A Buddhist Podcast – Life Span Chapter – Part 2

March 28th, 2009

Welcome to another episode of A Buddhist Podcast. Tonight we continue with our new series of lectures on the Jigage portion of Gongyo by looking at the meaning of the words, Nyorai Juryo hon dai juroku! Haven’t you ever wondered what it means? This poem of life is so amazing. Some of the headings include:

  • What does gongyo mean?
  • Lotus Sutra for the Latter Day of the Law
  • Wisdom illuminates ignorance
  • Nichiren Daishonin, the true Buddha
  • Causing the sun of hope to dawn
  • Shelley on Dante
  • A practice to perpetuate
  • Every character is a shining buddha
  • Living the poem of life
  • You can’t use force to create change
  • Our victories are your victories
  • Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
  • Seek out your true self!
  • Live like the waterfall

Once again the music for tonights show is a blatant expression of how much we love the music of Cat Malojian! We play Pettigoe and Life Rolls On, which you can find on iTunes!

Thank you for all the comments, emails and messages of support, we truly appreciate every single last one of them. One last point, our love goes out to Dash and Donna, we are so happy to know that Donna is out of hospital and on the mend!

Have a wonderful week.


  1. Thank you for your podcast. I was worried that you had stopped making them, and I just happened to log on early Monday morning.What a wonderful way for me to start the week!
    Is is also possible to get the transcript of your program.? There are so many things you’ and your wife have said – and read – that I’d like to have by my altar to read over again.
    In any case, many blessings to you . And keep up the good work!
    Deborah C.

    Comment by Deborah Carter — March 30, 2009 @ 10:50 am

  2. Gongyo is a song of freedom. Thank you, Jason and Karen, for your wonderful voices doing the Buddha’s work to teach the meaning of the lines we recite with deep appreciation twice a day. I’ve read the resources you used but your voices really bring them to life. Only last week, someone told me she was OK with chanting the daimoku but she wouldn’t learn words (the liturgy) that she didn’t know the meaning of; I showed her the literal translation in the liturgy book but it is in fact very difficult to put into an encouraging “sound bite” that the effort to learn to say it is fundamental and returns to our lives immeasurably. You did your mentor justice in taking this on. Thank you deeply, Karen and Jason, and anyone else who sent me daimoku; I soaked up every golden character and am back in the swing helping others find their power and joy.

    Donna in Sacramento

    Comment by Donna — March 30, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  3. Jason and Karen thank you for another wonderful show! I thought you may also enjoy hearing that my 6 year old has made chanting with me part of her bedtime habit. I played the shoutout for her and she lit up! I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head.

    Deborah Carter, perhaps we as listeners could provide a service to Jason and Karen. If we could encourage them to setup a wiki (say http://wiki.abuddhistpodcast.com/) then we, as a group, could collaboratively create the transcripts. There is a project out there that does close captioning of Internet videos. I wonder if it would work for purely audio. I’ll have to look that up.

    Comment by Doug McCaughan — March 30, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

  4. Hi Deborah and Doug,
    We have the scripts, we are gradually tidying them up with references and everything and are hoping to make them available as Ebooks for the people who want them, what do you think?
    We need to work out how to do this and any help or advice would be gratefully received!
    Doug, please let us know your daughters name so we can arrange a shoutout for her!
    Lots of love

    Comment by Jason — March 30, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  5. The 6 year old is Amy. My other daughter, Sarah, is 15 years old and I don’t foresee her chanting for many years if ever:

    Dad and Amy (6 years old), repeating 3 times: “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”
    Sarah (15 years old) with shocked look on her face: “You’re brainwashing her!”
    [Source, Reality Me, From the mouths of babes]

    Comment by Doug McCaughan — March 31, 2009 @ 11:53 am

  6. Another wonderful podcast, and a great explanation of the Life Span Chapter – thank you!

    Comment by Peter Waring — April 3, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  7. Lekker Guys!

    Yet again a smashing lecture!

    Thank you for all you guys do for Kosen Rufu!

    Take care.


    Comment by Paul Flint — April 3, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

  8. I deeply depend on your podcasts, for I practice solo, and am so affraid it will not do any good to anyone, but I have to do it, there is a need in my heart.
    There are buddhist in El Salvador, but in the capital city, and I am in a town called Santa Ana, have no transportation, and it is so dangerous to travel in the busses, that I dare not.
    So, please send me some daimoku, so that i can develope a group in this evangelical/catholic country, they see me as a strange creature for I constatly tell them that I am a buddhist and that I cant Nam Myoho Rengue Kyo, and cannot infect anyone with my entusiasm just yet.
    Thank you for being here in my studio, teaching me so many things that I need to know, some day I will become a real good buddhist.


    Comment by Berta Brass — April 9, 2009 @ 3:55 am

  9. I really appreciate all the effort you two put into making these. I’m eighteen years old, and I just joined the SGI almost a week ago. These podcasts encourage me greatly and also give me new perspectives on different ideas. I only wish that I had listened to this earlier, as I may not have waited so long to receive my Gohonzon!

    I hope this isn’t too much for me to ask–though I’ll understand completely if it is–but would it be possible for sometime in the future for you to cover the topic of Ichinen Sanzen? I know it is a central tenet to the Daishonin’s Buddhism, but none of the resources I have studied regarding it have been very helpful.


    Comment by Tim Adams — April 11, 2009 @ 1:59 am

  10. Tim,

    Congratulations on beginning your practice!

    I think the best (simplest, practical) explanation of ichinen sanzen, or 3000 realms in a single moment of life, is found in Daisaku Ikeda’s little book Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth & Death…and Everything In Between (2003, Middleway Press, or in Great Britian, 1988, by Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd.) Available in regular and online booksellers. That chapter is titled “Life’s Unlimited Potential.”

    I recommend that you begin with the easiest part of the “formula”, the Ten Worlds and recognizing which one you’re in at any given moment. You’ll find a fun, useful guide to this in the novel The Buddha, Geoff, and Me, which you can listen to on this podcast (see archive). However, the concept will remain theoretical until you learn to experience it in the course of real life (“actual proof”). It’s most important to talk it over with seniors in faith when you ‘re worried, upset, anxious, jealous, sad, etc., as they will help you grasp the worlds while you’re in them.

    Hope this helps. Thank you for making world peace your priority at the significant age of 18.

    Donna in Sacramento

    Comment by Donna — April 14, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  11. Congratulations on your program. It is a real blessing to have found your site. I am in Montreal, Canada, Plateau District.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Arles Hernandez — April 15, 2009 @ 2:30 am

  12. Thanks for the reply, Donna. 🙂 I’ve been wanting to read those books you mention, so I will definitely check them out.

    “Thank you for making world peace your priority at the significant age of 18.”

    Thank you. It’s never too early to make a difference.

    Comment by Tim Adams — April 16, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  13. I recently discovered the podcast and I have been enjoying them immensly. So far I mainly listened to the podcast about the Life Span Chapter. I think for about seven times to fully understand and hear what you say. Thanks so much.
    PS I love that song in the beginning, what is it?

    Greetings from Dia, WD member from SGI-Netherlands – Region Eagle Peak, Chapter South Wind District Fuji – Amsterdam.

    Comment by Dia — May 2, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  14. Hi J & K 🙂

    I loved the Walt Whitman poem and went to find it online, but there seem to be several versions. Which book / where did you get yours?

    love & happiness,

    Comment by Morna — May 4, 2009 @ 8:46 am

  15. The Walt Whitman quote was on page 59 of Leaves of Grass , isbn is 0-679-78342-3 published by Modern Library!

    Comment by jason — May 5, 2009 @ 5:36 am

  16. Hi Jason and Karen.
    Ok, so at the risk of being annoying, the thing about rubbing beads deserves a bit more explanation. The beads represent our 108 earthly desires (just a number that means a great many) including 4 smaller beads representing the 4 Bodhisattva of the earth, our true self, our true happiness, our purity and the eternity of our life. The tassels represent the Buddha, the Dharma and the one extra tassel the priest (Nikko?) or disciple who inherits the true teaching (master disciple relationship). The beads are in the shape of a human figure and when we hold them we are taking our life in our hands. By twisting them once we form a figure of eight that is the symbol for the eternity of life. Our hands symbolise the coming together of subjective experience with objective reality and of course because we possess 10 fingers (inc 2 thumbs) the ten worlds revealing Buddha nature.
    The reason why some people rub their beads is to bring our attention back to the Gohonzon and it represents the stimulation of the life we have taken into our hands. The fighting spirit that we will win our human revolution and overcome all obstacles.
    Of course this is a tradition from centuries of Buddhist practice in another culture far away in both space and time. Whether we wish to use these meanings in our life or develop a new tradition perhaps without beads at all is entirely up to us but it helps if we have some reasonable understanding of what that culture says before we make such a decision.
    It is annoying if we rub our beads continually and rather than stimulating us is probably actually a distraction from our focus on the Gohonzon and our challenge. So once again it comes down to us taking responsibility for our life.
    I hope that is ok and clear rather than bossy. I love your podcasts and admire your courage. Please keep up your challenges and know you are in my heart> Rob Cook, Newark, Nottinghamshire.

    Comment by Rob Cook — May 27, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  17. Hi Rob,
    This is an interesting explanation of the beads, thank you for sharing it here. It would be great if you could provide some references so that people could follow it up if they wanted to.
    The 108 beads are also referred to as the number of teachings. In fact there is an infinite meaning probably in all aspects. I have found it difficult to find a factual article about the beads, and I am still looking for one. There is a lot of ‘knowledge’ that is passed down but trying to find the source is quite difficult.
    For myself, I think the beads originally existed as a means to count daimoku. I think people rub them for all sorts of reasons, but I think most start rubbing them because they see other people doing it.
    Best wishes

    Comment by Jason — May 27, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

  18. Hi Jason and Karen
    I was taught about the significance of the Juzu beads that we use in our practice when I first chanted. This was from the heart of a wonderful man , Rasmus Sexton, who taught me everything he knew and answered all my questions to the best of his ability. I was not an easy person to teach, skeptical about organised religion and full of demanding questions. I deeply appreciated everything he shared with me.
    In the UK Express that came out in June 1989, just after Sensei came to visit us at Taplow Court, there is a Q & A section on the significance of the prayer beads.
    Nichikan Shonin, the great High Priest who inscribed our SGI Gohonzon, says simply that the prayer beads are an aid to practice. Our traditions may change over time. It is the heart that is important.
    Having said that, I have always loved that when I pick up my Juzu beads I immediately see in them such significance. When I twist them once into a figure of eight I already begin to feel I have taken my eternal life into my own hands. As I place the three tassels over my right middle finger I feel I am holding the three treasures of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and as I place my hands together I am forming a fusion of my life with the universe.
    There are other symbols in our beads. The four beads in the shape of jars collect our benefits for us. The two large beads are ‘parent’ beads, the one on the three tassel end that we hold on our right middle finger represents myo and the other represents ho. The single small bead above the two tassels is the true entity of our life.
    I can quite happily practice without my Juzu but I do find them a beautiful aid to my practice. I hold them in my hands and I gaze at my Gohonzon and I chant Daimoku as if I could leap into the Gohonzon. Sometimes I struggle and when I do you can hear me gently rub my beads. With love and faith Rob

    Comment by Rob Cook — June 25, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

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