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Re: [SGI] Re: Godlike Beings and Eternal Buddhas

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  • m adir
    You revere the Moon in the Pond Rather the Moon in the sky Micha ryuei2000 wrote:--- In SokaGakkaiInternational@y..., Christopher
    Message 1 of 34 , Nov 1, 2002
      You revere the Moon in the Pond Rather the Moon in the sky
      ryuei2000 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:--- In SokaGakkaiInternational@y..., "Christopher H. Holte"
      <chris_holte@y...> wrote:

      >we get easilly confused when we encounter new
      > terminology for things we already think we understand.

      That is the heart of the problem - semantics.

      >But if you really explain
      > what you mean in clear language then I maybe can see that you might
      > be talking about something else other than what my preconceptions
      > expecting. When that happens we have a dialogue. When it doesn't
      > happen we have a debate.

      I like your distinction here between dialogue and debate.

      I have been endeavoring to explain in more simple language. I have
      already posted here an explanation of the Three Bodies and the Unity
      of the Trikaya. I don't know if anyone bothered to read it or not. It
      does not appear that Terry has, because he is continuing to assume
      things that I do not assume.

      > > But the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha as upheld by Chih-i and Nichiren
      > > is not about a transcendent being in any theistic sense.
      > Well it could be that your use of terminology is what is confusing
      > Mike. When Nichiren says that the Lotus Sutra gives birth to the
      > Buddhas, he is clearly using metaphor. When you use this term, it's
      > not so clear what your metaphor is. Indeed to the suspicious it
      > like you are doing that Catholic thing of making Idols into Saints
      > and clothing them in Christian terms. Only by making Shakyamuni a
      > synonym for the great Western ineffable one.

      As I said, if anyone wants to they can go back through the archives
      and find my previous posts where I explained what I believe that
      Nichiren and Chih-i had in mind. And that is the thing I wonder about
      - SGI has its own ideas, Ikeda has his own ideas, the Nichiren Shu has
      its ideas, I have my ideas, but what I wonder about is what did Chih-i
      and Nichiren themselves intend by their references and use of these
      terms. I may or may not agree with them, but I at least want to take
      what they wrote seriously as a starting point for a serious

      > On this list it might be good to talk about the unity of the three
      > bodies using the Japanese Terms, such as "musa no sanjin" or terms
      > that Gakkai members would be familiar with, Mike.

      Now that's a twist. Most of the time people complain that I lose them
      with Sino-Japanese and/or Sanskrit jargon. And now you want me to
      rejargonize what I write? LOL :)

      But seriously, do any present SGI members really know these terms? I
      have sometimes had to define more common things like ichinen sanzen or
      esho funi. So I think SGI itself has dejargonized.

      > However, Anybody can look them up on the SGI study page under the
      > entry "Three Bodies" or Three Properties of the Buddha:
      > http://www.sgi-usa.org/cgi-bin/lexicon.cgi?
      > exact=on&src=dbtc&term=Three%20Bodies
      > It says:
      > <quote>"On the basis of the Lotus Sutra and the principle of ichinen
      > sanzen which is derived from it, T'ien-t'ai maintained that the
      > bodies are not separate entities but three integral aspects of on
      > Buddha. In this sense, the translation "three properties" is often
      > used. The three properties are:
      > (1) the property of the Law (Japanese, hosshin), or the essential
      > property of the Buddha's life, which is the truth to which the
      > is enlightened;
      > (2) the property of wisdom (Japanese, hoshin), or the spiritual
      > property of the Buddha's life, which enables the Buddha to perceive
      > the truth; and
      > (3) the property of action (Japanese, ojin), or the physical
      > of the Buddha's life. The property of action is the Buddha's body
      > with which he carries out compassionate actions to save people, or
      > these actions themselves.
      > In discussing the passage in the Juryo (sixteenth) chapter of the
      > Lotus Sutra that reads: "Listen well and hear the Tathagata's secret
      > and his mystic power,"
      > T'ien-t'ai in the Hokke Mongu interprets the word "secret" to mean
      > that a single Buddha possesses all three properties (Japanese,
      > soku sanjin) and the three properties are all found within a single
      > Buddha (Japanese, sanjin soku isshin). In Nichiren Daishonin's
      > teachings, the original Buddha of time without beginning is
      > referred to as the Buddha eternally endowed with the three
      > (Japanese, musa no sanjin)."</endquote>

      This is very helpful, though I would add that it is important to see
      that their is an intrinsic connection between the Buddha who set the
      Dharma Wheel rolling (including the Lotus Sutra itself) and set an
      example in his own life of what Buddhahood means (and I earlier
      provided a quote by Nichiren related to this) and the other properties
      of Buddhahood. I see Shakyamuni Buddha as the historical source of the
      teachings which we revere and follow and also as the exemplar, the one
      who set forth a concrete ideal. And this Buddha is revealed in the
      Lotus Sutra to have aspects that make his life meaningful even beyond
      his birth and death as an individualized human being. His buddhahood
      reflects upon the nature of our own, and shows that Buddhahood is not
      touched by birth and death but in fact touches our own lives here
      and now in the moment of faith and rejoicing in the Wonderful Dharma.

      Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,


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    • Christopher H. Holte
      ... And there is another point about Shakyamuni. This is important. His actual history is not in the realm of history. There were no contemporaries who
      Message 34 of 34 , Nov 4, 2002
        --- In SokaGakkaiInternational@y..., m adir <madir101@y...> wrote:
        > For those who have misconception to the differing roles
        > Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin's took in our history,
        > I would like to present an analogy to the difference of
        > their appearance and life long work and dedication.
        > When Shakyamuni appeared in history he was able trough his life
        > and behavior to live the golden words of the Lotus Sutra which
        > he expounded the last 8 years of his life.

        And there is another point about Shakyamuni. This is important. His
        actual "history" is not in the realm of "history." There were no
        contemporaries who wrote down his words. Rather they were memorized
        and passed down by hosts of monks, often whom represented competing
        or opposed Sanghas. We aren't even sure he actually literally
        preached the Lotus Sutra. Why is that important? Because it goes a
        long way to explain the idea of a "golden age" versus the present age
        in a more modern way that fits our own times.

        Shakyamuni is depicted in the Mahayana Sutras as a perfect being with
        32 characteristics. Lionlike body, long ears, gold skin, long tongue,
        etceteras... The way he is depicted he could be a being like
        a "Talon", but not so whimpy. The "real" Shakyamuni, we know, was
        like you or I only different. Just like any other human being, but
        awake and teaching his awakening.

        > Nichiren Daishonin based on Shakyamuni's teaching was able
        > to establish the Gohonzon of the true cause for all mankind.
        > Both Shakyamuni and Nichiren speared no efforts to lead their
        > respective followers to the true teachings of Buddhism in their
        > respective land and era.

        If you remember that Shakyamuni is "mythic" and Nichiren is a real
        human being, you are on your way to really understanding what he says
        as well. "True Cause" is what we do in the present moment. When
        Nichiren gave us the Gohonzon, the Daimoku, and his Gosho, he was
        giving us a "dharma" or "law" that would enable our own awakening.
        When he talked about "true teachings" he wasn't talking about a
        mytical seperate layer of reality, but "reality as it is" -- as it
        were and as he saw it. He was also implementing the directions of
        the Lotus Sutra in the best way he could.

        > I can only refer the following analogy to help anyone who has
        > reservation for the role that each one of them had.
        > When Newton discovered the law of gravity he spent most of his
        > life elaborating his discovery in various ways and theories.
        > Not until many years later his theories have been put to
        > practice such as creation of flying machines, airplanes,
        > rockets and space ships.

        Actually Newton is an example of the warning that we should have
        about mistaking the message for the messenger. Newton developed "his"
        laws in a dialogue with others who often were just behind him or
        nearly in tune with him. He drew on the work of people like Kepler
        and Hooke and found himself in competition with Leibnitz.


        Late in life he turned his mind to other things, becoming director of
        the British mint and making a mint in the process.

        > We cannot say today that Newton invented or created these machines
        > and he should be revered as the originator of those ideas therefore
        > he is the one to be praised for these invention based on his
        > awakening to the existence of the law of gravity.

        Newton deserves credit for his three laws of causality and for his
        innovations in Calculus. But another way of looking at it is that he
        was the "central figure" for a time, in a community of scientists,
        all questing after the same truth. Shakyamuni and Nichiren all were
        part of a different model for seeking truth, because of the concept
        of "master/disciple" as interpreted in the east. But really they
        weren't so different.

        > Shakyamuni's awakening to his Buddha nature and revealing the
        > Lotus Sutra for the benefit of all others who will come after
        > his passing, was like Newton realizing the law of gravity,
        > which pulsates in our lives and environment.

        Well there are differences and limitations to this metaphor, but it
        is a good working metaphor. And the word "Buddha nature" is simply
        referring to someone who is awakened to life completely.

