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sansho shima

topic posted Thu, June 16, 2005 - 6:20 PM by  jameseye
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anybody familiar with this term?

how it manifests itself? how best to deal with it?

President Ikeda refers to it often in an indirect manner.

i'd like to get some members ideas if possible.

thanks............james
posted by:
jameseye
California
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  • Hi James. Sansho Shima is literally three obstacles and four devils. In everyday life it's various obstacles and hindrances to our practice of Buddhism. The most important thing to remember is our attitude towards these obstacles when they arrive. Because they will, whether we practice Buddhism or not. It's a fact of life that there will be peaks and valleys. President Ikeda encourages up to view these obstacles as an opportunity to challenge ourselves thorugh faith and our practice.
    "Faith enables you to overcome any obstacle. Especially when you confront suffering or find yourself in a difficult situation, you can make it a great opportunity to deepen your faith and grow. When you meet hardships, you can open a great path toward boundless happiness. However, when meeting obstacles, some people begin to doubt Myoho and try to escape from its world. An obstacle means that you are at a crucial moment in your faith."
    Nichiren Daishonin said in one of the Gosho: "As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere...One should be neither influenced nor frightened by them. If one falls under their influence, one will be led into the paths of evil. If one is frightened by them, one will be prevented from practicing the correct teaching."
    I hope this helps.

    Diana
    • thanks Diana.

      i'm sorry to have to admit that i have been taking a break from my practice. i have been scared off. i recieved ny gohonzon a year ago april and amazing things started happening.

      the last six months have been hell for me. very long story involving an accident which has resulted in three amputations to my right leg, chronic pain and fatigue,and depression.

      it seems the more i chant to accept things as they are, or to better my situation, the worse things get.

      i'm going to speak to my district leader this week for guidance.

      anyway,that's my story in a nutshell.

      thanks again,

      james
      • Wow James, that's a lot going on. And please you don't have anything to be sorry about. It's part of the peaks and valleys of life which includes our practice. There will be peaks and valleys there as well, because faith is equal to daily life. Nichiren said in the Gosho "Happiness in this World" 'Suffer what there is to suffer and enjoy what there is to enjoy and regard both as facts of life.'

        Sometimes it's hard as hell to accept that statement when obstacles seem to hit us from all sides. It's hard to remember that we began to practice to embark on our road to enlightenment by way of changing our karma. There's nothing magic about daily life and there's nothing magic about the Gohonzon and our practice. Sometimes when we're hit below the belt with some ugly stuff (like you're going through now), it seems like we might be better off not stirring up so much stuff and like we'd better back off so that things will ease up.

        The reality is that our practice will not stop unpleasant struggles and sometimes unhappy times. Our practice will allow us to develop our faith to continue and learn a "no matter what spirit". Please be proud of yourself and your seeking spirit that you're seeking out guidance to continue. That's the good news and the light that's at the end of the tunnel.

        A phrase from the same Gosho: "there is no greater happiness than having faith in the Lotus Sutra. It promises us "peace and security in this life and good circumstances in the next."

        In President Ikeda's lecture on the Gosho, "Happiness in this World", he says:
        "True happiness is not the absence of suffering; you cannot have day after day of clear skies. True happiness lies in building a self that stands dignified and indomitable like a great palace-on all days, even when it is raining, snowing or stormy. Attaining 'peace and happiness in this life doesn't mean having a life free from all difficulties, but that whatever difficulties arise, without being shaken in the least, you can summon up the unflinching courage and conviction to fight against and overcome them. This is the state of life of 'peace and security in this life.'

        Remember Ho Ni Myo -'From this moment on" -
        Good Luck James,
        Diana
  • The following is taken from pp. 22-25 of the manuscript Dharma Flower: The Faith Teaching and Practice of Nichiren Buddhism:

    The Three Obstacles and Four Devils

    The heavenly and demonic forces which inhabit the six worlds should also serve to remind us that there are many inner forces which work within the subconscious mind. These forces may either help or hinder us. Past memories, good and bad associations, built up prejudices, habits or predispositions - all can serve to darken our vision or dampen our aspirations. On the other hand, we also have leaps of intuition or bursts of enthusiasm. In times of crises, many of us may also discover hidden reserves of courage, compassion and determination that we didn’t even know we had. There may even be actual spiritual entities at work. In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James points out that if in fact there are spiritual forces at work in our lives, then it would be through just such subconscious phenomena that they would make themselves felt.

    "But just as our primary wide-awake consciousness throws open our senses to the touch of things material, so it is logically conceivable that if there be higher spiritual agencies that can directly touch us, the psychological condition of their doing so might be our possession of a subconscious region which alone should yield access to them." (The Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 198)

    In addition, outside events and opportunities seem to have an uncanny way of corresponding to the necessities of our inner life, providing us with the needed catalysts to facilitate our growth as human beings. C.G. Jung called these meaningful coincidences "synchronicity.” Whatever the name or explanation for these internal and external forces, they are a factor in many people’s lives, especially those who are perceptive or sensitive enough to realize it. The gods, demons, and other supernatural phenomena of the six worlds serves to remind us that there is more at work in our lives than just our conscious decisions and the seeming randomness of outside events.
    Nichiren often quoted the views of Chih-i (538-597), the Chinese founder of the T’ien-t’ai school of Buddhism, on the subject of the obstacles, both external and internal, that one must face when beginning to follow the Buddhist path.
    The following passage is a good example of this:

    "The fifth volume [of Chih-i’s Great Concentration and Insight] says: “As you understand these sentences and train yourself in accordance with them, the three obstacles and the four devils will angrily rise up and compete with each other to overawe you and lead you down evil paths. They always try to scare people in order to prevent them from mastering the True Dharma.” This quotation is like a bright mirror for both myself and my followers. Respectfully master it and use it to fortify yourself for the future." (Translated from the Kyodai sho, Showa Teihon p. 932. Authentic copies extant)

    The three obstacles and the four devils were Chih-i’s way of cataloging all the various phenomena which can keep us from practicing Buddhism. The three obstacles consist of self-centered desires or defilements, the unwholesome habits which arise from those defilements, and the painful consequences of such activity. The three obstacles describe the vicious circle created by our usual self-centered way of interacting with the world. They describe the way in which we bring so much unnecessary suffering upon ourselves, which naturally leads to further frustration and anxiety which then leads to even more selfishly motivated activities and so on, ad nauseum... All of this keeps us mired in our own problems. If we are not careful, it will even prevent us from putting into practice the very teachings which can break the cycle.
    The four devils consist of the devil of the five aggregates, the devil of the defilements, the devil of death, and the devil king of the sixth heaven. The devil of the aggregates refers to the inherent insecurity, anxiety, and outright suffering which results from trying to identify ourselves with various physical and mental components which are in constant flux. The devil of the defilements refers to the ways in which self-centered desires inevitably arise based upon the needs of the body and mind for nourishment, security, pleasurable stimulation, and self-aggrandizement. The devil of death refers to the dread, fear, and terror which arise in the face of the inevitable dissolution of the body and mind upon death. The devil king of the sixth heaven refers to those things in life which tempt us to forget about Buddhist practice and live only for worldly goals and aspirations. The devil king of the sixth heaven personifies all those people, situations, and inner impulses which tempt or threaten us to forsake Buddhism and return to the old cycle of unthinking habit, fleeting pleasures and familiar pains. One could say that the other name for the devil king of the sixth heaven is “the devil we know” who attempts to frighten or cajole us away from the unfamiliar territory of liberation back into the vicious cycle of our self-centeredness.

    According to Chih-i and Nichiren, whenever we make efforts to seek out the Buddha Dharma, to practice it and to ultimately free ourselves of suffering and attain buddhahood, we will inevitably have to confront opposition from forces within and without. Internally, our own laziness, doubt, lack of confidence, fear of the unknown, and many other negative habits and feelings will try to distract us and prevent us from making serious efforts. Externally, our obligations to work, family, and friends as well as various temptations, pressing projects, crises, and even full fledged disasters will provide us with many reasons why we should hold off on Buddhism until circumstances have improved. This is what the six worlds are all about - one thing after another after another without end. It is up to us to break the cycle and free ourselves by defying the internal and external obstacles and dedicating ourselves to the actual practice of Buddhism. This does not mean that we need to retreat alone into the mountains in order to spend all of our time meditating. It simply means setting aside a little bit of time each day to chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo so that we can reconnect with our buddha-nature. When we do this, we will find that our life will gradually become less hectic, our actions will be more thoughtful and efficient, and we will build a foundation of happiness for ourselves and others.

    Nichiren also discussed the blessings and positive transformation brought about by chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo in terms of the various beings within the six worlds as well as the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and disciples who were free of the wheel of becoming. In Nichiren’s view, to call upon the buddha-nature through chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is not just self-involved contemplation or inner transformation. It is in fact a cosmic process, whereby we discover our unity with all of life by freeing ourselves from narrow self-interest and opening up to the universal gestalt which is buddhahood.
    An inspiring passage from the sacred writings of the Nichiren tradition states:

    "Ordinary people who give voice to “Myoho Renge Kyo” call upon the buddha-nature of sentient beings; the buddha-nature of Brahma, Indra and so on; the buddha-nature of Shariputra, Maudgalyayana, and so on; the buddha-nature of Manjushri, Maitreya and so on; the enlightenment of the buddhas of the three time periods of past, present, and future which is the Wonderful Dharma; and the principle of unity and non-duality. All of these are Myoho Renge Kyo. Therefore, once you chant Myoho Renge Kyo, you will call and manifest the buddha-nature in the heart of all the buddhas; all the dharmas; all the bodhisattvas; all the voice-hearers; all the gods, including Brahma, Indra, King Yama, the sun, the moon, the many constellations of stars, the heavenly and earthly deities; those dwelling in hell; the hungry ghosts; the animals; the fighting demons; human beings; those in heaven; and all other living beings. This merit is infinite and boundless.

    "As the focus of reverence, I respect the Myoho Renge Kyo that is within the mind. The buddha-nature, which is Namu Myoho Renge Kyo within the mind, manifests itself both by calling [to us] and by being called [by us]. This is what we call the Buddha. It is like the caged bird singing out and the birds of the sky gathering around it [in response to its call]. When the [free] birds gather round, the caged bird feels as if it were also free. [In the same way,] our own buddha-nature is called and absolutely manifested when we invoke the Wonderful Dharma with our mouths. [Like the free birds who gather round the caged bird at its call,] the buddha-natures of Brahma and Indra are invoked and they protect us. The buddha-natures of the buddhas and bodhisattvas are [also] invoked and they rejoice. [That is why] the Lotus Sutra says, “I shall be glad to see anyone keeping it even for a moment. So will all the other Buddhas.” That is the whole reason for my preaching.

    "The buddhas of the three time periods attain buddhahood by upholding the five characters - “Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo.” These five characters are the real meaning of the appearance of the buddhas in the three time periods and the Wonderful Dharma by which all the people are established in the buddha-way. In order to understand these things easily and attain the buddha way, you should chant “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” with patience and without prejudice."
    (Translated from the Hokke shoshin jobutsu sho, Showa Teihon, p. 132-33. Listed in the Rokunai)
    • How much of this is mine?

      "The collective energy generated from the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of the almost six billion people on this planet creates an atmosphere or 'consciousness climate.' Surrounding us like the air we breathe, this consciousness climate affects us most strongly on energetic and emotional levels."

      -- Doc Childre and Howard Martin

      Feeling angry, sad or anxious? You might ask, “How much of this is mine?”

      Those of us who are sensitive sometimes pick up on emotional, mental or physical energy in the environment. It feels like ours – we really do feel the emotions or physical or mental symptoms. But really, we are processing ‘generic’ energies that belong to others or to humanity as a whole.

      Opening to the possibility that our experiences may not be completely ours helps us detach from them. When we don’t completely identify with our thoughts and feelings, we gain power over them.

      "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear … as it is, infinite.”

      -- William Blake

      Singing Nam mioho rengue kyo cleans up the doors of perceptions... The more we clean, the more responsible we are of what kind of thoughts and feelings do we identify with... try to identify with joy and happiness while you sing and you will overcome yourself, then you’ll start doing it while you are not singing as well. Difficulties are just great opportunities to build our strength, change ourselves and help change the world into a better place. If you head your own way in the kosen Rufu´s way, believe, everything will be all right... there is just nothing to fear, there is just no phenomena Nam Mioho rengue Kyo can not penetrate and transform...

      The best experiences are waiting for you, and worse one’s will just be of value to get you there... laugh at them and give thanks for it...

      Love

      Zoe
      • Zoe,

        thank you so much for your post. i also just read a couple other posts you have made.

        you are a true Boddisattva of the earth. i feel it in your words,and see it in your commitment to helping others.

        this morning i started my practice again.

        namaste,

        james

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