The True Object of Worship
- Kanjin no Honzon Sho -
Lord Toki I have received the summer kimono, three sumi inksticks, and five writing brushes. I have written down some of my thoughts concerning the true object of worship and I am sending the treatise to you, Ota, Soya and the others. It concerns a very important matter, the purpose of my advent. Only those who are strong in faith and open-minded should be allowed to read it. The treatise contains much criticism and few answers. What it reveals, however , has never been heard of before, and is bound to startle those who read or hear of it. Even if you show it to others, never let three or four persons read it together at a time. In the twenty-two hundred and twenty odd years since the Buddha's passing, the ideas contained in the heart of this treatise have never been revealed before. Despite all the official persecutions befalling me, I expound it now at the beginning of the fifth half-millennium, when the time is ripe for its propagation. I hope those who read it will remain firm in their faith so that both master and disciples can climb Eagle Peak together to pay their respects to Shakyamuni, Taho, and all the other Buddhas in the universe.
With my deep respect,
The twenty-sixth day of the fourth month in the tenth year of Bun'ei (1273).
Nichiren, the Shramana of Japan
Volume Five of the Maka Shikan states: "A single entity of life is endowed with the Ten Worlds. At the same time, each of the Ten Worlds is endowed with all the others, so that an entity of life actually possesses one hundred worlds. Each of these worlds in turn possesses thirty realms,1 which means that in the one hundred worlds there are three thousand realms. The three thousand realms of existence are all possessed by a single entity of life. If there is no life, that is the end of the matter. But if there is the slightest bit of life, it contains all the three thousand realms.... This is what we mean when we speak of the 'region of the unfathomable.'" Note: "Three thousand realms" Might also read "three thousand factors," But the number is the same. The only difference lies in the method of expansion.2 Another text of the Maka Shikan states: "One world possesses the three realms of existence."3
Question: Is the principle of ichinen sanzen [the three
thousand realms in a single entity of life] explained in the Hokke Gengi?
Answer: Miao-lo states that it is not.
Question: Then is it explained in the Hokke Mongu?
Answer: Miao-lo states that it is not.
Question: What are his exact words?
Answer: He says, "Neither of the two mentions ichinen sanzen."
Question: Is it explained in any of the first four
volumes of the Maka Shikan?
Answer: No, it is not.
Question: What proof is there of this?
Answer: Miao-lo says, "When at last he revealed in the Maka Shikan how to perceive the true nature of life, he at the same time employed the 'three thousand realms' as a way to understand."4
Question: Volume Two of the Hokke Gengi states: "Each of the Ten Worlds contains the other nine, and in those one hundred worlds are one thousand factors." Volume One of the Hokke Mongu states: "Each cognitive faculty5 possesses the Ten Worlds, each of which again includes all of the ten within itself. Since each of those hundred worlds possesses the ten factors, the total becomes one thousand." In the Kannon Gengi6 appears this statement: "The Ten Worlds are all mutually inclusive, thus making one hundred worlds. One thousand factors are inherent within life. Even though they are not visible, all life by its nature possesses all of them."
Is ichinen sanzen mentioned in the first four volumes of the Maka
Answer: Miao-lo says not.
Question: What does he say exactly?
Answer: Volume Five of the Guketsu reads: "In comparison with Chapter Seven,7 the preceding chapters do not perfectly describe practice in its totality. But they contain the twenty-five preparatory exercises8 which lead to understanding, and thus, they provide the way to full practice. The first six chapters, then, are all meant to bring understanding." Also in the same volume: "When at last he revealed in the Maka Shikan how to perceive the true nature of life, he at the same time employed the 'three thousand realms' as a way to understand. This is the ultimate truth of his teachings. That is why Chang-an stated in his introduction: 'The Maka Shikan reveals the teaching that T'ien-t'ai himself practiced in the depths of his being.' He had good reason for saying this. I hope that those who read the Maka Shikan and seek to understand it must not let their minds be distracted by anything else."
The Great Sage9 propagated his teachings for thirty years. During the first twenty- nine years he expounded the doctrines contained in the Hokke Gengi, Hokke Mongu, and other works. Through them he explained the five periods and the eight teachings as well as the one hundred worlds and the one thousand factors. He not only refuted the erroneous doctrines of the preceding five centuries, but at the same time clarified matters that had not been fully explained by Buddhist scholars of India. Chang-an states: "Even the great masters of India were not in a class with him, and the Chinese scholars -- well, one need hardly mention them. This is no idle boast -- the doctrine he taught was indeed of such excellence."10 How pitiful that T'ien-t'ai's successors allowed those thieves, the founders of the Kegon and Shingon sects, to steal the priceless gem of ichinen sanzen and then, ironically, became their followers! Chang-an was fully aware this would happen when he remarked in sorrow, "If this principle should become lost, it would be a tragedy for the future."11
Question: What is the difference between the principle
of the one hundred worlds of the one thousand factors, and that of ichinen sanzen, the
three thousand realms of life?
Answer: The former concerns only sentient beings, the latter applies to both sentient and insentient beings.
Question: If insentient beings possess the ten factors,
is it correct to assume that plants and trees have minds and can attain Buddhahood like
Answer: This is a matter that is difficult to believe and difficult to understand. T'ien-t'ai defined two points that are "difficult to believe" And "difficult to understand." One lies in the realm of the Buddha's teachings and the other in the realm of his enlightenment. In the sutras preached before the Lotus Sutra we read that adherents of the doctrines of the two vehicles and people of incorrigible disbelief are forever barred from attaining Buddhahood, and that Shakyamuni for the first time attained enlightenment in this world. However, we find that the first and second halves of the Lotus Sutra repudiate both these statements. One Buddha who says two things as opposite as fire and water -- who could believe him? This is the point "difficult to believe" And "difficult to understand" In the realm of the Buddha's teachings. The point "difficult to believe" And "difficult to understand" In the realm of his enlightenment concerns the principle of ichinen sanzen, which explains that even insentient beings possess the ten factors of life, and that they possess both material and spiritual aspects of life.
Both the Buddhist and non-Buddhist scriptures permit wooden or painted images to be used as objects of worship, but T'ien-t'ai and his followers were the first to explain the principle behind this act. If a piece of wood or paper did not have both material and spiritual aspects, or lacked the inherent cause to manifest a spiritual nature, then it would be futile to rely upon it as an object of worship.
Question: What authority do you have for stating that a
plant, a tree or a land manifests cause and effect, or the ten factors?
Answer: Volume Five of the Maka Shikan says: "A land of this world also has the ten factors. Thus an evil land has appearance, nature, entity, power and so on." Volume Five of the Shakusen states: "Appearance exists only in what is material, nature exists only in what is spiritual. Entity, power, influence, and relation in principle combine both the material and the spiritual. Inherent cause and latent effect are purely spiritual; manifest effect exists only in what is material." The Kongobei-ron12 states: A plant, a tree, a pebble, a speck of dust -- each has the innate Buddha nature, along with the other causes and conditions needed to attain Buddhahood."
Question: You have told us about the sources of this
doctrine. Now what is meant by kanjin?
Answer: Kanjin means to observe one's own mind and to find the Ten Worlds within it. This is what is called kanjin ("observing the mind"). For example, though one can see the six sense organs of other people, he cannot see the six sense organs on his own face. Only when he looks into a clear mirror for the first time does he see that he is equipped with all six sense organs. Similarly, various sutras make reference here and there to the six paths and the four noble worlds [that constitute the Ten Worlds], but only in the clear mirror of the Lotus Sutra and T'ien-t'ai's Maka Shikan can one see his own three thousand conditions -- the Ten Worlds, their mutual possession, and the thousand factors.
Question: What part of the Lotus Sutra do you refer to,
and what section of the Maka Shikan?
