The Unmatched Fortune of the Law
I have received a hundred bamboo shoots, followed afterward by an additional twenty.
The seventh volume of the Lotus Sutra reads: "Even if a person were to fill the entire major world system with the seven kinds of treasures as an offering to the Buddha and the great bodhisattvas, pratyekabuddhas and arhats, the benefits gained by such a person cannot match those gained by accepting and upholding this Lotus Sutra, even just one four-line verse of it! The latter brings the most numerous blessings of all." The tenth volume of the Hokke mongu states: "The statement that offering the seven kinds of treasures to the persons of the four noble states cannot equal upholding one verse [of the Lotus Sutra] indicates that the Law is the teacher of these sages. Nothing surpasses the Law in its ability to cause birth, nurturing, maturity and prosperity. Therefore, the person is insignificant while the Law is supreme." The tenth volume of the Hokke mongu ki comments: "It is similar to the case of parents, who invariably protect their children through these four functions. To conceive a desire to seek the way through the power of the Law is to be born. To follow the Law from beginning to end is to be nurtured. To harvest the supreme fruit of Buddhahood is to reach maturity. To appear in various forms in the phenomenal world for the salvation of others is to prosper. Although these four stages differ from one another, they all take the Law as their basis."
What the Lotus Sutra, Tien-tai and Miao-lo intend to say is that the act of accepting and upholding or protecting and embracing one verse of the Lotus Sutra surpasses the act of making offerings to all living beings, of making offerings to the arhats, or even of filling the entire major world system with the seven kinds of treasures as an offering to all the Buddhas.
The sutra reads, "...cannot match those gained by accepting and upholding this Lotus Sutra, even just one four-line verse of it! The latter brings the most numerous blessings of all." Tien-tai states, "...the person is insignificant while the Law is supreme." Miao-lo says, "Although these four stages differ from one another, they all take the Law as their basis." If we compare all the living beings of the nine worlds with the Buddha, the good fortune of all living beings is as light as a single strand of hair, while the good fortune of the Buddha is as heavy as a huge mountain. And the good fortune of all Buddhas is as light as Bontens featherweight robe, while the good fortune of one character of the Lotus Sutra is as weighty as the earth. The person in the phrase "the person is insignificant" is the Buddha; the Law that is supreme is the Lotus Sutra.
All the sutras preceding the Lotus Sutra and all the treatises praise the blessings bestowed by the Buddha, and so are like the Buddha himself The Lotus Sutra extols the blessings bestowed by the sutra, and therefore is like the father and mother of the Buddha. The inferiority of the Kegon, Dainichi and other sutras to the Lotus Sutra is like the difference in weight between a single strand of hair and a huge mountain or between a featherweight robe and the earth. If we compare the lowest-ranking votary of the Lotus Sutra to the highest-ranking priests of the Kegon and Shingon sects, the superiority of the former is like that of Taishaku when compared to a monkey or like that of a lion when compared to a hare.
When a subject declares himself king, it invariably costs him his life. When the practitioners of the other sutras claim to Surpass the votary of the Lotus Sutra, the country will surely be ruined and such persons will certainly fall into hell. When not confronted by enemies, one is free to speak as falsely and act as foolishly as one pleases. To illustrate, it is said that before Sadamori and Yoriyoshi appeared, Masakado and Sadato were able to govern their lands, and their wives and children were safe and secure. Without an enemy to prevent them from doing so, the dew evaporates up into the sky and the rain falls to the earth. A strong wind, however, will blow the rain back into the sky, and the sunrise will bring the dew down to the earth. Likewise, before Dengyo appeared, the six sects, including the Kegon sect, were like the dew [rising into the sky]. The Shingon sect is the same; therefore, you should understand that once a strong enemy appears and attacks that sect fiercely with the Lotus Sutra, the chief priest of Mount Hiei and the priests of To-ji and Omuro will all be like dew confronted by the sun.
In the more than twenty-two hundred years since the Buddhas passing, no one has yet fully explained and spread the Lotus Sutra exactly as the sutra teaches. This is not to say that Tien-tai and Dengyo did not understand the truth of the sutra. But since the proper time had not yet arrived, and the capacity of the people was not suitable, they passed away without writing fully about it. Those who become Nichirens disciples, however, can understand it without difficulty.
In the entire land of Jambudvipa, there has never before been a hall or pagoda that produced the image of Shakyamuni Buddha of the Juryo chapter of the Lotus Sutra. How could such an image fail to appear now? An explanation would be lengthy, so I will stop here.
You have sent me 120 bamboo shoots, and the Lotus Sutra has appeared after over two thousand years. I have spoken of this matter because while your gift may seem to be insignificant, your sincerity is indeed profound. Moreover, at the present time, because of framework and the building of the shrine, people have no spare time. Because your seeking mind is nonetheless so strong, I am certain that the Law has manifested itself to you.
With my deep respect,
The eleventh day of the fifth month
Reply to Lord Nishiyama
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 7.
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