Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 10:
Joy in Both Life and Death [10.8]
10.8 Our Own Attainment of Buddhahood Enables the Deceased to Attain Buddhahood
Referring to Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, President Ikeda explains the principle that our efforts toward our own attainment of Buddhahood are the best offering we can make to the deceased.
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin states:
“Now when Nichiren and his followers perform ceremonies for the deceased, reciting the Lotus Sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the ray of light from the daimoku reaches all the way to the hell of incessant suffering and makes it possible for them to attain Buddhahood then and there. This is the origin of the prayers for transference of merit for the deceased.” (OTT, 17)
The power of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is unfathomable. The “light” of the daimoku we chant reaches every corner of the universe, illuminating even those agonizing in the hell of incessant suffering after death and enabling them to attain Buddhahood directly, says the Daishonin.
In “The Offering of an Unlined Robe,” the Daishonin writes [to the lady of Sajiki]: “Be firmly convinced that the benefits from this [your sincere offering] will extend to your parents, your grandparents, nay, even to countless living beings” (WND-1, 533). The great benefit of our Buddhist practice dedicated to kosen-rufu also flows on to the deceased as well as to unborn future generations.
Offering prayers based on the Mystic Law—chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo— is the best and truest offering we can make for the deceased. Because the Mystic Law has the power to help all people attain Buddhahood, not only those here in the present but throughout the three existences of past, present, and future.
The father of one of the Daishonin’s disciples, Joren-bo, was a Nembutsu practitioner. In a letter to Joren-bo after his father’s death, the Daishonin writes: “The body that the father and mother leave behind is none other than the physical form and mind of the child. The blessings that you, the Honorable Joren, acquire through your faith in the Lotus Sutra will lend strength to your kind father” (WND-2, 572).
Even if our parents do not practice Nichiren Buddhism, the benefit that we receive as practitioners of the Mystic Law will also become their benefit. We are alive today thanks to our parents. They gave birth to us. As such, our attainment of Buddhahood leads to their attainment of Buddhahood.
The past doesn’t matter; it’s the present that counts. Our ancestors’ actions are not decisive; it is our actions that determine the future. All it takes is one awakened individual to shine like the sun and illuminate all of his or her family members and relations with the light of the Mystic Law.
The Daishonin notes that, without obtaining Buddhahood oneself, it would be difficult to help even one’s parents attain Buddhahood, much less help other people to do so (cf. WND-1, 819). Let us take this insight deeply to heart.
From a speech at a spring memorial service, Tokyo, March 21, 2006.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.