Venerate The Lotus Sutra

Venerate The Lotus Sutra
Venerate The Lotus Sutra

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mutual Possession Is Ten Tenths of The Mystic Law


On April 28th, 1253, after years of strictly disciplined Buddhist study and practice, Nichiren Daishonin, from a space of pure and true enlightenment, first expounded the invocation of the Mystic Law - Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Much more than what has hence been commonly referred to as merely the title of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Daishonin, himself, declared that this initial proclamation was the first turning of the wheel of the Mystic Law.

The chant of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was never intended for the sole benefit of the self, but rather as a vow to surrender one's true self to the primal, non-intellectual concept that all things, sentient and non-sentient are specifically inter-connected.

Nor was it ever intended to be a spinning wheel to turn straw into gold or an incantation of some magic spell to fulfill one's earthly desires, but it was intended to serve as an effective and expedient method for any sentient being to harmonize themselves with the rhythm of the universe and thereby transform their full karma through personal actualization.

Yet, not just their own karma. Not just their own enlightenment, but the enlightenment of the entire universe and everything it contains.

The interconnected building blocks of the entire universe was fully spelled out by T'ien T'ai's (538-597) writing entitled, Great Concentration and Insight:

"Life at each moment is endowed with the ten worlds. At the same time, each of the ten worlds is endowed with all the others, so that an entity of life actually possesses one hundred worlds. Each of the worlds in turn possesses thirty realms of existance.Which means that within the one hundred worlds there are three thousand realms. The three thousand realms of existance are all possessed by a single entity of life."

This was an original teaching, yet, in my opinion, somewhat incomplete. Nichiren Daishonin's exhaustive study of T'ien T'ai philosophy further expanded the theory and application of this ideal, known as Ichinen Sanzen.

These three thousand realms are further divided into three realms of reference. Simply put - one thousand realms for you, one thousand realms for everyone else in the universe (including you as well), and one thousand realms for everything else in the universe (including you, yet again).

For every single cause in the universe, be it action, thought or deed, there is an effect. Be it simultaneous (manifest) or eventual (latent).

All things in the universe are effected by the causes of all other things and likewise, all things in the universe make causes as well as all things which contain the three thousand realms, only distinguished in terms of sentience (life as we perceive it).

The three thousand realms, as we interact with them, consciously or otherwise, are specifically diagrammed by T'ien T'ai's teachings as the ten worlds, the ten factors and the five components. The latter of which is actually one of three additional realms of existence that specifically describe the entire karmic process of a sentient being. All of this together explains the actual karmic mechanism that makes manifestation of a sentient being possible on this plane of consciousness (what you and I would call reality). A manifestation that collectively, all sentient beings throughout the universe have collectively constructed to enable this eternal manifestation.

The ten worlds are like a ten-digit phone number in that they are easy to memorize for mindfulness of the true reality of life as the Buddha we all are. A measurement that we may observe throughout our practice of venerating the Lotus Sutra through Daimoku and Gongyo.

The Ten Worlds of Embodiment 


1. The World of Hell


Grief, despair and suffering. When lacking sufficient support of the other worlds it can lead to suicide or at the very least, self destructive tendencies. Yet, when even partially in balance with the rest of the ten worlds, it provides emotional and/or physical experiential opportunities for being able to demonstrate sincere and earnest empathy. And among so many other things, can break self-destructive cycles and habits when the resulting pain and suffering is learned from by the true self, thereby being able to forgo repetition (similar to not putting one's hand into a flame twice).

2. The World of Hunger 

Primal desires necessary for our very existence and physical manifestation. Earthly desires for love, procreation, nutrients and water. Yet drugs and alcohol are examples of how this world can also affect the true self. Hunger for adrenaline stimulation and other emotionally charged motivations are also created here.

3. The World of Animality

 The world of fight and flight. Competition, self preservation and protection. As all worlds, this too can go very wrong, very quickly.

4. The World of Anger

Ego manifestation, defensiveness, fame addiction, besting another, sense of self importance beyond practicality, Jealousy, envy and narcissistic rage.

5. The World of Humanity

Love and compassion, empathy, gullibility and emotional tangents regarding the actions of others. Infatuations, self deception regarding other's intentions in relationships of all types.

6. The World of Rapture

Climaxing sexually, achieving a goal, long awaited material benefits, financial windfalls. Drug and alcohol addictions, high states of excitement and euphoria, pain relief and emotional fulfillment of a transitory nature.

7. The World of Learning

Abscribing to the Lotus Sutra with earnest effort or the teachings of the Buddha. Also applies just as effectively to other doctrines, teachings or disciplines that are pure in intent to assist a sentient being to transcend the materialistic plane of consciousness, even if for very  brief moments at a time. Anything that has the effect of unifying the ten worlds together via the realization of oneness with the entire universe. The active seeking of positive self-transformation and improvement beyond the material or egoic. The desire to integrate the ego into the true self appropriately for the benefit of oneself as well as others.

8. The World of Realization

Accepting knowledge (wisdom) from the collective consciousness of the universe without the necessity of intellectual understanding.

9. The World of Bodhisattva

True, pure and unadulterated selflessness. Dedication and devotion to all other life in spite of one's own primal manifestation.

10. The World of Buddhahood

Independent of one's own physical manifestation, yet accepting of it at the same time.

Each one of these ten worlds are further defined by the ten factors of life. Each of these worlds individually possess these ten factor as recited three times in our Gongyo as the second chapter excerpt of the Lotus Sutra entitled, Expedient Means:

"Sho-i shoho. Nyo ze so. Nyo ze sho. Nyo ze tai. Nyo ze riki. Nyo ze sa. Nyo ze in. Nyo ze en. Nyo ze ka. Nyo ze ho. Nyo ze honmak kukyo to."

We recited this three times to signify the three manifestations of the ten factors in three thousand realms in a single moment of life.

The Ten Factors:

1. Nyo ze so - Appearance


All of the things that can be observed of a sentient being by another sentient being - color, sound, action, etc.

2. Nyo ze sho - Nature


What cannot be oberved of a sentient being by another sentient being - thought, feelings, workings of the conscious and sub-conscious mind.

3. Nyo ze tai - Entity


Life itself, manifesting on this material plane of consciousness. Life manifesting as each of the ten worlds.

4. Nyo ze riki - Power


Life's ability to make causes; to take action. Each of the ten worlds possess it's own individual power to make causes derived from intention borne of the specific characteristics of that world.

5. Nyo ze sa - Influence

The actual action that is created by the power that cooresponds to the actual characteristics of an individual world.

6. Nyo ze in - Internal Cause

Causes created by each of the ten worlds which have a latent resulting effect. I.E. - A variable time gap between the actual manifestation of the cause and the resulting effect. The effect, being in itself, a reaction to the original cause, which was, as well, an effect of yet a previous cause. In essence, all causes are also effects and vice-versa.

7. Nyo ze en - Relation


Environmental phenomena that facilitates the manifestation of the actual karmic process - cause and effect - both simultaneous and latent.

8. Nyo ze ka - Latent Effect


The result of the seventh factor - Nyo ze en - Relation as an effect which in turn simultaneously constitutes another cause, hence all causes are effects and all effects are causes without exception. This, however is an effect that has yet to manifest itself and may be considered dormant. But it will manifest without fail.

9. Nyo ze ho - Manifest Effect


The end result as an effect created by a cause once it has become manifest.

10. Nyo ze - honmak kukyo to - Consistancy From Beginning To End


This is a factor that describes the nature of the other nine factors, in that they occur in the order listed, yet simoultaneously as the characteristic nature of each of the ten worlds defined.

The ten worlds are applied to three distinct descriptions of the universe (the three realms of existance).

Though overall, every one of the ten worlds contain within them the other nine, which makes a total of one hundred for all ten, the thirtky realms per world are further divided amongst three descriptions (realms not of the three thousand referenced).

The three descriptions (realms) of the universe's existance:

1. The Five Components of Life as an Individual Sentient Being.


2. The Realm of Living Beings - All sentient beings throughout the universe (including the one mentioned in the five components).


3. The Realm of The Environment - Everything else in the universe.


The Five Components of Life Describe the Individual Sentient Being:

1. Shiki - Form


The physical manifestation of a sentient being as they may be perceived by another sentient being as well as the external five senses, to be thought of as the perceptual gateway to the mind. The mind considered to be yet another sense, yet not perceivable by other sentient beings.

2. Ju - Perception


The process of interpreting outside stimuli in the mind as is observed by any of the five other senses.

3. So - Conception


The process of thought based on external stimuli perceived via the external five senses.

4. Gyo - Volition


The will and ability to take action upon that which has been perceieved by the external five senses.

5. Shiki - Consciousness


The discernment of dualities - pleasure and pain - good and evil. Facilitates and manifests the other four components of life.

What I have just described is T'ien Tai's blueprint as it applies to any sentient being in the entire universe. This being in accordance to the Lotus Sutra as it's essence has been extrapolated by T'ien Tai and Nichiren Daishonin.

Sentient beings include all life, including life that may exist throughout the cosmos.

As I have said previously, regarding the three realms of existence - you, every other sentient being and finally, everything else are all permanently connected through the ten worlds of Ichinen Sanzen. Each world containing the other nine, for a total of one hundred worlds. Each world existing within ten realms - that is one thousand realms for you, one thousand realms for all other sentient beings, including you and one thousand realms for everything else throughout the universe, including you, yet again, for a grand total of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. That moment being this moment. A moment which has not beginning nor end. One eternal moment.

All of these worlds, realms, factors and components are manifest right now, as they always have been and always will be.

At this very moment, all ten worlds, each containing the other nine are within your very being, just as they continuously are in every other being.

Each world is inherently dependent upon the other nine, none of which can ever be destroyed or damaged.

This is what is meant by "mutual possession". It is the realization that all sentient beings are inherently Buddha in their very nature and are in one eternal moment enlightened. The actualization of this enlightenment is foregone for many however, that do not surrender themselves to oneness.

Often, we as Nichiren Buddhists, are taught that the first four worlds are unnecessary, undesirable and best conquered or avoided. Much in the same way we are often taught that fundamental darkness equates to the Christian definition of "sin" and should be perceived as something within us to be abolished rather than transformed.

However, with the advent of the Mystic Law, as provided for us by Nichiren Daishonin via Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the Gohonzon and his teaching to honor the Lotus Sutra as the King of all Sutras, we have been provided an immensely powerful gift to provide balance to the ten worlds within us, correspondingly bringing us into harmonious rhythm with the universe that simultaneously exists inside and outside of us.

When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo purely for the purpose of venerating the Lotus Sutra and not with a concentrated request to fulfill earthly desires, thereby over-feeding the lower four worlds, all ten worlds within us begin to modulate and appropriately support each other so that our inherent Buddha nature begins to manifest throughout the three thousand realms that constitute the very essence of life itself.

But you really don't need to know that even one of these worlds exist. To achieve true and pure enlightenment, chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.



























Thursday, June 26, 2014

You Are The Lighthouse In Every Storm

When faced with another's fundamental darkness, chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and you will naturally become a beacon of light. A lighthouse in the storm of the negativity spawned by their necessary fundamental darkness.

That other person will forever be connected to you. Always be amidst their storm, as a true votary of the Lotus Sutra.

They may very well choose to ignore the light of the Mystic Law, which you shine ever so brightly and crash upon the rocks.

But you will still and always be there for them because this is the humanistic principle of Nichiren Buddhism.

Abandon no one. When you chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, you are the light that guides all others in all storms of fundamental darkness.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo - Wielding The Mystic Law

We must stay mindful of the priority within our practice. Essential practice alone will bring about proper practice if we ensure that our daimoku is selfless and pure. Not attempting to trick or deceive the Gohonzon to fulfill nothing more than our earthly desires and attachments, even when these are intended for the welfare of others, inside as well as outside our practice.

Though long-standing and consistent attention to the Gohonzon is valuable, many a long-time practitioner will still be suffering the issues, maladies and self doubt that they had when they first broached the practice and received their original Gohonzon. Why? Because they still fall victim to the two most prominent misconceptions regarding Nichiren Buddhism and it's essential practice.

One being that they chant "for" expected outcomes of situations as the baseline of their entire practice and two, that they mistakenly believe that the quantity of their daimoku outweighs it's quality. With both of these falsehoods being equal, they have foregone the essential practice of venerating the Lotus Sutra beyond Sansho.

As Nichiren Buddhists, each one of us are leaders. Yet, only in the sense that we lead others to the Mystic Law by way of veneration of the Lotus Sutra.

We do without doing. We provide a contrast between ourselves and others independent of our life condition. It is not a matter of what we have. It is a matter of who we are in a single moment. Not where or what we are. Others cannot help but see our tranquility and wisdom and are naturally compelled to find out how we "obtained this". Our purpose is to show them that they too already possess these qualities and may awaken them immediately and easily through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo - availing themselves to the Mystic Law.

Though, of course helpful and positive for growth, the accoutrements offered by SGI and/or the Priesthood are secondary to the essential practice and often times provide for a distraction, if not a complete misunderstanding of effective and spiritually productive daimoku.

Veneration of the Lotus Sutra must be the first and foremost fundamental function of our daily practice. Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with all of your heart and soul does not constitute the ability to fit twenty utterances of the Mystic Law into a sixty second time span or recite Gongyo so fast that to anyone else, your chanting would be no more than rapid-fire gibberish. This dilutes ones very practice and detracts from the inherent benefits that your practice can provide. Many times to a particularly dangerous karmic degree, since most practitioners have never been given ample opportunity to recognize the immense and universal power of the Mystic Law.

The Mystic Law is the sharpest double-edged sword in the universe. When wielded with anger and violence, it will produce the same. When used to deceive, intimidate and manipulate the needy and unwary, there is nothing more effective.

When used to purify one's self and balance the ten worlds of Ichinen Sanzen, existing within each and every one of us, Kosen-Rufu begins to reach out across humanity like the first rays of the morning sun, enveloping all those around us with love and compassion whether they opt in or not. 

When we become lackadaisical and begin confusing president Ikeda's words or the words of others, including Nichiren Daishonin himself as the essential practice,  it is exactly at this point that the purity of the Mystic Law becomes tainted by narcissism and ego.

One must fully realize that the Mystic Law as Daimoku, the Gohonzon and One's true self as fully described by the Lotus Sutra is not a Magic 8 Ball, Quija Board or other spiritualist party game for anyone's mere amusement. All aspects of practice outside of the utterance and inherent vow of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo are only useful as guideposts to lead us back to the one - The Mystic Law - Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Nowhere is the misuse of the Mystic Law more detrimentally dangerous than in the atmospheres of Nichiren Buddhist gatherings.

Manipulation of the fourteen slanders or purposeful misinterpretation of the Goshos to impede upon the practice and/or lifestyles of others is all to prevalent throughout the world and as unavoidable as what they truly are - the three obstacles and four demons, in part and in whole, brought about by those that practice correctly by paying efficient homage to the essence of the Lotus Sutra.

These obstacles and demons dissuade and discourage practitioners to continue their veneration of the Lotus Sutra by playing upon their naturally occurring vulnerabilities that arise as a direct result of the very awakening of their inherent Buddha nature.

By berating or as many manipulators of the Mystic Law conveniently call "correcting" practitioners in the arena of discussions, tosos and study groups is a great way to ensure that the practitioner will be hesitant to return and is mostly used in a targeted fashion by those that seek dominant leadership or choose to view their existing leadership position as a place of power. Therefore, when they feel threatened by another practitioner because they perceive that this individual may possess more charisma in the group than they do, you can be certain that the narcissistic practitioner will attempt to glorify themselves via pointing out secondary habits of their intended victim's practice, thought, ideology and even their very morality.

Purposely withholding meeting dates and times, agendas and study information from select individuals is also another method used by manipulators of the Mystic Law in an attempt to eliminate their perceived opposition from the group.

Threatening another with confiscation of their Gohonzon or the denial of one receiving their Gohonzon and disparaging their innate Buddhahood is nothing more than using the Mystic Law as a means of extortion against another practitioner. These are signs that must be recognized and reckoned with for the continuing growth and good welfare of the group.

Nichiren Buddhism is surrendering one's true self to the very essence of the Lotus Sutra, thereby practicing letting one's true self be transformed by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo - the Mystic Law. From doing so, one will naturally seek further knowledge, guidance and others to share their path with. To say that one is not a Nichiren Buddhist because they believe in other religions, philosophies or ideals is a manipulation of the Mystic Law, more for the purposes of gratifying one's own egoic self in some way and can produce nothing more than severely tragic karmic consequences.

As votaries of the Lotus Sutra, we inherently see the limitless potential and Buddha nature in all others. We also realize the importance of the essential practice as a foothold to stay attached to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism. We realize that as Nichiren Buddhists, it is our foremost and primary responsibility to uphold and protect the Mystic Law.

To fault others is an indication of inefficient or nonexistent essential practice.

To compassionately correct, with encouragement and unconditional love, one on one, is a naturally occurring symptom of an awakening Buddha Nature within and without us.

Most important above all else is that we maintain a consistently sincere essential practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and surrendering our true selves to the essence of the Lotus Sutra. As it is in this way we have the most powerful sword in the universe so that we can best wield the Mystic Law - Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.


Copyright 2014 by Robert W. Stanford























Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Gohonzon - Ya Gotta Want It!




For many of us practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism it takes courage and tactfulness to not only shakabuku, but often to simply practice our regular, daily routine of Diamoku and Gongyo. Especially for those living in rural areas where other practitioners are far and few between.

From our consistent daily recital of the expedient means excerpt of the Lotus Sutra, combined with our Diamoku, we are empowered with the naturally skilled ability of  elegance in our social interactions, so that we, as votaries of the Lotus Sutra are able to protect not just the Lotus Sutra, but ourselves as well. Persecution for this practice is more than prevalent. And of this fact, we are all very aware.

When these things happen to us, we take solace in the fact that like Nichiren Daishonin, we are courageous and loyal votaries of the Mystic Law. Nicheren Daishonin minced no words in his opening of a letter to Shijo Kingo in September of 1272, while serving an exile on Sado Island.

“People hate me and ceaselessly plot in secret to do me injury. I will leave aside the various persecutions that I suffered earlier and merely mention that last year, on the twelfth day of the ninth month, I incurred the wrath of the Government authorities and, on the night of the same day, was to have been beheaded. Somehow or other, I lived to see the morning and came instead to this island province of Sado, where I have been residing ever since. I have been abandoned by the world, abandoned by the law of the Buddha, and the heavenly Gods show me no pity. I am one that has been cast aside by both secular and Buddhist realms.”


