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Sunday, August 30, 2015

"The honorary doctorates and professorships I have received [now numbering over 300].... I hope you will be proud of this. I have absolutely no doubt that this good fortune and benefit flows directly to you and your descendants. But your honors and awards are meaningless" -- Daisaku Ikeda


Sanmibo had lectured to the court noble and won approval. He reported this to the Daishonin, certain that his master would praise him. Contrary to his expectations, however, the Daishonin severely reprimanded him. It is likely that the Daishonin had long been aware of Sanmibo's desire for fame. He always bent his mind on discerning the inclinations of his disciples in order to lead correctly and help them to perfect themselves. There was no way for Sanmibo's mention of "the great honor" to escape the Daishonin's attention. The Daishonin clearly saw the disciple's fundamental nature reflected in this short phrase. Based on this sign he attempted to purge Sanmibo of his undesirable traits.

"Even if you should meet a bodhisattva of the highest rank, why should you think it anything special? Much less should you stand in awe of even Bonten or Taishaku. They are the servants of our father, Sakyamuni Buddha, who have been sent by him to govern his domain and support the priests who embrace the True Law. Bishamon and the other heavenly kings rule over the four quarters as guards appointed by Bonten and Taishaku. The rulers of the four continents are all the retainers of the four heavenly kings. But the ruler of this little island country of Japan would not even qualify as a retainer of the Wheel-Rolling Kings who reign over the four continents. He is nothing but an island chieftain."

This passage reveals that Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism is the only religion capable of saving mankind for all time. The Dai-Gohonzon which we worship is called "the object of worship bestowed on the world," signifying that the unbounded mercy of the True Buddha and the infinite power of Nam~myoho~renge-kyo will benefit the people everywhere on earth from now on to eternity. The scope of the

Daishonin's Buddhism is by no means limited to one country alone. Nor is it a teaching like state-established religions of the past which allowed their leaders to remain comfortable in seats of authority and power. At various times in the past, a few people have tried to glorify Nichiren Daishonin as an ultranationalist or to establish his Buddhism as the official religion of the nation, but their actions only served to degrade true Buddhism and narrow its range. Let me cite an example. When militarism was on the upsurge in Japan, one of the other sects published a collection of lectures on the Daishonin's works, including this Gosho. However, in that book the part of this Gosho which refers to the ruler of Japan as nothing but an island chieftain was omitted. The authorities had probably demanded that this portion be removed. We can clearly see how much the deleted part opposed the nationalistic mentality prevalent in Japan in those days. And the very act to delete it was an outright attempt to cheapen the Daishonin's Buddhism.

"But the ruler of this little island country of Japan would not even qualify as a retainer of the Wheel-Rolling Kings who reign over the four continents. He is nothing but an island chieftain." This clearly shows the way Nichiren Daishonin looked at those who ruled Japan. With his broad perspective he was concerned with saving people all over the world. What grand vision he had! Always recalling his supreme state of life, we ourselves should live on cheerfully and dynamically, taking a broad view of everything.

By calling the retainer of this chieftain "his excellency," exulting over "his gracious invitation" and, what is more, by speaking of "the great honor" you had, are you not in essence expressing your low opinion of me, Nichiren?

From Sanmibo's letter the Daishonin saw that he held court nobles-that is, people of social standing-in high esteem and considered it a great honor to lecture on Buddhism to them. The Daishonin severely reprimanded the disciple for having such an attitude, because he realized that Sanmibo now based his life on worldly honor and no longer on Buddhism as he should. What is the greatest honor in life? It is to embrace the Mystic Law as disciples of the True Buddha. This is exactly what The Entity of Enlightenment means when it states, "Outcasts in the Latter Day are even more respectworthy than the kings and ministers during the two thousand years of the Former and Middle Days." As long as we stand on this spirit, the status or position of those to whom we teach the Law is of no consequence whatsoever.

Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism treats all people equally. We teach the Law to a nobleman in exactly the same way as we do to an ordinary person. For Sanmibo to boast of "the great honor" to lecture for a court noble obviously ran counter to the Daishonin's true intention. What, then, is the true honor for us Buddhists? I cannot help but recall the final passage in the Precepts for Youth written by my master. It states, "For a wise person it is a shame to be praised by a fool. But for him to be praised by the Buddha is a lifelong honor. Be resolved to lay down your lives in front of the Cohonzon." These are quite strong words, but they boldly depict the kind of life we should lead in order to deserve true honor. Sanmibo had been "praised by a fool," which he mistook for a 'great honor."

He had clearly strayed into the pitfall of seeking secular fame and fortune. A passage in Nikko Shonin's Twenty-six Articles of Warning states, "Those believers who are bent on obtaining honor and profit and are lax in their study of Buddhism shall not be called my disciples." With his own eyes Nikko Shonin had seen Sanmibo and others become tempted by fame and fortune and led to violate the Daishonin's admonition. He must have been filled with grief when he wrote the above article.

For us Buddhists there is no greater honor than to be "praised by the Buddha." Keeping this in mind, I want you to live your whole lives filled with great pride to know that you are members of the Soka Gakkai. For this is the only organization which has continued to practice exactly as the True Buddha teaches. As a result it has suffered all sorts of persecution, criticism and slander and, overcoming them all, has advanced a broad movement that is unprecedented in this history of Buddhism.

I recall my master's guidance at a meeting of the Suiko Kai in its early days. Perhaps you remember my mentioning it in the novel, The Human Revolution (see the Seikyo Times, November 1976, p.41). At that meeting, one of the youths asked President Toda, "Sir, people often tell us to go home loaded with honors. How should we consider this in our positions?" My master replied, "You boys seem to think that you can return to your hometowns in glory only after you have attained success or fame. To become the president of a well known enterprise, a university professor or a Cabinet minister-that may be glory for those outside of our organization. Yet no one knows how long such glory will last."

1 comment:

  1. A very important post on the glaring inconsistency of Daisaku Ikeda.