One of the most important aspects of our faith and practice over many years is always to maintain sincerity and to keep a seeking mind. When we are going through difficult obstacles, or when we have a strong desire to attain a goal, it’s easy to chant a lot of Daimoku sincerely. And when we overcome a serious problem in our lives, or achieve something that is important to us, we always feel appreciation and express our gratitude to the Gohonzon.
But since we are common mortals, living today in the Latter Day of the Law, we are sometimes influenced by the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity, and if we’re not careful, we can be affected by the seven types of arrogance. By looking at our silent prayers that we observe twice a day during Gongyo, we can see how important it is to have gratitude for all of the protection and benefits that we constantly receive, both conspicuous and inconspicuous.
There is a story from the Buddhist scriptures that illustrates the importance of maintaining our Buddhist practice and not being swayed by arrogance or lack of appreciation. This story is called, “The Man with the Marvelous Vase.”
There once was a man who was extremely poor. He wanted to be able to have a comfortable life. So, he constantly made offerings to a deity seeking to gain wealth and a higher standing in society. He made these offerings for twelve straight years. Eventually, the deity felt pity for this man, and appeared before him. “What are you seeking?” the deity asked him.
The man replied, “I’m seeking wealth, and nobility. I’m seeking to have all of my wishes granted.”
The deity then gave the man a beautiful vessel, called the “vase of virtue.” He told the man, “Whatever you need will come forth from this vase.”
With this marvelous vase, the man was able to obtain everything he wished. He desired beautiful clothing, and such clothing came out of the vase. He wanted a beautiful home, and jewels, and even elephants to ride. All came forth for him from the vase. He wanted friends, who appeared. He was able to give generous gifts to them and entertain them with lavish parties. He was living a life of luxury and nobility.
Eventually, however, he lost his seeking spirit and became self-satisfied. He forgot that he owed everything he had to this marvelous vase, and instead became arrogant. One night, during one of his grand parties, a friend asked him, “You used to be extremely poor. How did you encounter such tremendous wealth?”
The man answered, “I received a special, celestial vase, that brings forth all types of things. I have gained this wealth on account of this vase.” The guest asked if he could see this marvelous vase. The man brought it out, and boastfully, began to give a demonstration, pulling out many precious treasures from within the vase.
He should have felt the utmost reverence and gratitude for this special vase, which completely changed his life. But instead, he put the vase on the ground, stood on top of it, and began dancing on it. The vase immediately shattered and disappeared. Then, the man’s friends disappeared, his house disappeared, his jewels, elephants, and fancy clothes all simultaneously disappeared. Everything that had come forth from the vase disappeared, and the man once again was poverty-stricken and alone. (Daichido-ron, Chapter 21, summarized)
This story was taught in the earlier Buddhist scriptures as an admonishment to uphold the eight good precepts and never to break them. For us today, this story can be a reminder to check our attitude in our faith and practice and never to lose our sense of appreciation. Just like the man who gained his prosperous life due to the marvelous vase, we have gained tremendous benefits, both conspicuous and inconspicuous due to our practice to the Gohonzon. We must guard against arrogance and laziness. But, if we maintain a feeling of deep appreciation for all of the benefits and protection we’ve received from the Gohonzon, we can keep a sincere attitude and a seeking mind. This will lead us to gain even more fortune and more happiness through our practice.
And let’s remember that the best way to repay our gratitude to the Gohonzon for the wonderful benefits we have received is to propagate true Buddhism far and wide, so that we can create a happy world!
On this very significant day, when we celebrate the eternal life of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, let’s always remember that we are constantly being protected and are accumulating fortune through our practice to the Gohonzon. With deep appreciation, let’s exert our best efforts throughout the coming year, and move forward toward achieving our goal for 2021.