If we are to believe these dying words of the Buddha, we must conclude that the Lotus Sutra is the only bright mirror we should have, and that through it we can understand the heart of all the sutras. -Gosho 88 – NICHIRENLIBRARY.ORG
Listen to Behind The Decks Radio Show – Episode 38 by BTD – Radio Show #np on #SoundCloud
一 生 成 仏 抄 十 章 抄 IF you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime, you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore enable you to grasp the mystic truth innate in all life. The true perfect teaching practice is to keep the mouth constantly reciting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, whatever the occasion, and to keep the mind fixed on the meditation on the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. This is the practice and understanding of persons of wisdom. Thus the Lotus Sutra CHAPTER 7 says, Having taken his seat, ten small kalpas pass. Or, as the Lotus Sutra CHAPTER 2 says, “[The reason . . . was that] the time to preach so had not yet come.”As the sutra says, “Now is the very time when I must decisively preach the great vehicle.”“Do not preach this sutra to persons who are without wisdom.
The lotus sutra chapter 10 says, It must not be distributed or recklessly transmitted to others. Lotus sutra chapter twenty ‘Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” ‘I have profound reverence for you” ‘This ignorant monk.’ “Some among the group would take sticks of wood or tiles and stones and beat and pelt him. Encouraging Devotion chapter 14 it says, “There will be many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of us and will attack us with swords and staves.” “T’ien-t’ai says, “The method chosen should be that which accords with the time.”“You should let your choices be fitting and never adhere solely to one or the other.”he seventh volume of the Lotus Sutra says, “After I have passed into extinction, in the last five-hundred-year period you must spread it abroad widely throughout Jambudvīpa and never allow it to be cut off.” the sixth volume states, “In the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law if there is someone who can uphold this sutra . . .” The fifth volume states, “In the latter age hereafter, when the Law is about to perish . . .”30 The fourth volume 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?”31 The fifth volume says, “It will face much hostility in the world and be difficult to believe.” And the seventh volume, speaking of the fifth five-hundred-year period, which is the age of quarrels and disputes, says that evil devils, the devils’ people, heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, and kumbhānda demons will seize the advantage. The fifth volume of the Lotus Sutra similarly says, “In that evil age there will be monks,” “Or there will be forest-dwelling monks,” and “Evil demons will take possession of others.”
Lotus chapter 21: ““Hail, Shakyamuni Buddha! Hail, Shakyamuni Buddha! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!”” The Great Teacher Dengyō 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 of the Lotus Sutra will prove how perfectly it fits the capacities of all people. How do we know this is true? Because the ‘Peaceful Practices’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra states, ‘In the latter age hereafter, when the Law is about to perish, [accept and embrace the Lotus Sutra]. The sutra says, ‘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?’ There is good reason for this statement. A person who spreads the Lotus Sutra is father and mother to all the living beings in Japan. For, as the Great Teacher Chang-an says, “One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent. From this situation one should understand that I am in fact the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, stated that, if anyone should abuse or curse someone who is spreading the Lotus Sutra in the evil world of the latter age, that person would be guilty of an offense that is a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times greater than if he had been an enemy of the Buddha for the space of an entire kalpa. And yet nowadays the ruler and the people of Japan, following their personal whims, seem to hate me even more intensely than they would an enemy of their own parents or one who had been a foe from their previous lifetime, or upbraid me even more severely than they would a traitor or a murderer. I wonder that the earth does not open up and swallow them alive, or that thunder does not come down from heaven and tear them apart! Or am I perhaps not the votary of the Lotus Sutra after all? If not, then I am wretched indeed! What a miserable fate, in this present life to be hounded by everyone and never know so much as a moment of peace, and in the next life to fall into the evil paths of existence! If in fact I am not the votary of the Lotus Sutra, then who will uphold the one vehicle, the teaching of the Lotus Sutra? The Lotus Sutra speaks of a person who “can uphold this sutra”66 or who “can preach this sutra.” What does it mean when it speaks of someone who “can preach” this sutra? Does it not mean someone who will proclaim, in the words of the Lotus Sutra itself, that “among the sutras, it holds the highest place. The fact that the Lotus Sutra enables one to attain Buddhahood in one’s present form, a fact well attested by both scriptural passages and actual events.Actual events refers to events mentioned in the Lotus Sutra. For example, in chapter 3, the Buddha predicted that Shāriputra would in the future attain enlightenment as a Buddha called Flower Glow. Chapter depicts the attainment of Buddhahood by the dragon king’s daughter and predicts the future enlightenment of an evil person, Devadatta. Whatever you may say, the time of the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai corresponds to the period described in the Great Collection Sutra as the age of reading, reciting, and listening. The time had not yet come for broadly proclaiming and propagating the Lotus Sutra.‘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!’I pronounce the word “Buddha” before he died. And soon the eminent priests of Japan will no doubt be trying to cry out, “Namu Nichiren Shōnin (Devotion to the Sage Nichiren)!” But most likely they will only have time enough to utter the one word, “Namu!” How pitiful, how pitiful!
In the secular texts it says, “A sage is one who fully understands those things that have not yet made their appearance.” And in the Buddhist texts it says, “A sage is one who knows the three existences of life—past, present, and future. Three times now I have gained distinction by having such knowledge. All I have done is try to repay the debt I owe to the country of my birth by endeavoring to save it from disaster. That my advice was not heeded was certainly a cause of great regret to me. Not only was it not heeded, but I was summoned before the authorities, and the scroll of the fifth volume of the Lotus Sutra was snatched from the breast of my robe and I was harshly beaten with it.156 In the end, I was arrested and paraded through the streets of the city. At that time, I called out: “You gods of the sun and moon up in the sky, here is Nichiren meeting with this great persecution.
If you are not ready to risk your lives to aid me, does this mean, then, that I am not the votary of the Lotus Sutra? If that is so, then I should correct my mistaken belief at once. If, on the other hand, Nichiren is the votary of the Lotus Sutra, then you should send some sign of that fact to this country at once! If you do not do so, then you, the gods of the sun and moon and all the other deities, will be no more than great liars who have deceived Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions. Devadatta was guilty of falsehood and deception and Kokālika was a great liar, but you deities are guilty of telling lies that are a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times greater!”
I had no sooner uttered these words than the nation was suddenly faced with internal revolt. Since the country has fallen into grave disorder, then, although I may be a mere common mortal of no social standing, so long as I uphold the Lotus Sutra, I deserve to be called the foremost Great Man in all Japan at this time. The Tendai Lotus school is superior to the other schools because of the sutra that it is founded on. Therefore, in declaring its superiority, it is not simply praising itself and disparaging others.” The seventh volume of the Lotus Sutra states, “Just as among all the mountains, Mount Sumeru is foremost, so this Lotus Sutra is likewise. Among all the sutras, it holds the highest place. But the votaries of the Lotus Sutra should now keep the following in mind. The Lotus Sutra says that, just as among all the rivers, streams, and other bodies of water, for example, the ocean is foremost, so a person who upholds the Lotus Sutra is likewise.
We care nothing for our bodies or lives but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way. Never Disparaging or the Scholar Bhadraruchi and continues to assert the superiority of the Lotus Sutra, he will almost certainly lose his life. To practice with such resolve in the face of this threat is the most important thing of all. Now I, Nichiren, am confronting just such a situation. Though I am a humble man, I have proclaimed that the great teachers Kōbō and Jikaku, the Tripitaka masters Shan-wu-wei, Chin-kang-chih, and Pu-k’ung, and others of their kind are potent enemies of the Lotus Sutra, and that, if the words of the sutra are to be trusted, they have without doubt fallen into the hell of incessant suffering. To proclaim such a thing as this is a very grave step. It would be easier to walk naked into a raging fire, easier to take up Mount Sumeru in one’s hands and toss it away, easier to hoist a great stone on one’s back and walk across the ocean, than to do what I have done. To establish the correct teaching in this country of Japan is indeed a difficult thing.
If Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, of the pure land of Eagle Peak, Many Treasures Buddha of the World of Treasure Purity, the Buddhas of the ten directions who are Shakyamuni’s emanations, the bodhisattvas as numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds who sprang up out of the earth, Brahmā and Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, and the four heavenly kings do not, conspicuously or inconspicuously, give me their protection and lend me aid, then they will never know a single day or a single hour of peace and safety!
This is what I heard:
At one time the Buddha was in Rajagriha, staying on Mount Gridhrakuta. Accompanying him were a multitude of leading monks numbering twelve thousand persons. Also accompanying him were eighty thousand bodhisattvas mahasattva; heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, and mahoragas; and various monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. Great wheel-turning kings, petty wheel-turning kings, kings of the gold wheel, silver wheel, and other kinds of wheels, kings of states, princes, ministers, subjects, gentlemen and ladies of the state, and rich men of the state, all with followers numbering in the hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, surrounding them, came to the place where the Buddha was, bowed in obeisance before his feet, and circled around him a hundred thousand times, burning incense, scattering flowers, and offering various kinds of alms. This done, they retired to one side and sat down.
