The most important character or syllable to concentrate
on when chanting
daimoku is myo.
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo is all one unit, but
sanzen is contained within the character myo. Ichinen is
a single thought.
Sanzen is everything. The Soka Gakkai
taught that
sanzen is the universe. But actually sanzen
encompasses the past, the present and the future. It is
not only this dimension, it is all dimensions,
encompassing totality. It is not just the material or
physical aspect of life, but also the spiritual aspect, or
what is in your heart - the intangibles, what you cannot
touch. Compared to the Soka Gakkai's conception of
sanzen being material, the universe, the one dimensional
-- or three dimensions existing now in this present
moment -- the true concept of
sanzen is much greater,
much broader, much deeper than that. It is the physical
and spiritual dimensions throughout the three existences
of past, present and future. It is all levels of reality. It is
all that there is, was and will be. If you define myo it
means mysterious.
Everything--all things are connected to the heart of the Buddha. Take this fan for
example. One
ichinen holds the whole sanzen together. It connects them all like the pivot
or screw of this fan connects all the folds. If you had two screws or pivots, one at each
end of this fan, you would not be able to open it. This one screw connects all the folds. It
is just this one screw that holds it all together.
Ichinen gives breadth or expansion to sanzen, and sanzen gives contraction and closure
[this is ongoing, repeating itself like the beat of the heart]. Imagine light expanding, then
contracting and coming in as if it is being regulated with a dimmer.
Ichinen sanzen is like
this. The mystery is that we cannot understand the concept of the opening and closing.
Because we can't comprehend this we think that our life is our own. So if you think that I
am me and others are others, then you won't be able to understand that you are you
because others are others. The sanzen (the All) cannot exist without the ichinen (the
One). Likewise,
ichinen (the One) cannot exist without the sanzen (the All).
We humans believe that we would not have our lives without our parents, our
grandparents and our ancestors. But before there was human life, life existed, and that
life, that essence is within us. As we move into the future all that ever was and all that is
moves into the future with us. This is why you cannot separate yourself from others, and
why you cannot separate yourself from all else that exists in the universe. It is all one.
Therefore, it is not because of your parents or grandparents that you are alive. You are
alive because you have a teacher, a doctor, the police - they are all connected to you.
This connection extends for an eternity through past, present and future.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches that now is the most important point
in time. The reason this moment is most important is that the
past, the present and the future exist in it. All life - the water,
the air we breathe, plants, society - supports our life, our
existence. Before we eat a piece of meat, let's say beef, it is
beef. Once we have eaten it it becomes human because it is
broken down and digested by our bodies and becomes apart of
us. No longer is it beef, it is a part of our system. Whether it is
cabbage or fish it doesn't matter, once we have eaten it it
becomes the life of a human being.
The Daishonin teaches that the world isn't just for humans, it is
for all life forms. If all other living things could not have
Buddhahood, then human beings could not attain Buddhahood
either. Human beings are not greater and other life forms lesser.
A bird, a plant, a rock, a speck of dust, a man -- all living things
are equal.
The air we breathe is like the beef we eat. When we breathe it it becomes part of us, it
becomes human and is no longer air. It doesn't matter if you are French, Russian, Arab
or Israeli you have to breathe air to live. So if you want to live you can't say, "I'm not
going to breathe this air because someone I don't like has breathed this air." That is
ridiculous, we just can't do that. Everything is the same, whether it's sunlight, water or
air. Overall, all life is connected.
Ichinen sanzen (a single thought contains everything),
sanzen ichinen (everything within a single thought) means that everything is connected,
and bound by the one Law
Myoho-renge-kyo and nothing can be severed, cut or
removed from it.
Opening the fan is comparable to ichinen sanzen, closing it sanzen ichinen. The pivot or
screw holding it all together is Namu-myoho-renge-kyo. What I'm saying is that ichinen
sanzen is myo. The contents of myo is
ichinen sanzen -- all things throughout the
universe in the three existences of past, present and future. That is why we chant
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo. Whether you understand this or not, it is still
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo that is the glue, the collagen, connecting everything, one to
another. However, if you don't understand this you can't pass it along to others. If you
are not aware of this, then when there is a person who hears about
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time, or whose only exposure to
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo has been through the superficial teachings of the Soka Gakkai,
you will not be able to explain that you don't chant, you don't sit in front of
sweating daimoku so that you'll have a happy life, make money, be healthy. The
meaning and purpose for chanting is much broader and grander than that. The
consequentiality and significance of this practice lies in the connection and collectivity of
myo, ichinen sanzen, all life and us.
By Reverend Raido Hirota
Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation staff.
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the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai
Great Nebulai Orion