        > Nichiren Daishonin's based on Shakyamuni's revelation was able
        > to establish the Gohonzon.
        > Nichiren did not invent the law of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo nor did
        > he invent the Gohonzon he simply realized and utilized the law
        > of NMRK to his own benefit and the benefit of others by depicting
        > Shakyamuni's realization to equate his own realization to the
        > validity of his own Buddha nature and the Buddha nature of all
        > others.

        Nichiren took the title of the Lotus Sutra and made a mantra of it
        and a mandala of it. We also have the single mudra of hands clasped
        together. All ideas borrowed from the same Shingon he so mercifully
        skewered. Even so this was a logical development of Buddhism and
        consistent with what the Lotus Sutra teaches. He was using "wise
        words" or skillfulness to create a practice that everyone could
        benefit from. This is what the Lotus Sutra is admonishing him, and us
        to do. To find the wisest best thoughts and put them out there.

        In this sense what both of them were doing was similar to what Newton
        was doing. Newton had to move science from following Descartes vortex
        theories and develope a way to explain the causality of physics that
        both he and the people of his time could understand. In the process
        he created some "new" things that were really simply
        better "implementations" or models for the inherent properties of
        life. And Newtons mathematics and vision later had to be modified
        with the inputs of quantum physics and relativity.

        Similarilly the Buddhas are trying to teach us models, or views, that
        will allow us to live a happier life. That is why Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
        has developed such power for us, it's words represent the wise words
        and thoughts of many who have come before us, ourselves, and
        hopefully those who will follow us. Shakyamuni's Buddhism is like
        Newton's physics in that sense, Nichiren's like special relativity.

        There was the phenomena that calculus describes before, but calculus
        creates a living narrative of mathematics that can help us understand
        those forces and use them. Similarilly by chanting the daimoku, even
        if we don't understand all the details of Buddhism we can grasp
        it's "essence" or have a "model" of how to live in society.

        > You can say that without Shakyamuni's advent Nichiren would
        > have not been able to establish the Gohonzon and without
        > Nichiren Daishonin's advent Shakyamuni's teaching would have
        > been a great lie.

        Well, Nichiren puts it that way. But if you've seen the movie "The
        last Temptation" what Nichiren did was to implement ideas that are
        implicit in the Lotus Sutra and that someone would have had to
        implement sooner or later. To use an analogy from Chaos theory, He
        started the ball rolling down a mountain. The particular path is the
        one he chose. Before he started it rolling it was temporarilly
        balanced but unstable, and it could have gone anywhere or nowhere.

        > One could not compliment each other in any other way.

        I guess.

        > So, to say that Nichiren is but an only minor sage or a
        > bodhisattva who appeared for a testimony to the greatness of
        > Shakyamuni Buddha as Nichiren's ultimate purpose, is the
        > greatest irony one can employ.

        Of course I don't know anyone within the Nichiren tradition who is
        saying that, and I've argued with all of them. I used to think that
        that was what they were doing, but once I investigated my prejudices
        I found them groundless. The distinctions between teachings are often
        more subtle than we are led to believe and people have a tendancy to
        misrepresent each other. Sometimes it seems intentionally. This is
        what feeds all the wars and hatred in our day. This is what Nichiren
        and Shakyamuni were battling.

        > It is if one will attribute all the achievements of today's
        > flying machines to Newton's credit and not to those how
        > materialized it.

        Of course without Newtonian Physics there would be a whole host of
        things absent from this world. So in a sense one can give credit
        to "Newton" for all these flying machines and stuff. Just as people
        give credit to Einstein for the Atom Bomb. It's a matter of
        convention not literalicity. The atom Bomb was a team effort, and
        probably the guy most responsible for it's creation was also most
        apalled by it's results. It was Robert Oppenheimer who is responsible
        for the great quote from Hindu Religion that sums up that
        monstrosity. Anyone care to share it?

        > Or if one will attribute all electrical and electronics
        > achievements to Benjamin Franklin and not to each respective
        > person who have dedicated their lives and establish all we have
        > today as far as electricity is concern.
        > I hope this is clear

        Actually people sometimes do give credit to Benjamin Franklin for his
        minor contributions to the science of Electicity. But the better
        analogy is to the role of George Washington as "Father of the
        Country." Shakyamuni becomes a "mythic" symbol of Buddhism. Nichiren
        was clear on this when he talked about the importance of
        distinguishing between the "general" (myth, metaphor, analogy,
        parable, principle) and the "specific" (what people actually do to
        implement myth, parable, fable, and live in this world).

        With affection.

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