There are two types of benefits. One ie a clear-cut visible benefit. The other is an unperceived invisible benefit provided by the Gohonzon. Some examples of unperceived divine interventions are as follows;a house catches on fire soon after you had left the premise or having missed boarding a ship that sank. There are examples of people with ill health who have received unperceived benefits after joining HBS. The powers of the religion will protect believers from an ill-fated future path. These are some examples of unperceived invisible benefits provided by the Gohonzon.
A Wish not Granted is also a Benefit:
It is elucidated in the Lotus Sutra that a beliver's wish will always be granted by praying fervently. However, a wish is not always fulfilled even when one fervently practices the teachings. Why is this?
Answer:The Buddha provides only what is beneficial to the believers. Unbefitting benefits will not be granted. To that end, an unanswered wish can also be considered as a reward. We, lay people, are unaware of what is in store for us in the future. However, the Buddha, who is aware of the past, present and future worlds, knows what is best for us. Therefore, a wish may go unanswered. It is with benevolent intent that the Buddha grants beneficial rewards to the practitioners.
One's Faith Will Decline By Not Suppressing Heretical Teachings:
If one desires to strengthen their faith, it is important to propagate the teachings of the Lotus Sutra by converting others to the religion. One also must suppress heretical teachings. Resigning practices only to oneself will likely cause one's religious faith to decline. It is important to convert othere to the religion of the Lotus Sutra in order to eradicate sins.
Praying for the Promotion of the Lotus Sutra and the Converting of Others:
To improve your fortune, success, or poor health, it is important to convert others to the true religion of the Lotus Sutra through proper instructions and guidance. In this manner, sins will be immediately eradicated and all wishes will be granted.
By Receiving Visible Merits One's Religious Practices will Deepen:
During the Period of the Last Dharma, a majority of the people believed that there was no Pure Buddha Land or Hell. To join one's hande together in prayer to Gods and Buddhas was considered a shameful act. Those who are familiar with other sects would not lend an ear to learn about the HBS religion, but, in this age, it is important to spread the true teachings of the Lotus Sutra that was assigned to Jogyo Bodhisattva by the Eternal Buddha. Providing visible benefits or punishments to scholars and non-scholars, the rich and the poor, will arouse them to engage in the pure religion of the Lotus Sutra.
Techniques for Propagating HBS Religion:
One must not use harsh worde to guide a person to the HBS religion. People will be receptive to gentle, kind, and deliberate persuasions. However, if you encounter those who are not at all receptive, it is permissible to cease your efforts to convert them. Those people would do more harm than good to other practioners.
Complaints About Not Receiving Rewards:
Some practioners complain that their prayer for benefit has not been answered. That is because they are weak in their religious practices. It is not right to blame this on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra or the Gohonzon. It is inappropriate to criticize the Odaimoku.
Rely on the Odaimoku and Do Not Deplore the World:
Life in this world is like a dream of having joy and sorrow in quick succession. One should be delighted in having the opportunity to come in contact with the teachings of the true Dharma. And conversely, we should not blame the world for its shortsightedness. HBS practitioner should have complete trust in the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and not be concerned about petty things. Leave everything in the hand of the Lotus Sutra and chant the Odaimoku instinctively at every opportunity. Such people are true practitioners.
The Purpose of Oko:
The “Nyorai Jinriki Hon" (The Supernatural Powers of the Tathagata) elucidated that a practitioner's home be primarily used as a “school" to display the Scripture, chant the Odaimoku and listen to the priest's sermon. In other words, the practitioner's home is used for the purpose of spreading the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. Through the virtuous deeds, the practitioner and members of the family can receive benefits. The service also serves to provide merit transference to the deceased as well as to filter sins of the family.
A Sermon is like Partaking of a Meal:
Listening to a sermon on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra is like having a daily meal. Therefore, listen to as many sermons as you can.
Listening to Sermons is a Great Merit:
If you listen to a foolish person for a day his foolishness will grow on you. On the other hand, listening to the sermons about Buddha and Nichiren Shonin's teachings will create virtuous deeds and merits. It is important that you do not forget what you've heard. In fact, forgetting the content of the sermon is more damaging than loosing a great sum of money. A practitioner, who is aware of it, is a real practitioner. There are many practitioner who do not understand the importance of a sermon nor are aware of what bad things could be in store for them in the future.
Knowing It and Not Doing It:
No matter how many sermons one Iistened to, they serve no purpose if you do not put into practice what you have heard.
