Whether you chant the Buddha’s name,3 recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With this conviction you should strive in faith. The Vimalakīrti Sutra states that, when one seeks the Buddhas’ emancipation in the minds of ordinary beings, one finds that ordinary beings are the entities of enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana. It also states that, if the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.
It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure tobecome like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chantingNam-myoho-renge-kyo.
In this Gosho, Nichiren thoroughly explains that we cannot achieve enlightenment without a profound change in our lives themselves–that is, a change in our hearts and minds.
The Daishonin in this passage explains that Buddha is an ordinary being who when deluded is the latter but becomes a Buddha once enlightened . He explains that what makes this transformation possible is the practice of chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Here in this passage, the Daishonin used the metaphor of a mirror to explain this point in simple terms.
The Daishonin likened the suffering life state of an ordinary being shrouded by the innate darkness of life, which is he fundamental root cause of delusion, to “a tarnished mirror”. On the other hand, he likened the enlightened life state that is awakened to the true aspect of reality to “a clear mirror”.
A “tarnished mirror” will not reflect anything, but by polishing it, it will become a clear mirror that reflects everything clearly. Likewise, by chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with sincere faith, our lives will be polished, thereby wiping away the dust of innate darkness and manifest the Buddhahood with which we are originally endowed.
The practice of chanting daimoku, which is the practice for polishing our lives, may be seen as having two aspects. In this passage, the Daishonin elucidated the first aspect when he said “arouse deep faith” while the second aspect is articulated through the phrase, “diligently polish your mirror day and night”.
Through this, the Daishonin taught us the importance of summoning the “courageous fighting spirit” to battle our inner darkness, the fundamental delusion that hinders the attainment of enlightenment and to continue making steadfast efforts to maintain “continuing faith” for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.
SGI President Ikeda on chanting daimoku has said that “sonorously chanting the daimoku of the Mystic Law and courageously engaging ourselves in Gakkai activities on a daily basis is the greatest way of polishing our lives. Our lives will be polished into a clear mirror that correctly reflects the view of life, the society, the world and the universe without any distortions in one’s life. The brilliance of the wisdom of value creation will shine forth, enabling you to correctly discern all phenomena in the most appropriate manner and thereby remain undefeated no matter what happens.”