Answer: Chapter Two, Hoben-bon, of the Lotus Sutra states that the Buddhas appear in this world "to open the door of Buddha-wisdom to all beings." This refers to the fact that all the nine worlds possess the realm of Buddhahood. Chapter Sixteen, Juryo-hon, states: "Since I attained Buddhahood, an unimaginably long period has passed. The length of my life is infinite aeons. My life has always existed and shall never end. Men of devout faith, once I also practiced the bodhisattva austerities and the life which I then acquired has yet to be exhausted. My life will last yet twice as many aeons from now." Here the sutra refers to the realm of Buddhahood which includes all of the other nine worlds.
The sutra states: "Devadatta shall become a Buddha called Devaraja."13 This indicates that the world of Hell also contains the world of Buddhahood. In the sutra it is stated: "There are ten female demons, the first named Lamba.... [The Buddha says to them:] 'You will receive immeasurable good fortune if only you will protect those who embrace the title of the Lotus Sutra.'"14 Thus, the world of Hunger contains all the Ten Worlds. When the sutra says: "The Dragon King's daughter...attained enlightenment,"15 it indicates that the world of Animality has the Ten Worlds. The sutra says that Balin ashura and the other ashura kings will attain enlightenment upon hearing even a single verse or phrase of the sutra.16 The sutra says: "all people who [erect statues to] honor the Buddha...have attained Buddhahood,"17 meaning that the world of Humanity contains the Ten Worlds. The sutra states that the heavenly gods, led by Mahabrahman, declared: "We shall attain enlightenment."18 Thus the world of heaven contains the Ten Worlds.
The sutra says: "Shariputra, in one of your lives to come...you will become a Buddha called Padmaprabha."19 Thus the world of Learning contains the Ten Worlds. The sutra says: "Those who seek to become a pratyekabuddha,20 monks and nuns,...join their hands in reverence, wishing to hear the way to attain the perfect truth."21
Thus the world of the Pratyekabuddha has the Ten Worlds. The sutra describes the multitude of Bodhisattvas who appeared from the earth and declared, "We also yearn to receive the pure great law."22 Thus the world of the Bodhisattva contains the Ten Worlds. The sutra says: "[Men of devout faith, the sutras which the Tathagata expounded are all for the purpose of saving people from their sufferings.] Sometimes I speak of myself, sometimes of others."23 Thus the world of Buddhahood contains the Ten Worlds.
Question: Although I can see both my own sensory organs
and those of others, I cannot see the ten worlds in myself or others. How can I believe in
Answer: Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sutra says: "[The Lotus Sutra is] the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand." [In describing how difficult it will be to fulfill the teachings of the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha's passing,] Chapter Eleven speaks of the "six difficult and nine easy acts." The great Teacher T'ien-t'ai states: "Because the theoretical and essential teachings [of the Lotus Sutra] contradict all the earlier sutras, they are extremely difficult to believe and difficult to understand."24 The Great Teacher Chang-an comments: "The Buddha intended these as his ultimate teachings. How could they ever be so easy to understand?"25
The Great Teacher Dengyo says: "The Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and to understand because in it the Buddha directly revealed what he had attained."26 Those who were born in the days of Shakyamuni Buddha and heard his teachings in person had received the seed of enlightenment from him in the distant past. In addition, Shakyamuni, as well as Taho Buddha, the Buddhas in the ten directions of the universe, the countless Bodhisattvas of the Earth, and the other bodhisattvas such as Monju and Miroku, aided them and encouraged them to have understanding, but even then there were those who failed to believe.
Five thousand people left the assembly, [arrogantly thinking that they had understood what they had not]. All gods and men [other than those already present in the assembly] were moved to other worlds [because they were incapable of understanding the Buddha's teachings]. How much more difficult it is to believe in the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha's passing -- in the Former and Middle Day of the Law -- and even more difficult now at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law! If it were easy for you to believe in, it would not be the Buddha's true teaching.
Question: The passages from the Lotus Sutra and the
explanations by T'ien- t'ai, Chang-an and others which you have cited are free from
obscurities and doubtful points. But you seem to be saying that fire is water, or that
black is white. Although they may be the teachings of the Buddha, I find it difficult to
accept them. Now I look repeatedly at people's faces, but I see only the world of
Humanity. I do not see the other worlds. And the same is true when I look at my own face.
How am I to believe in the Ten Worlds?
Answer: When we look from time to time at a person's face, we find him sometimes joyful, sometimes enraged, and sometimes calm. At times greed appears in the person's face, at times foolishness, and at times perversity. Rage is the world of Hell, greed is that of Hunger, foolishness is that of Animality, perversity is that of Anger, joy is that of Rapture, and calmness is that of Humanity. These worlds, the six paths, are present in the physical appearance of the person's face. The remaining four noble worlds are hidden and dormant and do not appear in the face, but if we search carefully, we can tell that they are there.
Question: Although I am not entirely certain about the
six paths, it would appear from what you have said that we possess them. But what about
the four noble worlds which cannot be seen at all?
Answer: Earlier you doubted that the six lower worlds exist within Humanity, but when I illustrated the point through an analogy, you understood. Perhaps it will be the same with the four noble worlds. I will try to employ reasoning to explain a little bit about the matter. The fact that all things in this world are transient is perfectly clear to us. Is this not because the worlds of the two vehicles are present in the world of Humanity? Even a heartless villain loves his wife and children. He too has a portion of the Bodhisattva world within him. Buddhahood is the most difficult to demonstrate. But since you possess the other nine worlds, you should believe that you have Buddhahood as well. Do not permit yourself to have doubts. The Lotus Sutra, explaining the world of Humanity, says that "[the Buddhas appear in this world] to open the door of Buddha-wisdom to all beings."27 The Nirvana Sutra states: "Those who study the Mahayana teachings, though they have the eyes of ordinary mortals, are said to have 'the eyes of a Buddha.'" That common mortals born in the Latter Day of the Law can believe in the Lotus Sutra is due to the fact that the world of Buddhahood is present in the world of Humanity.
Question: The Buddha clearly explained that each of the
Ten Worlds has the same Ten Worlds within itself. Nonetheless, I find it difficult to
believe that our base hearts could possess the world of Buddhahood. If I cannot believe
it, I will become a person of incorrigible disbelief. With your great compassion, please
help me to believe and save me from the torture of the hell of incessant suffering.
Answer: You have already seen and heard the sutra passages concerning "the one great reason" [why the Buddhas appear in this world]. If you still do not believe, then how can anyone, from Shakyamuni on down to the four ranks of bodhisattvas or we common mortals who have yet to attain Buddhahood, save you from disbelief? Nevertheless, I will try to explain. After all, there were some who could not attain enlightenment through the direct teachings of the Buddha, but were able to do so later through the preaching of Ananda and the other disciples.
People can attain Buddhahood in two ways: By meeting the Buddha and hearing the Lotus Sutra, or by believing in the sutra even though they do not meet the Buddha. Even before the advent of the Buddha some Brahmans in India came to the correct view of life through the Vedas. In China before the arrival of Buddhism, some had attained the correct view through Taoism and Confucianism. Many wise bodhisattvas and common mortals perceived that the Buddha had planted the seed of Buddhahood within them in the remote past [of sanzen-jintengo before they heard the Lotus Sutra]. They understood this by hearing the provisional Mahayana sutras of the Kegon, Hodo, and Hannya periods. They are like pratyekabuddhas [who could perceive the impermanence of life in the sight of] scattering blossoms or falling leaves. These, then, are the type of people who came to understand the truth through teachings other than the Lotus Sutra.
