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日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2023年 06月 30日

The Opening of the Eyes. Part 2 (3) 開目抄下 三

Original text

The passage from the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter mentions three groups of people, saying first that “there will be many ignorant people,” second that “in that evil age there will be monks,” and referring third to “monks wearing clothing of patched rags.” The first category of ignorant people are the believers who support monks in the second and third categories. Accordingly, the Great Teacher Myoraku, commenting on the people in the first group, says they represent the arrogance and presumption of lay people. And Tung-ch’un says that they will “appeal to the government authorities, slandering the Law and its practitioners.”

Concerning the second group of enemies of the Lotus Sutra, the sutra says: “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.”

Similarly, the Nirvana Sutra says: “In that age there will be evil monks . . . These evil men will read and recite this sutra, but they will ignore and put aside the profound and vital principles that the Tathagata has expounded in it.”

Great Concentration and Insight says: “If one lacks faith, one will object that it pertains to the lofty realm of the sages, something far beyond the capacity of one’s own wisdom to comprehend. If one lacks wisdom, one will become puffed up with arrogance and will claim to be the equal of the Buddha.”

We see an example of this in the statement by the Meditation Master Tao-ch’o: “The second reason for the difficulty in understanding the Lotus Sutra is that its principles are very profound but human understanding is slight.” Hōnen says, “Religious practices other than the Nembutsu do not accord with the people’s capacities. They are not appropriate for the times.”

To combat such views the tenth volume of “On the Words and Phrases” reads: “Probably those who are mistaken in their understanding fail to realize how great is the merit gained even by a beginner in the practice of the Lotus Sutra. They assume that benefit is reserved for those who are far advanced in practice and disparage beginners. Therefore, it here demonstrates sutra’s power by revealing that practice is shallow but the benefit that results is profound indeed.”

The Great Teacher Dengyō declares: “The Former and Middle Days are almost over, and the Latter Day is near at hand. Now indeed is the time when the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra will prove how perfectly it fits the capacities of all people. How do we know this is true? Because the ‘Peaceful Practices’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra states, ‘In the latter age hereafter, when the Law is about to disappear, accept and uphold the Lotus Sutra.’” And Eshin says, “Throughout Japan, all people share the same capacity to attain Buddhahood through the perfect teaching.”

Now which opinion should we believe, that of Tao-ch’o and Hōnen or that of Dengyō and Eshin? The former has not a scrap of evidence in the sutras to support it. The latter is based firmly upon the Lotus Sutra.

Moreover, the Great Teacher Dengyō of Mount Hiei is, for all priests throughout Japan, the master of ordination into the priesthood. How could any priests turn their hearts toward a person like Hōnen, who is possessed by the heavenly devil, and reject the Great Teacher Dengyō, the master of ordination? If Hōnen was a truly wise man, why did he not, in his Choice of Nembutsu, mention the passages of explanation by Dengyō and Eshin such as I have quoted above, and resolve the contradiction? He did not do so because he is the kind of person who hides the reason from others. When the Lotus Sutra speaks of the second type of enemy, saying, “in that evil age there will be monks,” it is referring to men like Hōnen who disregard the precepts and hold perverse views.

The Nirvana Sutra says: “World-Honored One, today I have learned the correct view for the first time. World-Honored One, up till today we all have been people of mistaken views.” Myoraku explains this by saying, “They themselves referred to the three teachings they had practiced until that time as mistaken views.” And Great Concentration and Insight says, “The Nirvana Sutra says, ‘Up till today we all have been people of mistaken views.’ ‘Mistaken’ is bad, is it not?” The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight” says: “‘Mistaken’ is bad. Therefore, let it be known that only perfect teaching is good. There are two meanings involved here. First, what accords with the truth is to be accounted good, and what goes against the truth is to be accounted bad. This is the meaning from the relative viewpoint. Second, attachment to this viewpoint is bad, and transcending it is good. This is the meaning from the absolute viewpoint. From both the relative and absolute viewpoints, we should abandon all that is bad. To be attached to the perfect teaching is bad, and to be attached to the other three teachings is of course even worse.”

