“Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

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nichiren-123
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“Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by nichiren-123 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:42 pm

In On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime nichiren says the following:
You must never think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are outside yourself. Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true nature of your life. If you seek enlightenment outside yourself, then your performing even ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain. It is like the case of a poor man who spends night and day counting his neighbor’s wealth but gains not even half a coin. That is why the T’ien-t’ai school’s commentary states, “Unless p.4one perceives the nature of one’s life, one cannot eradicate one’s grave offenses.”2 This passage implies that, unless one perceives the nature of one’s life, one’s practice will become an endless, painful austerity.
In The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon he says:
Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
I'd love if someone could clarify what it means to seek 'inside yourself'? How does looking inside differ from looking outside?
what are we seeking? Ichinen sanzen? Myoho renge kyo? buddha nature? all of those?

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Queequeg
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Re: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by Queequeg » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:46 pm

The explanation is included in one of the passages you quoted:
This passage implies that, unless one perceives the nature of one’s life, one’s practice will become an endless, painful austerity.
The Buddha appeared to show all living beings reality. Reality is actually indistinguishable from your mind. This is explained in our tradition through the teaching of Ichinen Sanzen. Ichinen Sanzen is embodied in the Gohonzon. It is embodied in the Daimoku. It is embodied in the reality of your Mind. This teaching is sacred. It is the body, speech, and mind of the Buddha.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

narhwal90
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Re: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:27 pm

For my part the term means there is no outside agency empowering the gohonzon & no super-gohonzons. In a similar fashion, the practitioner is fully invested in all 10 Worlds; hell to buddha- there is nothing missing. Thus the job at hand is to train in the various practices and so express more of the latter and less of the former.

From SGI's translation of "Happiness in This World";

"Drink sake only at home with your wife, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever."

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Coëmgenu
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Re: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by Coëmgenu » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:09 pm

So I posted something here a while ago, but it was too scary for the Buddhists, so I'll give what was referred to as the "properly Buddhist" version I alluded to in the now-gone post, and wont mention Jesus, save for the two words cited in that now-gone post: Σ̣μ̣́πετν́ϩ̣ϣν, Ṣeṃ́peteńhšn, "of your inside", and Σ̣μ̣́πετν́β̣δλ, Ṣeṃ́peteńṿdl, "of your outside".

"Inside yourself" & "outside yourself" are very old words in Buddhist discourses, stretching back to the oldest extant dispensation. They are respectively adhyātma & bahirdhābhāva, these appear in Pāli as ajjhatta & bahiddhābhāva.

iha bhikṣur adhyātmaṃ kāye kāyānupaśyī viharaty ātāpī saṃprajānaḥ smṛtimān vinīyābhidhyā loke daurmanasyam || bahirdhā kāye ’dhyātmabahirdhā kāye ’dhyātmaṃ vedanāsu bahirdhā vedanāsv adhyātmabahirdhā vedanāsv adhyātmaṃ citte bahirdhā citte ’dhyātmabahirdhā citte ’dhyātmaṃ dharmeṣu bahirdhā dharmeṣv adhyātmabahirdhā dharmeṣu dharmānupaśyī viharaty ātāpī saṃprajānaḥ smṛtimān vinīyābhidhyā loke daurmanasyam || ayaṃ bhikṣuḥ pratismṛto bhavati ||

Iti ajjhattaṃ vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati, ajjhat­ta­bahid­dhā vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati; samuda­ya­dhammā­nu­passī vā dhammesu viharati, vaya­dham­mā­nu­passī vā dhammesu viharati, samuda­ya­va­ya­dham­mā­nu­passī vā dhammesu viharati.

In both of these examples, notice first the adhyātma, then the appearance of bahirdhā, then their combination: adhyātmabahirdhā.

This section has to do with mindfulness of dharmāḥ (the Sanskrit excerpt actually has all 4 mindfulness bases, the Pāli excerpt only has dhammānupassī), or dharmānupaśyī. It addresses mindfulness of internal dharmāḥ, external dharmāḥ, & internal-and-external dharmāḥ. It is all about breaking down the divisions between inside and outside.

If one conceives of outside as something different as inside, then the binary is constructed that even the earliest of Buddhist discourses tries to break down, albeit in a different way, devoid of tathāgatagarbha metaphysical recourse, devoid of useful Madhyamaka analyses. There is no Buddha apart from the mind, that old famous Zen saying. Discourses of inanimate Buddha-nature, whether from Ven Dōgen or Ven Zhànrán, sees "the mind" as adhyātmaṃ citte bahirdhā citte ’dhyātmabahirdhā citte.

This is all IMO of course.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः
उत्पन्नाजातुविद्यन्तेभावाःक्वचनकेचन

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Carlita
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Re: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by Carlita » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:43 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:42 pm
In On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime nichiren says the following:
You must never think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are outside yourself. Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true nature of your life. If you seek enlightenment outside yourself, then your performing even ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain. It is like the case of a poor man who spends night and day counting his neighbor’s wealth but gains not even half a coin. That is why the T’ien-t’ai school’s commentary states, “Unless p.4one perceives the nature of one’s life, one cannot eradicate one’s grave offenses.”2 This passage implies that, unless one perceives the nature of one’s life, one’s practice will become an endless, painful austerity.
In The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon he says:
Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
I'd love if someone could clarify what it means to seek 'inside yourself'? How does looking inside differ from looking outside?
what are we seeking? Ichinen sanzen? Myoho renge kyo? buddha nature? all of those?
Diamoku means understanding one's own nature (our mind) via our life and death. Buddha nature is the inherit potential to become boddisattvas of the earth. Nichiren said he was Sakyamuni's votary. If his disciples follow him they'd be doing what The Buddha tought.

Inside oneself most likely means understanding personally and mentally the meaning of diamoku. Outside, I'd guess is how ones behavior lines up with diamoku.
[The Buddha says to his monks], when he opens his mouth to expound or when he reads the sutra, he should not delight in speaking of the faults of other people or scriptures. He should not display contempt for other teachers of the Law or speak of the good or bad, the strong or weak points of others. -Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra
:anjali:

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Coëmgenu
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Re: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:46 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:09 pm
Discourses of inanimate Buddha-nature, whether from Ven Dōgen or Ven Zhànrán, sees "the mind" as adhyātmaṃ citte bahirdhā citte ’dhyātmabahirdhā citte.
If I may digress further and explore what I perceive as the possible relevance of the śrāvaka Buddhavacana above ascribed Mahāyāna venerables, as I probably should have included more English clarification.

citte above is a declension of citta or mind (心)

In case anyone reading is unfamiliar, traditional accounts of mindfulness apply to four bases, kāya/body/身, vedanāḥ/sensations/受, citta/consciousness/心, & dharmāḥ/phenomena/法.

The instructions for the contemplation of these four bases is with a stock phrase of EBT Buddhavacana that is found above but reproduced below compiled from SF 293 (Sanskrit Sarvāstivāda Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra) with SA 176 (Chinese Sarvāstivāda Smṛtyupasthānasūtra):

1) adhyātmaṃ kāye bahirdhā kāye ’dhyātmabahirdhā kāye / 內身 [...] 外身 [...] 內外身 [...]
2) adhyātmaṃ vedanāsu bahirdhā vedanāsu adhyātmabahirdhā vedanāsu / 內受 [...] 外受 [...] 內外受 [...]
3) adhyātmaṃ citte bahirdhā citte ’dhyātmabahirdhā citte / 內心 [...] 外心 [...] 內外心 [...]
4) adhyātmaṃ dharmeṣu bahirdhā dharmeṣu adhyātmabahirdhā dharmeṣu dharmānupaśyī viharaty / 內法 [...] 外法 [...] 內外法法觀住

As aforementioned: adhyātma is inner, bahiddhā(bhāva) is outer.

For an English rendering we have:

[In this way they meditate by observing an aspect] of the body inside; [...] of the body outside; [...] of the body inside and outside [... an aspect] of sensations inside; [...] of sensations outside; [...] of sensations inside and outside [...] of mind inside; [...] of mind outside; [...] of mind inside and outside [...] of phenomena inside; [...] of phenomena outside; [...] of phenomena inside and outside[.]
(hybrid translation from Ven Sujato adapted here by me with additions for the purposes of this post)

To quote Ven Sujato, the translator of part of the above:
Internally means in one's own self; externally means outside one's self; and internally/externally means seeing with wisdom that inside and outside are essentially the same, for example, that the earth element inside and outside are just the earth element.

The contextualizing of this in relation to specifically the earth dhātu as explored in śrāvaka literature may or may not be terribly relevant to our purposes here in exploring this statement concerning 'this Gohonzon', but notice where he says "internally/externally means seeing with wisdom that inside and outside are essentially the same". I think that when Ven Nichiren says "never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,” it is fair to say that he is at least indirectly saying "seek this Gohonzon inside yourself", but perhaps I am wrong to say that. I do not think that Ven Nichiren here is arguing a dharma that goes against the earlier dharma/Buddhavacana explored and iterated above. It comes from a more informed position, for certain, as this is not the Buddha establishing basic/elementary education for his earliest mass followers, and Ven Nichiren is able to draw on far more materials (such as the Mahāyāna itself, for instance) than those with access only to early texts, but the teaching IMO is in substantial continuity, if not necessarily exactly "the same". When we consider internal and external as essentially the same then we understand that there is no difference between outside and inside. When Ven Nichiren says never to seek the Gohonzon outside of yourself, I think it is in the context of knowing that outside and inside are no different. So when a practitioner decides to go out of their way to seek the Gohonzon specifically outside themselves, they are violating right view concerning the self.

