Jul 4, 2010


David Bloomfield discusses the meaning of this vital concept
from UKE January 1998 

                                                      by Bonita

We sometimes hear of people accomplishing superhuman feats in the face of extreme adversity: a mother lifting the impossible weight of a truck that threatens to crush her offspring; a crippled dancer who, advised by medical experts that she will never walk again, goes on to prove that she can; a prisoner of war who, against all the odds, survives his torturous ordeals to escape. These people have incredible determination. In Buddhist terms, the actions of these people are a manifestation of their strong ichinen.

The renowned Buddhist scholar and priest T'ien-t'ai (538-97) used this term in his analysis of life, based on the Lotus Sutra. His theory, known as ichinen sanzen, outlines the enormous scope of expression which life is able to manifest from moment to moment. Ichinen (one mind or life-moment) refers to the entity of life, and sanzen (three thousand) to the various aspects that this entity expresses. Together they mean the totality of life in a single moment.

What we do, what we think and the way we behave, are all manifestations of our ichinen. it is the motivating force which permeates every aspect of our existence, even beyond our conscious thoughts. Most importantly, this theory signifies that all people have the potential to reveal Buddhahood.

By inscribing the Gohonzon, Nichiren Daishonin established the means whereby anyone can actually realize Buddhahood in their daily lives. Through the fusion of our lives with the Gohonzon in our daily practice, and our determination to realize our goals, we are able to achieve what we had previously thought unachievable. Like the engines and rudder of a powerful ship on the high seas, our strong ichinen faultlessly guides us to our destination. If our ichinen is weak however, we drift aimlessly, and inevitably succumb to the raging torrents of our own negativity.

Second Soka Gakkai President, Josei Toda, explained that ichinen has six meanings.
Firstly, he said, ichinen is revealed in thoughts, appearance and behaviour, thus encompassing the oneness of body and mind (shiki shin funi).

Secondly, ichinen comprises both positive and negative tendencies. Our lives can be directed towards happiness and fulfillment, or suffering and destruction. Take, for example, the continuing conflict over Northern Ireland. A positive approach to its resolution is taken by those prepared to enter into dialogue based on respect, with the objective of securing lasting peace through peaceful means. On the other hand, terrorists, who are prepared to destroy lives, including perhaps even their own, reveal their ichinen in a negative way. However, with a change of heart, even such negative intentions can be instantly transformed and start to create value. Equally, we can devote ourselves to creating value and helping others, only to give in to our negativity at the crucial moment when our positive intentions are undermined.

Thirdly, our ichinen expresses the oneness of self and environment (esho funi). Whatever our life-state, it pervades the entire universe and affects everything:
…"if the minds of the people 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" (MW-1, p. 4).

Fourthly, the simultaneity of cause and effect (inga guji) is contained within our ichinen. In a single moment our ichinen is revealed in each cause we make (through thought, word and deed) the effect being created simultaneously, simply waiting for the right circumstances to appear. The moment our ichinen changes, our situation changes, even though it may not be apparent immediately. The act of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon contains both cause, faith in the Gohonzon, and effect, revealing our Buddhahood.

The above four meanings of ichinen deal with life's reality at each moment from a general point of view. Whether people practise Buddhism or not, their ichinen encompasses every aspect of their existence. The fifth and sixth meanings deal specifically with those who practise to the Gohonzon. In theory everyone possesses Buddhahood but in reality, few can actually reveal it unless they chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith in the Gohonzon.
This is the fifth meaning of ichinen, as outlined by Josei Toda. Through faith in the Gohonzon, we can activate our Buddha nature and the power of the Law, and live, moment by moment, in the highest possible life condition.

Finally, ichinen encompasses the Oneness of the Person and the Law, which is inscribed in the centre of the Gohonzon as 'Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Nichiren'. The Gohonzon embodies ichinen sanzen as a concrete reality. We reveal Buddhahood through the fusion of our enlightened life with the Law of the universe.

"Even our eternal journey through time is included in this single moment of life. An individual's daimoku and determination in faith at this moment form causes that will later become manifest, based on the principle of the simultaneity of cause and effect. For this reason, your ichinen at this very moment is the most important issue in the Daishonin's Buddhism". (Daisaku Ikeda, Daily Guidance, Vol. 3, p. 235).

No comments: