April 15, 2003 -- No. 177
The Justice Chronicle,
provided by Soka Gakkai International-USA, is a free monthly
e-mail in support of the Soka Spirit movement. Soka Spirit
is the SGI's educational effort to create value and deepen
our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism through increased
awareness of issues surrounding the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood
and the spiritual foundation of the SGI movement.
1) NEWS: NICHIREN SHOSHU TO PAY COMPENSATION FOR ILLEGAL BURIALS
On April 8, the Tokyo High Court ruled in favor of four families
charging that Nichiren Shoshu head temple Taiseki-ji illegally disposed
of the remains of the plaintiffs' deceased kin.
The plaintiffs, from Kanagawa, Osaka, Fukuoka and Ehime prefectures, had entrusted the cremated remains to a Taiseki-ji charnel house between 1968 and 1977. They filed suit against the head temple in March 2000 upon learning that it had buried, without their consent, what is believed to be 150-200 used rice sacks stuffed with remains in a field within the temple premises.
A Nichiren Shoshu administrator who testified in the appellate court trial said the unauthorized burial was carried out at the instructions of its chief administrator, High Priest Nikken Abe, and was an orthodox practice of Nichiren Buddhism. Tokyo High Court chief magistrate Hideichi Yazaki overturned a district court decision and ordered the defendant to pay the plaintiffs compensation, to be divided evenly among the four families. He described Taiseki-ji's management of its charnel house as criminally negligent and counter to established religious norms of Japanese society.
2) FROM THE WISDOM OF THE LOTUS SUTRA
This excerpt is from SGI President Ikeda's collection of dialogues with
Katsuji Saito, Takanori Endo and Haruo Suda entitled, The Wisdom of the
Lotus Sutra. The following excerpt is from volume 3, part 2, on the
Devadatta chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Devadatta was a follower of
Shakyamuni, thought to be his half-brother, who started his own order.
OUR MIND OF FAITH CHANGES SUFFERING INTO JOY
Endo: The oneness of good and evil certainly does not mean that good and evil are the same.
Suda: Such a way of thinking amounts to an armation of evil; it is comparable to the erroneous concept of 'original enlightenment' -- the notion that all people are Buddhas just as they are, without having to carry out any practice -- to which the Japanese Tendai school succumbed. By contrast, the Lotus Sutra's doctrine of the oneness of good and evil is about constantly striving to create good and changing even evil into good.
Ikeda: That's right. The power of the Mystic Law enables us to change even bad friends into good friends. The strength of our mind of faith changes suffering into joy, into a tailwind to propel our further advance. This is what the Devadatta chapter teaches.
Nichiren Daishonin says: Devadatta was the foremost good friend to the Thus Come One Shakyamuni. In this age as well, it is not one's allies but one's powerful enemies who assist one's progress (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 770). To attain Buddhahood, we have to thoroughly conquer our own inner evil. The concrete means for doing so is struggling against and defeating external evil. Struggling to defeat evil enables us to polish and purify our lives and attain Buddhahood. Because we strive against the ultimate evil, we attain the ultimate good.
Even ultimate evil, when viewed in terms of its essential function of enabling us to polish our lives and attain Buddhahood, can be thought of as a teacher. The point, therefore, is Shakyamuni's victorious state of life in explaining that even the supremely evil Devadatta had been his teacher in the past. Because Shakyamuni won, he could say this; because he won, he became a Buddha.
Nichiren Daishonin, likewise, having realized great victory, could say, For me, Nichiren, my best allies in attaining Buddhahood are Kagenobu, the priests Ryokan, Doryu and Doamida-butsu, and Hei no Saemon and the lord of Sagami. I am grateful when I think that without them I could not have proved myself to be the votary of the Lotus Sutra (WND, 770). In other words, these evil people who had persecuted the original Buddha were changed into good people by his victory.
Because of the model of such struggle set by Shakyamuni and the Daishonin, we of later generations know where the correct path lies. In that sense, Devadatta, Hei no Saemon and the others functioned in part as teachers who revealed the path of good for later generations.
The Soka Gakkai has struggled against and triumphed over all manner of persecution, repression and scheming. As a result of these struggles, we could all deepen and strengthen our faith. If it were possible to accomplish kosen-rufu easily and without obstacles, then we would not have the opportunity to polish ourselves or to carry out our practice for attaining Buddhahood.
Difficulties equal progress. Earthly desires are enlightenment. The key is to use all sufferings as fuel to become happy; to use all evil as firewood to cause the light of good to burn brighter still.
Ten in a series.