QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
ON BUDDHA, BUDDHAHOOD AND
ENLIGHTENMENT
2003

With Reverend Raidou Hirota
This is NOT an official site of
the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai
QUESTION:   What is Buddhahood? Can I attain it?

Rev. Raido Hirota (RH):  Those who practice Nichiren Daishonin's teachings
correctly are
bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas are those who pursue the wisdom of
Buddhahood for themselves while at the same time teach others. People who
are only thinking of themselves are not bodhisattvas, even though they
practice Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. One is called a bodhisattva when he
or she is happy when others are happy, and sad when others are sad. We all
have the ability to eventually realize Buddhahood.
QUESTION:   Everybody experiences birth, sickness, aging and death. Can you
explain further what you mean by that? If you believe that your life is the same as
Buddha, what does that mean? How is your experience of birth, sickness, aging
and death different from others who do not believe that your life is Buddha? As you
go through those stages how is it different?

RH:   Whether you believe that your life itself is Namu-myoho-renge-kyo or not you
will experience these four phases of life. The difference is that if you recognize that
your life itself is Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, you will know or be aware that birth,
sickness, aging and death are not all that there is to life. These stages are just
symptoms of this mortal body. Within the four stages exists Buddhahood, and life
extends beyond this existence. If you don't believe, then all you know is what your
body experiences and you suffer.
   In life the body and the spirit are fused and, whether you have belief in this
religion or not you can't escape the natural law that determines that the body and
soul will separate and you will die. Let's say the body is a container. The spirit is
like water which will take whatever shape the container is. The spirit, which is
synonymous with mind , does not experience age, sickness or death; neither is it
born. Even if the container breaks or disappears, it doesn't mean that the contents
are bad or ruined.
It only means that the shape will change.
   It is not coincidental that a particular container has a particular content or spirit.
For those who believe in this Buddhism the knowledge, which that spirit
accumulated during life, is never going to dissipate or dissolve as though nothing
was ever there, even after the container is destroyed or disappears. This is the
difference between knowing and not knowing.
   Everything in existence, every man, woman, child, bird, insect, etc. -- everything
is contained within the spirit within that container. It's the awareness of that that
makes the big difference between dying with belief and dying without. Dying
knowing that you will continue on and that you are a part of everything, compared
to dying thinking that that's the end. It's a big difference.
    Pre-Lotus Sutra teachings taught that Buddha was a separate state of being,
and all people could not attain it. Pre-Lotus Sutra teachings also taught that it was
only human beings who were the objects of enlightenment. The Lotus Sutra, taught
in the last eight years of
Shakyamuni Buddha's life, reveals that a single mind or a
single life moment contains all existence, the entirety of the universe. This is known
as
ichinen sanzen -- one mind, three thousand realms of existence.



QUESTION:  If your practice consists of chanting, does that mean a deaf mute
cannot attain enlightenment?

RH:   Grass and trees cannot chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo themselves,
nevertheless they can become enlightened after hearing
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo. I
made a stupa with
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo written down the middle for the 9/11
victims of the World Trade Center disaster. Even though
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo is
written on a piece of wood, that wood still enjoys the same effect of enlightenment
as the grass and trees that hear
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo.
  After Nichiren Daishonin left the remote island of Sado and settled in Minobu a
child of one of his believers, who lived on Sado, became sick and died. The father
made a wooden stupa and wrote his child's name on it, and took the stupa to the
Daishonin in Minobu. Daishonin wrote
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo down the center of
the stupa. The man returned to Sado with the stupa and erected it at his child's
gravesite. In a letter written to this man Daishonin explained to him that by placing
this
stupa with the inscription of
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo in the cemetery for his
deceased child the wind alone, which blows from east to west, will carry
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo to the fishes in the ocean, to the birds which might fly
overhead, to the deer, to the bears, and to all other animals living in the forest and
mountains. This stupa alone is one way that the awakening of the Buddha-spirit in
all living things can come about.
 There are some people who are healthy and can hear and chant
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, there are others who are not. But what has primacy over
the sound that your voice makes is what is in your heart. Chanting in your heart
with faith is what matters. The audible sound is not important, it's what you say and
hear inside your heart, inside yourself, that is paramount. To say
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo but not have it in your heart is equivalent to not saying it,
or anything at all. The important point is that you say it with your heart and not just
with your throat.
I always think:
How shall I cause all the living beings
To enter into the unsurpassed Way
And to become Buddhas quickly?
Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation staff.
Bridalveil Falls
Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte,
By George Seurat