But many did not receive the seed of Buddhahood in their past existences and cling to Hinayana or provisional Mahayana teachings, and even if they are fortunate enough to encounter the Lotus Sutra, they cannot advance beyond their Hinayana or provisional Mahayana views. They are convinced that their own views are correct, and as a result they place the Lotus Sutra on the same level with the Hinayana sutras or provisional Mahayana sutras such as the Kegon and Dainichi. Some even regard the Lotus Sutra as subordinate to these. Such teachers are inferior to the sages of Confucianism and Brahmanism.
But let us put this question aside for the moment. The mutual possession of the Ten Worlds is as difficult to believe as fire existing in a stone or flowers within a tree. Yet under the right conditions such phenomena actually occur and can be believed. To believe that Buddhahood exists within Humanity is the most difficult thing of all -- as difficult as believing that fire exists in water or water in fire. Nevertheless, the dragon is said to produce fire from water and water from fire, and although people do not understand why, they believe it when they see it occur. Since you now believe that Humanity contains the other eight worlds from Hell to Bodhisattva, why are you still unable to include Buddhahood? The Chinese sage-kings Yao and Shun were impartial toward all people. They perceived one aspect of Buddhahood within Humanity. Bodhisattva Fukyo saw the Buddha in everyone he met, and Prince Siddhartha28 was a man who became a Buddha. These examples should help you to believe.
Note: The teaching that follows must be kept in strictest secrecy.
Question: Shakyamuni, the lord of doctrine, is the Buddha who has destroyed all the three illusions. He is the sovereign of all sentient beings in the entire universe -- kings, bodhisattvas, people of the two vehicles, common mortals and heavenly beings. Whenever the Buddha moves, Bonten attends him on the left and Taishaku on the right. Priests and nuns, laymen and laywomen, as well as the eight kinds of lowly beings who protect Buddhism, follow behind, while the Kongo gods29 march in the vanguard. With his eighty thousand teachings30 he leads all people to enlightenment. How could such a great Buddha dwell in the hearts of us common mortals?
Both the teachings before the Lotus Sutra and the first half of the Lotus Sutra itself tell us that Lord Shakyamuni attained his enlightenment for the first time in this world. Searching into those passages for the cause of his enlightenment, we find that he practiced bodhisattva austerities in past existences as Prince Nose, Bodhisattva Judo, King Shibi, and Prince Satta. The Buddha practiced the bodhisattva austerities for the unimaginably long period [described in the teachings of zokyo, tsugyo, bekkyo and engyo. The first half of the Lotus Sutra, for example, states that] he continued practicing for as long as sanzen- jintengo. During that long period the Buddha served as many as seventy-five, seventy-six or seventy-seven thousand Buddhas31 and finishing his practice, he became Shakyamuni Buddha in this life. Are you saying that each of us has a world of Bodhisattva within, which is endowed with all the blessings Shakyamuni attained as a result of his practice?
Again, looking into these teachings to find the results of his practice, we see that Shakyamuni Buddha's original enlightenment occurred in this life. For more than forty years the Buddha revealed himself in four different ways in four kinds of teachings, and with them he was able to give benefit to all people by expounding the provisional and theoretical teachings.
When he preached the Kegon Sutra, the Buddha appeared as Vairochana Buddha seated in the center of a lotus flower with one thousand petals. When he expounded the Agon sutras, he appeared as a Buddha who had eliminated all illusions by practicing thirty-four kinds of spiritual purification. When he preached the Hodo sutras, he was accompanied by a great multitude of Buddhas. Ten thousand Buddhas joined him when he expounded the Hannya sutras. In the Dainichi and Kongocho sutras, he made a dignified appearance as five hundred and seven hundred Buddhas and bodhisattvas respectively. In Chapter Eleven of the Lotus Sutra the Buddha manifested himself in four different ways as he transformed the land three times.32 When the Buddha expounded the Nirvana Sutra, those assembled saw him variously as the Buddha of the zokyo, tsugyo, bekkyo or engyo teachings. When the Buddha entered nirvana at the age of eighty, he left his relics and teachings to benefit people in the Former, Middle, and Latter Days of the Law.33
Now, the essential teaching says that Shakyamuni Buddha attained Buddhahood in the remote past of gohyaku-jintengo, and it describes the various austerities that made this possible. Since then he has the various austerities that made this possible. Since then he has manifested himself in many different ways throughout the universe and preached all the teachings of Buddhism to lead infinite numbers to enlightenment. Incomparably more people have been enlightened through the essential teaching than through the theoretical one. The former is like the ocean and the latter, a drop of water, the one great mountain and the other a speck of dust.
What is more, a bodhisattva of the essential teaching is far superior to any bodhisattva of the theoretical, including Monju, Kannon or any other in the universe. The difference between them is even greater than that between Taishaku and a monkey.
Are you saying that besides these bodhisattvas, all beings and all things in the universe are inherent in the Ten Worlds and the three thousand realms of our own lives? Do the people of the two vehicles who became arhats by destroying their illusions, Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, the Four Heavenly Kings, the Four Wheel-Rolling Kings, the great flames of the hell of incessant suffering all exist within us? Even if you say this is what the Buddha taught, I still cannot believe it.
When we consider it, the teachings that came before the Lotus Sutra must be genuine in both substance and wording. The Kegon Sutra describes the Buddha as "perfect and free from all falsehood and defilement like the empty sky." A passage of the Ninno Sutra reads: "One can penetrate the ultimate source of delusion and extirpate his benighted nature until nothing but perfect wisdom remains." In the Kongo Hannya Sutra it says: "[When one attains enlightenment,] nothing but pure goodness will remain within him."Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha states in the Daijo Kishin-ron (Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana): "Only pure blessings exist within his Buddha nature. Bodhisattva Vasubandhu remarks in his Yuishiki-ron (The Consciousness-Only Doctrine): "When a bodhisattva advances to the final stage of practice, with adamantine meditation he extinguishes all remaining seeds of desire and casts away imperfect wisdom, thereby developing the ultimate consciousness of total purity and perfection."
The Lotus Sutra is only one, while the sutras taught before it are innumerable. And the older ones have been taught over a longer period than the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, if they contradict the Lotus Sutra, you should accept the older sutras. Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha was the Buddha's eleventh successor, whose appearance had been foretold in the sutras. Bodhisattva Vasubandhu was one of the greatest bodhisattvas who ever lived and the author of one-thousand treaties. How then can you believe the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai, a lowly priest living far away from the birthplace of Buddhism who interpreted the sutras but did not write a single treatise?
Still, I might be able to disregard the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and accept the Lotus Sutra if it said anything to prove this point. But where in the sutra can you find any passages that definitely verify the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, one thousand factors and the three thousand realms of life? Even in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sutra we find the following passage: "The Buddha has eliminated all evils of life." Neither Vasubandhu's Hokke-ron (Treatise on the Lotus Sutra) nor Bodhisattva Sthiramati's Hosho-ron (On the Treasure Vehicle of Buddhahood) makes any mention of the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds.
Nor are there any writings by the great Buddhists of northern and
southern China, or by the priests of the seven temples of Japan, that expound this
principle. It is simply T'ien-t'ai's own biased view, and Dengyo made the mistake of
transmitting it. That is what the National Teacher Ch'ing-liang34
meant when he said, "T'ien-t'ai's theory is wrong." Priest Hui- yuan35 said, "By defining Hinayana doctrines as zokyo
teachings, T'ien-t'ai has confused Hinayana and Mahayana." Ryoko36
criticized him, saying: "T'ien-t'ai is the only one who did not understand the true
meaning of the Kegon Sutra." Tokuichi 37
reproached him, saying: "See here, Chih-i, whose disciple are you! With a tongue less
than three inches long you slander the teachings that come from the Buddha's long broad
tongue!"38 Kobo Daishi commented: "Chinese
priests of various sects vied with one another to steal the ghee of the Kegon Sutra,
calling it their own doctrine." Thus, the doctrine of ichinen sanzen is not mentioned
in either the provisional or the true teachings. It did not appear in the writings of any
of the great Indian scholars, and no Chinese or Japanese priest has ever espoused it. How
then do you dare to believe it?
Answer: Your criticisms are harsh. The difference between the Lotus Sutra and the other sutras must be determined by what the sutras themselves say. In them we find statements that the Buddha did not reveal the truth in the first forty-two years of his teaching and that the would reveal it in the Lotus Sutra.
Taho and all the other Buddhas throughout the universe presented themselves to testify to the truth of the Lotus Sutra, testimony that they did not give for any other sutra. With the Lotus Sutra Shakyamuni enabled the people of the two vehicles to attain Buddhahood, whereas with the earlier sutras he did not. In the earlier sutras he stated that he attained enlightenment for the first time in this world, but in the Lotus Sutra he revealed that his enlightenment was actually in the remote past of gohyaku-jintengo.39
I will now explore the problem posed by the scholars you mentioned above. The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai comments: "Vasubandhu and Nagarjuna clearly perceived the truth in their hearts, but they did not teach it. Instead, they preached the provisional Mahayana teachings, which were suited to their times. However, the Buddhist teachers who came later were biased in their understanding, and the scholars obstinately clung to their own views, until in the end they began to battle with one another. Each defended one small corner of the teachings and thereby completely departed from the true way of the Buddha."40 The Great Teacher Chang-an says of T'ien-t'ai, "Even the great masters of India were not in a class with him, and the Chinese scholars -- well, one need hardly mention them. This is no idle boast -- the doctrine he taught was indeed of such excellence."
In their hearts Vasubandhu, Nagarjuna, Ashvaghosha, Sthiramati and other Buddhist scholars knew [the truth of ichinen sanzen], but they did not reveal it to others because the time for it to be expounded had not yet come. As for the Buddhist teachers in China who preceded T'ien-t'ai, some kept this treasure in their hearts and others knew nothing about it. Among those who followed him, some accepted [ichinen sanzen] only after first trying to disprove it, and others never accepted it at all.
As regards the passage in the Hoben chapter that you quoted, "The Buddha has eliminated all evils of life," Here the Buddha is referring to a teaching from one of the earlier sutras. But when you take a closer look at the sutra, it becomes clear that the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds is being explained. For in the same chapter, this passage occurs: "The Buddhas appear in this world to open the door of Buddha-wisdom to all beings."T'ien-t'ai comments on this passage as follows: "If people do not possess innate Buddha-wisdom within them, how could the Buddha say he wanted to develop it? One must understand that the Buddha-wisdom is latent in all human beings."41 Chang-an [cites a parable to illustrate this and] concludes: "How could people realize their Buddha-wisdom if it did not exist within them? How could the poor widow discover her treasure if it had not been in the storehouse?"42
It is, however, extremely difficult to convince you that the Lord Buddha exists within us, as do the nine worlds from Hell to Bodhisattva. In Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sutra he gives us this admonishment: "Among all the sutras I have preached, now preach, and will preach, this Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand." The "six difficult and nine easy acts" He expounded in the next chapter emphasize the difficulty. Hence T'ien-t'ai states: "Because the theoretical and essential teachings [of the Lotus Sutra] contradict all the earlier sutras, they are extremely difficult to believe and difficult to understand -- no less difficult than facing an enemy who is armed with a spear."Chang-an comments: "The Buddha intended these as his ultimate teachings. How could they ever be easy to understand?" The Great Teacher Dengyo remarks: "The Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and to understand because in it the Buddha directly revealed what he had attained."
In the first eighteen hundred years after the Buddha's entry into nirvana, only three persons perceived the True Law. They are Shakyamuni of India, the Great teacher T'ien-t'ai of China, and the Great Teacher Dengyo of Japan. These three men are all Buddhist sages.
Question: What about Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu?
Answer: Those sages knew, but did not expound it. They expounded part of the theoretical teaching, but did not teach either the essential teaching or the truth of the Buddha's enlightenment it contains. Perhaps the people in their age were capable of believing it, but the time was not ripe to expound it. Or perhaps neither the people nor the time was appropriate.
After the advent of T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo, many Buddhists learned of ichinen sanzen through the wisdom of these two sages. They included Chia-hsiang of the Sanron sect; more than one hundred priests of the southern and northern sects of China; Fa- ts'ang and Ch'ing-liang of the Kegon sect; Hsuan-tsang and Tz'u-en of the Hosso sect; Shan-wu-wei, Chin-kang-chih and Pu-k'ung of the Shingon sect; and Tao-hsuan of the Ritsu sect. At first they all opposed T'ien-t'ai, but later totally accepted his teachings.
Now, to dispel the grave doubts you have about the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, I refer you to the Muryogi Sutra, which states: "Suppose a baby is born to a king and queen. He may be only a day, two days or seven days old; a month, two months or seven months old; a year, two years or seven years old. He cannot yet administer the affairs of state, but already he is honored and respected by all the nation's subjects and ministers and has as his companions the sons of other rulers. The royal parents love him without reserve and always talk with him, for he is still very young.
"Men of devout faith, one who embraces this sutra is like the young prince. The various Buddhas can be likened to the king and this sutra to the queen. They give birth to a bodhisattva, their child. Suppose the bodhisattva listens to and accepts the sutra. If he recites even one phrase or a verse, or reads even a few lines of it or preaches it one, two, ten, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, or countless times, though he cannot yet grasp the full truth of it, already he will be revered by the four kinds of believers and the eight kinds of other lowly beings, he will be attended by great bodhisattvas, and continually receive the unreserved protection and compassion of all Buddhas. This is because he is still new to the faith."
The Fugen Sutra says: "This Mahayana sutra is the treasure, the eye and the seed of life for all Buddhas in the universe throughout the past, present and future... You should exert yourself in practice and never let the seed of Buddhahood die out." It also declares: "This all-embracing sutra is the eye of all Buddhas because through its teachings they become endowed with the five types of vision. Since the three enlightened properties of the Buddha's life arise from the sutra, it is the seal of ultimate truth which assures entry into the ocean of nirvana. A Buddha's three pure properties come from this vast ocean and become the fertile field of good fortune for all human and heavenly beings."
Now we should go on to survey the entire range of the Buddha's teaching, the exoteric and esoteric, as well as Hinayana and Mahayana, specifically the sutras upon which each denomination, Kegon, Shingon, etc., depends for its doctrine. For example, the Kegon Sutra describes Vairochana Buddha seated in the center of a thousand-petaled lotus flower; the Daijuku Sutra, a cloud of Buddhas who gathered from all over the universe; the Hannya Sutra, the emergence of one thousand Buddhas; and the Dainichi and Kongocho sutras depict more than twelve hundred Buddhas and bodhisattvas. All these Buddhas are but temporary manifestations of the original Buddha. These sutras all reveal the practices of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Buddhahood he attained in this life, but they do not reveal the original cause for his enlightenment in the remote past of gohyaku-jintengo.
It is true that the immediate attainment of Buddhahood is revealed in the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, but they do not mention Shakyamuni Buddha teaching his disciples in the remote past of sanzen-jintengo and gohyaku-jintengo. Therefore, there is no revelation of when the Buddha started teaching or when he finished.43 The Kegon Sutra seems to belong to the higher two and the Dainichi Sutra to all of the four teachings -- zokyo, tsugyo, bekkyo and engyo -- but these sutras actually fall into the category of zokyo and tsugyo, the two lower teachings, because they do not expound the three requisites for Buddhahood: Innate Buddha nature, the potential to realize it, and the cause that makes the Buddha nature develop. Then how can we define these sutras as the seed of enlightenment?
