Entering the Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is a sacred space. Our conduct should be dignified and correct.
As for the rules to be followed in worship, one should always either sit or stand when in the presence of the object of devotion. Once one leaves the Sanctuary, however, one is free to walk, stand still, sit, or lie down as one wishes.
-On Reciting the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra
The reason is that in the Sanctuary is enshrined the Gohonzon, and on entering the Sanctuary, we enter the Gohonzon itself. And what is the Gohonzon that we enter?
The true object of devotion is described as follows:
The treasure tower sits in the air above the sahā world that the Buddha of the essential teaching [identified as the pure and eternal land]; Myoho-renge-kyo appears in the center of the tower with the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Many Treasures seated to the right and left, and, flanking them, the four bodhisattvas, followers of Shakyamuni, led by Superior Practices. Manjushrī, Maitreya, and the other bodhisattvas, who are all followers of the four bodhisattvas, are seated below. All the other major and minor bodhisattvas, whether they are disciples of the Buddha in his transient status or of the Buddhas of the other worlds, are like commoners kneeling on the ground in the presence of nobles and high-ranking court officials. The Buddhas who gathered from the other worlds in the ten directions all remain on the ground, showing that they are only temporary manifestations of the eternal Buddha and that their lands are transient, not eternal and unchanging.
-Kanjin no Honzon Sho
Nichiren explained the events occurring in the Gohonzon:
The place where the ceremony occurred was the eternally existing Land of Tranquil Light. The lord of teachings who abided in this land was the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies, and those whom he converted had to be of equal status. This being the case, from the depths of the Land of Tranquil Light he summoned up Superior Practices and the others who make up the four bodhisattvas, original followers of the Buddha who since the remote past had praised [the Buddha and the original Law], and entrusted this doctrine to them.
-On Receiving the Three Great Secret Laws
When we enter the Sanctuary, we attend the ceremony and are entrusted with the Lotus Sutra.
Invocation of the Three Great Secret Laws
Begin by reciting the Daimoku three times in a confident and sonorous voice.
Pausing a moment, we then invoke the Three Great Secret Laws:
Namu Hommon no Honzon. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
I declare my devotion to the Object of Veneration of the Original Dharma Gate. I declare my devotion to the Sublime Dharma of the White Lotus Scripture.
Namu Hommon no Kaidan. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
I declare my devotion to the Sanctuary of the Original Dharma Gate. I declare my devotion to the Sublime Dharma of the White Lotus Scripture.
Namu Hommon no Daimoku. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
I declare my devotion to the Title of the Original Dharma Gate. I declare my devotion to the Sublime Dharma of the White Lotus Scripture.
Invoking the Three Great Secret Laws, we establish our place at the Ceremony in the Air described in the Lotus Sutra. Summoning deep confidence, we understand that as we sit in the Sanctuary and recite the Daimoku, we are at that moment attending in the eternally existing Land of Tranquil Light at the ceremony where the Original Buddha, Shakyamuni, entrusted the Sublime Dharma to his Original Disciples, the Bodhisattavas of the Earth. The Bodhisattvas, we understand, are none other than ourselves, never transcending the causes and conditions of our life, As-It-Is.
Nichiren explains the disposition we should hold, writing in Letter to Gijo-bo of his own example:
The verse section of the [Life Span] chapter states, “... single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha, not hesitating even if it costs them their lives.” As a result of this passage, I have revealed the Buddhahood in my own life. The reason is that it is this sutra passage that has enabled me to embody the Three Great Secret Laws, or the reality of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, that is found in the “Life Span” chapter…
I, Nichiren, say that “single” stands for myō, or mystic, “mind” for hō, or law, “desiring” for ren, or lotus, “see” for ge, or flower, and “Buddha” for kyō, or sutra. In propagating these five characters, practitioners should “not hesitate even if it costs them their lives.”
“Single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha” may be read as follows: single-mindedly observing the Buddha, concentrating one’s mind on seeing the Buddha, and when looking at one’s own mind, perceiving that it is the Buddha. Having attained the fruit of Buddhahood, the eternally inherent three bodies, I may surpass even T’ien-t’ai and Dengyō, and excel even Nāgārjuna and Mahākāshyapa. The Buddha wrote that one should become the master of one’s mind rather than let one’s mind master oneself. This is what I mean when I emphatically urge you to give up even your body, and never begrudge even your life for the sake of the Lotus Sutra.
-Letter to Gijo-bo
Practicing for Oneself and for Others
This Nam-myoho-renge-kyo encompasses both practice for oneself and the teaching of others.
Generating Appreciation and Gratitude for Encountering the Lotus Sutra
The fortune we presently enjoy is incalculable. Nichiren illustrated it thus:
The “Peaceful Practices” chapter in the fifth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, “Manjushrī, as for this Lotus Sutra, throughout immeasurable numbers of lands one cannot even hear its name.”
This passage means that we living beings, transmigrating through the six paths of the threefold world, have been born sometimes in the world of heavenly beings, other times in the world of human beings, and still other times in the worlds of hell, hungry spirits, and animals. Thus we have been born in immeasurable numbers of lands where we have undergone innumerable sufferings and occasionally enjoyed pleasures, but have never once been born in a land where the Lotus Sutra has spread. Or even if we happened to have been born in such a land, we did not chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. We never dreamed of chanting it, nor did we ever hear others chant it.
To illustrate the extreme rarity of encountering this sutra, the Buddha likened it to the difficulty of a one-eyed turtle encountering a floating sandalwood log with a hollow in it. The essence of this analogy is as follows. Eighty thousand yojanas down, on the bottom of the ocean, lives a large sea-creature called a turtle. He has neither limbs nor flippers. His belly is as hot as heated iron, but the shell on his back is as cold as the Snow Mountains. What this turtle yearns for day and night, morning and evening—the desire he utters at each moment—is to cool his belly and warm the shell on his back.
