"There are three reasons why the Thus Come One Shakyamuni, rather than any of the other Buddhas, has a relationship with all the living beings of this sahā world. First of all, he is the World-Honored One, the sovereign of all the living beings of this sahā world. AmidaBuddha is not the monarch of this world. In this respect, ShakyamuniBuddha is like the ruler of the country in which we live. We pay respect first of all to the ruler of our own country, and only then do we go on topay respect to the rulers of other countries. The Sun Goddess and GreatBodhisattva Hachiman are the original rulers of our country, provisional manifestations of Shakyamuni Buddha who appeared in the form of local deities. One who turns one’s back on these deities cannot become the ruler of this country. Thus the Sun Goddess is embodied in the form of the sacred mirror known as Naishidokoro,7 and imperial messengers are sent to Great Bodhisattva Hachiman to report to him and receive his oracle. Shakyamuni, the World-Honored One of Great Enlightenment, is our august sovereign. It is he who is to be regarded as the object of devotion.
The second reason is that the Thus Come One Shakyamuni is the father and mother of all living beings in this sahā world. It is proper that we should first of all pay filial respect to our own father and mother, and only then extend the same kind of respect to the fathers and mothers of other people. We have the example of King Wu of the ancient land ofChou, who carved a wooden image of his deceased father and placed it in a carriage, designating it as the general who would lead his p.171troops into battle. Heaven, moved by such conduct, lent him protection, and thus he succeeded in overthrowing his enemy, Chou, the king of Yin.
The ancient ruler Shun, grieved because his father had gone blind, shed tears; but when he wiped his hands, wet with those tears, on his father’s eyes, his father’s eyesight was restored.8 Now ShakyamuniBuddha does the same for all of us living beings, opening our eyes so asto “open the door of Buddha wisdom”9 innate within us. No other Buddha has ever yet opened our eyes in such a way.
The third reason is that Shakyamuni is the original teacher of all living beings in this sahā world. He was born in central India as the son of King Shuddhodana during the ninth kalpa of decrease in the presentWise Kalpa, when the life span of human beings measured a hundred years. He left family life at the age of nineteen, achieved enlightenment at thirty, and spent the remaining fifty years of his life expounding the sacred teachings. He passed away at the age of eighty, leaving behind his relics10 to provide the means of salvation for all living beings of the Former, Middle, and Latter Days of the Law. The Thus Come OneAmida, the Buddha Medicine Master, Mahāvairochana, and the others, on the other hand, are Buddhas of other lands; they are not World-Honored Ones of this world of ours.
This sahā world occupies the lowest position among all the worlds of the ten directions. Among these worlds, it holds a place like that of a prison within a nation. All the persons in the worlds of the ten directionswho have committed any of the ten evil acts, the five cardinal sins, the grave offense of slandering the correct teaching, or other terrible crimes and have been driven out by the Buddhas, Thus Come Ones, of those worlds, have been brought together here in this sahā land by the Thus Come One Shakyamuni. These people, having fallen into the three evil paths or the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering and there duly suffered for their offense, have been reborn in the realm of human or heavenly beings. But because they still retain certain vestiges of their former evil behavior, they are inclined to easily commit some further offense by slandering the correct teaching or speaking contemptuously of persons of wisdom. Thus, for example, Shāriputra, though he had attained the status of an arhat, at times gave way to anger. Pilindavatsa,11though he had freed himself from the illusions of thought and desire, displayed an arrogant mind, while Nanda, though he had renounced all sexual attachment, continued to dwell on the thought of sleeping with a woman. Even these disciples of the Buddha, though they had done away with delusions, still retained their vestiges. How much more so must this be the case, therefore, with ordinary people? Yet the Thus Come OneShakyamuni entered this sahā world with the title “One Who Can Endure.” He is so called because he does not berate its people for the slanders they all commit, but shows them forbearance.
These, then, are the special qualities [possessed by Shakyamuni Buddha], qualities that the other Buddhas lack."