Ichinen Sanzen The Jewel Of Buddhism

By Alan Billups

Buddhismís core and most profound principle is Ichinen Sanzen, which literally means 3000 realms (sanzen) in a single moment of life (ichinen) experienced by a personís mind. Myoho Renge Kyo is actual ichinen sanzen in the complete sense of the concept, because it is the manifestation of all phenomena (shoho jisso).

To develop an understanding of what ichinen sanzen is, the explanation and illustration of what Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is will be useful. Nam is a sanskrit word meaning to devote oneís life. In the Ongi Kuden Nichiren Daishonin explains,  In the phase to devote (ki) oneís life (myo),í ki indicates the physical aspect of life, and myo, the spiritual aspect.íí In Buddhism this is called shiki shin funi (the oneness of mind and body) or the entity of a personís life.

Myoho translates to mean mystic law. Myo being the life essence or ichinen, the unfathomable nature of life which is beyond words or concepts. If a persons tries to conceive of no existence or reality what so ever, he will find that it is beyond his mindís power to hold the idea of absolute nothingness in his being as opposed to the same awareness of everything and all time as it manifest and un-manifest throughout infinite myriads of possible forms of expression throughout the known and unknown universe. This aspect of life is beyond comprehension and is the fundamental meaning of Myo.

Ho of Myoho is the phenomenal manifestations of reality that manifest as absolute or law. The parallel to this aspect can be seen in the first law of physics which states that matter and energy can neither be created or destroyed. Hence, this law (ho) has no beginning or end as we know it, and is eternally the fundamental truth of life as it expresses itself in all phenomena we observe. This is the core of the fundamental truth that all Buddhas of the past, present and future come to realize and through their correct subjective relationship to it (Kyo Chi Myogo) develop the three enlightened properties of the Law (the truth of lifeís spiritual and physical nature fused into one thing-entity), wisdom (the correct subject relationship to that truth-mental or spiritual nature) and action (the correct behavior in relationship to the truth-physical bodyís actions or deeds). Ho and Kyo in this sense are fundamentally the same thing, objective truth. Ho therefore corresponds to the meaning of sanzen, how the phenomenal world manifests in 3000 realms.

Renge represents the principle of cause and effect, and is the expression of how this law manifests throughout time and space (environment). From a subjective standpoint related to the individualís actions (causes) and results from those actions (effects), this is known as the principle of Karma.

Kyo is the mind of the Buddha or the truth which he expresses from his mind in the words he speaks. Therefore kyo can be sound (words) or the reality we see as it manifest in all phenomena as the nature of the law itself displaying cause and effect (shoho jisso).

This forms the platform from which we can begin to understand the full meaning of what ichinen sanzen is. The number 3000 is derived by multiplying the 10 worlds x the mutual possession of the 10 worlds x the 10 factors x the 3 realms.

To begin we must explain what each concept means. The 10 worlds are life conditions that an entity of life manifest from moment to moment with changing conditions. The 10 worlds are hell, hunger, animality, anger, humanity or tranquillity, and rapture or heaven, which compose the lower 6 worlds. These worlds work in close relation to the power and influence of the environment that a person is experiencing. Learning, realization, bodhisattva and Buddhahood compose the 4 noble worlds and require individual effort to maintain oneself in them. The 10 aspects or factors of life are 1.appearance (form and color of all things), 2.nature (spiritual properties of oneís mind and all things), 3.entity (the fusion of body and mind that forms the personís complete being or physical and spiritual aspects of all things), 4.power (the energy of a personís life that allows him to act a specific way in each of the 10 worlds), 5.influence (the volitional activities of words, thoughts and actions that are characteristic of which world the person is in; ie. Anger or Hunger). The next 4 factors are related to the concept of time, were as power and influence correspond to space and itís energetic and dynamic properties. The first 3 are related to life itself. 6.Internal or inherent cause is oneís karma and is the seed of the experience a person will have when the right cause and condition manifest for an effect to occur. Example, if a person has a predisposition to get skin cancer (inherent cause), he must be in the right condition for this potential to manifest (external cause); in the sun on a very hot day for an extensive amount of time. 7.External cause being the next factor that corresponds to influence from the environment or other sentient beings. 8.Latent effect is the reaction to the phenomena internally by the individual to the manifested effect which is the skin cancer that was produced by the stimulation of the inherent cause (karma) by the environment (external cause), which produced the 9.manifested effect (observable outcome of a personís past actions-causes). 10.Consistancy from beginning to end. Beginning corresponds to 1.appearence and end corresponds to 9.manifested effect (in Buddhism we call this actual proof) or the results of oneís actions in life (benefit or suffering as the result of correct or incorrect religious belief). Another way to look at this is the relationship between the body (appearance) and shadow (manifest effect). When the body is crooked the shadow is also cooked. If a personís actions are distorted originating from a distorted mind (oneness of body and mind)-shiki shin funi, his results in his life will also take on that distortion in the form of suffering (shadow)-manifested effect. This ultimately means that all suffering that manifest in oneís environment is directly related to the individualís mind or the collective mindís of all the people in that environment. This is the principle of Esho funi, the oneness of life (body) and itís environment (shadow).

