"When you joyfully do gongyo and carry out activities with the determination to accumulate more good fortune in your life, the heavenly deities will be delighted and will valiantly perform their duty."SGI President Ikeda’s guidance at the first NSA women’s division training session, held at the Soka University, Los Angeles, campus on February 27.
I sincerely thank all of you for gathering here from distant places throughout the United States. My sole desire for the members of the women’s division is that they become the happiest people in the world.
What is the purpose of life? It is happiness. But there are two kinds of happiness: relative and absolute. Relative happiness comes in a wide variety of forms. The purpose of Buddhism is to attain Buddhahood. In modern terms, this could be explained as realizing absolute happiness — a state of happiness that can never be destroyed or defeated.
Nichiren Daishonin states in the Gosho, "There is no greater happiness for human beings than chanting Nam-Myoho-renge-kyo" (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, p. 161). So long as you maintain strong faith, resolutely chanting daimoku to the Gohonzon no matter what happens, then you will without fail be able to lead a life of complete fulfillment. This is in accordance with the principle that earthly desires are enlightenment (bonno soku bodai).
True happiness lies only in establishing such a supreme state of life. By so doing, you are able to change all sufferings into causes for joy and contentment and to live with composure and jubilation.
Our organization for kosen-rufu exists so that each member can attain absolute happiness. Let me make it perfectly clear that the objective of this organization is your happiness.
Society and daily life are the "great earth" for our faith and practice of the True Law. The steady development of kosen-rufu can be ensured only when, based on faith, we carefully attend to the affairs of society, our daily life and our families. "Faith manifests itself in daily life" — this is our eternal guideline.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you some treasures in the collection of Soka University. This is my way of commemorating today’s womens division training session and showing my appreciation to you for your attendance. Afterwards, please take a moment to look them over.
These include letters by George Washington and other American presidents, on display with their portraits; a collection of letters that Napoleon Bonaparte wrote just before his death, and a letter in which he appealed for religious freedom in Italy; an autographed first edition of Victor Hugo’s anthology of poems Les Chatiments (1853), along with some of Hugo’s letters; a letter from the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee to the former U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles appealing for peace in Pakistan; a letter in which the German composer Richard Wagner discusses the performance of his opera Tannhauser (1845); a state document signed by John Hancock, American Revolutionary leader; and a letter written by Bartolomeo Vanzetti (1888-1927), dated immediately before his execution on trumped-up charges, which contains a plea for a retrial. If executed, he wrote, the court would be guilty of murder. We can hear the cry of his soul for liberation.
These articles represent a precious historic legacy. As part of the SGI’s efforts to promote peace, culture and education, we are preserving and introducing these and other artifacts to the public. For the same purpose, we are establishing the Maison Litteraire de Victor Hugo (Victor Hugo Literature Hall) in France. I am convinced that these activities will be of great significance for the future of humanity.
I hope that all of you will be cultured and graceful. Intelligent and kind people are beautiful. They inspire trust and a sense of reassurance in those around them. As you continue to deepen your faith in Buddhism, you can broaden your sphere of knowledge. Without wisdom and sagacity, leaders cannot fulfill their mission, that is, convince others of the power of this Buddhism and help those attain true happiness. In this sense, I would like to speak about the correct attitude in faith through the analogy of mirrors.
A Japanese proverb has it that the mirror is a woman’s soul. It is said that, just as warriors will never part with their swords, women will never part with their mirrors. There would seem to be some truth to this saying, in that mirrors are prized by women the world over.
In Buddhism, the mirror is used to explain various doctrines. In one place, Nichiren Daishonin states, "There are profound teachings transmitted secretly with regard to mirrors" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 724).
Is the Mirror That Perfectly Reflects Our Lives
Mirrors reflect our outward form. The mirror of Buddhism, however, reveals the intangible aspect of our lives. Mirrors, which function by virtue of the laws of light and reflection, are a product of human wisdom. On the other hand, the Gohonzon, based on the Law of the universe and life itself, is the culmination of the Buddha’s wisdom and makes it possible for us to attain Buddhahood by providing us with a means of perceiving the true aspect of our life.