The red sandalwood tree is regarded as sacred and is like a sage among people. All other trees are regarded as ordinary trees and are like foolish people. The wood of this sandalwood tree has the power to cool the turtle’s belly. The turtle longs with all his might to climb onto a sandalwood log and place his belly in a hollow there in order to cool it, while exposing the shell on his back to the sun in order to warm it. According to the laws of nature, however, he can rise to the ocean’s surface once every thousand years. But even then it is difficult for him to find a sandalwood log. The ocean is vast, while the turtle is small, and floating logs are few. Even if he finds some floating logs, he seldom encounters one of sandalwood. And even when he is fortunate enough to find a sandalwood log, it rarely has a hollow the size of his belly. If [the hollow is too large and] he falls into it, he cannot warm the shell on his back, and no one will be there to pull him out. If the hollow is too small and he cannot place his belly in it, the waves will wash him away, and he will sink back to the ocean’s floor.
Even when, against all odds, the turtle comes across a floating sandalwood log with a hollow of the right size, having only one eye, his vision is distorted, and he sees the log as drifting eastward when it is actually drifting westward. Thus the harder he swims in his hurry to climb onto the log, the farther away he goes. When it drifts eastward, he sees it as drifting westward, and in the same way, he mistakes south for north. Thus he always moves away from the log, never approaches it.
In this way, the Buddha explained how difficult it is for a one-eyed turtle to find a floating sandalwood log with a suitable hollow, even after immeasurable, boundless kalpas. He employed this analogy to illustrate the rarity of encountering the Lotus Sutra. One should be aware, however, that, even if one should encounter the floating sandalwood log of the Lotus Sutra, it is rarer still to find the hollow of the Mystic Law of the daimoku, which is difficult to chant.
The ocean represents the sea of the sufferings of birth and death, and the turtle symbolizes us living beings. His limbless state indicates that we are poorly endowed with roots of goodness. The heat of his belly represents the eight hot hells of anger and resentment, and the cold of the shell on his back, the eight cold hells of covetousness and greed. His remaining at the bottom of the ocean for a thousand years means that we fall into the three evil paths and find it hard to emerge. His rising to the surface once every thousand years illustrates how difficult it is to be born as a human being from the three evil paths once in immeasurable kalpas at a time when Shakyamuni Buddha has appeared in the world.
Other floating logs, such as those of pine or cypress, are easy to find, but a sandalwood log is difficult to encounter. This illustrates that it is easy to encounter all the other sutras, but difficult to encounter the Lotus Sutra. And even if the turtle should come across a floating sandalwood log, finding one with a suitable hollow is difficult. This means that, even if one should encounter the Lotus Sutra, it is difficult to chant the five characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that are its essence.
The turtle mistakes east for west and north for south. Similarly, though we flaunt our knowledge and act as if we were wise, we ordinary people regard superior teachings as inferior and inferior teachings as superior. We regard powerless teachings as ones that lead to enlightenment, and declare teachings inappropriate for the people’s capacity to be appropriate for them. Thus we believe that the teaching of the True Word school is superior and the Lotus Sutra is inferior, and that the former suits the people’s capacity, but the latter does not.
So consider well what I have just related. The Buddha made his advent in India and preached various sacred teachings during his lifetime. In his forty-third year of preaching he began to expound the Lotus Sutra. For eight years thereafter, all his disciples embraced the Lotus Sutra, which is like a wish-granting jewel. But Japan is separated from India by two hundred thousand ri of mountains and seas, so that the people here could not even hear the name of the Lotus Sutra.
One may further reflect on their freedoms and advantages:
Having avoided conditions that preclude freedom to practice Buddhism:
Being born in the hells, in the preta realm,
As an animal, a long-lived god, or a barbarian,
Having wrong views, being born when there is no Buddha,
Or being born deaf and mute; these are the eight states without freedom.
One may further reflect on their individual and circumstantial advantages that enable freedom to practice Buddhism.
Born a human, in a central place, with all one’s faculties,
Without a conflicting lifestyle, and with faith in the Dharma.
A Buddha has appeared and preached the Dharma,
His teachings still exist and can be followed,
There are those who are kind-hearted toward others.
Sentient beings are infinite, I vow to liberate them.
Afflictions are infinite, I vow to eradicate them.
Dharmas are inexhaustible, I vow to study them.
Buddhahood is supreme, I vow to obtain it.
Generating a Mind of Compassion and Making Vows
Generate thoughts of loving kindness toward all beings, as well as the desire to bring about their deliverance.
There is not a single being in samsara, this immense ocean of suffering, who in the course of time without beginning has never been our father or mother. When they were our parents, these beings’ only thought was to raise us with the greatest possible kindness, protecting us with great love and giving us the very best of their own food and clothing.
All of these beings, who have been so kind to us, want to be happy, and yet they have no idea how to put into practice what brings about happiness. None of them want to suffer, but they do not know how to give up the negative actions at the root of all suffering. Their deepest wishes and what they actually do thus contradict each other. Poor beings, lost and confused, like a blind man abandoned in the middle of an empty plain!
It is for their well-being that I seek the Sublime Dharma and endeavor to put it into practice. I will lead these beings, my parents, tormented by the miseries of the six realms of existence to the state of Unsurpassed Buddhahood.
Taking Refuge facing the Gohonzon
Namu jippo no honbutsu
With reverence and all my heart I worship the Eternal Buddha of the Ten Directions.
