Saturday, November 15, 2003

Today was Nichimoku Shonin's Celebration, and this is also the date of Children's Day in Japan.

I went to Temple in Manhattan and caught the sermon. The official celebration will take place in Flushing Temple tomorrow, Sunday being best for people to bring their children, and I shall go, but I thought to post a part of Rev. Nagasaka's sermon, which is further discussion on the matter of life and death which has been a part of my recent posts. If it were to have a title, it might be:

Enjoy your beautiful ego

"I would like to discuss the ultimate reality of life after death. Almost all people in society today erroneously believe that their lives either become totally extinct at the moment of their death without anything surviving, or that they continue after death in some eternally unchanging form such as a soul or ghost.


In Buddhism we learn that ego or self are simply manifestations of the Law of Cause and Effect. They are like the rainbow that appears after a rain shower. In other words, ego or self appears and disappears due to the internal and external workings of the Law of Cause and Effect. We know this truth as Myo (middle path).

It is very difficult for us to comprehend the existence of the Law of Cause and Effect as a common mortal. For example, if your friend steals a car and the police don't find out, while you steal a car and you are arrested, basing our view on the immediate results, many would conclude that your friend was fortunate and you were not. In this assessment of the situation, we fail to realize the depth of the Law of Cause and Effect. We only see the superficial conclusion. The Buddha teaches that, if there is a cause there must be an effect, even if it is not immediately evident to us. Thus birth is a cause for death and death is a cause for rebirth. People erroneously conclude that the ultimate reality of birth and death is based on fatalism, the will of God or coincidence. Similarly, it is a shallow understanding to believe that your birth solely came from your mother's pregnancy. This is merely a partial truth. The Lotus Sutra teaches us that your mother's pregnancy was the external cause for your birth. This is called Nyoze-en. Behind the reality of your birth there must be an internal cause called Nyoze-in. For your birth to occur there must be both an internal cause and an external one.

What is the nature of our existence after we die? When the harmonious unity of the five elements (earth [solid], water [liquid], fire [energy], wind [gas] and ku [neither existence nor non-existence]) which compose all living beings are destroyed and separated from each other, we call this condition death. The only thing that survives this separation is our negative or positive Karma accumulated up until that moment. The ego or self disappears, the same as the ethereal rainbow disappears after the rain shower. Depending on both your internal and external causes, the five elements can again harmoniously unite, causing your reincarnation in a next life. But, the ego or self will be different, just like every other part of you, determined solely by your Karma. Behind this process of the decomposing and composing of the harmonious unity of the five elements, the Buddha found the Law of Myoho-Renge-Kyo and taught us it as the ultimate reality.

Unlike the Law of Gravity, the validity of Myoho-Renge-Kyo applies to both the spiritual and physical worlds as well as before and after our death. If you embrace this Law, you will be enlightened to the ultimate truth and accumulate positive Karma, and if you deny or ignore this Law, you will be deluded to the ultimate reality and accumulate negative Karma. Your fortune is determined by either believing in it or ignoring it. [omission]

Finally, there are six aspects of internal cause (Nyoze-in) and four aspects of external cause (Nyoze-en). The six aspects of internal cause are:

1. Where an internal cause supports and accepts someone's or something's growth.

2. Where more than one internal cause unite to produce a single effect.

3. Where a good internal cause produces a good effect. And vice versa.

4. Where an internal cause produces an effect consistent between a person's mind and body.

5. Where an internal cause contributes to one's 108 delusions.

6. Where an internal cause matures into different categories of reality. For example, when evil causes mature into the manifest effect of the reality of hell and conversely, when good acts produce the reality of heaven.

Four aspects of external cause are:

1. When a manifested effect becomes an external cause.

2. When the manifested effect of our present mind becomes the external cause for our future mind.

3. When the manifested effect of one's environment becomes an external cause for one's life.

4. When an external cause functions to support and accept something's or someone's growth."

This was part of the official text which Rev. Nagasaka read to us. He obviously ad libbed some extra parts, which is where I got the title, because he actually said it: our egos are nothing more than beautiful rainbows! All those of us who have been trying in vain to "rein it in" had to laugh when he said:

"So, enjoy your beautiful egos!"
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