In our practice, we are inspired by the Mystic Law, to share its wondrous power, if for no other reason than the ever increasing compassion and love that we feel for others. How we long to share with others. How we long to sooth[1] their incessant suffering. But of course we must be mindful of their current perceptions of us and everything else, as we certainly do not want them to have a bad impression of the Mystic Law or our practice of it.

Nothing compares, however, to the immense joy and excitement of a new shakabuku experience [2]. And as the shakabuku relationship progresses, we often get caught up in their own excitement and desire we share with them to have their own Gohonzon to chant to.

As Nichiren Daishonin said, “To accept is easy; to continue is difficult but Buddhahood lies in continuing faith.”

We must remember that correct practice brings hardships that are hard to see as benefits transforming our fundamental darkness and that persecutions are not exclusively limited to just ourselves.

These things occur from the cyclic chanting of the Mystic Law as well as the recitation of Gongyo, independent of one possessing a Gohonzon. Our practice shows us that these are indeed benefits. Yet for the new practitioner, these benefits are tests of one’s steadfastness and will – loyalty to the Mystic Law.

When we see the new practitioner suffer these things and remain diligent in the face of the three obstacles and four demons, we yearn to allow their practice to come full circle with the Gohonzon.

Yet we must always be mindful of the inherent[3] power of the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin from a space of true enlightenment making this scroll, which for us in a very realistic and practical sense, is directly from him and his place of enlightenment making the Gohonzon  literally – sacred.

Several components[4] have traditionally been expected to be in place previous to receiving the Gohonzon, such as the alter, butsudan and their various accoutrements. Also a preliminary understanding of the humanistic principles of Nichiren Buddhim, earnest effort of learning Gongyo, and daily chanting of Daiamoku, as well as at times - a participation in meetings in accord to their ability to attend.

Further, there needs to be a sincere acknowledgement of the great responsibility which accompanies the possession of the Gohonzon; an emphatic understanding that the Gohonzon is in a very literal sense, a person’s life force, which deserves the same consideration and protection one would afford their very own life[5].

Time will tell that all of these elements are in place and through your own devotion to the Mystic Law you will know when the time is right, naturally, through your own Diamoku. But with this practice, we must always be alert to the ever present temptation to push the river, so to speak.

To receive the Gohonzon, under any circumstance - is a lifetime commitment. We must be ever so careful to not allow our deep love and compassion to ease other’s suffering cause us to push us or them too hastily, for the karmic effects of one who may abandon the Gohonzon at any time in their lives could be very grave indeed for all of those involved.

Footnotes:

1. Sooth not Soothe - Sooth defined - A. truth, reality, or fact. B.Soothing, soft, or sweet. C.true or real.
2.  See Kosen Rufu - The Waterfall That Nurtures the Universe.
3. Inherent Defined from Webster's - (existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute.)
4. Components Defined by Websters first entry: (a constiutent part; element; ingredient.)
5. See Coming Home.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Galloping Toward Enlightenment

With each repetition of the chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, a vow is affirmed to avail one’s self to the simplicity that is the oneness of all that exists within the universe. A surrender of one’s self importance is affirmed.

Through the reflective power of the Gohonzon and by chanting daimoku solely for the sake of venerating the Lotus Sutra, a safe haven is provided in which the ego may be integrated at a natural, healthy and positive pace. The ten worlds of embodiment of Ichinen Sanzen begin to each respectively come into proper phase, with or without the realization of their individual and constant existence within all things, affecting all causes that ever were, are or ever will be throughout the universe, comprising three thousand realms.

A thousand realms within us as an individual entity, a thousand realms of affectation by our own causes in all other living beings, and a thousand realms of affectation in all other things outside of what we perceive as living beings – i.e. the environment.

The rhythmic chanting of daimoku combined with astute attention to the Gohonzon as a mandala precludes any perceived necessity for concentration or prayer for transient benefits, including chanting for one’s own, or another’s health or happiness. Chanting for nothing more than to avail one’s self to the Mystic Law: Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which is one and the same as the Lotus Sutra.

Faith, hope and courage, also being transient things, will be needed less and less as this method is practiced. As the inconspicuous benefits that will become manifest within you will eventually bring your consciousness to a state of knowing the Mystic Law without the need for understanding.

Morality will no longer need to be an instruction to be received outside of yourself or a decision to be made within, as the ten worlds of embodiment become more and more regulated.

The need to “think through” or “figure out” trauma, negatively misplaced ideals of one’s self and other perceived emotional shortcomings will no longer be necessary as the balance and harmony of the ten worlds of embodiment begin to balance themselves, support each other and together radiate their inherent life forces as one.

As the Lotus Sutra.

As the Gohonzon.

As Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Three thousand realms in a single moment.

A single moment of limitless potentiality, because this single moment is eternal as time is a collectively created illusion, as is all transient things throughout the universe.

There is no space.

There is no time.

To practice Nichiren Buddhism in this way is likened to looking into the Quabbalic abyss. To remove the labels of good and evil from all that we perceive within ourselves is the challenge, because in doing so, we truly face ourselves. However, through venerating the Gohonzon by disciplined, unselfish chanting of daimoku to the Gohonzon, that we accept as a reflection of our true Buddha nature, we have no need to agonize, fear or stress over this process, as the changes within us will be natural, healthy and positive, as one would expect, as their true Buddha nature is awakened on a level infinitely vast.

As one’s Buddhahood awakens, one finds that one may own without being owned. That happiness is just as necessary as sadness, as well as suffering being necessary for growth. Not just in one’s self, but in all living beings.

One’s struggles and problems will not so much dissipate, as much as solutions will become increasingly clear. Not with understanding but with the pre-existing, inherent knowledge within you, that will become ever increasingly apparent as your true Buddha nature awakens to the ultimate realization that all things are transient. The only thing that is eternal in this single moment of existence is love.

Copyright 2014 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Take The Gohonzon And Run!

Three and a half months ago, I returned to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism as propagated today by (SGI) Soka Gakkai International. I returned because I was fully aware that I was unable to center and balance the ten worlds of Ichinen Sanzen within me.

As a prerequisite of receiving my Gohonzon thirty-two years ago, I was expected to understand the significance of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the Lotus Sutra as well as the Gohonzon as it pertained to the ten worlds within me – or more specifically – 3,000 realms within a single, eternal moment. And I was expected to defend it with my very life.

Of course then, the practice was propagated by NSA (Nichiren Shosho of America). I was no more than fourteen years old and the primary facilitator was still Soka Gakkai. The primary difference being that then, we had priests and now, after being “excommunicated” approximately 20 years ago, we have “leaders”. The most prominent one, of course, being President Daisaku Ikeda.

My return was fraught with as much shame and desperation, as I had lost my Gohonzon thirty-two years earlier shortly after receiving it during a physical confrontation. For this entire time, I felt that I had not done enough to ensure the safety of my Gohonzon and that to receive another, that I would have to come before a Nichiren priest and explain why I had not defended my Gohonzon with my very life and why I felt that I deserved to be granted another to replace it.

Having had worked in a social service capacity in a disparate community called, the Modesto Airport District for approximately ten years, mostly in isolation and having very little involvement with social occasions outside of this area, I found myself to feel awkward at best approaching those from “the other side of the tracks”. Even though my origins were not so much of the District in which I had holed myself up in for the previous decade. Now, more than three months later, on hindsight, I am not so sure that my mannerisms, speech and humor were really as offensive as I thought they were.

After so many years of searching for alternatives to having to kneel before a Nichiren priest and confess my transgressions regarding my Gohonzon, I had come to cherish terminology that was rather taboo at these “SGI” Buddhist meetings. I would describe distortions I perceived in my own psychology by referencing my “Chi”. Likewise, I would describe the guilt and shame that I felt regarding my affectations toward my environment through the multi-decade procrastination of pursuing the replacement of my Gohonzon as being separated from the “Tao”.

On the onset, I found the people at these meetings to be quite warm, understanding and accepting of me and my self-imposed predicament regarding my Gohonzon. Repeatedly I shared my perception of what it was like for me without my Gohonzon. I described in detail over and over again, how I had tried in vain to take alternatives to returning all of these years by emphasizing one world over the other and imitating through generosity and charity, the Buddha himself, thinking that the other worlds would “fade away” as though they were unnecessary for my spiritual/psychological survival.

And of course, I came back with an agenda. There was only one thing on my mind - To re-claim my Gohonzon once again before I died. Yet not just to have and hold, but to chant the Mystical Law to it as the mandala it is, thereby creating an internal environment in which I could also reclaim those worlds I had abandoned long ago, having crippled myself both spiritually and psychologically to such an extent, that for the first time in my entire life, I literally questioned my own sanity as well as my worth as a living being – becoming quite suicidal.

From the very first day I returned, I began chanting after that morning Gongyo consistently every day, morning and night. Immediately, I began to see the “benefits” manifest themselves within me physically. Within a matter of mere weeks my health dramatically improved to the point of nothing short of a miracle.

Like waves of flood waters, realizations of truth occurred to me in repetitive and rapid succession. In a word – clarity became my very being. I received exactly what I asked for, yearned for and needed to save my very life literally. So much so, in fact, that I now imagine that much of what I shared at the numerous meetings that I attended were probably listened to with suspect minds, as the changes that occurred to me were so intense, psychologically, spiritually and mentally that even now, in comparison with “benefits” of this nature now increasing tenfold – they are still even unbelievable, even to me.

