THE LOTUS SUTRA is divided into two sections. In the first half, defined as the "Law of Appearance," the World-honored One, the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, discusses the organization of the universe, human life, and human relationships on the basis of his experience and enlightenment. This section of the sutra teaches human beings how they ought to live. In the second half, the "Law of Origin," Shakyamuni Buddha expands his teachings. For the first time, he says that the true Buddha exists without beginning and without end and that he himself has consistently preached the Law and taught people throughout the universe since the infinite past.
The Buddha of the Law of Origin - the Eternal Original Buddha - is the basic life-force of the universe; he is the truth, life, and law of the entire cosmos. The teachings of the Law of Origin inform us that by tuning the wavelength of our own lives to that of the universe we can achieve the spiritual state we should attain and become truly happy. The Law of Appearance contains what is often called the expedient teachings; the Law of Origin contains the true teachings. The former is essential for a transition into the latter, but neither teaching is superior to the other: they are the complementary halves of a single Truth.
The early stage of the development of Rissho Kosei-kai - from its founding in 1938 until 1957 - can be compared to the Law of Appearance of the Lotus Sutra. During those years we were cultivating the form of the organization. In 1958, however, I felt the need to shift emphasis to internal growth and in this way to manifest the truth about ourselves, just as Shakyamuni revealed the truth about the universe in the Law of Origin in the Lotus Sutra.
With the death of Myoko Sensei, Kosei-kai was deprived of the medium through which to hear the voices of the gods directly; and I interpreted this to mean that we no longer required such a medium. The gods that had revealed themselves to her were no more than Buddhist guardian deities. They were not suitable focuses of devotion for believers in the Lotus Sutra, according to which it is the duty of human beings to abide by the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha and to perfect their capabilities and personalities so that they can fulfill their missions on earth.
The completely egalitarian Lotus Sutra teaches that not only human beings but all beings in the universe share the potential to attain buddhahood through full manifestation and complete development of their essences, each according to their true natures. When all things, including humanity, have attained this state, we shall achieve perfect peace in the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light, which ought to be the ultimate goal of all mankind.
This is the ideal concept of the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, but it is not sufficient to save man, who is weak and requires spiritual support to be able to live in peace. All things in the world of phenomena are transient, and nothing is permanent enough to serve as a spiritual support except the Eternal Original Buddha, the great force of life that is the origin of the universe. Human beings and all other beings are but visible manifestations of this great invisible universal life-force.
Since the life-force is eternal and indestructible, in essence human life too is eternal, though the manifested physical body dies. A person enlightened to this truth in the deepest part of his understanding experiences everlasting tranquillity. This very tranquillity itself is at the same time the joy of life that throbs in man's physical and spiritual being.
Profound enlightenment to this truth leads to an awareness of the essential unity binding all things into one great family of life. This awareness in turn inspires a deep sense of equality and love for all beings, a greater love that is called compassion. A person who is compassionate in this sense is truly valuable, and a society of such people is a paradise. This is fundamental in the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. Living daily in correct spiritual and physical attunement with these teachings inspires the joy of living with the Eternal Original Buddha, generates love and compassion, and eliminates the need for the kind of spiritual support provided by revelations from protective deities.
At the New Year observances in 1958, I made a declaration of my intention to move actively into a new phase in which we would make known the truth about our faith. The first step was the affirmation that the main focus of devotion for Rissho Kosei-kai members is the Great Beneficent Teacher and Lord, Shakyamuni, the Eternal Buddha.
It took two decades for Rissho Kosei-kai to reach the stage at which this truth could be made manifest. But that requirement for time in reaching the level of maturity is in keeping with much that is said in the Threefold Lotus Sutra. For instance, in the opening sutra, the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings, it is said, "In forty years and more, the truth has not been revealed yet." This means that the Buddha did not reveal the whole truth for more than forty years after he had attained enlightenment. In "Faith Discernment," chapter four of the Lotus Sutra, there appears a story that is in some respects comparable to the parable of the prodigal son in the Christian New Testament. A wealthy man has a son who leaves home to lead a profligate life. The son falls on evil days and finds refuge at the home of a man of wealth. The son does not know that this man is his father. Though the father forgives his son at once, he requires him to work at menial tasks for twenty years before revealing the truth of their relationship and allowing his son to come into his patrimony.
When the time came for Kosei-kai to manifest its true nature, I decided to take a number of important steps. First, because study and education are vital, I realized that the way for us to make the Truth clear to others was for each member to study the contents of the Lotus Sutra thoroughly and to put its teachings into practical application in all phases of daily life and in society at large. To bring about a nationwide pooling of energy for the practical application of these teachings, I revised the structure of the branches of our organization. The basic concept on which the former education and leadership system rested was the godparent-godchild relation: the person advanced in study was the godparent, and the person led by him was the godchild. I intended to revise this system. Further, I wanted to improve the nationwide organizational structure by establishing what might be likened to a diocesan system. Although some people insisted that these changes would cause agitation among the members, I was not afraid. I had already seen the strength of which our organization is capable in time of trouble, and I had faith in it.
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