Enlightenment of Insentient Beings

There are two ways of perceiving Insentient Beings, such as wood, rock, plants...etc:

in Western perspective, based on dualism (or separation of the physical and spiritual)  - insentient beings are seen as just physical in nature with no spiritual aspect.  
The Western view is based on belief in separation of the spiritual (God) from the physical (Universe).  Abrahamic religions suggest that the spiritual aspect (or the divine) existed separately before the creation of the physical universe.  

Buddhism, however, defines everything in existence as an expression of Life, having two interconnected aspects: the physical and the spiritual.

- in Buddhist perspective, based on nonduality (or oneness of physical and spiritual),  insentient beings are a form of the energy of Life.  Every single existence in the world, soil, trees, rocks, etc... is a part of and a product of the universal Life, hence must possess the two aspects  of the physical and the spiritual, inseparably.

Everything is a manifestation of Life:
Undeniably, no living being can exist without water.  Although water itself is not a living entity, nevertheless it is a product of Life.  The same can be said of flowers, fruits or vegetables: all are manifestation of Life.  Nichiren regarded food as a product of life: “

    You should realize from this that polished rice is not polished rice; it is life itself”. 
                                                                                                                The Gift of Rice

This perspective implies that, when we observe an object by the senses - we perceive only the surface aspect of the nature of the observed object.  The spiritual or mental aspect of things cannot be perceived by the senses (but by the mind).

The Buddhist perspective of perception things is based on defining everything as manifestation of Universal Life, because nothing can exist in isolation, everything is interconnected, and the total existence of all things is Life:

        “Life at each moment encompasses the body and mind and the self and environment 
        of all sentient beings in the Ten Worlds as well as all insentient beings 
        in [all realms of existence], including plants, sky, earth, 
        and even the minutest particles of dust”.        On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime 

Science view on the nature of insentient beings
If we consider, for example, a particle of dust, then - from the surface view - we would see it as a tiny physical thing, static in nature.  This view, however, ignores the deeper truth about the nature of the observed particle, which is not static at all.  Science explains that 
a particle of dust, rock, wood, etc… all are made of molecules, which are not static at all, but are in constant energy movement within their inner structure. The inner nature of insentient beings is a vibrant dynamism of atomic and molecular energies, controlled by potentials of appearance and disappearance of elementary particles. The energy levels within the inner structure of insentient beings are controlled by a field of potentiality and
potentiality is informational.  A potential is possibility, and this nature of a potential is vastly different from being physical.  Potentials are non-physical.

Insentient beings are Myoho
In this perspective, anything which has appearance (Ho) has also non-physical nature (Myo) within its structure, and this non-physical aspect can assume various states. 
Regardless of how sophisticated an object is, it can be simply referred to as Myoho: a physical manifestation (Ho) of the essence of existence (Myo).  Any existence Myoho is an expression of Life.

Insentient Beings and the Ten Factors
The Ten Factors are the basic characteristics of anything existing in reality.  Because these characteristics are the most essential, and cannot be reduced further, they are called “existing as such”.   For example, appearance is a feature that cannot be reduced further, it is “suchness”, which means: it is to be accepted “as such”.  To exist as such is called Nyoze (in the language of the Lotus Sutra). 

 First, an object must have an appearance - or that which is verifiable by the senses: this is the aspect or characteristic of physical expression : Nyoze So.

 anything physical must have also a non-physical (or spiritual) aspect of nature: 
   Nyoze Sho.

 because the two aspects, the physical and spiritual are inseparable, then together they express an Entity of the object or : Nyoze Tai.  The entity of any sentient or insentient being is this: Myoho.

any object has inner energy levels (Nyoze Riki), 

and also a field of interconnectedness with the surrounding (Nyoze Sa), 

Insentient being also has own inner capacity to connect with or attract - other things in the environment (Nyoze In). This is the inner cause or the inner capacity to act or react with other things.  In a sentient being, this aspect of Inner Cause is a matter of choice, but in insentient beings it expresses only the capacity for action, not because of a choice but because of the natural ability to connect with other things or reject other connection, as is the case in chemical reactions.

insentient thing does not exist in isolation, hence it manifests the possibility to form a relation with the environment, through connecting with an external condition: Nyoze En. 

through the dynamism of connectedness with other sentient or insentient beings, an event (or a reaction takes place), and this event or result of interaction of the insentient thing with its environment - an effect is perceived, and is verifiable by the senses.  A visible or manifest effect is called (Nyoze Ho),

 however, there is another type of effect, which is not seen directly, but is added inwardly to the non-physical (or potential) nature of the insentient object, becoming a latent potential to repeat (Nyoze Ka), 

 and all those mentioned factors, essential for any object, occur always - they are consistent (Nyoze honmakukyoto) in any situation (of the Ten worlds). 

The mentioned Ten Factors are experienced by living beings, and also they exist on their elementary level in insentient beings.  This perspective unifies life in all its manifestations, as being MyohoRengeKyo.  

The spiritual dimension of insentient beings

A piece of wood does not decide by itself how it is going to be used.  It has a potential to be used differently depending on its users intention.  If the intention of user was directed to beneficial usage, then the piece of wood serves in the higher world of mind of the user, sentient being.  Thus, as an object, its spiritual aspect becomes of a high value when made into a statue or Butsudan, or wooden Gohonzon. If wood does not have this capacity to serve in a spiritual environment, then the spiritual and physical are separate, and this is a nonBuddhist perspective.

Nichiren says: 
          “If a piece of wood or paper lacked the cause and effect [of Buddhahood] 
        in either the material or the spiritual aspect, it would be futile to rely on it 
        as an object of devotion”.            The Object of Devotion For Observing The Mind

Each of the Ten Worlds engulfs all its inhabitants, sentient and insentient beings, in its domain, as there is no separation between sentient beings in any of the Ten Worlds and their environment.  

Do Insentient Beings have a Buddhanature
The term “Buddhanature” is usually used to describe the state of the highest spiritual attainment, that of inner harmony and harmony with the surroundings.  To reveal one’s Buddhanature, dedicated effort and action is needed.  

Insentient beings do not have emotions or consciousness of their own, and cannot act of their own, however, they do have a field of information surrounding them, and the nature of this field of information is spiritual, it is non-physical.  

The spiritual aspect on insentient being can manifests harmony with the surroundings or also deformation, depending on the life condition of people affecting the insentient beings. It is the state of life of the person, or the Buddhanature of the individual, which extends over the surroundings and attracts harmony of deformation, which insentient being accordingly manifest.  

On their own, insentient beings do not have the will to act (which the Buddhanature requires).  However, insentient beings can express the state of harmony and beneficial existence for enlightened people, becoming in fusion with the same state of Buddhanature of sentient beings. 

Each moment of mind contains the entire world: Ichinen Sanzen
At any moment, the entire world constantly manifest in the life of its uncounted inhabitants - the Ten Worlds, (which are mutually interconnected).  The inhabitants of the world, whether sentient of insentient, have the Ten Factors as their natural characteristics.  This is the reality of existence of the individual, society and the environment - all are expression of MyohoRengeKyo: a great interconnected existence of unlimited potentials.  This integral view of the life of the world at each moment - is called Ichinen Sanzen.  

The perspective of Ichinen Sanzen views each moment of life of the world as a fusion of the physical and spiritual nature of both sentient and insentient beings, with each entity manifesting one of the Ten Worlds, all governed by an order or a power of the Law of MyohoRengeKyo, which highest state od Buddhahood is NamMyohoRengeKyo.

Author: Safwan zabalawi (Darshams)

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