Buddhism teaches that, when the Buddha nature manifests itself from within, it will receive protection from without. This is one of its fundamental principles. The Lotus Sutra says, “I have profound reverence for you.”2 The Nirvana Sutra states, “All living beings alike possess the Buddha nature.” Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha’s Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana says, “Because the true abiding Law invariably permeates one’s life and exerts its influence, illusions are instantly extinguished, and the Dharma body manifests itself.” Bodhisattva Maitreya’s Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice contains a similar statement. What is hidden turns into manifest virtue.
Nichiren Daishonin explains a key Buddhist principle—the “Buddha nature manifesting itself from within and bringing forth protection from without.” In other words, when we activate the Buddha nature inside us, it will cause the protective functions of life to work externally. We possess this Buddha nature, and it is up to us to awaken to and manifest it. By practicing Nichiren Buddhism, the Mystic Law comes to permeate one’s life and exert its influence— that is, our Buddha nature, once revealed, pervades our lives in the same way that burning incense imbues our clothing with its fragrance. Our Buddha nature emerges like a fragrance wafting in the breeze. And while we speak of receiving protection from “the heavenly deities”— the positive forces of the universe—the first step in that process is to embark on our own inner transformation .
Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, the object of devotion in Nichiren Buddhism, is in fact the same as summoning forth and praising the Buddha nature inherent in our own lives and residing in all things in the universe. In response to the sound of our chanting, through which we reveal our Buddha nature, all benevolent forces throughout the universe move into action to protect us. This principle succinctly expresses the unique character of Nichiren Buddhism, which is completely different from faith that pins hope for salvation on some external power.
The concept of the Buddha nature manifesting itself from within indicates a power existing and generated from inside us. Buddhism is known as the “inner way.” Therefore, we do not seek Buddhahood, or the life of the Buddha, outside ourselves. The life- state of the Buddha, characterized by the four noble virtues—eternity, happiness, true self and purity—is found within our own mortal being that also experiences the delusions of earthly desires and the sufferings of birth and death. Nichiren Buddhism enables us to awaken and manifest the benefit of Buddhahood in our lives.
In other words, because we all possess the Buddha nature, when we chant Nam-myo- ho-renge-kyo with a clearly focused mind, the life of the Buddha is summoned forth from within and emerges. Manifesting our inner Buddhahood causes protection to arise from without. All this hinges on our inner focus or resolve.
In light of the principle of the Buddha nature manifesting itself from within and bringing forth protection from without, we can definitely change any situation or environment by transforming our fundamental mind-set and revealing our Buddha nature. All fear vanishes the moment we fully believe that “I alone write the script for the drama of my life.”
Next, Nichiren continues, “What is hidden turns into manifest virtue” . Unseen virtue turns into conspicuous reward. To practice the Mystic Law is to proceed along the path of victory; all virtue will manifest in visible form without fail. When we forge ahead with this deep, unshakable conviction, our future will open up in wonderful ways we could never have imagined. This is the conviction and the declaration of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.
The Lotus Sutra’s spirit of respect and reverence for all people is deeply ingrained in the lives of SGI members. When someone is in trouble, we cannot simply look the other way. When someone appears to be struggling, we cannot help but off er encouragement. When someone is suff ering, we cannot help but embrace them. Believing in the potential of all people, we actively pursue positive and meaningful interactions.
The above are excerpts from President Ikeda’s fi rst installment of his lecture on “The Three Kinds of Treasure.”