Namu jippo no honpo
With reverence and all my heart I worship the Eternal Dharma of the Ten Directions.
Namu jippo no honso
With reverence and all my heart I worship the Eternal Sangha of the Ten Directions.
With reverence I offer service in accordance with the Dharma
Next, mentally conjure the image of a cloud of incense and blossoms, which, in an instant of thought permeates throughout the cosmos, filling the entire Dharma-dhatu with offerings to the Sublime Dharma, the Buddha seated with another buddha in the Stupa and the entire assembly - brilliant garlands of precious jewels adorn everywhere, sublime sounds and songs echo, marvelous aromatic fragrances permeate, exquisite flavors wash over, and all materials are pleasurable to the touch. Imagine, too, the sonorous sound of the the Daimoku echoing throughout the Dharmadhatu, issuing forth from everywhere at once, drawing beings to turn toward the Sublime Dharma of the White Lotus.
We next address the Buddha and the Assembly, urging the Buddha to turn the wheel of the Sublime Dharma.
Recite the Daimoku Three Times.
Honoring the August teachers:
Namu Shakamunibutsu. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Namu Kako Taho Seson. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Namu Jogyo Bosatsu. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Namu Muhengyo Bosatsu. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Namu Jyogyo Bosatsu. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Namu Anryugyo Bosatsu. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Namu Jippo Issai Joju So. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
Honoring our Teachers in the Lineage:
I reverently thank and praise the teachers who have protected the dharma and passed it down to the present:
Arya Mahakasyapa received the lineage from the Buddha, and successively,
I reverently thank and praise Arya Kumarajiva who faithfully transmitted the Lotus Sutra from India to China.
I reverently thank and praise the Great Teachers of the Lotus School in China:
Arya Hui-ssu (Nan-Yueh)
Arya Zhiyi, the Great Master T’ien T’ai
Arya Kuan-ting, the Great Master Chang-an
Arya Zhanran, the Great Master Miao-lo
I reverently thank and praise Arya Saicho, the Great Master Dengyo, who faithfully transmitted the teachings of the Lotus Sutra school to Japan.
I most reverently thank and praise Nichiren Daishonin, the great teacher who having been entrusted by the Buddha with the initial propagation of the the Lotus Sutra, endured persecution and revealed the Three Great Secret Laws for the benefit of all beings.
I reverently thank and praise Nikko Shonin, the faithful disciple of Nichiren Daishonin and the founder of the Fuji lineage.
4. Thank and Praise the Guardians of the Sanctuary
I reverently thank and praise the Guardian Deities of the Sanctuary who ward off evil influence and protect the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra from harm.
Dai Bontenno - Heaven Deva; Skt. = Brahmā or Sikhin; guards the upward direction; Hindi deity who created the universe, with four heads for overlooking each of the four directions (although often shown with only one). Also known as the universal soul, in contrast to the individual soul (atman). Bonten’s “vahana” is the wild goose. Four infinite virtues are attached to Bonten: (1) give others happiness; (2) remove their suffering; (3) help them see, thus freeing them from desire; (4) help them abandon attachment to love and hate to become impartial to all. One can attain rebirth in the Brahma Heaven, it is said, by practising these virtues. Bonten lives in the first of four meditation heavens, in the world of form, above Mount Sumeru; said to rule the “saha” (Sanskrit word for endurance and for the world of suffering); people in the saha world endure many sufferings caused by desire and three poisons -- greed, anger and foolishness.
The Shitenno: These divinities appear in the Dharani (26th chapter), with Jikokuten and Tamonten pledging on behalf of all four to protect those who embrace the sutra’s teachings. Taishakutenno leads the Shitenno.
Taishakutenno (Shakra) Lord of the Center. Commands the Shitennō. Skt = Indra, Indira, or Sakradevanam. Indra is the Hindu god of war; Taishakuten is also represented at the center of the world when grouped with the Shitennō. He governs the 32 other gods who live in Zenkenjo (Palace of Correct Views) in the Buddhist heaven (Trayastrimsha) on the peak of Mt. Sumeru. 帝釈天 is known in Sanskrit as Indra, Śakra, Sakradevanam Indra (Śakra-devānām Indra), or Shakra Devanam Indra. Positioned in Center. Buddhists in Tibet, China, and Japan have adopted Taishakuten as their guardian deity. In India, Indra was the ruler of the gods of the Veda. Not only was he the mightiest of gods, but also the god of storms, thunder, and war. Once incorporated into Buddhism, Taishakuten becomes one of its greatest protectors. Said to live in the Palace of Correct Views (Jp. = Zenkenjō 善見城) located in the Trayastriṃśas (Skt.) Heaven on the peak of Mt. Shumisen 須弥山 (Mt. Sumeru or Mt. Meru, the mythical home of the Historical Buddha, the center of the Buddhist universe). There he governs the other 32 gods of that heaven, and is served in particular by the Shitenno (Four Heavenly Kings). He is also known as a god of wealth in Japan.Taishakuten defends both deities and humans against all that is evil. Able to revive those slain in battle, Taishakuten has attributes of both a creator and a sun god. In the Rig Veda are found more hymns to Indra's dedication than any other. In his home, he let no suffering or sorrow pass. At his court the Gandharva (Kendabba) entertained. Taishaku is, in some ways, similar to Zeus in Greek mythology. Nikki
