The Buddha and the ordinary being

In a letter called `On Attaining Buddhahood` Nichiren Daishonin writes:

“If the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.

It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”. (WND, p4)

Thus, there is no substantial difference between the ordinary human being and the Buddha. The difference lies in our minds and in our actions. In other words we reveal Buddhahood in our present form as we are. We cause this through our Buddhist practice and through developing faith in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The Buddha and the ordinary being

“The difference lies in our minds and in our actions.”

It is very important to appreciate that the original aspiration in Buddhism has always been the desire to become happy together with others. Buddhism has always taken the view that this is the pure and eternal wish of all people in the depths of our lives. This thought is originally and equally inherent in the lives of the Buddha and ordinary people alike. A person who becomes awakened to and who lives in accord with this spirit is a Buddha. And all ordinary people, just as they are, can attain the state of Buddhahood by having profound confidence that we are Buddhas just as we are.

It may be hard in our society to see this principle of Buddhahood manifesting itself in daily life as anything but an unattainable ideal. Few would take issue with the idea that respecting others is, in theory, the correct way for human beings to behave. But when it comes to specific individuals whom we know, various emotions arise making it a real challenge to put this principle into action.

Buddhism regards ignorance or delusion as lying at the heart of this problem. Probably everyone has succumbed at some point to doing the very opposite of what is good, knowing it is wrong. Fundamental ignorance or delusion, which is the force which gives rise to evil, exists in every human life. And as the passage earlier made clear, people can break free of this ignorance and manifest their Buddha nature or inherent enlightenment.

The important thing is that we believe in our potential, strive to reveal our Buddha nature, grow as human beings, becoming happy and helping others to do the same. Irrespective of how people treat us, the important thing is to chant with an unwavering belief in the Buddha nature of everyone, ourselves and other people. This in itself can be extremely challenging, involving a real change of heart. But to take action based on such a state of life is proof of one’s humanity as a Buddhist.

To live a life of true human dignity is certainly difficult. Life is continuous change. Nothing is constant. The four sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death are an eternal theme from which no one can escape. Amid this harsh reality, people yearn from the depths of their beings to live with dignity and for their lives to have meaning, and they make efforts towards that end.

Nichiren Daishonin`s Buddhism teaches that it is our fundamental attitude to problems and the suffering which usually accompanies them that determines the extent to which we win or lose in creating a happy life.

When we look at the lives of great people of the past, we find that they remained undefeated by life’s hardships, by life’s pounding waves, and that they held fast to hopes that seemed fantastic dreams to most. Moreover, they let nothing stop or discourage them from realizing those aspirations. They were able to do this because their hopes themselves were not limited to personal desire or self-interest, but were based on a wish for the happiness of humanity. This gave them extraordinary conviction and confidence.

We experience one suffering after another. We are assailed by hardships. That is the reality of life. But each of us possesses the power to face and overcome all these obstacles. The point is whether we believe this and are actually able to manifest this strength. To be defeated by suffering and filled with complaint is to be shackled by our karma. It is by squarely facing our suffering that we are able to transform it into something that is part of the purpose of our lives. By overcoming it our ability to achieve our purpose in life becomes strengthened. It is by challenging and overcoming difficulties as ordinary people that we demonstrate the greatness of the Mystic Law.

Cause and effect

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