Lotus Buddhism / FAQ / What is the Fusion of Reality and Wisdom?

What is 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 “Subjective understanding” - how it is reflected in our mind.

Discoveries of science can be seen as results of the correct “tuning” of the mind’s understanding of reality. The mind’s understanding is the subjective aspect, while the reality of phenomena is the objective aspect.

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”

Observing the world, we obviously realise that the various phenomena we observe - are not arbitrary, but bound by certain patterns and order.  The world is not random.  All observed phenomena are interconnected, directly or indirectly, and this observation of interconnectedness of phenomena suggests the functioning of a great universal power of Order or Law binding causes with their effects.  Everything is a manifestation of the dynamic nature of this Universal Law. 

The Lotus Sutra refers to the Universal Law of existence through its title: Myoho-Renge-Kyo.  The Universal Law is described as the essence that binds actions or Causes with their Effects.  Such an order or Law is the mechanism of how reality operates. Reality is the stage where all actions and reactions, causes and effects, are manifestations of the Universal Law of life.  It is omnipresent in all phenomena and relationships of both physical and mental dimensions. 

The objectivity of operation of this Law of life is described in the Lotus Sutra by the concept of “suchness”.  The Law operates “as such” - or “Nyoze” (a word, which can be translated as “existing as it is”).  To exist ‘as such’ - means there is no further reference to reduce (or explain) this Law.  It is the most fundamental essence of  “reality - as it-is”.

All laws of nature are derived from this Universal Law.  In the mental field of life as well, feelings, reactions, behaviour etc… follow patterns of causes and effects (whether pertaining to events of harmony or those of tension, events of happiness or those of sufferings).  Reality of life expresses diverse states - but they all operate based on “causes leading to consequences”.

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 emerges through one’s enlightenment to the Law of Reality.

It would be - of course - unwise to oppose the power of the Universal Law, the power which operates our own body and mind.  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?

“Knowledge alone cannot give rise to value. It is only when knowledge is guided by wisdom that value is created.”

In his article on the subject, Buddhist philosopher Daisaku 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 L.S. vol 6 p212).

While knowledge can be just an organised collection of neutral facts, wisdom has a direction: that to create value through compassion. Compassion is inseparable from correct thinking and establishing harmony through wisdom:

“Intelligence infused with compassion… is true wisdom”.

 (Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra vol 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 of water and gaining the benefit of 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 inner “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 (wisdom) - with the objective reality of life, which is based on the Universal Law of existence.  In effect of this perfect tuning of the mind of the individual (to the truth of the objective Law) one can understand the depth of what is occurring and 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 (referred to as 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 (or states of mind), however, our subjective views about the meaning of events we experience - get distorted because of illusions arising from mistaken reasoning, or from tension caused by emotionalism of the ego-mind.  For example, a judgement taken in the state of ‘anger’ can be very different from being taken in the world or state of ‘compassion’, etc.  One’s wisdom follows one’s maturity and self-mastery of the various motivations one possesses.

We cannot create correct judgment about our reality if we use the state of mind governed by the lower worlds.  For example, a decision taken in what Buddhism describes as ‘‘The world of hunger’ - or greed - would lead to foolish action of ignorance (ignorance about the consequences of the greed-dominated motivation).  In ‘the world of anger’ - as another example - one is carried away by one’s own emotions without employing reason or flexibility.  Similarly, when ‘the world of hell’ or suffering overwhelms our life with hopelessness and destructive views, then our mind of correct thinking is blocked.

Through making efforts aimed at self-mastery (Human Revolution), our reasoning and understanding the events of reality - become enriched by the mindset of learning and of gaining insight.  Efforts and dedication to transform existing situations towards benefit for self & others display the highest state of mind.

In Buddhist terms, the state of study, compassion and self development is called the Bodhisattva world of mind - leading to enlightenment (the Buddha state).   Accordingly, one’s actions emerging from the world of Bodhisattva-Buddha is the true cause for leading a life of wisdom, compassion and courage.

The Universal Law (MyohoRengeKyo) manifests itself in the spectrum of all states of mind. To distinguish the highest state iof human nature - the word (Nam) is added to the words referring to the Universal Law (Myoho-Renge-Kyo):

Nam - expresses the ‘subjective aspect’, being the individual’s desire for harmony with -
Myoho-Renge-Kyo being the ‘objective aspect’ of the reality of life.

In the Orally Transmitted Teachings (p. 218), 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”.

Understanding the word Nam as one’s wisest desire - to be in harmony and devotion to the Universal Law, gives the phrase NamMyohoRengeKyo a dimension manifesting the fusion of one’s own mind - with the reality of life.

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. 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”. 

Source: The Buddha in Your Mirror - by Woody A  Hochswender, Greg Martin and Ted Morino - page 85: