Sunday, February 18, 2018

Fusing With The Gohonzon - A Personal Peek Into Experience

Sensei often specifically says that it literally takes “courage” to chant daily without fail. For many years I felt that this was more of an effect of the translation from Japanese to English. However, after faithfully practicing Daimoku for an extended period of time, my experience with Gohonzon began to rapidly fill with clarity and insight. So much so that I felt startled and was all too quick to liken it to the feeling one would have watching a frightening film of the macabre.

Like the demons that would seem to oppose the practice of Daimoku and Gongyo1, the consistency and momentum of my Daimoku awoke these very demons. I realized I needed to harness the courage already existing within me, which was merely dormant, only waiting to be called upon with my own faith in Gohonzon. The Gohonzon which is etched upon my heart. Faith in my true unabridged self.

As though my Gohonzon would telepathically speak with me, it was how I became conscious of the facts regarding myself. As I chanted, I did not need to have a list of those things that I wanted to chant for as though they were blessings on guiding the weather to ensure my harvest of the crops I had sewn, as this was certainly the case in my entire life of practice, even at those times in my life in which I only chanted for nothing more than the escape of perilous situations that I had enclosed myself in. Though I forever adamantly swore that I would never come to Gohonzon for material things. I most certainly always did, foregoing what I was destined to go to Gohonzon for.

My history with Gohonzon goes back many years. And most of those years, I was without Gohonzon on the scroll as a mandala in my physical possession. I was only fourteen years of age when I received Gohonzon on the day of my birth on the Twenty-First of May.

It was not going to be in my handmade butsudan for long, however, as I would soon lose it to a robbery in which I failed to perform what I had been taught was necessary to prevent the loss of what was to me as taught and taken very literally, my “Life Force”.

This, of course, was many years ago and at that time my practice was with Nichiren Shoshu of America. At the time of the beginning of my practice, there was the matter of the Priesthood that we all had to go through and it was a priest that had presented me with my Gohonzon. A moment among few others that I will never forget.

And it was because of the primary obstacle that I was without this mandala representation of my true self for many, many years. Fear of having to face the priest to admit to having failed Gohonzon by not physically fighting for its safety at the time of its peril was unconscionable to me.

So for many years, numerous nights were spent lying in bed wondering where my Gohonzon may be. As though I had lost a child through the means of kidnapping, this was not that much different, as it was most certainly similar from a self-mortality standpoint. The best I could imagine was my beloved Gohonzon buried under garbage somewhere in a landfill. Or just burned up in a burning barrel somewhere.

On November 4th, 2013 I once again received my Gohonzon through my local SGI group of the Modesto Rising Sun, here in Modesto, California. And of course enshrined it immediately, commencing the practice of Daimoku and Gongyo every day.

It was somewhere since the early part of 2015 that I have consistently practiced Daimoku and Gongyo daily and from which this experience is shared within this article. It is upon this experience that I offer my perspective to the extent that I can best describe the highlights of my practice as it pertains to trust, faith, and basically feeling confident and safe wherever I may be at any time because I have and continue to develop an on-going extenuating experience of fusing with my Gohonzon.

The bottom line of my experience is an intense belief in myself. All the way to the point of questioning my practice and my sanity and not that it has not been advised by the more negative of my counselors, who at one time, could be just about anyone.

This belief in myself being a preexisting belief that is in all actuality, not a belief at all but a known fact that through means of my own fear and laziness combined, I will literally declare and make war against my self. In short – self-destruction. You know what I am talking about.

My war is incessantly justified by the great amount of heartbreak and other horrible things that have happened to the people that I have loved in my life, even those I never got to meet. And this entire war is merely a perspective of consciousness that I consciously stepped into as a safe haven. I suppose I could be classified conveniently as what would clinically be merely your garden variety co-dependent with some rather grandiose ideals to support the propagation of the cycle. A devoted votary of life.

Yet not so much the fool as I would have had to be, as at every single moment of life I was conscientiously making the decisions I made, even those that were no more than truly decisions to justify not pursuing my dreams. I believed in my own lies which were the falsehoods that I decisively made to sabotage myself so that not only would I not come to achieve my dreams in this lifetime, but that I would abandon them all together. Truly these are the demons that play at the gates of the Treasure Tower. But it is still all my responsibility to see or not see as it is after all, you see, just a little less painful here, with my back against the wall.

For all intents and purpose this war I wage with my true self could be categorized as fundamental darkness. A darkness that is self-imposed on my true self to dim the light of my infinite potential, going so far as to hide it from myself.

During every day I would be in need of validation and always find myself seeking this validation outside of my self. Seeking it from those, compared to the knowledge I have of my self, they would be having practically none. And yet, I would still seek them out to validate me in some way. Just like a drug fix, it would band-aid the true suffering that I had induced upon myself, but would never last long.

Just as notorious and strengthening to the fight against myself, there would be the negative validation that would provide me with the artillery that I needed for negative self-talk. The unsolicited invalidation did not help me achieve my goals, as I am not speaking of constructive criticism here per se, but rather as is often said, haters going to hate. There always seems there always is just enough of that external hate pelting one's self-esteem to overcome anything that may pose as a positive when it comes to actualizing one's own life. More weapons for me to add to an arsenal toolbox specifically allotted for this war of fundamental darkness upon myself. And yet again, still it is my decision every time and the darkest the decision, the easier the decision. For it is a coward's decision.

Enter consistent Daimoku. My continual practice from its origin in 2015 began to work on fundamental darkness directly through an even exchange of my courage to listen to the truth during my Daimoku within the Treasure Tower. And then after, to ponder it.

As though I was thick in the negotiations of a multitude of treaties, I was so anxious to alleviate my own suffering as I would find the element within my true self, referred to as “limitless” elusive.

Short term goals and an assessment of my self in terms of statements such as “Well, at least I am this good.”. An actual statement I made early on to myself that was still, by far, much better than any statements I had actuality made to myself previously for an extremely long time.

It made no difference what it was that I came to Gohonzon with, as it quickly fell away right after the commencement of my Daimoku after Gongyo. For it was at this time that I felt within the first few enumerations of Daimoku that it was coming from a deeper place within my heart. As I can only describe this unique phenomenon as “The Treasure Tower”. For it was at this time that everything would come further and further into focus. Everything about me and my life. Clarity as I have never seen it under any other circumstances throughout my entire life.

Yet it was and still is extremely difficult to hold on to that clarity which I have during these times within the Treasure Tower. And yet, at the same time it becomes ever easier every day that I continue in my practice as every day I have these few moments of clarity within the Treasure Tower. Even though it is quite difficult to maintain in memory the consciousness that feels abundantly fresh, yet foreign.

I feel as though it is through devotional thought and acceptance of the Mystic Law and it's literal interpretation of the true essence of the Lotus Sutra that being one of simply – Karma; that in these states of consciousness that I have every day, I see vividly that I am responsible for everything outside of my heart. The ultimate validation, as it were, that I am so great in my infinite potential that I need not seek Gohonzon outside of myself. Gohonzon in and of itself is my validation simply because it is my own heart.

Faith, for much of my life, I saw to be nothing more than training wheels. But with the linear motion of life as I walk through it, shielded and armed with my Gohonzon, what was once thought by my self – that faith would no longer be necessary to have once one no longer needed to “believe”. Because they would have first-hand accounts of the power of the Mystic Law, therefore they could know it's power. What faith would one need?

Perhaps some could actually cast their faith aside as training wheels, but as Sensi says it takes courage to wield the power of the Mystic Law. To face one's true self. To only rely on one's self. Via the infinite potential in a single moment of life, why would any sentient being not be able to, at any moment wield the Mystic Law infinitely according to the judgment that would be most beautiful and wise as of Gohonzon etched upon their heart? It is in my practice that every day I see that this is, in fact, true through the clarity that I nurture through Gohonzon. As I watch myself grow under the caring and faithful guidance of Gohonzon, etched upon my heart.

I need faith. But less every day as I just watch everything that I see vividly during my time in the Treasure Tower come to my life as though it were some kind of wonderfully beautiful magic. As though my Daimoku gave me the touch of the Mystic Law. Everything I touch has the infinite potential of the Mystic Law through my touch. All from a simple voluntary decision to act from my heart. With consistent Daimoku I do it without thinking about it. Down to the trillions of atoms I expel when I exhale every single breath. Seemingly countless causes are more and more guided by the Mystic Law each and every new day.

