"In the second place, let us discuss the concept of Kuon-jitsujo (eternal life of the Buddha) revealed in the essential section (hommon) of the Lotus Sutra.
Lord Sakyamuni Buddha, grandson of King Simhahanu and the first son of King Suddhodana, was born during the first small kalpa within the kalpa of Continuance, when the human lifespan was gradually decreasing to 100 years. As a child He was called prince Siddharta, namely Bodhisattva Goal Achieved. Sakyamuni Buddha, who had left home at the age of nineteen and obtained enlightenment at the age of thirty, immediately began preaching the Flower Garland Sutra at the spot where He was enlightened. appearing as the Birushana (Vairocana) Buddha in the Lotus Repository World, He preached the great dharma based on the extremely fine theology of 'ten mysteries,' 'six characteristics, and 'the interdependency of all phenomena.' Various Buddhas in the universe appeared, and all the bodhisattvas gathered to listen to Him. In view of the place, the intelligence of the audience, and number of Buddhas gathered there, as well as the fact it was the first sermon of the Sakyamuni Buddha, there did not seem to be any reason why any great dharma should have been concealed in the Flower Garland Sutra. Therefore, it is stated in it that the Buddha showed his unrestricted power in expounding the sutra of perfection.
The 60-fasicled Flower Garland Sutra --- each word or dot in it without exception --- should be flawless and perfect. For instance, a single crystal ball, which could produce as much treasure as you wished, is as good as a countless number of them. One ball would pour out as much treasure as ten thousand balls. So one word in the Flower Garland Sutra should have been as valuable as 10,000 words. An assertion in the sutra that "there is no distinction among the mind, the Buddha, and the unenlightened" is said to be the theological foundation of not only the Kegon but also the Hosso, Sanron, Shingon, and Tendai Schools. What should be concealed in such a great sutra as this? Nevertheless, it is asserted in this sutra that men of the Two Vehicles as well as those who do not listen to Buddhism (issendai) will never attain Buddhahood. This seems like a flaw in the crystal ball. in addition, it is repeated three times that Sakyamuni Buddha achieved enlightenment for the first time under the bodhi tree, concealing His enlightenment in the eternal past as expounded in the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This seems to be like a cracked crystal ball, the moon hidden by clouds, or the sun eclipsed. This is indeed inexplicable.
Compared to the Flower Garland Sutra, such sutras as the Agon, Hodo, Hannya, and Great Sun Buddha are not worth mentioning, although they too embody the honorable teachings of the Buddha. No reason seems to be given why what is not revealed in the former should be revealed in the latter. Consequently, the Agon Sutra says, 'When He achieved enlightenment for the first time....' The Dai-jikkyo talks about 'the first sixteen years after the Buddha achieved enlightenment.' It is said in the Yuima Sutra that He at first sat under the bodhi tree, striving to expel demons. the Great sun Buddha Sutra says, 'I once sat under the bodhi tree to obtain enlightenment,' while the Hannya ninno-kyo talks of twenty-nine years since His enlightenment.
These provisional sutras are not worthy of discussion. What surprises me is that even the Muryo-gi-kyo, the preliminary to the Lotus Sutra, agrees with the Flower Garland Sutra when it says, "Having sat in meditation under the bodhi tree for six years, I finally obtained perfect enlightenment." This is strange because the sutra looks down on such a profound Flower Garland concept as the 'mind as the ultimate reality' and Hodo and Hannya concepts of "ocean imprint meditation" and 'the indistinguishableness of phenomena' as being 'not yet revealing the truth,' or ]a roundabout way to Buddhahood.'
Since the Muryo-gi-kyo is merely the introduction to the Lotus Sutra, perhaps the main points have not been made yet. In the Lotus Sutra proper, however, the Buddha revealed the single path to enlightenment, having synthesized three kinds of teaching for bodhisattvas, pratyekabuddhas (engaku), and sravakas (shomon). He declared in the theological (shakumon) section of the Lotus Sutra: 'Only Buddhas wholly perceive the reality of all phenomena; 'the truth will be revealed after preaching provisional teachings for some fifty years;' and 'He will discard provisional teachings and will concentrate only on the supreme way.' Taho Buddha then declared that those words of the Buddha in the eight chapters in the theological section (shakumon) of the Lotus Sutra were all true. What then should have been left unrevealed? Nevertheless, the eternal life of the Buddha was not revealed; instead it is said, 'At first He sat at the place of enlightenment, gazed on the tree, and walked about it meditating.' This is the greatest wonder of all. Thus it is stated in the fifteenth 'Appearance of Bodhisattvas from Underground'' chapter of the Lotus Sutra that bodhisattva Maitreya wondered why the Buddha claimed to have taught the great bodhisattvas, who had never been seen before in the last forty years, and caused them to aspire for enlightenment. so he asked:
When You, the Buddha, were the crown prince, you left
the palace of the Sakya clan, sat in meditation under the
bodhi tree not far from the city of Gaya, and obtained the
perfect enlightenment. It has only been some forty years
since then. How could You, World Honored One, have
achieved so much in a short period of time?
It was at this point that lord Sakyamuni decided to preach the 'Life Span of the Buddha' chapter in order to dispel such doubts. Referring to what has been said in the pre-Lotus sutras and in the theological section of the Lotus Sutra, He said, 'Gods, men and asura demons in all the worlds think that I Sakyamuni Buddha, left the palace of the Sakya, sat under the Bodhi tree not far from the city of Gaya, and attained perfect enlightenment.' Then He answered squarely to the question by declaring, ]To tell the truth, however, it has been innumerable and incalculable kalpas since I attained Buddhahood.
The Opening of the Eyes: The Eternal Life of the Buddha Chapter IV continued
Such sutras as the Flower Garland. Hannya, and Great Sun Buddha conceal not only the possibility of the Men of the Two Vehicles attaining Buddhahood but also Sakyamuni attaining perfect enlightenment in the eternal past.
These sutras have two faults. In the first place, as they make a clear distinction between bodhisattvas and men of the Two Vehicles asserting that only the former can obtain Buddhahood, they fail to outgrow the provisional teachings and to reveal the doctrine of '3,000 in one thought' preached in the theological section of the Lotus Sutra. In the second place, by stating that Sakyamuni Buddha attained Buddhahood for the first time in this life, they have not yet outgrown the theological section of the the Lotus Sutra. failing to reveal what the Eternal Buddha expounded in the essential section of the Lotus Sutra. These two great doctrines, nijo sabutsu and kuon jitsuju, are the backbone of the teaching of the Buddha throughout His life and the essence of all the Buddhist scriptures.
The second chapter, 'Expedients,' in the theological section of the Lotus Sutra makes up for one of the two faults of the pre-Lotus sutras by revealing the concept of '3,000 in one thought. and nijo sabutsu. Yet, since the chapter has not yet revealed the original and eternal Buddha, it does not show the real concept of the '3,000 in one thought.' Nor does it establish the true meaning of nijo sabutsu. They are like the reflections of the moon in the water, or rootless grass floating on waves.
Coming to the essential section of the Lotus Sutra, it was revealed that the Buddha had attained enlightenment in the eternal past, making it untenable to assert that He attained Buddhahood for the first time in this world. Thus the Eternal Buddha doctrine destroyed the Buddhahood resulting from the Four Teachings (all Buddhist scriptures other than the essential section of the Lotus Sutra). As the Buddhahood resulting from the Four Teachings became untenable, those Four Teachings proved to be invalid. Thus the Ten Realm doctrine preached in the pre-Lotus and the theological section of the Lotus Sutra was destroyed and the causal relationship among the eternal Ten Realms was established in the essential section of the Lotus Sutra. This is the true doctrine of cause and result. In this relationship the Nine Realms are all included in the realm of the Eternal Buddha, and the realm of the Buddha is in each of the eternal Nine Realms. This is truly the 'mutually-possessed characteristics of the Ten Realms,' '100 realms each possessing ten factors of existence' and '3,000 in one thought.'
Looking back in this light, Vairocana Buddha on the lotus platform and various Buddhas around Him who came from all over the universe as described in the Flower Garland Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha of the Hinayana Agon Sutras, as well as provisional Buddhas of all the pre-Lotus sutras (such as Hodo, Hannya, Konkomyo, Amitabha, and Great Sun Buddha) are all mere manifestations of this Eternal Buddha. They are like shadows of the moon in the sky reflecting in large or small containers of water. Sectarian students confused with doctrines of their own schools or not knowing the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, mistake the moon in the water for the real one; they try to go into the water to grasp this illusion or tie it up with a rope. In T'ien-t'ai's words they 'look at only the moon in the pond, without knowing the moon in the sky.'
I, Nichiren, believe that the doctrine of nijo sabutsu of the pre-Lotus sutras which deny the possibility of attaining Buddhahood by men of the Two Vehicles seems to have the upper hand. Concerning the doctrine of kuon jitsujo expounded in the essential section of the Lotus, the pre-Lotus sutras, which maintain that Sakyamuni's attainment of Buddhahood occurred in this world are incomparably stronger. For not only are they stronger, the first fourteen chapters of the Lotus Sutra, too solely side with them and do not mention the eternal life of the Buddha. With the exception of the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters ('Appearance of Bodhisattvas from underground' and the 'Life Span of the Buddha'), the latter fourteen chapters of the Lotus Sutra all describe Shakyamuni's attainment of Buddhahood for the first time in this world.
In the forty fascicled Dai-hatsunehan-gyo, Sakyamuni's last teaching under the sala trees, as well as in various Mahayana sutras preached before and after the Lotus Sutra, not a single word is said of the Eternal Buddha. Although the absolute nature of Buddhahood has been explained to be 'without beginning and without end,' the eternity of Buddhas in Buddha lands or in this world has not been revealed. How can anyone side with only the two chapters in the Lotus Sutra and discard the wide range of Mahayana sutras: pre-Lotus, most of the Lotus, and the Nirvana?
Here is the major works translation of the last paragraph:
"The forty volumes of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, preached by the Buddha in the grove of sal trees just before his passing, as well as the other Mahayana sutras except the Lotus Sutra, have not one single word [to say about the fact that the Buddha attained enlightenment in the remote past]. They speak of the Dharma body of the Buddha as being without beginning and without end, but they do not reveal the true nature of the other two bodies, the reward body and the manifested body. How, then, can we expect people to cast aside the vast body of writings represented by the earlier Mahayana sutras, the Nirvana Sutra, and the major portion of the theoretical and essential teachings of the Lotus Sutra, and put all their faith simply in the two chapters “Emerging from the Earth” and “Life Span”?
The eternity of the Three Bodied Tathagata is one of the most important principles of the Lotus Sutra. It separates the Lotus sects from all other Buddhist sects and us from all other Nichiren sects.
Many priests of the Nichiren Shu fail to understand the import of this fundamental teaching. Those in the more perverse Nichiren sects such as the HBS, the Nichiren Shoshu, and the SGI say very little about the principle of the Three Bodied Tathagata Shakyamuni. The SGI and NST even mislabel the Original Eternal Buddha as Nichiren [rather than Sakyamuni]. It is no wonder that these various sects fail to understand the correct, absolute and sublime teaching that is most difficult to believe and to understand. There behavior belies their belief in this principle. The way their leaders and priests treat their members, as Buddhas in name only, belies their belief.
Not only is the Dharma Body [the absolute entity of Buddhahood] eternal according to the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren but the Manifest Body [the absolute appearance of Buddahood] and the Reward Body [absolute nature of Buddhahood]. When we obtain Buddhahood, not only do we become the Reward Body of the Master of Teachings Lord Shakya of the Original Doctrine but we become His Manifest and Dharma Bodies. Let us keep these teachings to ourselves except during formal debate and when the very survival of the teachings is at stake.
The Original Eternal Buddha Sakyamuni who manifested Himself as Sakyamuni Buddha is our original teacher who has been leading and guiding us since time without beginning. We are his original disciples. Our very manifestation is testament to the truth of the Lotus Sutra. So grand are our lives that it is beyond comprehension. So grand is the life of our eternal master that there is no way we can repay the debt of gratitude we owe to Him. Nichiren writes:
"Shakyamuni Buddha our father and mother, who is endowed with the three virtues of soverign, teacher and parent, is the very one who encourages us, the people driven out by all the other Buddhas, saying, 'I alone can save them'. The debt of gratitude we owe him is deeper than the ocean, weightier than the earth, vaster than the sky. Though we were to pluck out our two eyes and place them before him as an offering until there were more eyes there than stars in the sky, though we were to strip off our skins and spread them out by the hundreds of ten thousands until they blanketed the ceiling of heaven, though we were to give him our tears as offerings of water and present him with flowers for the space of a hundred billion kalpas, though we were to offer him our flesh and blood for innumerable kalpas, until our flesh piled up like mountains and our blood overflowed like vast seas, we could never repay a fraction of the debt we owe to this Buddha!" -- The Learned Shan Wu-wei MWs
“However, later seeking and entering the deep cave, you see a single hermitage. The voices of the reading and reciting of the Hokekyo echo against blue heaven and the words of discussing the doctrine of the One Vehicle are heard in the midst of the mountains. Informing [them, of your presence and requesting] admittance, you enter the chamber, place your mother’s bones before the Master of Teachings Lord Shakya, cast your five limbs to the ground, press your palms together, and opening your two eyes, look up to the Holy Face: Joy overflows your body and the pain of your heart suddenly ceases.”-- On Forgetting Ones Copy Of The Lotus Sutra, NOPPA Translation
Nichiren Daishonin's purpose for writing the Opening of the Eyes was to repay his gratitude to this Buddha. Yet, the other Nichiren sects fail to appreciate its import and fail to acknowledge the truth of the Triple Bodied Tathagata and the triple bodied nature of our own existence. This is why they are shallow compared to our teachings which perfectly mirror the sublime teachings of the Lotus Flower Sutra and Nichiren Dashonin.
Ever thinking, "How can we cause the masses of beings to obtain Buddhahood.", we become the Master of Teachings Lord Shakya.
It has been said, only Bodhisattvas of the Earth can chant the Daimoku so all those who chant the Daimoku are Bodhisattvas of the Earth. The fact is that T'ien-t'ai chanted the Daimoku and he was not a Bodhisattva of the Earth and that those with twisted minds who chant the Daimoku, though they will eventually attain Buddhahood too, are not Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
Our relationship to the Eternal Buddha Sakyamuni, the Object of Worship in terms of the Person, is what determines all of these things. Throwing out the Sakyamuni of Manifestation is no way to repay the debt of gratitude we owe Him [or to ourselves]. Those Nichiren Buddhists or provisional Buddhists who revere only the Dharma Body of Buddha are no different than psychotics who love the memory, nature or spirit but disdain the flesh and blood person. Those provisional Buddhists who only revere or worship the Manifestation would be better off worshiping a corpse.
I will have much more to say on these points as we go further along.
The Opening of the Eyes: The Eternal Life of the Buddha Chapter IV with Commentary continued:
Now, the Hosso School of Buddhism originated with Asanga. a great commentator appearing in India 900 years after the death of the Buddha. At night he went up to the inner palace of Bodhisattva Maitreya in heaven and asked him questions concerning all the holy teachings of the Buddha. During the day, he spread the Hosso doctrine in the country of Aodhya, His disciples included such great masters as Vasubandhu, Dharmapala, Nanda, and Silabhadra. Even king Harsavardhana bowed before him and all the people in India pulled down their banners and followed him. Master Hsuan-chuang of china spent seventeen years in India visiting some 130 lands and studying Buddhism. rejecting all other schools, he chose the Hosso School to transmit to China and passed it on to the sage king, Emperor T'ai-tsung of T'ang. He had such disciples as Shen-fang, Chia-shang, P'u-kuang, and K'uei-chi. and he resided at the great T'zu-en Temple, spreading the teaching in more than 360 lands in China.
In Japan, during the reign of Emperor Kotoku, the 37th ruler, Doji, Dosho and other monks transmitted this school from China and practiced it at the Yamashina Temple. Thus this sect must have been the prime school of Buddhism in the three countries of India, China, and Japan. The gist of this Hosso is as follows:
According to all the Buddhist scriptures, beginning with
the Flower Garland Sutra and ending with the Lotus and
Nirvana Sutras, those issendai (who do not listen to the
teachings of the Buddha) and men of the Two Vehicles
will never become Buddhas. The Buddha never is two-
faced. Once he decides that Buddhahood is unattainable,
He willnever change His mind even if the sun and moon
should fall and the great earth should tumble. Therefore,
even in the Lotus Sutra and Nirvana Sutra it is not definitely
stated that the two categories of people who had been
rejectedin the pre-Lotus sutras, those issendai and men
of the TwoVehicles, will attain Buddhahood.
Close your eyes and think hard. If it is stated in the Lotus
Sutra and Nirvana Sutra that those two categories of men
will obtain Buddhahood, why is it that such great comment-
ators as Asanga and Vasubandu, and such scholars as
Hsuan-chuangand T'zu-en di not find this? Why is it that
they did not write about it, believe and transmit it, or ask
Bodhisattva Maitreya about it? Although you appear to rely
on the words of the Lotus Sutra, actually you believe in the
slanted view of Tien-t'ai, Miao-le, and Dengyo and read
Buddhist scriptures through their prejudices. This may be
the reason why you consider the Lotus Sutra and those
sutras preached before it incompatible to each other like
fire and water.
