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Ikeda Sensei’s Lectures

“On the Treasure Tower”—Awaken to Your Inner Treasure!

Ikeda Sensei’s Lecture Series [76]

Countless streaks of light flash across the night sky. The annual Perseids Meteor Shower has arrived once again, inviting us to contemplate the marvels of the universe. [On August 13, 2021, it reached its peak in Japan.]

It reminds me of an unforgettable scene from my youth that took place during World War II. One night, air raid sirens sounded, and we took refuge in the nearest underground shelter. Holding my breath, I glanced up, and at just that moment a shooting star streaked across the sky. I vividly remember making a wish for peace.

The Wonder of Being Born as Human Beings

When we turn our gaze to the universe, its vastness and mystery strike us with awe. We can’t help but ponder what it means to be born as human beings on this planet, and we deeply sense the wonder of life itself.

Nichiren Buddhism teaches the one fundamental Law that pervades, supports and gives rise to the universe and human life. And it sets forth the means by which we can align our lives with that fundamental Law, enabling us to create value toward the realization of happiness and peace for all and bring our innate dignity to shine.

A Philosophy of Respect for Life and Human Dignity

The time has come for Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun, which unequivocally advocates respect for life and the dignity of all people, to lead the way for the rest of the world.

In this installment, we will study “On the Treasure Tower,” a writing in which the Daishonin teaches that all people are precious beings equally noble and worthy of respect who possess limitless potential within. Together, let’s study the incomparable view of life and human existence offered by Nichiren Buddhism, a hope-filled teaching for creating peace and happiness for humanity.

‘Excellent! All You Have Expounded Is the Truth!’

Now Nichiren’s disciples and lay supporters are also doing this [i.e., perceiving the treasure tower within their own lives]. In the Latter Day of the Law, no treasure tower exists other than the figures of the men and women who embrace the Lotus Sutra. It follows, therefore, that whether eminent or humble, high or low, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are themselves the treasure tower, and, likewise, are themselves the Thus Come One Many Treasures.[1] No treasure tower exists other than Myoho-renge-kyo.[2] The daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the treasure tower, and the treasure tower is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. (“On the Treasure Tower,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 299)

Abutsu-bo, the recipient of this letter, and his wife, the lay nun Sennichi, were leading figures among Nichiren Daishonin’s disciples on Sado Island. In this writing, Nichiren explains the meaning of the treasure tower that appears in the Lotus Sutra.

Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi underlined this particular passage in his copy of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, regarding it as very important.

Let us begin by briefly reviewing “Emergence of the Treasure Tower,” the 11th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which describes in detail the treasure tower mentioned above.

As Shakyamuni preaches the Lotus Sutra to an enormous gathering of his disciples, a massive tower adorned with seven kinds of treasures[3] suddenly rises out of the earth and floats suspended in the air.

The booming voice of Many Treasures Buddha is heard from within the tower affirming the truth of Shakyamuni’s teaching: “Excellent, excellent! … Shakyamuni, world-honored one, all that you have expounded is the truth!” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 209–10).

Then, Buddhas from throughout the universe gather, and Shakyamuni opens the door of the treasure tower, enters it and seats himself next to Many Treasures Buddha. At that point, the whole assembly is lifted into the air.

This is the beginning of what is known as the Ceremony in the Air.[4]

Seeing the Treasure Tower Within Ourselves and Others

Abutsu-bo had written to the Daishonin asking about the significance of the emergence of the treasure tower described in the Lotus Sutra. He responds in this letter that it has great significance and embodies a number of profound teachings. He then goes on to say, “In essence, the appearance of the treasure tower indicates that on hearing the Lotus Sutra the three groups of voice-hearers[5] perceived for the first time the treasure tower within their own lives” (WND-1, 299).

“The treasure tower within their own lives” is the key. In other words, the Daishonin explains, Shakyamuni’s disciples realize that the great treasure tower that appeared before them is actually the treasure tower that comes forth and appears in their own lives (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 229).

Nichiren continues, “Now Nichiren’s disciples and lay supporters are also doing this” (WND-1, 299), indicating that it is vital for his followers, too, to perceive their inner treasure tower.

This means we must awaken to the fact that the treasure tower—the noble life state of Buddhahood as vast as the universe—is inherent in our lives. This is the true significance of the emergence of the treasure tower. It also means seeing the treasure tower in the lives of others.

To do so is to understand at the deepest level that all people have a shining treasure tower within them, and that they are inherently and equally worthy of respect. Recognizing this great truth is the essence of the Lotus Sutra. The appearance of people awakened to their own and others’ dignity is the Buddha’s cherished wish.

Abutsu-bo had asked a very important question directly connected to this essential truth.

There Is No Treasure Tower Apart From Actual People

Nichiren Daishonin continues, “In the Latter Day of the Law, no treasure tower exists other than the figures of the men and women who embrace the Lotus Sutra” (WND-1, 299). “Figures” here refers to people just as they are. The treasure tower does not exist apart from real people. Revealing one’s inner treasure tower does not mean becoming something special or extraordinary. “Attain” of “attaining Buddhahood” means “to open or reveal” (OTT, 126), says Nichiren. We open or reveal the life state of Buddhahood that already exists within us.

Notably, he makes the point “whether eminent or humble, high or low” (WND-1, 299). Fame, social position, wealth—none of those things matter. Buddhism is the ultimate philosophy of respect for human beings, teaching that all people are equally noble and precious.

Those Who Experience Great Suffering Have a Great Mission

Nichiren goes on to say: “No treasure tower exists other than Myoho-renge-kyo. The daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the treasure tower, and the treasure tower is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (WND-1, 299).

The treasure tower is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. By wholeheartedly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can make the treasure tower within us shine its brightest.

We need never lament our circumstances or feel unworthy compared to others. In fact, the more challenging our situation, the more earnestly we can chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Those who steadfastly chant daimoku will eventually attain unsurpassed happiness and impart hope and inspiration to many others. Not only do those who have suffered the most become the happiest, they also become people of courage who help others achieve happiness. If you are suffering or going through hardships now, it is proof that you have a great mission.

Each of you has an important mission that only you can fulfill. As you strive steadily and persistently toward that mission, I hope you will make the most of your unique qualities and talents, shining as the brilliant treasure tower you are. With that prayer, seniors in faith, including many of your parents, are doing their utmost to create an environment in which you can do so.

The Fundamental Law Pervading Life and the Universe

At present the entire body of the Honorable Abutsu is composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space [heaven]. These five elements are also the five characters of the daimoku [Myoho-renge-kyo]. Abutsu-bo is therefore the treasure tower itself, and the treasure tower is Abutsu-bo himself. No other knowledge is purposeful. It is the treasure tower adorned with the seven kinds of treasures—hearing the correct teaching, believing it, keeping the precepts, engaging in meditation, practicing assiduously, renouncing one’s attachments, and reflecting on oneself. (WND-1, 299)

Nichiren declares: “At present the entire body of the Honorable Abutsu is composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space” (WND-1, 299). The five elements refer to what people in ancient times regarded as the basic components that make up everything in the universe.

He adds: “These five elements are also the five characters of the daimoku [Myoho-renge-kyo]” (WND-1, 299). In other words, Nichiren is telling Abutsu-bo: “Your body, your being, is one with the fundamental Law pervading all life and the universe—that is the reality of your life.”

By chanting the “five characters of the daimoku”—Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—ordinary people, even those presently burdened with problems and sufferings, can shine with the brilliance of the Mystic Law, just as they are. In terms of the workings of the Mystic Law, their lives are in no way different from that of the Buddha. This is the penetrating insight of Nichiren Buddhism.

People tend to look for the causes of both happiness and misfortune outside of themselves. They search for happiness in some place other than where they are now. But true happiness is not somewhere far away.

In “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” the Daishonin writes:

Even though you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching. … You must never think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are outside yourself. (WND-1, 3)

When we reveal our Buddhahood through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each day, we bring forth a wellspring of happiness in our lives.

The practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the key to tapping our infinite potential and the positive workings of life as vast as the universe. It is truly wondrous that you have embraced this great Mystic Law at such a young age.

