"Just as Chao Kao seized control of the country and Wang Mang usurped the position of emperor, so the leaders of the True Word school deprived the Lotus Sutra of the rank it deserves and declared that its domain belongs instead to the Mahavairochana Sutra. If the monarch of the Law has been deprived of his kingdom in this manner, can the monarch of people hope to remain peaceful and unharmed?
Japan today is filled with followers of Jikaku, Chisho, and Kobo— there is not a single person who is not a slanderer of the Law. "Just as Chao Kao seized control of the country and Wang Mang usurped the position of emperor, so the leaders of the True Word school deprived the Lotus Sutra of the rank it deserves and declared that its domain belongs instead to the Mahavairochana Sutra. If the monarch of the Law has been deprived of his kingdom in this manner, can the monarch of people hope to remain peaceful and unharmed?"Just as Chao Kao seized control of the country and Wang Mang usurped the position of emperor, so the leaders of the True Word school deprived the Lotus Sutra of the rank it deserves and declared that its domain belongs instead to the Mahavairochana Sutra. If the monarch of the Law has been deprived of his kingdom in this manner, can the monarch of people hope to remain peaceful and unharmed?
If we stop to consider the situation, it is very much like what prevailed in the Latter Day of the Law of the Buddha Great Adornment or the Latter Day of the Law of the Buddha All Bright King. In the Latter Day of the Law of the Buddha Awesome Sound King, even though people repented of their wrongdoings, they still had to suffer for a thousand kalpas in the Avichi hell. What, then, of the situation today? The True Word teachers, the followers of the Zen school, and the priests of the Nembutsu show not the slightest sign of repentance in their hearts. Can there be any doubt that, as the Lotus Sutra says, they “will keep repeating this cycle for a countless number of kalpas” ?
Because Japan is a country where the correct teaching is slandered, heaven has abandoned it. And because heaven has abandoned it, the various benevolent deities who in the past guarded and protected the nation have burned their shrines and returned to the Capital of Tranquil Light.
Now there is only I, Nichiren, who remain behind, announcing and giving warning of these things. But when I do so, the rulers of the nation treat me like an enemy. People by the hundreds curse me and speak ill of me, attack me with staves and sticks, swords and knives. Door after door is closed to me, house after house drives me away. And when the authorities find that even such treatment does not stop me, they intervene in the matter. Twice they sent me into exile, and once, on the twelfth day of he ninth month in the eighth year of Bun’ei (1271), they very nearly cut off my head.
The Sovereign Kings Sutra says, “Because evil people are respected and favored and good people are subjected to punishment, marauders will appear from other regions, and the people of the country will meet with death and disorder.”
The Great Collection Sutra states: “There may perhaps be various kings of the Kshatriya class who act in a way contrary to the Law, causing anguish to the voice-hearer disciples of the World-Honored One. Perhaps they may curse and revile them or beat and injure them with swords and staves, or deprive them of their robes and begging bowls and the other things they need. Or perhaps they may restrain and persecute those who give alms to the disciples. If there should be those who do such things, then we will see to it that their enemies in foreign lands rise up suddenly of their own accord and march against them, and we will cause uprisings to break out within their states. We will bring about pestilence and famine, unseasonable winds and rains, and contention, wrangling, [and slander]. And we will make certain that those rulers do not last for long, but that their nations are brought to destruction.”
As these passages from the sutras indicate, if I, Nichiren, were not here in Japan, then one might suppose that the Buddha was a teller of great lies for making such predictions, and that he could not escape falling into the Avichi hell.
On the twelfth day of the ninth month in the eighth year of Bun’ei, I stood in the presence of Hei no Saemon and several hundred others and declared, “Nichiren is the pillar of Japan! Doing away with Nichiren is toppling the pillar of Japan!”
The passages of scripture I have quoted indicate that, if the rulers, heeding the slanders of evil monks or the vicious talk of others, should inflict punishment on persons of wisdom, then warfare will immediately break out, great winds will blow, and attackers will appear from foreign lands. In the second month of the ninth year of Bun’ei (1272), fighting did in fact break out between two factions of the ruling Hojo family; in the fourth month of the eleventh year of Bun’ei, there were violent winds; and in the tenth month of the same year, the Mongol forces attacked Japan. Has not all of this come about because of the treatment that has been given to me, Nichiren? This is exactly what I have been predicting from times past. Can anyone be in doubt about the matter?
