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The Brilliant Path of Worldwide Kosen-rufu

Volume 3: Chapter Three—The Buddha

Chapter Summary

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

After burying the commemorative items, the party took a second walk through the temple grounds.

Seeing places related to Shakyamuni Buddha, Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s thoughts turned to the life of this great sage who illuminated humankind with the vibrant light of his being.

Shakyamuni was born as a prince of the Shakyas (a small tribe whose kingdom was located in what is now central Nepal). His mother died shortly after giving birth to him. As a young man, Shakyamuni renounced his princely life for a religious one in search of a means to overcome the fundamental human sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death.

Shakyamuni devoted his life to various yogic meditation and austere practices, but abandoned them after realizing they could not lead him to enlightenment.

With nothing to turn to, Shakyamuni crossed the Nairanjana River and sat under a peepul tree (now Bodhi tree) where he was lost in deep inner contemplation. At this time, he was tormented by worldly desires, hunger, craving for sleep, and fear and doubt. But he triumphed over these internal demons and continued his inner quest.

Then, like a limitless, penetrating beam of light, Shakyamuni experienced a moment of clarity in which he gained profound insight that life is eternal and one with the vast cosmos. He became a Buddha—a person awakened to the supreme truth of the Law of life.

After attaining enlightenment, he agonized for days over whether to preach this Law to others. Finally, he resolved to do so and went on to bravely surmount persecutions by the six non-Buddhist teachers and experienced severe betrayal by his cousin and disciple Devadatta. He overcame the grief that came with the deaths of his most trusted disciples Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, and continued preaching the Law until the final moments of his life.

Inspired by Shakyamuni’s life, Shin’ichi vowed to stay true to the path of his mission until the last embers of his life burned out.

Unforgettable Scene

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

Shakyamuni Grasped the Law of Life

During Shin’ichi’s visit to India, he recalls Shakyamuni’s life and journey in attaining enlightenment.

Dawn was drawing near. At the very moment the morning star began to shine in the eastern sky, something happened.

Like a limitless, penetrating beam of light, Shakyamuni’s wisdom suddenly broke through to illuminate the eternal, immutable truth of life. He felt something like an electric shock coursing through him. He trembled with emotion, his face radiant and tears filling his eyes.

“This is it!”

In that instant, Shakyamuni attained a profound awakening. He had finally become a Buddha—one enlightened to the supreme truth. It was as if a door within his life had been thrown open to the entire universe, and he was released from all illusion. He felt he could now move and act freely based upon the Law of life. It was a state he had never experienced before in this lifetime.

Now Shakyamuni understood: “The entire universe is subject to the same constant rhythm of creation and change. This applies equally to human beings. Those now in infancy are destined to grow old and eventually die and then be reborn again. Nothing, either in the world of nature or human society, knows even a moment of stillness or rest. All phenomena in the universe emerge and pass into extinction through the influence of some external cause. Nothing exists in isolation; all things are linked together over space and time, originating in response to shared causal relationships. Each phenomenon simultaneously functions as both cause and effect, exerting an influence on the whole. Moreover, a Law of life permeates the entire process.”

Shakyamuni had grasped the wondrous truth of existence. He was convinced that he could develop himself limitlessly through this Law he had awakened to. All criticism, obstacles and hardships would be nothing more than dust before the wind.

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As the sun rose over the horizon, its bright light began to dispel the morning mist. It was truly a radiant dawn of happiness and peace for all humankind. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 3, revised edition, pp. 159–61)

Key Passage

True precepts cannot be imposed externally; they must be cultivated within the individual. The spirit of Buddhism is not of imposing discipline from without; the emphasis is on self-discipline. (NHR-3, revised edition, 200)

Volume 3: Chapter Two—India

Volume 3: Chapter Four—Light of Peace