Ichinen Sanzen 
Shoten Zenjin 
Go kan nen mon 
  (silent prayers) 
Buddha (Butsu) 
Kosen Rufu 
Rissho Ankoku Ron 

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The Imagery of nichiren's Lotus Sutra: Other Chinese Characters of Interest to Buddhists 
Itai Doshin in Chinese 
Nichiren wrote:  
“If itai doshin prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals…”  
—“On Itai Doshin,” Major Writings, 
Vol. 1, p. 153
Itai doshin is commonly interpreted to mean “Many in body, one in mind.”  Its meaning in Chinese is more profound.
“I” of Itai doshin is composed of three elemental characters: 
—The topmost character is an earnest offering.
The bottom-most character is a small table.
These two characters, by themselves, would mean “agreement,”  in that an honest offering is laid on a table [and assumed to be accepted].  
—The middle character reverses this meaning. These are two hands pushing away the earnest offering.
The meaning of “I” of Itai doshin is to differ, to disagree, to be different. This character is also used to describe the opposite (different) sexes. A French philosopher once remarked that “The differences between a man and woman are small, but they are wonderful.” The differences between all people are small, but they are wonderful. 
“Tai” is composed of two elemental characters: 
—The character on the left is a person (one who stands upright).
—On the right is the trunk (or body) of a tree.
“Tai” means “human body.”
“Do” is derived from an ancient image of a cap on a vase of wine. It had dual meanings: one is that an agreement had been made, and therefore the cap was returned to the top of the vase.  

The second meaning is that the cap fit the top of the vase and therefore it fit or was in agreement. The modern meaning is that it is something that is written and covered by same cover letter –– all contents are in agreement with the cover letter.

"Shin" Is a pictogram of the chambers of the heart. Shin has many meanings. “Heart,” “mind,” “intent,” and “life” are a few examples. Combining these definitions is the best way to understand this character.
Nichiren wrote: 
“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.”  
—“The Transmission of the Sole Great Matter of Birth and Death,”  
page 478, in Some Disputed Writings in the Nichiren Corpus 
by Dr. Jacqueline Ilyse Stone, 1990
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 beings 
to gain entry into the unsurpassed way 
and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?”
It 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.”  
Tricycle, Winter 2003, page 51
“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. 

Updated 6/7/06 
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