The Opening of the Eyes
- Kaimoku Sho -
From this time forward, the great bodhisattvas as well as Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon and the Four Heavenly Kings became the disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings. Thus, in the Hoto chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha treats these great bodhisattvas as his disciples, admonishing and instructing them in these words: "So I say to the great assembly: After I have passed into extinction, who can guard and uphold, read and recite this sutra? Now in the presence of the Buddha let him come forward and speak his vow!" This was the solemn way he addressed them. Then, among the great bodhisattvas, it was "as though a great wind were tossing the branches of small trees." Like the kusha grass bending before a great wind or like rivers and streams drawn to the great ocean, so were they drawn to the Buddha.
But it was still a relatively short time since the Buddha had begun to preach the Lotus Sutra on Eagle Peak, and what he said seemed to his listeners dreamlike and unreal. The treasure tower had first appeared to confirm the correctness of the theoretical teaching in the first half of the Lotus Sutra, and after that the treasure tower prepared the way for the expounding of the essential teaching in the latter half. The Buddhas of the ten directions gathered in assembly, Shakyamuni Buddha announcing that all of these were emanations of his body. The treasure tower hung in the air, with Shakyamuni and Taho seated side by side in it, as though both the sun and the moon had appeared side by side in the blue sky. The great assembly of human and heavenly beings were ranged about the sky like stars, and the Buddhas who were emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha were on the ground, seated on their lion seats under jeweled trees.
In the Lotus Treasury World described in the Kegon Sutra, the Buddhas in their reward bodies all dwell in their separate lands. Buddhas of other worlds do not come to this world and call themselves emanations, [as happened in the case of the Lotus Sutra,] nor do Buddhas of this world go to other worlds. Only me and the other great bodhisattvas come and go.
As for the nine honored ones in the eight-petaled lotus and the thirty-seven honored ones, described in the Dainichi and Kongocho sutras, respectively, although they appear to be transformation bodies of the Buddha Mahavairochana, they are not Buddhas enlightened since the remote past or endowed with the three bodies.
The thousand Buddhas described in the Daibon hannya Sutra and the Buddhas of the six directions represented in the Amida Sutra never assembled in this world, [as did the Buddha’s emanations in the Lotus Sutra]. The Buddhas who assembled when the Daijuku Sutra was preached were not emanations of Shakyamuni. The four Buddhas of the four directions depicted in the Konkomyo Sutra are transformation bodies of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Thus, in the various sutras other than the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni does not assemble Buddhas who carry out different austerities and practices and who possess the three bodies, nor does he identify them as emanations of himself. [Only in the Hoto chapter of the Lotus Sutra does he do so.] This chapter, then, is intended as an introduction to the Juryo chapter that follows later. Shakyamuni Buddha who was believed to have attained enlightenment for the first time only some forty and more years previously, calls together Buddhas who had become enlightened as long ago as one or even ten kalpas in the past, and declares that they are emanations of himself. This is a far cry indeed from the Buddha’s usual preaching on the equality of all Buddhas [in their Dharma bodies], and in fact a cause of great astonishment. If Shakyamuni had attained enlightenment for the first time only some forty years earlier, there could hardly have been so many beings in the ten directions who had received his instruction. And even if he was privileged to possess emanations, there would have been no benefit in his showing them to his listeners. T’ien-t’ai, describing what went on in the astonished minds of the assembly, says: "It was evident to them that Shakyamuni Buddha possessed numerous emanations. Therefore they understood that he must have attained enlightenment in the far distant past."
In addition, the great bodhisattvas as numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds appeared, rising up out of the ground. Even Fugen and Monju, who had been regarded as the leading disciples of Shakyamuni, could not compare to them. The great bodhisattvas described in the assemblies in the sutras of the Kegon, Hodo and Hannya periods and the Hoto chapter of the Lotus Sutra, or Kongosatta and the others of the sixteen great bodhisattvas of the Dainichi [and Kongocho] sutras, when compared with these newly arrived bodhisattvas, seemed like a pack of apes or monkeys, with the new bodhisattvas appearing among them like so many Taishakus. It was as though great ministers of court should mingle with humble mountain folk. Even Miroku, who was to be the next Buddha after Shakyamuni, was perplexed by them, to say nothing of the lesser personages in the assembly.
Among these great bodhisattvas as numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds there were four great sages called Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jyogyo and Anryugyo. In the presence of these four, the other bodhisattvas suspended in the air or seated on Eagle Peak could not bear to gaze on them face to face or begin to fathom their dignity. Even the four bodhisattvas of the Kegon Sutra, the four bodhisattvas of the Dainichi Sutra or the sixteen great bodhisattvas of the Kongocho Sutra, when in the presence of these four, were like bleary-eyed men trying to peer at the sun, or like humble fishermen appearing in audience before the emperor. These four were like T’ai-kung Wang and the others of the four sages of ancient China, who towered above the multitude. They were like the Four White-Haired Elders of Mount Shang who assisted Emperor Hui. Solemn, dignified, they were beings of great and lofty stature. Aside from Shakyamuni, Taho and the emanations of Shakyamuni from the ten directions, they were worthy of being good friends upon whom all beings could rely.
Then Bodhisattva Miroku began to consider the matter in his mind. He said to himself, "Since Shakyamuni Buddha was a crown prince and during the forty-two years since he gained enlightenment at the age of thirty up until this gathering on Eagle Peak, I have known all the bodhisattvas of this world, and all the great bodhisattvas that have come from the worlds of the ten directions to attend the assemblies. Moreover, I have visited the pure and impure lands of the ten directions, sometimes as the Buddha’s emissary, at other times on my own initiative, and I have become acquainted with all the great bodhisattvas of those various lands. As for these great bodhisattvas who have appeared from the earth, what kind of Buddha is their teacher? Surely he must be a Buddha who is incomparably superior to Shakyamuni, Taho and the emanation Buddhas from the ten directions! From the fury of the rain, we can judge the greatness of the dragon that caused it to fall; from the size of the lotus flower, we can tell the depth of the pond that produced it. Now from what land did these great bodhisattvas come, what Buddha did they follow, and what great teaching have they practiced?"
Thus did Bodhisattva Miroku wonder to himself, becoming so puzzled that he was unable to utter a sound. But, perhaps through the Buddha’s power, he was at last able to put his doubts into words, saying:
Immeasurable thousands, ten thousands, millions,
a great host of bodhisattvas
such as was never seen in the past -
This host of bodhisattvas
with their great dignity, virtue and diligence -
who preached the Law for them,
who taught and converted them and brought them to this?
Under whom did they first set their minds on enlightenment,
what Buddha’s Law do they praise and proclaim?
World-Honored One, from times past
I have seen nothing like this!
I beg you to tell me where they come from,
the name of the land.
I have constantly journeyed from land to land
but never have I seen such a thing!
In this whole multitude
there is not one person that I know.
Suddenly they have come up from the earth —
I beg you to explain the cause.
[Paraphrasing Miroku’s statement,] T’ien-t’ai comments: "Since the time of the Buddha’s enlightenment at the place of meditation up until the present gathering, great bodhisattvas unceasingly came from the worlds in the ten directions to attend the various assemblies. Their numbers are unlimited, but I, with the wisdom and power appropriate to the next Buddha, have been able to see and know every single one of them. And yet among the newly arrived multitude, I do not know a single person-this in spite of the fact that I have traveled in the ten directions, have served the various Buddhas, and am well known among their audiences."
Miao-lo comments: "Wise men can perceive the cause of things, as snakes know the way of snakes."
The meaning of these passages of scripture and commentary is perfectly clear. In effect, from the time of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment up until the present assembly [on Eagle Peak], in this land and in all the lands of the ten directions Bodhisattva Miroku had never seen or heard of these bodhisattvas that came forth from the earth.
The Buddha, replying to Miroku’s doubts, said: "Ajita, these bodhisattvas ... whom you have never seen before in the past - when I had attained supreme perfect enlightenment in this saha world, I converted and guided these bodhisattvas, trained their minds and caused them to develop a longing for the Way."
He also said: "When I was in the vicinity of the city of Gaya, seated beneath the bodhi tree, I attained the highest, the correct enlightenment and turned the wheel of the unsurpassed Law. Thereafter I taught and converted them, caused them for the first time to set their minds on the way. Now all of them dwell in the stage of no regression ... Ever since the long distant past I have been teaching and converting this multitude."
But Miroku and the other great bodhisattvas were further perplexed by these words of the Buddha. When the Buddha preached the Kegon Sutra, Hoe and countless other great bodhisattvas appeared in the assembly. Miroku and the others wondered who they could be, but the Buddha said, "They are my good friends," and they thought this must be true. Later, when the Buddha preached [the Daijuku Sutra] at the Great Treasure Chamber and [the Daibon hannya Sutra] at the White Heron Lake, great bodhisattvas appeared in the assembly and Miroku and the others supposed that they too were good friends of the Buddha.
But these great bodhisattvas who had newly appeared out of the earth looked incomparably more venerable than those earlier bodhisattvas. One might conclude that they were the teachers of Shakyamuni Buddha, and yet the Buddha had "caused them for the first time to set their minds on the way," and, when they were still immature, had converted them and made them his disciples. It was this that Miroku and the others found so profoundly perplexing.
Prince Shotoku of Japan was the son of Emperor Yomei, the thirty-second sovereign. When he was six years old, elderly men came to Japan from the states of Paekche and Koguryo in Korea and from the land of China. The six-year-old prince thereupon exclaimed, "These are my disciples!" and the old men in turn pressed their palms together in reverence and said, "You are our teacher!" This was a strange happening indeed.
There is a similar story found in a secular work. According to this work, a man was walking along a road when he saw by the roadside a young man of about thirty who was beating an old man of about eighty. When he asked the reason, the young man replied, "This old man is my son."
Bodhisattva Miroku, continuing to doubt, said: "World Honored One, when the Thus Come One was crown prince, you left the palace of the Shakyas and sat in the place of meditation not far from the city of Gaya, and there attained supreme perfect enlightenment. Barely forty years or more have passed since then. World-Honored One, how in that short time could you have accomplished so much work as a Buddha?"
The various bodhisattvas who had attended the numerous assemblies held in the forty-some years since the Buddha preached the Kegon Sutra had raised doubts at each assembly, asking the Buddha to dispel these doubts for the benefit of the multitude. But this present doubt was the greatest doubt of all. It surpassed even the doubt entertained by Daishogon and the others of the eighty thousand bodhisattvas described in the Muryogi Sutra when the Buddha, after declaring in the previous forty-some years of his teaching that enlightenment was something that required countless kalpas to attain, now announced that it could be attained quickly.
According to the Kammuryoju Sutra, King Ajatashatru, led astray by Devadatta, imprisoned his father and was on the point of killing his mother, Lady Vaidehi. Reprimanded by the court ministers Jivaka and Chandraprabha, however, he spared his mother’s life. At that time she begged that the Buddha appear to her and then she began by posing this question: "What offense have I committed in the past that I should have given birth to this evil son? And, World-Honored One, through what cause have you come to be related to a person as evil as your cousin Devadatta?"
Of the doubts raised here, the second is the more perplexing, the question of why the Buddha should be related to an evil person like Devadatta. A wheel-turning king, we are told, is never born into the world along with his enemies, nor is the god Taishaku to be found in the company of demons. The Buddha had been a merciful personage for countless kalpas. Yet the fact that Shakyamuni was born together with his archenemy might make one doubt whether he was indeed a Buddha at all. The Buddha, however, did not answer the question of Lady Vaidehi. Therefore, if one reads only the Kammuryoju Sutra and does not examine the Devadatta chapter of the Lotus Sutra, one will never know the truth of the matter.
In the Nirvana Sutra, Bodhisattva Kashyapa posed thirty-six questions to the Buddha, but even these cannot compare to this question posed by Miroku. If the Buddha had failed to dispel Miroku’s doubts, the sacred teachings of his entire lifetime would have amounted to no more than froth on the water, and all living beings would have remained tangled in the snare of doubt. That was why it was so important for him to preach the Juryo chapter.
Later, when the Buddha preached the Juryo chapter, he said: "In all the worlds the heavenly and human beings and asuras all believe that the present Shakyamuni Buddha, after leaving the palace of the Shakyas, seated himself in the place of meditation not far from the city of Gaya and there attained supreme perfect enlightenment." This passage expresses the view held by all the great bodhisattvas and the rest of the multitude from the time of the Buddha’s first preaching at the place of enlightenment until his preaching of the Anrakugyo chapter of the Lotus Sutra. "But, good men," the Buddha continued, "it has been immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of kalpas since I in fact attained Buddhahood."