Bishamonten Guards the North. Associated with Winter, Earth, Wealth, and the color Black. Vaisravana, Vaishravana. Means “Listens to the Teachings of Buddha;” protects all locations where the Buddha preaches; lives halfway down northern side of Mount Sumeru; accompanied by the Yaksha and Raksha; also known as the god of wealth and warriors; usually clad in armor, with a spear in one hand and a pagoda in the other; the scourge of evil doers; pagoda he carries symbolizes the divine treasure house; he is both a protector of and dispenser of treasure (shares the pagoda’s vast treasures with only "the worthy"). Rules over the Yakṣas 夜叉 and Rākṣasas. 多聞天. One who is all knowing, one who hears everything in the kingdom, one who is always listening, completely versed in Buddha's teachings. Said to be the most powerful of the four Shitennō, with the other three serving as his vassals. Also the most popular and widely known of the four in Japan. Also said to be the richest of the Shitennō, for Tamonten was rewarded with great wealth after practicing austerities for 1,000 years. Commander of the Yakṣa 夜叉 (who guard the earth's treasures), the the Rākṣasa (monstrous-looking guardian deities), and the Kinnara (celestial musicians with horse heads). Tamonten protects holy places and places where Buddhaexpounds the teachings; carries pagoda-shaped treasure house in left hand (from which he gives wealth to only “the worthy;” right hand holds a spear; sometimes shown holding an umbrella, which wards off distractions and contamination. Also called the God of War, often referred to as the Black Warrior (see Genbu-Tortoise entry for more on the Black Warrior), protector of the righteous, and Buddhist patron of warriors. Sometimes shown holding a mongoose to represent his victory over the Nagas.Sometimes known as Kubera (or Kuvera), the “God of Wealth and Buried Treasure, The King of the Yaksa (Yaksha),” and in this manifestation is typically depicted in gold. One source says the Chinese sometimes call Tamonten by the Sanskrit name Dhanada (Bestower), and in China this manifestation is known as Duōwén (Duowen). In this latter manifestation, his associated animal is considered the ermine, or "snow weasel." Tamonten is the Buddhist equivalent to the turtle in Chinese mythology.
Zochotenno South, Summer, Fire, Prosperity, Red (Blue in India/China). Rules over the Kumbhāṇḍa King of the South, Lord of Spiritual Growth. One Who Expands Wisdom & Moderation. 増長天 literally means “lord who expands, lord who enlarges.” This is sometimes translated as Sprouting Growth, to indicate Zōchōten’s role as a catalyst of spiritual growth. Zōchōten is one of the fourShintennō, a group of fierce-looking (忿怒相 funnusō) guardian deities who protect the four cardinal directions. In artwork, the four typically surround the central deity on Buddhist altars. Zōchōten protects the southern quarter. Like the other members of the Shintennō group, Zōchōten is dressed in armor (yoroi 鎧) and standing atop a demon (jaki 邪鬼). Zōchōten is often depicted holding a halberd in the right hand, with the left hand clenched on the hip. However, the deity’s attributes are not rigidly prescribed. The oldest statue of Zōchōten in Japan (see photo below), dated to the middle 7th century, is located at Hōryūji Temple 法隆寺 in Nara. Zōchōten is the Buddhist equivalent to the Red Bird of Chinese mythology. The color associated with Zōchōten in Japan is commonly red, while in mainland Asia it is blue -- these colors are not rigidly prescribed. One resource says Zōchōten’s helmet is sometimes depicted as though made from the skin of an elephant's head (note: I’ve not yet found any example of this in Japan).
Jikokutenno East, Spring, Water, Strength, Blue (White in India/China). Rules over the Gandharvas & Piśācas.King of the East, Guardian of the Nation. Keeper of the Kingdom. 持國天 literally means “Guardian of the Nation.” Jikokuten is the Keeper of the Kingdom, the Upholder of the Country, the Protector of the World. Jikokuten usually carries a sword in right hand, with closed left hand resting on hip; sometimes shown holding a stringed instrument or playing a lute (which harkens to the Middle Way -- strings break if too tight, but if too slack, no sound is produced). Saidto command an army of Kendatsuba (Skt. = Gandharva; celestial musicians) and Bishasha (Skt. Pisaca; vampire demons). As the Buddhist protector of the eastern quarter, Jikokuten is similar to the dragon of Chinese mythology. The colors & symbols associated with Jikokuten vary according to country and sect.
Komokuten Lord of Limitless Vision (has third “all-seeing” eye). West, Fall, Metal, Awareness, White (Red in India/China). King of the West, Sees through evil. Discerns / punishes badness. Encourages aspirations for enlightenment. 広目天 literally means Wide Eyed or Expansive Vision. Kōmokuten sees through evil, punishes evil, and encourages aspirations for enlightenment. Kōmokuten is one of the four Shintennō, a group of fierce-looking (忿怒相 funnusō) guardian deities who protect the four cardinal directions of Buddha’s realm. In artwork, the four are typically placed around the central deity on Buddhist altars. Kōmokuten protects the western quarter. Like the other members of theShintennō group, Kōmokuten is typically dressed in armor (yoroi 鎧) and stands atop a demon (jaki 邪鬼). The oldest statue of Komokuten in Japan (see photo at right) dates to the middle 7th century and is located at Hōryūji Temple 法隆寺 in Nara. It is part of an extant set of all four. In mainland Asia, Komokuten is often shown with red skin holding a jewel in one hand and a snake in the other or coiled around the deity. Komokuten is attended by the Naga (Sanskrit for serpents, including dragons) and the Pūtanā (type of hungry ghost associated with fevers and protecting pregnant women; in Vedic traditions a demon witch who killed babies). Komokuten is the Buddhist equivalent to the white tiger of Chinese mythology, in which four creatures (dragon, tiger, red bird, turtle) guard the four cardinal directions. In China, Komokuten is called Guangmu, in Tibet Mig Midang. (Editor’s note: The color associated with Komokuten varies and does not appear to be rigidly set).
