Monthly Dharma Message

Dharma Message By Rev. Takamasa Yamamura


The Eternal Spirit

The Honolulu Myohoji is a Nichiren-Shu temple. It was originally a Kempon-Hokke Shu temple. Kempon (literally to manifest the original) means to reveal the hommon, the later half of the Lotus Sutra, chapters 15 to 28. Chapters 1 to 14 of the Lotus Sutra are called the shakumon. The shakumon are sermons by the Historical Buddha. The hommon are sermons by the Eternal Buddha. Please remember this.   It is sufficient that your know this.

In the old days, there were people who said that the teachings of the hommon were superior, and the shakumon was inferior. I ask that you forget this. Both are equally important teachings.

At today’s Myohoji we often read chapter 16. That is because this portion is central to all Buddhism and it is the essence. The teachings of Buddhism do not begin unless we read this chapter. In there are the true intentions of Buddhist spirituality.

What is it that I am referring to? It is kuon jitsujo (enlightened eternally from the remote past). Kuon jitsujo means from the eternal past I am complete. What has been completed? I have become a complete eternal existence.

Let me explain a bit more. While you might not have taken notice of this, within you there is the energy of eternal life. It is the power that sustains you. We may also call it life power. That life power is sustaining you. That life power is eternal energy, and it is called spirit.

Human beings are formed of the three entities of body, mind and spirit. Your essence is not your body, or your mind, but it is spirit. This spirit is eternal life energy.   You are being sustained by this eternal life energy. It is chapter 16 that teaches us this.

To effectively use in our lives the power and energy that is possessed by our spirit, which is our reality, is the key to live a happy life. It is also the key for good fortune.

A person, who believes in his essence, which is spirit, is grateful to the power of that spirit, and has a real feeling of being sustained by it, has strong life power, and is blessed by good fortune and health.

In this world there are people with strong life power and people with weak life power. This has to do with whether or not this spiritual power is activated.

The life power is weak for those who do not believe in the existence of the spirit, and believe that they are living by their power alone. They always have worries and are tormented by the various problems of life.

You are not mind. You are also not body. The realization that you are spirit is kuon jitsujo (complete eternally from the remote past). To have us become aware of this fact, we read the verse section of chapter 16.

Your reality is eternal spirit. Therefore you can become tremendously strong. If you believe that your reality is your body, fear arises in your mind. The cause for all human fears is this body. It is because we think that the physical body is our essence, we are afraid of losing it.

If we believe that our reality is the mind, we will control instincts with reason and become a very nervous person. We will become a mentally weak person.

If we can believe that our essence is spirit, it cannot be harmed by anything, and it is an eternal and indestructible existence, our fears and worries will cease. We will come to live our life without fear and positively. To call forth that belief, we read chapter 16 over and over again.

Moreover, the origin of our reality, which is spirit, is the Enlightened- Eternally-from-the-Remote-Past Shakyamuni Buddha (Kuon Jitsujo Shakyamuni Buddha). We are the branch spirit of the Great Spirit, called the Eternal Buddha. This is the teaching of chapter 16. Since Buddhism is the teaching for human beings to become the Buddha, if we can believe in chapter 16, we can move closer to our goal. We should instead say that you are on the first step of enlightenment if you can awaken to the fact that your essence is one with the Buddha.

The awareness of chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra is indeed true Buddhism and the faith of Nichiren Shu.

To depend on such things as prayer and to make appeals for the Buddha’s help are expedient measures and the entrance to faith. Meditation is also a means and a manual. Without the awareness of chapter 16, no matter how much meditation we engage in, our efforts are useless.

Please do not forget that the truth is that we must become aware of the divine that is within us.

There are many religions that cling to and make appeals to God and Buddha in Hawaii. If you wish to go to them, you may do so. However, our Myohoji temple is walking one step above those religions.

Translated by Dean Makinodan.