Why Does Nichiren-Shu Worship the gods of Hawaii and the gods of Japan?

In the Hokke Shoshin Jobutsu by St. Nichiren it is written that having achieved enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha immediately wanted to teach the Lotus Sutra to people. Nevertheless, the ability and conditions of the sentient beings were of an infinite variety and were not the same, and that is why for forty years, he prepared to do so by teaching various sutras, and at the end He expounded the Lotus Sutra.

In chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra, Expedients, if He had taught the Lotus Sutra from the start, the people would have difficulty in understanding and would not believe Him. They would instead slander the Lotus Sutra, and fall to the world of hell, hungry ghosts and animals after death. That is why to elevate the ability of the people so that they could understand the Lotus Sutra, for forty years, in the order of the Kegon Sutra, Agon Sutra…Hannya Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Dharma, and at the end He expounded the Lotus Sutra.

It is written that for forty years, the twelve thousand devoted practitioners, beginning with Sharihotsu and Mokuren, who heard the sermons of Shakyamuni Buddha, the eighty thousand bodhisattvas, including Monju and Miroku, the more than a billion rulers of countries, Bonten god, Taishakuten god and others, and countless deities said that they were unable to achieve enlightenment from the teachings that they heard before the Lotus Sutra. This is explained in chapter 2, Expedients.

Moreover, when they finally heard the Lotus Sutra they rejoiced over having made this supreme jewel there own without having sought it. And they said that they often heard Shakyamuni Buddha’s sermons in the past, but they had never heard such an excellent teaching until that time.

Among the more than billion deities, the gods of Hawaii, the gods of Japan and the gods of India are also included. While you may not believe this, these gods had heard the sermons of Shakyamuni Buddha. Why did they hear them? The gods also have suffering and need to acquire enlightenment. For forty years the gods heard the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. Nevertheless, they could not achieve enlightenment. After hearing the Lotus Sutra they finally could become enlightened. That is because they achieved the firm belief that they could also become the Buddha. That is how it is written in Expedients.

It is for this reason that the Nichiren-Shu reads the Lotus Sutra to the gods of various religions. While this might be very difficult for the people of Hawaii to understand, in Buddhism, in the same way as the attainment of the Buddhahood of we human beings, the attainment of Buddhahood of the gods in taught.

These gods are different from the Eternal Parent Spirit called the Eternal Buddha. They are invisible existences that inhabit the higher realms.  Of course, the gods are existences of an immensely higher spiritual dimension than human beings. The gods, however, have yet to reach the Buddha’s realm. Spiritually speaking they are at a level a bit before the highest. That is why they seek the Lotus Sutra, which is the supreme teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. What is more, the gods are delighted by the Lotus Sutra that we read to them. Their delight is called houraku. It is for this reason that we read the Lotus Sutra to the gods of Hawaii.

 

なぜ日蓮宗は、ハワイや日本の神々をワーシップするのか。

 

日蓮聖人の法華初心成仏という書物にこう書かれています。

釈迦牟尼仏は、悟りに至って、すぐに人々に法華経を説こうと思われた。しかし衆生の能力と条件が千差万別で同じでないので、40数年間、様々なお経を説いて準備をし、最後に法華経を説かれた。

法華経方便品第二には、もし最初から法華経を説いたならば、人々は理解に苦しんで信じることができず、かえって法華経を謗ってしまう、そして彼らは死後地獄、餓鬼、畜生の世界に落ちてしまうとある。

そのため、釈迦牟尼仏は、人々の能力を法華経が理解出来るまで高めるために、華厳、阿含、方等、般若経の順序で40数年間、法を説かれ、最後に法華経を説かれた。

40数年間、釈迦牟尼仏の説法を聴いていた舎利弗や目連をはじめとする1万2千人の修行者達、文珠や弥勒などの八万の菩薩達、一兆以上の国々の王、梵天、帝釈天など、無数の神々は、各々法華経以前に聞いた教えでは、悟りを開くことができなかったと言いました。それは方便品第二にあります。

そして彼らは、やっと法華経を聴いて、この上ない宝が、求めずして自分のものになったと喜びました。また我々は昔からしばしば、釈迦牟尼仏の説法を聴いていますが、今までこのような優れた教えを聴いたことがない。と言った。

 

一兆以上の神々には、ハワイアンや日本やインドの神々も入ります。みなさんは信じられないかもしれませんが、彼らは釈迦牟尼仏の説法を聞いていたのです。なぜ聞いていたかというと、神々にも苦しみがあり、悟りを得る必要があるからです。

神々は、40数年間、釈迦牟尼仏の教えを聞いていた。しかし悟ることはできなかった。この法華経を聞いて、やっと悟れる。自分も仏になれるという確信を得たのです。そのように方便品に書いてあるのです。

このような理由から、日蓮宗は各宗教の神々に法華経を読むのです。みなさん、とても理解しにくいでしょうが、仏教では、私たち人間と同じように神々の成仏も説くのです。

この神々は、永遠の仏という私たちの命の根源とは違います。天上界に住む Invisibleの存在です。もちろん神々は、人間よりとても魂的次元の高い存在です。しかしその神々はまだ仏界には至っていない。魂的に最高から少し手前の段階におられるのです。だから釈迦牟尼仏の最上の教えである法華経を求められるのです。そして、私たちの読む法華経に神々は歓喜されるのです。これを法楽と呼ぶのです。

だから私たちは、法華経をハワイの神々に読むのです。