The names of the bodhisattvas were Dharma Prince Manjushri, Dharma Prince Great Dignity and Virtue Storehouse, Dharma Prince Without Worry Storehouse, Dharma Prince Great Eloquence Storehouse, Bodhisattva Maitreya, Bodhisattva Guiding Head, Bodhisattva Medicine King, Bodhisattva Medicine Superior, Bodhisattva Flower Banner, Bodhisattva Flower Glow Banner, Bodhisattva Dharani Freedom King, Bodhisattva p.4Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, Bodhisattva Great Power, Bodhisattva Constant Exertion, Bodhisattva Jeweled Seal Head, Bodhisattva Jeweled Accumulation, Bodhisattva Jeweled Staff, Bodhisattva Transcending the Threefold World, Bodhisattva Vimabhara,1 Bodhisattva Scented Elephant, Bodhisattva Great Scented Elephant, Bodhisattva Lion Roar King, Bodhisattva Lion Frolic World, Bodhisattva Lion Swiftness, Bodhisattva Lion Exertion, Bodhisattva Brave Acute Strength, Bodhisattva Lion Fierce Subduer, Bodhisattva Adornment, and Bodhisattva Great Adornment. Eighty thousand bodhisattvas mahasattva such as these accompanied the Buddha.
There were none of these bodhisattvas who were not great men in their Dharma bodies. They were accomplished in matters pertaining to the precepts, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, and the insight of emancipation. Their minds, concentrated and stilled, were at all times in a state of samadhi. They were tranquil and unperturbed, without action, without desire, and no topsy-turvy or confused thoughts could ever reach them. Placid and still, clean and pure, their will was dark, empty, and vast. They maintained this state unmoving for a million hundred thousand kalpas. Immeasurable doctrines were all manifest before them. They had acquired great wisdom, had fully understood all phenomena, perceived and distinguished the truth regarding natures and characteristics, and displayed absolute clarity concerning being and nonbeing, long and short.
They were also skilled in understanding various capacities, natures, and desires, and employing dharanis and unimpeded eloquence, and following in the wake of buddhas who had turned the wheel of the Law, they too skillfully turned it. First they sprinkled tiny drops, wetting down the dust of desire. They opened the gates of nirvana and fanned the wind of emancipation, dispelling the heat of worldly cares and letting in the clear coolness of the Law.
Next they dispensed the profound teachings of the twelve-linked chain of causation, using them to douse the burning rays p.5of compounded suffering, the raging fires of ignorance, aging, sickness, and death. Then they poured forth in abundance the unsurpassed great vehicle to moisten and enrich the good roots possessed by living beings. They sowed the seeds of goodness, spreading them throughout the fields of merit, making it possible for all beings everywhere to put forth the sprouts of enlightenment. The sun and moon of their wisdom, the seasons of their expedient means, support and promote the undertaking of the great vehicle, causing the multitude quickly to attain supreme perfect enlightenment.
These bodhisattvas dwelled constantly in the ease and joy of a subtle and wonderful truth, and in their immeasurably great compassion rescued living beings from suffering. For living beings these were true good friends; for living beings these were great fields of good fortune; for living beings they were teachers who arrived unsummoned; for living beings they were places of tranquillity and joy, saviors, guardians, places of great refuge and repose.
In one place after another for the sake of living beings they acted as great and good guides and teachers, as great guides and teachers. Because living beings are blind, they knew how to act as eyes for them. For the deaf, the noseless, the dumb they acted as ears, nose, and tongue. Where capacities were lacking or defective, they knew how to supply and mend them; where there was disorder, chaos, and confusion, they brought the great remedy of correct thought.
They were helmsmen, great helmsmen, ferrying the many beings over the river of birth and death until they reached the shore of nirvana. They were master physicians, great master physicians, distinguishing the marks of illness, understanding the nature of medicines, applying the medicine that was appropriate to the disease, dispensing medication to the multitude. They were trainers, great trainers, curbing all wild and eccentric behavior. They were like trainers of elephants or horses, able to train them till none were untrained. They had the brave fierceness of the lion, which overawes all the other beasts and is scarcely to be challenged.
p.6They diverted themselves with the paramitas of the bodhisattvas, and stood firm and unmoving on the ground of the thus come one. They abided secure in the power of their vows, purified the buddha lands far and wide, and before long will succeed in gaining supreme perfect enlightenment. These bodhisattvas mahasattva all possessed inconceivable virtues such as these.
The names of the monks were Great Wisdom Shariputra, Transcendental Power Maudgalyayana, Life of Wisdom Subhuti, Mahakatyayana, Purna, son of Maitrayani, Ajnata Kaundinya, Heavenly Eye Aniruddha, Keeper of the Precepts Upali, Attendant Ananda, Rahula, son of the Buddha, Upananda, Revata, Kapphina, Bakkula, Chunda, Svagata, Dhuta Great Kashyapa, Uruvilva Kashyapa, Gaya Kashyapa, and Nadi Kashyapa, twelve thousand monks such as these. All were arhats who had exhausted all ties and outflows and had no further bonds or attachments, having attained true and correct emancipation.
At that time the bodhisattva mahasattva Great Adornment, gazing all around at the seated multitude and seeing that each member of the group had had time to compose his mind, accompanied by the others of the eighty thousand bodhisattvas mahasattva in the assembly, rose from his seat and proceeded to where the Buddha was. They bowed their heads to the ground in obeisance before the Buddha’s feet and circled around him a hundred thousand times, burning heavenly incense and scattering heavenly flowers, heavenly robes, heavenly necklaces, and priceless heavenly jewels and gems over him. These revolved in the midst of the sky and drifted down on four sides in cloudlike masses, an offering to the Buddha. Heavenly bowls and vessels from heavenly kitchens brimmed and overflowed with a hundred heavenly flavors; just observing their forms and smelling their aroma was enough to make one feel naturally satisfied. Heavenly banners, heavenly streamers, heavenly canopies, wonderful heavenly playthings were ranged here and there, and heavenly instruments played music for the amusement and pleasure of the Buddha.
Then the bodhisattvas, advancing, kneeling on one knee, and p.7pressing their palms together, single-mindedly joined their voices together in speaking these verses of praise:
Great indeed, great sage lord of great enlightenment,
without defilement, without stain, without attachment,
trainer of heavenly and human beings, elephants and horses,
scenting all with the wind of the way, the incense of virtue,
calm in wisdom, vast in feeling, still and concentrated in thought,
will extinguished, consciousness gone, mind tranquil,
eternally cut off from dreamlike deluded thoughts and ponderings,
no more elements, components, sense fields, or realms,
his body neither existing nor not existing,
neither caused nor conditioned, neither self nor other,
neither square nor round, neither short nor long,
neither appearing nor disappearing, neither born nor extinguished,
neither created nor arising, neither acted nor made,
neither sitting nor lying down, neither walking nor standing,
neither moving nor turning, neither idle nor still,
neither advancing nor retreating, neither in safety nor danger,
neither right nor wrong, neither gaining nor losing,
neither that nor this, neither departing nor coming,
neither blue nor yellow, neither red nor white,
neither crimson nor purple nor any other sort of color,
born in precepts, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, insight,
setting out from samadhis, six transcendental powers, aids to the way,
arising from pity, compassion, the ten powers, fearlessness,
emerging because of the good actions of living beings.
p.8He displays his sixteen-foot body, gleaming like purple gold,
trim and upright, shining with great penetrating brilliance;
characteristic tuft curled like a moon, sun rays behind his neck;
his coiled hair deep blue, a knob of flesh on his crown;
pure eyes, bright mirrors, gazing up and down;
eyebrows and lashes blue and lengthy, mouth and cheeks shapely;
lips and tongue red and comely as crimson flowers;
forty white teeth like snowy agate;
forehead broad, nose long, an open countenance;
breast displaying a fylfot pattern, lion-chested;
hands and feet soft and supple, marked with thousand-spoked wheels;
armpits and palms crossed with lines, inside and out well molded,
long upper and lower arms, fingers straight and slim;
skin delicate and soft, hair curling to the right;
anklebones and knees well exposed, male member hidden like a horse;
slim muscles, well-locked bones, deer-like legs;
front and back radiant, pure, without defilement,
unstained by turbid water, untouched by dust,
the thirty-two features all like this,
the eighty characteristics plain to see.
Yet in truth there is no form that is with or without features;
he is cut off from all eyes that look for features.
With features that are featureless he bears a featured body,
and the features of living beings with their featured bodies are likewise.
He can cause living beings to rejoice and do obeisance,
to give their hearts to him, show reverence, be diligent.
Because he has put aside pride and haughtiness,
he has achieved a wonderfully formed body such as this.
Now we, a multitude of eighty thousand,
p.9have all come together to bow our heads, dedicate our lives,
to one who has extinguished thought, mind, will, and consciousness,
trainer of elephants and horses, sage free of attachments.
We bow heads, give ourselves to his Dharma body and manifested body,
his aggregate of precepts, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, insight.
We bow heads, give ourselves to his wonderful characteristics,
we bow heads, give ourselves to one difficult to conceive.
His brahma sounds thunder and shake, echoing in eight varieties,
subtle, wonderful, pure, extremely profound and far-reaching.
The four noble truths, six paramitas, twelve-linked chain of causation,
are set forth, depending on the workings of the minds of living beings.
Of those who hear, there are none whose mind is not opened;
they cut off the immeasurable entanglements of birth and death.
Of those who hear, some reach the stage of stream-winner, of once-returner, non-returner, or arhat,
the state of the cause-awakened one, free of outflows, free of action,
the bodhisattva stage, free of birth, free of extinction.
Some gain immeasurable dharanis,
unimpeded delight in preaching, great eloquence,
expounding profoundly deep, subtle, and wonderful verses,
diverting themselves by bathing in clear channels of the Law,
some leap or fly up, display transcendental powers,
go in and out of water and fire, their bodies completely free.
p.10In such manner does the thus come one turn the wheel of the Law,
pure, unbounded, difficult to conceive.
We are moved, and all together bow our heads,
dedicating our lives to the timely turning of the wheel of the Law,
bow our heads, dedicate ourselves to the brahma sounds,
bow our heads, dedicate ourselves to the chain of causation, truths, paramitas.
The world-honored one immeasurable kalpas in the past
diligently carried out numerous virtuous practices
for our sake, human and heavenly beings, dragon kings,
for all living beings everywhere.
He was willing to discard all things difficult to discard,
wealth, riches, wife, child, country, and capital,
begrudging nothing inside or outside his dharma,
donating all to others, his head, eyes, marrow, and brains.
He honored and upheld the pure prohibitions of the buddhas,
never violating them even though it might cost him his life.
Though men came with swords and staves to do him harm,
with foul mouths cursed and insulted him, he never showed anger.
For successive kalpas he sacrificed his body, never slacking,
day and night disciplined in mind, in constant meditation.
He studied all the various ways and doctrines,
in his profound wisdom penetrated the capacities of living beings.
For this reason now he can exercise his powers freely,
free in command of the Law, the king of the Law.
We are moved, and all together bow our heads,
dedicating ourselves to one who has accomplished what is hard to accomplish.
1・The Universal Salty Taste (39);
2・The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country (48);
3・Questions and Answers about Embracing the Lotus Sutra (55);
4・Opening the Eyes of Wooden and Painted Images (85);
5・Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man (99);
5) ・The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra (141);
6 THROUGH 14:
・The Essence of the “Life Span” Chapter (182); ・Many in Body, One in Mind (618); ・Reply to the Followers (901); ・Reply to a Believer (905); ・The Sons Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye (1049); ・Great Evil and Great Good (1119); ・The Kalpa of Decrease (1120); ・The Gift of Rice (1125); ・The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings (1128)
Forward! Always forward! This is a basic spirit of Buddhism. Nichiren’s teaching is the Buddhism of true cause. We live with our gaze fixed on the future, not hung up on the past. To advance eternally–this is the essence of life and the essence of what it means to be a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism.
via Daily Encouragement.
PURE SUGAR – DELICIOUS, BAD BOY BILL BEHIND THE DECKS RADIO SHOW EPISODE #39 – WHAT YOU WANT PRODUCTIONS – LOWERCASESOUNDS.COM –
True love should be transformative; a process that amplifies our capacity to cherish not just one person but all people. It can make us stronger, lift us higher and deepen us as individuals. Only to the extent that we polish ourselves now can we hope to develop wonderful bonds of the heart in the future.
Love & Marriage
“Mr. Toda said: ‘True greatness means that, even if you forget what you’ve done for others, you never forget what others have done for you and always do your utmost to repay your debts of gratitude. Therein shines the light of Buddhism.’” DAISAKU IKEDA
In Buddhism, we either win or lose–there is no middle ground. Now and in the future, let us advance, determined to win in every sphere of our lives. By winning in our lives, we are advancing kosen-rufu, and by advancing kosen-rufu, we win in our lives.
Chapter Twenty-five: The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds
Five important points
Point One, concerning the bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The name Inexhaustible Intent (Mu-jin-ni) stands for the perfect unification of the three truths. The element mu, or “not,” represents the truth of non-substantiality; the element jin, or “exhaustible,” represents the truth of temporary existence; and the element ni (or i), or “intent,” represents the truth of the Middle Way.
In the name Perceiver of the World’s Sounds (Kan-ze-on) the element kan, or “perceiver,” represents the truth of non-substantiality; the element ze, or “world,” represents the truth of temporary existence; and the element on, or “sounds,” represents the truth of the Middle Way.
In the words Myoho-renge-kyo, or the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, the element myō, or “wonderful,” represents the truth of non-substantiality; the element hō-renge, or “the lotus of the law,” represents the truth of temporary existence; and kyō, or “sutra,” represents the truth of the Middle Way.
In this chapter the wonderful principle of the Dharma nature that is embodied in the three truths is being expressed in terms of the three truths of the bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds p.179and the three truths of the bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are acting as the Inexhaustible Intent of the Latter Day of the Law. Thus we may say that the element mu in the name Mujinni, or Inexhaustible Intent, is the sign of our death, the element jin is the sign of our birth, and the element ni or i is the root or source of our life force. For this reason, all the various doctrines, such as the doctrine of the fusion of reality and wisdom, are contained in this single word i, or “intent.” This “intent” represents the Dharma nature or the Middle Way. The Dharma nature represents Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. These five characters1 are the “intent” of the Lotus Sutra.
In terms of the five stages of development of the fetus in the womb, the character i, or “intent,” corresponds to the fifth stage, that of bodily form. Hence the form of a being in the fifth stage corresponds to the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space, and the five elements in turn correspond to the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo.
These five characters are also expressed in the single character i or “intent.” The intent or meaning of the Buddha is the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. It is nothing but this. The intent of the Buddha is the Lotus Sutra. This is the “good medicine” described in the “Life Span” chapter, the good medicine favored by all the Buddhas of the three existences.
All the countless phenomena of the three thousand realms are nothing more than this single character i, or “intent.” And to have faith in this intent of the Buddha is what is meant by the mind of faith. The element of mind has its various divisions or categories, but all are completely encompassed in the entirety of the Wonderful Law.
p.180Point Two, concerning the bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds represented by “wonderful”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The term “Wonderful Law” in Sanskrit is saddharma. Sad (the phonetic change of sat) may be translated as “wonderful.” This syllable sad is the seed, or the mystical syllable, that represents the bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds. Hence a commentary says that Perceiver of the World’s Sounds and the Lotus Sutra are simply different names for the same thing, like the words gen and moku, both of which mean “eye.” Now that we have entered the Latter Day of the Law, the benefits Nichiren and his followers enjoy in their chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are as far above those conferred by Perceiver of the World’s Sounds as heaven is above earth or clouds are above mud.
In general we may say that the element kan, or Perceiver, in the name Kanzeon represents enkan, or “perfect perception.” The element ze, or World, means “miraculous,” while the element on, or Sounds, refers to the capacity for attaining Buddhahood. Kan is another name for the Dharma-realm; hence, as already stated, it stands for perfect perception. And because Perceiver of the World’s Sounds is a perceiver of the true aspect of all phenomena, he can see and understand the different realms such as those of hell, hungry spirits, animals, etc. that make up this miraculous world.
On, or Sounds, refers to the sounds of the true aspect of all phenomena, and hence it means that there are no living beings that do not possess the true aspect of Buddhahood. This has been referred to, in the “Life Span” chapter, as the original state endowed with the Ten Worlds, the three bodies with which the Buddha is eternally endowed.
The bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds has already accepted the Lotus Sutra reverentially. And now the practitioners, who accept and uphold this sutra, can enjoy benefits that surpass even those of the bodhisattva.
p.181Point Three, on the passage “Wonderful sound, Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, / Brahmā’s sound, the sea tide sound— / they surpass those sounds of the world; / therefore you should constantly think on them, / from thought to thought never entertaining doubt!”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: In the phrase “from thought to thought,” the first “thought” stands for the six paths or lower realms of unenlightened beings, while the second “thought” stands for the four noble realms. The meaning is that the benefits of Perceiver of the World’s Sounds are bestowed on beings in both the six paths and in the four noble realms. One is told never to entertain doubt on this point.
Again, the phrase “from thought to thought” can refer to the former thought and the latter thought. Or again, it may be cautioning us that we are never to entertain doubt in regard to our thoughts on the Wonderful Law.
Or again, it may refer to the succession of thoughts or moments of life that constantly abides throughout the three existences of past, present, and future. This is what is meant by the words that come earlier, “For this reason, living beings should constantly keep the thought [of the Wonderful Law] in mind.”
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they should abide in the mind of faith that “from thought to thought never entertains doubt.” Earthly desires are enlightenment, the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana—one should have no doubts concerning this.
Point Four, on the passage “If a woman wishes to give birth to a male child, she should offer obeisance and alms to Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds and then she will bear a son blessed with merit, virtue, and wisdom. And if she wishes to bear a daughter, she will bear one with all the marks of comeliness, one who in the past planted the roots of virtue and is loved and respected by many persons.”
p.182The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The two wishes referred to here are the wish for a son and the wish for a daughter. The wish for a daughter stands for the wish for worldly reward and recompense; the wish for a son stands for the wish for spiritual rewards. Accordingly, peace and security in one’s present existence is the virtue that pertains to the wish for a daughter, while good circumstances in one’s future existences is the virtue that pertains to the wish for a son.
The wish for a daughter is represented by the dragon king’s daughter and her attainment of Buddhahood, which makes manifest the principle that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana. The wish for a son is represented by Devadatta’s attainment of Buddhahood, which makes manifest the principle that earthly desires are enlightenment. And these two examples in turn make manifest the principle that one may attain Buddhahood in one’s present form.
Now when Nichiren and his followers as practitioners of the Lotus Sutra chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are fulfilling both the wish for a son and the wish for a daughter and are assuring the attainment of Buddhahood for both their fathers and mothers.
Point Five, concerning the thirty-three bodies or bodily transformations that Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds undergoes in order to benefit living beings
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The number “thirty” stands for the doctrine of three thousand realms [in a single moment of life]. The “three bodies” stand for the doctrine of the three truths.
Again we may say regarding the thirty-three bodies or bodily transformations that, if one is endowed with the three bodies in each of the Ten Worlds, this constitutes thirty bodies, and if the original three bodies are then added in, we have a total of thirty-three bodies.
Generally speaking, [concerning thirty or “three multiplied by ten”], the number three stands for the three categories of action, p.183namely, actions of the body, mouth, and mind or physical, verbal, and mental actions; while the number ten stands for the Ten Worlds. The number three [of thirty-three] may stand for the three poisons of greed, anger, and foolishness. The word “bodies” represents the bodies of all living beings.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are enjoying the benefits of the thirty-three bodies or bodily transformations.
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1. Nichiren often regards the words Myoho-renge-kyo as the equivalent of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. While Myoho-renge-kyo consists of five Chinese characters, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo consists of seven. In his writing The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, for instance, Nichiren mentions “the five or seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, the Soka Gakkai, page 141).
The Soka Gakkai
Dictionary of Buddhism
Letter 25 = Z
zazen ［坐禅］ (Jpn): Seated meditation. The term zazen specifically indicates the form of seated meditation practiced in the Zen school of Buddhism. The practice of zazen is emphasized especially in the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan. Seated meditation was widely practiced in ancient India. Shakyamuni Buddha sat in meditation when he attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree, and incorporated the practice into his teachings. Seated meditation was introduced with Buddhism to China, where various Buddhist schools employed it. T’ien-t’ai (538–597) taught it as core to the integrated system of disciplines he prescribed for observing the true nature of one’s mind.
Zengi ［善議］ (729–812): A priest of the Three Treatises (Sanron) school in Japan. He studied the Three Treatises doctrine under Dōji of Daian-ji temple in Nara and later went to China to further his studies. After returning to Japan, he lived at Daian-ji and preached the Three Treatises doctrine, gaining renown for his learning. Anchō and Gonsō were his disciples. Zengi was among the more than ten eminent priests of the six schools of Nara who assembled to listen to Dengyō lecture on the Tendai doctrine at Takao-dera temple in 802.
Zen school［禅宗］ (Jpn Zen-shū)
Zen school ［禅宗］ (Jpn Zen-shū): A Buddhist school that teaches that enlightenment is to be gained not through doctrinal studies, but rather through direct perception of one’s mind through the practice of meditation. Known in China as the Ch’an school, its founder is regarded as Bodhidharma (sixth century). The Zen teaching was summarized in these phrases attributed to Bodhidharma: “A separate transmission outside the sutras,” “independent of words or writing,” “directly pointing to the human mind,” and “perceiving one’s true nature and attaining Buddhahood.” According to this school, the Buddha’s supreme enlightenment has been transmitted wordlessly through the ages from mind to mind through the lineage of its patriarchs. This process began when Shakyamuni Buddha transferred his enlightenment to his disciple Mahākāshyapa, who is regarded as the first patriarch of Zen. According to Zen tradition, one day when Shakyamuni was with his disciples on Eagle Peak, he silently picked a flower and held it up in his hand. At that time only Mahākāshyapa grasped the Buddha’s meaning, and smiled. Thus, it is said, the Zen teaching was transferred to Mahākāshyapa with a smile. The lineage is said to have passed to the second patriarch, Ānanda, the third, Shānavāsa, and finally to the twenty-eighth patriarch, Bodhidharma, who brought the “wordless tradition” to China. Thereafter the teaching of Zen was transmitted to the second Chinese patriarch, Hui-k’o, the third, Seng-ts’an, the fourth, Tao-hsin, the fifth, Hung-jen, and the sixth, Hui-neng.
In the time of Hui-neng (638–713), the school split into the Southern school of Zen, which Hui-neng led, and the Northern school, led by Shen-hsiu. The Northern school rapidly declined, and the Southern school became the mainstream of Chinese Zen. Hui-neng’s major disciples were Hsing-ssu, Huai-jang, and Shen-hui. Liang-chieh, in the lineage of Hsing-ssu, founded the Ts’ao-tung (Jpn Sōtō) school, and Pen-chi became its second patriarch. Two other schools, the Yün-men (Ummon) and Fa-yen (Hōgen), were founded in the same lineage by Wen-yen and Wen-i, respectively. In the lineage of Huai-jang, Ling-yu founded the Kuei-yang (Igyō) school and his disciple Hui-chi further solidified it, while Lin-chi I-hsüan founded the Lin-chi (Rinzai) school. Among these five schools, the Lin-chi school enjoyed the greatest prosperity, and two branches emerged from it—the Yang-ch’i (Yōgi) school, established by Fang-hui, and the Huang-lung (Ōryū) school, founded by Hui-nan. Together, these schools constitute the so-called “five schools and seven schools” of Southern Zen.
Noted among the first Zen masters in Japan is Dainichi Nōnin, who introduced the Zen teaching to that country in the twelfth century; he called his school the Nihon Daruma, or the Japanese Bodhidharma, school. After his death, his disciples became followers of Dōgen (1200–1253), the founder of the Sōtō school of Japanese Zen, and Nōnin’s school perished. In 1187 Eisai brought the teachings of the Lin-chi school of Zen from China after his second visit there, and founded the Japanese Rinzai school. In 1223 Dōgen also went to China and brought back the teachings of the Ts’ao-tung school, based upon which he established the Sōtō school. During the Kamakura (1185–1333) and Muromachi (1336–1573) periods, the Zen teachings became popular among the samurai class and prospered greatly. In 1654 the Chinese priest Yin-yüan, known in Japan as Ingen, came to Japan and later founded the Ōbaku school of Zen.
Zōmyō ［増命］ (843–927): Also known as Jōkan. The tenth chief priest of Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Tendai school on Mount Hiei in Japan. In 855 he went to Enryaku-ji and studied there. In 867 Zōmyō received the bodhisattva precepts and furthered his study of the Tendai doctrines under Jikaku and Chishō, respectively the third and fifth chief priests of Enryaku-ji. In 899 he became superintendent of Onjō-ji, another main temple of the Tendai school, and in 906 he became the chief priest of Enryaku-ji temple. He gained renown for the apparent effectiveness of his prayers in curing the illnesses of the emperor and retired emperors. In 925 he was appointed to the nationwide position of administrator of priests.
The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds
At that time the bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent immediately rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, pressed his palms together and, facing the Buddha, spoke these words: “World-Honored One, this bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds—why is he called Perceiver of the World’s Sounds?”
The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent: “Good man, suppose there are immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of living beings who are undergoing various trials and suffering. If they hear of this bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds and single-mindedly call his name, then at once he will perceive the sound of their voices and they will all gain deliverance from their trials.
“If someone, holding fast to the name of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, should enter a great fire, the fire could not burn him. This would come about because of this bodhisattva’s authority and supernatural power. If one were washed away by a great flood and called upon his name, one would immediately find oneself in a shallow place.
“Suppose there were a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million living beings who, seeking for gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, coral, amber, pearls, and other treasures, set out on the great sea. And suppose a fierce wind should blow their ship off course and it drifted to the land of rakshasa demons. If among those people there is even just one who calls the name p.340of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, then all those people will be delivered from their troubles with the rakshasas. This is why he is called Perceiver of the World’s Sounds.
“If a person who faces imminent threat of attack should call the name of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, then the swords and staves wielded by his attackers would instantly shatter into so many pieces and he would be delivered.
“Though enough yakshas and rakshasas to fill all the major world system should try to come and torment a person, if they hear him calling the name of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, then these evil demons will not even be able to look at him with their evil eyes, much less do him harm.
“Suppose there is a person who, whether guilty or not guilty, has had his body imprisoned in fetters and chains, cangue and lock. If he calls the name of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, then all his bonds will be severed and broken and at once he will gain deliverance.
“Suppose, in a place filled with all the evil-hearted bandits of the major world system, there is a merchant leader who is guiding a band of merchants carrying valuable treasures over a steep and dangerous road, and that one man among them shouts out these words: ‘Good men, do not be afraid! You must single-mindedly call on the name of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds. This bodhisattva can grant fearlessness to living beings. If you call his name, you will be delivered from these evil-hearted bandits!’ When the band of merchants hear this, they all together raise their voices, saying, ‘Hail to the bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds!’ And because they call his name, they are at once able to gain deliverance. Inexhaustible Intent, the authority and supernatural power of the bodhisattva mahasattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds are as mighty as this!
“If there should be living beings beset by numerous lusts
and cravings, let them think with constant reverence of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds and then they can shed their desires. If they have great wrath and ire, let them think with constant reverence of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s p.341Sounds and then they can shed their ire. If they have great ignorance and foolishness, let them think with constant reverence of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds and they can rid themselves of foolishness.
“Inexhaustible Intent, the bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds possesses great authority and supernatural powers, as I have described, and can confer many benefits. For this reason, living beings should constantly keep the thought of him in mind.
“If a woman wishes to give birth to a male child, she should offer obeisance and alms to Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds and then she will bear a son blessed with merit, virtue, and wisdom. And if she wishes to bear a daughter, she will bear one with all the marks of comeliness, one who, having planted the roots of virtue in the past, is loved and respected by many persons.
“Inexhaustible Intent, the bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds has power to do all this. If there are living beings who pay respect and obeisance to Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, their good fortune will not be fleeting or vain. Therefore living beings should all accept and uphold the name of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds.
“Inexhaustible Intent, suppose there is a person who accepts and upholds the names of as many bodhisattvas as there are sands in sixty-two million Ganges Rivers, and for as long as his present body lasts, he offers them alms in the form of food and drink, clothing, bedding, and medicines. What is your opinion? Would this good man or good woman gain many benefits, or would he not?”
Inexhaustible Intent replied, “They would be very many, World-Honored One.”
The Buddha said: “Suppose also that there is a person who accepts and upholds the name of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds and even just once offers him obeisance and alms. The good fortune gained by these two persons would be exactly equal and without difference. For a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million kalpas it would never be exhausted or p.342run out. Inexhaustible Intent, if one accepts and upholds the name of Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, one will gain the benefit of merit and virtue that is as immeasurable and boundless as this!”
Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds—how does he come and go in this saha world? How does he preach the Law for the sake of living beings? How does the power of expedient means apply in his case?”
The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent: “Good man, if there are living beings in the land who need someone in the body of a buddha in order to be saved, Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds immediately manifests himself in a buddha body and preaches the Law for them. If they need someone in a pratyekabuddha’s body in order to be saved, immediately he manifests a pratyekabuddha’s body and preaches the Law to them. If they need a voice-hearer to be saved, immediately he becomes a voice-hearer and preaches the Law for them. If they need King Brahma to be saved, immediately he becomes King Brahma and preaches the Law for them. If they need the lord Shakra to be saved, immediately he becomes the lord Shakra and preaches the Law for them. If they need the heavenly being Freedom to be saved, immediately he becomes the heavenly being Freedom and preaches the Law for them. If they need the heavenly being Great Freedom to be saved, immediately he becomes the heavenly being Great Freedom and preaches the Law for them. If they need a great general of heaven to be saved, immediately he becomes a great general of heaven and preaches the Law for them. If they need Vaishravana to be saved, immediately he becomes Vaishravana and preaches the Law for them. If they need a petty king to be saved, immediately he becomes a petty king and preaches the Law for them. If they need a rich man to be saved, immediately he becomes a rich man and preaches the Law for them. If they need a householder to be saved, immediately he becomes a householder and preaches the Law for them. If they need a chief minister to be saved, immediately he becomes a chief minister and preaches the Law for them. If they need a p.343Brahman to be saved, immediately he becomes a Brahman and preaches the Law for them. If they need a monk, a nun, a layman believer, or a laywoman believer to be saved, immediately he becomes a monk, a nun, a layman believer, or a laywoman believer and preaches the Law for them. If they need the wife of a rich man, of a householder, a chief minister, or a Brahman to be saved, immediately he becomes the wife and preaches the Law for them. If they need a young boy or a young girl to be saved, immediately he becomes a young boy or a young girl and preaches the Law for them. If they need a heavenly being, a dragon, a yaksha, a gandharva, an asura, a garuda, a kimnara, a mahoraga, a human or nonhuman being to be saved, immediately he becomes all of these and preaches the Law for them. If they need a vajra-bearing god to be saved, immediately he becomes a vajra-bearing god and preaches the Law for them.
“Inexhaustible Intent, this bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds has succeeded in acquiring benefits such as these and, taking on a variety of different forms, goes about among the lands saving living beings. For this reason you and the others should single-mindedly offer alms to Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds. This bodhisattva mahasattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds can bestow fearlessness on those who are in fearful, pressing, or difficult circumstances. That is why in this saha world everyone calls him Bestower of Fearlessness.”
Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, now I must offer alms to Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds.”
Then he took from his neck a necklace adorned with numerous precious gems, worth a hundred or a thousand taels of gold, and presented it to the bodhisattva, saying, “Sir, please accept this necklace of precious gems as a Dharma gift.”
At that time Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds was unwilling to accept the gift.
Inexhaustible Intent spoke once more to Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, saying, “Sir, out of compassion for us, please accept this necklace.”
Then the Buddha said to Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s p.344Sounds, “Out of compassion for this bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent and for the four kinds of believers, the heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, the human and nonhuman beings, you should accept this necklace.”
Thereupon Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, having compassion for the four kinds of believers and the heavenly beings and dragons, the human and nonhuman beings, accepted the necklace and, dividing it into two parts, presented one part to Shakyamuni Buddha and presented the other to the tower of the buddha Many Treasures.
[The Buddha said], “Inexhaustible Intent, these are the kinds of freely exercised supernatural powers that Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds displays in his comings and goings in the saha world.”
At that time Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent posed this question in verse form:
The world-honored one is replete with wonderful features.
I now ask you once again
for what reason that buddha’s son
is named Perceiver of the World’s Sounds?
The honored one endowed with wonderful features
replied to Inexhaustible Intent in verse:
Listen to the actions of Perceiver of Sounds,
how aptly he responds in various quarters.
His vast oath is deep as the ocean;
kalpas pass but it remains unfathomable.
He has attended many thousands and millions of buddhas,
setting forth his great pure vow.
I will describe him in outline for you—
listen to his name, observe his body,
bear him in mind, not passing the time vainly,
for he can wipe out all kinds of sufferings.
Suppose someone should conceive a wish to harm you,
should push you into a great pit of fire.
Think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
p.345and the pit of fire will change into a pond!
If you should be cast adrift on the vast ocean,
menaced by dragons, fish, and various demons,
think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and the billows and waves cannot drown you!
Suppose you are on the peak of Mount Sumeru
and someone pushes you off.
Think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and you will hang in midair like the sun!
Suppose you are pursued by evil men
who wish to throw you down from a diamond mountain.
Think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and they cannot harm a hair of you!
Suppose you are surrounded by evil-hearted bandits,
each brandishing a knife to wound you.
Think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and at once all will be swayed by compassion!
Suppose you encounter trouble with the king’s law,
face punishment, about to forfeit your life.
Think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and the executioner’s sword will be broken to bits!
Suppose you are imprisoned in cangue and lock,
hands and feet bound by fetters and chains.
Think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and they will fall off, leaving you free!
Suppose with curses and various poisonous herbs
someone should try to injure you.
Think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and the injury will rebound upon the originator.
Suppose you encounter evil rakshasas,
poison dragons, and various demons.
Think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and then none of them will dare to harm you.
If evil beasts should encircle you,
their sharp fangs and claws inspiring terror,
think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and they will scamper away in boundless retreat.
p.346If lizards, snakes, vipers, scorpions
threaten you with poison breath that sears like flame,
think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and, hearing your voice, they will flee of themselves.
If clouds should bring thunder, and lightning strike,
if hail pelts or drenching rain comes down,
think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
and at that moment they will vanish away.
If living beings encounter weariness or peril,
immeasurable suffering pressing them down,
the power of Perceiver of Sounds’ wonderful wisdom
can save them from the sufferings of the world.
He is endowed with transcendental powers
and widely practices wisdom and expedient means.
Throughout the lands in the ten directions
there is no region where he does not manifest himself.
In many different kinds of evil circumstances,
in the realms of hell, hungry spirits, or beasts,
the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death—
all these he bit by bit wipes out.
He of the true gaze, the pure gaze,
the gaze of great and encompassing wisdom,
the gaze of pity, the gaze of compassion—
constantly we implore him, constantly look up in reverence.
His pure light, free of blemish,
is a sun of wisdom dispelling all darknesses.
He can quell the wind and fire of misfortune
and everywhere bring light to the world.
The precepts from his compassionate body shake us like thunder,
the wonder of his pitying mind is like a great cloud.
He sends down the sweet dew, the Dharma rain,
to quench the flames of earthly desires.
When lawsuits bring you before the officials,
when terrified in the midst of an army,
think on the power of that Perceiver of Sounds
p.347and hatred in all its forms will be dispelled.
Wonderful sounds, Perceiver of the World’s Sounds,
brahma sounds, the sea tide sound—
they surpass the other sounds of the world;
therefore you should constantly think on them
from thought to thought never entertaining doubt!
Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, pure sage—
to those in suffering, in danger of death,
he can offer aid and support.
Endowed with all benefits,
he views living beings with compassionate eyes.
The sea of his accumulated blessings is immeasurable;
therefore you should bow your head to him!
At that time the bodhisattva Earth Holder immediately rose from his seat, advanced, and said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, if there are living beings who hear this chapter on Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, on the freedom of his actions, his transcendental powers that manifest a universal gateway, it should be known that the benefits these persons will gain are not few!”
When the Buddha preached this chapter on the Universal Gateway, a multitude of eighty-four thousand persons in the assembly all conceived a determination to attain the unparalleled state of supreme perfect enlightenment.
Banishment to Sado
ON the twelfth day of the ninth month, I incurred the wrath of the government authorities, and on the tenth day of the tenth month of this year, I am to leave for the province of Sado.
From the beginning, I pursued my studies because I wanted to master Buddhism and attain Buddhahood, and also to save the people to whom I am indebted. It seems to me that on the path to attain Buddhahood it may invariably be when one has done something like lay down one’s life that one becomes a Buddha. I think that perhaps it is encountering such difficulties as have already been explained in the sutra—being cursed, vilified, attacked with swords and staves, shards and rubble, and banished again and again—that is reading the Lotus Sutra with one’s life. My faith springs up all the more, and I am confident about my next existence. If I should die, I will definitely also save each of you.
