The Teaching and Practices of
Honmon Butsuryu Shu
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11. Enlightenment:

The ten worlds possessed in the mind:

Q:What are the Stages of Enlightenment and the Stages of Attaining Buddhahood? Can we obtain them?

A:There are various interpretaions and explanations about the Stages of Enlightenment and Buddhahood depending on various Buddhist sects but HBS is a sect that carries out faithfully the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Shonin.

Nichiren Shonin elucidated that Buddhahood can only be attained through the principle of the “Three Thousand Existences that are Contained in a One Thought of Each Individual (Ichinen Sanzen)". “One thought (Moment) (Concentration) embodies all elements within the universe. The Lotus Sutra maintains that all phenomena in this world are contained in a single thought of each individual. By consolidating the principles of “Ichinen Sanzen" , it can be concluded that the Lotus Sutra proclaimed a unique theory that each of the ten realms' of living beings-(1) hell, (2) hungry spirits, (3) animals, (4) asuras, (5) human beings (6) heavenly beings, (7) disciples, (8) self-enlightened Buddha, (9) bodhisattvas. (10) Buddha-are mutually inclusive and contained in one another. It is a thinkmg that within a soul of a human being lies the other nine realms. Even within the pure and noble soul of Shakyamuui Buddha, the ugly realms of hell and hungry spirits lie therein. On the other hand within the soul of wicked and malicious persons, the realms of Buddha and bodhisattvas are also contained therein.

The realm of Buddha. The realm of an ordinary person:

The condition of the ten realms contained in the mind of an ordinary person is arranged in parallel rows and they cannot influence or control one another. The type of environment or indirect causes we place ourselves in determines the realm to be awakened. Depending on the situation, it could be easily the realm of bodhisattva or the realm of hungry spirits.

For example, a student who was influenced by his extremely remarkable teacher chooses to take a path of education. That student, through his/her affiliation, was awakened to the world of learning and practice. On the other hand, children who fool-heartedly feud over the parent's inheritance will rest assuredly have the realm of Asuras or hungry spirits in their soul as their master.

Within the soul of a person like Shakyamuni Buddha, the realms of bodhisattva and Buddha serve as the nucleus. They can be orderly controlled and will not function independently. That condition of the mind is the stage of attaining Buddhahood. The ten realms of the mind of an ordinary person are arranged in parallel rows and they can be rearranged only through religious practices.

Practices for attaining the stage of buddhahood:

The Lotus Sutra elucidated that to attain the stage of Buddhahood there are two types' of practices:(1) A person of faculty and talent should spend their time engaging in religious practices. (2) There are easier methods of practices for ordinaly people.

Nichiren Shonin was extremely interested in learning the sutra that elucidated the very core of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings at a very young age. He visited many temples researching and studying various sutras ultimately concluding that the Lotus Sutra was superior to all other sutras of Buddhism. He also concluded that among the 28 Chapters of the Lotus Sutra the primordial eight chapters, Chapter 15 to 22, were the most important teachings for the salvation of mankind in the last period of the Decadent Dharma (The Mappo Period).

The people of the Mappo Period will be able to attain the merits of Buddhahood through practices of the teachings outlined in the primordial chapters. What are the teachings and practices expounded in these chapters for the common people? Nichiren Shonin elucidated the following in his treatise, “The Four Stages of Faith and Five Stages of Practice" the following:

 “The Buddha restricts the two laws; practicing precepts and meditation.
 All emphasis should be placed upon the single factor of wisdom, but
 because our wisdom is inadequate, Buddha taught us to substitute faith for
 wisdom, making this single word, `faith', the foundation."

Nichiren Shonin also stated:

 “Embrace only the Lotus Sutra wholeheartedly. It means that one should
 embrace the Odaimoku of the sutra exclusively and not mix it with other
 passages. Even recitation of the entire sutra is not permitted."

Clarification:A beginner who engages in diffierent types of religious practices may bring about more demerits than merits. One should not use the mind to seek enlightenment, but to chant with joy, Namumyohorengekyo, the secret words that wrap all merits of the Buddha. By upholding and chanting the Odaimoku with the feeling of joy, one is taking part in preserving the precepts based on the power of the Eternal Buddha and not by the power of oneself. This is the true method to practice the religion. There is no need to recite the sutra. Nichiren Shonin also mentioned that this religion is not only for the Mappo Period, but for all periods and no matter what type of practitioners they may be they will return to the fundamental practices of the primordial eight chapters.

