In Buddhism, all matter is believed to be composed of the five elements: earth, water, fire, wind and ku. These are known as the "five great elements" and, in fact, the five-storied pagoda is symbolic of these five elements which a person is restored to after death.
The word engi is a shortened form of the expression in-nen sho-ki. This four-character phrase means that everything has cause and condition. "Cause" (in) are the factors that directly bring about a result. "Condition" (en) refers to factors which complement the primary "cause." The cause (in) combined with the condition (en) equals karma. The example of a flower is often used to explain this: A flower blooms because seeds are planted and shoots come forth. The seed is the direct cause for the blooming of the flower. However, flowers will not grow simply from seeds, they must be given water and sunshine. In this instance, water and sunlight are indirect factors causing the flower to bloom, and are, in other words, "conditions."
In the same way that a flower is made to bloom as a result of the "cause" -- the seed -- and the "conditions" of the water and sunshine, all existence, including ourselves, are not realized independently, but materialize, or come into existence as a result of various causes and conditions. Hence, all phenomena are manifested as a result of the mutual relationship of innumerable causes and conditions. Engi refers to the fact that when causes and conditions change, the phenomena or thing will also change. Therefore, this suggests "impermanence" (all things arise, change and are extinguished), and "no self" (no existence) is absolute and immutable or unchangeable.
To be more specific, human beings are supported by the entire universe. If a person eats a potato that potato is assimilated into the human body and thus becomes human. Likewise, when a person eats beef, the beef becomes human. That is why we cannot pray for the enlightenment of human beings alone. We must also pray for the enlightenment of all living things. Only the Lotus Sutra teaches enlightenment for all living beings. The mergence of billions of lives constitutes "all living beings."
We see plants blooming everyday. The flower dies, but still life remains and the plant will blossom again. Yet, there is no person "A" who will be reborn as person "A." If person "A" were to be reborn as person "A" he or she would have to have the same parents, live at the same address, have the same classmates and teachers as in this life, otherwise it will not be the same person "A." A man who is a good marksman in this life will not be reborn a good marksman in the next life.
Hate, sadness, love are causes and conditions which impact our karma and determine our destiny. Chanting Namu-myoho-renge-kyo is also a cause and condition which affects our karma. When one dies the spirit will merge with the universe, but it is not certain where in the universe it will reside. The universe is composed of innumerable lives. From previous lifetimes these lives have formed connections or relationships. Where a spirit comes to reside is determined by its relationship with other lives in the universe, or its relationship with the universe as a whole. For a human being to create a relationship with Namu-myoho-renge-kyo will make a big difference. When one is connected to Myohorengekyo it is profound.
CAUSES AND CONDITIONS By Reverend Raido Hirota
Translated and edited by the Udumbara Foundation volunteers
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