The translators of the new versions of the sutras learned about T'ien-t'ai's teaching of ichinen sanzen when they returned to China. When they translated Sanskrit sutras into Chinese, some put T'ien-t'ai's principle into their translations, and others claimed that the originals they had brought back from India already contained it. Some of the scholars of the T'ien-t'ai sect were simply pleased that other sects expounded the same doctrine as theirs, while others praised the Buddhism of India and slighted that of China, or discarded their original doctrines and adopted new ones. These scholars yielded to their devilish nature and stupidity. However, without ichinen sanzen, the seed of enlightenment, sentient beings cannot attain enlightenment, and any statue or image would be an object of worship in name alone.
Question: You have not yet fully answered my question
about the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds.
Answer: The Muryogi Sutra states: "[If you embrace this sutra,] you will naturally receive the benefits of the six paramitas without having to practice them." The Hoben chapter of the Lotus Sutra says: "They wish to hear the teaching of perfect endowment."The Nirvana Sutra states: "Sad indicates perfect endowment."Bodhisattva Nagarjuna comments: "Sad signifies 'six.'" The Daijo Shiron Gengi Ki (Annotation of the Four Mahayana Theses) states: "Sad connotes six. In India the number six implies perfect endowment."In his annotation of the Lotus Sutra, Chia-hsiang writes, "Sad means perfect endowment." The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai remarks: "Sad is a Sanskrit word, which is translated as myo."44 An arbitrary interpretation of these quotations may distort their meaning, but in essence they mean that Shakyamuni's practices and the virtues he consequently attained are all contained within the single phrase, Myoho-renge-kyo. If we believe in that phrase, we shall naturally be granted the same benefits as he was.
With full understanding of Shakyamuni's teachings, the four great men of Learning said: "We have gained the supreme cluster of jewels when we least expected it." They represent the world of Learning that is within ourselves. The Hoben chapter states: "At the start I pledged to make all people perfectly equal to me, without any distinction between us. By now the original vows that I made have already been fulfilled. I have led all the people on the path of Buddhahood." The enlightened life of Shakyamuni Buddha is our own flesh and blood. His practices and resulting virtues are our bones and marrow. Chapter Eleven of the Lotus Sutra says: "Those who choose to protect this sutra serve Taho Buddha and me..... They also serve all other Buddhas present who dignify and glorify all the worlds." Shakyamuni, Taho, and all the other Buddhas in the ten directions represent the world of Buddhahood within ourselves. By searching them out within us, we can receive the benefits of Shakyamuni, Taho, and all the other Buddhas. This is what is meant by the following passage in Chapter Ten: "If one hears the Law for even a single moment, he will be able to attain perfect enlightenment."
The Juryo chapter reads: "The time is limitless and boundless -- a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, hundred thousand nayuta aeons -- since I in fact attained Buddhahood." Present within our lives is the Lord Shakyamuni who obtained the three enlightened properties of life before gohyaku-jintengo, the original Buddha since time without beginning. The Juryo chapter states: "Once I also practiced the bodhisattva austerities and the life which I then acquired has yet to be exhausted. My life will last yet twice as many aeons from now." He was speaking of the world of Bodhisattva within ourselves. The Bodhisattvas of the Earth are the followers of Lord Shakyamuni in our lives. They follow the Buddha just as T'ai-kung45 and Tan, the Duke of Chou served as ministers to King Wu of the Chou dynasty and later assisted his son,46 and successor, the infant King Ch'eng; or just as Takeshiuchi47 served Empress Jingu and later her grandson Crown Prince Nintoku as a highly valued minister. Bodhisattvas Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jyogyo and Anryugyo represent the world of Bodhisattva within our lives. The Great Teacher Miao-lo declares: "You should realize that our life and its environment are the entity of ichinen sanzen. When we attain Buddhahood, according to this principle, our life pervades the entire universe both physically and spiritually."48
Shakyamuni revealed in the Kegon Sutra the world within the lotus flower at Buddh Gaya where he attained enlightenment. In the more than fifty years until he died in the Sala grove, Shakyamuni Buddha preached the Pure Land of Dainichi Buddha in the Mitsugon Sutra, three times purified countless lands in the universe when he preached the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra, and expounded four kinds of lands49 in the Nirvana Sutra -- the Land of Enlightened and Unenlightened Beings as well as the Land of Transition, Actual Reward, and Eternal Light. All these lands as well as the Pure Land of Amida Buddha and the Emerald Land of Yakushi Buddha are in constant flux - - growth, stability, decline and ku. When the Lord Buddha, Shakyamuni, enters nirvana, all the other Buddhas and their lands also pass away with him.
The saha world Shakyamuni revealed in the Juryo chapter is the eternal pure land, impervious to the three calamities and the four cycles of change. In this world the Buddha is eternal, transcending birth and death, and his disciples are also eternal. That is why the three thousand worlds or the three realms of existence are within our own lives. The Buddha did not reveal this truth in the first fourteen chapters of the Lotus Sutra because the time was not right and he found his disciples not yet able to grasp the truth.
Shakyamuni Buddha did not transmit Nam-myoho- renge-kyo, the heart of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, even to Bodhisattvas Monju and Yakuo, let alone to any lesser bodhisattva. He transferred it only to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, summoning them and preaching the eight core chapters -- from the fifteenth to the twenty-second chapter -- of the Lotus Sutra.
The true object of worship is described in the ceremony of the transmission as follows:
In the air above the saha world [which the Buddha of the essential teaching identified as the pure and eternal land], Nam-myoho-renge-kyo appears in the center of the Treasure Tower with Shakyamuni and Taho Buddhas seated to the right and left, and the Four Bodhisattvas of the Earth, led by Jogyo, flank them. Around them are Monju, Miroku and the other followers of the Four Bodhisattvas. All the other bodhisattvas, whether they are disciples of the Buddha of the theoretical teaching or of the Buddhas of the other worlds, take their seats further below, like commoners kneeling on the ground in the presence of nobles and high ministers. The Buddhas who gathered from the other worlds in the ten directions of the universe all remain on the ground, showing that they are only manifestations of the eternal Buddha and that their lands are transient, not eternal and unchanging.
During the entire fifty years of Shakyamuni's teaching, only in the last eight years did he preach the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. Again, of all these chapters, only in the eight vital chapters did he reveal and transfer the object of worship to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.50 During the two millennia of the Former and Middle Days of the Law, statues were made showing Mahakashyapa and Ananda flanking Shakyamuni Buddha as he preached Hinayana, and Monju and Fugen flanking Shakyamuni Buddha as he preached the provisional Mahayana, the Nirvana Sutra and the theoretical teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
Even though statues and images were made of Shakyamuni Buddha during the two millennia, no image or statue was made of the Buddha of the Juryo chapter.51 Only in the Latter Day of the Law shall the representation of that Buddha appear.
Question: During the two millennia of the Former and
Middle Days of the Law the great Bodhisattvas and teachers constructed images of
Shakyamuni Buddha preaching Hinayana, provisional Mahayana or the theoretical teaching of
the Lotus Sutra and built temples for them. However, no one in India, China and Japan,
neither their kings nor subjects, revered the object of worship revealed in the Juryo
chapter of the essential teaching. Although I think I understand in general what you are
saying, I have never heard such a thing before and I therefore find it startling to my
ears and perplexing to my mind. Will you explain it to me in greater detail?