Dai Nittenno (God of the Sun, Surya)
Dai Gattenno (God of the Moon, Candra)
Dai Myojotenno (God of the Stars)
The eighth volume of Great Concentration and Insight states: “Just as the petty devils will respect and avoid entering the hall of the god Shakra, so if the gods who protect the place of Buddhist practice are powerful, then evil forces will have no way to break in and cause trouble. Likewise, if the ruler of a walled city is unbending, then those who guard the city will remain firm; but if the ruler is cowardly, then those who guard the city will grow fearful. The mind is the ruler of the body. The deities Same Name and Same Birth protect people. If one’s mind is strong, then their protection is great. And if this is true of the gods who dwell on one’s body, how much truer is it of the gods who protect the place of practice!” How the Gods Protect the Place of Practice
In the eighth volume of Great Concentration and Insight and in the eighth volume of The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight” it says, “The stronger one’s faith, the greater the protection of the gods.”
It is written that those who embrace the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra will be protected by the Mother of Demon Children and by the ten demon daughters. Such persons will enjoy the happiness of the wisdom king Craving-Filled and the good fortune of the heavenly king Vaishravana. Wherever your daughter may frolic or play, no harm will come to her; she will move about without fear like the lion king. Among the ten demon daughters, the protection of Kuntī is the most profound. But your faith alone will determine all these things. A sword is useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith. Then one will be as strong as a demon armed with an iron staff. Reply to Kyo’o
We read in the sutra that Brahmā, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, and the four heavenly kings inscribed an oath in the presence of the Buddha at the assembly where the Lotus Sutra was being preached, vowing that if anyone should show enmity toward the votary of the Lotus Sutra they would chastise that person with even greater vehemence than if he were the sworn enemy of their own father and mother. Reply to the Lay Priest Takahashi
Reflect and Confess one’s errors
First, develop a clear understanding and belief in cause-and-effect;
Second, give rise to profound fearfulness of retribution;
Third, bring forth a deep sense of shame and dread of blame;
Fourth, seek out a method to extinguish offenses; (quote on daimoku overcoming karma)
Fifth, reveal and confess prior offenses;
Sixth, cut off the thought of continuing the offences;
Seventh, resolve to protect the Dharma;
Eighth, make a great vow to liberate beings;
Ninth, be ever mindful of the primordial Buddha mutually interpenetrating in all dharmas;
Tenth, Contemplate the nature of offenses as being unproduced.
Contemplating the vast assembly, with a single mind and single will one performs the procedure for confession on behalf of beings everywhere. Evoking a keen sense of contrition and shame, one confesses all the evil deeds (karma) - from unfathomable kalpas of the past up through the present existence - that oneself and sentient beings as a whole have perpetrated through the six sense. Severing once and for all any thought of continuing to commit evil deeds, one resolves henceforth until the end of time, never to create evil karma again.
Why must one do this? Because, even though actions may be empty by nature, the retribution that attends action is not effaced. A person who knows emptiness does not even invest in doing good, let alone commit evil deeds. Anyone who would pursue evil without restraint is certain to be under the influence of inverted views. When one acts under the influence of depravity, one will reap an equally deluded result. Thus for the very reason that he knows things to be empty, the practitioner fosters a deep sense of shame, burns incense, scatters flowers, reveals his sins, and repents.
I confess with all my heart - along with all living beings everywhere, my eyes have been greedily attached to the forms of the material world for countless generations. Because of these attachments there have been cravings for sensations, and I have felt tempted by the the sensuality of male and female forms. For generations this has produced confusions and attachments to the forms of the material world. These forms have harmed my eyes, making me a slave seeking their favor as I have wandered through the threefold realm. This corruption has caused me to be blind and see nothing at all. My eyes have not been good and have harmed me greatly. The Buddha is eternal, without extinction. My polluted and evil eyes have been obstructed and so I have not seen him."
"Now, upon chanting the Lotus Sutra, I declare my refuge in the Sublime Dharma, Namu Myohorengekyo. Burning incense and scattering flowers, I expound upon my eye's errors and sins without daring to hide them or cover them up. Because of this, along with all living beings, may my eyes be ultimately purified of all heavy sin."
The Lotus Sutra states:
“If any good man or good woman shall accept and keep this Lotus Sutra, whether reading it, reciting it, interpreting it, or copying it, that person shall attain eight hundred virtues of the eye… That good man or good woman, with the pure eye of flesh engendered by father and mother, shall see all mountains and forests, rivers and seas, both inner and outer, that are in the thousand-millionfold world, down to the Avici hell and up to the pinnacle of existence. He shall also see all living beings in their midst. Moreover he shall thoroughly know the causes and conditions, the fruits and retributions, of the beings’ deeds and places of birth.”
I confess with all my heart - along with all living beings everywhere, my ears have followed the reasoning of false voices for many lifetimes. Upon hearing the wonderful sound of the Buddha’s Teaching, my mind has created confusions and attachments. Upon hearing evil voices, the 108 kinds of emotional distress have risen up and injured me. Like this, my evil ears have brought on the retribution of evil works. Constantly hearing these evil voices has produced many entanglements. My listening has been perverted and so I have fallen into the path of evil and far out places of extremes. Having false views, I do not hear the True Teaching. My various attachments to this and that have not ceased for even a moment. Settled in this hollow voice, my spirit has toiled, falling into the three evil roads. The Buddhas is eternally present teaching the Dharma, but my evil and polluted ears have been obstructed and so I have not heard him."
"Now, upon first awakening, I embrace and chant the Lotus Sutra with its treasury of merits and virtues that is like the ocean. I declare my refuge in the Sublime Dharma, Namu Myohorengekyo. Burning incense and scattering flowers, I expound on the errors and sins of my ears without daring to hide them or cover them up. By doing this, along with all living beings, may my ears be ultimately purified of all of the heavy sin that has arisen."
The Lotus Sutra states:
“f a good man or good woman shall accept and keep this scripture, whether reading it, reciting it, interpreting it, or copying it, he shall attain a thousand two hundred virtues of the ear, and by means of this pure ear shall hear in the thousand-millionfold world, down to the Avici hell and up to the pinnacle of existence, all manner of speech and sounds, both inner and outer: the voices of elephants, the voices of horses, the voices of cattle, the sounds of chariots, the sound of sobs, the sound of sighs, the sound of conch shells, the sound of drums, the sound of bells, the sound of gongs, the sound of laughter, the sound of speech, men’s voices, women’s voices, boys’ voices, girls’ voices, the sound of dharma, the sound of nondharma, the sound of pain, the sound of pleasure, the voices of ordinary fellows, the voices of saints, the sound of happiness, the sound of unhappiness, the voices of gods, the voices of dragons, the voices of yaksas, the voices of gandharvas, the voices of asuras, the voices of kinnaras, the voices of mahoragas, the sound of fire, the sound of water, the sound of wind, the voices of hell dwellers, the voices of beasts, the voices of hungry ghosts, the voices of bhiksus, the voices of bhiksunis, the voices of voice hearers, the voices of pratyekabuddhas, the voices of buddhas - in short, whatever sound there may be, inner or outer in the thousand-millionfold world. Though he may not yet have acquired a divine ear, with the pure ordinary ear engendered by father and mother he shall hear and know everything. In this way he shall discriminate among sundry sounds and yet not damage his aural faculty.”
“I confess with all my heart - along with all living beings everywhere, I have been settled in this nose, smelling many odors and fragrances for countless lifetimes. Whether it has been the bodies of men or women, delicious foods, or any of the various kinds of fragrances, with confusions and perplexities I have not understood them. Stirring up the instigators of bondage that are the thieves of emotional distress, everywhere measureless sinful deeds have arisen causing these confusions to increase and grow. Because of my greed for fragrances, many different kinds have been distinguished, and there have defilements and attachments to this and that. Having fallen into the circle of Life & Death, I have received the retribution of many sufferings. The merits and virtues of the Buddha produce a wonderful fragrance that fills everywhere in the Spiritual Realm, and yet my evil and polluted nose is obstructed and does not smell it.”
"Now, upon chanting the pure and wonderful Lotus Sutra, I declare my refuge in the Sublime Dharma, Namu Myohorengekyo. Burning incense and scattering flowers, I expound upon the errors and sins of my nose without daring to hide them or cover them up. Because of this, along with all living beings, may my nose be ultimately purified of all errors and sin."
The Lotus Sutra states:
“f a good man or good woman accepts and keeps this scripture, whether reading it, reciting it, explaining it, or copying it, he shall achieve eight hundred virtues of the nose, and shall by use of his pure nasal faculty, smell all manner of scents, superior and inferior, inner and outer, in the thousand-millionfold world, the scent of sumana flower, the scent of the jati flower, the scent of the mallika flower, the scent of the campaka flower, the scent of the red lotus blossom, the scent of the green lotus blossom, the scent of the white lotus blossom, the scent of blossoming trees, the scent of fruit-bearing trees, the scent of candana, the scent of the scent that sinks in water, the scent of tamalapatra, the scent of tagara, the scents of a thousand myriad of varieties of blended perfumes, whether powdered, or in lumps, or in the form of paint. One who holds this scripture while dwelling in this very place, shall be able to distinguish them perfectly. He shall also know with discrimination the scents of living beings, to wit, the scent of elephants, the scent of horses, the scent of cattle and sheep, the scent of men, the scent of women, the scent of boys, the scent of girls, and the scents of grasses, trees, thickets , and forests. Be they near or far, whatever scents there are, he shall be able to smell them all, distinguishing among them without error. One who holds this scripture, though he may dwell here, shall yet smell the divine scents of the heavens, to wit, the scent of the parijataka and kovidara trees; as well as the scent of the mandarava flower; the scent of mahamandarava flower; the scent of the manjusaka flower; the scent of the mahamanjusaka flower; as well as the scents of candana, the scent that sinks in water, various powdered perfumes, and the perfumes of sundry flowers. Of such divine perfumes as these, or of perfumes produced from blending them, there is none that he shall not smell and know. He shall also smell the scents of the gods’ bodies, to wit, the scent of Sakro Devanam Indrah when he sports atop his palace of victory and enjoys the pleasures of the five desires, or his scent when atop his find dharma hall he preaches dharma to the Trayastrimsa gods, or his scent when he amuses himself in his gardens, as well as the scents of the bodies of all the other gods and goddesses: all these he shall smell from afar. In this way, proceeding by degrees to the Brahma gods and up to the pinnacle of existence, he shall smell the scents of all the gods’ bodies, and shall at the same time smell the incense burnt by the gods, as well as the scents of voice hearers, the scents of pratyekabuddhas, the scents of bodhisattvas, and the scents of buddha bodies: these also shall he smell from afar, thus knowing where they are. Though he may smell these scents, yet his nasal faculty shall not suffer or be misled. If he wishes to preach of them to others with discrimination, his mind shall not wander.”
