On Attaining Buddhahood
- Issho Jobutsu Sho -
If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth
and death you have endured through eternity and attain supreme
enlightenment in this lifetime, you must awaken to the mystic
truth which has always been within your life. This truth
is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore
enable you to grasp the mystic truth within you. Myoho-renge-kyo
is the king of sutras, flawless in both letter and principle.
Its words are the reality of life, and the reality of life
is the Mystic Law (Myoho). It is called the Mystic Law because
it explains the mutually inclusive relationship of life
and all phenomena. That is why this sutra is the wisdom
of all Buddhas.
Life at each moment encompasses both body and spirit and
both self and environment of all sentient beings in every
condition of life1,
as well as insentient beings -- plants, sky and earth, on
down to the most minute particles of dust. Life at each
moment permeates the universe and is revealed in all phenomena.
One awakened to this truth himself embodies this relationship.
However, 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 some inferior teaching. "Inferior
teachings" means those other than this sutra, which
are all provisional and transient. No 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 aeons.
Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime is then impossible.
Therefore, when you chant the Mystic Law and recite the
Lotus Sutra, you must summon up deep conviction that Myoho-renge-kyo
is your life itself.
You must never seek any of Shakyamuni's teachings or the
Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the universe outside yourself.
Your mastery of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve
you of mortal sufferings in the least unless you perceive
the nature of your own life. If you seek enlightenment outside
yourself, any discipline or good deed will be meaningless.
For example, a poor man cannot earn a penny just by counting
his neighbor's wealth, even if he does so night and day.
That is why Miao-lo states, "Unless one perceives the
nature of his life, he cannot eradicate his evil karma."2
He means here that unless one perceives the nature of his
life, his practice will become an endless, painful austerity.
Miao-lo therefore condemns such students of Buddhism as
non-Buddhist. He refers to the passage in the Maka Shikan,
"Although they study Buddhism, their views revert to
those of non-Buddhists."
Whether you chant the Buddha's name3,
recite the sutra or merely offer flowers and incense, all
your virtuous acts will implant benefits in your life. With
this conviction you should put your faith into practice.
For example, the Jomyo Sutra says the Buddha's enlightenment
is to be found in human life, thus showing that common mortals
can attain Buddhahood and that the sufferings of birth and
death can be transformed into nirvana. It further states
that if the minds of the people 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 a common mortal. While
deluded, one is called a common mortal, but once enlightened,
he is called a Buddha. Even a tarnished mirror will shine
like a jewel if it is polished. A mind which presently is
clouded by illusions originating from the innate darkness
of life is like a tarnished mirror, but once it is polished
it will become clear, reflecting the enlightenment of immutable
truth. Arouse deep faith and polish your mirror night and
day. 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 lives from moment to moment, which the mind
cannot comprehend nor words express. When you look into
your own mind at any moment, you perceive neither color
nor form to verify that it exists. Yet you still cannot
say it does not exist, for many differing thoughts continually
occur to you. 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 reality of all things. Myo is the name given
to the mystic nature of life, and ho to its manifestations.
Renge, the lotus flower, symbolizes the wonder of this
Law. Once you realize that your own life is the Mystic Law,
you will realize that so are the lives of all others. That
realization is the mystic kyo, or sutra. It is the king
of sutras, the direct path to enlightenment, for it explains
that the entity of our minds, from which spring both good
and evil, is in fact the entity of the Mystic Law. If you
have deep faith in this truth and chant Myoho-renge-kyo,
you are certain to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. That
is why the sutra states, "After my death, you must
embrace this sutra. Those who do so shall travel the straight
road to Buddhahood."4
Never doubt in the slightest, but keep your faith and attain
enlightenment in this lifetime. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
- In every condition of life: In any of the
Ten Worlds, or ichinen sanzen.
- Maka Shikan Bugyoden Guketsu, vol. 4.
- Buddha's name: As used here, it denotes Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
- Lotus Sutra, Chap.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, pg. 3-5.