Tag Archive: Daimoku

Life is fleeting so first of all learn about death

Nichiren – The Importance of the Moment of Death

Lotus Blossom in McClelland Art Gallery - contrasts to the large sculptures...

Lotus Blossom in McClelland Art Gallery – contrasts to the large sculptures…

With it’s dramatically sombre title, “The Importance of the Moment of Death“, Nichiren tells us exactly what’s on his mind. The text of the letter shows that it was sent to an unknown person to read to the lay nun Myōhō.  Presumably she was unable to read… Whatever, Nichiren knew several lay nuns called Myoho and this one’s a widow.

We know he despised the “Pure Land” and other teachings and espoused the Lotus Sutra as being the final version of a lifetime’s work and thought by Shakyamuni, who most know as the Buddha.  His outspokenness brought him many enemies in feudal Japan.

He was drawing to the end of his life, being 56, with 4 years to go.  In this piece he states exactly what he thought – and did! The sheer poetry when he talks about the transient nature of life, is like majestic magic.

Looking back, I have been studying the Buddha’s teachings since I was a boy. And I found myself thinking, “The life of a human being is fleeting. The exhaled breath never waits for the inhaled one. Even dew before the wind is hardly a sufficient metaphor. It is the way of the world that whether one is wise or foolish, old or young, one never knows what will happen to one from one moment to the next. Therefore I should first of all learn about death, and then about other things.”

So I gathered and considered the sacred teachings of Shakyamuni’s entire lifetime, as well as the writings and commentaries of scholars and teachers.

Which is what Nichiren really did.  From a young boy he sought the true nature of existence.  And using the metaphors that without white there can be no black, and without life there can be no death, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was the fruit of his lifetime’s studies.

Nichiren explicitly says (above) that it was from looking at dead people at such an early age that he commenced his life’s work and started studying Buddhism!  What a fantastic thing from such a gloomy beginning!

Encouragement

  • Nichiren encourages the lay nun Myoho that her recently deceased husband is okay.
  • He also says that she will be (and is currently), okay.

The persistent care and trouble that Nichiren takes over ordinary people is noteworthy; he continually encourages, when things are just pottering on as well as when people are at their darkest hour and are troubled.

How does he say these things?  Here?

The key passage for me is here:

Carina Nebula

Carina Nebula

One who upholds the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra transforms the black lacquer of the evil deeds of a lifetime, and of countless kalpas of lifetimes in the past, into the great merit of good deeds. All the more so is this true of one’s good roots from the beginningless past, which all take on a golden hue.

And when your deceased husband chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo at the end on his deathbed, the evil deeds of a lifetime, and from the beginningless past, changed into the seeds of Buddhahood. This is what is meant by the teachings called “earthly desires are enlightenment,” “the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana,” and “attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form.”

And because you are the beloved wife of such a man, the teaching of women attaining Buddhahood without doubt also applies to you.

The image is that of a huge dying star, the Carina Nebula which is likely to cataclysmically pop.  From its remains, new stars will be made, which is the whole point of it all.   Nichiren then goes on to finish saying,

…if this were to be a lie, Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and all the Buddhas of the ten directions, who are Shakyamuni’s emanations, would be liars, great liars, evildoers, and those who deceive all living beings and cause them to fall into hell (…)  It would not be Nichiren’s lie; rather it would be the lie of all the Buddhas in the ten directions and three existences.

But consider: How could such a thing ever be?

I will explain this matter in detail when we meet.

I would love to had been at that meeting!

And in Another Letter to the Lay Nun Myoho…

ShunnedThree years later in another letter to the nun, Nichiren again encourages the nun.  Her loneliness has increased as she is shunned by her family – all for chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

In fact in this letter, we get a clue to Nichiren’s realisation that Buddhahood applies to everyone.  He paraphrases Shakyamuni’s disillusionment with the women of his time and at the same time praises the lay nun Myoho, when he says,

I have received your gift of a light summer robe.   You have been left behind by your deceased husband in a woman’s situation, and are separated from your relatives, too. You hear nothing from your one or two daughters, who are not to be relied on. Moreover, you are a woman who is hated by others because of this teaching. You are just like Bodhisattva Never Disparaging.

I had therefore thought that, though women would tarnish their names and throw away their lives on meaningless paths, they were weak at following the path to Buddhahood. But now you, born a woman in the evil world of the latter age, while being reviled, struck, and persecuted by the barbaric inhabitants of this island country who are unaware of these things, have endured and are propagating the Lotus Sutra.

She must have been a tough one.  She chanted the daimoku, probably just like in this YouTube video.

Conclusion

Operating Table

Operating Table

Nichiren does not explicitly say, to my eyes, what “The Importance of the Moment of Death” is.  But his meaning is clear.

The importance of the moment of death is to be chanting The Daimoku of The Lotus Sutra, even if it’s only in your head.

I did this when I had an operation a few years ago, just as I was going under the anaesthetic.  Of course I woke up later (like dah…), but my faith was paramount in my thoughts as I drifted off, though weirdly, I almost forgot…..  Here’s how.

I was completely empty of thoughts, or a bit shocked, as they prepared my hand for the drugs, maybe my face showed trepidation or something to the anaesthetist, but she said “most people try to think happy thoughts or faces at this time” – it was then that I remembered I’d previously promised myself many times to chant as I went under…. so I did… and just in time.

  • I continue.
  • Clifford Worley Quote

    Clifford to Clarence Worley – Click image for Quote

    I have a set drill in my head now that should I feel I’m a goner, to chant, even if it’s just inside my mind.

  • Is this mad?  Not for me.
  • Will I forget again?
  • Who can tell?  But though I quoted this at the top from Nichiren, I’ll repeat it again here…

It is the way of the world that whether one is wise or foolish, old or young, one never knows what will happen to one from one moment to the next.

“So quit fuckin’ around!”

– from True Romance (1993)


Related Posts:

Why I Recite bits of the Lotus Sutra

@AmazonAs part of my Buddhist practice I recite two bits of prose and chant some Daimoku, which is the words “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” over and over again.

  • I recite these two bits of prose, called the “Expedient Means” chapter and the “Life Span” chapter because Jill, the person who introduced me did so.
  • Jillian does so because Roger Edwards did so.  And likewise, Richard Causton.
  • Richard Causton did so because that’s what Daisaku Ikeda does.
  • Daisaku Ikeda does so because Toda did so.
  • Toda did so because Makiguchi did so.
  • Makiguchi did so because he was searching for ‘something’ and found that the Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism closely fitted his ideals.
  • The monks of Nichiren Shoshu do so because there’s a long chain of monks and disciples going back to 1275 that did so.

In 1275, Nichiren Daishonin wrote a letter to a lay priest called Soya, where he said,

I have written out the prose section of the “Expedient Means” chapter for you. You should recite it together with the verse portion of the “Life Span” chapter, which I sent you earlier.

The characters of this sutra are all without exception living Buddhas of perfect enlightenment. But because we have the eyes of ordinary people, we see them as characters. For instance, hungry spirits perceive the Ganges River as fire, human beings perceive it as water, and heavenly beings perceive it as amrita. Though the water is the same, it appears differently according to one’s karmic reward from the past.

The blind cannot see the characters of this sutra. To the eyes of ordinary people, they look like characters. Persons of the two vehicles perceive them as the void. Bodhisattvas look on them as innumerable doctrines. Buddhas recognize each character as a golden Shakyamuni. This is what is meant by the passage that says, “[If one can uphold this sutra], one will be upholding the Buddha’s body.” Those who practice with distorted views, however, are destroying this most precious sutra. You should simply be careful that, without differing thoughts, you single-mindedly aspire to the pure land of Eagle Peak. A passage in the Six Paramitas Sutra says ‘to become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you‘. I will explain in detail when I see you.

With my deep respect,
Nichiren

The third month in the twelfth year of Bun’ei (1275)

To the lay priest Soya

So there we have it.  I recite those bits because Nichiren said so in this letter, and everyone since has been mindful to ‘uphold the sutra‘ and ‘not practice with distorted views‘.