The Kegon and Shingon Schools, which are incomparably superior to the Hosso and Sanron Schools, maintain:
Concepts of nijo sabutsu and kuon-jitsujo are not limited
to the Lotus Sutra. they are clearly mentioned in the Flower
Garland Sutra and the Great Sun Buddha Sutra. Tu-shun,
Chih-yen, Fa-tz'ang, Chen-kuan of the Kegon School and
Subhakarasimha (Shan-wu-wei), Vajrabodhi, Amoghavajra
(Pu-k'ung) of the Shingon School are incomparably higher
in rank than T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo. Furthermore, Subhakar-
asimha and others are in the direct line of the Great Sun
Buddha. How could these people, temporary manifestations
of Buddhas and bodhisattvas make mistakes? Accordingly,
it is said in the Flower Garland Sutra, "It has been immeas-
urable kalpa since Sakyamuni Buddha attained Buddhahood."
The Great Sun Buddha Sutra states, "I am the origin of
everything." How could you say that the doctrine of the
Eternal Buddha is limited to the sixteenth chapter of the
Lotus Sutra? It is speaking like a frog in a well who has
never seen an ocean, or a mountain woodcutter who has
never visited the capital. Isn't it that you have seen only
one chapter of the Lotus without knowing such sutras as
the Flower Garland and the Great Sun Buddh? Moreover,
do all those in India, China, Silla, and Paeche except T'ien
-t'ai, Miao-le, and Dengyo say that nijo-sabutsu and kuon
jitsujo concepts are revealed only in the Lotus Sutra?
Thus, there are differences of opinion among Buddhist schools concerning nijo sabutsu and kuon jitsujo. Although the Lotus Sutra expounded in the last eight years is different from those other sutras expounded in the previous 40 years, and although it is the rule that when there is a discrepancy between older and newer legal judgements, the newer one takes precedent over the old, the pre-Lotus sutras seem more influential than the Lotus. Things might have been as they should be while Sakyamuni Buddha was alive, but after His death many commentators and teachers have been leaning toward the pre-Lotus sutras.
Thus it is difficult to have faith in the Lotus Sutra. Moreover, we gradually approach the Latter Age of Decadent Dharma; sages and wise men gradually disappear while the puzzled grow in number. These people easily fall into error even in dealing with trivial matters of the world, not to speak of understanding the exquisite dharma, transcending worldly matters. Men of the Vaitsiputriya and Vaipula Scools were wise people; yet they were unable to distinguish between Mahayana and Hinayana sutras. Wu-kou and Mo-t'a were clever but unable to differentiate the true teachings from the provisional ones. It was within the first 1,000 years after the death of Sakyamuni Buddha, not far from His time, and within the land of India that errors like this had already occurred. How much more so in countries such as China and Japan, which are far away from the land of the Buddha, where different languages are spoken, where people are slow to understand the teaching of the Buddha, where life span is shorter, and where greediness, anger, and stupidity are twice as much! It has been many years since the Buddha has passed away; Buddhist sutras are misunderstood. Does anyone understand them correctly? The Buddha predicts in the Nirvana Sutra: "Those who uphold the true dharma in the Latter age of the Decadent Dharma are as little as a bit of soil on a fingernail while slanderers of Buddhism are as numerous as the soil of the entire universe."
It is said in the Hometsujin-kyo: 'Slanderers of Buddhism are as numerous as sands of the Ganges river, while those who uphold the true dharma are just a pebble or two.' It would be difficult to find even one person upholding the true dharma in a period of 500 or 1,000 years. Those who fall into evil realms because of their worldly crimes are as little as a bit of soil on a fingernail, while those who fall there because of crimes against Buddhism are as numerous as the soil of the entire worlds in the universe. More Monks than laymen, more nuns than women fall in the evil realms.
In the next installment Nichiren, the True Votary of the Lotus Sutra, goes into further detail about the Eternal Buddha Sakyamuni and further rebuts his critics from the various schools.
We are not disheartened because our numbers are few. We uphold the true teachings of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren. We are sure to obtain Buddhahood in the future. It is the Priests and monks of the heretical, provisional, and perverse Nichiren sects who should worry. It is the lay leaders of the SGI who act as business suited priests and monks who should worry.