Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 23: Valuing Each Individual [23.4]

23.4 Each Person’s Life Is a Treasure Tower As Vast As the Universe

In “On the Treasure Tower,” Nichiren Daishonin explains that the treasure tower, which appears in the Lotus Sutra, symbolizes each individual’s life. Citing a passage from this letter, President Ikeda discusses the profound humanism of Buddhism, which sees the supreme dignity and worth inherent in all people.

What is the self? What is the true nature of our existence?

In a letter to his disciple Abutsu-bo, Nichiren Daishonin writes:

At present the entire body of the Honorable Abutsu is composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space. These five elements are also the five characters of the daimoku [Myoho-renge-kyo].1 Abutsu-bo is therefore the treasure tower itself, and the treasure tower is Abutsu-bo himself (WND-1, 299).

This letter was written in response to a question from Abutsu-bo about the meaning of the treasure tower that appears in “The Emergence of the Treasure Tower” chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

The Daishonin explains very simply that with the emergence of the giant treasure tower, Shakyamuni’s disciples “perceived . . . the treasure tower within their own lives” (WND-1, 299)—that is, they awakened to the fact that each of them possessed the Buddha nature within their own beings.

The treasure tower is described as a massive 500 yojanas2 in height and 250 yojanas in width and depth—estimated, according to one calculation, to be between one-third and one-half the size of the Earth in diameter.

Having emerged from the earth, it hangs suspended in the air and is adorned with the seven kinds of treasures—gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian—and decorated with countless banners and other embellishments. Hence its name. The tower also emits a wonderful fragrance.

What does this magnificent treasure tower symbolize? It is the Buddha nature, or the life state of Buddhahood. The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai says that its colossal size indicates that it contains all the Buddha’s practices (causes) and all the resulting virtues he attained (effects).3 That it is made of and adorned with treasures signifies the majesty, nobility, and splendor of the life state of Buddhahood.

In contemporary terms, it is a symbol of the dignity of life. True dignity means having absolute, irreplaceable value. Our lives, which inherently possess the world of Buddhahood, are of absolute value. That is the meaning of the term “treasure tower.”

The Daishonin offers the highest praise to Abutsu-bo, who we could say represents all ordinary people. Because Abutsu-bo believes in the Mystic Law, the Daishonin writes, he himself is the magnificent treasure tower. In this way, the Daishonin awakens him to the truly wonderful life state possessed by those who uphold the Mystic Law.

Buddhism is a thoroughly egalitarian and democratic teaching. It teaches that each individual is incomparably worthy of respect.

Nichiren Buddhism enables us, just as we are, to attain the life state of Buddhahood. This is affirmed by the words “Abutsu-bo is . . . the treasure tower itself” (WND-1, 299).

You, too, therefore, are all supremely noble treasure towers, entities of the Mystic Law.

From a speech at an SGI-Germany and SGI-Austria joint executive conference, Germany, June 5, 1991.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, translated by David McDuff (London: Penguin Books, 2003), p. 79.
  • *2Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot, translated by David McDuff (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 530.
  • *3Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, being comprised of two characters). The Daishonin often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings.