Tapping the Limitless Power Inherent in Life

The limitless power inherent in life vibrantly manifests in those who fight against adversity and struggle for kosen-rufu.

The following is an excerpt from SGI President Ikeda’s lectures on the “Expedient Means” and “Life Span” chapters of the Lotus Sutra, from the book The Heart of the Lotus Sutra, pp. 313–15.

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings explains that we who follow Nichiren Daishonin are Buddhas originally possessing the three bodies: “Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are acting as votaries of these words, ‘since I attained Buddhahood’ ” (p. 134).

When we chant and practice for ourselves and others, we can attain the three bodies inherent in our lives. We can realize the same state of life as Nichiren. The three bodies become manifest in the lives of those who fight against adversity and struggle for kosen-rufu as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

When friends suffer, we cannot stand by doing nothing. We cannot pretend not to notice. We take action for those around us—even to the point of forgetting about our own immediate difficulties. The SGI is a gathering of such heroes of the people.

This was certainly evident in our fellow members’ actions in Kansai at the time of the Great Hanshin Earthquake [1995]. “Defeat is unthinkable!”—this was their spirit. Everyone was faced with calamitous circumstances, but they took action, wringing out every ounce of strength. Their actions, words and gestures of encouragement brought hope and courage to countless others.

Members sincerely turned to the Gohonzon to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for suffering friends, even forgetting the passage of time. And, on seeing friends’ agonized faces, they offered them words imbued with confidence and courage: “It’s going to be all right. We can definitely overcome this!” The members were not directed to do this by anyone. Nor, for that matter, on the orders of someone else could people be expected to exert themselves so tirelessly.

Ultimately, Buddhahood is attained on one’s own, not through someone else. It is something we achieve through our own efforts.

When we are caught up in what others think, in formality or appearances, we cannot manifest the power eternally inherent in our lives. But we can manifest such power when we earnestly dedicate ourselves to others and to kosen-rufu. The Buddha originally endowed with the three bodies—the limitless power inherent in life—vibrantly manifests in a person of such spirit, single-minded determination and action.

In whom could the Buddha possibly appear, if not in such a person? Just whom could the “Buddha endowed with the three bodies” possibly indicate? It is our lives that the passage in The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings describes:

If in a single moment of life we exhaust the pains and trials of millions of kalpas, then instant after instant there will arise in us the three Buddha bodies with which we are eternally endowed. (p. 214)

We ourselves can manifest the eternally inherent three bodies, the vast state of life of the Buddha. This is a state of life seldom attained even when sought, a state of life so grand that the very idea of seeking it rarely even occurs to people. Through the single word faith, through steadfastly embracing the Mystic Law, we can attain Buddhahood on our own, the Buddhahood with which we are inherently endowed. As the sutra says, “This cluster of unsurpassed jewels has come to us unsought” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 124).

In our hearts we possess the supreme treasure. The courage to face any difficulty, boundless hope, burning passion and inexhaustible wisdom—all of these are facets of the originally inherent jewel of our lives. Those who forge ahead in faith with this confidence are Buddhas. Their lives turn into clusters of “unsurpassed jewels.” In lifetime after lifetime and world after world, they are people of wealth and influence, leading lives of great fulfillment.

Ultimately, Buddhahood is attained on one’s own, not through someone else. It is something we achieve through our own efforts. Through faith in the Mystic Law, we can definitely manifest the great state of absolute freedom of the eternal and undying self. This is the essence of the verse section and the conclusion the “Life Span” chapter puts forth.

The Three Buddha Bodies

The three bodies of the Buddha refer to the Dharma body, the reward body and the manifested body. The Dharma body is the fundamental truth, or Law, to which a Buddha is enlightened. The reward body is the wisdom to perceive the Law. And the manifested body is the compassionate actions the Buddha carries out to lead people to happiness. Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The Buddha nature that all these beings possess is called by the name Myoho-renge-kyo. Therefore, if you recite these words of the daimoku once, then the Buddha nature of all living beings will be summoned and gather around you. At that time the three bodies of the Dharma nature within you—the Dharma body, the reward body, and the manifested body—will be drawn forth and become manifest. This is called attaining Buddhahood” (“A Sage and an Unenlightened Man,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 131).

(p. 8)