Answer: All the teachings Shakyamuni expounded -- the provisional teachings in the first four of the five periods and the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra in the last period -- make an unbroken series of teachings like one perfect sutra. [These can be divided into three parts -- preparation, revelation and transmission.52] Preparation covers the part from the Kegon Sutra, his first preaching at Buddh Gaya, to the Hannya sutras; revelation includes the Muryogi Sutra, the Lotus Sutra and the Fugen Sutra (ten volumes in all); and transmission indicates the Nirvana Sutra. The second part can also be classified into three. The Muryogi Sutra and the first chapter of the Lotus Sutra are preparation. Revelation begins with the Hoben (second) chapter and ends with the nineteen line verse of the Funbetsu Kudoku (seventeenth) chapter. Transmission includes the rest of the Lotus Sutra -- from the section clarifying the four stages of faith -- and the Fugen Sutra.
We can divide the ten volumes of the Muryogi Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and the Fugen Sutra into two parts: Theoretical and essential.53 In the theoretical teaching, preparation indicates the Muryogi Sutra and the first chapter of the Lotus Sutra, revelation is the Hoben (second) chapter through the Ninki (ninth) chapter, and transmission includes the tenth to the fourteenth chapters. The Buddha of the theoretical teaching declared that he first attained Buddhahood in this life. He revealed the hundred worlds and the thousand factors inherent in life, though he did not go on to expound their eternal nature. Since the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra thus reveals a part of the Buddha's own enlightenment, it excels all the other sutras and is difficult to believe and difficult to understand.
Herein the first relationship between Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples can be traced back to the time when he was the sixteenth son of Daitsu Buddha. At that time he first planted the seed of Buddhahood in their lives. In Shakyamuni's lifetime only a few of them could discover the seed when they heard the Kegon Sutra and the other teachings of the first four periods. This was not, however, the Buddha's true intention. Their discovery through these teachings was as rare as curing an illness with poison. Common mortals and the people of the two vehicles were led gradually to the Lotus Sutra through the teachings of the first four periods. They then discovered the seed of Buddhahood within themselves and were able to obtain the fruit of enlightenment.
There were people of Humanity and Heaven who took faith in the eight chapters for the first time in Shakyamuni's days. Some took the seed into their lives by listening to a single phrase or verse from among the eight chapters. Others nurtured and harvested the seed they received, and still others obtained the fruit of enlightenment when they came to the Fugen and Nirvana sutras. There were also some who obtained the same fruit through Hinayana and provisional Mahayana teachings when they appeared later in the Former, Middle and Latter Days of the Law. These last are like the disciples in Shakyamuni's lifetime who discovered the seed of Buddhahood through the teachings of the first four periods.
Preparation, revelation and transmission are also represented in the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, especially in the latter fourteen chapters. Preparation is the first half of the Yujutsu (fifteenth) chapter. Revelation includes the latter half of this chapter, the Juryo chapter, and the first half of the Funbetsu Kudoku (seventeenth) chapter -- one chapter and two halves. Transmission includes the rest. The Buddha of the essential teaching denied that he first attained Buddhahood in this life. The difference between the theoretical and essential teachings is as great as that between heaven and earth.
The latter revealed the eternity of the Ten Worlds and, further, the True Land. The theoretical teaching, the teachings of the first four periods, the Muryogi Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra were all preached according to the capacities of the people. They are, therefore, easy to believe and easy to understand. In contrast, the essential teaching reveals the Buddha's own enlightenment, and therefore, is difficult to believe and difficult to understand. However, even the difference between ichinen sanzen of the theoretical and of the essential teachings pales into insignificance before the ultimate principle hidden within the Lotus Sutra.
True Buddhism also has its preparation, revelation, and transmission. Shakyamuni Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra in his life as the sixteenth son of Daitsu Buddha. When he appeared as Shakyamuni he also expounded teachings for fifty years, including the Kegon Sutra, the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra. All these sutras as well as the innumerable teachings of all the other Buddhas in the universe are preparation for revealing the heart of the Juryo chapter.
All the teachings other than "one chapter and two halves" Of true Buddhism are Hinayana in nature and heretical. Not only do they fail to lead to enlightenment, but they also lack the truth. Those who believe in them are of slight virtue, bound by illusion, ignorant, unfortunate, solitary and like birds and beasts which do not appreciate their parents' love.
The first half of the Lotus Sutra and the sutras preceding it teach that one can attain Buddhahood, but even they are not the true cause for Buddhahood. Much less so are teachings of a Hinayana nature such as the Dainichi Sutra. It is out of the question to think that the scholars and priests of the seven sects, including Kegon and Shingon, preach the true cause for attaining Buddhahood.
These inferior sutras seem to fall within the zokyo, tsugyo, and bekkyo teachings, but actually they are no better than the lowest two. They maintain that their doctrines are incomparably profound, although nowhere do they clarify when the Buddha planted the seed of Buddhahood, or when he nurtured and reaped it. These doctrines are no different from Hinayana which demands that one reduce his body to ashes and annihilate his consciousness, for they do not reveal when the Buddha started teaching and when he finished. If a queen should conceive by a slave, her baby would be nothing but an outcast.
The second through the ninth chapters of the theoretical teaching seem to have been expounded for the sake of the people of the two vehicles rather than for the common people and bodhisattvas in Shakyamuni's lifetime. From a more profound viewpoint, they are intended for the common people after the Buddha's passing -- in the Former, Middle and Latter Days of the Law -- and in particular, for the common people in the beginning of the Latter Day.
Question: On what authority do you say so?
Answer: Chapter Ten of the Lotus Sutra states: "Since hatred and jealously abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?" Chapter Eleven states: "The Buddha wishes his true teachings to be maintained eternally....All the other Buddhas assembled should realize that this is the Buddha's will." Examine what the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters state about the future. The theoretical teaching was preached for the people after the Buddha's passing.
As regards the essential teaching, it was addressed exclusively to the people early in the Latter Day of the Law. On the surface the Buddha seems to have preached this teaching for the salvation of the people of his day; he planted the seed of Buddhahood in their lives in the remote past of gohyaku-jintengo and nurtured it through his preaching as the sixteenth son of Daitsu Buddha in sanzen-jintengo and through the teachings of the first four periods and the theoretical teaching in this life. Then he finally brought his followers to full enlightenment, from togaku to myokaku,54 with the essential teaching.
In actuality, however, the essential teaching bears no resemblance whatsoever to the theoretical teaching. Preparation, revelation, and transmission of the essential teaching are intended entirely for the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law. The essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra and true Buddhism are both pure teachings that lead directly to Buddhahood. However, Shakyamuni's is the Buddhism of harvest, and this is the Buddhism of sowing. The core of his teaching is one chapter and two halves, and for me it is Myoho-renge-kyo alone.
Question: On what authority do you say that the
essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra was meant for the generation of the Latter Day of
Answer: The Yujutsu (fifteenth) chapter states: "More numerous than the sands of eight Ganges Rivers, bodhisattvas from other worlds arose in the great assembly. Palms pressed together in deep reverence, they bowed and said to the Buddha, 'Lord Buddha! Allow us to protect, read, recite, transcribe, and worship this sutra with diligence in the saha world after your passing. We vow to preach this sutra widely throughout the land.' Thereupon the Buddha said, 'Desist, men of devout faith! There is no need for you to protect this sutra.'" This statement totally contradicts the Buddha's exhortations in the preceding five chapters.55 In Chapter Eleven is the passage: "The Buddha addressed the four groups of believers56 in a loud voice, saying, 'Who among you will propagate the Lotus Sutra throughout the saha world?'"Bodhisattva Yakuo, Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and the Four Heavenly Kings would have followed Shakyamuni's command before anything else even if no other Buddha had supported his exhortations, but Taho and other Buddhas came to this world to exhort them to propagate the sutra after Shakyamuni's passing. Deeply encouraged, the bodhisattvas all pledged, saying, "We will not begrudge our lives,"57 for their first and last wish was only to fulfill the Buddha's will.