The errors preached by Kobo, Jikaku, and Chisho have for many long years been spread about the country, and then, on top of them, have come the confusions propagated by the Zen and Nembutsu schools. It is as though, in addition to adverse winds, one should be visited by huge waves and earthquakes as well. With all this, the nation has been brought to the verge of destruction. In the past the grand minister of state usurped the power of government, and after the Jokyu Disturbance the imperial court ceased to exercise its rule and the seat of authority shifted east to Kamakura. But these were no more than internal disturbances; the nation as yet had not faced invasion from abroad.
Moreover, though at that time there were those who slandered the Law, there were also a few people who continued to uphold the correct doctrine of the Tendai school. And in addition, at that time no wise person had appeared who would attempt to remedy the situation. As a result, things were relatively peaceful.
If the lion is sleeping and you do not wake him, he will not roar. If the current is swift but you do not pull against it with your oar, no waves will rise up. If you do not accuse the thief to his face, he will remain unruffled; if you do not add fuel to the fire, it will not blaze up. In the same way, though there may be those who slander the Law, if no one comes forward to expose their error, then the government will continue for the time being on its regular course, and the nation will remain undisturbed.
For example, when the Buddhist teachings were first introduced to Japan, nothing out of the ordinary occurred. But later, when [Mononobe no] Moriya began burning Buddhist statues, seizing priests, and putting the torch to Buddhist halls and pagodas, then fire rained down from heaven, smallpox broke out in the nation, and there were repeated military clashes.
But the situation now is far worse. Today those who slander the Law fill the entire country, and I, Nichiren, attack them, strong in my determination to uphold what is right and just. We battle no less fiercely than the asuras and the god Shakra, or the Buddha and the devil king.
The Golden Light Sutra states, “There will be times when enemies among the neighboring states will begin to think as follows: ‘We must call out all our four types of troops and destroy that country [where the slanderers of the Law live].’ ”
The same sutra also says: “There will be times when the rulers of neighboring states, observing the situation and mobilizing their four types of troops, will make ready to set out for the country [where the slanderers of the Law live], determined to subdue it. At that time we [the great deities] will instruct all the countless, limitless numbers of yakshas and other deities who are our followers to assume disguises and protect these rulers, causing their nemies to surrender to them without difficulty.”
The Sovereign Kings Sutra states the same thing, as do the Great Collection and Benevolent Kings sutras. According to the statements of these various sutras, if the ruler of a state persecutes those who practice the correct teaching and instead sides with those who practice erroneous teachings, then the heavenly kings Brahma and Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, and the four heavenly kings will enter the bodies of the worthy rulers of neighboring states and will attack his state. For example, King Krita was attacked by King Himatala, and King Mihirakula was overthrown by King Baladitya. Kings Krita and Mihirakula were rulers in India who attempted to eradicate Buddhism. In China, too, all those rulers who tried to destroy Buddhism were attacked by worthy rulers.
But the situation in Japan today is much worse. For here the rulers appear to be supporters of the Buddhist teachings, but they assist the priests who are destroying Buddhism and persecute the practitioner of the correct teaching. As a result, ignorant people all fail to realize what is happening, and even wise persons, if they are no more than moderately wise, have difficulty grasping the situation. Even the lesser deities of heaven, I suspect, do not understand. For this reason, the confusion and depravity in Japan today are even greater than those in India or China in the past.
In the Decline of the Law Sutra the Buddha speaks as follows: “After I have entered nirvana, in the troubled times when the five cardinal sins prevail, the way of the devil will flourish. The devil will appear in the form of Buddhist monks and attempt to confuse and destroy my teachings. . . . Those who do evil will become as numerous as the sands of the ocean, while the good will be extremely few, perhaps no more than one or two persons.”
And the Nirvana Sutra says, “Those who thus are able to take faith in works such as this Nirvana Sutra will be as few as the specks of dirt that can be placed on a fingernail. . . . But those who are not able to take faith in this sutra will be as numerous as the specks of dirt in all the worlds of the ten directions.”
These passages from the scriptures are extremely apt, considering the times we live in, and they are deeply etched in my mind. Nowadays in Japan one hears people everywhere declaring, “I believe in the Lotus Sutra,” and “I, too, believe in the Lotus Sutra.” If we took them at their word, we would have to conclude that there is not a soul who slanders the Law. But the passage from the sutra that I have just quoted says that in the Latter Day the slanderers of the Law will occupy all the lands in the ten directions, while those who uphold the correct teaching will take up no more land than can be placed on top of a fingernail. What the sutra says and what the people of the world today say are as different as fire is from water. People these days say that, in Japan, Nichiren is the only one who slanders the Law. But the sutra says that there will be more slanderers of the Law than the great earth itself can hold.
The Decline of the Law Sutra says that there will be only one or two good persons, and the Nirvana Sutra says that the believers can fit into the space of a fingernail. If we accept what the sutras say, then in Japan Nichiren is the only good person, the one who fits into the space of a fingernail. Therefore, I hope that people who are seriously concerned about the matter will consider carefully whether they want to accept what the sutras say, or what the world says.
Someone might object that the passage in the Nirvana Sutra speaks about the votaries of the Nirvana Sutra being as few as the specks of dirt that can be placed on a fingernail, while I am talking about the Lotus Sutra. I would reply to this as follows.
The Nirvana Sutra itself says, “[When this sutra was preached . . . the prediction had already been made] in the Lotus Sutra [that the eight thousand voice-hearers would attain Buddhahood].” The Great Teacher Miao-lo says, “The Nirvana Sutra is itself pointing to the Lotus Sutra and saying that it is the ultimate.” The Nirvana Sutra is calling the Lotus Sutra the ultimate. Therefore, when followers of the Nirvana school state that the Nirvana Sutra is superior to the Lotus Sutra, it is the same as calling a retainer a lord or a servant a master.
To read the Nirvana Sutra means to read the Lotus Sutra. For the Nirvana Sutra is like a worthy who rejoices to see another holding his sovereign in esteem even when he himself is treated with contempt. Thus the Nirvana Sutra would despise and regard as its enemy anyone who tried to demote the Lotus Sutra and praise the Nirvana Sutra instead.
With this example in mind, one must understand the following point. If there are likewise those who read the Flower Garland Sutra, the Meditation Sutra, the Mahavairochana Sutra, or some other sutra, and they do so thinking that the Lotus Sutra is inferior to those sutras, then they are doing violence to the very heart of those sutras. One must also understand the following point. Even though one reads the Lotus Sutra and appears to believe in it, if one thinks that one may also attain the way through any other sutra as well, then one is not really reading the Lotus Sutra.
For example, the Great Teacher Chia-hsiang wrote a work in ten volumes entitled The Treatise on the Profundity of the Lotus Sutra in which he praised the Lotus Sutra. But Miao-lo criticized the work, saying, “There are slanders in it— how can it be regarded as sincere praise?”
Chia-hsiang was in fact an offender against the Lotus Sutra. Thus, when he was defeated by T’ien-t’ai and served him, he no longer lectured on the Lotus Sutra. “If I were to lecture on it,” he said, “I could not avoid falling back into the paths of evil.” And for seven years, he made his own body a bridge [for T’ien-t’ai to walk on].
Similarly, the Great Teacher Tz’u-en wrote a work in ten volumes entitled Praising the Profundity of the Lotus Sutra in which he praised the Lotus Sutra, but the Great Teacher Dengyo criticized it, saying, “Though he praises the Lotus Sutra, he destroys its heart.”
If we consider these examples carefully, we will realize that, among those who read the Lotus Sutra and sing its praises, there are many who are destined for the hell of incessant suffering. Even men like Chia-hsiang and Tz’uen were actually slanderers of the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra. And if such can be said of them, it applies even more to men like Kobo, Jikaku, and Chisho, who displayed open contempt for the Lotus Sutra.
There are those like the Great Teacher Chia-hsiang, who ceased giving lectures, dispersed the group of disciples that had gathered around him, and even made his body into a bridge for T’ien-t’ai. But in spite of these actions, the offense of his earlier slanders of the Lotus Sutra was not, I expect, so easily wiped out. The crowd of people who despised and abused Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, although they later came to believe in his teachings and became his followers, still carried the burden of their former actions and had to spend a thousand kalpas in the Avichi hell as a result." -- Repaying Debts of Gratitude