In India a man called the Venerable Āryasimha was beheaded by King Dammira, and Bodhisattva Āryadeva was murdered by a non-Buddhist. In China, a man named Chu Tao-sheng was banished to a mountain in a place called Su-chou, and the Tripitaka Master Fa-tao was branded on the face and exiled to a place south of the Yangtze River. All these were because of the virtue of the Lotus Sutra, and because of the Buddhist teachings.
Nichiren is the son of a chandāla family who lived near the sea in Tōjō in Awa Province, in the remote countryside of the eastern part of Japan. How could giving up a body that will decay uselessly for the sake of the Lotus Sutra not be exchanging rocks for gold? None of you should lament for me. Please convey what I have said to the Reverend Dōzen-bō, too. I have also thought of writing to the wife of the lord of the manor,1 but because of my present circumstances, she may no longer wish to be reminded of me. Should the opportunity arise, please tell her what I have said.
The tenth month
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Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter in the tenth month of the eighth year of Bun’ei (1271), just before he left for his exile on Sado Island. At that time, he was being held at the mainland residence of Homma Rokurō Saemon, the deputy constable of Sado. The Daishonin wrote the letter to an acquaintance at Seichō-ji temple in Awa Province, possibly a priest named Enjō-bō.
Exile to Sado Island was a harsh punishment, second only to the death penalty. In this letter the Daishonin declares that he has met this persecution solely for the sake of the Lotus Sutra; he emphasizes that the very fact that it has happened demonstrates that he is “reading” the Lotus Sutra with his life. Since the Daishonin seeks to dispel doubts among his followers and revive their flagging courage by pointing out his mission as the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day, this letter may be said to foreshadow The Opening of the Eyes, a major treatise he wrote four months later.
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1. Reference here is to the lay nun of Nagoe. The wife of Hōjō Tomotoki, a younger brother of the third Kamakura regent and lord of Nagasa District in Awa Province, where the Daishonin was born. After the Daishonin entered the priesthood, the lay nun apparently assisted his parents in some way, and he therefore felt indebted to her; moreover, she was one of his first converts. Her resolve was not firm, however, and she abandoned her faith around the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution. Later, she resumed her practice and requested a Gohonzon from the Daishonin, but he refused.
Errors of the True Word and Other Schools
To Toki and my other followers
COMMIT this to memory and explain it to the older persons in detail.
You must not lament the fact that I have not speedily been granted pardon from my sentence of exile. Undoubtedly the heavenly gods are delaying such a pardon. You will understand this if you consider the case of the lay priest Fujikawa.1 If he had been exiled last year, this year he would not have met with an untimely death. Use his case to understand mine, though ignorant persons may not be able to see the parallel.
You must not behave as though you are anxious for me to be pardoned. If you do so, you will be no proper disciples of mine, and I cannot aid you in your next existence.
Each of you must understand what I have said here.
The True Word school never existed in India. Early in the K’ai-yüan era [713–741] in China, the Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei, the Tripitaka Master Chin-kang-chih, and the Tripitaka Master Pu-k’ung stole the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, which had been expounded earlier by the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai, and read it into the Mahāvairochana Sutra, thus establishing what they called the True Word school.
The Flower Garland school first appeared in the reign of Empress Wu [r. 690–705] of China. Ch’eng-kuan and others stole T’ien-t’ai’s ten meditations and applied them to the Flower Garland Sutra, thus establishing what is called the Flower Garland school.
The Dharma Characteristics school and the Three Treatises school are not important enough to discuss here.
The Zen school appeared during the Liang dynasty [502–557] in China when the Great Teacher Bodhidharma, basing himself on the Lankāvatāra and other sutras, propounded a small portion of the Mahayana doctrine of non-substantiality. The exponents of this school are very arrogant, claiming to possess a “separate transmission outside the sutras,” and look with contempt on all the sutras. This school is the invention of the heavenly devil.
With regard to the Pure Land school, Shan-tao and others, on reading the Meditation Sutra, were moved by certain paltry feelings of pity and compassion and, addressing the teachers of the Summary of the Mahayana school and the Treatise on the Ten Stages Sutra school, urged them to devote themselves to the single-minded invocation of Amida’s name. In Japan, p.435Hōnen, misinterpreting their doctrine,2 declared that the Tendai and True Word schools belong to the category of sundry practices and opined that they do not accord with the capacities of the people in this latter age. Thus he confused and deceived the entire country, leading it astray into the long night of the sufferings of birth and death.
I, Nichiren, am the only guide and teacher who has exposed the errors of these schools.
The Nirvana Sutra states: “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.”
Kuan-ting, or the Great Teacher Chang-an, states: “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. One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent.”3
Hōnen called upon people to “discard, close, ignore, and abandon” [all sutras other than the Pure Land sutras], and the Zen school claims that it represents a “separate transmission outside the sutras.” If these pronouncements go against the intention of the Buddha, then I [in denouncing them] am acting as a wise father, a sage parent, a guide and teacher for the people of Japan. But if I do not speak out against these things, then how can I escape being charged with the grave error that Chang-an described in these words “If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy”?
For the sake of the ruler, high ministers, and common people of Japan, I have endeavored to be “one who rids the offender of evil [and who] is acting as his parent.” But this country has already committed the three cardinal sins.4 How could Heaven not send down punishment upon it?
The Nirvana Sutra states: “At that time the World-Honored One picked up a bit of dirt from the ground, placed it on top of his fingernail, and said to Kāshyapa, ‘Which are more numerous, these bits of dirt or the dirt in all the worlds in the ten directions?’
“Bodhisattva Kāshyapa replied to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One, the specks of dirt on a fingernail could not possibly compare to the dirt in all the worlds in the ten directions!’ . . .
“[The Buddha said], ‘Those who commit the four grave offenses or are guilty of the five cardinal sins, . . . who become icchantikas, cutting off all their roots of goodness and failing to take faith in this sutra, are as numerous as the dirt in all the worlds in the ten directions. Those who refrain from committing the five cardinal sins, . . . who do not act as an icchantika or cut off the roots of goodness but thus are able to take faith in works such as this Nirvana Sutra are as few as the particles of dirt that can be placed on a fingernail.’”
If we go by this sutra passage, then the people of Japan at the present time are comparable to the dirt in the lands in the ten directions, while I, Nichiren, am comparable to the dirt on top of a fingernail.
The Lotus Sutra says, “There will be many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of us.”5
In the Decline of the Law Sutra we read: “After I have entered nirvana, in the troubled times when the five cardinal sins prevail, the way of the devil will flourish. The devil will appear in the form of Buddhist monks and attempt to confuse and destroy my teachings. . . . Those who do evil will become as numerous as the sands of the ocean. When the kalpa is about to end, the light of the sun and moon will become of shorter and shorter p.436duration, while the good will be extremely few, perhaps no more than one or two persons.”
And the same sutra says, “After the life span of these devil monks has come to an end, their spirits will fall into the hell of incessant suffering.”
Now Dōryū and his supporters, Ryōkan and his supporters, Shōichi and his supporters, and in fact all the four kinds of Buddhist believers in this country of Japan are persons such as these sutra passages describe.
The Lotus Sutra states: “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!”6
I, Nichiren, am the kind of person referred to in this sutra passage.
The Lotus Sutra says, “There will be many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of us and will attack us with swords and staves.”
The Buddha prophesied that after his passing, in the last five-hundred-year period, the votaries of the Lotus Sutra would invariably be cursed and spoken ill of by many ignorant people, and that they would be attacked with swords and staves, tiles and stones, and would be condemned to exile or death.
If it were not for Nichiren, then these prophecies for the future made by Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions would be nothing but great lies!
Objection: You say that you are superior to the other people of the time, and to some degree this may be so. But to say that you are superior to the founding patriarchs of the True Word, Flower Garland, Three Treatises, Dharma Characteristics, and the other schools is to be guilty of the arrogance of claiming to be superior to those who are in fact superior to oneself, is it not? This is what is meant by the offense of making false claims to spiritual attainment.7 You are certain to fall into the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering as a result!
Thus the Shūramgama Sutra tells us: “If an impoverished person falsely calls himself a king, then he brings chastisement and destruction upon himself. How much more so, then, is this true in matters relating to the Buddha, the king of the Law! If one falsely lays claim to spiritual attainment that one does not actually possess, then one calls forth only lame and crooked results.”
The Nirvana Sutra states: “What sort of monks may be said to be guilty of the offense of false claims to spiritual attainment? . . . Such a monk has not attained the four stages8 attainable by monks, and yet he always thinks how he can manage to make the people of his time believe he has already attained them.”
Answer: The Lotus Sutra states, “And as the great heavenly king Brahmā is the father of all living beings [so this sutra likewise is father of all sages, . . . ]”9 It also states, “This sutra . . . is king among all the sutras. . . . This sutra likewise is foremost . . . A person who can accept and uphold this sutra is likewise foremost among all living beings.”10
The Great Teacher Dengyō in The Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra writes: “The Tendai Lotus school is superior to the other schools because of the sutra that it is founded on. Therefore, in declaring its superiority, it is not simply praising itself and disparaging others. I hope that gentlemen of wisdom will examine the matter of sutras and on that basis decide which school they will follow.”
Among the heavenly bodies, the moon is superior to the stars, and the sun is superior to both the stars and the moon. A high minister of a small state p.437ranks below an official of a great state who holds no ministerial rank at all. Similarly a disciple of the Buddha, a Hinayana follower at the three stages of worthiness, even though he cannot command one or another of the five transcendental powers, is as far above a non-Buddhist believer who commands all of the five transcendental powers as heaven is above the earth. The great bodhisattvas of the sutras other than the Lotus Sutra are inferior even to those ordinary mortals who have only reached the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth in the practice of the Lotus Sutra.
Why should you be surprised at my assertions? It is possible to determine which persons are superior and which inferior according to which teachings they embrace. But unless one first knows which sutra is superior and which inferior, how is it possible to determine whether the persons who follow those sutras are to be assigned high rank or low?
Question: If you are the votary of the Lotus Sutra, then why doesn’t Heaven guard and protect you?
Answer: The Lotus Sutra says, “Evil demons will take possession of others.”11
The Shūramgama Sutra states: “There is the king of the asuras who tries to gain control of the world. He struggles for power with the heavenly lords Brahmā and Shakra and the four heavenly kings. This asura king, depending upon the transformations he undergoes, is sometimes included among the beings of the heavenly realm.”
This great king of the asuras, who battles with the great heavenly lords Brahmā and Shakra and with the four heavenly kings, has taken possession of the leaders of the Zen, Nembutsu, and Precepts schools, and then has gradually extended his control to the rulers and people of the nation, hoping thus to defeat worthy persons. Even Brahmā and Shakra find it difficult to defend the people against this great evil, so what sort of defense can be expected from the lesser gods of Japan? Only if one can count on the protection of the great bodhisattvas as numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds who sprang up from the earth, and upon that of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the other Buddhas, is there any hope of success.
The sun and moon are bright mirrors that reflect all that happens in the four quarters of the sky, and therefore the heavenly gods must surely know and understand me! The sun and moon are bright mirrors that reflect all that happens in the worlds in the ten directions, and therefore the Buddhas must surely know and understand me! There should be no particle of doubt [as to whether they will guard me].
It is just that some of my karma from previous existences has yet to be expiated. But when I was condemned to exile, did not Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, cover me with his robe? And last year, on the night of the twelfth day of the ninth month, did I not escape when I was on the very point of losing my life?12 This is what is meant by the passage “If one’s mind is strong, the protection of the gods also is sure to be firm.”13
You must never doubt this for a moment. Under no circumstances must you give way to doubt!
With my deep respect,
The fifth day of the fifth month
Do not show this letter to persons other than my followers, for they might be angered by the contents.
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Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter on the fifth day of the fifth month in 1272, while in exile on Sado, and sent it to Toki Jōnin and other followers living in Shimōsa Province.
He begins by suggesting that his continued exile on Sado may be due to the design of the Buddha; that is, it can be regarded as a form of protection, possibly sparing him from an untimely death. He writes in a letter to Shijō Kingo, “Had I not been exiled, but remained in Kamakura, I would certainly have been killed in the battle” (I, p. 824). The battle the Daishonin refers to is a revolt that took place within the ruling Hōjō clan, which corresponded to his prediction in On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land that Japan would face what the sutras describe as “the calamity of revolt within one’s own domain.” Thus acknowledging the meaning of his continued exile, the Daishonin prohibits his followers from petitioning the government to grant him a pardon.
The Daishonin then addresses the errors of the various schools of Buddhism in Japan—the True Word, Flower Garland, Dharma Characteristics, Three Treatises, Zen, and Pure Land schools. In a statement similar to one he made in The Opening of the Eyes several months before, he declares, “Hōnen called upon people to ‘discard, close, ignore, and abandon’ [all sutras other than the Pure Land sutras], and the Zen school claims that it represents a ‘separate transmission outside the sutras.’ If these pronouncements go against the intention of the Buddha, then I [in denouncing them] am acting as a wise father, a sage parent, a guide and teacher for the people of Japan.”
He then quotes the Nirvana Sutra, where the Buddha likens the number of persons who lack faith and commit offenses to the number of particles of dirt in the worlds of the ten directions, and those who take faith in the sutra to the particles of dirt that can be placed on a fingernail. Because of his faith in the Lotus Sutra, the Daishonin compares himself to the dirt on a fingernail, and those many others in Japan who disbelieve the sutra to the particles of dirt in the universe.
Citing sutra passages, he states that respected priests in Japan such as Dōryū, Ryōkan, and Shōichi accord with the sutra descriptions of devil monks. He declares that he is the votary of the Lotus Sutra described in the sutra, and were it not for him and the persecutions he faces on its account, the sutra prophecies of Shakyamuni would be false.
Next, the Daishonin asks why he, the votary of the Lotus Sutra, has not enjoyed the protection of the heavenly deities as promised in the sutra. In answer, he says that evil demons have gained strength and taken possession of the leaders of Buddhist schools, extending their control to the rulers and the people. Though his persecutions have been due to the effects of bad karma he created in past lives, the failure of the attempt to behead him was due solely to the protection promised in the Lotus Sutra. Admonishing his followers again not to succumb to doubt, he concludes with Miao-lo’s words “If one’s mind is strong, the protection of the gods also is sure to be firm.”
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1. Little is known about the lay priest Fujikawa (d. 1272), including whether or not he was a follower of the Daishonin. The text here suggests that he was known p.439by the recipients, and that he had faced a threat or sentence of exile that had been suspended.
2. Here the Daishonin is saying that Shan-tao and other Chinese patriarchs of the Pure Land school excluded the Lotus Sutra when they established the categories of the Pure Land teachings and the Sacred Way teachings, the correct practice and the sundry practices, etc., but that Hōnen misinterpreted their doctrine and included the Lotus Sutra in the category of sundry practices.
3. The Annotations on the Nirvana Sutra.
4. The three cardinal sins refer here to the offenses of killing one’s own father, killing one’s mother, and killing an arhat, or a Buddhist teacher. The statement that these had been committed in Japan is a reference to the 1271 attempt to behead the Daishonin, who acted as parent and teacher for the people of Japan.
5. Lotus Sutra, chap. 13.
6. Ibid., chap. 11.
7. One of the four major offenses (see Glossary).
8. “The four stages” refers to the four stages of Hinayana enlightenment (see Glossary).
9. Lotus Sutra, chap. 23.
11. Ibid., chap. 13.
12. This refers to the Tatsunokuchi Persecution of 1271.
13. The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight.”
The Treasure of a Child
A DAUGHTER opens up the gate of another household, a son carries on the house in which he was born. Though one may be the ruler of the whole country of Japan, if he lacks a son, who will succeed him? Though he may have riches enough to fill a major world system, if he lacks a son, to whom can he bequeath them?
Therefore the three thousand and more works of non-Buddhist literature call someone who has a son a rich man, and the five thousand and more works of the Buddhist canon speak of someone with no son as a poor man. A son and a daughter are like the sun and moon in the sky, the directions east and west on the earth, the two wings of a bird, or the two wheels of a carriage.
Therefore I ask that you call this son of yours Hiwaka Gozen.1 I will write in more detail at another time.
The twenty-sixth day of the eighth month in the third year of Kōan 
Reply to Ueno
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Addressed to Nanjō Tokimitsu, the steward of Ueno Village, Suruga Province, this letter was written at Minobu in 1280. In it, Nichiren Daishonin congratulates Tokimitsu on the birth of a son, for whom he proposes the name Hiwaka Gozen. The Daishonin points out, according to the custom of his time, that while a daughter leads another household to prosper, a son becomes heir where he was born. Comparing a son and daughter to the sun and moon, he suggests that children are irreplaceable treasures.
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1. Probably the eldest son of Nanjō Tokimitsu. Hi, of Hiwaka, means sun, and waka means young or a little child; Gozen is an honorific title.
The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream
I HAVE received one thousand coins and respectfully reported in the presence of the Lotus Sutra that this is an offering from Yorimoto.1 I believe that, from afar, Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, Many Treasures Buddha, and the Buddhas of the ten directions, and, close at hand, the gods of the sun and moon in their heavenly palaces will certainly watch over you.
If someone excels in this world, then even those who are regarded as worthies and sages, to say nothing of ordinary people, will all become jealous and bear grudges against that person. Three thousand court ladies harbored jealousy against Wang Chao-chün, the favorite of the emperor of the Han dynasty. Shakra’s consorts, who numbered ninety-nine million nayuta, all envied Kaushika.2 Minister Fujiwara no Saneyori bore a grudge against Imperial Prince Kaneakira, and Fujiwara no Tokihira, jealous of Sugawara no Michizane, spoke falsely of him to the emperor, causing him to be exiled.3
Consider your own situation in light of these examples. [Your lord] the lay priest Ema’s domain used to be vast, but has now diminished. He has many sons who could succeed him, and there are also many retainers who have long served him. His retainers must be possessed by growing envy, just as fish become agitated when the water of their pond decreases, or as birds vie with one another to secure branches when autumn winds begin to blow. Moreover, since you have disobeyed your lord and gone against his wishes from time to time, the calumnies made to him against you must have been all the more numerous. However, even though you have been forced to relinquish your fief time and again, in your letter you said that he has now conferred an estate upon you. This is indeed wondrous. This is precisely what is meant by the statement that unseen virtue brings about visible reward. It must have happened because of your profound sincerity in trying to lead your lord to faith in the Lotus Sutra.