Nichiren Shonin based his conclusion from the following factors:

The figure of the Gohonzon:

Buddhism was born in India about 2600 years ago with the appearance of Shakyamuni Buddha, who preached his teachings in general terms for approximately 50 years. Among the various teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, the primordial eight chapters of the Lotus Stitra contained a special meaning. He revealed that:“I did not attain enlightenment as an ordinary human being, but my true original form is the Fundamental Eternal Buddha that attained enlightenment in the remotest past and had continued to preach the Dharma, transcending time and space":

Nichiren Shonin, based on the teachings of the Primordial Eight Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, wrote the “Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge -Kyo" Scripture to show us the form of practices and how it should be upheld. In the center of the Scripture are inscribed the seven Chinese characters, Na mu myo ho ren ge kyo", the very core of ehlightenment. Inscribed to the right and left of it are the names of Shakyamuni Buddha and Taho Buddha. To the right and left of them are the names bodhisattvas who were directly trained by the Eternal Buddha and various Guardian Kings of Heaven. Also inscribed are the names of Davedatta and Kishimo-jin (Hariti). Devedatta who was once a disciple of the Buddha later turned against him. He used every means to injure the Buddha. His grave offenses condemned him to hell, but through repentance for his past sins he was once again able to return to the realm of human beings. Kishimo-jin had engaged in evil deeds of abducting and murdering children, but after being admonished by Shakyamuni Buddha, she repented for her sine and became a believer in Buddhism. In short, the Gohonzon not only contains the names of Buddhas, bodhisattvas and saints, but also the names of those that fell into the lower realms of hell, hungry spirits and animals.

The names inscribed on the Gohonzon are those who have attained the state of enlightenment. The Gohonzon that inscribed the names of evil persons within the lower realms indicate that all have the capability to attainting Buddhahood if they confessed to their idleness and sins committed by disparaging the Dharma and making a vow to never commit any sin again. By doing so, they will be given a chance to return to the realm of human beings. They must engage in the practices of the Lotus Sutra in order to return to the realm since there are no shortcuts for those who have fallen into the lower realms to enter into the realm of Buddha.

In the ten worlds manfested in Nichiren Shonin's Gohonzon dwells the spirit of the Eternal Buddha's ten worlds. The Eternal Buddha's ten worlds, described earlier, are not a parallel world on the same level as that of the common people. It is a purified world governed by the realms of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. From this standpoint the Gohonzon is the ideal Scripture expressing the aspect of the mind for the practitioners.

Theory on enlightenment based on the teaching of Nichiren Shonin:

As previously stated, it is difficult for the common people to correctly discipline the mind within the ten realms by using their own wisdom and ability. The support of an outside energy is needed to bring our mind to the same level of the ten realms contained in the Gohonzon.

Based on the teachings of Chapter 21, The Supernatural Power of the Tathagata, Nichiren Shonin stated that by chanting Namumyohorengekyo, the sacred energy can be obtained. He also stated in the Supernatural Power of the Tathagata that the Eternal Buddha entrusted Jogyo to spread the sacred energy containing the merits of enlightenment for the common people in the Mappo Period. How we accept it in our mind is important.

Based on the teachings of Chapter 17, Discrimination of the Merit of the Lotus Sutra Nichiren Shonin stated that the First Stage of the “Four Stages of Faith and Five Stages of Practice" contains the casket of merits of enlightenment. It is a philosophical principle that all phenomena in this world are included in our thought in a single moment.

The spectacle of the Sacred Object Scripture elucidated by Nichiren Shonin in the “Treatise on the Spiritual Contemplation and Object of Worship" is the practice of one's understanding that all beings are Buddha in essence. Accordingly, the names of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and Guardian Kings of Heaven are written to the right and left of Namumyohorengekyo, and in the center the various kings chanting the Odaimoku together in a single moment's faith and understanding are shown.

A single moment's faith is chanting the Odaimoku with joy and gratitude without using one's wisdom or ability. Advise others to chant Namumyo‐horengekyo. It means that one should not transfer their mind to other religions, but to strictly uphold and understand the teachings of the Fine Dharma. Nichiren Shonin stated that such practitioners will become a Buddha immediately with one's present body (Myojisoku).

To become a Buddha is to extinguish all illusions and be awakened to the universal truth or the fundamental law that governs this universe. Among the various stages of Buddhist practices, Myojisoku is the first stage in which one understands that all beings are Buddha in essence.

In the “Myoko Ichiza" (One Session of the Fine Dharma) of the Hommon Butsuryu Shu's prayer book, “Kanjo Mon" (Invocation of the Buddha and Saints), it states:“May all the saints be invoked from the ten worlds, who leave their position as saints and recite as faithful beginners the sacred syllables Namumyohorengekyo, intensify the light of their wisdom adorned with the pleasure of the Dharma and become one with the Buddha mind. Embrace us with compassion."

Through the repeated chanting of the Odaimoku, our soul perceives responsive communication with the Gohonzon, and the spiritual level of the ten worlds within the mind will increase and will spontaneously be purified.

HBS's explanation of attaining Buddhahood is, as described by Nichiren Shonin, based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.

When our mind becomes one in a single moment's faith, rejoicing upon first hearing and understanding the Lotus Sutra, and by chanting the Odaimoku, the merits of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will flow into our soul.

It is important that one learns of the true and honorable doctrines of HBS, but no matter how deeply one understands the doctrines, it will not assist in obtaining Buddhahood.

One can attain the world of Buddhahood only by following the teachings of Nichiren Shonin.

The following are the quotations from Nichiren Shonin and Nissen Shonin.

In the treatise on Shi-Shin-Gohon written at the age of 56 in April in the third year of Kenji (I277) at Minobu, Nichiren Shonin gave the directions how to practice the Lotus Sutra, on the basis of the teaching of Shi-shin-gohon expounded in chapter I7 “Discrimination of Merits" of the Lotus Sutra.

A Single Moment's Faith and Understanding is the first of the four stages of faith which are intended for those living in the lifetime of the Buddha. Rejoicing upon the First Hearing of the Lotus Sutra is the first of the five stages of practice which are intended for those living after the Buddha's demise. These two stages together are the treasure chest of the hundred worlds and thousand aspects of existence and of three thousand realms in a single moment's thought. They are the gate from which all Buddhas of the ten directions and three existences appear.

Question:When those at the level of the first stage of faith practice the Lotus Sutra during the period of the Last Dharma, should they concentrate on the three ways of learning associated with the perfect teaching?

Answer:This is a very important question. so I consulted the passages of the scripture to answer you. As for the first, second, third stages of the five stages of practice, the Buddha restrains those at these stages from observing precepts and meditation, and places all emphasis upon the single factor of cultivating wisdom. It is impossible for them to acquire wisdom by meditation, so the Buddha teaches them to substitute “faith" for it, making the single word 'faith' the foundation. Unbelief is the cause for disparaging the Dharma which prevents one from attaining enlightenment, while faith is the cause for wisdom, and is equal to the stage of Myoji-soku.

Question:What kind of practices are prohibited for practitioners at the level of the first stage of faith in the period of the Last Dharma?

Answer:Such practitioners are restricted to chanting Namumyohorengekyo solely instead of performing alms-giving, keeping precepts and others of five kinds of practice (paramitah). This practice is equivalent to the capacity of people at the stages of “the single moment's faith and understanding" and “rejoicing upon the first hearing of the Lotus Sutra". This is exactly the true intention of the Lotus Sutra.

If the beginner tries to practice the five practices at the same time, that may work to obstruct his primary practice which is faith. Such a person will be like a small ship that is loaded with wealth and treasure and sets out to cross the sea. Both the ship and the treasure will sink. The phrase “should directly give all his attention to embracing the Sutra" doesn't mean to study the Lotus Sutra thoroughly from chapter I to chapter 28. It means to uphold the Daimoku exclusively without paying attention to the other passages of the Sutra, prohibiting recitation of the entire sutra. How much less the five practices! “To set aside formal practices but maintain (meditation on) the principle means that one should set aside the keeping the precepts and the other specific practices (of the five paramitas) and embrace the principle of the Daimoku exclusively. The phrase in the commentary “the benefits will be many and far-reaching" suggests that when the beginner tries to carry out various other practices and the Daimoku at the same time, then his benefits will be completely lost.

Question:Why do you not recommend the meditation on the three thousand realms in a single moment's thought (ichinen sanzen). but strongly urge to chant the Daimoku alone?

Answer:The two characters of the word Nihon or Japan contain within them all the people and animals and wealth in the sixty six provinces of the country without a single ommission. Why do the two characters of the word Gasshi (India) not similarly contain within them all the seventy states of India? The Great Master Myoraku says:“When we mention the title of the sutra, summarizing its content, the whole volumes of the Lotus Sutra are involved therein." Again he says:“When we mention the ten realms and ten factors for brevity, all the three thousand realms are contained therein. “When Bodhisattva Monjushiri and the Venerable Ananda compiled the sermons preached by the Buddha at the three assemblies during the last eight years. they gave it the title “Myohorengekyo" and understanding that the title is appropriate to the sutra, said “Thus have I heard".

