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Gosho Study

Dedicate This Supremely Noble Life to Buddhism

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The way of the world dictates that one should repay a great obligation to another, even at the cost of one’s life. Many warriors die for their lords, perhaps many more than one would imagine. A man will die to defend his honor; a woman will die for a man. Fish want to survive; they deplore their pond’s shallowness and dig holes in the bottom to hide in, yet tricked by bait, they take the hook. Birds in a tree fear that they are too low and perch in the top branches, yet bewitched by bait, they too are caught in snares. Human beings are equally vulnerable. They give their lives for shallow, worldly matters but rarely for the Buddha’s precious teachings. Small wonder they do not attain Buddhahood. (“Letter from Sado,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 301)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

Nichiren Daishonin … counsels that rather than giving our lives—the most valuable possession of all—for “shallow, worldly matters,” we should dedicate them to “the Buddha’s precious teachings.” …

You absolutely must not throw away your precious lives. To our young men and women, I say: No matter what painful or difficult challenges you may be facing, you must never disrespect or harm your own lives or the lives of others. Each of you is endowed with the wondrous and supremely noble Buddha nature.

In specific terms, how should we practice in order to dedicate this invaluable lifetime to “the Buddha’s precious teachings”? In another writing, Nichiren says with regard to ordinary people attaining Buddhahood in the Latter Day of the Law: “As for the matter of becoming a Buddha, ordinary people keep in mind the words ‘earnest resolve’ and thereby become Buddhas” (“The Gift of Rice,” WND-1, 1125). These words express the spirit of “not begrudging one’s life” in its supreme and highest form. It is his emphatic declaration that ordinary people of this age can … attain the same benefit that accrues to such selfless dedication through their “earnest resolve.”

As Nichiren writes, “It is the heart that is important” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1000). It’s a matter of exerting millions of kalpas of effort in a single moment of life for the sake of Buddhism, for the noble cause of kosen-rufu. For us, not begrudging our lives ultimately means steadfastly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo without any fear and wholeheartedly dedicating ourselves to showing actual proof of faith—for the sake of the world, for the sake of the future and for the sake of others. …

In other words, selfless dedication is found in a seemingly ordinary way of life open to anyone. A true example of such dedication can be seen in our daily efforts for kosen-rufu, exerting ourselves body and soul to encourage others and sincerely sharing the greatness of Buddhism with those around us. (Learning From Nichiren’s Writings: The Teachings for Victory, vol. 1, pp. 8–9)

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