Deciphering the Lotus Sutra: Commentary by Daisaku Ikeda (Chapter 2)
The Revelation of the Single Buddha Vehicle: Opening the Door to the Oneness of Mentor and Disciple
“Expedient Means” makes it absolutely clear that the true intent of the Buddha in teaching the three vehicles was to teach the one vehicle. This clarification is called ‘the replacement of the three vehicles with the one vehicle.’ It stresses that the Buddha teaches only one vehicle, and that there are not two vehicles or three vehicles.
By declaring unequivocally that the Buddha teaches only the one Buddha vehicle, the sutra is also saying that all people are bodhisattvas. The practitioners of the two vehicles are thus also bodhisattvas and as such can attain enlightenment. The unification of the practitioners emphasizes that the teachings of the one vehicle enable all people to achieve Buddhahood. Key to this is the doctrine of ‘the enlightenment of the two vehicles’ expounded in the Lotus Sutra.
As Nichiren Daishonin says, “The provisional sutras teach inequality but the Lotus Sutra teaches equality” (GZ 816). The Lotus Sutra doesn’t preach equality as just as slogan; it teaches a way to happiness for oneself and others alike, addressing the conditions of our lives on a fundamental level and how those life-conditions are expressed through the way we live our lives. The Daishonin also tells us that the Latter Day of the Law is “the time for the widespread propagation of the Great Vehicle, the Law in which all things are equal, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”
They (Nikken sect) act as if they revere the Daishonin, but in fact they are betraying his most profound intent. They are transforming a teaching of supreme respect for human beings into a teaching of the most deplorable contempt for human beings. They want to destroy the path of the oneness of mentor and disciple as taught by the Daishonin because of their own arrogant disdain for the laity.
Dostoevsky comments astutely on this same impulse: “Many very proud people like to believe in God, especially those who despise other people…The reason is obvious. They turn to God to avoid doing homage to men…; to do homage to God is not so humiliating.” Here Dostoevsky reveals his keen understanding of the workings of the human psyche.
The oneness of mentor and disciple is the very heart of the Lotus Sutra and the essence of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, yet the priests try to destroy and cast aside this most crucial element. This is a characteristic of devilish functions, known as “robbers of life.”
To reject the oneness of mentor and disciple is to reject the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds; it constitutes an attack on the fundamental equality of all human beings. The true nature of the Nikken sect is revealed here for all to see.