Buddhahood in this Lifetime
For those who have recently joined
Nichiren Shoshu and are taking their first steps in faith, it is most important
to have a clear understanding of the purpose of faith.
The following analogy may serve to
illustrate. Suppose there are two people reading the same book. One person
strives to learn all the words and grammar in the book, while the other makes
efforts to grasp the author’s intent. Clearly, what the two will gain from
reading will be quite different. Even in reading a single page of a book, there
is a tremendous difference in the result gained by each type of reader.
Inevitably, the first won’t gain the significance, while the other’s effort can
open up a whole new world.
Our approach in faith is even more
important. The more we can awaken to the purpose of faith, the clearer the
approach necessary to achieve that purpose will become, as will the correct
attitude in faith.
The most important point to keep in
mind is that the practice of true Buddhism is a lifelong journey. Nichiren
Daishonin teaches us that to begin is easy but to continue is difficult;
however, attaining enlightenment lies in continuing faith.
So what is the purpose of faith in
Nichiren Shoshu? To put it simply, there are two ultimate purposes for taking
faith in this Buddhism. One is to realize an absolutely unshakable state of
happiness in which there is boundless joy in being alive (attaining Buddhahood
in this lifetime). The other is to realize an ideal society in which people can
enjoy happy lives together based on true Buddhism (kosen-rufu).
“Attaining Buddhahood in this
lifetime” does not mean changing your human form. Nor does it mean becoming a
Buddha when you die, a mistaken view commonly held in other Buddhist
denominations. Rather, it means achieving, in this lifetime and in our present
form, the greatest potential life condition contained within the depths of our
lives through sincere faith in and practice to the Gohonzon.
This highest life condition is
called “The Buddha,” “Buddhahood,” or “the Buddha nature.” Another name for it
Buddhahood is a mighty force that
manifests a solution to every kind of suffering. It is a source of energy that
manifests in our daily lives and propels each of us into a brilliant, truly
joyful and fulfilled existence in the present moment. Striving in faith, we aim
to establish an absolutely indestructible life condition of spiritual strength,
wisdom and peace grounded in the world of Buddhahood.
Of course, situations in which an
ill person becomes healthy, an unhappy family finds harmony, or poverty changes
to financial security are necessary conditions for a happy life. However, if
these conditions are examined closely, they can all be seen to be relative,
partial forms of happiness in comparison to an inner condition based on
Buddhahood. In many cases, relative happiness is manifested only temporarily or
However, within the reality of our
daily lives, we are often embroiled in so many kinds of hardships that we
cannot keep track of them all. Though we are able to make money, we may suffer
with family discord, or even if we are healthy we may have unhappy children.
Uncovering and revealing the world
of Buddhahood is the fundamental source for attacking the root cause of
suffering in human life, and for resolving every possible form of distress.
This is the absolute happiness each and every person in the world is longing
for in the depths of his or her heart.
Just as a single drop of water is included within a
great ocean, a person who has established an absolutely happy life condition
through embracing true Buddhism will definitely be able to resolve flaws in his
or her character, and overcome sickness, poverty, or family problems.
Thus, it is important for us to
have unshakable faith and tenaciously seek the attainment of Buddhahood in this
lifetime, without being swayed by external circumstances. With strong faith, we
need not be joyful one moment and depressed the next because of the ups and downs
of life. Even small prayers will be answered without fail.
The second important purpose of
faith is kosen-rufu, which means to ceaselessly and correctly protect Nichiren
Daishonin’s Buddhism and widely propagate it throughout the entire world in
order to rid the world of misery. This will create unshakable happiness for all
people and build a truly peaceful society.
From the very start, Buddhism has
taught its followers to be merciful and to pursue their own happiness together
with concern and compassion for others.
Nichiren Daishonin risked his life
for peace in society and the happiness of humanity, and offered himself wholly
for the sake of kosen-rufu. His successors, the Second High Priest Nikko
Shonin, the Third High Priest Nichimoku Shonin, and each of the successive High
Priests, have all fervently exerted themselves for the realization of
Those who make this admirable
spirit a deep part of themselves and thereby dedicate themselves for the sake
of kosen-rufu are embracing the true spirit of Nichiren Shoshu believers.
Thus, the purpose of faith in
Nichiren Shoshu is to gain true happiness by attaining Buddhahood in this
lifetime and to widely teach and propagate Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism
throughout the whole world in order to lead others to happiness.
Faith, Practice, and Study
In order to gain the great benefits
of true Buddhism, faith must always be accompanied by practice. Usually, when a
person wants to express thanks to another it is a common social practice to
make some gesture (saying, “Thank you,” giving a gift, etc.) to express that
sentiment. If a person feels grateful but makes no expression of gratitude,
that gratitude is not conveyed to the other person. It could be argued that the
person feels no true appreciation.
Faith is like this. If a person
believes in Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, this resolution in faith should reveal
itself physically, in the form of action.
Practice inevitably accompanies
faith. This means that the will to believe in and have respect for the Gohonzon
is expressed as practice. Practice is chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo (Daimoku),
and reciting a portion of the Lotus Sutra (Gongyo). The deep desire to seek the
truth of Buddhism is expressed as the study of doctrine. Nichiren Daishonin
Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and
study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism . . . . Both
practice and study arise from faith.
(MW, Vol. 1, p. 95, Gosho,
The Daishonin teaches that we must
work diligently in our Buddhist practice and our study of doctrine. Our
practice is something that emerges from the determination of our faith. Our
faith and practice are kept on track by study. Nothing valuable results in our
daily lives unless we act. The truth is that if we don’t translate something
into practice, we won’t reap the rewards from it, and our understanding won’t
progress. Not only that, when putting something into practice, it is often the
case that when we don’t do it according to the correct method, our efforts are
wasted, and we gain nothing.
As believers of Nichiren Shoshu, it is important for
us to correctly practice Buddhism together under the leadership of a correct
teacher and with encouragement from experienced believers. It is important that
we walk the path of Buddhist practice together. As we gain actual proof of the
great fortune of the Gohonzon and an understanding of the doctrine, our faith
will deepen without fail.