The group consisted of active members no greater than when I had previously practiced thirty-two years prior. Not surprising when considering the ultra-conservative, often hypocritical environment of feigned Christianity that exudes from the self-isolated culture of the California Central valley in which I reside. At first, I felt that I had no choice but to submit myself submissively to the other members, since I was, in effect, prodigal as well as socially inept from my isolation within the borders of the Modesto Airport District and its poverty-stricken, multi-generational culture. Having worked in radical recovery programs for several years, as well as the other factors mentioned above and more, it was often difficult for me to determine if my “benefits” were purely a result of my consistent diamoku and gongyo or a combination of my participation in these numerous meetings as well.

Every member of the group were precious to me, however, there were some that were particularly special. Two of these being members that I remembered from my previous practice, thirty-two years ago, the district leader who was practically born into the practice and would consistently proclaim that she felt that the time of my return was “mystical”, particularly in regards to desired efforts toward Kosen-rufu. Yet one member, in particular I found to be like that of a boot-camp buddy. One whom I could find infinite commonality of experience with.

Within a month and a half, having attended and shared at every single meeting that was calendared and then some, I received my Gohonzon once again.

From the very moment that I clutched my Gohonzon in my hands once again, everything changed, but not in the way I ever thought it would.

My Gohonzon was enshrined the very same day I received it, after having clutched it to my heart for literally several hours. With my best friend and my District leader, the evening gongyo was chanted to my beautiful Gohonzon enshrined in a Butsudan richly decorated by resourcefulness and the most generous of gifts by my ecstatically excited District leader.

The next morning I awoke to chant morning gongyo to my own Gohonzon once again – alone. In awe of its beauty, I recited the mystic law and the Lotus Sutra with thankfulness, relief and joy. As I did so, I recalled many of the distant lands I had travelled to, the thousands of doses of LSD I had taken, the peyote I had choked on, the psionics and sensory deprivation I had experimented with as well as the Christian vestments I had donned – all in an attempt to circumvent that confession to a Nichiren priest that the SGI excommunication had already circumvented. So many searches over so many years culminated back to the beginning.

With that new day’s gongyo, something truly mystical happened to me. Suddenly, I had my life force back once again, yet this time, with such a richly, deep understanding of its significance, that I was severely startled by the power that I now possessed. A power comprised of universal understanding as provided by the very essence of the Lotus Sutra. The key to being truly at one with the universe and everything it comprises – Ichinen Sanzen – Three Thousand Realms in a single moment – completely under my control, with the only limit being that which I, alone, set for myself.

People within the group seemed to change. Some did, as I suspected perhaps by their own practice as it is said that only Buddhists can know other Buddhists. Yet, suddenly, it seemed that the words “Chi” and “Tao” were no longer the only taboo. Now Ichinen Sanzen was a sensitive subject to one individual in particular. It being inferred that I was not “qualified” to refer to this “calculation” in my share. But it began to go beyond this.

As I chanted to my Gohonzon, I felt as though I were being “talked to” by the mandala. I chanted as I was instructed to. I chanted “for” things and situations. Primarily I chanted for unity within the Modesto, California District, The “Modesto Rising Sun”.

Like a slap in the face, I felt as though my Gohonzon was saying to me – “Why do you disrespect me? Why are you seeking outside of yourself for your own personal practice?” I imagined, of all things, a box of Sees Cherry covered chocolates (2 pounds, yet), laying at my feet as I chanted to my Gohonzon for a box of Sees Cherry covered chocolates (2 pounds, yeah?), fixated upon the calligraphy on the scroll, never stopping to take a step back and take stock. That I was chanting for what I already possessed. That in chanting for the unity of the Modesto Rising Sun district, that I was redundant, in that the District is already unified.

However, one of the two members that I had known thirty-two years previously, had held meetings at her home for what has now become fourteen years straight. But these meetings were not attended by SGI leadership, even though the practitioner had been faithfully practicing for approximately thirty-five years and had been a district leader herself during this time as well.

These meetings consist of nothing more than traditional Diamoku and Gongyo and then shared readings from Nichiren Daishonin’s Goshos. Yet, since they are not sanctioned, they are considered by SGI leadership to be improper, a slander and at the very least – incorrect practice. I have only been back for three and a half months, after having been absent from this practice for thirty-two years. The history that has led to this situation is not entirely known to me, and certainly not enough that I can iterate how this is a problem for SGI, considered slanderous, as well as incorrect practice. I chanted “for” this, and received the same resulting experience from my Gohonzon – a slap in the face – “Why do you waste your time? So many years apart. Have you still no respect for me?”

So I felt as though I was put into quite an awkward situation. Whom do I trust? Those outside of myself or myself as reflected by my Gohonzon?

