Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 4:
“It Is the Heart That Is Important” [4.5]
4.5 Mastering Our Minds
To effect a major transformation of our life state, we must free ourselves from the domination of our vacillating, weak mind; we must become the master of our mind, and live accordingly.
“It is the heart that is important” (WND-1, 1000). The heart, the mind, is truly wondrous and unfathomable. The inner realm of life is boundless. We can also deepen it infinitely.
The mind can give rise to a life state of great joy, as if soaring freely and effortlessly through the vast blue sky. It can radiate compassion like the clear, bright, all-illuminating sunshine and warmly embrace those who are suffering. It can tremble with righteous anger and vanquish evil and injustice with the courage and ferocity of a lion. The mind is constantly changing, like an ever-unfolding drama or shifting panorama.
And the most wondrous thing about the mind is that it can manifest the world of Buddhahood. Even those beset by the deepest delusion and suffering can bring forth in the depths of their lives the state of Buddhahood that is one with the universe. This momentous drama of transformation is indeed the greatest of all wonders.
Buddhism recognizes the supreme nobility and potential for phenomenal transformation inherent within the lives of all people. Based on that, Nichiren Daishonin taught that by thoroughly polishing their lives through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, anyone—no matter how steeped in ignorance and delusion—can reveal their Buddhahood and transform even the most evil and defiled land into a pure land.
Myoho-renge-kyo is the “mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings”1 (WND-1, 3).
And that is why, through our practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can polish the tarnished mirror of “a mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life” into “a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena2 and the true aspect of reality” (WND-1, 4), and thus reveal our inner Buddhahood. In other words, we can manifest the “originally inherent mystic truth” (cf. WND-1, 3) and open the infinite potential that resides within us.
Myoho-renge-kyo is the Law inherent in our own lives. The moment-to-moment inner transformation we achieve through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo leads not only to a fundamental change in our mind-set, but to a change in the entire way we live our lives, putting us on track to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. And it further creates a groundswell for the great transformation of all humankind that is kosen-rufu. Myoho-renge-kyo is the dynamic pulse of change in all spheres.
The fact that Myoho-renge-kyo is the Law inherent within our lives raises another issue we must consider: that is, the relationship between the mind of delusion—a mind clouded by innate darkness—and the mind of enlightenment, or “myo”—a mind illuminated by the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality.
If we simply follow our easily swayed, unenlightened minds, our potential will quickly wither away. Or, even worse, we may give in to negative and destructive impulses. Such is the subtle nature of the workings of the mind. Because our minds are the key to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime, we must overcome our own inner weaknesses. This is what our Buddhist practice is all about.
The deluded minds of ordinary people are always vacillating. We must not make this constantly changing, shifting mind our basis or guide. This is the meaning of the well-known sutra passage: “Become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you”3 (WND-1, 502).
The Daishonin cites this passage about becoming the master of one’s mind in many places in his writings, offering it as an important guideline for his followers. Becoming the master of one’s mind means having a sound compass in life and the bright beacon of faith.
We must not let ourselves be mastered by our unenlightened minds that change and shift according to the circumstances. We need a teacher, or mentor, to help guide our minds in the right direction. In that sense, the true masters of the mind are the Buddhist Law and the teachings of the Buddha. Shakyamuni vowed to make the Law to which he had become enlightened the master or guide of his mind, and he took pride in living true to that vow. This is to live one’s life “relying on the Law,” which Shakyamuni emphasized in his final injunction to his disciples before he died.
To allow ourselves to be mastered by our minds is to make ourselves, our selfish impulses, our foundation. Ultimately, we will be pulled this way and that by our ever-moving minds, succumb to egoism, and sink into the depths of darkness or ignorance.
Conversely, to master our minds means to make the Law our foundation.
A teacher or mentor in Buddhism is one who leads and connects people to the Law, teaching them that the Law on which they should depend exists within their own lives. The disciples in turn seek the mentor, who embodies and is one with the Law. Looking to the mentor as a model, they exert themselves in their Buddhist practice. In this way, they lead a life that allows them to master their minds.
In other words, the existence of a mentor—one who embodies and lives in accord with the Law and teaches people about their vast inner potential—is indispensable for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.
I am who I am today because of my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, who practiced in accord with the Buddha’s teachings and dedicated his life to widely propagating Nichiren Buddhism in the modern age. Mr. Toda is always with me as my spiritual mentor. I still carry on a dialogue with my mentor in my heart, every moment, every day. This is the spirit of oneness of mentor and disciple.
Those who always hold fast to their spiritual mentor as their model and compass and exert themselves as that mentor teaches are people who live based on the Law. Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching grounded in the oneness of mentor and disciple.
From Lectures on “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” published in Japanese in January 2007.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.
- *1The mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings: This refers to the Mystic Law, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is inherent in all life. By awakening to this Law, we can bring forth the great life state of Buddhahood. The mystic truth also indicates our inherent Buddhahood or Buddha nature.
- *2Essential nature of phenomena: Also, Dharma nature, or enlightenment.
- *3A quote from the Six Paramitas Sutra.