Question:When people simply chant Namumyohorengekyo without understanding its meaning, can they obtain the benefits of understanding it?

Answer:When babies are suckled they have no understanding of the taste of milk but it naturally nourishes them. Who ever took the miracle medicine prepared by Jivaka (a great doctor) with enough knowledge of its concoctions? Water extinguishes fire without having that intention. Fire burns things with no intention of doing it. This is what both Nagarjuna and the Great Master Tendai had been well aware of, and I will remind you of it again.

Goshinan (Instruction)

HBS refers to the teaching of Nichiren Shonin as “Gomyohan' and the teachings of the great saints after Nichiren Shonin, particularly of Nichiryu Shonin and Nissen Shonin as “Goshinan".

Two Buddhas:

But for our minds, neither the teaching (Dharma) nor the Buddha would exist. In the Lotus Sutra, it is written:

“I am with you whenever and wherever you are."

This teaches us that the eternal Buddha resides even in our lay followers' minds. However, you are wrong if you think that you do not need to uphold the Sacred Object (Myoho). A Buddha described in the Sacred Object (Myoho) is the most refined in the Buddha's world. But a Buddha in our mind is the one which resides within an unrefined human being. There is a theory that the Buddha and a lay follower are united in mind. The lay follower is the Bodhisattva Visistacaritra. Therefore, we are united with Nichiren. In reality, we obtain such merits from the power of faith and of the Lotus Sutra since we revere and uphold honestly the Sacred Object(Myoho). We must not get conceited.

What is the substance of the Sacred Object (Myoho)?

It is not a scripture of the Lotus Sutra. It is not a meaning of the Lotus Sutra, either. The Buddha says that it is the spirit of the whole Lotus Sutra. It is a major source of life that all of the sentient beings and their surroundings of the entire universe must depend on. The Mahsattva Tendai wrote in his books, GENGI 1, that this Sacred Object (Myoho) is the basis of the whole. Depiction of various saints being converted to this Sacred Object (Myoho) is in a mandala of ten worlds. The Honmon Butsuryu Shu, thus, considers the Daimoku (Myoho) to be the Sacred Object.

Most people think that the Odaimoku of the Wonderful Dharma is the merely title of the Lotus Sutra. It is not. Nor is it a connotation of its teachings. It is a part of the twenty-eight chapters and 69,384 words contained in the eight scrolls, which gave birth to the Lotus Sutra, It is a deep secret treasure contained in the “Ichinen Sanzen" (Three Thousand Realms in a Moment's Thought), which only the Buddha can receive. To be born as a human being and to be able to hear the priceless religious teachings is a reward. Therefore, discard your forbearance and prejudice. Chant only the Odaimoku, Namumyohorengekyo, of the Eternal Buddha with a faithful soul.

Chant the Odaimoku without doubt or thought:

Do not entertain various thoughts while chanting the Odaimoku. Of course, to doubt the Odaimoku is not good. Just chant the Odaimoku with a feeling of gratefulness. Why? Because the Odaimoku of the Fine Dharma embraces Buddha's spirit. It is difficult for the common people to comprehend. By earnestly chanting the Odaimoku, one can attain spiritual enlightenment of the Buddha. Even an extraordinary person like Great Master Tendai was unable to understand the Buddha's world of enlightenment. Therefore, it is unlikely that a common person of the Mappo Period will be able to comprehend it by self-study. One can gain and store merits of enlightenment in the soul from the energy embodied in the Odaimoku. One can also enter into the same world of enlightenment that the Eternal Buddha had experienced by chanting the Odaimoku.

Enter into religion by chanting the Odaimoku:

Nichiren Shonin stated:“No matter what thoughts arise in the mind, the power of the Odaimoku will enter your soul by chanting the Odaimoku by mouth" Those who see the figure of Nichiren Shonin praying may think that they are his followers, but various worldly thoughts of common people's soul should not be relied upon. Rely only on the Odaimokus, Namumyohorengekyo. Chant it until worldly thoughts are dismissed from the mind. When that happens, the Odaimoku of the Buddha and your soul will come to a mutual understanding and your soul will enter into the Gohonzon. This condition is known as the immediate enlightenment.