Cultivating the Eye of the Buddha

A strong life force enables us to recognize and defeat devilish functions.

Photo by Victor Golden.

Devilish or negative functions are hard to recognize. If they were easy to pinpoint, they wouldn’t be so formidable. Internally, they function to test our faith and rob us of our ability to believe that we can transform our circumstances through faith in the Gohonzon. Externally, they appear in the form of the three powerful enemies, who, out of arrogance, function to discourage practitioners of the Lotus Sutra and destroy its teachings.

Nichiren Daishonin states, “Those with distorted vision cannot see” [them], but “those who have attained a portion of the Buddha eye can see who they are” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 277).

The Buddha eye includes the ability to perceive the true nature of all things—seeing past the superficial to the heart of things as they actually are—in order to lead ourselves and others to the path of happiness.[1]See “five types of vision” in The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 205.

That’s why Nichiren states that when devilish functions appear, those whose eyes remain cloudy with delusion “will be terrified,” but those who have developed the Buddha’s eye have “nothing to be frightened about” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 269). For those with the eye of the Buddha, he says, devilish functions are seen clearly for what they are and lose any power to intimidate or sway them. Therefore, we have nothing to fear as long as we cultivate our awareness to recognize devilish functions for what they are and fight against them. So what are the signs?

The Danger of Evil Influences

President Ikeda cautions:

Nichiren warned us time and time again that we must not be duped. [In Japanese, the word taburakasu means “to be tricked or confused.”] For example, in “The Fourteen Slanders,” he writes, “The aspiration for enlightenment in common mortals is often hindered by evil influences and easily swayed by circumstances; though many warriors don armor, few go without fear into battle” (WND-1, 758). We must not allow ourselves
to be tricked or confused . . .

Taburakasu means to deceive others with clever words, to trick them, to hoodwink them. Surprisingly, this word appears in [Nichiren’s writings] some 50 times. (President Ikeda, June 10, 1991, World Tribune, pp. 4–5)

President Ikeda also warns:

An evil person, rather than present a face that says, “I am evil,” will use evil wisdom and cunning to make himself appear otherwise.” (President Ikeda, The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 3, p. 75)

This notion goes back to the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. His own cousin, Devadatta, out of jealousy, attempted to kill Shakyamuni and created a schism within the Buddhist order.

President Ikeda elaborates:

Backsliding and treachery begin with a single deviation in the depths of one’s being. Not only did Devadatta start to tout himself as Shakyamuni’s foremost disciple, he even began acting as if he himself were a Buddha and the most rigorous practitioner of the Way. The craving for fame and wealth causes people to assume various personas. In public, Devadatta bore himself as an upright sage. (President Ikeda, The New Human Revolution, vol. 3, p. 179)

Addressing Concerns, Rumors and Misinformation

Members should voice their concerns, but when they spread unresolved concerns behind people’s backs or avoid discussing them directly with those involved, that’s when devilish functions emerge within the organization.

Even truth, when spoken with ill intent, can be a devilish function. This is why developing the Buddha eye requires that we go beyond (but don’t ignore) truth and find the wisdom for creating value. In this spirit, we should seek guidance from seniors in faith so that we can challenge negative tendencies that prevent us from advancing in our mission for kosen-rufu.

Because our organization is a tightknit group, rumors, false information and misunderstandings can easily spread, especially through email, text messages, etc. It is crucial for us to develop the wisdom and strength to not be taken in by them or to become party to the spreading of false information. We should always engage in discussion with the sense that we are protagonists, not spectators. Let’s do our part to ensure that no such sources of disunity go unchecked.

Unintentional vs. Intentional Disunity

For most situations, the mistakes of fellow practitioners are unintentional and should be handled compassionately and respectfully. Nichiren says, “If a believer’s offense is slight, overlook it, and lead that person to obtain benefits” (“The Embankments of Faith,” WND-1, 626).

Offenses stop being slight or minor when a person is actively causing disunity or disparaging others even after they have been advised to stop, indicating that they are doing so intentionally. Developing the ability to discern between the simple mistakes that naturally occur in any human activity and the unity-destroying activity of the ill intentioned, and the wisdom to know how to respond appropriately can be understood as opening one’s Buddha eye.

Devilish Functions are Necessary for our Enlightenment

As the SGI-USA advances toward the historic 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival on Sept. 23, let’s heed the calls of Nichiren and President Ikeda:

The Buddha and Devadatta are like the form and its shadow—in lifetime after lifetime, they are never separated.” (Nichiren Daishonin, “The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 278)

The SGI represents the function of the Buddha. It is only natural, therefore, that we are attacked by devilish functions. (President Ikeda, WLS-3, pp. 253–54)

Toward the 50K festival, as we take a momentous step toward changing our country, negative functions will inevitably arise that will try to disrupt our unity and progress. Becoming immune to their influence and taking an active role in defeating them is critical to the development of a victorious life condition under any and all circumstances. It is also critical to recognize and overcome such negative tendencies in ourselves. Nichiren reminds us, “It is because I was a defender of the correct teaching that I have been able to attain this diamond-like body” (“On Establishing the Correct Teaching,” WND-1, 20).

To that end, President Ikeda declares:

The spirit to battle powerful enemies is the heart of the lion king. As long as we possess the readiness and courage to confront these negative forces, we can manifest our inherent Buddhahood and bring forth the necessary fighting spirit, wisdom and life force to achieve victory. For that reason alone, we have nothing to fear.” (The Opening of the Eyes: President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 97)

SGI President Ikeda’s Guidance

Protecting the Castle of Soka From Within

“If we see treacherous and ill-intentioned people in our organization, we mustn’t let them go unchecked; otherwise, they will poison . . . our harmonious community of believers. Their behavior must be sternly rebuked and denounced.” (Aug. 18, 2006, World Tribune, p. 3)

• • •

“The Soka Gakkai is the lion king. Because it has become so influential, from among its ranks have emerged people who maneuvered themselves within the organization for their own self-aggrandizement. As well, there are top leaders and politicians who, forgetting their debt of gratitude, have turned on the organization and betrayed their fellow members. You have all seen such examples yourselves. We must never permit such schemers, who use the Soka Gakkai and their positions for selfish personal gain, to sully our pure and harmonious gathering of believers.

“[Second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda was relentless in his insistence that we drive out such ingrates, parasites in the lion’s body. The Soka Gakkai must forever triumph as an organization of harmonious unity dedicated to the noble cause of kosen-rufu.” (Sept. 9, 2005, World Tribune, p. 2)

• • •

“[Mr. Toda] warned, ‘The “worms within the lion’s body” are a dangerous threat, so be on your guard against them.’ On another occasion, he expanded on this, saying: ‘Be aware that “worms within the lion’s body” are far more harmful than external enemies.’

“The greatest peril does not reside outside. Instead, it is found in the behavior of those inside the organization for kosen-rufu who undermine it, destroying it from within. This is the meaning of the ‘worms within the lion’s body.’ Such actions disrupt the harmonious community of believers, which is one of the gravest offenses in Buddhism.” (June 30, 2006, World Tribune, p. 3)

• • •

“Nichiren [Daishonin] writes: ‘Neither non-Buddhists nor the enemies of Buddhism can destroy the correct teaching of the Thus Come One, but the Buddha’s disciples definitely can. As a sutra says, only worms born of the lion’s body feed on the lion’ [“Letter from Sado,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 302]. We must keenly see through the behavior of any ‘worms within the lion’s body’ and put an end to their activities before they cause any harm.” (June 30, 2006, World Tribune, p. 3)

For more information please see: “Sowing the Seeds of Disunity”

(p. 7)

Notes   [ + ]

1. See “five types of vision” in The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 205.