Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Treasure Tower

I prepared this as a study point for my discussion meeting.
Two years ago, The Gosho on The Treasure Tower was at the centre of the study movement for the Young Women. I must have read it a hundred times, in my head, out loud, at meetings, alone, etc.
I thought I understood it, but as it is with many things in Buddhism, I only understood with my head, and not with my heart. Last year I have gone through the most painful time of my life, largely because I did not fully understand this Gosho. I did not believe I was the Treasure Tower. 
Maybe this will help someone not to suffer as much as I have.

The Treasure Tower. (Jpn hoto)

The term “Treasure Tower” can refer to any of a variety of jewelled stupas (a dome-like structure built to house the relics of the Buddha) depicted in Buddhist scriptures. 

The best known, however, is the treasure tower of Many Treasures Buddha that appears in the "Treasure Tower" (eleventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. 
The Lotus Sutra, which is regarded in Nichiren Buddhism as the teaching in which the Buddha reveals the full truth of his enlightenment, is a largely allegorical description of Shakyamuni Buddha interacting with a great gathering of disciples. 

At a key point, a magnificent "treasure tower" suddenly appears from out of the earth. Its vast dimensions stagger the imagination, and it is adorned with seven kinds of treasures.

A voice speaks from inside the tower praising Shakyamuni and attesting to the truth of his teaching. Shakyamuni opens the tower to reveal seated inside a Buddha named Many Treasures who, we learn, lived and died in the incalculably distant past.

Shakyamuni explains that this treasure tower appears anywhere in the universe that the Lotus Sutra is being preached. “If there is any place where the Lotus Sutra is preached, then my treasure tower will come forth and appear in that spot.”

Nichiren Daishonin (the founder of our school of Buddhism), wrote about the Treasure Tower in 1272 in a famous Gosho addessed to Abutsu-bo.
He viewed the treasure tower as an allegory for human life in its enlightened state achieved through the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 

Nichiren says: 
In the Latter Day of the Law, no treasure tower exists other than the figures of the men and women who embrace the Lotus Sutra. It follows, therefore, that whether eminent or humble, high or low, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are themselves the treasure tower, and, likewise, are themselves the Thus Come One Many Treasures. No treasure tower exists other than Myoho-renge-kyo. The daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the treasure tower, and the treasure tower is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 
In the same letter, he also refers to the Gohonzon, the object of devotion in his teaching, as "the treasure tower."

So, in short, each one of us is the Treasure Tower. The Treasure Tower symbolises the infinite, precious potential inherent in our lives, which the chanting of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo can unlock.

Nichiren describes the seven treasures adorning the treasure tower (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian) as representing the virtues of:
  1. hearing the correct teaching, 
  2. believing it, 
  3. keeping the precepts, 
  4. engaging in meditation, 
  5. practicing assiduously, 
  6. renouncing one's attachments, 
  7. reflecting on oneself.

These qualities are those of one who is striving to attain Buddhahood. It is through effort that the qualities of the Buddha nature inherent in our lives become manifest.
To see the treasure tower is to recognize our inherent Buddha nature. It is to be cognizant of and to uphold the great dignity of life--our own and others.' Faith in the inherent Buddha nature is essentially what distinguishes a "Buddha" from a "common mortal."

As SGI President Daisaku Ikeda writes, "The 'tower adorned with the seven treasures' is the grand and dignified original form of our lives."

Let’s indulge in an exercise. Below is the initial passage of the Lotus Sutra describing the appearance of the Treasure Tower. I would like you to read it, and to substitute your name for the word ‘Tower’ or ‘Treasure Tower’. 
At that time in the Buddha's presence there was a tower adorned with the seven treasures, five hundred yojanas in height and two hundred and fifty yojanas in width and depth, that rose up out of the earth and stood suspended in the air. Various kinds of precious objects adorned it. It had five thousand railings, a thousand, ten thousand rooms, and numberless streamers and banners decorated it. Festoons of jewels hung down and ten thousand million jewelled bells were suspended from it. All four sides emitted a fragrance of tamalapatra and sandalwood that pervaded the whole world. Its banners and canopies were made of the seven treasures, namely, gold, silver, lapis Lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian, and it was so high it reached to the heavenly places of the Four Heavenly Kings. The gods of the Trayastrimsha heaven rained down heavenly mandarava flowers as an offering to the treasure tower, and the other heavenly beings and the dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings, an assembly of thousands, ten thousands, millions, offered all kinds of flowers, incense, necklaces, streamers, canopies and music as alms to the treasure tower, paying it reverence, honor and praise.

As much as it may feel weird (especially the room bit), this is exactly what we should feel when thinking about our lives. Every time we feel worthless and unhappy, every time that little voice inside of us says that we are not enough, we should go back to the Sutra and be reminded of the original nature of our lives. We are the Treasure Tower. Something so precious and amazing that all the creatures of the Universe have paid us homage. We must strive to feel like the Treasure Tower every day, through the chanting of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, and to feel that everybody else is the Treasure Tower too (it may help to try the exercise with the name of that person we absolutely can’t stand!)

Sources I have used:

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