As it becomes more and more visible every day through tangible and intangible benefits that appear in my life, everything looks different when looked at from a perspective that nothing in the universe is in its proper place every moment. All like a grand and magical classroom this life seems to become and the positive and negative begin to blur.

In my Daimoku, of course, it is variable on my experience depending on a multitude of factors, however, by making reverent time for it – reserved time, in which I have no worry or need of distraction I chant. It is in this way that I can feel assured that I may experience the clarity of that phenomena called the Treasure Tower.

To be happy with myself consistently. To be patient with myself. To believe in myself. To meet each day as a day that I can go as far as I want to go in that day. Faith and courage.

1Inclusive of faith, practice, and study

Saturday, February 10, 2018

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.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Tangible and Intangible Benefits of Consistent Daimoku

With consistent Daimoku, even for a few minutes once a day, there are many benefits to be had. As foremost, consistent Daimoku provides a grounding for us. A centering. A base, from which we may deal with those things outside of ourselves more effortlessly and effectively.

Not chanting to affect the world outside of ourselves with our Daimoku directly, but by having chanted to directly affect our own Ichinen, thereby affecting the world outside ourselves without effort beyond the Daimoku. The transformation begins and ends with ourselves.

With consistent Daimoku, the need to control our environment is progressively lessened as we realize the great control we have of ourselves.

To attempt to control our environment in spite of ourselves is futile and any control that would be had is forced, marginal and temporary at best.

Through consistent Daimoku, the control that we gradually capture of ourselves becomes apparent quickly and generally shows it’s manifestation of a certain stillness and peace.

No longer are we so quick to correct the errors of others, have the last word or even feel that craving or feeling that we so desperately need to ensure that others are considerate of our own individual life condition.

Our involuntarily organized priorities begin to change. We quickly come to realize the futility of so many things we have historically had to have in place at all times, only so that we could feel emotionally stable and balanced.

Through consistent Daimoku, our reactions to those things outside of ourselves radically change. Often by being comfortable with the conscientious choice of not responding. Something we would have been unable to do previously.

And with every day of consistent Daimoku these abilities increase involuntarily without any effort outside the Daimoku we practice each and every day.

Our self-appreciation, respect and peace of mind permeate our days to the point at which we feel less and less scattered, distracted or overwhelmed.

It is a state of mind that surpasses the insecure need to understand. Understanding is nothing more than a measurement we apply to our environment. For instance, if we were to be insulted. Perhaps a slight from someone that would infuriate us, hurt our feelings and what’s more, possibly be something we would carry with us for an indefinite period of time. Yet when we are centered and progressively gain more strength within that centering, these things affect us less and less to the point of not affecting us at all.

Not through a process of understanding, not through the necessity of even giving one thought toward a defense, but from a space of knowing. Complete self-confidence achieved by consistent Daimoku.
Invariably, I always hear of Daimoku experiences, at least here in the United States, as being more of an incantation to produce results in one’s outside environment. Chanting regarding one’s or another’s health and or happiness. Chanting for a promotion or social problem at work. These things being chanted for as though all one would really need to do is go to the racetrack and chant for their favorite horse to come in first.

This way of practicing Daimoku requires the most conscientious steadfastness and is really only a reiteration of one’s environment outside of themselves.

Daimoku practiced to only avail themselves to the Mystic Law is only ridden with the efforts of chanting, patience and perhaps more arduous, fostering one’s faith to know that from nothing more than their own Ichinen, they can effectively and precisely make even their most daring dreams come true with eternal permanence.

By chanting to Gohonzon daily with reverence and an open mind is to practice a type of centering meditation of sorts.

The realization of mutual possession will become increasingly apparent. The realization will continually grow and so much so that everything you desire is obtainable because you already have the means. For it is the intangible benefits of Daimoku that bring forth the tangible benefits. It is our Ichinen that brings opportunities to us on a silver platter.

With consistent Daimoku chanted from a space of faith in the Gohonzon that is etched upon your heart, your Ichinen will transform and as it does, so will your environment. More than you can imagine.

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.


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.