If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of
birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and
to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime,
you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in
all living beings. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo
will therefore enable you to grasp the mystic truth innate in all
The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras, true and correct
in both word and principle. Its words are the ultimate reality,
and this reality is the Mystic Law (myoho). It is called the Mystic
Law because it reveals the principle of the mutually inclusive relationship
of a single moment of life and all phenomena.
That is why this sutra is the wisdom of all Buddhas.
Life at each moment encompasses the body and mind and the self and
environment of all sentient beings in the Ten
Worlds as well as all insentient beings in the three thousand
realms, including plants, sky, earth, and even the minutest particles
of dust. Life at each moment permeates the entire realm of phenomena
and is revealed in all phenomena. To be awakened to this principle
is itself the mutually inclusive relationship of life at each moment
and all phenomena. Nevertheless, even though you chant and believe
in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you
are embracing not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching. "Inferior
teaching"means those other than this [Lotus] sutra, which are
all expedient and provisional. No expedient or provisional teaching
leads directly to enlightenment, and without the direct path to
enlightenment you cannot attain Buddhahood, even if you practice
lifetime after lifetime for countless kalpas. Attaining Buddhahood
in this lifetime is then impossible. Therefore, when you chant myoho
and recite renge,1 you must summon up deep faith that
Myoho-renge- kyo is your life itself.
You must never think that any of the eighty thousand
sacred teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime or any of the Buddhas
and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are
outside yourself. Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not
relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless
you perceive the true nature of your life. If you seek enlightenment
outside yourself, then your performing even ten thousand practices
and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain. It is like the case
of a poor man who spends night and day counting his neighbor’s wealth
but gains not even half a coin. That is why the T’ien-t’ai school’s
commentary states, "Unless one perceives the nature of one’s
life, one cannot eradicate one’s grave of-fenses." 2
This passage implies that, unless one perceives the nature of one’s
life, one’s practice will become an endless, painful austerity.
Therefore, such students of Buddhism are condemned as non-Buddhist.
Great Concentration and Insight states that, although they study
Buddhism, their views are no different from those of non-Buddhists.
Whether you chant the Buddha’s name,3 recite
the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous
acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With
this conviction you should strive in faith. The Vimalakirti Sutra
states that, when one seeks the Buddhas’ emancipation in the minds
of ordinary beings, one finds that ordinary beings are the entities
of enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are
nirvana. It also states that, if the minds of living beings are
impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure,
so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves.
The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.
It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being.
When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened,
one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that
will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the
illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror,
but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting
the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality.
Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night.
How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
What then does myo signify? It is simply the mysterious
nature of our life from moment to moment, which the mind cannot
comprehend or words express. When we look into our own mind at any
moment, we perceive neither color nor form to verify that it exists.
Yet we still cannot say it does not exist, for many differing thoughts
continually occur. The mind cannot be considered either to exist
or not to exist. Life is indeed an elusive reality that transcends
both the words and concepts of existence and nonexistence. It is
neither existence nor nonexistence, yet exhibits the qualities of
both. It is the mystic entity of the Middle Way that is the ultimate
reality. Myo is the name given to the mystic nature of life, and
ho, to its manifestations. Renge, which means lotus flower, is used
to symbolize the wonder of this Law. If we understand that our life
at this moment is myo, then we will also understand that our life
at other moments is the Mystic Law.4 This realization
is the mystic kyo, or sutra. The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras,
the direct path to enlightenment, for it explains that the entity
of our life, which manifests either good or evil at each moment,
is in fact the entity of the Mystic Law.
If you chant Myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith in this
principle, you are certain to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.
That is why the sutra states, "After I have passed into extinction,
[one] should accept and uphold this sutra. Such a person assuredly
and without doubt will attain the Buddha way."5
Never doubt in the slightest.
Maintain your faith and attain Buddhahood in this
lifetime. Nam-myoho-renge- kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
1. "Chant myoho and recite renge" means
to chant the daimoku of the Mystic Law, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
2. The Annotations on "Great Concentration and Insight."
3. As used here, "the Buddha's name" denotes Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
4. This sentence can also be interpreted to read, "If one understands
that one's life is myo, then one also understands that others'
lives are all entities of the Mystic Law."
5. Lotus Sutra, chap. 21.
This writing by Nichiren was taken from:
Writings of Nichiren Daishonin. Trans. The Gosho Translation
Committee. Tokyo, Japan: Soka Gakkai, 1999.
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