S LEVEL OF EXERTION

Some people may recognize RPE as the abbreviation for Gunnar Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion – a scale used in medicine to document a patient’s level of exertion during a test, and by sports coaches to assess the intensity of training and competition.

I prefer to think of it in terms of the level of exertion of Nichiren Daishonin and the intensity of his steadfast faith and courage throughout a life of REMONSTRATIONS, PERSECUTIONS and EXILES

How much heart, soul, spirit and dedication did Nichiren commit to the propagation of Buddhism? 

This can be seen through his steadfast faith, courage and determination to REMONSTRATE with the government, his resolve to overcome any and all PERSECUTIONS, and his commitment to not only survive the harshest of EXILES, but to make the most of every moment of them by continuing to propagate his Lotus Sutra Buddhism and to support his followers by writing some of his most important letters.  



When it comes to your faith, practice and study of Nichiren Buddhism, what's your Rating of Perceived Exertion?  

Light Activity, Vigorous Activity or Max Effort Activity?


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Master - Apprentice - Successor

BUILDING OUR OWN FUTURE

Do you know the name of this famous church?  It’s the Sagrada Família by Gaudi.  How long do you think it took to build?  Would you be surprised to know it’s still not finished! 

Initially it was someone else’s project and was started in 1882, but a year later Gaudi took over and improved the design.  When he died 45 years later it was still only 25% finished, and it isn’t expected to be completed until 2026!

Since his death, senior architects and project managers have overseen the continuation of this construction in accordance with Gaudi’s designs, and, even after a fire destroyed the plans during World War 2, his successors managed to redraw the designs from memory.

New and Old Construction
This cathedral is a very ambitious project which is one of the reasons it has taking so long, and without funding from the government, the speed of construction is dependent on the voluntary donations of visitors to the cathedral and private individuals.


But, whereas this cathedral could well have been left as an unfinished monument to Gaudi and remained 25% complete, the spirit of Gaudi’s apprentices, and their successors, to fulfil their mentor’s vision has maintained the momentum of construction.

THIS is the spirit of July 3rd


MAKING A VOW

July 3rd is not just about how great Mr. Makiguchi, Josei Toda or President Ikeda are as individuals, but it’s about recognizing their shared determination to see Buddhism spread throughout Japan and the world. 

July 3rd 1944 was the day that Josei Toda, the second president of the Soka Gakkai, was released from prison and on his way home he saw the state of Tokyo at that time – a city that had been bombed with many people suffering.  That evening he sat before his Gohonzon and vowed:

“Gohonzon and Nichiren Daishonin!  I, Josei Toda, swear to work to achieve kosen-rufu”


But making a vow for kosen-rufu is not exclusive to the Soka Gakkai, it originates with, and is a continuation of, the vows of Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin.

In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni talks about why buddhas appear in the world:

“The buddhas, the world-honoured ones, wish to open the door of buddha wisdom to all living beings, to allow them to attain purity.  This is why they appear in the world.”  (LSOC2, 64)


He mentions his own vows:

“Shariputra, you should know that at the start I took a vow hoping to make all persons equal to me, without distinction between us.” (LSOC2, 70)

“At all times I think to myself: How can I cause living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a buddha?”  (LSOC16, 273)


And he asks us to do the same:

“Now I entrust it to you.  You must single-mindedly propagate this Law abroad, causing its benefits to spread far and wide. … You must accept, uphold, read, recite, and broadly propagate this Law, causing all living beings everywhere to hear and understand it.”  (LSOC22, 319)

“After I have passed into extinction, who can guard and uphold, read and recite this sutra?  Now in the presence of the Buddha let him come forward and speak his vow” (LSOC11, 217)


Nichiren began his own spiritual journey of enlightenment by making a vow to become the wisest person in Japan, and later, after nearly being beheaded at Tatsunokuchi Beach, he declared his great vow in “The Opening of the Eyes”:

“This I will state.  Let the gods forsake me.  Let all persecutions assail me.  Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law”  (WND-1, p280)

“Here I will make a great vow.  Though I might be offered the rulership of Japan if I would abandon the Lotus Sutra, accept the teachings of the Meditation Sutra, and look forward to rebirth in the Pure Land, though I might be told that my father and mother will have their heads cut off if I do not recite the Nembutsu – whatever obstacles I might encounter, so long as persons of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false, I will never yield!  All other troubles are no more to me than dust before the wind.  I will be the pillar of Japan.  I will be the eyes of Japan.  I will be the great ship of Japan.  This is my vow, and I will never forsake it!”  (WND-1, p280)


In another letter he warns followers of Shakyamuni’s earlier teachings of the vow of a bodhisattva:

 “It is the nature of bodhisattvas to put off their own nirvana until they fulfil the vow to save all others.  If persons of the two vehicles cannot attain Buddhahood, then how can bodhisattvas fulfil their vow to save all people?  With this vow unfulfilled, they too cannot attain Buddhahood.” (WND-2, 278)


And in two other letters, he encourages his followers to make a great vow:

“Now you should make a great vow and pray for your next life”  (WND-1, p626)

“My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow” (WND-1, p1002)


BUILDING OUR OWN FUTURE

We are the architects of our own future - a future that shines with Shakyamuni and Nichiren’s vision of kosen-rufu and based on the foundation of a great vow to reveal our Buddhahood and to teach others to reveal their Buddhahood.

Shakyamuni had the vision of kosen-rufu when he awoke to the ultimate reality of life and all phenomena and explained that the Lotus Sutra should be taught far and wide, but many people couldn’t see his idea clearly.

Nichiren Daishonin grasped the meaning of the Lotus Sutra and, as well as ensuring he taught others how great it was, he created a blueprint for a daily practice that made The Lotus Sutra more accessible to everyday people.

Seven hundred years later, Mr. Makiguchi, Josei Toda and President Ikeda are the project managers of kosen-rufu within the Soka Gakkai.  Times may have changed, but the way to spread this Buddhism, one-to-one with our friends and by shining in our daily lives within our families, workplaces and communities is the same.


THE FOUNDATION OF THE S.G.I.

Mr. Makiguchi started the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai and established an organisation of 3000 members around the Tokyo area.

After the war, Josei Toda, stood alone, but tried to gather some of these former members together to share his great vow and his vision of kosen rufu.  And, through his encouragement, organisation and faith spread Nichiren Buddhism throughout Japan with a total of 800,000 households before he died.

President Ikeda has gone on to build upon this by continuing to inspire members in Japan and overseas to enable the SGI to be established and to expand through 193 countries.


THE SPIRIT OF JULY 3

We are now entrusted with the spread of Buddhism within our own countries and communities, and on July 3rd – “Mentor-Disciple Day” - we are the ones that make a vow to stand up and share Nichiren Buddhism with others.  The great vow of a single individual committed to advancing kosen-rufu with the same passion, intention and spirit as Shakyamuni, Nichiren Daishonin and the three founding presidents of the SGI.