The Gohonzon First and Foremost:
Revere the Gohonzon first when praying. Decorate the altar first, before you put fancy clothes on yourself. To avoid sickness, make sure that there are no ill thoughts which will revile the Dharma during your religious practices. Before you take the time and money to decorate your home, decorate the altar with necessary items. If you want to eat good meals, offer carefully selected offering at the altar. If your home or business is important to you, then strive to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra to others. Always keep in mind that you were fortunate to have come in contact with this difficult and true religion and be delighted. By building merits through consistent practice of the religion, everything will function smoothly through the support and compassion of the Odaimoku, the Eternal Buddha, and Nichiren Shonin.
Reverence is through Action:
The Gohonzon is the living body of the Buddha. Even if you're doubtful, serve the altar with a feeling of reverence and chant the Odaimoku. By doing so, one will come to realize that the Gohonzon is alive and is the spirit of Buddha himself.
Serve the Priest:
The Priest is your master. He is the one who expounds and explains the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. Do not express your feelings about your Head Priests or Priests based on your whims because by doing so will create a sin. It is stated in the “Fukyo Bosatsu Pon" (The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging) of the Lotus Sutra, and by both Nichiren Shonin and Nichiryu Shonin, that one must avoid disparaging comments about priests.
To Buddha Measly Monetary Contribution. To Children Large Sums:
A Japanese proverb states:“Only one cent to the Buddha and one hundred dollars to the children." This proverb illustrates that even a small amount of money is begrudgingly spent on the priests or to the temple, yet, a large sum of money is lavishly spent on children. Human beings possess three kinds of paisons;greed, anger, and affliction. While it is difficult to avoid greed, it is important to overcome it by riding in the boat of the Wonderful Dharma.
Attaining Good Fortune:
By engaging in activities of spreading the teachings and protecting the temple, one will attain good fortunes.
Offerings to Priests:
It is important to support priests engaged in the spreading of its teachings by contributing various offerings, such as money, food, drink and clothing or the like. These offerings will assist in achieving meritorious rewards.
What is reviling the Dharma?
How does one revile the Buddhist teachings? By ignoring the Scripture of the Lotus Sutra, the main revered figure, the altar, the Odaimoku, and turning one's spirit to other faiths. Worshipping other religious sects is an act of reviling the Dharma.
Why are People without Religion not punished?
Answer:A divine punishment may not occur during the present life, but may befall in the form of three evil realms (hell, hungry spirits, and that of animal) in the future world. But why are those who engage in religions that revile the Dharma or neglect to practice the religion not punished?
Answer:Those people are not in the vision of the Gohonzon. They are not in the center of attention by the Buddha. They are being ignored. However, the Gohonzon will punish a parishioner who violates the teachings in some form. That does not mean that the Gohonzon is doing it from hatred. lt is from a manifestation of mercy and compassion.
Ignoring the Odaimoku and wavering to other types of religion is a spirit of delusion. One should overcome that behavior and chant diligently only the Odaimoku of the Gohonzon. By doing so, one's wish will invariably be fulfilled whether one is a veteran parishioner or a new parishioner.
Prayer for a Wish:
There are parishioners whose prayer for a wish is granted and some that are not. Why?
Answer:How earnestly one prays will determine how quickly favorable rewards can or cannot be received.
To Develop New Recruits is Most Important:
An important purpose of HBS religion is to convert others to its religion by kindly offering explanation and guidance about the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. In turn, the new convert can spread its teachings to others. If there is a parishioner who is reviling the Dharma, it is very important to alert that person through kind chosen words of compassion and careful reasoning to persuade them from doing it.
Destiny Exists in Oneself and not in Heaven:
In this world, a rule of cause and effect governs everything. People, who understand this rule, do not curse the Gohonzon or others. The suffering one experiences is a direct result of bad seeds that were planted. If you want future requital, plant good seeds now. To acquire happiness, strive to spread the religion. To blame Heaven is wrong. Destiny is created by oneself, and not by God or other supreme power.
Bad Mouthing is a Sin:
A parishioner criticizing another parishioner is worse than criticizing Shakyamuni Buddha. If a parishioner errors in behavior or in religious practices, confront that person and attempt to clarify the wrong doings in a civil manner.
Know your Foolishness and Remove it:
To think you're perfect and without fault is a sign of self-conceit. To know your foolishness is truly intelligent.
To Loan or Borrowing Money is Forbidden:
Borrowing or loaning money between parishioners only creates problems and destroys group cooperation. Refrain from it.
Observe the Odaimoku script as a living Buddha instead of seeing it as a mere Chinese “kanji" Scripture. The Odaimoku is the living spirit of Buddha. A parishioner who can not accept it as such will not be able to receive favorable rewards.