Basing One’s Life on Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

When I first met my mentor, Josei Toda, on August 14, 1947, I composed an impromptu poem that begins:

Where do you come from?
And where do you go?

World War II had ended two years earlier. The militaristic values and standards of right and wrong we had been taught until then had collapsed, and we young people were cast into a world of confusion and turmoil. I read all sorts of books in an earnest attempt to find the correct way to live. It was then that I encountered Mr. Toda.

The poem I composed that night continues:

The moon has set,
And the sun has not yet risen.
In the darkness before dawn
I advance
In search of light.
To dispel the dark clouds in my mind,
To seek a great tree unbowed by the storm,
I spring from the earth.

At that time, I had no knowledge of the profound teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, but I was nevertheless seeking a sound and enduring philosophy that would serve as an indestructible, towering tree of spiritual support.

Later, Mr. Toda explained to me very simply that building a solid, unshakable self is what it means to live based on Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.[6] This encapsulates the essence of Nichiren Buddhism.

We Are Each the Treasure Tower

The next passage in “On the Treasure Tower” offers a philosophy that gives hope and courage to all: “Abutsu-bo is therefore the treasure tower itself, and the treasure tower is Abutsu-bo himself” (WND-1, 299). The enormous, sparkling, jeweled treasure tower exists nowhere other than inside you—who would not be surprised by this statement?

Nichiren stresses that nothing is more important than realizing that we ourselves are the treasure tower, and the treasure tower is none other than ourselves. There is no greater wisdom, he is saying, than awakening to the true reality of our lives and the Mystic Law that governs all life and the universe.

Just before he died, Shakyamuni urged his disciples to “be a lamp unto themselves, and a refuge unto themselves, [to] betake themselves to no external refuge, but holding fast to the Truth as their lamp, and holding fast as their refuge to the Truth, [to] look not for refuge to any one besides themselves.”[7]

Buddhism likens this world to a raging torrent. What can be done to relieve the sufferings of people tossed about by these turbulent currents? The Buddha here stresses the importance of each person forging a solid self by making the unshakable Law their anchor.

Nichiren Buddhism, teaching that we ourselves are the treasure tower, is the great philosophy that shows us how to do so.

Mr. Toda explained this in a simple, accessible way: “The fundamental spirit of Nichiren Daishonin is that everyone is a child of the Buddha, everyone is a treasure tower. That’s why Nichiren Buddhism can be called a truly universal teaching capable of leading all people to enlightenment.”

This was my mentor’s powerful conviction.

Human Revolution Makes Us Shine Like the ‘Seven Kinds of Treasure’

Next, the Daishonin writes, “It is the treasure tower adorned with the seven kinds of treasures—hearing the correct teaching, believing it, keeping the precepts, engaging in meditation, practicing assiduously, renouncing one’s attachments, and reflecting on oneself” (WND-1, 299).

Here, he lists concrete ways by which practitioners of the Mystic Law can make their lives shine. In contemporary terms, the seven kinds of treasures can be regarded as seven guidelines for carrying out our human revolution.

Let’s look at them one by one.

“Hearing the correct teaching” means actively seeking to learn about the teaching of the Mystic Law. It exemplifies a pure-hearted seeking spirit.

“Believing it” means upholding faith in the Mystic Law. The Lotus Sutra teaches with regard to attaining the Buddha way that we can “gain entrance through faith alone” (LSOC, 110). Even Shariputra, Shakyamuni’s disciple renowned as “foremost in wisdom,” ultimately attained the life state embodying the Buddha wisdom through faith. This is what the Daishonin called “substituting faith for wisdom” (see “On the Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practice,” WND-1, 785). Believing in and practicing the Mystic Law results in wisdom that enables us to attain enlightenment.

“Keeping the precepts”—first, the term “precept” in Buddhism implies “preventing error and putting an end to evil.” Keeping or observing the precepts, therefore, means following the instructions of the Buddha, exercising self-mastery and walking the correct path of Buddhism. For us, it means to continue upholding the Mystic Law together with the Soka Gakkai throughout our lives.

“Engaging in meditation” is composing one’s mind. Meditation is often thought of as sitting in silent contemplation, but it really means establishing a firm, unwavering state of mind as we forge ahead through life’s difficulties. By earnestly chanting to the Gohonzon through all, Soka Gakkai members build such a strong state of mind, enabling them to challenge any adversity.