But that, unfortunately was only the beginning. As I reached out with several articles such as this, a radio show called, “The Lion’s Roar” and participation in several facebook pages regarding Nichiren Buddhism, I became engaged in conversations by various members that had participated in this area over the years, many now living in other states or countries – and began receiving consistent information regarding some of the history as it pertains to the local SGI district(s), much of which was quite disturbing, in that I began to feel that I had been somewhat brushed aside and deceived.

I sought comfort in chanting to my Gohonzon and though I did in fact receive the comfort I desperately sought, I also found that upon my plate of responsibility laid truths that were hard to accept, as I had developed, albeit in a relatively short period of time, a great deal of affinity and affection for many members, that according to my Gohonzon, demanded too much of my “faith” to be misplaced. Misplacement being anything outside of the Mystic Law – Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

After a matter of only a few weeks, I was slapped on my face daily by my Gohonzon.

“Why do you agree to ally yourself to some but not all? Why do you promise me your devotion to the Lotus Sutra and then practice the opposite of its teaching as soon as your back is turned to me? Has thirty-two years of emptiness and pain taught you nothing?”

But I could not understand. So I continued unwittingly to slander my most precious possession by my own actions. Constantly worried about my status within the group, I defied my daily vows to the Gohonzon and conveniently convinced myself that what was said to me was true – that I had no comprehensive knowledge of what Ichinen Sanzen was.

My life condition had become, as it still is; quite dyer. My reputation as a “loose cannon” activist, my grandiose plans of publication of several books I have and am still writing, coupled with the distractions caused by my fear to be still with my Gohonzon has brought me to the very brink of financial ruin.

Still reaching outside my Butsadan, outside myself and my practice, I lost track of why I returned to the practice in the first place – to balance the embodiment of the ten worlds of Ichinen Sanzen within myself. Ceding to veiled threats by a professed Buddhist that seems to be more interested in accomplishment through thuggery and materialism.

So it certainly has been, with the very best of intentions I have been instructed by many to chant only for those goals that will improve my materialistic life condition.

Slap. Slapped in the face again by my own Gohonzon. “Why are you even chanting to me? Why don’t you chant to them? Your nemesis is right. You have no idea what Ichinen Sanzen is. But here you sit and chant. Lying to me that you devote yourself to the Lotus Sutra. What do you need me for, when you have them? You disgrace me. You are a hypocrite.”

The truth hurts. That was about a week ago now. The next day, I did not chant “for” anything at all. I chanted to chant. I chanted four hours that day, not including my gongyo. Suddenly, for the first time, my Gohonzon talked nicely to me with the most simple of revelations. That Ichinen Sanzen is me, my Gohonzon, the Lotus Sutra and Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Nothing more – nothing less.

To look outside of myself for answers that I already have is truly insane. Truly suicidal.

So perhaps I will become despised now, because I refuse to prostitute my Gohonzon for material gain and some cloak and dagger ideology that is certainly not of “correct practice”.

But come what may, I will always have my Gohonzon. And perhaps, if it is to be, I will be strong enough to show others, that the answers are not outside of them either.

Three Thousand Realms in a single moment. And every single one of them belongs to you. Copyright 2014 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kosen-Rufu - The Waterfall That Nurtures The Universe

As one begins to practice, for whatever reasons one takes up Nichiren Buddhism, it is most important that his hand is held tightly by the group.

For though the group in its divine intention of facilitating Kosen-rufu, much emphasis is placed on tranquility, harmony and happiness as the benefits of chanting and eventually receiving one’s own Gohonzon.

However, Kosen-rufu is a perpetual waterfall of effort to be exerted by each of us – to give back, equally, what we have taken for ourselves and pass on the gifts of Nichiren Buddhism.

When we chant to the Gohonzon, we chant for balance within ourselves, despite whatever desire we may pretend we need fulfilled. So too, when we introduce people to Nichiren Buddhism, we must take care that we educate that the path toward this happiness and tranquility that we promise is accomplished by the untying and re-tying of the knots of karma we have been weaving through the millennia.

First, there will come clarity to the new Nichiren Buddhist that faithfully chants Diamoku and Gongyo morning and night. And then immediately their faith will be tested. It is most important at this time, as they first begin to practice, that we teach the beginner the cycles of the ten worlds, so that they may recognize the blessings of what they will otherwise perceive as new hardships along with what they will also perceive as coincidental blessings.

The effects of previous causes, many from previous lifetimes as well, are without question - inescapable and must be experienced – must be lived through – crossed like a raging river so that new causes can be made for new effects to be enjoyed by all.

Kosen-rufu is not merely a recruiting tool. Faith, study and practice will hold the beginner fast in their new life of recognition of the Gohonzon within themselves.


We must remember that Kosen-rufu is for all – the beginner as well as the long time practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, support, love and encourage each other inside and outside of the group. It is in this way we can be most devout and nurture the universe through our Gohonzon – i.e. our true Buddha Nature.



Copyright 2013 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.