In three places the Kegon Sutra says that the Buddha attained enlightenment for the first time in his present existence. In the Agon sutras he speaks of having attained the way for the first time in his present existence; the Vimalakirti Sutra states, "The Buddha first sat beneath the bodhi tree"; in the Daijuku Sutra, "It is sixteen years [since the Thus Come One first attained the way]"; in the Dainichi Sutra, "when I long ago sat in the place of meditation"; in the Ninno Sutra, "twenty-nine years [since his enlightenment]"; in the Muryogi Sutra, "In the past I sat upright in the place of meditation"; and in the Hoben chapter of the Lotus Sutra, "I first sat in the place of meditation." But now all these passages have been exposed as gross falsehoods by this single pronouncement in the Juryo chapter.
When Shakyamuni Buddha revealed that he had gained enlightenment in the far distant past, it became apparent that all the other Buddhas were emanations of Shakyamuni. When the Buddha preached the earlier sutras and the first half, or theoretical teaching, of the Lotus Sutra, the other Buddhas were pictured as standing on an equal footing with Shakyamuni, after completing their respective practices and disciplines. Therefore the people who pay devotion to one or another of these Buddhas as the object of worship customarily look down on Shakyamuni Buddha. But now it becomes apparent that Vairochana Buddha, who is described in the Kegon Sutra as being seated on a lotus pedestal, and the various Buddhas who appear in the sutras of the Hodo and Hannya periods, such as the Dainichi Sutra, are all in fact followers of Shakyamuni Buddha.
When Shakyamuni Buddha attained the way at the age of thirty, he seized the saha world away from the heavenly king Daibonten and the Devil of the Sixth Heaven, who had ruled it previously, and made it his own. In the earlier sutras and the first half of the Lotus Sutra, he called the regions of the ten directions pure lands and spoke of the present world as an impure land. But now, in the Juryo chapter he has reversed this, revealing that this world is the true land and that the so-called pure lands of the ten directions are impure lands, mere provisional lands.
Since the Buddha [of the Juryo chapter] is revealed as the eternal Buddha [and all the other Buddhas as his emanations], it follows that not only the great bodhisattvas whom Shakyamuni himself taught in his transient status but the great bodhisattvas from other realms [who were taught by the Buddhas of their own realms] are also in fact disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings. If, among all the numerous sutras, this Juryo chapter should be lacking, it would be as though there were no sun and moon in the sky, no supreme ruler in the nation, no gems in the mountains and rivers, and no spirit in human beings.
Nevertheless, Ch’eng-kuan, Chia-hsiang, Tz’u-en, Kobo and others, seemingly learned men of provisional sects such as Kegon and Shingon, in order to praise the various sutras upon which their provisional doctrines are based, go so far as to say, "The Buddha of the Kegon Sutra is the Buddha in his reward body, while the Buddha of the Lotus Sutra is merely the Buddha in his manifested body." Or they say, "The Buddha of the Juryo chapter of the Lotus Sutra is in the region of darkness, while the Buddha of the Dainichi Sutra occupies the position of enlightenment."
As clouds obscure the moon, so calumnious ministers can obscure a man of true worth. A yellow stone, if people praise it, may be mistaken for a jewel, and ministers who are skilled in flattery may be mistaken for worthy men. In this impure age we live in, scholars and students are confused by the slanderous assertions of the kind of men I have mentioned above, and they do not appreciate the true worth of the jewel of the Juryo chapter. Even among the men of the Tendai sect there are those who have become so deluded that they cannot distinguish gold from mere stones.
One should consider the fact that, if the Buddha had not attained enlightenment in the distant past, there could not have been so many disciples who were converted and instructed by him. The moon is not selfish with its reflection, but if there is no water, then its reflection will not be seen. The Buddha may be very anxious to convert all people, but if the connection between them is not strong enough, then he cannot go through the eight phases of a Buddha’s existence. For example, the voice-hearers attained the first stage of security or the first stage of development but so long as they followed the teachings that preceded the Lotus Sutra and sought only to regulate and save themselves, they had to postpone the attainment of the eight phases of a Buddha’s existence to some future lifetime.
If Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, had attained enlightenment for the first time in his present existence, then when he preached the Lotus Sutra, Bonten Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon and the Four Heavenly Kings, though they had ruled over this world since the beginning of the kalpa of continuance, would have been disciples of the Buddha for no longer than forty-some years. These beings would then have established their connection with the Lotus Sutra for the first time during the eight years of preaching at Eagle Peak. They would thus have been like newcomers, unable to attach themselves unreservedly to their lord, and kept at a distance by those who had been present longer.
But now that it has become apparent that Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment countless kalpas ago, then the bodhisattvas Nikko and Gakko, who attend the Thus Come One, Yakushi of the eastern region, the bodhisattvas Kannon and Seishi, who attend the Thus Come One Amida of the western region, along with the disciples of all the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten directions and the great bodhisattvas who are disciples of the Thus Come One Mahavairochana as they are shown in the Dainichi and Kongocho sutras-all of these beings are disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings. Since the various Buddhas themselves are emanations of the Thus Come One Shakyamuni, it goes without saying that their disciples must be disciples of Shakyamuni. And of course the various deities of the sun, moon and stars, who have dwelt in this world since the beginning of the kalpa of continuance, must likewise be disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Nevertheless, the sects of Buddhism other than Tendai have gone astray concerning the true object of worship. The Kusha, Jojitsu and Ritsu sects take as their object of worship the Shakyamuni Buddha who eliminated illusions and attained the way by practicing thirty-four kinds of spiritual purification. This is comparable to a situation in which the heir apparent of the supreme ruler of a state mistakenly believes himself to be the son of a commoner. The four sects of Kegon, Shingon, Sanron and Hosso are all Mahayana schools of Buddhism. Among them the Hosso and Sanron sects honor a Buddha who is comparable to the Buddha of the superior manifested body. This is like the heir of the supreme ruler supposing that his father was a member of the warrior class. The Kegon and Shingon sects look down upon Shakyamuni Buddha and declare the Buddha Vairochana and the Buddha Mahavairochana to be their respective objects of worship. This is like the heir looking down upon his own father, the supreme ruler, and paying honor to one who is of obscure origin simply because that person pretends to be the sovereign who abides by the principles of righteousness. The Pure Land sect considers itself to be most closely related to the Buddha Amida, who is an emanation of Shakyamuni, and abandons Shakyamuni himself who is the lord of teachings. The Zen sect behaves like a person of low birth who makes much of his small achievements and despises his father and mother. Thus the Zen sect looks down upon both the Buddha and the sutras. All of these sects are misled concerning the true object of worship. They are like the people who lived in the age before the Three Sovereigns of ancient China and did not know who their own fathers were. In that respect, the people of that time were no different from birds and beasts.
The people of these sects who are ignorant of the teachings of the Juryo chapter are similarly like beasts. They do not understand to whom they are obligated. Therefore Miao-lo states: "Among all the teachings of the Buddha’s lifetime, there is no place [other than the Juryo chapter] where the true longevity of the Buddha is revealed. A person ought to know how old his father and mother are. If a son does not even know how old his father is, he will also be in doubt as to what lands his father presides over. Though he may be idly praised for his talent and ability, he cannot be counted as a son at all!"
The Great Teacher Miao-lo lived in the T’ien-pao era (742-756) in the latter part of the T’ang dynasty. He made a deep and thorough examination of the Sanron, Kegon, Hosso, Shingon and other schools and the sutras upon which they are based. Then, he concluded that if one fails to become acquainted with the Buddha of the Juryo chapter, one is no more than a talented animal who does not even know what lands his father presides over. "Though he may be idly praised for his talent and ability" refers to men like Fa-tsang and Ch’eng-kuan of the Kegon school or the Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei of the Shingon school. These teachers had talent and ability, yet they were like sons who do not even know their own father.
The Great Teacher Dengyo was the patriarch of both esoteric and exoteric Buddhism in Japan. In his Hokke shuku he writes: "The sutras that the other sects are based upon give expression in a certain measure to the mother-like nature of the Buddha. But they convey only a sense of love and are lacking in a sense of [fatherly] sternness. It is only the Tendai-Hokke sect that combines a sense of both love and sternness. The Lotus Sutra is ‘father of all sages, worthies, those still learning, those who have completed their learning, and those who set their minds on becoming bodhisattvas.’ " The sutras that form the basis of the Shingon and Kegon sects do not even contain the terms "sowing," "maturing" and "harvesting," much less the doctrine to which these terms refer. When the sutras of the Kegon and Shingon sects assert that their followers will enter the first stage of development and achieve Buddhahood in their present body, they are putting forth the teachings of the provisional sutras alone, teachings that conceal [the seeds sowed in] the past. To expect to harvest [the fruit of Buddhahood] without knowing the seed first sowed is like the minister Chao Kao attempting to seize the throne or the priest Dokyo trying to become emperor of Japan.
The various sects argue with one another, each claiming that its sutra contains the true seeds of enlightenment. I do not intend to enter the argument. I will let the sutras speak for themselves. Thus Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, speaking of the seeds of enlightenment implanted by the Lotus Sutra, designates them "the seeds without peer." And these seeds of enlightenment are the doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life as expounded by T’ien-t’ai.
The seed of enlightenment for the various Buddhas described in the Kegon Sutra, the Dainichi Sutra and the other various Mahayana sutras is the one doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. And the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai Chih-che was the only person who was capable of perceiving the truth of this doctrine. Ch’eng-kuan of the Kegon school usurped the doctrine and made it the soul of the passage in the Kegon Sutra that reads: "The mind is like a skilled painter."
The Dainichi Sutra of the Shingon school contains no mention of the fact that persons of the two vehicles can attain Buddhahood, that the Buddha Shakyamuni achieved enlightenment in the distant past, or of the doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. But after the Tripitaka Master Shubhakarasimha or Shan-wu-wei came to China, he had occasion to read the Maka shikan by T’ien-t’ai and came to gain wisdom and understanding. He then usurped the doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life, using it to interpret the passages in the Dainichi Sutra on "the reality of the mind" or that which reads, "I am the source and beginning of all things," making it the core of the Shingon teachings but adding to it the practice of mudras and mantras. And in comparing the relative merits of the Lotus Sutra and the Dainichi Sutra, he declared that while the two agree in principle, the latter is superior in practice. The mandalas of the two realms, the Shingon teachers claim, symbolize the attaining of Buddhahood by persons of the two vehicles and the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, but are these doctrines to be found anywhere in the Dainichi Sutra? Those who claim so are guilty of the grossest deception!
Therefore the Great Teacher Dengyo states: "The Shingon school of Buddhism that has recently been brought to Japan deliberately obscures how its transmission was falsified in the recording [by I-hsing, who was deceived by Shan-wu-wei], while the Kegon school that was introduced earlier attempts to disguise the fact that it was influenced by the doctrines of T’ien-t’ai."
Suppose someone were to go to some wild region like the island of Ezo and recite the famous poem:
How I think of it -
dim, dim in the morning mist
of Akashi Bay,
that boat moving out of sight
beyond the islands.
If the person told the ignorant natives of Ezo that he himself had composed the poem, they would probably believe him. The Buddhist scholars of China and Japan are equally gullible.
The priest Liang-hsu states that the doctrines of the Shingon, Zen, Kegon, Sanron..., when compared with the Lotus Sutra, are none other than a kind of introduction to the true teachings [of the Lotus Sutra]. We are told that the Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei was subjected to torments by King Emma because of his mistaken view [that the Dainichi Sutra is superior to the Lotus Sutra]. Later, he had a change of heart and became a supporter of the Lotus Sutra, which is why he was spared further torments. As evidence, when he, Pu-k’ung and the others devised the Womb Realm mandala and the Diamond Realm mandala of the Shingon school, they placed the Lotus Sutra in the center of the two mandalas as the supreme ruler, with the Dainichi Sutra depicting the Womb Realm and the Kongocho Sutra depicting the Diamond Realm to the left and right as ministers to the ruler.
When Kobo of Japan drew up a theoretical statement of the Shingon teachings, he was attracted by the Kegon sect and assigned [the Kegon Sutra to the ninth stage of advancement and] the Lotus Sutra to the eighth stage. But when he taught the practices and ceremonies to his disciples Jitsue, Shinga, Encho, Kojo and the others, he placed the Lotus Sutra in a central position, between the two realms of the Womb and the Diamond as Shan-wu-wei and Pu-k’ung did.
In a similar case, Chia-hsiang of the Sanron school, in his ten-volume Hokke genron, assigned the Lotus Sutra to the fourth of the five periods of teachings, claiming that it repudiated the two vehicles to reveal the one vehicle of the bodhisattva and then incorporated the former as the means to attain the latter. Later, however, he became converted to the teachings of T’ien-t’ai. He ceased giving lectures, dismissed his disciples and instead served T’ien-t’ai for a period of seven years, personally carrying T’ien-t’ai on his back [when T’ien-t’ai mounted an elevated seat for preaching].
Again, Tz’u-en of the Hosso school, in his seven-volume and twelve-volume Daijo hoon girin jo, states that the one vehicle doctrine set forth in the Lotus Sutra is an expedient means, and that the three vehicle doctrine represents the truth. He also makes many similarly absurd pronouncements. But in the fourth volume of the Hokke genzan yoshu, he is represented as saying that "both doctrines are to be accepted," thus bringing flexible interpretation to the tenets of his own school. Although he said that both doctrines were acceptable, in his heart he supported the T’ien-t’ai teachings on the Lotus Sutra.
Ch’eng-kuan of the Kegon school wrote a commentary on the Kegon Sutra in which he compared the Kegon and Lotus sutras and seems to have declared that the Lotus Sutra is an expedient means. But later he wrote: "The T’ien-t’ai school defines this teaching [of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life] as the truth. The doctrines of my own school, on matters of principle, do not disagree in any way with those of the T’ien-t’ai school." From this it would appear, would it not, that he regretted and reversed his earlier pronouncement.
Kobo is a similar example. If one has no mirror, one cannot see one’s own face, and if one has no opponents, one cannot learn of one’s own errors. The scholars of the Shingon and the other various sects were unaware of their errors. But after they were fortunate enough to encounter the Great Teacher Dengyo, they became conscious of the mistakes of their own particular sects.
The various Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and heavenly and human beings described in the sutras that preceded the Lotus may seem to have gained enlightenment through the particular sutras in which they appear. But in fact they attained enlightenment only through the Lotus Sutra. The general vow taken by Shakyamuni and the other Buddhas to save countless living beings finds fulfillment through the Lotus Sutra. That is the meaning of the passage of the sutra that states that the vow "has now been fulfilled."
In view of these facts, I believe that the devotees and followers of the Kegon, Kammuryoju, Dainichi and other sutras will undoubtedly be protected by the Buddhas, bodhisattvas and heavenly beings of the respective sutras that they uphold. But if the votaries of the Dainichi, Kammuryoju and other sutras should set themselves up as the enemies of the votary of the Lotus Sutra, then the Buddhas, bodhisattvas and heavenly beings will abandon them and will protect the votary of the Lotus Sutra. It is like the case of a filial son whose father opposes the ruler of the kingdom. The son will abandon his father and support the ruler, for to do so is the height of filial piety.
The same thing applies to Buddhism. The Buddhas, bodhisattvas and the ten demon daughters described in the Lotus Sutra will not fail to lend their protection to Nichiren. And in addition, the Buddhas of the six directions and the twenty-five bodhisattvas of the Pure Land sect, the twelve hundred honored ones of the Shingon sect, and the various honored ones and benevolent guardian deities of the seven sects are also certain to protect Nichiren. It is like the case of the Great Teacher Dengyo, who was protected by the guardian deities of the seven sects.
I, Nichiren, think as follows. The gods of the sun and moon and the other deities were present in the two places and three assemblies when the Lotus Sutra was preached. If a votary of the Lotus Sutra should appear, then, like iron drawn to a magnet or the reflection of the moon appearing in the water, they will instantly come forth to take on his sufferings for him and thereby fulfill the vow that they made in the presence of the Buddha. But they have yet to come and inquire of my well-being. Does this mean that I am not a votary of the Lotus Sutra? If that is so, then I must examine the text of the sutra once more in the light of my conduct and see where I am at fault.
Question: What eyes of wisdom allow you to perceive that the Nembutsu, Zen and other sects of our time are the enemies of the Lotus Sutra and evil companions who are ready to mislead all people?
Answer: I do not state personal opinions, but merely hold up the mirror of the sutras and commentaries so that the slanderers of the Law may see their ugly faces reflected there and perceive their errors. But, if they are incurably "blind," it is beyond my power.
In the Hoto chapter in the fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra we read: "At that time Taho Buddha offered half of his seat in the treasure tower to Shakyamuni Buddha ... At that time the members of the great assembly, seeing the two Thus Come Ones seated cross-legged on the lion seat in the tower of seven treasures ... And in a loud voice he [Shakyamuni Buddha] addressed all the four kinds of believers, saying, ‘Who is capable of broadly preaching the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law in this saha world? Now is the time to do so, for before long the Thus Come One will enter nirvana. The Buddha wishes to entrust this Lotus Sutra to someone so that it may be preserved.' "
This is the first pronouncement of the Buddha.
Again the chapter reads: "At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying:
This holy lord, this World-Honored One,
though he passed into extinction long ago,
still seats himself in the treasure tower,
coming here for the sake of the Law.
You people, why then do you not also
strive for the sake of the Law?
In addition, these emanations of my body,
Buddhas in immeasurable numbers
like Ganges sands,
have come, desiring to hear the Law
Each has abandoned his wonderful land,
as well as his host of disciples,
the heavenly and human beings, dragons and spirits,
and all the offerings they give him,
and has come to this place on purpose
to make certain the Law will long endure
as though a great wind
were tossing the branches of small trees.
Through this expedient means
they make certain that the Law will long endure.
So I say to the great assembly:
After I have passed into extinction,
who can guard and uphold,
read and recite this sutra?
Now in the presence of the Buddha
let him come forward and speak his vow!"
This is the second proclamation of the Buddha. The passage continues:
Taho Thus Come One, I myself,
and these emanation Buddhas who have gathered here,
surely know this is our aim.
All you good men,
each of you must consider carefully!
This is a difficult matter -
it is proper you should make a great vow.
The other sutras
number as many as Ganges sands,
but though you expound those sutras
that is not worth regarding as difficult.
If you were to seize Mount Sumeru
and fling it far off
to the measureless Buddha lands,
that too would not be difficult.
But if after the Buddha has entered extinction,
in the time of evil,
you can preach this sutra,
that will be difficult indeed!
If, when the fires come at the end of the kalpa,
one can load dry grass on his back
and enter the fire without being burned,
that would not be difficult.
But after I have passed into extinction
if one can embrace this sutra
and expound it to even one person,
that will be difficult indeed!
All you good men,
after I have entered extinction
who can guard and uphold,
read and recite this sutra?
Now in the presence of the Buddha
let him come forward and speak his vow!
This is the third admonition from the Buddha. The fourth and fifth admonitions are found in the Devadatta chapter and I will deal with them later.
The meaning of these passages from the sutra is right before our eyes, obvious as the sun suspended in the blue sky or a mole on a white face. And yet the blind ones, those with perverse eyes, the one-eyed, those who believe no one but their own teachers, and those who cling to biased views cannot see it!
For those who earnestly seek the way, in spite of all difficulties, I will try to demonstrate what these passages mean. But they must understand that the truth is more rarely met with than the peaches of immortality that grow in the garden of the Queen Mother of the West, or the udumbara flower that blooms only when a wheel-turning king appears. Moreover, the conflict [between Nichiren and the various sects] surpasses the eight years of warfare when the governor of P’ei and Hsiang Yu battled for the empire of China, the seven years when Yoritomo and Munemori fought for the islands of Japan, the struggles between Taishaku and the asuras, or between the dragon kings and the garuda birds at the Anavatapta Lake.
The truth of the Lotus Sutra has made its appearance twice in the country of Japan. You should understand that it appeared once with the Great Teacher Dengyo and again with Nichiren. But the sightless ones doubt this; it is beyond my power to convince them. Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha and the Buddhas of the ten directions gathered together and judged the relative merits of all the sutras of Japan, China, India, the palace of the dragon king, the heavens and all the other worlds of the ten directions, and this is the sutra they chose.
Question: Do sutras such as the Kegon, the sutras of the Hodo period, Hannya, Jimmitsu, Ryoga, Dainichi and Nirvana belong to the "nine easy acts" group or the "six difficult acts" group?
Answer: Tu-shun, Chih-yen, Fa-tsang and Ch’eng-kuan of the Kegon school, who were all masters of the three divisions of the canon, state that both the Kegon Sutra and the Lotus Sutra belong to the "six difficult acts" category. Though in name they are two different sutras, they are identical in their teachings and principles. It is similar to the statement, "Though the four perceptions of reality are separate, the truth they point to is identical."
The Tripitaka Master Hsuan-tsang and the Great Teacher Tz’u-en of the Hosso school state that the Jimmitsu Sutra and the Lotus Sutra both expound the Consciousness-Only doctrine. They date from the third period of the Buddha’s teaching and belong to the "six difficult acts" category.
Chi-tsang of the Sanron school asserts that the Hannya Sutra and the Lotus Sutra are different names for a single entity, two sutras that preach one teaching.
The Tripitaka masters Shan-wu-wei, Chin-kang-chih and Pu-k’ung [of the Shingon school] say that the Dainichi Sutra and the Lotus Sutra are identical in principle and that both belong to the "six difficult" category. But the Japanese [Shingon leader] Kobo says that the Dainichi Sutra belongs neither to the "six difficult" nor to the "nine easy" category. The Dainichi Sutra, according to him, stands apart from all the sutras preached by Shakyamuni Buddha, since it was preached by Mahavairochana Buddha, the Buddha in his body of the Law. Likewise, some persons assert that, since the Kegon Sutra was preached by the Buddha in his reward body, it stands outside the categories of "six difficult" and "nine easy."
Such, then, are the views put forth by the founders of these four schools. The thousands of students of these schools likewise subscribe to the same views.
I must observe sadly that, although it would be simple enough to point out the error of the views put forward by these men, if I did so, the people of today would not even look in my direction. They would go on in their erroneous ways, and in the end would slander me to the ruler of the country and put my life in jeopardy. Nevertheless, our merciful father Shakyamuni Buddha, when he faced his end in the grove of sal trees, stated as his dying instructions that we are to "rely on the Law and not upon persons." "Not relying upon persons" means that, when persons of the first, second, third and fourth ranks preach, even though they are bodhisattvas such as Fugen and Monju who have attained the stage of near-perfect enlightenment, if they do not preach with the sutra in hand, then they are not to be accepted.
It is also laid down that one should "rely on sutras that are complete and final and not on those that are not complete and final." We must therefore look carefully among the sutras to determine which are complete and final and which are not, and put our faith in the former. Bodhisattva Nagarjuna in his Jujubibasha ron states: "Do not rely on treatises that distort the sutras; rely only on those that are faithful to the sutras." The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai says: "That which accords with the sutras is to be written down and made available. But put no faith in anything that in word or meaning fails to do so." The Great Teacher Dengyo says: "Depend upon the preachings of the Buddha and do not put faith in traditions handed down orally." Enchin or the Great Teacher Chisho says: "In transmitting the teachings, rely on the written words [of scriptures]."
To be sure, the leaders of the various schools whose opinions I have quoted above all appear to base themselves on some groups of sutras and treatises in attempting to establish which teachings are the most superior. But these men all cling firmly to the doctrines of their own school and perpetuate the erroneous views handed down from their predecessors, so that their judgments are characterized by twisted interpretations and personal feelings.
Their doctrines are no more than private opinions that have been dressed up and glorified.
The non-Buddhist schools of such men as Vatsa and Vaipulya, which appeared in India after the Buddha’s death, are even more wrong in their views and more cunning in their doctrines than their counterparts before the Buddha [because they borrowed ideas from Buddhism]. Similarly, since the introduction of Buddhism to China in the Later Han dynasty, non-Buddhist views and writings have become even more wrong and cunning than the pre-Buddhist writings of Confucianism that deal with the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors of antiquity. Also the teachers of the Kegon, Hosso, Shingon and other schools, jealous of the correct doctrines of the T’ien-t’ai school, brazenly interpret the word of the true sutra in such a way that they will accord with the provisional teachings.
Those who seek the way, however, should reject such one-sided views, transcending disputes between one’s own sect and others, and should not treat others with contempt.
In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha says: "Among the sutras I have preached, now preach and will preach, [this Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand]."
Miao-lo remarks: "Though other sutras may call themselves the king among sutras, there is none that announces itself as foremost among all the sutras preached in the past, now being preached or to be preached in the future." He also says: "Concerning [the Buddha’s statement] that this wonderful sutra surpasses all those of past, present and future, there are those who persist in going astray. Thus they commit the grave fault of slandering the sutra and for many long kalpas are subjected to sufferings."
Startled by these passages in the sutra and its commentaries, I examined the entire body of sutras and the expositions and commentaries of the various teachers, and found that my doubts and suspicions melted away. But now those foolish Shingon priests rely upon their mudras and mantras and believe that the Shingon sect is superior to the Lotus Sutra, simply because the Great Teacher Jikaku and their other teachers have assured them that Shingon is superior. Their views are not worthy of discussion.
The Mitsugon Sutra says: "The Juji, Kegon, Daiju, Jinzu, Shrimala and the other sutras all derive from this sutra. Thus the Mitsugon Sutra is the greatest of all sutras."
The Daiun Sutra states: "This sutra is the wheel-turning king among all sutras. Why is this? Because in this sutra is set forth the doctrine of the constancy of the Buddha nature as the true nature of all beings."
The Rokuharamitsu Sutra says: "All the correct teachings expounded by the countless Buddhas of the past and the eighty-four thousand wonderful teachings that I have now expounded may as a whole be divided into five categories: first, sutras (the Buddha’s teachings); second, vinaya monastic rules); third, abhidharma (treatises); fourth, prajna-paramita (the teachings of the perfection of wisdom); and fifth, dharani (mystic spells). The works in these five collections will instruct sentient beings. Among sentient beings there may be those who cannot accept and abide by the sutras, vinaya, abhidharma and prajna-paramita, or there may be sentient beings who commit various evil acts such as the four major offenses, the eight major offenses or the five cardinal sins that lead to the hell of incessant suffering, or slander the correct and equal sutras or are icchantikas who disbelieve Buddhism itself. In order to wipe out such crimes, give quick release to the offenders and allow them to enter into nirvana at once, I preached for their sake this collection of dharanis.
"These five divisions of the Dharma are compared to the flavors of milk, cream, curdled milk, butter and ghee, respectively, with ghee as the finest. The division containing the dharanis compares to ghee. Ghee has the finest and most subtle flavor among the five substances enumerated above and is capable of curing various sicknesses and easing the minds and bodies of sentient beings. Similarly, the dharani division stands foremost among the five divisions of the teachings because it can do away with grave offenses."
The Gejimmitsu Sutra states: "At that time Bodhisattva Shogisho addressed the Buddha, saying, ‘World-Honored One, in the first period of your teaching when you were in the forest Sage Ascetics-Gathering, or the Deer Park, in Varanasi, for the sake of those who wished merely to seek the vehicle of the voice-hearers, you expounded the doctrine of the four noble truths, in this way turning the wheel of the correct Law. This was a very wonderful thing, a very rare thing. No heavenly or human being in any of the countless worlds had ever been able to expound such a doctrine as this before. And yet the wheel of the Law that you turned at that time left room for improvement, left room for doubt. It was not yet final in meaning and offered ample opportunity for dispute.
" 'Then, World-Honored One, in the second period of your teaching, for the sake of those who wished merely to seek the Great Vehicle, you taught that all phenomena are without distinctive natures of their own, that there is no birth or death, that all things are basically in a state of quietude, and that the nature of beings as they exist constitutes nirvana. You turned the wheel of the correct Law, although you did not reveal the whole truth. This was even more wonderful, an even rarer thing. But the wheel of the Law that you turned at that time left room for improvement, left room for doubt. It was not yet final in meaning and offered ample opportunity for dispute.' "
" ‘Now, World-Honored One, in the third period of your teaching, for the sake of those who wish to practice the vehicle that saves all beings, you taught that all phenomena are without distinctive natures, that there is no birth or death, that all things are basically in a state of quietude, and that the nature of beings as they exist constitutes nirvana-and then you have taught that the "nature" you spoke of itself lacks anything that can be called a nature. You have turned the wheel of the correct Law and expounded these doctrines in their perfect form. This is most wonderful, the rarest thing of all. This wheel of the Law that you have turned leaves no room for improvement, no room for doubt. It is truly complete and final in meaning and offers no opportunity for dispute.’ "
The Daihannya Sutra says: "When one regards whatever teachings one hears, either secular or Buddhist, as an expedient means, one is brought to understand that these can be incorporated into the profound principles that prajna, or Buddha wisdom, alone can grasp. When, with the same wisdom, one understands that all secular matters and actions represent the essential nature of things, one will see not a thing that is outside that essential nature."
The first volume of the Dainichi Sutra states: "Master of Secrets [Kongosatta], there is a great vehicle practice which arouses the mind that is without attachment to things and leads one to understand that all phenomena are without individual natures. Why is this? Because in past times those who practiced this way were able to observe the alaya-consciousness within the five components, and to realize that individual natures are illusory."
The same sutra also says, "Master of Secrets, these men in this way cast aside the concept of non-self and came to realize that the mind exists in a realm of complete freedom and that the individual mind has from the beginning never known birth [or death]."
It also says: "Emptiness is by nature removed from the sense organs and their objects. It has no form or boundaries; beyond any futile theory, it is equal to space. It represents the ultimate in the absence of individual nature."
It also says, "The Buddha Mahavairochana addressed the Master of Secrets, saying, ‘Master of Secrets, what is the meaning of enlightenment? It means to understand one’s own mind as it truly is.’ "
The Kegon Sutra states, "Among the various beings of all the different worlds, there are few who seek to practice the vehicle of the voice-hearers. There are still fewer who seek that of the cause-awakened ones, and those who seek the great vehicle are extremely rare. To seek the great vehicle is relatively easy to do, but to have faith in the doctrines of this sutra is difficult in the extreme. And how much more difficult is it to uphold this sutra, keep its teachings correctly in mind, practice them as directed, and understand their true meaning.
"To take the major world system and hold it on the top of your head without moving for the space of a kalpa is not such a difficult thing to do. But to have faith in the doctrines of this sutra is difficult in the extreme. To offer musical instruments for the space of a kalpa to all the living beings who are as countless as the dust particles of the major world system will not gain one much merit. But to have faith in the doctrines of this sutra will gain one merit in great quantity. To hold ten Buddha lands in the palm of one’s hand and remain stationary in the midst of the air for the space of a kalpa is not so difficult to do. But to have faith in the doctrines of this sutra is difficult in the extreme. To offer musical instruments for the space of a kalpa to all the living beings who are as countless as the dust particles of those ten Buddha lands will not gain one much merit. But to have faith in the doctrines of this sutra will gain one merit in great quantity. For the space of a kalpa one may honor and give alms to the various Thus Come Ones who are as countless as the dust particles of those ten Buddha lands. But if one can accept and abide by the doctrines of this chapter, one will gain vastly greater merit."
The Nirvana Sutra says, "Although the various correct and equal sutras of the great vehicle will bring inestimable merit, there is no way to describe how much greater is the merit gained through this sutra. It is a hundred times, a thousand times, a billion times greater, greater in a way that is beyond calculation or simile. Good man, milk comes from the cow, cream is made from milk, curdled milk is made from cream, butter is made from curdled milk, and ghee is made from butter. Ghee is the finest of all. One who eats it will be cured of all illnesses, just as if all kinds of medicinal properties were contained in it. Good man, the Buddha is like this. The Buddha brought forth the twelve divisions of discourse. From among these twelve divisions he brought forth the sutras, from among the sutras he brought forth the great vehicle sutras, from the great vehicle sutras he brought forth the doctrine of prajna-paramita, and from the prajna-paramita he brought forth the Nirvana Sutra. The Nirvana Sutra is comparable to ghee.
Ghee here is a metaphor that stands for the Buddha nature.
When we compare these sutra passages that I have just quoted with those of the Lotus Sutra that describe it as the greatest among the sutras the Buddha "has preached, now preaches and will preach," and deal with the six difficult and nine easy acts, the latter stand out like the bright moon beside the stars, or Mount Sumeru beside the other eight mountain ranges which surround it. And yet Ch’eng-kuan of the Kegon school, Tz’u-en of the Hosso school, Chia-hsiang of the Sanron school and Kobo of the Shingon sect, all men who were believed to possess the Buddha eye, did not understand the above passages of the Lotus Sutra. How then could the ordinary scholars of the time, who appear to be quite blind, be expected to judge the difference between the Lotus Sutra and the other ones? This difference is as plain as black and white, or Mount Sumeru side by side with a mustard seed, yet these men go astray. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that they are also confused by the principles as vast as the sky. Unless one can perceive the relative profundity of the various writings, one cannot judge the worth of the principles that are revealed in them.
The Lotus and the other sutras are contained in separate volumes and the passages are out of sequence. Since this makes it difficult to judge the worth of the various teachings, I quoted the above passages in order to help the ignorant to understand.
When it comes to kings, there are great kings and petty kings, and in any matter whatsoever, there are parts and there is the whole. We have talked about the simile of the five flavors of milk, but we must understand when this simile is being applied to Buddhist teachings as a whole and when it is being applied to one part of those teachings.
The Rokuharamitsu Sutra teaches that sentient beings can attain enlightenment, but it refuses to apply this to those without the nature of any enlightenment. And of course it mentions nothing about the doctrine that Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment countless ages in the past.
The Rokuharamitsu Sutra cannot in fact even compare with the Nirvana Sutra, which compares itself with ghee among the five flavors, much less with the theoretical and essential teachings of the Lotus Sutra. And yet the Great Teacher Kobo of Japan, misled by the above-quoted passage of the Rokuharamitsu Sutra, assigned the Lotus Sutra to the fourth flavor, or that of butter. If the so-called ghee of the dharanis [in this sutra] cannot even match the so-called ghee of the Nirvana Sutra, then how could he possibly make such an obvious mistake? And yet he writes that "the Buddhist teachers of China have vied with one another to steal the ghee," calling T’ien-t’ai and others thieves. And in a boastful vein, he declares, "What a pity it is that the worthy men of ancient times were not able to taste this ghee."
Putting all this aside, I will point out the truth for the sake of my followers. If others do not choose to believe it now, it is because they are persons who thereby form a reverse relation. By tasting a single drop, one can tell the flavor of the great ocean, and by observing a single flower in bloom, one can predict the advent of spring. One does not have to cross the water to far-off Sung China, spend three years traveling to Eagle Peak in India, enter the palace of the dragon king the way Nagarjuna did, visit Bodhisattva Miroku [in the Tushita heaven] the way Asanga did, or be present at the two places and three assemblies when Shakyamuni preached the Lotus Sutra, in order to judge the relative merits of the Buddha’s lifetime teachings. It is said that snakes can tell seven days in advance when a flood is going to occur. This is because they are akin to dragons [who make the rain fall]. Crows can tell what lucky or unlucky events are going to take place throughout the course of a year. This is because in a past existence they were diviners. Birds are better at flying than human beings. And I, Nichiren, am better at judging the relative merits of sutras than Ch’eng-kuan of the Kegon school, Chia-hsiang of the Sanron school, Tz’u-en of the Hosso school and Kobo of the Shingon sect. That is because I follow in the footsteps of the teachers T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo. If Ch’eng-kuan and the others had not accepted the teachings of T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo, how could they have expected to escape the sin of slandering the Law?
I, Nichiren, am the richest man in all of present-day Japan. I have dedicated my life to the Lotus Sutra, and my name will be handed down in ages to come. If one is lord of the great ocean, then all the gods of the various rivers will obey one. If one is king of Mount Sumeru, then the gods of the various other mountains cannot help but serve one. If a person fulfills the teaching of "the six difficult and nine easy acts" of the Lotus Sutra, then, even though he may not have read the entire body of sutras, all should follow him.
In addition to the three pronouncements of the Buddha in the Hoto chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Devadatta chapter contains two enlightening admonitions. [The first reveals that Devadatta will attain Buddhahood.] Devadatta was a man of incorrigible disbelief, of the type called icchantika, and yet it is predicted that he will in the future become a Thus Come One called Heavenly King. The forty volumes of the Nirvana Sutra state that [all beings, including the icchantika, possess the Buddha nature, but] the actual proof of that is found in this chapter of the Lotus Sutra. There are countless other persons such as the monk Sunakshatra or King Ajatashatru who have committed the five cardinal sins and slandered the Law, but Devadatta is cited as one example to represent all the countless others; he is the chief offender, and it is assumed that all lesser offenders will fare as he does. Thus it is revealed that all those who commit the five or the seven cardinal sins or who slander the Law or who are icchantikas inherently opposed to taking faith will become Buddhas like the Thus Come One Heavenly King. Poison turns into sweet dew, the finest of all flavors.
[The second admonition concerns the fact that the dragon king’s daughter attained Buddhahood.] When she attained Buddhahood, this does not mean simply that one person did so. It reveals the fact that all women will attain Buddhahood. In the various Hinayana sutras that were preached before the Lotus Sutra, it is denied that women can ever attain Buddhahood. In the Mahayana sutras other than the Lotus Sutra, it would appear that women can attain Buddhahood or be reborn in the pure land. But they may do so only after they have changed into some other form. It is not the kind of immediate attainment of Buddhahood that is based on the doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. Thus it is an attainment of Buddhahood or rebirth in the pure land in name but not in reality. The dragon king’s daughter represents "one example that stands for all the rest." When the dragon king’s daughter attained Buddhahood, it opened up the way to attaining Buddhahood for all women of later ages.
Confucianism preaches filial piety and care for one’s parents, but it is limited to this present life. It provides no way for one to assist one’s parents in their future lives, and the Confucian sages and worthies are therefore sages and worthies in name only and not in reality. Brahmanism, though it recognizes the existence of past and future lives, similarly offers no means to assist one’s parents to a better life in the future. Buddhism alone can do so, and thus it is the true way of sages and worthies. But in the Hinayana and Mahayana sutras preached before the Lotus Sutra, and in the sects based on these sutras, to gain salvation even for oneself is impossible. One can hardly hope to do anything for one’s parents either. Though the texts of these sutras may say [that they can bring about salvation], in reality that is not the case. Only with the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, in which the dragon king’s daughter attained Buddhahood, did it become evident that the attainment of Buddhahood was a possibility for all mothers. And when it was revealed that even an evil man such as Devadatta could attain Buddhahood, it became evident that Buddhahood was a possibility for all fathers. The Lotus Sutra is the Classic of Filial Piety of Buddhism. This ends my discussion of the two admonitions contained in the Devadatta chapter.
Awed by the five proclamations of the Buddha [made in the Hoto and Devadatta chapters], the countless bodhisattvas promised the Buddha that they would propagate the Lotus Sutra, as described in the Kanji chapter. I will hold up this passage of the sutra like a bright mirror so that all may see how the present-day priests of the Zen, Ritsu and Nembutsu sects and their lay supporters are guilty of slandering the Law.
On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last year, between the hours of the rat and the ox (11:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M.), this person named Nichiren was beheaded. It is his soul that has come to this island of Sado and, in the second month of the following year, snowbound, is writing this to send to his close disciples. [The description of the evil age in the Kanji chapter seems] terrible, but [one who cares nothing about oneself for the sake of the Law has] nothing to be frightened about. Others reading it will be terrified. This scriptural passage is the bright mirror which Shakyamuni, Taho and all the other Buddhas of the ten directions left for the future of Japan, and in which the present state of the country is reflected.
It may also be regarded as a keepsake from me.
The Kanji chapter states:
We beg you not to worry.
After the Buddha has passed into extinction,
in an age of fear and evil
we will preach far and wide.
There will be many ignorant people
who will curse and speak ill of us
and will attack us with swords and staves,
but we will endure all these things.
In that evil age there will be monks
with perverse wisdom and hearts that are fawning and crooked
who will suppose they have attained what they have not attained,
being proud and boastful in heart.
Or there will be forest-dwelling monks
wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement,
who will claim they are practicing the true way,
despising and looking down on all humankind.
Greedy for profit and support,
they will preach the Law to white-robed laymen
and will be respected and revered by the world
as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers.
These men with evil in their hearts,
constantly thinking of worldly affairs,
will borrow the name of forest-dwelling monks
and take delight in proclaiming our faults
Because in the midst of the great assembly
they constantly try to defame us,
they will address the rulers, high ministers,
Brahmans and householders,
as well as the other monks,
slandering and speaking evil of us,
saying, "These are men of perverted views
who preach non-Buddhist doctrines!"
In a muddied kalpa, in an evil age
there will be many things to fear.
Evil demons will take possession of others
and through them curse, revile and heap shame on us.
The evil monks of that muddied age,
failing to understand the Buddha’s expedient means,
how he preaches the Law in accordance with what is appropriate,
will confront us with foul language and angry frowns;
again and again we will be banished ...
The eighth volume of the Hokke mongu ki comments follows: "In this passage, three types of arrogance are cited. First there is a section that exposes persons of mistaken views. This represents the arrogance and presumption of lay persons. Next there is a section that exposes the arrogance and presumption of certain members of the Buddhist clergy. Third is a section that exposes the arrogance and presumption of those who pretend to be sages. Of these three types of arrogance, the first can be endured. The second is more formidable than the first, and the third is the most formidable of all. This is because the second is harder to recognize for what it really is, and the third is even harder to recognize."
Priest Chih-tu writes in the Toshun: "First, regarding the verse section that begins with ‘There will be many ignorant people’: The first part tells how the votaries of the Lotus Sutra must endure evils inflicted by the body, mouth and mind of their opponents. This refers to non-Buddhists and Buddhist laymen of evil. The next part that begins with ‘In that evil age’ deals with arrogant members of the Buddhist clergy. The third part that begins, ‘Or there will be forest-dwelling monks,’ deals with members of the clergy who [pretend to be sages and use their positions to] act as leaders of all the other evil persons." And the same text goes on to say: "The section that begins ‘Because in the midst of the great assembly’ describes how these men will appeal to the government authorities, slandering the Law and defaming its supporters."
In the ninth volume of the Nirvana Sutra we read: "Good man, there are icchantikas, persons of incorrigible disbelief. They pretend to be arhats, living in deserted places and speaking slanderously of the correct and equal sutras of the great vehicle. When ordinary people see them, they all suppose that they are true arhats and speak of them as great bodhisattvas." It also says: "At that time, this sutra will be widely propagated throughout Jambudvipa. In that age there will be evil monks who will steal this sutra and divide it into many parts, losing the color, scent and flavor of the correct teaching that it contains. These evil men will read and recite this sutra, but they will ignore and put aside the profound and vital principles that the Thus Come One has expounded in it and replace them with ornate rhetoric and meaningless talk. They will tear off the first part of the sutra and stick it on at the end, tear off the end and put it at the beginning, put the end and the beginning in the middle and the middle at the beginning or the end. You must understand that these evil monks are the companions of the devil."
The six-volume Hatsunaion Sutra states: "There are also icchantikas who resemble arhats but who commit evil deeds. There are also arhats who resemble icchantikas but display merciful hearts. The icchantikas who look like arhats spend their time slandering the correct and equal sutras to the populace. The arhats who look like icchantikas, on the other hand, are critical of the voice-hearers and go about preaching the correct and equal sutras. They address the populace, saying, ‘You and I are all bodhisattvas. Why? Because each living being possesses the Buddha nature.’ But the populace will probably call such men icchantikas."
In the Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha speaks as follows: "After I have passed away ... After the Former Day of the Law has ended and the Middle Day of the Law has begun, there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline. But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies. Though they wear the clothes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen who, narrowing their eyes, stalk softly. They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And constantly they will reiterate these words: ‘I have attained arhatship!’ Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy. [And when they are asked to preach the teachings,] they will remain silent, like Brahmans who have taken a vow of silence. They are not true monks-they merely have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the correct teaching."
In the light of the sun and moon that are [the Lotus Sutra preached on] Eagle Peak and [the Nirvana Sutra preached at] the sal grove, or in the bright mirrors that are the commentaries by Miao-lo of P’i-ling and Chih-tu of Tung-ch’un, we can discern without a trace of obscurity the ugly faces of the priests of the various sects of present-day Japan, especially the Zen, Ritsu and Nembutsu sects. The Lotus Sutra says [in the Kanji chapter], "After the Buddha has passed into extinction, in an age of fear and evil," and the Anrakugyo chapter says: "In the evil age hereafter," "in the latter age," and "in the latter age hereafter when the Law is about to perish." The Fumbetsu kudoku chapter says: "In the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law"; the Yakuo chapter says, "In the last five-hundred-year period." The Kanzetsu chapter of the Sho-hokke-kyo [another Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra] says, "In the latter age hereafter," and "in the latter age to come." The same type of language is found in the Tembon-hokekyo [a third translation of the Lotus Sutra]. T’ien-t’ai states: "In the Middle Day of the Law, the three schools of the south and seven schools of the north are the enemies of the Lotus Sutra." And Dengyo states: "At the end of the Middle Day of the Law, the scholars of the six Nara sects are the enemies of the Lotus Sutra."
In the time of T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo, [the three types of enemies mentioned above] had not yet appeared. But we must recall that when Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, and Taho Buddha sat side by side in the treasure tower like the sun and the moon and the Buddhas who were emanations of Shakyamuni had come from the ten directions and were ranged beneath the trees like so many stars, then it was said that, after the thousand years of the Former Day of the Law and the thousand years of the Middle Day of the Law, at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, there would be three types of enemies of the Lotus Sutra. How could this pronouncement made by the eight hundred thousand million nayutas of bodhisattvas have been an empty or a false prediction?
It is now some twenty-two hundred years since the Thus Come One passed away. Even if it were possible to point straight at the earth and miss it, if the flowers were to cease blooming in spring, still I am certain that these three powerful enemies exist in the land of Japan. If so, then who is to be numbered among the three enemies? And who is to be accounted a votary of the Lotus Sutra? It is a troubling question. Are we — I and my disciples — to be numbered among the three enemies? Or are we to be numbered among the votaries of the Lotus Sutra? It is a troubling question.
In the twenty-fourth year of the reign of King Chao, the fourth ruler of the Chou dynasty, with the cyclical sign kinoe-tora, on the night of the eighth day of the fourth month, a five-colored light spread across the sky from north to south until all was as bright as noon. The earth shook in six different ways, and though no rain fell, the rivers and streams, wells and ponds brimmed with water. All the trees and grasses bloomed and bore fruit. It was a wondrous happening indeed. King Chao was greatly surprised. The Grand Historian Su Yu performed divination’s and announced, "A sage has been born in the western region." "What about our country?" asked King Chao, to which Su Yu replied, "Nothing particular will happen for now. But one thousand years from now, the words of this sage will be brought to this country and will bring benefit to all living beings." Su Yu was a scholar of non-Buddhist texts who had not in the slightest degree freed himself from illusions of thought and desire, and yet he was able to know what would happen a thousand years in the future. And just as he predicted, 1,015 years after the Buddha’s passing, in the reign of Emperor Ming, the second ruler of the Later Han dynasty, in the tenth year of the Yung-p’ing era (A.D. 67), with the cyclical sign hinoto-u, the doctrines of Buddhism were introduced to China.
On quite a different level is the prediction I have described above that was made by the various bodhisattvas in the presence of Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha, and the Buddhas from the ten directions that were emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha. In view of this prediction, how could the three types of enemies of the Lotus Sutra help but be present in Japan today?
In the Fuhozo Sutra, the Buddha is recorded as saying: "After my passing, during the one thousand years of the Former Day of the Law, there will be twenty-four persons in succession who will spread abroad the correct teachings as I have taught them." Mahakashyapa and Ananda [were contemporaries of the Buddha and so] we will pass them over. But a hundred years later there was the monk Parshva, six hundred years later Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha, and seven hundred years later Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, along with others, all appearing just as the prophecy had said they would.
If so, how could the prophecy [in the Kanji chapter of the Lotus Sutra] be in vain? If this prophecy is at variance with the truth, then the whole Lotus Sutra is at variance with the truth. Then the predictions that Shariputra will in the future become the Thus Come One Flower Glow and that Mahakashyapa will become the Thus Come One Light Bright are all mere lies. In that case, the teachings put forward in the sutras that preceded the Lotus Sutra must be absolutely correct, and the voice-hearers are destined never to achieve Buddhahood. If it is true that one should give alms to a dog or a fox before one gives them to a voice-hearer such as Ananda, then where do we stand?
[The passage from the Kanji chapter mentions three groups of people,] saying first that "there will be many ignorant people," second that "in that evil age there will be monks," and referring third to "monks wearing clothing of patched rags." The first category of ignorant people are the important lay believers who support monks in the second and third categories. Accordingly, the Great Teacher Miao-lo, commenting on the persons in the first group, says they represent the arrogance and presumption of lay persons. And the Toshun says, "... appeal to the government authorities, [slandering the Law and defaming its supporters] ."
Concerning the second group of enemies of the Lotus Sutra, the sutra says: "In that evil age there will be monks with perverse wisdom and hearts that are fawning and crooked who will suppose they have attained what they have not attained, being proud and boastful in heart."
Similarly, the Nirvana Sutra says: "In that age there will be evil monks ... These evil men will read and recite this sutra, but they will ignore and put aside the profound and vital principles that the Thus Come One has expounded in it."
The Maka shikan says: "If one lacks faith [in the Lotus Sutra], one will object that it pertains to the lofty realm of the sages, something far beyond the capacity of one’s own wisdom to comprehend. If one lacks wisdom, one will become puffed up with arrogance and will claim to be the equal of the Buddha."
We see an example of this in the statement by the Meditation Master Tao-ch’o: "The second reason [for the difficulty in understanding the Lotus Sutra] is that its principles are very profound but human understanding is slight." Honen says: "Religious practices other than the Nembutsu do not accord with the people’s capacities. They are not appropriate for the times."
[To combat such views,] the Great Teacher Miao-lo states in the tenth volume of his Hokke mongu ki: "Probably those who are mistaken in their understanding fail to realize how great is the benefit gained even by a beginner [in the practice of the Lotus Sutra]. They assume that benefit is reserved for those who are far advanced in practice and disparage beginners. Therefore, the sutra here demonstrates the power of the sutra by revealing that practice is shallow but the benefit that results is profound indeed."
The Great Teacher Dengyo declares: "The Former and Middle Days are almost over, and the Latter Day is near at hand. Now indeed is the time when the one vehicle expounded in the Lotus Sutra will prove how perfectly it fits the capacities of all people. How do we know this is true? Because the Anrakugyo chapter of the Lotus Sutra states, ‘In the latter age hereafter when the Law is about to perish,’ [the Lotus Sutra will be expounded far and wide]." And Eshin says: "Throughout Japan, all people share the same capacity to attain Buddhahood through the perfect teaching."
Now which opinion should we believe, that of Tao-ch’o and Honen or that of Dengyo and Eshin? The former has not a scrap of evidence in the sutras to support it. The latter is based firmly upon the Lotus Sutra.
Moreover, the Great Teacher Dengyo of Mount Hiei is, for all priests throughout Japan, the master of ordination into the priesthood. How could any priests turn their hearts toward a person like Honen, who is possessed by the heavenly devil, and reject the Great Teacher Dengyo, the master of ordination? If Honen was a truly wise man, why did he not, in his Senchaku shu, mention the passages of explanation by Dengyo and Eshin such as I have quoted above, and resolve the contradiction? He did not do so, because he is the kind of person who hides the teachings of others. When the Lotus Sutra speaks of the second type of enemy, saying, "in that evil age there will be monks," it is referring to men like Honen who disregard the precepts and hold perverse views.
The Nirvana Sutra says: "[World-Honored One, today I have learned the correct view for the first time. World-Honored One, up till today] we all have been persons of mistaken views." Miao-lo explains this by saying, "They themselves referred to the three teachings [they had practiced until that time] as mistaken views." And the Maka shikan says, "The Nirvana Sutra says, ‘Up till today we all have been persons of mistaken views.’ ‘Mistaken’ is bad, is it not?" The Guketsu says, " ‘Mistaken’ is bad. Therefore, let it be known that only the perfect teaching is good. There are two meanings involved here. First, that which accords with the truth is to be accounted good and that which goes against the truth is to be accounted bad. This is the meaning from the relative viewpoint. [Second,] attachment [to this viewpoint] is bad and transcending it is good. [This is the meaning from the absolute viewpoint.] From both the relative and absolute viewpoints, we should abandon all that is bad. To be attached to the perfect teaching is bad, and to be attached to the other [three] teachings is of course even worse."
The goods and evils of non-Buddhist creeds, when compared with the Hinayana sutras, all represent a bad way. Similarly, the good ways of Hinayana teachings, and the four flavors and three teachings as well when compared with the Lotus Sutra, are all mistaken and bad. The Lotus Sutra alone is correct and good. The perfect teaching of the sutras preached before the Lotus Sutra is so called from the relative viewpoint; from the absolute viewpoint, it must still be counted as bad. Fundamentally it falls into the category of the first three [of the four] teachings, and therefore it is bad in that sense as well. To practice the highest principles of the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings according to the sutras is still bad. How much more so, then, is someone who would take a work of insignificant doctrines such as the Kammuryoju Sutra, which cannot compare even with the Kegon and Hannya sutras, as the fundamental teaching? Such a person incorporates [the ideas of] the Lotus Sutra into the Kammuryoju Sutra and urges people to "ignore, abandon, close and discard" the Lotus and believe only in the Nembutsu. That is what Honen, his disciples and lay supporters do, and they deserve to be called slanderers of the correct teaching.
Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha and the various Buddhas of the ten directions came to this world in order to "make certain that the Law will long endure." Honen and the other Nembutsu priests throughout Japan declare that in the Latter Day of the Law, the Lotus Sutra will disappear before the Nembutsu. Are such persons not the enemy of Shakyamuni, Taho and the other Buddhas?
Concerning the third group of enemies of the Lotus Sutra, the sutra says: "Or there will be forest-dwelling monks wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement ... and they will preach the Law to white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers." And the six-volume Hatsunaion Sutra states: "There are also icchantikas who resemble arhats but who commit evil deeds. There are also arhats who resemble icchantikas but display merciful hearts. The icchantikas who look like arhats spend their time slandering the correct and equal sutras to the populace. The arhats who look like icchantikas, on the other hand, are critical of the voice-hearers and go about preaching the correct and equal sutras. They address the populace, saying, ‘You and I are all bodhisattvas. Why? Because each living being possesses the Buddha nature.’ But the populace will probably call such men icchantikas."
The Nirvana Sutra says: "After I have passed away... [After the Former Day of the Law has ended and] the Middle Day of the Law has begun, there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline. But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies. Though they wear the clothes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen who, narrowing their eyes, stalk softly. They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And constantly they will reiterate these words: ‘I have attained arhatship!’ Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy. [And when they are asked to preach the teachings,] they will remain silent, like Brahmans who have taken a vow of silence. They are not true monks-they merely have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the correct teaching."
Miao-lo writes concerning persons of this type: "The third [group] is the most formidable of all. This is because the second is harder to recognize for what it really is, and the third is even harder to recognize." And the Toshun states: "The third part that begins, ‘Or there will be forest-dwelling monks,’ deals with members of the clergy who [pretend to be sages and use their positions to] act as leaders of all the other evil persons."
As for these "members of the clergy who [pretend to be sages and use their positions to] act as leaders of all the other evil persons" -- where in Japan at the present time should we look for them? On Mount Hiei! In Onjo-ji [in Otsu]! In To-ji [in Kyoto]! In the temples of Nara! In Kennin-ji [in Kyoto] or Jufuku-ji and Kencho-ji [in Kamakura]! We must examine this carefully. Do the words refer to the monks of Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei who wear helmets on their heads and are dressed in armor? Do they refer to the monks of Onjo-ji who wear suits of mail on their fivefold bodies of the Law and carry weapons? But these men do not resemble the monks "wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement" that are described in the sutra, nor do they seem to be the type who are "respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers." They are not like the men of the third group who, [as Miao-lo said,] are "even harder to recognize." It would appear, therefore, that the words refer to men such as Shoichi of Kyoto and Ryokan of Kamakura. [Even if they are identified as such,] they should not hate others. If they have eyes, they should examine the sutra texts and compare their own behavior with them.
The first volume of the Maka shikan states: "There has never been anything to compare to the brightness and serenity of concentration and insight." The first volume of the Guketsu states: "From the time when Emperor Ming of the Han dynasty dreamed at night of the Buddha down to the Ch’en dynasty, [when the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai lived,] there were many who participated in the Zen school and received the robe and bowl that were handed down." The Fuchu explains this by saying: "The handing down of the robe and bowl refers to the succession of Zen patriarchs from Bodhidharma on down."
The fifth volume of the Maka shikan states: "There is a type called Zen men, but their masters and disciples are blind [to the truth] and lame [in practice], and both masters and disciples will fall into hell." In the seventh volume, we read: "[There are ten ways necessary for understanding and practicing Buddhism correctly. Of these, except one,] the nine ways have nothing in common with the ordinary priests of the world who concentrate on the written word, nor do they have anything in common with the Zen masters who concentrate on practice. Some Zen masters give all their attention to meditation alone. But their meditation is shallow and false, totally lacking in the nine ways. This is no empty assertion. Worthy persons of later ages who have eyes to see will understand the truth of what I say."
The seventh volume of the Guketsu states: " ‘Priests who concentrate on the written word’ refers to men who gain no inner insight or understanding through meditation but concern themselves only with characteristics of the doctrine. ‘Zen masters who concentrate on practice’ refers to men who do not learn how to attain the truth and the corresponding wisdom but fix their minds on the mere techniques of breath control. Theirs is the kind of [non-Buddhist] meditation that fundamentally still retains outflows. ‘Some Zen masters give all their attention to meditation alone’ means that, for the sake of discussion, T’ien-t’ai gives them a certain degree of recognition, but from a stricter viewpoint they lack both insight and understanding. The Zen men in the world today value only meditation [as the way to realize the true entity] and have no familiarity with doctrinal teachings. In relying upon meditation alone, they interpret the sutras in their own way. They put together the eight errors and the eight winds, and talk about the Buddha as being sixteen feet in height. They lump together the five components and the three poisons and call them the eight errors. They equate the six sense organs with the six transcendental powers and the four elements with the four noble truths. To interpret the sutras in such an arbitrary manner is to be guilty of the greatest falsehood. Such nonsense is not even worth discussing."
The seventh volume of the Maka shikan states: "In the past, the Zen master of Yeh and Lo became renowned throughout the length and breadth of China. When he arrived, people gathered around him from all directions like clouds, and when he left for another place, they formed a great crowd along the roads. But what profit did they derive from all this bustle and excitement? All of them regretted what they had done when they were on their deathbed."
In the seventh volume of the Guketsu, we read: "The text speaks of the ‘Zen master of Yeh and Lo.’ Yeh is in Hsiang-chou and was the capital of the Ch’i and Wei dynasties. The founder of Zen caused Buddhism to flourish there and converted the people of the region. The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai, out of deference to the people of his time, refrains from naming anyone specifically. Lo refers to the city of Lo-yang."
The six-volume Hatsunaion Sutra says: "The extreme is impossible to see. That is, the extremely evil deeds done by the icchantika are all but impossible to perceive." Or, as Miao-lo has said, "The third [group] is the most formidable of all. This is because ... the third is even harder to recognize."
Those without eyes, those with only one eye, and those with distorted vision cannot see these three types of enemies of the Lotus Sutra who have appeared at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law. But those who have attained a portion of the Buddha eye can see who they are. "They will address the rulers, high ministers, Brahmans and householders." And the Toshun states: "These men will appeal to the government authorities, slandering the Law and defaming its supporters."
In the past, when the Middle Day of the Law was coming to an end, Gomyo, Shuen, and other priests presented petitions to the throne in which they slandered the Great Teacher Dengyo. Now, at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, Ryokan, Nen’a, and others drew up false documents and presented them to the shogunate. Are they not to be counted among the third group of enemies of the Lotus Sutra?
Nowadays the teachers of the Nembutsu address the "rulers, high ministers, Brahmans and householders" who support the Tendai-Hokke sect, saying, "The principles of the Lotus Sutra are very profound but our understanding is slight. The doctrine it teaches is extremely deep; our capabilities are extremely shallow." [Just as the Maka shikan says,] they "object that it pertains to the lofty realm of the sages, something far beyond the capacity of their own wisdom to comprehend."
Again, the men of the Zen sect say: "The Lotus Sutra is a finger pointing at the moon, but the Zen sect is the moon itself. Once one has the moon, of what use is the finger? Zen is the mind of the Buddha. The Lotus Sutra is the word of the Buddha. After the Buddha had finished preaching the Lotus Sutra and all the other sutras, he held up a single flower and through this gesture conveyed his enlightenment to Mahakashyapa alone. As a token of this tacit communication, the Buddha presented Mahakashyapa with his own robe, which together with the enlightenment has been handed down through the twenty-eight patriarchs of India and so on through the six patriarchs of China." For many years now, the whole country has been intoxicated and deceived by this kind of falsehood.
Again, the eminent priests of the Tendai and Shingon sects, though nominally representatives of their respective sects, are in fact quite ignorant of their teachings. In the depths of their greed and out of fear of the courtiers and warriors, they compromise with the assertions of the Nembutsu and Zen followers and sing their praises. Long ago, Taho Buddha and the various Buddhas who were emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha acknowledged their allegiance to the Lotus Sutra, saying that they would "make certain that the Law will long endure." But now the eminent leaders of the Tendai sect acknowledge the assertion that the doctrines of the Lotus Sutra are very profound but human understanding is slight. As a result, the Lotus Sutra exists in Japan today in name only-there is not a single person who actually practices it and attains enlightenment. Who can be called a votary of the Lotus Sutra? We see monks who burn down temples and pagodas and are exiled in numbers too great to count. And we see numerous eminent monks who fawn on the courtiers and warriors and are hated for it by the people. Can men such as these be called the votaries of the Lotus Sutra?
Because the predictions of the Buddha are not false, the country is already full of the three types of enemies of the Lotus Sutra. And yet, as though to belie the golden words of the Buddha, there seems to be no votary of the Lotus Sutra as was predicted would appear. How can this be?
But let us consider. Who is it who is cursed and spoken ill of by the populace? Who is the monk who is attacked with swords and staves? Who is the monk who, because of the Lotus Sutra, is accused in petitions submitted to the courtiers and warriors? Who is the monk who is "again and again banished," as the Lotus Sutra predicted? Who else in Japan besides Nichiren has fulfilled these predictions?
But I, Nichiren, am not a votary of the Lotus Sutra, because, contrary to the prediction, the gods have cast me aside. Who, then, in this present age will be the votary of the Lotus Sutra and fulfill the prophecy of the Buddha?
The Buddha and Devadatta are like a form and its shadow-in lifetime after lifetime, they are never separated. Prince Shotoku and his archenemy Moriya appeared at the same time, like the blossom and the calyx of the lotus. If there exists a votary of the Lotus Sutra, then the three types of enemies are bound to exist as well. The three types of enemies have already appeared. Who, then, is the votary of the Lotus Sutra? Let us seek him out and make him our teacher. [As the Lotus Sutra says, to find such a person is as rare as for] a one-eyed turtle to chance upon a piece of driftwood [with a hole just the right size to hold him].
Someone may raise this question: It would surely appear that the three types of enemies are present today, but there is no votary of the Lotus Sutra. If one were to say that you [Nichiren] are the votary of the Lotus Sutra, then the following serious discrepancies would become apparent. The Lotus Sutra states: "The young sons of the heavenly beings will wait on him and serve him. Swords and staves will not touch him and poison will have no power to harm him." It also reads: "If people speak ill and revile him, their mouths will be closed and stopped up." And it states: "They [who have heard the Law] will enjoy peace and security in their present existence and good circumstances in future existences." It also states: "[If there are those who ... trouble and disrupt the preachers of the Law,] their heads will split into seven pieces like the branches of the arjaka tree." Furthermore, it reads: "In this present existence they [the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra] will gain the reward of good fortune." And it adds: "If anyone sees a person who accepts and upholds this sutra and tries to expose the faults or evils of that person, whether what he speaks is true or not, he will in his present existence be afflicted with white leprosy." [How do you explain these discrepancies?]
Answer: These doubts of yours are most opportune. I will take the occasion to clear up the points that puzzle you. The Fukyo chapter of the Lotus Sutra states: "They spoke ill of him [Bodhisattva Fukyo] and cursed him." And again: "Some among the group would take sticks of wood or tiles and stones and beat and pelt him." The Nirvana Sutra states: "They will even kill him or do him injury." The Lotus Sutra states: "Since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound even when the Thus Come One is in the world, [how much more will this be so after his passing?]"
The Buddha encountered acts of hostility, known as the nine great ordeals, such as being wounded in the toe by Devadatta, and yet he was a votary of the Lotus Sutra, was he not? And Bodhisattva Fukyo [who, as we have seen above, was cursed and beaten] — was he not a votary of the one vehicle teaching? Maudgalyayana was beaten to death by a Brahman group called Bamboo Staff sometime after the Lotus Sutra predicted that he would attain Buddhahood in a future life. Among the [twenty-five] successors to the lineage of Buddhism, the fourteenth, Bodhisattva Aryadeva, and the twenty-fifth, the Venerable Aryasimha, were murdered. Were these men not votaries of the Lotus Sutra? Chu Tao-sheng was banished to a mountain in Su-chou, and Fa-tao was branded on the face and exiled south of the Yangtze River. Were these men not upholders of the one vehicle teaching? Among scholars of secular learning, both Po Chu-i and Sugawara no Michizane, who was posthumously revered as the god of the Kitano Shrine, were exiled to distant places, and yet were they not worthy men?
If we consider the second part of your question, we must note the following points. Those who did not commit the error of slandering the Lotus Sutra in their previous existences will become votaries of the Lotus Sutra in their present lives. If such persons should be subjected to persecution under a false charge of having committed worldly offenses, then those who persecute them ought to suffer some kind of immediate retribution. It should be like the case of the asuras who shoot arrows at Taishaku or the garuda birds that try to eat the dragons of the Anavatapta Lake, but who both invariably suffer injury themselves instead. And yet T’ien-t’ai says: "The ills and pains I suffer at present are all due to causes in the past, and the meritorious deeds that I do in my present life will be rewarded in the future." Likewise, the Shinjikan Sutra states: "If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present." The Fukyo chapter of the Lotus Sutra says: "When his offenses had been wiped out." This indicates that Bodhisattva Fukyo was attacked with tiles and stones because he had in the past committed the offense of slandering the Lotus Sutra.
Next, we should note that, if a person is inevitably destined to fall into hell in his next existence, then even though he commits a grave offense in this life, he will suffer no immediate punishment. The icchantikas, men of incorrigible disbelief, are examples of this.
The Nirvana Sutra states: "Bodhisattva Kashyapa said to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One, as you have described, the rays of the Buddha’s great nirvana enter the pores of all living beings.’ " It also states: "Bodhisattva Kashyapa said to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One, how can those who have not yet set their minds on enlightenment create the causes that will lead to enlightenment?’ " In reply, "the Buddha said to Kashyapa, ‘There may be persons who listen to the Nirvana Sutra and yet claim that they have no need to set their minds on enlightenment, and instead slander the correct teaching. Such persons will immediately dream at night of demons and their hearts will be filled with terror. The demons will say to them, "How foolish you are, my friend! If you do not set your mind on enlightenment now, your life span will be cut short!" These persons quake with fear, and as soon as they wake from the dream, they set their minds on enlightenment. And you should know that such persons will become great bodhisattvas.’ " In other words, although a person might slander the correct teaching, if he is not an unspeakably evil person, he will be warned at once in a dream and will have a change of heart.
[According to the Nirvana Sutra, the icchantikas, on the other hand, are likened to] "dead trees or stony mountains" that can never bring forth growth. They are "scorched seeds which, although they encounter the sweet rain," will not grow. "Bright pearls have the power, when put into turbid water, to change it into clear water... But when thrown into the mud of icchantika, they cannot purify it." They are [like persons without a wound on their hands when the sutra says,] "If a person with a wound on his hand handles poison, it will enter his body, but it will not enter the body of a person without a wound." "Just as torrents of rain cannot remain suspended in the sky, [so the rain of the Law cannot remain in the sky of icchantika]." Through these various similes we can know that icchantikas of the most evil type will invariably fall into the hell of incessant suffering in their next life. Therefore they do not suffer any immediate punishment in this life. They are like the evil rulers of ancient China, Emperor Chieh of the Hsia dynasty and Emperor Chou of the Yin dynasty. During their reigns, heaven did not display any unusual manifestations as a warning. That was because their offenses were so grave that their dynasties were already destined to perish.
Third, it would appear that the guardian deities have deserted this country, and this is probably one reason why offenders do not suffer any immediate punishment. In an age that slanders the Law, guardian deities will take their leave and the various heavenly gods will cease to lend their protection. That is why the votaries of the correct teaching do not receive any sign of divine favor, but on the contrary encounter severe difficulties. The Konkomyo Sutra says: "Those who perform good deeds day by day languish and dwindle in number." We are living in an evil country and an evil age. I have discussed all this in detail in my work entitled "Rissho Ankoku Ron."
This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assail me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law. Shariputra practiced the way of the bodhisattva for sixty kalpas, but he abandoned the way because he could not endure the ordeal of the Brahman who begged for his eye. Of those who received the seeds of Buddhahood in the remote past and those who did so from the sons of Daitsu Buddha, many abandoned the seeds and suffered in hell for the long periods of gohyaku-jintengo and sanzen-jintengo, respectively, because they followed evil companions.
Whether tempted by good or threatened by evil, if one casts aside the Lotus Sutra, one destines oneself for hell. Here I will make a great vow. Though I might be offered the rulership of Japan if I would only abandon the Lotus Sutra, accept the teachings of the Kammuryoju Sutra and look forward to rebirth in the pure land, though I might be told that my father and mother will have their heads cut off if I do not recite the Nembutsu -- whatever obstacles I might encounter, so long as men of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false, I will never yield! All other troubles are no more to me than dust before the wind.
I will be the pillar of Japan. I will be the eyes of Japan. I will be the great ship of Japan. This is my vow, and I will never forsake it!
Question: How can you be certain that the exiles and sentences of death imposed on you are the result of karma created in the past?
Answer: A bronze mirror will reflect color and form. The First Emperor of the Ch’in dynasty had a lie-detecting mirror that would reveal offenses committed in this present life. And the mirror of the Buddha’s Law makes clear the causal actions committed in the past. The Hatsunaion Sutra states: "Good man, because persons committed countless offenses and accumulated much evil karma in the past, they must expect to suffer retribution for everything they have done. They may be despised, cursed with an ugly appearance, be poorly clad and poorly fed, seek wealth in vain, be born to an impoverished and lowly or heretical family, or be persecuted by their sovereign. They may be subjected to various other sufferings and retributions. It is due to the blessings obtained by protecting the Law that one can diminish in this lifetime one’s suffering and retribution."
This sutra passage and my own experience tally exactly. By now all the doubts that I have raised earlier should be dispelled, and thousands of difficulties are nothing to me. Let me show you phrase by phrase how the text applies to me. "They may be despised," or, as the Lotus Sutra says," ... despise, hate, envy or bear grudges against them" -- and in exactly that manner I have been treated with contempt and arrogance for over twenty years. "They may be cursed with an ugly appearance," "They may be poorly clad" — these too apply to me. "They may be poorly fed" — that applies to me. "They may seek wealth in vain" — that applies to me. "They may be born to an impoverished and lowly family" — that applies to me. "They may be persecuted by their sovereign" — can there be any doubt that the passage applies to me? The Lotus Sutra says, "Again and again we will be banished," and the passage from the Hatsunaion Sutra says, "They may be subjected to various other sufferings and retributions." [These passages also apply to me.]
The passage also says: "It is due to the blessings obtained by protecting the Law that one can diminish in this lifetime one’s suffering and retribution." The fifth volume of the Maka shikan has this to say on the subject: "The feeble merits produced by a mind only half intent on the practice cannot alter [the realm of karma]. But if one carries out the practice of concentration and insight so as to observe ‘health’ [the realm of the four elements of earth, water, fire and wind as well as the realm of earthly desires] and ‘illness’ [the realm of illnesses], then one can alter the cycle of birth and death [in the realm of karma]." It also says, "[As practice progresses and understanding grows,] the three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere."
From the beginningless past I have been born countless times as an evil ruler who deprived the votaries of the Lotus Sutra of their robes and rations, their fields and crops, much as the people of Japan in the present day go about destroying the temples dedicated to the Lotus Sutra. In addition, countless times I cut off the heads of the votaries of the Lotus Sutra. Some of these grave offenses I have already paid for, but there must be some that are not paid for yet. Even if I seem to have paid for them all, there are still ill effects that remain. When the time comes for me to transcend the sufferings of birth and death, it will be only after I have completely freed myself from these grave offenses. My merits are insignificant, but these offenses are grave.
If I practiced the teachings of the provisional sutras, then these retributions for my past grave offenses would not appear. When iron is heated, if it is not strenuously forged, the impurities in it will not become apparent. Only when it is subjected to the tempering process again and again will the flaws appear. When one is pressing hemp seeds, if one does not press very hard, one will not get much oil from them. Likewise, when I vigorously berate those throughout the country who slander the Law, I meet with great difficulties. It must be that my actions in defending the Law in this present life are calling forth retributions for the grave offenses of my past. If iron does not come into contact with fire, it remains black, but if it contacts fire, it turns red. If you place a log across a swift stream, waves will pile up like hills. If you disturb a sleeping lion, it will roar loudly.
The Nirvana Sutra says: "It is like the case of a poor woman. She has no house to live in and no one to aid or protect her and in addition she is beset by illness, hunger and thirst; she wanders through various places, begging for a living. While staying at an inn, she gives birth to a baby, but the master of the inn drives her away. Though the baby has just been born, she takes it up in her arms and sets out, hoping to journey to another land. But along the way, she encounters fierce wind and rain, and she is troubled by cold and bitten by mosquitoes, gadflies, hornets and poisonous insects. Coming at length to the Ganges River, she clasps her child in her arms and begins to cross it. Although the current is very swift, she will not let go of her child, and in the end both mother and child are drowned. But through the merit that the woman gained by her loving tenderness, she is reborn after her death in the Brahma heaven.
"Monjushiri, if there are good men who wish to defend the correct teaching, they should emulate this poor woman crossing the Ganges who sacrificed her life because of her love for her child. Good man, the bodhisattvas who guard the Law should behave in this way. They should not hesitate to give up their lives. Then, although they do not seek emancipation, emancipation will come of itself, just as the poor woman, though she did not seek to be reborn in the Brahma heaven, was nevertheless reborn there."
The Great Teacher Chang-an interprets this story from the Nirvana Sutra in terms of the three obstacles. Observe how he does this. The fact that the woman is called "poor" indicates that the person does not have the treasure of the Law. The fact that she is identified as a woman indicates that the person has a measure of tenderness. The "inn" signifies an impure land. The child she bears is the heart that has faith in the Lotus Sutra, or the wisdom that perceives one’s inherent Buddha nature. Being driven out of the inn by its master signifies that the person is exiled. The fact that the baby has just been born means that very little time has passed since the person began to have faith in the Lotus Sutra. The fierce wind the woman encounters is the imperial decree sentencing the person to exile. The mosquitoes, gadflies and other insects are the "many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill" of the votary of the Lotus Sutra. The fact that both mother and child are drowned indicates that, though in the end the person had his head cut off, he never renounced his faith in the Lotus Sutra. Being reborn in the Brahma heaven means being reborn in the realm of Buddhahood.
The power of karmic rewards extends to all of the Ten Worlds, even to the realm of Buddhahood. Even though one might go around killing people throughout the provinces of Japan and China, if one does not commit any of the five cardinal sins or does not slander the Law, one will not fall into the hell of incessant suffering. Yet one must go through other evil paths for a period of numerous years. Even if one observes ten thousand precepts and performs ten thousand good deeds, if one does so with a mind only half intent, one cannot be reborn in any heaven of the world of form. To be born a king in the Brahma heaven of that world, one must add the spirit of compassion to one’s karma that goes with outflows and leads one in that direction. The poor woman in the sutra passage was reborn in the Brahma heaven because of her concern for her child. Her case is different from the nature of causality that is commonly known. Chang-an offers two interpretations of it, but in the end it is nothing other than the loving kindness with which the woman cares for her child that makes the difference. Her concern concentrates on one thing just like the Buddhist practice of concentration. She thinks of nothing but her child, which is similar to Buddhist compassion. That must be why, although she created no other causes to bring it about, she was reborn in the Brahma heaven.
