Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 17: Making the Most of Each Day [17.4]
17.4 Every Day Is “Time without Beginning”
In The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, President Ikeda touches on the concept of “time without beginning,” stressing the importance of faith based on the true cause—the spirit of always starting afresh from this moment on.
“Time without beginning” is synonymous with “life without beginning or end.” It refers not to the dimension of time but to the innermost truth of life—indeed, to life itself—which continues its activity without beginning or end.
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin states: “Kuon [time without beginning] means something that was not worked for, that was not improved upon, but that exists just as it always has” (OTT, 141).
“Not worked for” means something that did not come about at a certain time but is inherent. “Not improved upon” means the state of ordinary beings, unadorned by the “thirty-two features and eighty characteristics”1 that are the special marks of a Buddha.
Inherent and eternal, and “existing just as it always has” (cf. OTT, 141)—this is time without beginning. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the Gohonzon are also of time without beginning. Therefore, each moment we chant to the Gohonzon is time without beginning.
For us, every day in our lives is time without beginning. We are able to make our beings brim with the boundless life force of time without beginning. Every day, we make a fresh departure from the starting point of life—time without beginning.
That’s why the present moment is the most important. We mustn’t dwell on the past. There is no need to. To put all our energy into the present moment, with great hope for the future—that is the mark of a person who is wise in the way of living.
This moment is time without beginning. Everything starts from now.
The past no longer exists. The future isn’t here yet. All that exists is this present moment. And in a flash, the present becomes the past. It both exists and doesn’t exist. It is empty, or ku, the state of non-substantiality. In this state, life continues, moment to moment. It exists nowhere aside from the moment. We experience happiness and unhappiness only in the moment.
To regard our life in this present moment as the result of past causes is to view things from the standpoint of the “true effect”—that happened, followed by that, creating the present result. But to have that perspective alone does not engender hope. Instead, we should regard this present moment of life as the cause for manifesting a future effect. That cause is the “true cause” penetrating the innermost depths of one’s life. It is not a superficial or outward cause.
The true cause sinks its roots deeply into one’s life of time without beginning and, at the same time, pervades the entire Dharma realm. It is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the great law that sets everything in the universe into motion, the boundless eternal life force that causes all things to emerge and develop. Therefore, each moment that we believe in the Gohonzon, chant the Mystic Law, and engage in Buddhist practice is itself time without beginning.
The pure, boundless life force of time without beginning—“that was not worked for, that was not improved upon, but that exists just as it always has”—wells up within us. We can savor complete freedom in the present and the future. Nichiren Buddhism is the Buddhism of hope.
Faith in the Mystic Law is a source of infinite hope. No matter how adverse your present circumstances may be, even if it seems you have been defeated, it’s important that you stand up with strong resolve to turn your situation around and demonstrate the limitless transformative potential of the Mystic Law. This is the essence of faith.
Only with all-out effort, with the determination to create something from nothing, can we understand genuine faith. The intense, arduous struggle of creating value—turning loss into benefit, evil into good, baseness into beauty—is the Soka Gakkai spirit and the essence of our practice of Nichiren Buddhism.
From The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vols. 5 and 6, published in Japanese in September 1999 and August 2000.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Thirty-two features and eighty characteristics: Extraordinary features attributed to Buddhas and bodhisattvas. In most cases, the term “thirty-two features and eighty characteristics” refers to the distinguishing qualities of a Buddha.