Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 3: The Practice for Transforming Our State of Life [3.20]
3.20 The Universal Language of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
President Ikeda responds to a question from a member about the effectiveness of reciting passages from the Lotus Sutra and chanting daimoku in a language one doesn’t understand.
I would like to address the question of whether there is any value in reciting sutra passages and chanting daimoku without understanding their meaning.
Of course, it is better if you understand their meaning. That will strengthen your faith in the Mystic Law. But if you understand and yet fail to practice, it won’t get you anywhere. Moreover, you cannot understand all of the profound significance of the Law through reason alone.
Birds and dogs, for example, have their own language, their own speech. People do not understand it, but other birds and dogs do. There are many comparable examples among humans as well—codes, abbreviations, or foreign languages that are comprehended by experts or native speakers but unintelligible to others. Married couples also sometimes have their own language that only they understand!
In the same way, the language of gongyo and daimoku reaches the Gohonzon and the realms of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences. We might call it the language of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. That is why our voices reciting the sutra and chanting daimoku before the Gohonzon reach all Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and heavenly deities, whether we understand what we are saying or not. They hear it and say in response, “Excellent, excellent!” rejoicing and praising us. The entire universe envelops us in the light of happiness.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches that through reciting the sutra and chanting daimoku, we can reach an elevated state of life in which, while engaged in our daily activities, we freely traverse the cosmos. In “Reply to Sairen-bo,” the Daishonin writes: “Those who are our disciples and lay supporters can view Eagle Peak in India and day and night will go to and from the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light that has existed for all time. What a truly inexpressible joy it is!” (WND-1, 313).
When we chant before the Gohonzon, the door to our inner microcosm instantly opens to the macrocosm of the entire universe, and we savor a serene and boundless happiness, as if gazing out over the entire cosmos. We feel a deep fulfillment and joy along with a feeling of supreme confidence and self-mastery, as if we hold everything in the palm of our hands. The microcosm enfolded by the macrocosm reaches out to enfold the macrocosm in its own embrace.
The Daishonin writes in “Letter to Niike”: “When nurtured by the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, . . . [we] are free to soar into the sky of the true aspect of all phenomena” (WND-1, 1030).
In “On Offerings for Deceased Ancestors,” he also says: “Though he himself is like the wisteria vine, because he clings to the pine that is the Lotus Sutra, he is able to ascend the mountain of perfect enlightenment. Because he has the wings of the single vehicle [Mystic Law] to rely upon, he can soar into the sky of Tranquil Light [Buddhahood]” (WND-1, 821).
Just as we might climb the highest mountain peak to gaze down on the bright, clear scene of the world below, we can climb the mountain of perfect enlightenment, or supreme wisdom, the Daishonin says. We can attain a state of eternal bliss, experiencing moment after moment the infinite expanse and depth of life, as if soaring through the universe and savoring the sight of myriad beautiful stars, blazing comets, and glittering galaxies.
From a speech at an SGI-USA youth training session, U.S.A., February 20, 1990.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.