Oko Lecture

August 2011

 

Opening of the Eyes

Confucius declared that there were no wise men or sages in his country, but that in the land to the west there was one named Buddha who was a sage. This indicates that non-Buddhist teachings should be regarded as the first step toward Buddhist doctrine.

Confucians first taught the doctrine of propriety and music so that, when the Buddhist writings were brought to China, the concepts of the precepts, meditation and wisdom could be more readily grasped. They taught the ideals of ruler and minister so that the distinction between superior and subordinate could be made clear, they taught the ideal of parenthood so that the importance of filial piety could be appreciated, and they explained the ideal of the teacher so that men might be taught to follow.

The Great Teacher Miao-lo writes: "The propagation of Buddhism truly depends on this. The doctrines of propriety and music must first be set forth, after which the principles of truth can be introduced."                          (MWND Vol.2 p. 74~5)

 

 

 

I would like to thank you for attending today’s Oko ceremony despite your busy schedule. I have offered your sincere Gokuyo to the Gohonzon, and sincerely prayed to the Gohonzon for the further development in faith; eradication of your sins and negative karma from this and infinite past lifetimes; to enjoy a safe and long life; for peace and harmony to reign in your home; for all matters to proceed forth smoothly; and for the successful achievement of all your great objectives in this and future existences.

 

For those who have requested for Toba, I have offered my sincere prayers to the Gohonzon for the peace and happiness of your late relatives, friends, and ancestors.

 

Today, I have read a passage from the gosho “Opening of the Eyes.” This gosho was written in February 1272, four months after being exiled to the Sado Islands. Nichiren Daishonin was 51 years old at that time. As many of you know, this is the gosho where Nichiren Daishonin revealed himself to be the entity of the object of worship in terms of the Person.

In the “Exegesis on the Opening of the Eyes”, 26th High Priest Nichikan Shonin mentions that the title was intended to open the eyes of the blind. In relation to Nichikan Shonin’s guidance, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin mentions:

In order to open the blind eyes of the people who don’t know the True Buddha of Kuon Ganjo who possesses the Three Virtues of Sovereign, Teacher, and Parent, Nichiren Daishonin had titled this “The Opening of the Eyes.”

During His lifetime, Nichiren Daishonin encountered numerous hardships, difficulties, and persecutions because he upheld the true teaching of the Lotus Sutra and refuted the heretical teachings of the various religions striving in Japan. The most notable persecutions He encountered were the Komatsubara, Matsubagayatsu, and Tatsunokuchi Persecutions, as well as His exile to the Izu and Sado Islands. The Lotus Sutra states that the guardian deities will definitely protect the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Yet, Nichiren Daishonin was encountering many hardships. Some of the believers started to doubt the teachings, with some totally abandoning it.

Nichiren Daishonin tells us what is the true votary of the Lotus Sutra and what is the true Buddha who possesses the Three Virtues of Sovereign, Teacher, and Parent through this gosho. Which is why it is mentioned at the beginning of this gosho His objective of writing this gosho:

“There are three categories of people that all men and women should respect. They are the sovereign, the teacher, and the parent.”

(MWND Vol. 2 p. 71)

And it also mentions in the end of this gosho His conclusion, telling us:

“I, Nichiren, am sovereign, teacher, father and mother to all the people of Japan.”                                                                (MWND Vol. 2 p. 212)

His declaration as the True Buddha who possesses the Three Virtues is backed by the Kanji (thirteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, where the three powerful enemies emerge and inflict numerous troubles and persecutions on the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Daishonin mentions in “Letter to the Brothers”,

“Were it not for these (devils), there would be no way of knowing that this is the true teaching.”                                               (MWND Vol. 1 p. 145)

Which is why “The Opening of the Eyes” is one of the important goshos Nichiren Daishonin wrote.

From this gosho passage, I would like to talk about the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent, as well as the three types of learning, and what we must do in this present day.

 

Before going into the passage I read, there is a portion where Nichiren Daishonin mentions about the three virtues of Confucianism. He mentions,

But although the wise and worthy men who preach this doctrine are acclaimed as sages, they know nothing more about the past than an ordinary person unable to see his own back, and they understand as little about the future as a blind man who cannot see what lies in front of him.                                                                       (MWND Vol. 2 p. 73)

 

Certainly there are good men practicing Confucianism. Yet their status as a sage only applies when they are alive. Confucianism doesn’t teach the three existences of past, present, and future. It only explains about the moral sense of the present, and doesn’t understand the past or the future. Nichiren Daishonin mentions in the same gosho,

“But since such a man knows nothing about the past or the future, he cannot assist his parents, his sovereign, or his teacher in making provisions for their future lives, and he is therefore of failing to repay the debt he owes them. Such a person is not a true wise man or sage.”

(MWND Vol. 2 p.74)

 

Because practices such as Confucianism, or Catholicism, only put emphasis on the present, there is less self-reflection on oneself when dealing with the past and no thorough planning for the future.

 

The passage starts with the following sentence. “Confucius declared that there were no wise men or sages in his country”. This country referred here is China. But this can be applied to other countries all over the world. The sentence continues “but that in the land to the west there was one named Buddha who was a sage.” The land in the west refers to India. In India, there is a person named Buddha, who is a sage. This person refers to Shakyamuni, or Siddhārtha Gautama.

