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Gosho Study

Key Passages From The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings and Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

Photo by Yvonne Ng.

The lion’s roar (shishi ku) is the preaching of the Buddha. The preaching of the Law means the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, or the preaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in particular.

The first shi [which means “teacher”] of the word shishi, or “lion,” is the Wonderful Law that is passed on by the teacher. The second shi [which means “child”] is the Wonderful Law as it is received by the disciples. The “roar” is the sound of the teacher and the disciples chanting in unison. (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 111)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance: 

The wish of the lion king—the Buddha—as taught in Nichiren Buddhism is to triumph over every manner of devilish function and enable all people to realize happiness through the great lion’s roar that has the power to move everything in a positive direction.

Nichiren teaches us here that the essence of this lion’s roar is the shared struggle of mentor and disciple.

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, not only spoke out for the truth with a lion’s roar himself but also often urged the youth division: “Kosen-rufu is a struggle of words, so you, too, should tirelessly speak out!” and “We are in the right, so just speak the truth exactly as it is!”

Kosen-rufu is a spiritual struggle to fundamentally vanquish the destructive impulses that reside in the depths of people’s lives and cause them unhappiness. That is why forces hostile and resentful toward the Soka Gakkai, which holds high the banner of the Mystic Law, have attacked us in every conceivable way, attempting to destroy our movement. But, linked by the bonds of mentor and disciple, we have always triumphed by speaking out together for what is right.

The great united lion’s roar of mentor and disciple allows us to vanquish fundamental ignorance and powerfully draw forth the fundamental nature of enlightenment, or Dharma nature. …

During the assembly of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha reveals his intent and wish to entrust his disciples with the widespread propagation of the Law—thereby opening the way to enlightenment for all people—in the evil age after his passing. He does so in the
so-called three pronouncements of “Treasure Tower,” the 11th chapter.

His bodhisattva disciples respond to his call with a vow that is expressed in the concluding verse section of “Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter. They pledge to triumph over the three powerful enemies of Buddhism and widely propagate the Lotus Sutra after Shakyamuni’s passing. In this section, they declare that they will “roar the lion’s roar” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 231–32).

Here, the lion’s roar, which usually refers to the Buddha’s preaching of the Law, is used to refer to the vow made by his disciples. This is because they share the same vow as their teacher or mentor, the Buddha. …

The Daishonin states: “The first shi [which means ‘teacher’] of the word shishi, or ‘lion,’ is the Wonderful Law [Mystic Law] that is passed on by the teacher. The second shi [which means ‘child’] is the Wonderful Law as it is received by the disciples.” Of course, the teaching that is imparted and the teaching that is received is one and the same. Therefore, the “roar” is the powerful sound of kosen-rufu—the sound of teacher and disciple uniting together to chant and spread the Mystic Law.

In the phrase “to roar the lion’s roar” (Jpn sa shishi ku), the Daishonin interprets the verb sa [literally, “to make” or “to issue”] as meaning to “initiate” Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the Latter Day of the Law. From the viewpoint of the disciple, we can take “initiate” to mean standing up on one’s own initiative and working with the same spirit as one’s mentor to spread the Mystic Law for the happiness of others. This is the fundamental spirit of disciples of the Buddha. (A Religion of Human Revolution, pp. 178–81)

“Joy” [in the phrase “responding with joy”] means that oneself and others together experience joy. … Then both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion.

Now, when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are expressing joy in the fact that they will inevitably become Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies. (OTT, 146)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance: 

Happiness is something that we must each achieve for ourselves and experience in our own lives. But at the same time, one’s own happiness to the exclusion of others is not true happiness. Just being content with one’s own welfare with no concern for others is selfish. By the same token, brushing aside one’s own happiness and caring only about the happiness of others is not sufficient either. True happiness is a condition where both ourselves and others are happy.

The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) also identified the essence of happiness as existing in the expansive spirit of shared happiness. He wrote: “Remove exclusiveness from the pleasures. The more you leave them to [people] in common, the more you will always taste them pure.” Happiness only exists when it is shared. …

Mr. Toda asserted: “Becoming happy yourself is no great challenge; it’s quite simple. But the essence of Nichiren Buddhism lies in helping others become happy, too.”

We cannot steal happiness from someone or attain it by sacrificing others for our own gain. It is something that must be shared—which is why I have always insisted that our happiness must not be built upon the misfortune of others.

Next in The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren says, “Then both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion” (p. 146). “Wisdom and compassion” refer to the life state of Buddhahood itself. Whatever difficulty we encounter, we remain undefeated, and the wisdom to overcome it and the compassion to help others well forth from within us. (November 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 47)

The element ku in the word kudoku means good fortune or happiness. It also refers to the merit achieved by wiping out evil, while the element toku or doku refers to the virtue one acquires by bringing about good. Thus the word kudoku means to attain Buddhahood in one’s present form. (OTT, 148)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance: 

This is a passage that I have engraved in my heart from the days of my youth. It tells us that benefit means eliminating the impurities or delusion in our own lives and bringing out our inherent purity and goodness.

Kosen-rufu is an eternal struggle between the Buddha and devilish functions.

Mr. Toda often said: “Faith is a struggle against deadlock—for the individual, and for humanity. It is a struggle between the Buddha nature and devilish functions. That is the meaning of ‘Buddhism concerns itself with winning.’”

That is precisely why we must not allow good to be defeated by evil. It must triumph.

Buddhism teaches that the Buddha and devilish functions are engaged in a fierce and ceaseless struggle in the depths of our lives.

The goodness inherent in life is the fundamental nature of enlightenment, or Dharma nature. In contrast, the evil or devilish nature inherent in life is fundamental darkness or ignorance. …

When we have faith in the Buddha nature within us and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, our fundamental nature of enlightenment is activated and the positive, protective functions of the universe are manifested.

At the same time, in the Latter Day of the Law, when right and wrong are confused and turned upside-down, fundamental darkness is amplified through contact with innumerable negative influences that are rampant in society. This intensifies the onslaughts of devilish forces against the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra.

And that is precisely why we need to fight against and triumph over external evils in the world. The battle against external evils is one and the same as the conquest of inner evil and the manifestation of inner goodness. …

Through our struggle against devilish functions, we forge, strengthen and purify our lives. Eliminating evil and bringing forth good are the two components of benefit (see OTT, 148). Fighting against evil functions is the way to accumulate benefit and attain Buddhahood. (February 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 47)

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. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is just such a “diligent” practice.
(OTT, 214)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance:

It is a difficult passage to understand, but since my mentor told me to engrave it in my life, I was deeply determined to grasp its full meaning.

I continued to read and ponder it. I did so during the bitter winter of adversity when Mr. Toda’s businesses collapsed in the postwar recession, and I worked my hardest to support my mentor and turn the situation around. I also did so during the Osaka
Campaign of 1956, which paved the way to our achieving a victory that everyone had said was impossible. I prayed and strove earnestly to break through the obstacles before us and win in each moment. …

“The pains and trials of millions of kalpas” (OTT, 214) refers to long eons of painful, arduous effort. We could take this to mean endless such struggles.

But in a dramatic departure from this view, Nichiren Daishonin teaches that when we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and work to spread the Mystic Law, in those very actions, we “exhaust the pains and trials of millions of kalpas” in each moment of life—that is, we concentrate millions of eons’ worth of arduous effort in a single moment of life. What this ultimately teaches is that we must win decisively right now.

Nichiren writes, “The lion king … always exerts its full power in attack, regardless of the strength of its opponent” (“A Comparison of the Lotus Sutra and Other Sutras,” WND-1, 1039). Lion kings never hold back their strength, regardless of the opponent.

It’s important, therefore, that we give our all, seizing each moment, chanting and continuing to make wholehearted efforts. Such diligent practice is what is meant by “exerting ourselves bravely and vigorously,” and is the very essence of courage.

By “exerting ourselves bravely and vigorously,” we activate the “three Buddha bodies” with which we are eternally endowed (OTT, 214)—that is, we activate the wellspring of the Buddha’s compassion and wisdom, as well as the true strength innate within our lives. …

In life, we may encounter an endless array of unexpected challenges and daunting hardships. These may take the form of financial difficulties, problems with human relations, illness, accidents and even the possibility of our own death. We may be assailed by storms of karma that plunge us into the depths of despair. But by opening the eyes of faith and “perceiving the true aspect of reality,” we can see that everyone inherently possesses the indestructible life state of Buddhahood and, by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, can manifest the life force of the Buddha to overcome every challenge and achieve a state of genuine happiness and fulfillment. (October 2018 Living Buddhism, pp. 51–53)

60th Anniversary of Ikeda Sensei’s Lecture Series on The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings

Planetary Citizenship