The illusion that most people follow is to try to make the shadow stand up by focusing on it externally (trying to manipulate the environment and other people). The source of the shadow is from the self (spiritual disorder from within), the inherent cause (karma) that produces the manifest effect in the environment. This is the most difficult illusion for a common mortal to perceive.

The 3 poisons of a peopleís minds (greed, anger and stupidity) are said to manifest as the conditions of famine, war and pestilence. So, this shows how important and practical it is to be responsible for purifying oneís heart and mind through the practice of Buddhism (Hendoku Iyaku- Changing poison into medicine), which extinguishes the source of all the sufferings which originate from within each and every individual. This sheds light on the fact that the information present in the higher technologies of the day provide very little solution to the multiple problems that exist in life today. Only Buddhism can clarify the complete source. The inherent cause of our minds (karma) and ignorance.

In the above example it can not be clearly seen how the personís past actions created the karma (skin sensitive to excessive sun light) to be at risk for developing skin cancer, but as you probe into the depths of life and karmic reward you will find that all of reality as experience by each and every being is consistent with oneís mind (inherent cause) from the infinite past. The Daishonin also states in "Letter From Sado", " Even more so our past slanders of the Law, which stain the depth of one's heart.  A sutra states that both the crow's Blackness and the heron's Whiteness are actually the deep stains of their past Karma. " (Major writings Volume one page 39). This is consistent with the principle of the oneness of mind and body (shikishi funi) as an individual relates to all phenomenal expressions of life, as it is manifest from moment to moment. There are no mistakes in the perfect manifestation of the law of cause and effect, only suffering as oneís mind moves away (illusions or ignorance) from the awareness of this constant truth in life.

It may be necessary to give more illustration of how all of this falls together. Lets say someone was angry at you ( the world of anger within another sentient being). So, in order to get even with you they decide to destroy your home while you are at work (inherent cause not yet manifest or potentially to happen in your life-karma). After 5 hours at work you return home to see all of your (karmic relationship) valuables destroyed and covered with messages of hate (external cause). Your reaction to this is a change in life experience, which may have been rapture after receiving a phone call from a beautiful woman at work, you had met in a bar 3 weeks early, whom you thought would never call you. She was interested in you and planned to meet you at your home 9p.m. that night. The power of this discovery in your home (external cause) was greater than the power of the condition of rapture you arrived home with, and this influenced your condition to change to that of anger (latent effect). The manifested effect is the expression on your face, the physiological changes in your body and the action you take (creation of new karma) in response to this event.

This example displays the interrelatedness between the 3 realms of the 1.individual (entity composed of the 5 components of life; form, perception, conception, volition and consciousness),2.the realm of other sentient beings-people and 3.the environment.

As the dynamic aspects of each of the 10 worlds, 10 factors and the 3 realms interplay with each other, these realities intermingle to give life the objective appearance it has as it manifest in each and every phenomena (shoho jisso). Every person sees life exactly the way they see it as true (subjective truth or belief), whether in the condition of hell, rapture or learning. Each experience is unique to that individualís condition of life and perceptions relative to that condition.

Nichiren Daishonin states that beings in the state of hell see the ganges river as fire, people in the world of rapture see the ganges river as water and the beings in the worlds of bodhisatva and buddhahood see the ganges river as the eternal unchanging law. The same objective reality is seen a different way by each individual based on their life condition (one of the 10 worlds) and their inherent cause (karma). For a person to experience happiness in any environment (external cause), he must purify his inherent cause ( 8th consciousness- alaya) so that there is no potential negative effect (manifest effect) to be experienced ( shadow or latent effect). This is the nature of a Buddhaís life (free of impurities or negative cause). So, regardless of what conditions manifesting in the environment (external cause) of a Buddha, he or she has no reason to experience negativity (latent effect) from the expressions of the phenomenal world (shoho jisso). When a personís 8th consciousness is clear, the pure influence of the 9th consciousness, the Buddha nature can shine through unobstructed to all expressions of oneís life (7th consciousness, 6th consciousness (conscious mind) and down through all the 5senses with complete pure perception and clarity). This is why the Buddha is known as the awakened one, and has the all encompassing wisdom of reality. It is because his view of life is unobstructed from within.

This is the goal of Buddhist practice and the purpose of the inscription of the Dai Gohonzon, which contains the live expression of this principle (ichinen sanzen).When an individual focuses his life (Nam) mind and body on this object of the supreme life of ichinen sanzen (pure amala-consciousness 9th level). Just like the individual that was able to transfer his life condition (anger), through the destruction of the property in your home (environmental influence) Ėexternal cause, to induce your response to that of anger (latent effect). A Buddha named Nichiren Daishonin was able to transfer his life condition of Buddhahood into the environment in the form of the Dai Gohonzon (wooden object), so that you can create the correct cause (faith and practice[power and influence] to activate the inherent cause of the Buddha nature ), and condition (external cause-focusing on the enlightened image of the Buddha)- Gohonzon [Buddhaís life] to open up your individual Buddhahood. This becomes complete and true ichinen sanzen in an individualís life.