The goodness and evils of non-Buddhist creeds, when compared with the Hinayana sutras, all represent a bad way. Similarly, the good ways of Hinayana teachings, and the four flavors and three teachings as well, when compared with the Lotus Sutra, are all mistaken and bad. The Lotus Sutra alone is correct and good. The perfect teaching of the sutras preached before the Lotus Sutra is so called from the relative viewpoint; from the absolute viewpoint, it must still be counted as bad. Fundamentally it falls into the category of the three teachings, and therefore it is bad in that sense as well. To practice the highest principles of the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings according to the sutras is still bad. How much more so, then, is someone who would take a work of insignificant doctrines like the Meditation Sutra, which cannot compare even with the Kegon and Wisdom sutras, as the fundamental teaching? Such a person incorporates the ideas of the Lotus Sutra into the Meditation Sutra and urges people to “ignore, abandon, close, and discard” the Lotus and believe only in the Nembutsu. That is what Hōnen, his disciples and lay supporters do, and they deserve to be called slanderers of the correct teaching.

Shakyamuni Buddha, Many Treasures Buddha, and the Buddhas of the ten directions came to this world to “make certain the Law will long endure.” Hōnen and the other Nembutsu priests throughout Japan declare that on the Latter Day of the Law the Lotus Sutra will disappear before the Nembutsu. Are such persons not the enemy of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the other Buddhas?

At last, concerning the third group of enemies of the Lotus Sutra, the sutra says: “Or there will be forest-dwelling monks wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement . . . 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.” And the six-volume Parinirvāna Sutra states: “There are unbelievers who resemble arhats but who commit evil deeds. There will also be arhats who resemble unbelievers but display merciful hearts. The unbelievers who look like arhats spend their time slandering the correct and equal sutras to the populace. The arhats who look like unbelievers, on the other hand, are critical of the voice-hearers and go about preaching the correct and equal sutras. They address the populace, saying, ‘You and I are all bodhisattvas. Why? Because each living being possesses the Buddha nature.’ Nevertheless, he will call us unbelievers.”

The Nirvana Sutra says: “After I have passed away . . . After the Former Day of the Law has ended and the Middle Day of the Law has begun, there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline. But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave food and drink to nourish their bodies. Though they wear the clothes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen who, narrowing their eyes, stalk softly. They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And they will constantly reiterate these words, ‘I have attained arhatship.’ Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy. And when they are asked to preach the teachings, they will say nothing, like Brahmans who have taken a vow of silence. They are not true monks—they merely have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the correct teaching.”

Myoraku writes, concerning people of this type: “The third group is the most formidable of all. This is because the second and third ones are increasingly harder to recognize for what they really are.” And Tung-ch’un states: “The third part that begins, ‘Or there will be forest-dwelling monks,’ means members of the clergy who pretend to be sages and use their positions so that they can act as leaders of all the other evil people.”

As for these “members of the clergy who act as leaders of all the other evil people”—where in Japan at the present time should we look for them? On Mount Hiei? In Onjō-ji Temple in Otsu? In Tō-ji in Kyoto? In the temples of Nara? Kennin-ji in Kyoto or Jufuku-ji and Kenchō-ji in Kamakura? We must examine this carefully. Do the words refer to the monks of Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei who wear helmets on their heads and are dressed in armor? Do they refer to the monks of Onjō-ji who wear suits of mail on their fivefold bodies of the Law and carry weapons? But these men do not resemble the monks “wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement” that are described in the sutra, nor do they seem to be the type who are “respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers.” They are not like the men of the third group who Myoraku said are “increasingly harder to recognize.” Therefore, they look like Shōichi of Kyoto and Ryōkan of Kamakura. Even if they are identified as such, they should not hate others. If they have eyes, they should examine the sutra texts and compare their own behavior with them.

The first volume of Great Concentration and Insight states, “There has never been anything to compare to the brightness and serenity of concentration and insight.” The first volume of On “Great Concentration and Insight” states, “From the time when Emperor Ming of the Han dynasty dreamed at night of the Buddha down to the Ch’en dynasty when the Great Teacher Tendai lived, there were many who participated in the Zen school and received the robe and bowl that were handed down.” The Supplement to Tendai’s Three Major Works explains this by saying, “The handing down of the robe and bowl refers to the succession of Zen monks from Bodhidharma on down.”

The fifth volume of Great Concentration and Insight states, “There is a type called Zen men, but their masters and disciples are blind to the truth and lame in practice. They are like the one-Legged and the blind master and disciple and both will fall into hell.” In the seventh volume we read: “There are ten ways necessary for understanding and practicing Buddhism correctly. Of these, except one, the nine ways have nothing in common with the ordinary priests of the world who concentrate on the written word, nor do they have anything in common with the Zen masters who concentrate on practice. Some Zen masters give all their attention to meditation alone. But their meditation is shallow and false, totally lacking in the nine ways. This is no empty assertion. Wise persons of later ages who have eyes to see will understand the truth of what I say.”

The seventh volume of On “Great Concentration and Insight” states: “‘Priests who concentrate on the written word’ refers to men who gain no inner insight or understanding through meditation, but concern themselves only with characteristics of the doctrine. ‘Zen masters who concentrate on practice’ refers to men who do not learn how to attain the truth and the corresponding wisdom, but fix their minds on the mere techniques of breath control. Theirs is the kind of non-Buddhist meditation that fundamentally still retains negligence. ‘Some Zen masters give all their attention to meditation alone’ means that, for the sake of discussion, Tendai gives them a certain degree of recognition, but from a stricter viewpoint they lack both insight and understanding. The Zen men in the world today value only meditation as the way to realize the truth and have no familiarity with doctrinal teachings. In relying upon meditation alone, they interpret the sutras in their own way. They put together the eight errors and the eight winds, and talk about the Buddha as being sixteen feet in height. They lump together the five components and the three poisons, and call them the eight errors. They equate the six sense organs with the six transcendental powers, and the four elements with the four noble truths. To interpret the sutras in such an arbitrary manner is to be guilty of the greatest falsehood. Such nonsense is not even worth discussing.”

The seventh volume of Great Concentration and Insight states: “In the past, the Zen master Dharma became renowned throughout the length and breadth of China. When he arrived, people gathered around him from all directions like clouds, and when he left for another place, they formed a great crowd along the roads. But what profit did they derive from all this bustle and excitement? He regretted all that he had done when he was on his deathbed.”

In the seventh volume of “On Great Concentration and Insight” we read: “The text speaks of the ‘Zen master Dharma [Yeh and Lo].’ Yeh is in Hsiang-chou and was the capital of the Ch’i and Wei dynasties. The founder of Zen caused Buddhism to flourish there and converted the people of the region. The Great Teacher Tendai, out of deference to the people of his time, refrains from naming anyone specifically. Lo refers to the city of Lo-yang.”

The six-volume Parinirvāna Sutra says, “The extreme is impossible to see. That is, the extremely evil deeds done by the unbeliever are all but impossible to perceive.” Or, as Myoraku has said, “The third group is the most formidable of all. This is because in order they are increasingly harder to recognize for what they really are.”

Those without eyes, those with only one eye, and those with distorted vision cannot see these three types of enemies of the Lotus Sutra who have appeared at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law. But those who have attained a portion of the Buddha eye can see who they are. “They will address the rulers, high ministers, Brahmans, and householders.” And Tung-ch’un states, “These men will appeal in public, slandering the Law and its practitioners.”

In the past, when the Middle Day of the Law was coming to an end, Gomyō, Shuen, and other priests presented petitions to the throne in which they slandered the Great Teacher Dengyō. Now, at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, Ryōkan, Nen’a, and others drew up false documents and presented them to the shogunate. Are they not to be counted among the third group of enemies of the Lotus Sutra?

Nowadays the teachers of the Nembutsu address the “rulers, high ministers, Brahmans, and householders” who support the Tendai Lotus school, saying, “The principles of the Lotus Sutra are very profound, but our understanding is slight. The doctrine it teaches is extremely deep; our capabilities are extremely shallow.” Is this not as Great Concentration and Insight says, they “object that it pertains to the lofty realm of the sages, something far beyond the capacity of one’s own wisdom to comprehend”?

Again, the men of the Zen school say: “The Lotus Sutra is a finger pointing at the moon, but the Zen school is the moon itself. Once one has the moon, of what use is the finger? Zen is the mind of the Buddha. The Lotus Sutra is the word of the Buddha. After the Buddha had finished preaching the Lotus Sutra and all the other sutras, he held up a single flower and through this gesture conveyed his enlightenment to Mahākāshyapa alone. As a token of this tacit communication, the Buddha presented Mahākāshyapa with his own robe, which together with the enlightenment has been handed down through the twenty-eight monks of India and so on through the six monks of China.” For many years now, the whole country has been intoxicated and deceived by this kind of falsehood.

Again, the eminent priests of the Tendai and True Word schools, though nominally representatives of their respective schools, are in fact quite ignorant of their teachings. In the depths of their greed and out of fear of the courtiers and warriors, they compromise with the assertions of the Nembutsu and Zen followers and sing their praises. Long ago, Many Treasures Buddha and the various Buddhas who were emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha acknowledged their allegiance to the Lotus Sutra, saying that they would “make certain that the Law will long endure.” But now the eminent leaders of the Tendai school acknowledge the assertion that the doctrines of the Lotus Sutra are very profound but that human understanding is slight. As a result, the Lotus Sutra exists in Japan today in name only—there is not a single person who actually practices it and attains enlightenment. Who can be called a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra? We see priests who burn down temples and pagodas and are exiled in numbers too great to count. And we see numerous eminent priests who fawn on the courtiers and warriors and are hated for it by the people. Can men such as these be called the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra?

Because the predictions of the Buddha are not false, the three types of enemies of the Lotus Sutra already fill the country. And yet, as though to belie the golden words of the Buddha, there seems to be no practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. How can this be? What should we do?

In the first place, who is it who is cursed and spoken ill of by the populace? Who is the priest who is attacked with swords and staves? Who is the priest who, because of the Lotus Sutra, is accused in petitions submitted to the courtiers and warriors? Who is the priest who is “again and again banished,” as the Lotus Sutra predicted? Who else in Japan besides Nichiren has fulfilled these predictions?

But I, Nichiren, am not a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra, because, contrary to the prediction, the various heavens have cast me aside. Who, then, in this present age will be the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra and fulfill the words of the Buddha?

The Buddha and Devadatta are like a form and its shadow—in lifetime after lifetime, they are never separated. Prince Shōtoku and his archenemy Moriya appeared at the same time, like the blossom and the fruit of the lotus. If there exists a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra, then the three types of enemies are bound to exist as well. The three types of enemies have already appeared. Who, then, is the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra? Let us seek him out and make him our teacher. As the Lotus Sutra says, to find such a person is as rare as for a one-eyed turtle to chance upon a piece of driftwood with a hole just the right size to hold him.

Someone raises this question: It would surely appear that the three enemies are present today, but there is no practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. If one were to say that you [Nichiren] are the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra, then the following serious discrepancies would become apparent. The Lotus Sutra states, “The young sons of heavenly beings will wait on him and serve him. Swords and staves will not touch him and poison will have no power to harm him.” It also reads, “If people speak ill of and revile him, their mouths will be closed and stopped up.” And it states, “They who have heard the Law will enjoy peace and security in their present existence and good circumstances in future existences.” It also states, “If there are those who . . . trouble and disrupt the preachers of the Law, their skulls will split into seven pieces like the branches of the arjaka tree.” Furthermore, it reads, “In this present existence they the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra will gain the reward of good fortune.” And it adds: “If anyone sees a person who accepts and upholds this sutra and tries to expose the faults or evils of that person, whether what he speaks is true or not, he will in his present existence be afflicted with white leprosy.” How do you explain these discrepancies?

I answer. These doubts of yours are most reasonable. I will take the occasion to clear up the points that puzzle you. The “Fukyo” chapter of the Lotus Sutra states, “They spoke ill of him [Bodhisattva Fukyo] and cursed him.” And again, “Some among the group would take sticks of wood or tiles and stones and beat and pelt him.” The Nirvana Sutra states, “They will even kill him or injure him.” The Lotus Sutra states, “Since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound even when the Tathagata is in the world, how much more will this be so after his passing?”

The Buddha encountered acts of hostility, known as the nine great ordeals, such as being wounded on the toe by Devadatta, and yet he was a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra, was he not? And Bodhisattva Fukyo who, as we have seen above, was cursed and beaten—was he not a practitioner of the one vehicle teaching? Mokuren was killed by a Brahman group called Bamboo Staff sometime after the Lotus Sutra predicted that he would attain Buddhahood in a future life. Among the twenty-five leaders in the lineage of Buddhism, the fourteenth, Bodhisattva Deva, and the twenty-fifth, the Venerable Shishi, were murdered. Were these men not practitioners of the Lotus Sutra? Chu Tao-sheng was banished to a mountain in Su-chou, and Fa-tao was branded on the face and exiled south of the Yangtze River. Were these men not upholders of the one vehicle teaching? Among scholars of secular learning, the poet Po Chü-i and Sugawara no Michizane, who was posthumously revered as the god of Kitano Shrine, were exiled to distant places, and yet were they not worthy men?

If we consider your question, we must note the following points. Those who did not commit the error of slandering the Lotus Sutra in their previous existences will become votaries of the Lotus Sutra in their present lives. If such persons should be subjected to persecution under a false charge of having committed worldly offenses, then those who persecute them ought to suffer some kind of immediate retribution. It should be like the case of the asuras who shot arrows at Teishaku or the garuda birds that try to eat the dragon of Anavatapta Lake, but who both invariably suffer injury themselves instead. And Tendai says, “The ills and pains I suffer at present are all due to causes in the past, and the meritorious deeds that I do in my present life will be rewarded in the future.” Likewise, the Contemplation on the Mind-Ground Sutra states: “If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present.” The “Fukyo” chapter of the Lotus Sutra says, “when his offenses had been wiped out.” This indicates that Bodhisattva Fukyo was attacked with tiles and stones because he had in the past committed the offense of slandering the Lotus Sutra.

Next, we should note that persons who are inevitably destined to fall into hell in their next existence, even though they commit grave offenses in this life, will suffer no immediate punishment. The unbelievers are examples of this.

The Nirvana Sutra states, “Bodhisattva Kāshyapa said to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One, as you have described, the rays of the Buddha’s great nirvana enter the pores of all living beings.’” It also states, “Bodhisattva Kāshyapa said to the Buddha, ‘World-Honored One, how can those who have not yet conceived a desire for enlightenment create the causes that will lead to enlightenment?’” In reply, “the Buddha said to Kāshyapa: ‘There may be persons who listen to the Nirvana Sutra and yet claim that they have no need to conceive a desire for enlightenment, and instead slander the correct teaching. Such persons will immediately dream at night of demons, and their hearts will be filled with terror. The demons will say to them, “How foolish you are, my friend! If you do not seek enlightenment now, your life span will be cut short!” These persons quake with fear, and as soon as they wake from the dream, they set their minds on enlightenment. And you should know that such persons will become great bodhisattvas.’” In other words, although one might slander the correct teaching, if one is not an unspeakably evil person, one will be warned at once in a dream and will have a change of heart.

According to the Nirvana Sutra, the unbelievers, on the other hand, are likened to “dead trees or stony mountains” that can never bring forth growth. They are “scorched seeds that, although they encounter the sweet rain,” will not grow. “Bright pearls have the power, when put into turbid water, to change it into clear water . . . But when thrown into the mud of unbeliever, they cannot purify it.” The sutra says, “The one with the wounded hand grabbed the poison.” “Heavy rain cannot stay in the sky.” Through these various similes we can know that unbelievers of the most evil type will invariably fall into the hell of incessant suffering in their next life. Therefore, they do not suffer any immediate punishment in this life. They are like the evil rulers of ancient China, King Chieh of the Hsia dynasty and King Chou of the Yin dynasty. During their reigns, heaven did not display any unusual manifestations as a warning. That was because their offenses were so grave that their dynasties were already destined to perish.

Third, the guardian deities have deserted this country, and this is probably one reason why offenders do not suffer any immediate punishment. In an age that slanders the Law, guardian deities will take their leave, and the various heavens will cease to lend their protection. That is why the practitioners of the correct teaching do not receive any sign but, on the contrary, encounter severe difficulties. The Golden Light Sutra says, “Those who perform good deeds day by day languish and dwindle in number.” We are living in an evil country and an evil age. I have discussed all this in detail in my work entitled the Treatise of Establishing the Correct Teachings for the Peace and Safety of the Nation (Rissho Ankoku-ron).

Let me conclude, let the gods forsake me, let all persecutions assail me, still I will give my life! Shāriputra practiced the way of the bodhisattva for sixty kalpas, but he abandoned the way because he could not endure the ordeal of the Brahman who begged for his eye. Of those who received the seeds of Buddhahood in the remote past and those who did so from the sons of the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence, many abandoned the seeds and suffered in hell for the long periods of three thousand and almost numberless, respectively, because they followed evil companions. Whether tempted by good or threatened by evil, if one casts aside the Lotus Sutra, one destinies oneself for hell!

Here I will make a great vow. "Will offer you the rulership of Japan if you abandon the Lotus Sutra. You accept the teachings of the Meditation Sutra and should look forward to rebirth in the Pure Land. We will cut off the necks of your father and mother if you do not recite the Nembutsu." Whatever these obstacles I might encounter, so long as persons of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false, I will never yield! All that other great troubles are dust before the wind. "I become a pillar of Japan, I become the eyes of Japan, I become a large ship of Japan." This vow can never be broken!

Question: How can you be certain that the exiles and sentences of death imposed on you are the result of karma created in the past?

Answer: A bronze mirror will reflect color and form. The First Emperor of the Ch’in dynasty had a lie-detecting mirror that would reveal offenses committed in this present life. The mirror of the Buddha’s Law makes clear the causal actions committed in the past. The Parinirvāna Sutra states: “Good man, because people committed countless offenses and accumulated much evil karma in the past, they must expect to suffer retribution for everything they have done. They may be despised, cursed with an ugly appearance, be poorly clad and poorly fed, seek wealth in vain, be born to an impoverished and lowly family or one with erroneous views, or be persecuted by their king. They may be subjected to various other sufferings and retributions. It is due to the merit’s power obtained by protecting the Law that they can diminish in this lifetime their suffering and retribution.”

This sutra passage and my own experience tally exactly. By now all the doubts that I have raised earlier are dispelled, and thousands of difficulties are nothing to me. Let me show you phrase by phrase how the text applies to me. “They may be despised,” or, as the Lotus Sutra says, people will “despise, hate, envy, or bear grudges against them”—and in exactly that manner I have been treated with contempt and arrogance for over twenty years. “They may be cursed with an ugly appearance,” “They may be poorly clad”—these too apply to me. “They may be poorly fed”—that applies to me. “They may seek wealth in vain”—that applies to me. “They may be born to an impoverished and lowly family”—that applies to me. “They may be persecuted by their king.” There be any doubt that the passage applies to me. The Lotus Sutra says, “Again and again we will be banished,” and the passage from the Parinirvāna Sutra says, “They may be subjected to various other sufferings and retributions.” These passages also apply to me.

The passage also says, “It is due to the merit’s power obtained by protecting the Law that they can diminish in this lifetime their suffering and retribution.” The fifth volume of Great Concentration and Insight has this to say on the subject: “The feeble merits produced by a mind with only half intent on the practice cannot alter the realm of karma. But if one carries out the practice of concentration and insight so as to observe ‘health’ and ‘illness,’ then one can alter the cycle of birth and death in the realm of karma.” It also says, “As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere.”

From the infinite past I have been born countless times as an evil ruler who deprived the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra of their robes and rations, their fields and crops, much as the people of Japan in the present day go about destroying the temples dedicated to the Lotus Sutra. In addition, countless times I cut off the heads of the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra. Some of these grave offenses I have already paid for, but there must be some that are not paid for yet. Even if I seem to have paid for them all, there are still ill effects that remain. When the time comes for me to transcend the sufferings of birth and death, it will be only after I have completely freed myself from these grave offenses. My merits are insignificant, but these offenses are grave.

If I practiced the teachings of the provisional sutras, then these retributions for my past grave offenses would not appear. When iron is heated, if it is not strenuously forged, the impurities in it will not become apparent. Only when it is subjected to the tempering process again and again will the flaws appear. When pressing hemp seeds, if one does not press hard, one will not get oil from them. Likewise, when I vigorously berate those throughout the country who slander the Law, I meet with harsh persecution. It must be that my actions in defending the Law in this present life are calling forth retributions for the grave offenses of my past. If iron does not come into contact with fire, it remains black, but if it contacts fire, it turns red. If you place a tree standing in a swift stream, waves will pile up like hills. If you touch a sleeping lion, it will roar loudly.

The Nirvana Sutra says: “It is like the case of a poor woman. She has no house to live in and no one to aid or protect her, and in addition she is beset by illness, hunger, and thirst; she wanders through various places, begging for a living. While staying at an inn, she gives birth to a baby, but the master of the inn drives her away. Though the baby has just been born, she takes it up in her arms and sets out, hoping to journey to another land. But along the way, she encounters fierce wind and rain, and she is troubled by cold and bitten by mosquitoes, gadflies, hornets, and poisonous insects. Coming at length to the Ganges River, she clasps her child in her arms and begins to cross it. Although the current is very swift, she will not let go of her child, and in the end both mother and child were drowned. But through the merit that the woman gained by her loving tenderness, she was reborn after her death in the Bonten heaven.

“Manjushrī, if there are good men who wish to defend the correct teaching, they should emulate this poor woman crossing the Ganges who sacrificed her life because of her love for her child. Good man, the bodhisattvas who guard the Law should behave in this way. Rather, give your life. Then, although they do not seek emancipation, emancipation will come of itself, just as the poor woman, though she did not seek to be reborn in the Bonten heaven, was nevertheless reborn there.”

The Great Teacher Chang-an interprets this story from the Nirvana Sutra in terms of the three obstacles. Observe how he does this. The fact that the woman is called “poor” indicates that the person does not have the treasure of the Law. The fact that she is identified as a woman indicates that the person has a measure of tenderness. The “inn” signifies an impure land. The child she bears is the heart that has faith in the Lotus Sutra, or the wisdom that perceives one’s inherent Buddha nature. Being driven out of the inn by its master signifies that the person is exiled. The fact that the baby has just been born means that very little time has passed since the person began to have faith in the Lotus Sutra. The fierce wind the woman encounters is the imperial decree sentencing the person to exile. The mosquitoes, gadflies, and other insects are the “many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of” the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. The fact that both mother and child are drowned indicates that, though in the end the person had his head cut off, he never renounced his faith in the Lotus Sutra. Being reborn in the Brahmā heaven means being reborn in the realm of Buddhahood.