However, in the Yujutsu chapter the Buddha suddenly seemed to reverse himself and forbade all the countless bodhisattvas from propagating the sutra in this world. We therefore face what appears to be an insoluble contradiction, one that is beyond ordinary understanding.
T'ien-t'ai gave three reasons for Shakyamuni's action in stopping the bodhisattvas and three more for the summoning of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Essentially, the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching and the bodhisattvas of the other worlds were not qualified to inherit Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the heart of the Juryo chapter, which only Nichiren has realized. At the dawn of the Latter Day evil people who slander the Law would fill the land, and so the Buddha rejected their pledge and instead summoned the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. He entrusted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to them for the salvation of all mankind. The bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching were also unqualified because they were not the original disciples of the Buddha. The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai states in his Hokke Mongu: "The Buddha said to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, 'You are my true disciples, destined to propagate the law of my enlightenment.'" Miao-lo declares in the Hokke Mongu Ki: "When the sons disseminate the teachings of their father, they can save all people." Tao-hsien58 comments in his Fusho Ki: "Because the Law was expounded by the original Buddha, it was entrusted to his true disciples."
In the Yujutsu chapter Bodhisattva Miroku asked Shakyamuni Buddha: "We believe that none of the Buddha's teachings, no matter to whom they are directed, is false, and that his wisdom penetrates all. When bodhisattvas still immature in faith hear after your passing that the Bodhisattvas of the Earth are the Buddha's original disciples, they will refuse to believe it and will eventually commit the grave sin of slandering the Buddha's law. Lord Buddha! We sincerely implore you to explain this and remove our doubt, so that men of devout faith who appear after the Buddha's passing will not lose themselves in doubt." Here Bodhisattva Miroku was imploring the Buddha to preach the Juryo chapter for those to come after his passing.
The Juryo chapter states: "Some are out of their minds, while others are not.... Those children who have not lost their senses can see that the beneficial medicine is good in both color and fragrance, so they take it immediately and are completely cured of their sickness."The sutra explains that all bodhisattvas, people of the two vehicles, and people of Humanity and Heaven received the seed of enlightenment at gohyaku-jintengo. It was nurtured by the preaching of the sixteenth son of Daitsu Buddha as well as by Shakyamuni Buddha's provisional sutras and the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Then they finally attained Buddhahood when they heard the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
The Juryo chapter continues: "Those who are out of their minds are equally delighted to see their father return and beg him to cure their sickness, but when they are given the medicine, they refuse to take it. This is because the poison has penetrated deeply, causing them to lose their true minds. Therefore they think that the medicine will not taste good in spite of its fine color and fragrance. Then father thinks, '..Now I must use some means to get them to take it.' So instructing them, he again goes off to another land, where he sends a messenger home to announce,..." According to the Funbetsu Kudoku (seventeenth) chapter, "the good medicine" Of the Juryo chapter is left for "those of the evil-filled Latter Day of the Law."
Question: Who is the messenger mentioned in the text?
Answer: It means the bearers of Buddhism. They fall into four categories. Most of the leaders of Hinayana appeared in the first five hundred years after the Buddha's passing, and most of those who taught provisional Mahayana came in the second five hundred years. The bearers of the theoretical teaching appeared mainly in the next thousand years, and the rest in the beginning of the Latter Day. The "messenger" In our times refers to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who will appear in the beginning of the Latter Day. "This good medicine" Is the heart of the Juryo chapter, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo -- its name, entity, quality, function and influence. The Buddha would not entrust this medicine even to the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching, much less to the bodhisattvas of other worlds.
The Jinriki (twenty-first) chapter states: "Thereupon in the presence of the Buddha the bodhisattvas equal in number to the dust particles of a thousand worlds who had sprung up from the earth, all with a single mind, pressed their palms together, gazed up reverently at his solemn countenance, and said to the Buddha, 'Honored One! After your passing we pledge to propagate this sutra throughout every land where your manifestations appear or where you pass into nirvana.'"T'ien-t'ai says: "The great assembly witnessed the Bodhisattvas of the Earth alone making this pledge."59 Tao-hsien remarks: "The Buddha transmitted this sutra solely to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Because the Law was expounded by the original Buddha, it was intrusted to his true disciples."60 Bodhisattva Monju is a disciple of Fudo Buddha,61 who dwells in Amida Buddha in the west. Bodhisattva Kannon is a disciple of Nichigatsu Jomyotoku Buddha.62 Bodhisattva Fugen is a disciple of Hoi Buddha.63 They were not entrusted with the supreme law, so they could not possibly appear and propagate it in the Latter Day.
The Jinriki chapter states: "Shakyamuni Buddha demonstrated his great mystic powers to the entire assembly, extending his long broad tongue till it reached upward to the Brahma-heaven. All the other Buddhas seated on lion king thrones64 under jewel trees throughout the universe did the same, extending their long broad tongues." In no other sutra, whether Hinayana or Mahayana, exoteric or esoteric, is there a passage that describes Shakyamuni Buddha and all the other Buddhas extending their tongues to the Brahma-heaven. The Amida Sutra states that Buddhas covered a major world system with their tongues, but this is a mere assertion with no truth behind it. The Hannya Sutra tells how the Buddha's tongue covered the major world system and radiated infinite light when he expounded the Hannya. Yet this cannot compare with the proof given in the Jinriki chapter. Since these two sutras are mere provisional teachings, they obscured the Buddha's enlightenment in the remotest past.
After the Buddha displayed his ten great mystic powers described in the Jinriki chapter, he transferred the Mystic Law to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth: "At that time the Buddha addressed Jogyo and the host of other bodhisattvas, saying, 'The mystic powers of a Buddha are boundless, beyond imagination. Even if I were to exert all these powers for infinite aeons in explaining the great benefit of this sutra to ensure its propagation, I could never explain them fully. I have briefly described in this sutra all the laws of the Buddha, all the invincible mystic powers of the Buddha, all the secret storehouses of the Buddha and all the profound practices of the Buddha.'"T'ien-t'ai says: "This paragraph begins the third stage of the chapter, where the Buddha transfers the essence of his teachings to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth."65 Dengyo states: "The Jinriki chapter says, 'I have briefly described in this sutra all the laws of the Buddha...' In the Lotus Sutra the Buddha revealed all the laws, invincible mystic powers, secret storehouses and profound practices of his enlightenment."66 Demonstrating ten great mystic powers, the Buddha transferred Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Four Great Bodhisattvas, Jogyo, Anryugyo, Jyogyo and Muhengyo.
[T'ien-t'ai states that] the first five of the ten great mystic powers are meant for those living in Shakyamuni's lifetime, and the last five for the generations after his passing. But in a deeper sense all are intended for future generations. The Buddha confirms this later in the same chapter: "Because they [the Bodhisattvas of the Earth] will faithfully uphold this sutra after the Buddha's passing, all the Buddhas rejoice and display their limitless mystic powers."
The Zokurui (twenty-second) chapter states: "At this time Shakyamuni Buddha rose from his place of preaching, and displaying his great mystic powers, put his right hand on the heads of the infinite numbers of bodhisattvas, saying, 'I now transfer the supreme law of enlightenment to you.'"The Buddha passed the Law to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching, bodhisattvas of other worlds, Bonten, Taishaku, and the Four Heavenly Kings. Then "all the Buddhas, who had gathered from the ten directions of the universe, returned to their respective lands... And the Buddha ordered that the Treasure Tower of Taho Buddha return to its original place."67 After the Bodhisattvas of the Earth had departed, the Buddha urged all the remaining bodhisattvas to keep the teachings after his passing as he preached the last six chapters of the Lotus Sutra, the Fugen Sutra, and the Nirvana Sutra.
