The popular understanding of enlightenment brings to mind someone with extraordinary powers beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. Popular belief states that such people have gone through austerities for many lifetimes to attain enlightenment and, once achieved, it is set in stone.
In Nichiren Buddhism, enlightenment is not a static state. To be enlightened means to be awakened to and experience the ultimate truth of life, that you are an expression of the fundamental life force and intelligence in the universe and manifest it in your life. Enlightenment is a state of life accessible to anyone who chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. You can become enlightened in this lifetime just as you are.
What Does this State of Life Look Like?
Enlightenment means you know with confidence and without doubt, that you can tap the power of the life force itself. You have had the experience that any challenge can be overcome. This creates an invincible state of inner freedom and unshakeable happiness, a towering state of being, overflowing with compassion and great wisdom which can be applied in any circumstance.
When you experience this happiness growing in your life, a natural wish follows, that other people might experience the same happiness. That’s when you embark upon the work of the Buddha, helping others to have the same experience and become happy.
Why is There so Much Suffering Then?
We possess the potential of Buddhahood inherent in our lives, but we also possess fundamental darkness, or ignorance. This is the inability to see the true nature of our lives. By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo we are able to dispel that ignorance, very much like polishing the fog from a mirror so that it will display an accurate reflection.
People in all stages of spiritual understanding, still have the inherent potential to forget who they are, to fall back into ignorance or fundamental darkness, when faced with challenges. There is always that interplay between the dark and light forces in life. It is up to us to remind ourselves of the truth of our lives and to overcome the negative parts of ourselves through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Please feel free to add your ideas or thoughts.