In Buddhism, all matter is believed to be composed of the five elements: earth, water, fire, wind and
. These are known as the "five great elements" and, in fact, the five-storied pagoda is symbolic of
these five elements which a person is restored to after death.

The word
engi is a shortened form of the expression in-nen sho-ki. This four-character phrase means
that everything has cause and condition. "Cause"
(in) are the factors that directly bring about a result.
"Condition" (
en) refers to factors which complement the primary "cause." The cause (in) combined with
the condition (
en) equals karma. The example of a flower is often used to explain this: A flower blooms
because seeds are planted and shoots come forth. The seed is the direct cause for the blooming of the
flower. However, flowers will not grow simply from seeds, they must be given water and sunshine. In
this instance, water and sunlight are indirect factors causing the flower to bloom, and are, in other words,

In the same way that a flower is made to bloom as a result of the "cause" -- the seed -- and the
"conditions" of the water and sunshine, all existence, including ourselves, are not realized independently,
but materialize, or come into existence as a result of various causes and conditions. Hence, all
phenomena are manifested as a result of the mutual relationship of innumerable causes and conditions.
Engi refers to the fact that when causes and conditions change, the phenomena or thing will also change.
Therefore, this suggests "impermanence" (all things arise, change and are extinguished), and "no self"
(no existence) is absolute and immutable or unchangeable.

To be more specific, human beings are supported by the entire universe. If a person eats a potato that
potato is assimilated into the human body and thus becomes human. Likewise, when a person eats beef,
the beef becomes human. That is why we cannot pray for the enlightenment of human beings alone. We
must also pray for the enlightenment of all living things. Only the
Lotus Sutra teaches enlightenment for
all living beings.  The mergence of billions of lives constitutes "all living beings."

We see plants blooming everyday. The flower dies, but still life remains and the plant will blossom again.
Yet, there is no person "A" who will be reborn as person "A."  If person "A" were to be reborn as
person "A" he or she would have to have the same parents, live at the same address, have the same
classmates and teachers as in this life, otherwise it will not be the same person "A."  A man who is a
good marksman in this life will not be reborn a good marksman in the next life.

Hate, sadness, love are causes and conditions which impact our karma and determine our destiny.
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo is also a cause and condition which affects our karma. When one dies
the spirit will merge with the universe, but it is not certain where in the universe it will reside. The
universe is composed of innumerable lives. From previous lifetimes these lives have formed connections
or relationships. Where a spirit comes to reside is determined by its relationship with other lives in the
universe, or its relationship with the universe as a whole. For a human being to create a relationship with
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo will make a big difference. When one is connected to
Myohorengekyo it is
By Reverend Raido Hirota
Translated and edited by the Udumbara Foundation volunteers
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the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai