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23 January 2015

Chapter Thirteen: Encouraging Devotion
Thirteen important points

Point One, concerning “encouraging devotion”
Point Two, on the words “never begrudging our bodies or lives” in the passage “But although it will be difficult to teach and convert them, we will summon up the power of great patience and will read and recite this sutra, embrace, preach, and copy it, offering it many kinds of alms and never begrudging our bodies or lives.”

Point Three, on the passage “Because in this sahā world the people are given to corruption and evil, beset by overbearing arrogance, shallow in blessings, irascible, muddled, fawning, and devious, and their hearts are not sincere.”

Point Four, on the passage “At that time the bodhisattvas, respectfully complying with the Buddha’s will and at the same time wishing to fulfill their own original vows, proceeded in the presence of the Buddha to roar the lion’s roar and to make a vow.”

Point Five, on the words “to roar the lion’s roar” (sa shishi ku)

Point Six, on the passage “World-Honored One, after the Thus Come One has entered extinction we will travel here p.112and there, back and forth through the worlds in the ten directions so as to enable living beings to copy this sutra, to receive, embrace, read, and recite it, understand and preach its principles, practice it in accordance with the Law, and properly keep it in their thoughts.”

Point Seven, on the words “There will be many ignorant people / who will curse and speak ill of us.”

Point Eight, on the passage “In that evil age there will be monks / with perverse wisdom and hearts that are fawning and crooked / who will suppose they have attained what they have not attained, / being proud and boastful in heart.”

Point Nine, on the passage “Or there will be forest-dwelling monks / wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement, / who will claim they are practicing the true p.113way, / despising and looking down on all humankind. / Greedy for profit and support, / they will preach the Law to white-robed laymen / and will be respected and revered by the world / as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers. / These men with evil in their hearts, / constantly thinking of worldly affairs, / will borrow the name of forest-dwelling monks / and take delight in proclaiming our faults, / saying things like this: / ‘These monks are greedy / for profit and support / and therefore they preach non-Buddhist doctrines / and fabricate their own scriptures / to delude the people of the world.’”

Point Ten, on the words “[These monks] fabricate their own scriptures / to delude the people of the world.”

Point Eleven, on the passage “Though they treat us with contempt, saying, / ‘You are all no doubt Buddhas!’ / all such words of arrogance and contempt / we will endure and accept.”

Point Twelve, on the passage “Evil demons will take possession of others / and through them curse, revile and heap shame on us.”

Point Thirteen, on the passage “We care nothing for our bodies or lives / but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way.”

Encouraging Devotion

At that time the bodhisattva mahasattva Medicine King, along with the bodhisattva mahasattva Great Joy of Preaching and twenty thousand bodhisattva followers who were accompanying them, all in the presence of the Buddha took this vow, saying: “We beg the world-honored one to have no further worry. After the Buddha has entered extinction we will honor, embrace, read, recite, and preach this sutra. Living beings in the evil age to come will have fewer and fewer good roots. Many will be overbearingly arrogant and greedy for offerings and other forms of gain, increasing the roots that are not good and moving farther away than ever from emancipation. But although it will be difficult to teach and convert them, we will summon up the power of great patience and will read and recite this sutra, embrace, preach, and copy it, offering it many kinds of alms and never begrudging our bodies or lives.”
(…)We will preach the Law with skill, for we desire the Buddha to rest in tranquillity. In the presence of the world-honored one and of the buddhas who have gathered from the ten directions we proclaim this vow. The Buddha must know what is in our hearts.
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man

HAVING received life, one cannot escape death. Yet though everyone, from the noblest, the emperor, on down to the lowliest commoner, recognizes this as a fact, not even one person in a thousand or ten thousand truly takes the matter seriously or grieves over it. Suddenly confronted with evidence of the impermanence of life, we may be frightened at the thought that we have remained so distant from Buddhism and lament that we have been too engrossed in secular affairs.1 Yet we assume that those who have preceded us in death are wretched, and that we who remain alive are superior. Busy with that task yesterday and this affair today, we are helplessly bound by the five desires of our worldly nature. Unaware that time passes as quickly as a white colt glimpsed through a crack in the wall,2 ignorant as sheep being led to the slaughter, held hopeless prisoners by our concern for food and clothing, we fall heedlessly into the snares of fame and profit and in the end make our way back to that familiar village in the three evil paths, where we are reborn time after time in the realm of the six paths. What person of feeling could fail to grieve at such a state of affairs, or could fail to be moved to sorrow!
“The fact is that the Mahāvairochana Sutra includes each of the four types of teachings69 and expounds the kind of precepts whose benefit is exhausted when the bodily form comes to an end.70 It is a provisional teaching, designated by Chinese teachers71 as a sutra belonging to the Correct and Equal category, the group of sutras that, according to T’ien-t’ai’s classification, were preached in the third period. How shameful [to hold it above the Lotus]! If you really have a mind to pursue the way, you must hurry and repent of your past errors. In the final analysis, this Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law sums up all the teachings and meditative practices of Shakyamuni Buddha’s entire lifetime in a single moment of life, and encompasses all the living beings of the Ten Worlds and their environments in the three thousand realms.”

Part Two

AT this, the unenlightened man looked somewhat mollified and said: “The words of the sutra are clear as a mirror; there is no room to doubt or question their meaning. But although the Lotus Sutra surpasses all the other sutras that the Buddha taught before, at the same time, or after, and represents the highest point in his preaching life, still it cannot compare with the single truth of Zen, which cannot be bound by words or confined in the text of a sutra, and which deals with the true nature of our minds. In effect, the realm where the countless doctrines are all cast aside and (…)
The sage said: “The human heart is like water that assumes the shape of whatever vessel it occupies, and the nature of beings is like the reflection of the moon undulating on the waves. Now you insist that you will be firm in this faith, but another day you are bound to waver. Though devils and demons may come to tempt you, you must not allow yourself to be distracted. The heavenly devil hates the Buddha’s Law, and the non-Buddhist believers resent the path of the Buddhist teachings. But you must be like the golden mountain that glitters more brightly when scraped by the wild boar, like the sea that encompasses all the various streams, like the fire that burns higher when logs are added, or like the kālakula insect that grows bigger when the wind blows. If you follow such examples, then how can the outcome fail to be good?”


Explaining the Causation of the Ten Worlds

Composed by the shramana Nichiren

VOLUME sixty-nine of the eighty-volume Flower Garland Sutra states: “When one has entered the way of Universal Worthy, one will fully understand the Ten Worlds.”
Volume six of the Lotus Sutra says: “Voices of hell dwellers, voices of beasts, voices of hungry spirits, asura voices, monks’ voices, nuns’ voices [world of human beings], voices of heavenly beings [world of heavenly beings], voices of voice-hearers, voices of pratyekabuddhas, voices of bodhisattvas, and voices of Buddhas.”1 (Above are the names of the Ten Worlds.)
(… )
But when we come to the precepts of the Lotus Sutra, we find that they may be administered to persons of the two vehicles and to those who have committed the seven cardinal sins. Moreover, through them even persons in the lowest category of ordinary mortals will enter the stage of Buddhahood within the space of a single lifetime and achieve perfect enlightenment. Thus one may acquire both the merit of practice and the benefit of Buddhahood.


The twenty-first day of the fourth month in the second year of Shōgen [1260], cyclical sign kanoe-saru


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