"I confess with all my heart - along with all living beings everywhere, my tongue has committed many evil deeds for a countless number of lifetimes. The greed for many fine flavors has harmed living beings. I have broken many of the prohibitions and opened up the doors of idleness. My tongue has produced a measureless number of sinful deeds. Because of my tongue, errors and sins have arisen from my mouth in the form of false speech, flowery and evasive language, the mouthing of evil hatred, and a double tongue. I have slandered the Three Treasures and praised the teaching of false views, and expounded on them in words that are of no benefit to others. I have provoked, incited, and disordered the Dharma while expounding on untruths. Many piercing evil deeds have arisen from my mouth, severing the Wheel of the True Teaching from my tongue. Like this, my evil tongue has cut off the seeds of merits and virtues, coerced others, expounded on that which is not right and praised false views. Like adding more wood to the fire, my tongue has created limitless and boundless sins and errors. Because of this I have fallen into evil paths for hundreds of thousands of lifetimes without any chance of escape. The Buddha’s Teaching has a flavor that fills everywhere in the Spiritual Realm. Because of the sins of my tongue I have been unable to distinguish it.
"Now, upon chanting the Lotus Sutra that is the Secret Treasury of the Buddhas, I declare my refuge in the Sublime Dharma, Namu Myohorengekyo. Burning incense and scattering flowers, I expound upon the errors and sins of my tongue without daring to hide them or cover them up. Because of this, with all living beings everywhere, may my tongue be ultimately purified of all heavy sin.”
The Lotus Sutra states:
“f a good man or good woman accepts and keeps this scripture, whether reading it, reciting it, interpreting it, or copying it, he shall attain a thousand two hundred virtues of the tongue. All things, whether good or ugly, whether delicious or foul-tasting, or even bitter and astringent, shall all change for his lingual faculty into things of superior flavor like the sweet dew of the gods, none failing to be delicious. If in the midst of a great multitude he has anything to expound, then, producing a profound and subtle sound, with his lingual faculty he shall be able to penetrate their hearts, causing them all to rejoice and be cheerful. Also, the sons and daughters of the gods, as well as Sakra and Brahma and other gods, hearing of the order in the words and remarks that he has to expound with this profound and subtle voice, shall all come to listen. And the dragons and the dragons’ daughters, the yaksas and the yaksas’ daughters, the asuras and the asuras’ daughters, the garudas and the garudas’ daughters, the kinnaras and the kinnaras’ daughters, the mahoragas and mahoragas’ daughters, in order to listen to the dharma shall all come and approach him with familiarity, revere him humbly, and make offerings to him. And the bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, and upasikas, the lords and princes of realms, the assembled ministers and their retinues, the lesser wheel turning kings and the greater wheel turning kings, their thousands of sons all endowed with the seven jewels, and the inner and outer retinues of the latter, atop their palaces, shall all come to listen to the dharma. Since this bodhisattva shall skillfully preach dharma, the Brahmans, householders, and commoners within the realm shall follow him for the full length of their bodily lives, rendering service and offerings. Also, the voince hearers, or pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, and buddhas shall ever shall ever desire to see him. Wherever this person may be, the buddhas shall all preach the dharma facing that place, and he shall be able to accept and hold completely all the buddhadharmas. He shall also be able to give forth the profound, subtle sound of dharma.
"I confess with all my heart - along with all living beings everywhere, my body has been greedily attached to contacts that are not good since the beginning of time. These have been with male and female bodies, and particularly with those things that are soft, delicate, and smooth. The many different contacts like this have been perverted and without understanding. With burning passions and emotions, the body has created deeds that have originated three things that are not good: murder, theft, and sexual immorality. Having made very grievous bonds with many living beings, I have created rebellion, broken the precepts of morality, and even led to the burning of temples and towers of worship while using the belongings of the Three Treasures without shame. Like this, my sins have been measureless and boundless. From the deeds that have arisen from my body have come sin and defilement, causing my future world to fall into hell. Fierce fires blaze and burn my body, and for measureless lifetimes I have received great suffering and distress. The Buddhas of the Ten Directions always emit a pure light that shines upon us and touches us. Obstructed with heavy sin, my body has not awakened to it. Only knowing greed and attachment, crude vice, and evil forms of contact, I have only felt much suffering. Ultimately there have been the sufferings of hell, hunger, and brutality. Submerged in so many various kinds of suffering like this, I have not awakened and I have not recognized the light."
"Today I have shame and repentance. Upon chanting and embracing the Lotus Sutra that is the True Treasury of the Dharma, I declare my refuge in the Sublime Dharma, Namu Myohorengekyo. Burning incense and scattering flowers, I expound upon my errors and sins without daring to hide them or cover them up. Because of this, with all living beings everywhere in the Spiritual Realm, may my body be ultimately purified of all heavy sin."
The Lotus Sutra states:
“f a good man or good woman accepts and keeps this scripture, whether reading it, reciting it, interpreting it, or copying it, he shall acquire eight hundred virtues of the body, for he shall acquire a body as pure as unblemished vaidurya, one which the beings will delight to see. Because his body shall be pure, the living beings in the thousand-millionfold world, whether at the time of birth or at the time of death, whether superior or inferior, fair or ugly, born in a good place, born in a good place or in a bad place, shall all be visible therein. And Mount Iron Rim, Mount Great Iron Rim, shall all be visible therein. And Mount Iron Rim, Mount Great Iron Rim, Mount Meru, Mount Mahameru, and the other kings among mountains, as well as the living beings in their midst, shall all be visible therein. From Avici hell up to the pinnacle of existence, whatever there is, and whatever living beings are there, all shall be visible therein. If voice hearers, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, or buddhas preach the dharma, they shall all reveal their physical images within that body.”