In relation to the OP, the instructions of Ven Nichiren to never seek 'this Gohonzon' (or, I would argue, 'the Buddha') outside of yourself seem to me to be related (though I would not be arrogant enough to say 'identical') to the wider Zen instructions as not to seek the Buddha outside of the mind. This has to do IMO with establishing right view concerning how one conceives of "my mind" & "myself". The context of the Zen instructions afaik is related to the Cittamātra position that "all is mind". Allegedly truly existing external (mental) objects can only really truly epistemically-honestly be established as "consciousness appearing as object" (似塵識) to cite Ven Zhìyǐ's account of Ven Vasubadhu's Cittamātra teaching.

In this context, I would hesitate to say that Ven Nichiren, by talking about seeking this Gohonzon outside of yourself, is perhaps talking about violating the above discourse that informs concepts widespread in Japanese Buddhism (particularly Tendai) of the time. The existence of the "alleged object" (whatever the qualities of that object, animate or inanimate, for instance) is only found as "mind-only", as to phrase it differently "as yourself" (meaning here "as your tathāgatagarbha" as per the Mahāyānamahāparinirvāṇasūtra pseudo-ātmavāda). As consequence of being found "as yourself" is also found "with Buddha-nature". Or is also found, "as the Buddha", and, perhaps, and "this Gohonzon", but I digress to others more informed than myself to gauge the accuracy of that statement.

This is of course only IMO in relation to the OP, but I hope it clarifies what I meant in my earlier post.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः
उत्पन्नाजातुविद्यन्तेभावाःक्वचनकेचन

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Minobu
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Re: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by Minobu » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:40 pm

The Gohonzon is so much more than just The Eternal Buddha or ODaimoku.
It is a variety of deities from Brahma to the Four Kings .
The instruction as defined by Nichiren Shonin to seek it inside oneself , for me is all about development.

We are thrown into the world of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and gods and demons when we chant in front of this Gohonzon.

We get to hang out with all of them at once...and like any company we keep, it rubs off on you.

so by developing and concentrating on the source which is the ODaimoku within we set ourselves for a development of all the attributes that come with the variety of deities depicted on Gohonzon. which are latent in ourselves to varying degrees

also keep in mind we are taking refuge with these Deities and we are supposed to be working alongside them...so in spite of our ignorance ...if we endure with the most ignorant of attitudes whilst chanting ...we are subjecting ourselves to inner development.

The Ichinen Sanzen Gohonzon proves Nichiren Shonin was very much aware of the highest teachings and basically left the higher teachings to be developed by the few and not the masses. This Gohonzon in particular is Tantric . It focus on the Womb World Mandala and the Diamond World mandala ..Both of which Buddha MahaVairocana emanates unto the six realms of samsara..Access to this was made easy by Nichiren Shonin. It showed up very later on in my practice and well after i learned about Tantra ...

I find that people show up and sometimes strange means of teaching happen for us with this practice. Nichiren left the bread crumb trail..and knew of the power of Buddha to teach His students....

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Minobu
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Re: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by Minobu » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:15 pm

I recall somewhere in a gosho , might be authentic or not ... :shrug:

Nichiren Shonin expressed that in order for a statue or a anything to have the eye opening ceremony it should be placed in front of a copy of The Lotus Sutra...i forget the whole piece and just have this glimmer that you need to put it in front of the Lotus Sutra for it to become effective/?real ?...or endowed ...?
sorry 'bout the fog ...

So we are placed in front of this Lotus Sutra everytime we sit in front of Gohonzon..due to The Title....

something to think about...TathagataGarbha comes to mind...

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Queequeg
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Re: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,”

Post by Queequeg » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:43 pm

Traditionally, Sutra or mantra scrolls are placed inside Buddha images to make them complete Buddhas - the sutra or mantra are the mind of the Buddha, and when we recite sutra and mantra, we give voice to the image. The Gohonzon is the Lotus Sutra (Daimoku) as well as a Buddha image (Buddha and Assembly).

When we practice the Lotus Sutra completely, we are reading it with our mind, speech and body; our thoughts, words and deeds become the Sutra. This is why Nichiren remarked that the persecutions he endured for proclaiming the Lotus Sutra would be the basis of the Never Disparaging Chapter in a future exposition of the Lotus Sutra.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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