The Imagery of nichiren's Lotus Sutra: Other Chinese Characters of Interest to Buddhists
Itai Doshin in Chinese
“When Nichiren’s disciples and lay supporters chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, without thought of self or other, this or that, and are like [different] fish within [the same body of] water, they receive the transmission of the sole great matter of birth and death. Moreover, here [in enabling many people to receive this transmission] lies the meaning of Nichiren’s propagation. And if this is the case, then surely the great vow [that the Lotus Sutra shall be ‘widely declared and spread’ can be fulfilled.”What is this Great Vow Nichiren mentions?
This Great Vow can be found in the last three lines of the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra (it is also the last three lines of Gongyo):
“How can I cause living beingsIt has been said that the Original Buddha (Honbutsu) can be found in the depths of the this chapter. The word “Ji” at the beginning of the poetry section combines with the “shin” at the end of this section to indicate that the Honbutsu is oneself (jishin).
When interpreting Itai doshin to mean “Many in body, one in mind,” it is easy to think that all you have to do is to get many people to agree with you to accomplish your goals. This is not what Itai doshin means. “Different bodies sharing the same Great Vow” is a more accurate understanding of this phrase.
Nichiren promised that if we could achieve Itai doshin, we can achieve all of our goals, but if we are in Dotai ishin (same bodies, different intent) we will not achieve anything remarkable (see “On Itai Doshin,” Major Writings, Vol. 1, p. 153).
Clark Strand wrote in a recent Tricycle:
“Soka Gakkai International (SGI for short) [is] the largest, most racially and ethnically diverse Buddhist organization in America and, with twelve million members in 186 countries worldwide and a full-time representative to the United Nations, [it is] the first global Buddhist presence in history.”“The first global Buddhist presence in history” — this is truly remarkable.
Mr. Strand went on to write: “Walk through the door of almost any SGI center in America, and you immediately notice there are many different kinds of people there." (Ibid. p. 55)
The moment he walked through the doors, he uncovered the wonderful secret of the SGI’s success — different people sharing the same Great Vow — itai doshin.
No matter how different we
are from each other or how much we might disagree, we must recognize that
our differences are small but wonderful. That way we are able to expand
the chambers of our heart and achieve the Great Vow that is shared by Nichiren
and all other Buddhas. This is the path to kosen rufu and the way that
we can achieve all of our goals.