Just as a mirror is indispensable for putting your face and hair in order, you need a mirror that reveals the depths of your life if you are to lead a happier and more beautiful existence.
Incidentally, as indicated in the Daishonin’s reference to a bronze mirror in the above Gosho passage, mirrors in ancient times were made of polished metal alloys such as bronze, nickel, and steel.
The oldest metallic mirrors to be unearthed were found in China and Egypt. Older still are mirrors made of polished stone surfaces and those that used water. Suffice it to say that the history of mirrors is as old as that of the human race. It is perhaps an inborn human instinct to want to look at one’s own face.
These ancient mirrors, unlike today’s mirrors that are made of glass, could only produce somewhat blurred reflections of images. Consequently, the first glance in a glass mirror caused a great sensation.
The first time the Japanese encountered a glass mirror was in 1551. Francis Xavier is credited with having brought one with him when he came to do missionary work in Japan.
But it was not until the eighteenth century — toward the latter half of the Edo period — that the average Japanese became acquainted with this kind of mirror. Perhaps because it performed its function all too well, causing people to do nothing but gaze in the mirror all day long, the glass mirror came to be known as the "vanity mirror" among the people of the day. Many ukiyo-e prints depict Japanese beauties gazing into mirrors. Still, it was not until the latter half of the nineteenth century — during the Meiji era — that glass mirrors came into wide use among the general populace.
Mirror of Your Life
In the Gosho "On Attaining Buddhahood," Nichiren Daishonin writes: "Even a tarnished mirror will shine like a jewel if it is polished. A mind which presently is closed by illusions originating from the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but once it is polished it will become clear, reflecting the enlightenment of immutable truth" (MW-1, 5). In this well-known passage, the Daishonin draws parallels between the tradition of mirror-polishing and the process of attaining Buddhahood.
Originally, every person’s life is a brilliantly shining mirror. Differences arise depending on whether or not one polishes this mirror. A polished mirror is the Buddha’s life, whereas a tarnished mirror is that of a common mortal. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is what polishes our life. Not only do we undertake this practice ourselves, we also endeavor to teach others about the Mystic Law so that the mirror of their lives shines brightly, too. Thus, it can be said that we are masters of the art of polishing the mirror of life.
Even though people may make up their faces, they tend to neglect to polish their lives. While they quickly wash off a stain from their faces, they remain unconcerned about stains in their lives.
of a Handsome Youth
An artist who wished to preserve his beauty for eternity painted Dorian’s portrait. It was a brilliant work, an embodiment of his youthfulness and beauty. But something incredible occurred as Dorian was gradually tempted by a friend into a life of hedonism and immorality. His beauty did not fade. Although he advanced in years, he remained as youthful and radiant as ever. Miraculously, however, the portrait began to turn ugly and lusterless, reflecting the condition of Dorian’s life.
At length, making sport of a young woman’s affections, Dorian drove her to commit suicide. At that time there appeared on the face of the portrait an expression — wicked, savage and frightening. Dorian was filled with horror. This portrait of his soul would remain for aeons in this ugly form. Even if he died, the portrait would continue to eloquently tell the truth.
He determined to obliterate the portrait, believing that if only he could do away with it, he could part with his past and be free. Dorian plunged a knife into the painting. At that moment, hearing screams, his neighbors rushed over to find a portrait of the handsome and young Dorian and, collapsed before it, an aged, repulsive-looking man, Dorian, with a knife sticking in his chest.
The portrait, in other words, had expressed the semblance of his existence, the face of his soul, into which the effects of his actions were etched, without the slightest omission.
Though cosmetics can be applied to the face, one cannot gloss over the face of his soul. The law of cause and effect functioning in the depths of life is strict and impartial.
Buddhism teaches that unseen virtue brings about visible reward. In the world of Buddhism, one never fails to receive an effect for his actions — whether for good or bad; therefore, it is meaningless to be two-faced or to try to put on airs.
The "face of the soul" that is carved out by the good and evil causes one makes is to an extent reflected in ones appearance. There is also a saying, "The face is the mirror of the mind." It is, however, at the moment of death that one’s past causes show most plainly in one’s appearance.