"I confess with all my heart - along with all living beings everywhere, I have had a thinking mind that has not been good from before the beginning of time. Greedily attached to many things, it has been wild, foolish, and without understanding. I have followed after and been attached to objects with greed, anger, and stupidity. Like this, my false thoughts have been able to produce all of the adulterated deeds that make up the ten evils and five acts of iniquity. And like a foolish monkey with a pot of glue, I have had greedy attachments here there and everywhere among the feelings of the six senses. The karmic deeds of these six senses have been the branches, flowers and leaves that have completely filled up everything in the threefold realm and the 25-fold realm of existence. These deeds have been able to augment ignorance, old age, death, and the twelve phenomena of suffering. Being on the Eight Improper Paths and in the Eight Difficult Situations these things do not just go away. A measureless and boundless retribution of evil has been produced from my thinking mind. It is the root source of all of Life & Death and is the font of a host of sufferings."
"Myohorengekyo is manifest in all dharmas. One must know that all things everywhere are in the Buddha’s Enlightenment. In distinguishing them with false thoughts, one will receive much fevered distress, and it follows that one will see impurity in Bodhi and binds in liberation."
"Now, upon first awakening, I bear deep shame and fear. Chanting and embracing the Lotus Sutra and cultivating my practice as the Sutra teaches, I declare my refuge in the Sublime Dharma, Namu Myohorengekyo. Burning incense and scattering flowers, I expound upon the errors and sins of my thinking mind in a tearful confession, without daring to hide them or cover them up. Because of this, along with all living beings everywhere in the Spiritual Realm, may the heavy sins of my thinking mind and all the evil karmic deeds of my six senses be once and for all washed clean, confessed, and ultimately purified."
The Lotus Sutra states:
“f a good man or good woman after the extinction of the Thus Come One accepts and holds this scripture, whether reading it, reciting it, interpreting it, or copying it, he shall attain a thousand two hundred virtues of the mind. With this pure mental faculty, by hearing so much as a single gatha or a single phrase, he shall penetrate incalculable, limitless meanings; and after having understood these meanings, he shall be able to expound a single phrase or a single gatha for as much as a month, or four months, or even for a year, and the dharmas that he preaches shall be in accord with the import of that meaning, standing in absolutely no contradiction to the marks of reality. If he preaches secular classics, pronouncements on the governance of the world, occupations that sustain life, and things of this sort, he shall see in every case do so in accord with the fine dharma. In the thousand-millionfold world, among the living beings of the six destinies, the actions they perform in thought, the motions they make in thought, and the frivolous assertions to which they resort in thought are all known to him. Though he shall not yet have attained knowledge without outflows, yet his mental faculty shall be as pure as this. Whatever intentions, or calculations, or speech this man has shall all match the buddhadharma, none of it being out of keeping with true reality, and all shall have been preached in the scriptures of previous buddhas.”
Requesting the Teaching
“I pray that the Buddhas & the Bodhisattvas teach the Dharma to save living beings”.
"With all of my heart, I request encouragement from the original Buddha Shakyamuni. I only pray that he ever remain to turn the Wheel of the Dharma, that all living beings will embrace it and return to their original purity, and that in the end The One That Has Come remain among us forever”
12. Gongyo and Daimoku
Reflection on the Practice taught by Nichiren Daishonin
The Buddha nature inherent in us, ordinary people; the Buddha nature of Brahmā, Shakra, and the other deities; the Buddha nature of Shāriputra, Maudgalyāyana, and the other voice-hearers; the Buddha nature of Manjushrī, Maitreya, and the other bodhisattvas; and the Mystic Law that is the enlightenment of the Buddhas of the three existences, are one and identical. This principle is called Myoho-renge-kyo. Therefore, when once we chant Myoho-renge-kyo, with just that single sound we summon forth and manifest the Buddha nature of all Buddhas; all existences; all bodhisattvas; all voice-hearers; all the deities such as Brahmā, Shakra, and King Yama; the sun and moon, and the myriad stars; the heavenly gods and earthly deities, on down to hell-dwellers, hungry spirits, animals, asuras, human and heavenly beings, and all other living beings. This blessing is immeasurable and boundless.
When we revere Myoho-renge-kyo inherent in our own life as the object of devotion, the Buddha nature within us is summoned forth and manifested by our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is what is meant by “Buddha.” To illustrate, when a caged bird sings, birds who are flying in the sky are thereby summoned and gather around, and when the birds flying in the sky gather around, the bird in the cage strives to get out. When with our mouths we chant the Mystic Law, our Buddha nature, being summoned, will invariably emerge. The Buddha nature of Brahmā and Shakra, being called, will protect us, and the Buddha nature of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, being summoned, will rejoice. This is what the Buddha meant when he said, “If one can uphold it [the Mystic Law] even for a short while I will surely rejoice and so will the other Buddhas.”
All Buddhas of the three existences, too, attain Buddhahood by virtue of the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. These five characters are the reason why the Buddhas of the three existences appear in the world; they are the Mystic Law whereby all living beings can attain the Buddha way. You should understand these matters thoroughly and, on the path of attaining Buddhahood, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo without arrogance or attachment to biased views.
Those Initially Aspiring to the Way 110
As we worship the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, we must recall that we are seeing our own mind.
Question: ...Now what is meant by the observation of the mind?
Answer: The observation of the mind means to observe one’s own mind and to find the Ten Worlds within it. This is what is called observing the mind. For example, though we can see the six sense organs of other people, we cannot see our own. Only when we look into a clear mirror do we see, for the first time, that we are endowed with all six sense organs. Similarly, various sutras make reference here and there to the six paths and the four noble worlds [that constitute the Ten Worlds], but only in the clear mirror of the Lotus Sutra and of the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight can one see one’s own Ten Worlds, hundred worlds and thousand factors, and three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
Kanjin no Honzon Sho
Resolve action. Fukyo
14. Dedicate Merit
15. Close the practice.