King Ajātashatru, though once the Buddha’s enemy, came to take faith in the Lotus Sutra at the urging of his minister Jīvaka, so that he was able to prolong his life and continue his rule. King Wonderful Adornment corrected his mistaken views at the exhortation of his two sons.4 The same is true in your case. Lord Ema has now softened probably as a result of your admonishment. This is solely because of your deep faith in the Lotus Sutra.
The deeper the roots, the more luxuriant the branches. The farther the source, the longer the stream. All sutras other than the Lotus Sutra have shallow roots and short streams, while the p.941Lotus Sutra has deep roots and a distant source. That is why the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai stated that the Lotus Sutra would survive and spread even in the evil latter age.
Many people have taken faith in this teaching. But because great persecutions, both official and otherwise, have repeatedly befallen me, though they followed me for a year or two, all of them later either abandoned their faith or turned against the Lotus Sutra. Or if they have not given way in their practice, they have done so in their heart. Or if they have not given way in their heart, they have done so in their practice.
Shakyamuni Buddha, the heir to King Shuddhodana, was a great king who reigned over Jambudvīpa’s 84,210 countries. All kings of this land bowed to him, and he had a hundred thousand million servants. Nevertheless, he left the palace of King Shuddhodana at the age of nineteen and entered Mount Dandaka, where he was to carry out ascetic practices for twelve years. At that time he was attended by five men:5 Ājnāta Kaundinya, Ashvajit, Bhadrika, Dashabala Kāshyapa, and Prince Kolita. Of these five, however, two left Shakyamuni during the sixth year, while the remaining three deserted him in the next six years. Alone, Shakyamuni continued his practice and became the Buddha.
The Lotus Sutra is even more difficult to believe in than Shakyamuni, and therefore the sutra itself states that it is “the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand.”6 Moreover, in the Latter Day of the Law, persecutions are far more frequent and intense than in the lifetime of Shakyamuni Buddha. The sutra states that a votary who perseveres despite these adversities will gain benefits greater than those obtained by offering alms to the Buddha for the space of an entire kalpa.
It is now some 2,230 years since the Buddha’s passing. Those who spread Buddhism in India for more than a thousand years thereafter are recorded in history without omission, and those who disseminated Buddhism in China for a thousand years and in Japan for seven hundred are also clearly listed. Very few of them, however, met persecutions as terrible as those of the Buddha. Many described themselves as sages or worthies, but not one has ever experienced the sutra’s prediction: “[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?”7 Bodhisattva Nāgārjuna, T’ien-t’ai, and Dengyō met great persecutions for the sake of Buddhism, but none as great as those the Buddha describes in the sutra. This is because they were born before the time when the Lotus Sutra is to be spread.
We have now already entered “the last five-hundred-year period,” or the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law. This time period is like the sun at the summer solstice on the fifteenth day of the fifth month, or the harvest moon on the fifteenth day of the eighth month. T’ien-t’ai and Dengyō were born too early to see it; those born after will regret that they came too late.
The main force of the enemy8 has already been defeated, and the remainder is no match for me. Now is the very time that the Buddha predicted: “the last five-hundred-year period,” or the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, and the age indicated by the passage, “How much more will this be so after his passing?” If the Buddha’s words are not false, a sage must certainly have appeared in the land of Jambudvīpa. According to the sutras, the greatest war the land has ever seen will break out as a sign of this sage’s advent, and since such a war9 has already p.942occurred, the sage must already have appeared in Jambudvīpa. The appearance of a legendary beast called ch’i-lin told Chinese contemporaries that Confucius was a sage, and there is no doubt that the resounding of a village shrine heralds a sage’s coming. When the Buddha made his advent in this world, the growth of sandalwood trees informed his contemporaries that he was a sage. Lao Tzu was recognized as a sage because at birth the sole of one foot was marked with the Chinese character “two” and the other with the character “five.”10
Then how does one recognize the sage of the Lotus Sutra in this latter age? The sutra states that one who “can preach this sutra”11 or who “can uphold this sutra”12 is “the envoy of the Thus Come One.”13 In other words, one who embraces the eight volumes, or a single volume, chapter, or verse, of the Lotus Sutra, or who chants the daimoku, is the Thus Come One’s emissary. Also, one who perseveres through great persecutions and embraces the sutra from beginning to end is the Thus Come One’s emissary.
Since I am but a common mortal, my mind may not be that of the Thus Come One’s envoy. However, since I have incurred the hatred of the three powerful enemies and been exiled twice, I am like the Thus Come One’s envoy. Though my mind is steeped in the three poisons and my body is that of a common mortal, because my mouth chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I am like the Thus Come One’s envoy. If I seek an example in the past, I may be likened to Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. If I look at the present, I have been living the sutra’s description of persecution “with swords and staves, tiles and stones.”14 In the future, I will doubtless proceed to the place of enlightenment, and those who have sustained me will also dwell together in the pure land of Eagle Peak. I have many other things to tell you, but I will stop here and leave the rest for you to conclude.
The ailing acolyte has recovered, which makes me very happy. Āchārya Daishin15 died exactly as you foresaw. Everyone here praises you, saying that even a latter-day Jīvaka would be no match for you. I think they may well be right. We have been telling each other that your predictions about Sammi-bō and Sōshirō16 have come true exactly, just as two tallies match precisely. I entrust my life to you and will consult no other physician.
The fifteenth day of the ninth month in the first year of Kōan (1278), cyclical sign tsuchinoe-tora
To Shijō Kingo
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This letter was written at Minobu in the ninth month, 1278, to Shijō Kingo, a staunch follower who was well versed in both medicine and the martial arts. In this letter, Nichiren Daishonin states, “Even though you have been forced to relinquish your fief time and again, in your letter you said that he [Lord Ema] has now conferred an estate upon you.” In a letter addressed to Kingo the next month, the Daishonin states, “So your lord has granted you new fiefs! I cannot think it to be true; it is so marvelous that I wonder if it is a dream” (p. 945). It is reasonable to assume, then, that Shijō Kingo first p.943reported to the Daishonin an informal notice from his lord Ema and next conveyed the official announcement. This is why the Daishonin expresses his unreserved joy in the letter of the tenth month.
Lord Ema had for several years disapproved of Kingo’s belief and, prompted by false accusations made against Kingo by jealous colleagues, eventually ordered him either to abandon his faith in the Daishonin’s teaching or move to a remote province. In 1277, however, Ema fell ill, and Kingo’s treatment effected a cure. Ema renewed his trust in him and, the next year, bestowed upon him a far larger fief than the one he already had.
Delighted with Kingo’s victory, Nichiren Daishonin says that unseen virtue brings about visible reward, meaning that Kingo’s sincere faith and effort to lead his lord to faith in the Lotus Sutra were rewarded in this manner. He also describes the merit of the Lotus Sutra with the words, “The farther the source, the longer the stream.” Hence the title of this letter. He says, “In the future, I will doubtless proceed to the place of enlightenment, and those who have sustained me will also dwell together in the pure land of Eagle Peak.” The Daishonin implies that he is “the envoy of the Thus Come One” referred to in the Lotus Sutra, and that those who support him will attain Buddhahood.
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1. Yorimoto is Shijō Kingo’s given name. His full name and title are Shijō Nakatsukasa Saburō Saemon-no-jō Yorimoto. Kingo denotes his official position Saemon-no-jō.
2. Kaushika is the name of Shakra when he was once a Brahman, according to The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, but in this context it would seem to indicate his wife.
3. Fujiwara no Saneyori (900–970), a court official, was apparently disappointed in his hopes that his son Yoritada would be appointed minister of the left, and so he bore a grudge against Imperial Prince Kaneakira, the son of the sixtieth emperor Daigo, who achieved that position. Though Fujiwara no Tokihira (871–909) was minister of the left and ranked above the minister of the right, he became jealous of Sugawara no Michizane (845–903), another adviser of Emperor Uda, when Michizane was appointed minister of the right, since Michizane was a man of superior learning and character. Tokihira falsely accused him to the emperor, and as a result Michizane was demoted and sent to the westernmost part of Japan, where he died in despair. Michizane was deified after his death, and a shrine, Kitano Shrine in Kyoto, was dedicated to him. The Japanese persons, whose names appear in the text and are mentioned here, are referred to in the Japanese text by their titles, except Michizane, who is referred to by his posthumous title.
4. A reference to chapter 27 of the Lotus Sutra. The two sons are Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye.
5. The five men are known as the five ascetics. Prince Kolita is better known as Mahānāma.
6. Lotus Sutra, chap. 10.
8. “The main force of the enemy” refers here to the doctrines of the influential schools of the day, the True Word, Nembutsu, Zen, and Precepts. These doctrines were refuted by Nichiren Daishonin on the basis of the Lotus Sutra.
9. This refers to the vast campaign of conquest then being waged by the Mongol empire. The better part of the Eurasian continent was under either the rule or direct influence of the empire, which had been founded by Genghis Khan. His grandson Khubilai Khan launched massive naval attacks against Japan in 1274 and 1281, but did not succeed.
10. According to ancient Chinese legend, when a sage is born, the sole of one foot is marked with the character “two” and the other with the character “five.” This is mentioned in Records of the Historian.
p.94411. Lotus Sutra, chap. 11.
12. Ibid., chap. 17.
13. Ibid., chap. 10.
15. Daishin was a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin who was born in Shimōsa Province and is thought to have been a relative of the Soya family. He taught the believers in Kamakura and took responsibility for guiding them while the Daishonin was in exile on Sado Island.
16. Sōshirō was probably a follower of the Daishonin who later turned against him.
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