The path to Buddhahood is not to be found in the Kegon doctrine of the phenomenal world as created by the mind alone, in the eight negations of the Sanron sect, in the Consciousness-Only doctrine of the Hosso sect, or in the Shingon type of meditation on the five elements of the universe. Only the T’ien-t’ai doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life is the path to Buddhahood. Even in the case of this doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life, we do not possess the kind of wisdom and understanding to comprehend it fully. Nevertheless, among all the sutras preached by the Buddha during his lifetime, the Lotus Sutra alone contains this jewel which is the doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. The doctrines of the other sutras are merely yellow stones that appear to be jewels. They are like sand, from which you can extract no oil no matter how hard you squeeze it, or a barren woman who can never bear a child. Even a wise man cannot become a Buddha through the other sutras, but with the Lotus Sutra, even fools can plant the seeds that lead to Buddhahood. As the sutra passage I have quoted earlier puts it, "Although they do not seek emancipation, emancipation will come of itself."
Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood. Do not have doubts simply because heaven does not lend you protection. Do not be discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life. This is what I have taught my disciples morning and evening, and yet they begin to harbor doubts and abandon their faith.
Foolish men are likely to forget the promises they have made when the crucial moment comes. Some of them feel pity for their wives and children and grieve at the thought of parting from them in this life. In countless births throughout many long kalpas they have had wives and children but parted from them in every existence. They have done so unwillingly and not because of their desire to pursue the way of the Buddha. Since they must part with them in any case, they should remain faithful to their belief in the Lotus Sutra and make their way to Eagle Peak, so that they may lead their wives and children there as well.
Question: You insist that the followers of the Nembutsu and Zen sects will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. This shows that you have a contentious heart. You yourself are in danger of falling into the realm of the asuras. Moreover, it is said in the Anrakugyo chapter of the Lotus Sutra: "He should not delight in speaking of the faults of other people or scriptures. He should not display contempt for other teachers of the Law." It is because you are going against this passage in the sutra that you have been abandoned by heaven, is it not?
Answer: The Maka shikan says: "There are two ways to spread the Buddha’s teachings. The first is called shoju and the second is called shakubuku. When the Anrakugyo chapter says that one should not speak of the shortcomings of others, it is referring to the shoju method. But when the Nirvana Sutra says that one should carry swords and staves or that one should cut off their heads, it is referring to the shakubuku method. They differ in approach in that one is lenient and the other severe, but they both bring benefit."
The Guketsu comments on this passage as follows: "With regard to the two ways of spreading the Buddha’s teachings, the passage from the Nirvana Sutra, ‘carry swords and staves,’ is found in the third volume where it says, ‘Defenders of the correct teaching need not observe the five precepts or practice the rules of proper behavior. [Rather they should carry knives and swords, bows and arrows, prongs and lances.]’ ... And later on, the sutra tells of King Sen’yo [who put to death those who slandered the correct teaching]. It also mentions how the new physician, [knowing that the medicine from milk prescribed by the old physician was ineffective,] forbade its usage, saying, ‘If anyone takes any more of this medicine, he shall have his head cut off.’ These passages also demonstrate how the method of shakubuku should be applied to persons who go against the Law. All the sutras and treatises deal with one or the other of these two methods."
The Hokke mongu states "Question: The Nirvana Sutra clearly states that one should associate closely with the ruler, bearing bows and arrows and helping overthrow evil persons. And yet [the Anrakugyo chapter of the Lotus Sutra says that one should stay away from persons in power and should behave with humility and loving kindness. There seems to be a major contradiction between the sternness of one approach and the gentleness of the other. Why should they differ so?
"Answer: The Nirvana Sutra speaks mostly about the shakubuku approach. But it also mentions dwelling in the state where one looks on all living beings as one’s own children. Could it say so if it did not have the shoju approach? The Lotus Sutra is mainly concerned with the shoju approach [as in the Anrakugyo chapter]. But [in the Dharani chapter] there is also the curse [on anyone who troubles the preachers of the Law] which says he will have his head split into seven pieces. Could it say so if it did not have the shakubuku approach? Both sutras employ one or the other of the two methods depending on the context. The method chosen should be that which accords with the time."
The Nehangyo sho or "Commentary on the Nirvana Sutra" states: "When monks or laymen are defending the Law, the most important thing is for them to adopt the proper basic mental attitude. They should disregard external details, stick to the principles, and in this way spread the teachings of the Nirvana Sutra. Therefore it says that defenders of the correct teaching need not abide by petty regulations. And that is why it says they need not practice the rules of proper behavior. In past times the age was peaceful and the Law spread throughout the country. At that time it was proper to observe the precepts and not to carry staves. But now the age is perilous and the Law is overshadowed. Therefore it is proper to carry staves and to disregard the precepts. If both past and present were perilous times, then it would be proper to carry staves in both periods. And if both past and present were peaceful times, then it would be proper to observe the precepts in both of them. You should let your choices be fitting and never adhere solely to one or the other."
I suppose the learned priests of the time think it is only natural that one should have doubts about this. Therefore, no matter how I explain and try to persuade my own disciples, they still cannot seem to overcome their doubts, but behave like icchantikas, or persons of incorrigible disbelief. Therefore I have quoted these passages of explanation from T’ien-t’ai, Miao-lo and others in order to silence their ungrounded criticisms.
These two methods of shoju and shakubuku are like water and fire. Fire hates water, water detests fire. The practitioner of shoju laughs with scorn at shakubuku. The practitioner of shakubuku laments at the thought of shoju. When the country is full of evil persons without wisdom, then shoju is the primary method to be applied, as described in the Anrakugyo chapter. But at a time when there are many persons of perverse views who slander the Law, then shakubuku should come first, as described in the Fukyo chapter. It is like using cold water to cool yourself in the hot weather, or longing for a fire when the weather turns cold. Grass and trees are kinsmen of the sun-they suffer in the cold moonlight. Bodies of water are followers of the moon-they lose their true nature when the hot weather comes.
In the Latter Day of the Law, however, both shoju and shakubuku are to be used. This is because there are two kinds of countries, the country that is passively evil, and the kind that actively seeks to destroy the Law. We must consider carefully to which category Japan at the present time belongs.
Question: If one applies the shakubuku method at a time when the shoju method would be appropriate, or shoju at a time when shakubuku would be appropriate, is there any merit to be gained?
Answer: The Nirvana Sutra says: "Bodhisattva Kashyapa addressed the Buddha, saying, ‘The body of the Law you, the Thus Come One, possess is as indestructible as a diamond. But I do not yet understand the means by which you acquired it. Would you tell me?’
"The Buddha replied, ‘Kashyapa, it is because I was a defender of the correct teaching that I have been able to attain this diamond-like body. Kashyapa, because [in the past] I devoted myself to the correct teaching, I have been able to achieve this diamond-like body that abides forever and is never destroyed. Good man, defenders of the correct teaching need not observe the five precepts or practice the rules of proper behavior. Rather they should carry knives and swords, bows and arrows...'"
"‘The monks [whom you are speaking of] preach various teachings, but still they are not able to utter "the lion’s roar." ... Nor are they able to refute and convert evil persons who go against the correct teaching. Monks of this kind can bring no benefit either to themselves or to the populace. You should realize that they are in fact shirkers and idlers. Though they are careful in observing the precepts and maintain spotless conduct, you should realize that they cannot achieve anything. [Then a monk raises "the lion’s roar." ...] Those who break the precepts, upon listening to his preaching, are all enraged to the point where they attack him.
This preacher of the Law, though he may in the end lose his life, is still worthy of being called a person who observes the precepts and brings benefits to both himself and others.’ "
In the passage from the Nehangyo sho quoted earlier, Chang-an says: "You should let your choices be fitting and never adhere solely to one or the other." And T’ien-t’ai, as we have seen, declared that "the method chosen should be that which accords with the time." If it is not, you will be like someone who plants seeds at the end of autumn. Though you may carefully tend the field, you are not likely to harvest any rice or grain.
During the Kennin era (1201-1204), two men came prominence, Honen and Dainichi, who spread the teachings of the Nembutsu and Zen sects, respectively. Honen denied the worth of the Lotus Sutra now that the world has entered the Latter Day of the Law, saying that "not a single person has ever attained Buddhahood" through that sutra, and that "not one person in a thousand" can be saved by its teachings. Dainichi for his part claimed that the true teachings of Buddhism had been transmitted apart from the sutras. These two doctrines have now spread throughout the entire country. The learned priests of the Tendai and Shingon sects fawn on the lay supporters of the Nembutsu and Zen sects or fear them the way a dog wags its tail before its master or a mouse fears a cat. These men enter the service of the ruler and the military leader, where they preach in such a way as to bring about the destruction of the Buddhist Law and the ruin of the country. These Tendai and Shingon leaders in their present existence will fall into the realm of hungry spirits, and after death will find themselves in the Avichi hell. Even if they retire to the mountain forests and engage intensely in the meditation on the three thousand realms in a single moment of life or retire to a quiet spot and concentrate on the three mysteries [of body, mouth and mind], if they do not understand the time or the people’s capacity and perceive which of the two methods, shoju or shakubuku, is appropriate, then they can never free themselves from the sufferings of birth and death.
Question: When you berate the followers of the Nembutsu and Zen sects and arouse their enmity, what merit does that bring?
Answer: The Nirvana Sutra says, "If even a good monk sees someone destroying the teaching and disregards him, failing to reproach him, to oust him or to punish him for his offense, then you should realize that that monk is betraying the Buddha’s teaching. But if he ousts the destroyer of the Law, reproaches him or punishes him, then he is my disciple and a true voice-hearer."
Chang-an comments on this as follows: "One who destroys or brings confusion to the Buddha’s teachings is betraying them. If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy. But one who reprimands and corrects an offender is a voice-hearer who defends the Buddha’s teachings, a true disciple of the Buddha. One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent. Those who reproach offenders are disciples of the Buddha. But those who do not oust offenders are betraying the Buddha’s teachings."
If we examine the Hoto chapter of the Lotus Sutra, we find Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha and the various Buddhas from the ten directions who are emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha gathering together. And why? As the sutra itself says, "Each ... has come to this place on purpose to make certain that the Law will long endure." Shakyamuni, Taho and the other Buddhas intend to insure the future propagation of the Lotus Sutra so that it can be made available to every single living being, the children of the Buddha, in times to come. We may surmise from this that their concern and compassion are even greater than that of a father and mother who see their only child inflicted with great suffering. Honen, however, shows not the least concern about their compassion, but would tightly shut the gates to the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law so that no one would have access to it. Like a person who tricks a demented child into throwing away his treasure, he tries to induce people to discard the Lotus Sutra, a shameless thing to do indeed!
If someone is about to kill your father and mother, shouldn’t you try to warn them? If a bad son who is insane with drink is threatening to kill his father and mother, shouldn’t you try to stop him? If some evil person is about to set fire to the temples and pagodas, shouldn’t you try to stop him? If your only child is gravely ill, shouldn’t you try to cure him with moxibustion treatment? To fail to do so is to act like those people who see but do not try to put a stop to the Zen and Nembutsu followers in Japan. As Chang-an says, "If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy."
I, Nichiren, am sovereign, teacher, father and mother to all the people of Japan. But the men of the Tendai sect [who do not refute the misleading sects] are all great enemies of the people. As Chang-an has noted, "One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent."
One who has not set one’s mind upon the way can never free oneself from the sufferings of birth and death. Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, was cursed by all the followers of non-Buddhist teachings and labeled as a man of great evil. The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai was regarded with intense enmity by the three schools of the south and seven schools of the north, and Tokuitsu of Japan criticized him for using his three-inch tongue to try to destroy the five-foot bodyof the Buddha. The Great Teacher Dengyo was disparaged by the monks of Nara, who said, "Saicho has never been to the capital of T’ang China!" But all of these abuses were incurred because of the Lotus Sutra, and they are therefore no shame to the men who suffered them. To be praised by fools-that is the greatest shame. Now that I have incurred the wrath of the authorities [and am now in exile], the priests of the Tendai and Shingon sects are no doubt delighted. They are strange and shameless men.
Shakyamuni Buddha appeared in the saha world, Kumarajiva journeyed to the Ch’in dynasty in China, and Dengyo likewise went to China, [all for the sake of the Lotus Sutra]. Aryadeva and Aryasimha sacrificed their bodies. Bodhisattva Yakuo burned his arms as an offering, and Prince Shotoku stripped off the skin on his hand [and copied the sutra on it]. Shakyamuni, when he was a bodhisattva, sold his flesh to make offerings, and another time, when he was a bodhisattva named Gyobo, he used his bone as a pen [to write down the Buddha’s teaching].
T’ien-t’ai has said that "the method chosen should be that which accords with the time." The propagation of the Buddhist teachings should follow the time. For what I have done, I have been condemned to exile, but it is a small suffering to undergo in this present life and not one worth lamenting. In future lives I will enjoy immense happiness, a thought that gives me great joy.