The Fusion of Reality and Wisdom

Science, psychology and philosophy – share a basic question about the relationship between:

- the “Objective reality” of the world, and,

- its reflection in our mind, or our “Subjective understanding”.

Discoveries of science can be seen as results of the correct tuning of the mind’s subjective understanding to the objective reality of phenomena.

Philosophy also investigates the relationship between the “subjective” (or the mental realm of the mind) and the “objective” existence of the physical world.   


The Buddhist view of “Reality”

Buddhism starts from the simple observation of our current circumstances and immediate surroundings. It is undeniable that the world we observe is not random. The world is not arbitrary.  Phenomena follow certain patterns and manifest a certain order. All observed phenomena are interconnected, directly or indirectly, and this observation of interconnectedness of ordered phenomena suggests the existence of a great universal power that establishes Order, hence everything is a manifestation of this Universal Law.

The Lotus Sutra refers to the Universal Law through its title: Myoho-Renge-Kyo.  In his letter “True Aspect of All Phenomena” Nichiren refers to the reality of life - as integrating the physical aspects (Nyoze so), the mental aspects (Nyoze sho) and the dynamics of cause and effect (Nyoze in, Nyoze ka....).

To emphasize the objective nature of reality, the Sutra employs the words: “Nyoze” which can be translated as “existing as such” (having no further reference of explanation other than it - is - as - it - is (or NyoZe).  

Reality also exhibits a spectrum of mental states, ranging from conflicts and sufferings to harmony and happiness (The Ten Worlds of life).

The Buddhist view of “Wisdom”

A practical indication of the meaning of wisdom is found in the following statement by Nichiren:

“A person of wisdom is … one who thoroughly understands the principles by which the world is governed.” 

In other words, wisdom is enlightenment to the Law (or to the power that moves the world, including one’s own existence.), and desiring to live in harmony within it.

It would be just foolish to oppose the power of the Universal Law, which is operative within our life, our bodies and minds and in the environment.  Reason and wisdom arise from a correct perception of the Law (of Cause and Effect), which is at work in all aspects of existence, physical and mental.

What is the difference between Knowledge and Wisdom?

In his article on the subject, P Ikeda explains that :

"Knowledge itself is a neutral tool that can be used for good or evil.

Wisdom, in contrast, always directs us toward happiness”.

SGI literature mentions that “The function of wisdom is to create value” (Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra 6 p212).  While knowledge can be just a collection of facts, wisdom is inseparable from compassion:

“ intelligence infused with compassion… is true wisdom. KosenRufu is a movement to develop such wisdom” (Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra 6 p235).

Undeniably, the current accumulation of knowledge is available thanks to intellect, however, as educator Josei Toda (1900 – 1958) observed, intellect is inferior to wisdom:

“Josei Toda, second president of the Soka Gakkai, characterized the confusion between knowledge and wisdom as one of the major failings of modern society.
His critique is starkly demonstrated in the astonishing progress of technology in the last century. While scientific and technological development has shown only a mixed record of alleviating human suffering, it has triumphed remarkably in its ability and efficiency in unleashing death and destruction.

Toda likened the relationship between knowledge and wisdom to
that between a pump and water. A pump that does not bring forth water (knowledge without wisdom) is of little use.
This is not to deny the importance of knowledge. But knowledge can be utilized to generate both extreme destructiveness and profound good. Wisdom is that which directs knowledge toward good--toward the creation of value”.
(Wisdom, January 2003 SGI Quarterly)

The Fusion of Reality and Wisdom

Striving to tune our “subjective wisdom” to the “objective reality” of life - is the process leading to enlightenment.  A Buddha - by definition -  is one who is awakened to the true nature of reality. The Buddha’s awakening means the fusion of Buddha’s subjective understanding and wisdom - with the objective reality of life.  In effect of this perfect tuning of the mind to the truth of the objective Law, one can understand all events of one’s life and their potentials, and thus can lead a life of harmony, creating value and happiness for self and others.

In the spectrum of the mental domain of life (which is the spectrum of the Ten Worlds), only in the world of Buddhahood our mind can perceive a clear and correct image of the reality of life - without any distortion.

In the lower worlds, however, our subjective views about the meaning of events we experience - get distorted due to illusions of the ego-mind.  A judgement taken in the state of ‘anger’ can be very different from being taken in the world of ‘compassion’, etc.

We cannot create correct judgment about our reality if we use the mind states of the lower worlds, because, for example,  ‘‘The world of hunger’ leads us to exaggerate our emotions, ‘the world of anger’ inhibits reason, ‘the world of hell’ overwhelms our life with hopelessness and destructive views, ‘animality’ inflates selfish desires…etc.

The Worlds of Learning and Realisation improve our knowledge of the causes we make and the effects we encounter.  However, one’s action emerging from the world of Bodhisattva-Buddha is the true cause for leading a life of wisdom, compassion and courage.

The world of Bodhisattva-Buddha is the world of one’s devotion (Nam) to the reality of life (Myoho-Renge-Kyo).

Nichiren states that  The two elements of Reality and Wisdom are contained in the Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo:

Nam - expresses the ‘subjective filed’, being the individual's desire for harmony with - Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the ‘objective field’ of existence.

The essential phrase of chanting manifests the fusion of one’s own mind and reality of life. In the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren states: “The blessings and wisdom of the objective and subjective worlds are immeasurable. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo  has these two elements of blessings and wisdom”. (OTT p218)

Chanting to the Gohonzon - as an expression of Fusion of Reality and Wisdom

“The fact that we have the Buddha nature inherent within us, however, does not in itself mean that we actually achieved Buddhahood (or that we are actually Buddhas).

We can awaken to this Buddha nature when our subjective wisdom completely fuses with the objective reality (the Law). To make this possible for all, Nichiren embodied his own enlightenment (oneness of Person and Law) in an object of devotion called the Gohonzon, a scroll with the words Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo down the center in bold characters.

Today, ‘the Gohonzon’ corresponds to the object, while ‘our practice’ to the Gohonzon corresponds to the subject or subjective wisdom. When we chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the Gohonzon, the subject-object dichotomy dissolves, enabling us to fuse with the macrocosm. In that moment, we manifest the state of Buddhahood”The Buddha in Your Mirror - by Woody A  Hochswender, Greg Martin and Ted Morino - page 85


            Author: Safwan Zabalawi                                                       Homepage