When we practice to the Gohonzon with faith, the
great life condition of Buddhahood will manifest in the depths of our lives. We
can expiate our negative karma from the past and experience it as a lesser
effect. We are, at once, able to lessen the heavy suffering, both material and
spiritual, that would have manifested in our present life as a result of
negative past causes.
What is more, for the practitioner of Nichiren
Shoshu, the lesser negative effects can be changed into great benefit. This is
called hendoku iyaku,
term for “changing poison into medicine.” No matter how many problems and
sufferings may arise, if we muster strong faith and never give up this
practice, these situations will be resolved. Moreover, our life condition will
open up to a life of greater happiness. This is the Gohonzon’s great benefit,
changing misfortune into happiness. To state a few examples: poor health can
change into good health, poverty can become financial stability, a selfish
person can become a person of noble character, and family discord can be
transformed into true family happiness.
Thus, by overcoming our sufferings and problems, we
arefilled with a strong life force and
enjoy true fulfillment. The force that impels us to accomplish this is
Buddhahood welling up within our hearts as a result of our faith in the
Gohonzon. The greatest benefit is the attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present
The attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form
is the life condition symbolized by the four virtues of Jo, Raku, Ga,
and Jo. Jo
(eternity) is an
indestructible eternal life. Raku
(happiness) is a feeling of absolute (as opposed to “relative”) happiness from
enjoyment of living itself. Ga (true
self) is a strong and harmonious will, undisturbed by any outside influence. Jo
(purity) is a pure life, unaffected
by outside influences.
Conspicuous and Inconspicuous
By having strong faith in Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism,
all people can attain the life condition of absolute happiness, or Buddhahood.
As proof, benefit is revealed by the effect of Buddhahood welling up inside the
life of the believer. The emergence of the great power of benefit from the
Gohonzon will provide absolute proof, leaving no room for doubt.
In Nichiren Daishonin’s words:
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is like the roar of a lion. What
sickness can therefore be an obstacle? It is written that those who embrace the
Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra will be protected by Kishimojin and her ten
daughters. They will enjoy the happiness of Aizen and the good fortune of
Bishamon. Wherever your daughter may frolic or play, no harm will come to her;
she will be free from fear like the lion king.
1, p. 119; Gosho, p. 685)
There are two kinds of benefit: conspicuous and
inconspicuous. In the Latter Day of the Law, inconspicuous benefit is most
important. Conspicuous benefit is an obvious realization of our prayers. But
the greater benefit is inconspicuous benefit, which appears gradually over
As one accepts and embraces the Gohonzon, and
strives in faith, various conspicuous benefits will often be experienced in
accordance with the time and the situation, such as the benefit for the
beginner in faith, the protection of the Shoten Zenjin when one is facing a
problem that needs to be solved, or when one’s life or livelihood is on the
edge. These conspicuous benefits are but a small part of the benefit from the
Gohonzon in comparison to inconspicuous benefits.
By experiencing the benefit of the Gohonzon, one can
be firmly convinced of achieving the life condition of “attaining Buddhahood in
one’s present form,” which is the greatest of all inconspicuous benefits, and
is the purpose of our faith.