Never Forget That We Are Americans

The preamble to our American Constitution reads; We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Despite all of the ills in America we have the Karma to be born in the greatest country in the world. We are not a perfect union, but we Buddhist have the opportunity to help make America a more perfect union.

The people who lead us to Buddhism are not perfect people, but they lead us to a perfect teaching and if we apply the teachings we can help to make America a more perfect union. The Gosho, “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Life time” reads; You must never think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha's lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences are outside yourself. Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true nature of your life. If you seek enlightenment outside yourself, then your performing even ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain.

In simple and plain terms it is up to us to make this wonderful and great religion benefit us and the world by our growing our Buddha nature and becoming the best Americans that we can be. The greatest lesson that we who have learned these great teachings are that we should never forget to pay our debt of gratitude to those who taught us.

The Gosho “Paying Debts of Gratitude” reads: T HE old fox never forgets the hillock where he was born; the white turtle repaid the kindness he had received from Mao Pao. If even lowly creatures know enough to do this, then how much more should human beings! Thus Yü Jang, a worthy man of old, fell on his sword in order to repay the debt he owed his lord Chih Po, and the minister Hung Yen for similar reasons cut open his stomach and inserted the liver of his dead lord, Duke Yi of Wei. What can we say, then, of persons who are devoting themselves to Buddhism? Surely they should not forget the debts of gratitude they owe to their parents, their teachers, and their country.
But if one intends to repay these great debts of gratitude, one can hope to do so only if one learns and masters Buddhism, becoming a person of wisdom. If one does not, one will be like a man who attempts to lead a company of the blind over bridges and across rivers when he himself has sightless eyes. Can a ship steered by someone who cannot even tell the direction of the wind ever carry the traveling merchants to the mountains where treasure lies?
If one hopes to learn and master Buddhism, then one cannot do so without devoting time to the task. And if one wants to have time to spend on
the undertaking, one cannot continue to wait on one's parents, one's teachers, and one's sovereign. Until one attains the road that leads to emancipation, one should not defer to the wishes and feelings of one's parents and teachers, no matter how reasonable they may be.
Many people may think that counsel such as this runs counter to secular virtues and also fails to accord with the spirit of Buddhism. But in fact secular texts such as The Classic of Filial Piety make clear that there are times when one can be a loyal minister or a filial child only by refusing to obey the wishes of one's sovereign or parents. And in the sacred scriptures of Buddhism it is said, “By renouncing one's obligations and entering the Buddhist life one can truly repay those obligations in full.”

The Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist sects have spent over 750 years maintaining the great teachings and in Japan or American and their teachings are not perfect. The SGI or Soka Gakkai formerly a Nichiren Shoshu lay organization manifested its appearance in the 1930's in Japan and they have since grown to become an independent Buddhist sect and they too are not perfect.

In 1975 I joined a Buddhist organization called NSA or Nichiren Shoshu of America. Many Black revolutionaries, Hippies and so called society outcasts joined the NSA and many of us reformed our lives and we learned to become among America's best citizens. The writings of the “True Buddha” Nichiren Daishonin writes in the Gosho “Hell the land of Tranquil light” the Daishonin writes: “One who, on hearing the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, makes even greater efforts in faith is a true seeker of the way. T'ien-t'ai states, “From the indigo, an even deeper blue.” This passage means that, if one dyes something repeatedly indigo, it becomes even bluer than the indigo leaves. The Lotus Sutra is like the indigo, and the strength of one's practice is like the deepening blue.”
Those of us whom took faith in the Buddhist teachings became greater than we were. In my personal case I became more American than many Americans, more African than Africans and more Buddhist than Buddhists our practice intensified like the indigo plant becoming more bluer than the original blue.