Concepts

Ordinary People Become Buddhas Through Their “Earnest Resolve”

The key point of this practice is “earnest resolve,” Nichiren says.

New journey—Antonia Cheesman-Brown and 5-year-old son Terrance join the SGI-USA together at a meeting in New York City, March 20. Photo: Yvonne Ng.


SGI President Ikeda offers the following encouragement regarding the passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s letter “Gift of Rice”: “Ordinary people keep in mind the words ‘earnest resolve’ and thereby become Buddhas” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1125).

What exactly is this “earnest resolve”? Nichiren Daishonin says that it is “the doctrine of observing the mind,” a teaching outlined by the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai in his work Great Concentration and Insight. The term “observing the mind” or “observation of the mind” is used in contrast to “doctrinal study of the sutras,” and is the practice for attaining Buddhahood. The Daishonin next briefly explains what “observing the mind” means for us ordinary people in concrete terms.

He says that offering the single robe in one’s possession for the sake of the Lotus Sutra is equivalent to a sage’s practice of peeling off his skin [to use as writing paper to record the teachings]; similarly, offering one’s only food in a time of famine to the Buddha is equivalent to offering one’s life. Such offerings of clothing and food, then, are exactly the same as the sages of old offering their lives, and the benefit one receives from making such offerings will lead one to attain Buddhahood.

In Japanese, the word for “mission” (shimei) is written with two characters that mean “to use one’s life.” The purpose for which we use our precious lives is important.

The key point of this practice is “earnest resolve,” Nichiren says. The fundamental cause for attaining Buddhahood is the earnest resolve to seek, have faith in and protect the Lotus Sutra—a teaching that opens the way to enlightenment for all living beings—and the Buddha who teaches it. That is why the Daishonin declares: “Ordinary people keep in mind the words ‘earnest resolve’ and thereby become Buddhas” (WND-1, 1125).

Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi heavily underlined this passage in his personal copy of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and taking action for the sake of the Mystic Law and for one’s mentor who teaches and spreads the Mystic Law comprise the direct path to attaining Buddhahood.

In Japanese, the word for “mission” (shimei) is written with two characters that mean “to use one’s life.” The purpose for which we use our precious lives is important.

Working to realize the mission of kosen-rufu—making our mentor’s heart our own and praying and taking action for the happiness of others—is the most respectworthy behavior we can engage in as human beings. Such behavior is exemplified by the admirable members of the SGI (September 2015 Living Buddhism, pp. 32–34).