Amazingly, for hundreds of years, many people have managed to keep both the spirit and the content of this letter going, sometimes against great adversity.

Link to SGI Online content for this letterReply to the Lay Priest Soya

Related Posts:

Comments are closed

A Grave Offence

[…] Take these teachings to heart, and always remember that believers in the Lotus Sutra should absolutely be the last to abuse one another. All those who keep faith in the Lotus Sutra are most certainly Buddhas, and one who slanders a Buddha commits a grave offence.

When one chants the daimoku bearing in mind that there are no distinctions among those who embrace the Lotus Sutra, then the blessings one gains will be equal to those of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Nichiren Daishonin, WND1, p756, The Fourteen Slanders

Well that’s pretty clear.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed

The 26 Admonitions explained by Richard Causton

Strangely post on September 13th, 2008
Posted in Buddhism Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Introduction

Lotus Flower - photo by Strangely PerfectI’ve nabbed the content of this from Ted Penfold.  My wife, has told me that she heard this lecture of Dick’s and found it and him some of the most inspiring things in her life.  I came across this wonderful piece by chance, looking for some background information on Nikko, the second guy after (Nichiren) in our prayers, and repeat it here so that more people might be similarly inspired.

I’ve corrected some spellings from the original transcript here which I assume were due to OCR transcription errors, mainly.  I’ve also added a few links, where appropriate, to external sources (SP)

Quick Links: Background Discussion Preface and Conclusion The 26 Admonitions Conclusions

n.b. Admonitions = Precepts = Warnings.  The three terms appear in different places, but essentially mean the same thing (SP)


LECTURE ON THE TWENTY-SIX ADMONITIONS OF NIKKO SHONIN by the late SGI UK General Director, Richard Causton

LecturnThe following lecture by SGI UK General Director, Richard Causton, based on various lectures given by him around the U.K. and overseas during late 1992 and 1993, was inspired by SGI President Ikeda’s guidance on this subject on 24th October 1992. This lecture first appeared as a series of articles in SGI-UK’s monthly magazine, the U.K. Express. (now called Art of Living – SP)

Dick Causton’s and Nikko Shonin’s words follow…

Related Posts:

Somerset HQ Weekend Course

Had a fantastic 2-3 days in Taplow Court at the UK SGI headquarters so thanks to all who organised it, turned up or gave daimoku. We had much to inspire us. Somehow we seemed to get loads of heavyweight dudes to give us lectures of the highest calibre. I now have got a (loan) Gohonzon for me and the house now that is in Africa with the other one. Also, in the shop, I bought a nice new, bigger bell, which has a lovely sound and has had the desired effect of making my prayers for the dead more solid by process of being less distracted by the different timbred plinks that came from the other one.

The entertainments on Saturday were up to their usual standard. Two unexpected highlights for me were the trombone playing of Una which was fantastic in the natural reverb chamber of the canteen, and the witty banter of Duncan that had tears of laughter running down my face. I’ve now decided that Duncan is half Buster Keaton and half Buddy Holly and half Ronnie Corbett. See! 50% extra!

I had an interesting (but drunken) chat with Jiri who’s a bit of a whizz with design (and languages). Pretty good posters The grey one with the blood tears coming from the models’ eyes is pretty effective. It’s all very Czech and central-powers gloom! A bit like Dale (a former Bridgwater member who moved to the Czech Republic) here.

Finally, here are a few snaps I took in the Saturday free time. I think there should be a caption competition.

Johnny Mars, a being at ease,

with some others…”More beings at ease!”
I got Lesley in mid crease-up! How big, Philippa? said Lee.
Sisters? !

And Finally, these are for me an’ Johnny from Hugh Cornwell’s gig in Bridgwater. He knows what I mean. Bandwidth limitations mean there are more photos of the bass player than of the ageing rocker.

Funnily enough, Holly who generally played bass in Crawling Chaos also used to wear skirts a lot on stage and it never did any of us any harm.

Related Posts:

© 2007-2017 Strangely Perfect All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by me