7. The Lotus Sutra and Genetic Engineering:
The Second Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, “Expedient" (Hoben-pon) states, “Within the pure land of ten directions, only One Vehicle Dharma exists. The one Vehicle Dharma expounds the methods of attaining enlightenment for all sentient beings.
What is the Law of One Vehicle Dharma that Shakyamuni Buddha acknowledged?
This profound and wonderful law is difficult to understand and is inexplicable in words. However, if the law had not been explained, the world of enlightenment experienced by Shakyamuni Buddha would have remained a secret within his own heart. Thus, the Lotus Sutra employed various parables to explain to the people, the law of the One Vehicle and the teachings of Buddha in order to arouse their vision and sensitivity. In essence, it means a) every existence possesses enormous genetic data within, b) all living beings are supported by a large original life and c) the fundamental existence of the universe is called the “Wonderful Law of Buddha (Myoho) or the “Eternal Buddha (Kuon Honbutsu)."
Information Contained Within The Genes:
Dr. Kazuo Murakami, a professor of genetic engineering at Tsukuba University, authored a book on genetics called, “A Message on Life Something Great". The book expounds on an interesting theory which closely parallels the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
A living matter, whether it be a human being, an animal or a plant, is comprised of cells in large numbers. A cell is approximately 1/500,000th millimeters in size and weighs 1/200,000,000 of gram. A life begins with a single cell within a mother's womb. Upon fertilization, the cell begins to divide continuously until the complete formation of the organs and the body parts are achieved. Each of the cells within the body contains a DNA-a genetic code that serves as a map of the traits inherited from the parents. The DNA is comprised of a chain of chromosomes that are arranged neatly and systematically. These chromosomes contain specific genetic codes that determine the color of our eyes, hair, etc.
Professor Murakami enumerated that the decoding of genetic cryptograms have been much simplified by the use of computers. It is believed that the entire genetic system will be clarified within the early part of the 21st century. While scientists have been successful in decoding the cryptogram, its origin and how it was created is still unanswered. Taking a strand of DNA, for example, the chemical characteristics are individually matched and systematically arranged.
What was its origin and how was it created? Professor Murakami surmises that there is an existence of “Something Great" in the universe that was responsible for its creation. He states that he does not know what this great existence is, but, one cannot accept, as a matter of fact, the blueprint of life and functions that are contained in the microscopic cells. He also adds that, “I have thought about this and we must not forget that human beings are being kept alive by a power in the huge universe."
What is this Something Great?
Through reading the book authored by Prof. Murakami, I am reminded of the theories of “The ten realms - from hell to the buddha realm - containing in itself the other nine realms" (Jikkai Gogu), and the “3000 existences contained in one thought" (Ichinen-sanzen), which were written by the Great Master Tendai, about 1400 years ago, based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
Today, science researchers, who are working on genetics, are beginning to confirm what had been said in the teachings of Buddhism and the doctrines written by Great Master Tendai and Nichiren Shonin.
Nichiren Shonin stated in his doctrine, “Sozai lchinen Sho" (Everything contained in one thought), that everything is sowed into the eighth consciousness, Arayashiki. (Showa Teihon, page 80). It is claimed that information on all existence is deposited into the Arayashiki. The recent developments on heredity introduced by prominent research scientists are similar to what Buddhism had expounded many years ago.
“I often get a strange feeling when I read about a new information on heredity.
It always poses a question as to who created this exquisite blueprint?" It can only be said to be a phenomenon beyond man's capabilities. If this is the case, then we must assume that it is a work of a being beyond man. From this view point, I refer to such existence as “A Great Somebody" or “Something Great".
Professor Murakami's reference to the “Something Great" is surely what the Lotus Sutra expounded as the “One Vehicle Dharma" (Ichijo Myoho), and is one example of the energy of the Eternal Buddha.
Let me continue with the professor's dissertation
“At the present time, much information regarding life has been obtained by scientists. Yet, scientists, with even with a vast amount of knowledge, information and resources, have not been able to recreate a simple organism, such as the colitis germ. We have been given a magnificent gift from the “Something Great".
We take for granted the gift of life that is given to us. Instead of expressing appreciation and gratitude, we tend to complain about every triviality of our daily life. I personally have a strong appreciation for the exquisite life as a human being, which was given to us by the “Something Great".
Since our life, as it exists today, would not have been possible if it were not for our parents, their parents, and their grandparents, etc., showing apppreciation to them also means we are expressing our gratitude to our ancestors. It is also important to realize that we are being kept alive by a larger existence incomprehensible to the human being. I am beginning to realize that the “Something Great" exists.
Shakyamuni Buddha manifested that “there is a huge existence excelling mankind".
This occurence is now being proclaimed by genetic engineers. However, the huge existence excelling mankind cannot be comprehended by the mind, nor can it be explained with words, said Shakyamuni Buddha. Even if it could, it is insignificant from the viewpoint of Buddhism. What is important is how we interact with the fundamental life, known as the One Vehicle Dharma or the Eternal Buddha. Nichiren Shonin taught us how we can relate to the essential eight chapters of Honmon (Chappters 15-22) of the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren Shonin stated in the “Ishin Dai-e" that we should refrain from using our shallow wisdom. Only revere the Fine Dharma (the Odaimoku) and without sparing the voice, repeatedly chant. Namumyohorengekyo, Namumyohorengekyo.
This is the most important path one can take to relate self to the great life and is the only method whereby the power of the “Wonderous Law" of Buddha can be instilled in our body and soul.
Let us, dilligently chant the Odaimoku together and plant the seeds of the religious merits into our heredity genes and store them in the Arayashiki for the benefit of the next generation.
Nichiren Shonin stated:“For those who are incapable of understanding the truth of the `3,000 existences contained in one thought', Lord Shakyamuni Buddha, with His great compassion, wraps this jewel with the five characters of myo, ho, ren, ge, kyo and hang it around the neck of the ignorant in the Latter Age of the Decadent Dharma." (A Treatise on the Spiritual Contemplation and the Object of Worship) (Kanjin Honzon Sho).
Nissen Shonin stated:“The Law of the Universe", which Shakyamuni Buddha was enlightened to, cannot be defined with words. If that is possible, it would not be considered to be a wonder or a mystery."