inconspicuous benefit ［冥益］ ( myōyaku): Benefit deriving from Buddhist practice that accumulates over a period of time and is not immediately recognizable. The term is contrasted with conspicuous benefit, or benefit that appears in clearly recognizable form. In The Teaching, Practice, and Proof, Nichiren (1222–1282) explains conspicuous and inconspicuous benefit, respectively, as the benefit of the Buddhism of the harvest and that of the Buddhism of sowing. Those who attained Buddhahood during Shakyamuni’s lifetime and in the subsequent two thousand years of the Former Day and Middle Day of the Law had already received the seed of Buddhahood from Shakyamuni in the remote past and nurtured it over many kalpas until their capacity for enlightenment had all but matured. Therefore, they were able to reap the fruit of enlightenment when they practiced Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings during his lifetime or in the Former Day and Middle Day of the Law. The fruit or benefit of their enlightenment was conspicuous and ready for harvest.
In the Latter Day of the Law, however, people receive the seed of Buddhahood in their lives for the first time. The growth of this seed is not immediately recognizable. Therefore, the benefit of the Buddhism of sowing is called inconspicuous benefit. Practically speaking, conspicuous and inconspicuous benefits are not two different types of benefit but two different ways in which benefit appears. Inconspicuous benefit is likened to the gradual growth of a tree—the growth is real, but difficult to recognize in the short run. In the long run, however, the shade or fruit the tree provides can be conspicuously appreciated. In a similar manner, the inconspicuous benefit that derives from the practice of the correct teaching in the Latter Day eventually finds conspicuous expression in the present life of the practitioner.