The practical meaning of the concept of Ichinen Sanzen

The principle of Ichinen Sanzen teaches that:

“one’s life at each moment” (Ichinen) - “contains great potentials” (Sanzen).

In other words:  “At each moment, one’s life has the power to shape one’s future and influence the environment”. 

Ichinen Sanzen opens the field of hope and equal potentials among all people

In terms of the individual, the principle of Ichinen Sanzen teaches that one’s life has many potentials - the highest of which is Enlightenment.  This applies to all people.  All people are equal in having the capacity to manifest the highest state of mind, regardless of references to ethnicity, race or gender, age or state of intellect.

There are no special people in the reality of life, which is the Ichinen Sanzen; what applies to one individual applies to others.  There are no ‘superior individuals’. This implies that there is no ground for one’s inferiority towards anyone. 

The present moment contains the future:

Because - according to the principle of Ichinen Sanzen - this moment of time contains many potentials - then this also means that the future is not fixed. 

The teaching of Ichinen Sanzen relies on the fact that at ‘each moment’ (Ichinen) we experience a certain state of mind (of the Ten Worlds) and their mutual possession.  Our mood affects our relationships and affects the life of people in our surroundings.  The future impact of our relationships is decided at the present moment.

In essence, the principle of Ichinen Sanzen allows the vision, which paves the way for transformation of one’s current reality into the highest potential: the life state of Buddhahood.

According to the principle of Ichinen Sanzen, it is the ‘power of determination at this moment’ (Ichinen) that can bring to our future the desired scenarios (or goals) we truly want. The essence of the future depends solely on our wholehearted determination at each moment (Ichinen).  By raising our state of life, and attracting favorite circumstances, we can definitely realize our future goals.  P.Ikeda explains:

"’What kind of future do I envision?’ you may ask yourself. ‘What kind of self am I trying to develop? What do I want to accomplish in my life?’

Paint this vision of your life in your heart as specifically as possible. This "painting" becomes the design for your future. The power of the heart enables you to actually execute a wonderful masterpiece in accordance with that design.

This is the doctrine of [this] life-moment possessing 3,000 realms.

The more specific and detailed the blueprint we have in our hearts, the better. The point is to continue vividly painting the target we have and to advance toward that goal single-mindedly. Then, at each instant, the reality of our lives will gradually approach the painting that is our aspiration.

Everything depends on what is in our hearts. Heartfelt prayers will definitely be answered. If we decide that something is impossible, then, consistent with our minds in thinking so, even things possible will become impossible.

On the other hand, if we have the confidence that we can definitely do something, we are already one step closer to achieving it.

In accordance with the principle of a life-moment possessing 3,000 realms, pessimistic thoughts or feelings take form, just as they are, in reality, [if not challenged], producing negative results. People who have negative thoughts create effects in reality for themselves that perfectly match their thinking.

So it is important to be optimistic. There is no such thing as pessimism in Buddhism. The Lotus Sutra gives us the key that enables us to possess great confidence and burn with hope even amid circumstances that appear despairing. Nichiren Daishonin proved this”.



The Principle of Ichinen Sanzen speaks about this moment (ichinen) as being the decisive moment which conditions our future. What about the burden of our impediments and past karma, in having effect on our future?


Generally speaking, Traditional Buddhism (Pre-Lotus) regards karma as the property of the past.  Nichiren’s teachings explain karma as more of ‘a property’ of the present moment:

-   “Karma is being formed at each moment in course of life’s perpetual motion. In the present instant also, new karma is being fashioned as it transforms karma from the past”. Ikeda and Wickramasinghe, Space and Eternal Life, page 119.

-   “The important thing is right now - the present moment. Our present inner resolve, our determination, enables us to sever the bonds of karmic causality by the strength arising from within - and enter the sure path of happiness”.

The Importance of the Present Moment

-   “The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddhism of the True Cause, the Buddhism of the present and the future. We do not dwell on the past. We are always challenging ourselves from this present moment towards the future. Because we advance with this spirit, we will never be deadlocked.” Daily Encouragement, p. 306


Implications of the Principle of Ichinen Sanzen