The power of karmic rewards extends to all of the Ten Worlds, even to the realm of Buddhahood. Even though one might go around killing people throughout the provinces of Japan and China, if one does not commit any of the five cardinal sins or does not slander the Law, one will not fall into the hell of incessant suffering. Yet one must go through other evil paths for a period of long years. Even if one observes ten thousand precepts and performs ten thousand good deeds, if one does so with a mind with only half intent, one cannot be reborn in any heaven of the world of form. To be born a king in the Brahmā heaven of that world, one must add the spirit of compassion to one’s karma that is laden with outflows and draws one to the world of humanity. The poor woman in the sutra passage was reborn in the Brahmā heaven because of her concern for her child. Her case is different from the nature of causality that is commonly known. Chang-an offers two interpretation, but in the end it is nothing other than the loving kindness with which the woman cares for her child that makes the difference. Her concern concentrates on one thing just like the Buddhist practice of concentration. She thinks of nothing but her child, which is similar to Buddhist compassion. That must be why, although she created no other causes to bring it about, she was reborn in the Brahmā heaven.

The path to Buddhahood is not to be found in the Kegon doctrine of the phenomenal world as created by the mind alone, in the eight negations of the Three Treatises school, in the Consciousness-Only doctrine of the Hosso school, or in the True Word type of meditation on the five elements of the universe. Only the Tendai doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of mind is the path to Buddhahood. Even in the case of this doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of mind, we do not possess the kind of wisdom and understanding to comprehend it fully. Nevertheless, among all the sutras preached by the Buddha during his lifetime, the Lotus Sutra alone contains this jewel that is the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of mind. The doctrines of the other sutras are merely yellow stones that appear to be jewels. They are like sand, from which you can extract no oil no matter how hard you squeeze it, or a barren woman who can never bear a child. Even a wise person cannot become a Buddha through the other sutras, but with the Lotus Sutra, even fools can plant the seeds that lead to Buddhahood. The sutra passage puts it, “Although they do not seek emancipation, emancipation will come of itself.”

I and my disciples, although we may encounter various difficulties, we will reach the world of Buddha in accordance with nature, as long as we do not have the heart to doubt. Do not doubt even if the heavens do not protect you. Should not be discouraged even if you are not at peace now. Though I have taught this to my disciple day and night, all of them raise doubts, abandoned their faith. Foolish people forget what they have promised when the crucial moment has come.

Do you grieve for your wives and children because you take pity on them, that you may be separated from them in this world? In countless rebirths throughout the infinite past you have had a wife and child, but parted from them in every world. Did it part from them unwillingly? Or did it part to achieve Buddhahood? These are the same parting. If so, you rather remain faithful to your faiths of the Lotus Sutra to go to the Spirit Eagle Mountain and should lead your wife and child there.

Question: You insist that the followers of the Nembutsu and Zen schools will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. This shows that you have a contentious heart. You yourself are in danger of falling into the realm of the asuras. Moreover, it is said in the “Peaceful Practices” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, “He should not delight in speaking of the faults of other people or scriptures. He should not display contempt for other teachers of the Law.” It is because you are going against this passage in the sutra that you have been abandoned by heaven, is it not?

Answer; Great Concentration and Insight says: “There are two ways to spread the Buddha’s teachings. The first is called shōju and the second is called shakubuku. When the ‘Peaceful Practices’ chapter says that one should not speak of the shortcomings of others, it is referring to the shōju method. But when the Nirvana Sutra says that one should carry swords and staves or that one should cut off their heads, it is referring to the shakubuku method. They differ in approach in that one is soft and the other severe, but they both bring benefits.”

“On Great Concentration and Insight” states: “With regard to the two ways of spreading the Buddha’s teachings, the passage from the Nirvana Sutra, ‘carry swords and staves,’ is found in the third volume where it says, ‘Defenders of the correct teaching need not observe the five precepts or practice the rules of proper behavior. Rather they should carry knives and swords, bows and arrows, halberds and lances.’ . . . And later on, the sutra tells of King Sen’yo who put to death those who slandered the correct teaching. It also mentions how the new physician, explaining that the medicine from milk prescribed by the old physician was dangerous, forbade its usage, saying, ‘If anyone takes any more of this medicine, he shall have his head cut off.’ These passages also demonstrate how the method of shakubuku should be applied to persons who go against the Law. All the sutras and papers deal with one or the other of these two methods.”



Continued


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by johsei1129 | 2023-06-30 11:26 | WRITING OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)


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