The Gohonzon and Nichiren Shonin's Statue as living existence:
Think of the Odaimoku Scripture left behind to the people of the Last Dharma by Nichiren Shonin as his living spirit. When observing Nichiren Shonin's statue, feel that it is Nichiren Shonin himself and chant the Odaimoku. By doing so, the various sufferings and hatreds one possesses in the heart will naturally be quelled, and consequently, one will be able to receive favorable rewards. That, indeed, is a mysterious power.
Offer Prayer and Chant the Odaimoku Only:
Nichiren Shonin stated that wishes of practitioners of the Lotus Sutra will always be rewarded, but this is based on a repeated chanting of the Odaimoku.
The Path to Survival by Oneself:
There is no path to eradicate suffering and distress other than by chanting the Odaimoku and following the teachings of the Lotus Sutra diligently. The Buddha, with great mercy and compassion, gave us the Odaimoku to chant. However, if the chanting of the Odaimoku is insufficient, sins within the soul will reemerge and cause various illusions. Moreover, a bad soul will torment you, so be careful.
The Odaimoku is a cleaner, Sin is filth:
The Odaimoku is like a cleaner and sins are like filth. Believing in the religious teachings and chanting the Odaimoku from your heart is analagous to a cleaner washing away filth. Sins will be filtered. Chanting the Odaimoku only once ie useful. However, chanting the Odaimoku repeatedly will sweep your soul with the Odaimoku, and will enable you to accumulate immeasurable merits.
Chanting the Odaimoku:
By diligently chanting the Odaimoku in front of a Gohonzon, the spirits of the Buddha, Taho Buddha, Bodhisattvas, Guardian Kings of Heaven and others will all congregate together to protect you. That is analogous to water attracting fish and forests attracting birds.
Reciting the Sutra is to Reviling the Fine Dharma:
Some people of other sects say, “you, Nissen Shonin recite the One Session of the Fine Congregation, the Title of the Twenty-eight Chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and other phrases in the “Divine or Supernatural Power". Isn't that practice contrary to what you say and do?"
Let me respond to that comment. The priests of other sects merely read the Chinese “kanji" characters of sutras without understanding their true meanings. An absurd practice. The sutras in the “One Session of the Fine Congregation" praised the Odaimoku, and the phrases used are for the purpose of spreading the Lotus Sutra teachings. Reciting it is not in anticipation for enlightenment or attaining Buddhahood. Therefore, those who recite randomly the selected sutras or phrases of Nichiren Shonin's teachings by just reading the “kanji" merely use this to receive merits. That is a mistaken viewpoint. Reciting sutras, instead of chanting the Odainoku, is destroying Nichiren Shonin's intention for the salvation of the people. We, HBS practitioners, should voice our objection to reciting sutras in a wrong manner. The Basic Principle of the Odaimoku: Most people think that the Odaimoku of the Wonderful Dharma is the 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, the foundation and spirit of the Odaimoku. 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 bear the priceless religious teachings is a reward. Therefore, discard your forbearance and prejudice. Chant only the Odainoku, 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 Odainoku is not good. Just chant the Odaimoku with a feeling of gratefulness. Why? Because tbe 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 porson like Great Master Tendai was unable to understand the Buddha's world of enlightenment. Therefore, it is unlikely that a common pereon 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. They can also enter into the same world of enlightenment that the Eternal Buddha had experienced by chanting the Odaimoku.
Enter the Faith 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 peoples' soul should not be relied upon. Rely only on the Odaimoku, 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 the Gohonzon. This condition is known as the immediate enlightenment.
Chant and Listen:
The Odnimoku is the best medicine. This medicine can be consumed by listening to the ehanting sound of the Odaimoku. It will awaken a sleeping soul and activate it. When the Scripture and the Odaimoku merges, religious favors can be received Chant the Odaimoku fervently and listen to it intently. It may be a difficult practice at first, but through continuous chanting favorable rewards can be received. The Lotus Sutra elucidated:“By chanting the Odaimoku, one will be saved from various sufferings and agonies".
Submitting to the True Teachings of “Shakubuku":
Shakubuku means denouncing and suppressing evil heretical teachings, and to guide one to the true teachings of Buddhiem in this period of the last Dharma. It is important to keep in mind that Shakubuku is a manifestation of mercy and compassion. Scolding will only invite hostility. It will not serve to guide one to the true teachings.
Verbal Attack is a Great Sin:
Verbally attacking parishioners and breaking the harmony of an order is committing a great sin. No matter what the circumstance may be, do not bad-mouth others behind their back. A face-to-face Shakubuku confrontation is most preferable. Mutually reproving persons for their conduct, breaking unity, and causing confusion among parishioners must be avoided. Executing Shakubuku by acting as an intermediary is a very difficult task. Only a handful of practitioners are capable of doing it.
As long as you uphold and keep the Sacred Object (Myoho), all of saints and gods will come around to protect you in the same manner as soldiers guard their king, parents protect their children and will sustain you as water sustain fish, fish depend on water and rain sustains grass and trees and tree provide a nesting place for birds. Like the shadows follow you not only during the daylight but also in the moonlight, the Sacred Object is always around you to protect you. You must believe how powerful the Sacred Object (Myoho) is.
Odimoku (Myohorengekyo) What reality is:
It contains profound meanings. Each and every existing thing of the whole universe fuses with each other and the properties of those existing things are of the same quality. They are the constituents of momentary consciousness as well as microscopic objects. This is what Butsuryu believers experience in their hearts when they recite Odaimoku and we believe that all of us have the potential to become a Buddha. This is the truth that the Buddha perceived. Therefore, Myohorengekyo (Daimoku) proves that the truth constituting the entire universe that the Buddha perceived and the potential for becoming a Buddha are of the same quality. Myohorengekyo (Daimoku) is extremely powerful and edifying to all of us.
Three treasures in a period without the Buddha:
Three treasures during the period of Buddha Sakyamuni were the Buddha (Buddha Sakyamuni), his teachings (Dharma) and followers of the Buddhisum (disciples). In the present day without Buddha, we have the wooden carved image of the Buddha. For Honmon Butsuryushu, however, the Odaimoku(Gohonzon) is the treasure of the spirit of the Buddha. Reciting the Odaimoku is the treasure of the Dharma and the devoted followers who propagate this Daimoku to save the world are the treasure of Buddha's disciples. Therefore, devoted Buddhist priests and followers are treasures of the Buddha in this Mappo period.
The Sacred Object (Myoho) is living:
The wise people understand existence of Buddha, the power of the Fine Dharma (Myoho). However, the fools in the period without Buddha can not. No one can doubt the definite existence of the substance of life even though it is not visible to us. Nevertheless, fools tend to deny its existence since they cannot see it with their own eyes. Having felt compassion for them, the Buddha displayed the Sacred Object in writing for our sake. The wooden carved image of Buddha is meant to help us believe in the existence of the invisible Myoho (the Sacred Object-Honzon). Zen Buddhists reject this to be image worshiping because they regard their own minds higher than tangible things. These people fall in the evil path of self-conceit because they believe that the sacred object exists in the minds of ashamed human beings. We must understand that the Sacred Object and the wooden carved image of Boddhisattve are real. They have a soul. They are living.
Selection of the Sacred Object:
As the Primordial Sacred Object is what we need to uphold and rely upon, it has to be as valuable as it could be. Otherwise, all our faith and practice would be in vain. For instance, when you expect something from others, you had better depend on the wise, the old, the skilled, or the good, because the fool, the young, the unskilled and the bad only disappoint you. Likewise, the Sacred Object has a capability not only to distinguish between a hypothesis and a truth, but also to hold all kinds of power and merits. We also must know that Daimoku (NamuMyohorengekyo) is the Sacred Object, the most appropriate guiding light for us today. Blessed, only those who honestly pray toward this Daimoku-the Sacred Object truly can be the happiest.
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 Bodhesattva 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 substance of the Sacred Object (Myoho)?
It is not a scripture of the Lots 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 Butsuryushu, thus, considers Daimoku (Myoho) to be the Sacred Object.
All sentient beings are composed of a group of five atomic elements. Wherever those beings are, surroundings (countries and lands) exist. Atomic elements, sentient beings and surroundings are three indivisible things. Such truth of co-existence of three elements in harmony is detailed in the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. It is important to know that Diaimoku (Myoho) is the vital element which embodies the content and the merit of this teaching.
If we follow the logic in this manner, Myoho is the only real thing in this world, not a mountain, an ocean, or a land. The sky, the earth and all living beings, all of which are included in the merit of Myoho. If we understand this truth, we can become the Buddha. Unfortunately, all of us, lay followers are not aware of this and keep stumbling over our own faults by not believing the truth of the universe. We do not know that we owe the merit of Myoho to enjoy the sun, the moon, fire, water, grass, trees, Iands and four seasons. We do not have an ability to perceive the merit of Myoho. If we believe and recite the Daimoku earnestly, we will know that Myoho has the meritorious power to make us become a Buddha.