Just as Dorian in the end revealed his own inner ugliness, so the "face of one’s life" is fully expressed at the time of one’s death. At that time there is no way to conceal the truth of your soul. We carry out our Buddhist practice now so that we will not have to experience any regret or torment on our deathbed.
the Buddha Nature Inherent in Your Life
Similarly, observing one’s life means to perceive that one’s life contains the Ten Worlds, and in particular, the world of Buddhahood. It was to enable people to do this that Nichiren Daishonin bestowed the Gohonzon of "observing one’s mind" upon all mankind. In his exegesis on "The True Object of Worship," Nichikan Shonin, the twenty-sixth high priest, states, "The true object of worship can be compared to a wonderful mirror."
Nichiren Daishonin states in the Ongi Kuden(Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings), "The five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo mirror all things without a single exception." The Gohonzon is the clearest of all mirrors that reflects the entire universe exactly as it is. When you chant to the Gohonzon, you are able to perceive the true entity of your life and tap the inexhaustible life force of Buddhahood.
Incidentally, the glass mirrors that we have today are said to have been invented in Venice, Italy. Sources differ as to exactly when, but their appearance is traced as far back as 1279. That was also the year when Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary of true Buddhism, the eternal great mirror reflecting the true aspect of all phenomena, for the benefit of all humanity.
At the time of the glass mirror’s invention, the production technique was said to have been kept a closely guarded secret in Italy. To prevent knowledge of the technology from spreading, glass craftsmen were confined to an island. But before long France and other countries learned how to produce mirrors, and today mirrors made of glass have completely replaced other types. These events might be construed as the kosen-rufu of the glass mirror.
Similarly, for a long time, the mirror of the Gohonzon, the source of profound beauty and happiness, was known to very few people. We are now promoting the movement to spread it far and wide.
The Gohonzon is a clear mirror. It perfectly reveals our state of faith and projects this out into the universe. This demonstrates the principle of ichinen sanzen, that a single life-moment pervades the three thousand realms.
In a letter to his disciple, Abutsubo on Sado Island, Nichiren Daishonin wrote: "You may think you offered gifts to the treasure tower, but that is not so. You offered them to yourself" (MW-1, 30). Worshipping the Gohonzon graces and glorifies the treasure tower of your own life.
When people worship the Gohonzon, all Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the entire universe immediately respond to their prayers by lending their protection. If they slander the Gohonzon, the response will be exactly the opposite.
of Faith Is Most Important
There may be times, for instance, when you feel reluctant to do gongyo or take part in activities for kosen-rufu. That state of mind is reflected exactly on the entire universe, as if on the surface of a clear mirror. The heavenly deities will then also feel reluctant to play their part, and they will naturally fail to exert their full power of protection.
On the other hand, when you joyfully do gongyo and carry out activities with the determination to accumulate more good fortune in your life, the heavenly deities will be delighted and will valiantly perform their duty. If you must take some action anyway, it is to your advantage that you do so spontaneously and with a feeling of joy.
If you practice reluctantly with a sense that it’s a waste of time, disbelief and complaints will erode your good fortune. If you continue to practice in this way, you will not experience remarkable benefits, and this will only serve to further convince you that your practice is in vain. This is a vicious circle.
If you practice faith while doubting its effects, you will get results that are, at best, unsatisfactory. This is the reflection of your own weak faith on the mirror of the cosmos. On the other hand, when you stand up with strong confidence, you will accrue limitless blessings.
While controlling your mind, which is at once both extremely subtle and solemnly profound, you should strive to elevate your faith with freshness and vigor. When you do so, both your life and your surroundings will open wide before you, and every action you take will become a source of benefit. Understanding the subtle workings of one’s mind is the key to faith and to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.
There is a Russian proverb which says, "It is no use the blame the looking glass if your face is awry." Likewise, your happiness or unhappiness is entirely the reflection of the balance of good and bad causes accumulated in your life. You cannot blame others for your misfortunes. In the world of faith, it is necessary to realize this all the more clearly.
Do Not Know About Mirrors
Though this story is fictitious, many people become angry or grieve over phenomena that are actually nothing but the reflection of their own lives — their state of mind and the causes that they have created. Like the wife in the story who exclaims, "Who on earth is this woman?" they do not realize the folly of their ways.
Because they are ignorant of the "mirror of life" of Buddhism, such people are unable to see themselves as they truly are. This being the case, they cannot guide others along the correct path of life, nor can they discern the true nature of occurrences in society.
Here, the Daishonin reveals the fundamental spirit that we should have in propagating the Mystic Law. Propagation is an act to be conducted with the utmost respect for other people and out of sincere reverence for the Buddha nature inherent in their lives. Therefore, we should strictly observe courtesy and good common sense.
With the thought that we are addressing that person’s Buddha nature, we should politely and calmly carry out a dialogue — sometimes, depending on the situation, mercifully correcting that person with fatherly strictness. In the course of such human interaction, the Buddha nature in that person, reflecting our own sincerity, will bow to us in return.
When we cherish that person with the same profound reverence as we would the Buddha, the Buddha nature in his life functions to protect us. On the other hand, if we belittle or regard that person with contempt, as though gazing into our own image reflected in a mirror, we wil be disparaged in return.
In the inner realm of life, cause and effect occur simultaneously. With the passage of time, this causal relationship becomes manifest in the phenomenal world of daily life.
To the extent that you praise, respect, protect and care for SGI members, who are all children of the Buddha, you will in turn be protected by the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and all heavenly deities. If, on the other hand, you are arrogant or condescending toward members, you will be scolded by the Buddhas and others in like measure. Leaders, in particular, should be clear on this point and take it deeply to heart.
We are a gathering of the Buddha’s children. Therefore, if we respect one another, our good fortune will multiply infinitely, like an image reflected back and forth among mirrors. A person who practices alone cannot experience this tremendous multiplication of benefit.
In short, the environment that you find yourself in, whether favorable or not, is the product of your own life. Most people, however, fail to understand this, and tend to blame others for their troubles.
The Gosho reads: "These people do not recognize their own belligerence but instead think that I, Nichiren, am belligerent. They are like a jealous woman who glares with furious eyes at a courtesan and, unaware of her own loathsome expression, complains that the courtesan’s gaze is frightening" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 1450).
Nichiren Daishonin explains human psychology in such a clear and easy-to-understand manner. There are people who, out of malice, have criticized and sought to oppress us who are the Daishonin’s disciples. But, reflected in the mirror of the world of the True Law, such people see only their own faults, ambitions, and greed, and therefore slander their own reflections.
To a person who is possessed by the lust for power, even the most selfless, benevolent actions of others will appear as cunning moves undertaken to gain power.
Similarly, to a person who has a strong desire for fame, actions based on conviction and consideration will be seen as publicity stunts. Those who have become slaves of money simply cannot believe that there are people in the world who are strangers to the desire for wealth.
Build a Strong
and Cheerful SGI-USA Women’s Division
In SGI-USA there are a great number of people who are full of goodwill and intentions. In a sense, some might even be too good-natured and trusting, to the extent that I fear they could be deceived by deceitful people.
In Le Pere Goriot, the Franch author Balzac writes, "Whatever evil you hear of society, believe it...." So full of evil was the world that he perceived. He adds: "And then you will find out what the world is, a gathering of dupes and rogues. Be of neither party."
We must gain decisive victory over the harsh realities of society and lead a correct and vibrant life. This is the purpose of our faith. We have to become wise and strong.
Also, in the organization for kosen-rufu, we have to clearly say what must be said. The purpose of Buddhism is not to produce dupes who blindly follow their leader. It is to produce people of wisdom who can judge right or wrong on their own in the clear mirror of Buddhism.
I hope that you, the members of the women’s division, learn the correct way to practice Buddhism; so that, in the event that a leader or a male does something that goes against reason, you will be able to clearly point out the error and identify the correct path or the correct standard to follow. Nichiren Daishonin compares men to an arrow and women to the bow. An arrow flies in the direction that the bow points it.
I would like to tell you that when the members of the women’s division freely devote themselves to activities, and provide a confident and strong lead for men, that will mark the dawn of the new SGI-USA.
To commemorate today’s training session,
I would like to dedicate the following poem to the SGI-USA women’s division:
I would like to close my speech by offering my sincere prayers for the happiness of you and your families, and for the further development of SGI-USA.