The Kalpa of Decrease
The kalpa of decrease has its origin in the human mind. As the poisons of greed, anger and stupidity gradually intensify, the life span of human beings accordingly decreases and their stature diminishes.
In the lands of China and Japan, before the introduction of Buddhism, the outer classics of the Three Rulers, the Five Emperors and the Three Sages were used to order the minds of the people and govern the world. However, as the people's minds gradually diminished in good and grew accomplished in evil, the wisdom of the outer classics, being shallow, could no longer restrain the people's offenses, for their evil was deep. Because it became impossible to govern the world by means of the outer classics, the Buddhist sutras were gradually introduced, and when they were used in governing, the world was restored to tranquility. This was solely because the wisdom of Buddhism fully elucidates the nature of the people's minds.
What are called "outer writings" in the present day differ essentially from the original outer classics. When Buddhism was introduced, the outer classics and the Buddhist scriptures vied with one another. But because in time the outer classics were defeated and the ruler and the people ceased to employ them, adherents of the outer classics became followers of the inner scriptures, and their former confrontation came to an end. In the meantime, however, the adherents of the outer classics extracted the heart of the inner scriptures, thus increasing their wisdom and incorporated it into the outer classics. Foolish rulers suppose [that such wisdom derives from] the excellence of these outer writings.
Furthermore, as good wisdom gradually diminished and evil wisdom came to dominate people's minds, though men tried to govern society by means of the Buddhist scriptures, when they employed the wisdom of the Hinayana sutras, the world was not at peace. At such times, the Mahayana sutras were spread and used in governing, the world was somewhat restored to order. After this, because the wisdom of the Mahayana teachings in turn became inadequate, the wisdom of the sutra of the one vehicle was brought forth and used to govern the world, and for a brief period, the world was at peace.
The present age is such that neither the outer classics, the Hinayana sutras, the Mahayana sutras, nor the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra has any effect. The reason for this is that the intensity of the greed, anger and stupidity in people's minds rivals the Greatly Enlightened World-Honored One's superiority in great good. To illustrate, a dog, in the keenness of its sense of smell, is superior to a man; in picking up the scent of birds and beasts, its nose is not inferior to a great saint's supernatural power of smell. The owl's keenness of hearing, the kite's sharpness of eye, the sparrow's lightness of tongue, and the dragon's magnificence of body--all of these surpass even the faculties of a wise man. In this way, the extremity of greed, anger and stupidity in people's minds in the impure world of the latter age is beyond the power of any sage or worthy man to control.
This is because, although the Buddha cured greed with the medicine of the meditation on the vileness of the body, healed anger with the meditation on compassion for all, and treated stupidity with the meditation on the twelve-linked chain of dependent origination, to teach these doctrines now merely makes people worse and compounds their greed, anger and stupidity. To illustrate, fire is extinguished by water, and evil is defeated by good. However, if water is cast on fire that has emerged from water, it will on the contrary have an effect like that of oil, producing an even greater conflagration.
Now in this latter, evil age, great evil arises less from secular wrongdoing than with respect to the doctrines of the religious world. Because people today are unaware of this and endeavor to cultivate roots of merit, the world declines all the more. To give support to the priests of the Tendai, Shingon and other sects of today may outwardly appear to be an act of merit, but in reality it is a great evil surpassing even the five cardinal sins and the ten evil acts.
For this reason, if there should be a wise man in the world with wisdom like that of the Greatly Enlightened World-Honored One, who, so as to restore the world to order, meets with a wise ruler like King Sen'yo; and if together they put an end altogether to these acts of "goodness" and commit the great "evil" of censuring, banishing, cutting off alms to or even beheading those people of the eight sects who are thought to be men of wisdom, then the world will surely be pacified to some extent.
This is explained in the first volume of the Lotus Sutra where it says: "The true aspect of all phenomena can only be understood and shared between Buddhas." In the phrase "consistency from beginning to end," "beginning" indicates the root of evil and the root of good, while "end" indicates the out-come of evil and the outcome of good. One who is thoroughly awakened to the nature of good and evil from their roots to their branches and leaves is called a Buddha. T'ien-t'ai states, "Life at each moment is endowed with the Ten Worlds." Chang-an states: "The Buddha regarded his doctrine as the ultimate reason [for his advent]. How could it ever be easy to understand?" Miao-lo adds that "this is the ultimate revelation of the final and supreme truth." The Lotus Sutra states: "[And whatever he preaches according to his understanding] will never contradict the truth." And T'ien-t'ai interprets this to mean that "no affairs of life or work are in any way different from the ultimate reality." A person of wisdom is not one who practices Buddhism apart from worldly affairs but, rather, one who thoroughly understands the principles by which the world may be governed.
When the Yin dynasty became corrupt and the people were suffering, T'ai-kung Wang appeared in the world and beheaded King Chou of the Yin, bringing an end to the people's anguish. When the second ruler [of the Ch'in dynasty] caused the people to taste bitterness, Chang Liang appeared and restored order to the world, enabling them to know sweetness. Though these men lived before the introduction of Buddhism, they helped the people as emissaries of Lord Shakyamuni. And though the adherents of the outer classics were unaware of it, the wisdom of such men incorporated in its essence the wisdom of Buddhism.
In the world today, at the time of the great earthquake of the Shoka era or at the time of the great comet of the Bun'ei era, had there been a ruler of outstanding wisdom, he would surely have heeded me, Nichiren. Or, even if he did not do so then, when strife broke out within the ruling clan in the ninth year of Bun'ei (1272) or when the Mongols attacked in the eleventh year of the same era (1274), he ought to have welcomed me as King Wen of the Chou dynasty welcomed T'ai-kung Wang, or sought me out as King Kao-ting of the Yin dynasty sought out Fu Yueh from seven ri afar. Thus it is said that the sun and moon are not treasures to one who is blind, and that a worthy man will be hated by a foolish ruler. Rather than go on at length, I will stop here. The heart of the Lotus Sutra is just as I have explained. You should not think of it as otherwise. Great evil portends the arrival of great good. If all of Jambudvipa should be thrown into chaos, there can be no doubt that [this sutra] will "spread widely throughout the continent of Jambudvipa."
I am sending Daishin Ajari to pay a visit to the grave of the late Rokuro Nyuko. In the past, I had thought that if there were people in the Kanto region who had heard this teaching, I would go to their graves myself and recite the Jigage. However, if I were to go there under the present circumstances, the entire province would hear of it within the day, and it would probably cause an uproar as far away as Kamakura. And, even though they may have steadfast faith, where-ever I go, the people will have to fear the eyes of others.
Because I have not yet been to visit, I had thought how greatly the late Rokuro Nyudo must be longing to see me, and that there must be something that I could do. Therefore, I have first of all sent a disciple to recite the Jigage before the grave. I ask for your understanding on this point.
With my deep respect.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 6, page 139.
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