I need to acknowledge a few of things regarding all content in my blogs. First of all the process of writing this blog is part of my seeking nature and does not suggest that I have mastered the concepts. In fact, I do not know that we ever master all the concepts because enlightenment is a never ending daily process and is not an end state, which many people think it is. For example, over time our understanding of a concept like Earthly Desires Equal Enlightenment evolves. Our current life condition, life state, has a direct impact on how we interpret it. So I never feel that I have “now mastered” a particular Nichiren Buddhist teaching but rather I am continuing to learn. Second, before I write one of these blogs I prepare by studying various material on Nichiren Buddhism. In many cases I study books written by Daisaku Ikea and other times I study material written by other Nichiren Buddhists. So what I write is my current perception or understanding of the concepts, which again, is always evolving. Third, the blogs are intended to stimulate thought and reflection and ideally encourage a spirit to keep seeking a better understanding and not to simply accept what I have written.
When most people think of Buddhism they tend to think about the need to rid oneself from attachments in order to avoid suffering. Can you imagine what life would be like if a person were able to rid themselves of all desires? No desire for a relationship. No desire for family. No desire to earn enough money to sustain a place to live. No desire to make others happy. What kind of life would that be? How would it prepare you to contribute to society? What kind of enlightenment is that?
It is true that there are schools of Buddhism that focus on this early pre-Lotus Sutra teaching. However, the Lotus Sutra recognizes that having desires and emotions are a part of human nature and encourages that we use our desires to fuel our path to enlightenment. At the same time, it does not suggest that the objects of our desire will lead to enlightenment or provide happiness. So what is meant by earthly desires equal enlightenment if achieving those desires does not provide enlightenment or happiness?
Earthly desires in and of themselves are neither positive or negative, but rather simply innate to human nature. It is how you deal with those desires that can turn them into a positive or negative force in your life and your environment. Remember that your environment is a reflection of your inner state or life condition. The Lotus Sutra teaches that we can and should transform our desires into wisdom. In other words, Buddhist practice enables us to see the true nature of our desires through meditation and then use them as a driving force to gain happiness, wisdom and enlightenment into our Buddha nature. It is through meditation on achieving our desires we gain insights into our life that help us achieve happiness for ourselves and in our environment. Whether we actually achieve the desire or not is secondary. Often times when chanting for something we are awaken to the reality that the desire would not make our core life any better and we choose no longer to pursue it or we pursue it from a different perspective that we had not thought of before. For example, we frequently refer to the idea of someone chanting to complete a large drug deal to make money. They chant for days, maybe weeks about it. Then when the opportunity arises, they do not complete the deal because they realize that selling drugs is not a positive cause for their happiness but rather a negative one that will impact their life negatively.
In theory this sounds practical, but in practice I still find chanting/meditating to achieve my desires can be tricky. It is easy to get caught up on the desire itself and to forget that the desire is what leads us to chant and the chanting is what leads to awakening our Buddha nature. For myself, I find it most effective to chant to awaken my Buddha nature/wisdom to help me achieve my desires, rather than chanting directly for the desire blindly so to speak. After all, for me, more than anything I want to tap into by Buddha nature first and foremost and the desire helps spend more time chanting. And it is clear to me that if I did not have some strong desires it would be difficult to chant consistently and with vigor. For other people, chanting specifically to achieve their desire effective for them.
I do not believe that there is only one way to bring out our enlightenment through chanting to achieve our desires. I think that it varies by person and it may even change day by day depending upon our life condition. I encourage people to frequently study the concept. Each time you study it you may see it from a different light and it may help how you chant and even the effectiveness. The key is to keep a seeking spirit and to keep chanting to tap into your Buddha nature.