Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 15: “Faith for Overcoming Obstacles” [15.14]
15.14 The Significance of Nichiren Daishonin’s “Casting Off the Transient and Revealing the True”
President Ikeda explains the significance of Nichiren Daishonin’s “casting off the transient and revealing the true” and what it means for our own lives. He also stresses that we can tap our inherent power and potential through our struggles to overcome hardships.
At the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution,1 Nichiren Daishonin discarded his transient status as an ordinary practitioner at the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth.2 While remaining an ordinary person, he revealed his true identity as the Buddha of limitless joy enlightened since time without beginning.3 Put another way, as an ordinary person, he manifested the eternal Thus Come One that is one with the eternal Mystic Law, the fundamental law of the universe.
After casting off the transient and revealing the true in this way, the Daishonin took on his role as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. In that capacity, he began inscribing the Gohonzon in the form of a mandala as the object of fundamental respect or devotion and the foundation for all people’s lives.
Incidentally, we should note that in “casting off the transient,” the Chinese character for “casting off” also means “opening up.”
The Daishonin manifested the Buddha of limitless joy as none other than an ordinary person. If we overlook this point, then we may incorrectly conclude that attaining Buddhahood means becoming something superior to and distinct from human beings. Nichiren Daishonin did not give up his life as an ordinary person. Rather, he brilliantly manifested the eternal Buddha within his life as an ordinary person.
I want to note another important point. Namely, that this principle also applies to us. When we dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu, overcoming painful suffering and persevering in faith, we, too, can actualize the principle of “casting off the transient and revealing the true.” As ordinary people, we can bring forth the same life state of Buddhahood as Nichiren Daishonin.
How fortunate we are to have encountered this teaching. If the goal were to become some sort of special, idealized superhuman being, then happiness in this life would be unattainable.
Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddha of the Latter Day precisely because he showed that all people have the potential to attain Buddhahood and revealed the means for doing so. He demonstrated for us through his own life that an ordinary person can attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.
“Casting off the transient and revealing the true” means each of us establishing a solid self that can surmount all difficulties, break through fundamental ignorance,4 and express our inherently enlightened nature, the Dharma nature.5 Becoming people whose Buddhahood shines forth ever more brightly the greater the challenges we face is the path to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.
In that respect, the key to true self-development is to exert ourselves in faith, in our Buddhist practice, to overcome all obstacles.
We don’t take on difficulties only after deepening our faith. Instead, by facing difficulties we can polish our lives and develop invincible, diamond-like faith. Whatever problems we have, we should chant honestly about them to the Gohonzon. Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we will find a way to overcome them. This difference in the order of things may seem subtle, but it is decisive.
As we strive to fulfill our unique missions, we inevitably encounter difficulties. But as long as our hearts remain steadfast and our faith firm, there is no hardship we cannot surmount, no ordeal that we cannot break through. We inherently possess immeasurable power. That is the power of the Buddha of limitless joy enlightened since time without beginning. Therefore, the more we challenge ourselves, the more power we can bring forth. Faith enables us to tap this hidden treasure. Great hardships are springboards to profound awakening and mean we are certain to attain Buddhahood.
The Daishonin taught his disciples this way of life through personally triumphing over each of the great difficulties and persecutions he faced. During the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, in particular, he clearly outlined the ultimate essence of this way of life to Shijo Kingo. He did so not only for his disciple’s sake, but for the sake of posterity.
Shijo Kingo remained steadfast in faith throughout. As a result, mentor and disciple together could attain the fruit of Buddhahood. Tatsunokuchi itself became the Land of Tranquil Light.6
The “transient” to be cast off is weakness and cowardice. The Daishonin, by revealing his “true identity” of courage, demonstrated for all people the principle of “casting off the transient and revealing the true.”
When we act with the same courageous resolve and spirit as the Daishonin and calmly confront the hardships we encounter, we will actualize our own “casting off the transient and revealing the true.”
From The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings, vol. 2, published in Japanese in January 2004.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Tatsunokuchi Persecution: The failed attempt, instigated by powerful government figures, to behead the Daishonin under the cover of darkness on the beach at Tatsunokuchi, on the outskirts of Kamakura, on September 12, 1271.
- *2Ordinary practitioner at the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth: An ordinary person who has taken the first step in Buddhist practice, that of accepting and understanding the words of the Buddha’s teachings, and who has not yet gained any results or effects of practice. In other words, it means an ordinary person who has a spirit to believe in the Buddha’s teachings.
- *3Buddha of limitless joy enlightened from time without beginning: Also, Buddha of beginningless time. The eternal Buddha who has awakened to the supreme Law, embodies that Law, and freely employs its benefit. “Time without beginning” does not indicate a particular point in the distant past, but eternity.
- *4Fundamental ignorance: The most deeply rooted illusion inherent in life, said to give rise to all other illusions. The inability to see or recognize the truth, particularly, the true nature of one’s life.
- *5Dharma nature: Also, fundamental nature of enlightenment. The unchanging nature inherent in all things and phenomena.
- *6Land of Tranquil Light: Also, Land of Eternally Tranquil Light. The Buddha land, which is free from impermanence and impurity.