Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A heart of faith

"The Lotus Sutra is the teaching that enables all living beings to attain the Buddha way. Therefore, the persons of superior faculties and superior capacity should naturally devote themselves to contemplation and to meditating on the Law. But, for persons of inferior faculties and inferior capacity, the important thing is simply to have a heart of faith."

(emphasis added)

-from a letter titled "Embracing the Lotus Sutra" by Nichiren [from the translation in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, published by Soka Gakkai (Tokyo, 1999), pp.59]

And why a heart of faith?
The grace of Buddhanature, of Dharmakaya, of the Inconceivable Clear Light of Ultimate Reality, manifests from the realm of the unconditioned as compassion in the conditioned world (the historical realm of time and space) through the wisdom perceived by finite, karmically bound sentient beings. By those receptive to such insight, not in spite of their failings but at least in part because of them. The story repeats itself in various religious and spiritual paths. In the end, it may be that genuine practice, whether it is through mantra/dharini recitation, focused concentration, etc, is not done because we want to (so we can feed the ego) or because we feel obligated to (so we can feed the ego), but because we are compelled to do so. Not because we are driven to complete or correct our imperfections through our own efforts at self-improvement but because we are grateful for seeing that we are (all) capable of accepting and transforming such "flaws" through faith. Faith in Mind. Faith in Amida. For some, perhaps faith in a figure from another spiritual tradition. Or as Sharon Salzberg memorably phrased it, faith in "the possibility of our own awakening."

(from "What to do when there is nothing to attain?")

Yup, and for the Lotus Sutra schools, that obviously includes faith in the embodiment of the teaching that all will attain Buddhahood which is heard and voiced through the title of that sutra: Nam(u) Myoho Renge Kyo.

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