“Practicing assiduously” is exerting oneself diligently in faith and practice. It means making tireless efforts toward each of our goals and moving ever forward. This is a perfect description of the way Soka Gakkai members lead their lives.

“Renouncing one’s attachments” means letting go of the things we cling to that don’t necessarily serve us, and also giving freely to others. On a personal level, it means not being driven by selfish desires but instead dedicating our lives wholeheartedly to the lofty goal of kosen-rufu. When we do so, we forge our true humanity.

“Reflecting on oneself” is engaging in honest introspection while continually trying to improve ourselves. It means making everything in life a springboard for growth—honestly examining our thoughts and motives, engaging in sincere self-reflection, changing our ways if necessary and working to elevate ourselves.

Through challenging ourselves in these seven practices, starting from where we can, we will steadily bring our potential to flower. We can establish the treasure tower in our lives and cause it to shine with everlasting good fortune—sparkling with the “treasures of the heart” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 851) that surpass the brilliance of gold, silver and all kinds of precious gems.

Everyone without exception is a treasure tower. Each person should shine in their own unique way. By enabling people to do so, we create a world of true mutual respect in accord with the principle of “cherry, plum, peach, and damson” (see OTT, 200), a world in which we all can shine and illuminate each other.

Believing in your potential is the starting point. Buddhism is every person’s ally; everyone can become a sun of hope brightening the world.

Have Faith in Yourself

Today I continue to open the way for kosen-rufu, always conversing with Mr. Toda in my heart. I am also watching over the growth of each of you, my young friends.

In Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, the mentor rouses his pupil, who has been unsettled by others’ words: “Let the people talk! Be like a solid tower whose brave height remains unmoved by all the winds that blow.”[8]

It’s important to have complete faith in yourself, to become strong and wise, and to value yourself.

Follow through on the path you’ve chosen, so that you have no regrets. That’s the true way of mentor and disciple.

Let’s cheerfully follow the great path of hope and courage to the end!

Let’s uphold the jeweled sword of the Mystic Law, championing human dignity and respect for life—to build a secure and peaceful world and to usher in a new dawn for humanity!

Translated from the August 2021 Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.


  1. Many Treasures: A Buddha of the past described in “The Emergence of the Treasure Tower,” the 11th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, as hailing from a land called Treasure Purity in the east, who pledges to appear with his treasure tower in order to attest to the validity of the Lotus Sutra. ↩︎
  2. Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, being comprised of two characters). The Daishonin often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings. ↩︎
  3. Seven kinds of treasures: Also, seven treasures or seven kinds of gems. Precious substances mentioned in the sutras. The list differs among the Buddhist scriptures. According to the Lotus Sutra, the seven are gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl and carnelian (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 209). ↩︎
  4. Ceremony in the Air: One of the three assemblies described in the Lotus Sutra, in which the entire gathering is suspended in space above the saha world. It extends from “Emergence of the Treasure Tower,” the 11th chapter, to “Entrustment,” the 22nd chapter. The heart of this ceremony is the emergence of the treasure tower from the earth, followed by the revelation of the Buddha’s original enlightenment in the remote past and the transfer of the essence of the sutra to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. ↩︎
  5. Three groups of voice-hearers: This refers to Shakyamuni’s voice-hearer disciples who received the prophecy of enlightenment in the Lotus Sutra as they came to understand the truth of Shakyamuni’s teachings through the three cycles of preaching. The three cycles are preaching through doctrine, preaching through parable and preaching through illuminating the disciples’ past relationship with Shakyamuni. ↩︎
  6. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (The Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 2 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1986), p. 466. ↩︎
  7. “Maha Parinibbana Suttanta,” Dialogues of the Buddha, part 2, translated by T. W. and C. A. F. Rhys Davids (Oxford: The Pali Text Society, 1995), pp. 108–09. ↩︎
  8. Dante Alighieri, Purgatory, The Divine Comedy, vol. 2, translated by Mark Musa (New York: Penguin Books, 1985), p. 49. ↩︎

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