Question: Did the Bodhisattvas of the Earth then appear
in this world during the two millennia of the Former and Middle Days of the Law to spread
the Lotus Sutra?
Answer: No, they did not.
Question: Your answer comes as a surprise. If both the
theoretical and the essential teachings of the Lotus Sutra are intended for those people
living after the Buddha's demise, and the Buddha entrusted the sutra to the Bodhisattvas
of the Earth, why did they not appear during the first two millennia to spread the sutra?
Answer: I will not say.
Question: I am asking you again, what was the reason?
Answer: I will not disclose it.
Question: Once more, what is the reason?
Answer: If I disclose it, all will refuse to believe and, what is worse, will slander me, as in the Latter Day of Ionno Buddha.68 Even my own disciples would slander me if I tried to explain, so I can only keep silent.
Question: Nonetheless, I urge you to answer. Unless you
do, you will be violating the Buddha's precept against concealing the truth.
Answer: Then since I have no choice, I will try to give you a brief explanation. The Hosshi (tenth) chapter states: "Since hatred and jealousy abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?" The Juryo chapter states: "I leave this good medicine here for you now." The Funbetsu Kudoku chapter speaks of "the evil-filled Latter Day of the Law."The Yakuo chapter says: "During the last half-millennium after my death the Lotus Sutra will spread widely throughout the world." In the Nirvana Sutra occurs a passage which reads: "Suppose that a couple has seven children, one of whom falls ill. Although the parents love all their children equally, they worry most about the sick child."
These passages are a crystal mirror of the Buddha's will. They show that the Buddha did not appear for the sake of those present during the eight years when he revealed the Lotus Sutra at Eagle Peak, but for people like us, those living in the beginning of the Latter Day, not for those who lived in the Former or Middle Day of the Law. "The sick child" mentioned in the Nirvana Sutra represents the slanderers of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day. The Buddha will now "leave this good medicine here" especially for those who "think that the medicine will not taste good in spite of its fine color and fragrance."
The Bodhisattvas of the Earth did not appear in the Former and Middle Days of the Law for good reason.
Hinayana and provisional Mahayana were spread in the first millennium because the time was not ripe for the true teaching and the people were not ready to embrace it. The great bodhisattvas in the Former Day led those who had taken faith in the Lotus Sutra during Shakyamuni's lifetime to attain enlightenment through Hinayana and provisional Mahayana teachings. If the Bodhisattvas of the Earth had spread the Lotus Sutra at that time instead of later, the people would have reviled it and thereby destroyed all the good fortune they had accumulated in Shakyamuni's lifetime. Therefore the bodhisattvas did not emerge then. People of the first millennium are like those in the Buddha's lifetime who gradually matured and attained enlightenment through his provisional teachings.
Late in the second millennium, Bodhisattva Kannon was reborn as Nan-yueh and Bodhisattva Yakuo as T'ien-t'ai. They openly preached the theoretical teaching and kept the essential teaching to themselves. T'ien-t'ai fully revealed the hundred worlds, the thousand factors, and the three thousand realms of life. They expounded the theoretical principles, but they did not put Nam-myoho-renge-kyo into actual practice or establish the true object of worship. The time was not right for propagation, although even then it was possible to attain Buddhahood through the Law.
Now, in the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, Hinayana adherents attack the doctrines of Mahayana, and provisional Mahayana believers denounce the true Mahayana teachings. East is mistaken for west, and heaven and earth are turned upside down. The great bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching are gone, and all the gods have deserted the country and no longer lend it protection.
At this very time the Bodhisattvas of the Earth appear in the world to give the medicine of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the ignorant people of the Latter Day. This is what Miao-lo means when he states: "Even if they revile the true teaching and fall into the evil paths, they create the causes for eventual attainment of Buddhahood."69
You who are my disciples, take this to heart! The Bodhisattvas of the Earth were the first disciples of Lord Shakyamuni when he attained enlightenment in the remotest past, yet they were not faithful to him in India. They did not come to Buddh Gaya after he attained enlightenment, nor did they come to the Sala grove when he entered nirvana. They also failed to appear when the Buddha preached the first fourteen chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and they left the assembly when he preached the last six chapters. They only attended the Buddha when he expounded the first eight chapters of the essential teaching. Since such noble bodhisattvas received the Mystic Law and made a solemn oath to Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha, and all the other Buddhas, is it possible that they will not appear now at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law? Know this: In the time for shakubuku the Four Bodhisattvas appear as wise kings who rebuke and convert evil kings, and in the time for shoju they appear as priests to protect and spread true Buddhism.
Question: Does the Buddha predict their coming in the
Answer: The Yakuo chapter of the Lotus Sutra states that during the last half- millennium after the Buddha's death the Lotus Sutra will spread widely throughout the world. T'ien-t'ai predicts: "In the fifth five hundred years, the Mystic Way shall spread and benefit mankind far into the future."70 Miao-lo states: "In the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law the Mystic Law will benefit mankind."71 The Great Teacher Dengyo declares, "The Former and Middle Days are almost over, and the Latter Day is near at hand."72
This declaration conveys his regret that he was not born in the right time for propagation. Born in Japan, he foresaw the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, saying, "The propagation of the true teaching will begin in the age when the Middle Day of the Law ends and the Latter Day opens, in a land to the east of T'ang and to the west of Katsu,73 among people stained by the five impurities who live in a time of conflict. The sutra says: 'Since hatred and jealousy abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?' There is good reason for this statement."74
"Conflict" refers to the present internal strife and imminent invasion from the western sea. Now is when the Bodhisattvas of the Earth will appear in this country and establish the supreme object of worship on the earth which depicts Shakyamuni Buddha of the essential teaching attending the true Buddha. This object of worship has never appeared in India or China. Its time had not come when Prince Shotoku75 in Japan constructed Shitenno-ji temple, so he could only make a statue of Amida, a Buddha in another world, as the object of worship. When Emperor Shomu76 erected Todai-ji temple, he made a statue of Vairochana Buddha as the object of worship but could not manifest the true meaning of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Dengyo almost revealed the truth of the sutra, but because the time had not yet come, he constructed a statue of Yakushi Buddha who dwells in an eastern realm of the universe, but he did not represent the Four Bodhisattvas of the Earth in any form.
Thus, the revelation of the true object of worship has been entrusted only to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. They have been waiting for the right time to emerge from the earth and carry out the Lord Buddha's command. They did not appear in the Former or Middle Day. But if they did not appear in the Latter Day of the Law, their vows would be outright lies, and the prophecies of Shakyamuni, Taho, and the other Buddhas would be no more than froth on the waters.
We have recently experienced earthquakes, comets and other calamities such as never occurred in the Former or Middle Day. These signs could not be caused by garudas, ashuras or dragons; they must foretell the appearance of the Four Great Bodhisattvas. T'ien-t'ai states: "By observing the fury of the rain we can tell the greatness of the dragon that caused it, and by observing the flourishing of the lotus flowers we can tell the depth of the pond they grow in."77 Miao-lo says: "Wise men can see omens and what they foretell, as snakes know the way of snakes."78 When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, he understands the meaning of all worldly affairs.
Showing profound compassion for those ignorant of the gem of ichinen sanzen, the True Buddha wrapped it within the single phrase Nam- myoho-renge-kyo, with which he then adorned the necks of those living in the Latter Day. The four Great Bodhisattvas will protect anyone who embraces the Mystic Law as faithfully as T'ai-kung and the Duke of Chou protected King Wen, and as devotedly as the four white-haired elders served Emperor Hui.79
The twenty-fifth day of the fourth month in the tenthyear of Bun'ei (1273)
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol. I. pp. 45-83.
Designed by Will Kallander