 

The next sentence, “This indicates that non-Buddhist teachings should be regarded as the first step toward Buddhist doctrine.” Confucianism preaches the benevolence towards others, the path to be taken as a person, maintaining social order, knowledge, and belief. Even though Confucius taught these, it is the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin that takes its root from. Which is why as practitioners of this True Buddhism, we must always base what we do on the golden words of Nichiren Daishonin, and the guidance of 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin, the Overseas Department Chief, and the Chief Priest of your local temple.

 

The next paragraph, “Confucians first taught the doctrine of propriety and music so that, when the Buddhist writings were brought to China, the concepts of the precepts, meditation and wisdom could be more readily grasped. They taught the ideals of ruler and minister so that the distinction between superior and subordinate could be made clear, they taught the ideal of parenthood so that the importance of filial piety could be appreciated, and they explained the ideal of the teacher so that men might be taught to follow.” The first half of this paragraph, from “Confucians first taught…” to “… be more readily grasped” expresses that in ancient China, propriety and music were used to spread Confucianism. Both were used as the function of maintaining social peace, and influencing the human heart. Which is why these two were highly regarded. When the Buddhist writings were brought into China, the concepts of the precepts, meditation and wisdom, the three types of learning, were easily understood.

Anyone who practices Buddhism must understand that the three types of learning (precepts, meditation and wisdom), is the basic part of our Buddhist practice. The three types of learning are as follows:

Precepts indicates the Buddhist rules or commandments set forth to prevent errors and evil derived from one’s thoughts, words, and deeds, and to lead one to perform meritorious acts.

Meditation involves focusing one’s mind in order to attain a peaceful and stable state of mind.

Wisdom is the ability to make correct judgments and discern the truth of all phenomena.

There is a relationship among the three types of learning. The ability to reach mental stability by keeping the precepts enables one to gain the correct wisdom. That wisdom allows one to eradicate evil illusions so that one can attain Buddhahood.

Here in the Latter Day of the Law, meditation corresponds to the True Object of Worship of the Essential Teaching, precepts correspond to the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching; and wisdom corresponds to the Daimoku of the Essential Teaching. All of them can be mastered by embracing the Dai-Gohonzon, which encompasses all Three Great Secret Laws within itself.

That being said, the basic part of our Buddhist practice also means that we must devote ourselves to True Buddhism with absolute conviction towards the Dai-Gohonzon.

The second half of this paragraph begins with “They taught the ideals of ruler and minister so that the distinction between superior and subordinate could be made clear.” This portion represents the virtue of sovereign. “They taught the ideal of parenthood so that the importance of filial piety could be appreciated” represents the virtue of the parent. And “they explained the ideal of the teacher so that men might be taught to follow” represents the virtue of teacher.

 

The passage closes with a quote from the Great Teacher Miao-lo. “The propagation of Buddhism truly depends on this. The doctrines of propriety and music must first be set forth, after which the principles of truth can be introduced.” This was written in the Guketsu, with Miao-lo stating that in order for Buddhism to spread, the doctrine of propriety and music of Confucianism must be spread first.

Furthermore, in the “Opening of the Eyes” after the passage that I read, Nichiren Daishonin continued with the following,

T'ien-t'ai states: "In the Konkomyo Sutra it is recorded that 'All the good teachings that exist in the world derive from this sutra. To have a profound knowledge of this world is itself Buddhism.' In the Maka Shikan we read:  "I, the Buddha, have sent three sages to teach the people of China." In the Guketsu, Miao-lo's commentary on the Maka Shikan, we read: "The Shojohogyo Sutra states that Bodhisattva Gakko appeared in that land under the name Yen Hui, Bodhisattva Kojo appeared there as Confucius, and Bodhisattva Kasho appeared as Lao Tzu. Since the sutra is speaking from the point of view of India, it refers to China as 'that land.'"                       (MWND Vol. 2 p. 75)

This portion refers to the relationship between Confucianism and Buddhism.

 

For the past few weeks, the world has never been this chaotic. If we carefully look at this from Tien-t’ai’s words “To have a profound knowledge of this world is itself Buddhism”, the reason that this world is in a chaotic state, is that True Buddhism is not being spread enough. Why is True Buddhism not spreading and that the chaos is continuing? 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin tells us, “It is because of the poison coming out from the heretical sects.” Which is why we must continue to do shakubuku. Introduce them to True Buddhism by chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo together.

That way, a person would recognize change inside themselves. Once they recognize the change inside, then the world around them will change as well. This is called the oneness of life and its environment, esho funi. Nichiren Daishonin states in “The True Entity of All Phenomena”,

“All living beings and their environments in any of the ten worlds are, without exception, the manifestations of Myoho-Renge-Kyo.”

(Gosho p. 664)

 

People naturally will feel anxiety after observing what is happening around the world. Yet we cannot be worried about what is going on in a country that is faraway from us. What we can do here, as practitioners of Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism, is to continue to shakubuku other people through our absolute faith towards the Dai-Gohonzon. As we are now two-thirds into the “Year of Taking Action to do Shakubuku”, let us continue to strive in our practice of shakubuku.

 

In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.