Now I, Nichiren believe it has already been more than 200 years since the arrival of the Latter Age of the Decadent Dharma. I was born in a remote country place. Moreover, I am a poor monk without social status. While having traversed the Six realms in my past lives, I must have sometimes been born a great king in the human or celestial realm, making everyone obey me just as a strong wind sways the twigs of small trees. Still, I could not obtain Buddhahood then. At other times, I must have gone up step by step the way of a great bodhisattva according to Hinayana and Mahayana sutras. Having practiced the way of a bodhisaatvas for as long as one, two, and innumerable kalpa, I was about to reach the state of non-retrogression. However, a powerful evil karma prevented me from obtaining Buddhahood.
According to the "Parable of a Magic City" chapter of the Lotus Sutra there were three categories of people who had an opportunity to listen to the sutra and sow the seed of Buddhahood during the time of Daitsuchiso Buddha in the past. They all were to obtain Buddhahood eventually with the third and last group being guaranteed of being future Buddhas upon listening to Sakyamuni Buddhapreach the Lotus Sutra. I wonder whether or not I was excluded from this third category of people. Or, am I one of those who. while having listened to the Lotus Sutra and sowed the seed of Buddhahood 500 dust-particle kalpa (gohyaku-jintengo) in the past, have kept falling back till today without eventually getting it? While practicing the Lotus Sutra in this present life, overcoming bad worldly karmas, royal persecutions, and accusations by heretics and Hinayana schools; I was able to realize that people have been fooled by such devilish men as Tao-sh'o, Shan-tao, and Honen, who appeared to have mastered provisional and true Mahayana sutras.
Talking highly of the Lotus Sutra and slighting the intelligence of the people, they fooled the people by saying that the doctrine of the Lotus was too exquisite to understand., that there never had been anyone who obtained Buddhahood through the sutra, or that not even one out of 1,000 persons had obtained Buddhahood through it. During an innumerable number of past lives, the people have been fooled this way immeasurable times into believing provisional sutras. From provisional sutras the fell into Hinayana sutras, to Confucianism, and Brahmanism, and finally to evil realms.
I, Nichiren, am the only one who knows this in Japan. If I speak out even one word of this, royal persecutions will never fail to befall my parents, brothers, and teachers. If I do not speak out, however, it would seem that I did not have compassion.. wondering whether or not I should speak out in the light of the Lotus, Nirvana, and other sutras, I came to realize that if I did not speak out, I would fall without fail into the hell of incessant agony in future lives even if nothing happened to me in this life. If I spoke out, I realized, the Three Hindrances and Four Devils would overtake me.
Vacillating between the two, that I should speak out and that I should not, if I were to back down in the face of royal persecutions, , I hit upon the "six difficulties" and "nine easier actions" mentioned in the eleventh chapter, "Appearance of a Stupa," in the Lotus Sutra. It says that even a man as powerless as I can throw Mt. Sumeru, even a man with as little superhuman power as I can carry a stack of hay on his back and survive the disastrous conflagration at the end of the world, and even a man as ignorant as i can memorize various sutras as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, Even more so, it is not easy to uphold even a word or a phrase of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Age of the Decadent Dharma. This must be it! I have made a vow that this time I will have an unbending aspiration to Buddhahood and never fall back!
It has already been more than twenty years since I began speaking for this sutra, and my troubles have been increasing day by day, month by month, and year by year. Small troubles are incalculable while severe ones are four in number. Not talking about two of them, I have already been the target of royal persecution, and my life now is in jeopardy. Moreover, my senior disciples and lay supporters, including those laymen who had just come to hear me speak, were punished severely as though they had been rebels.
It is said in the Lotus Sutra fascicle four: "This sutra was the target of much hatred and jealosy even during the lifetime of the Buddha, not to speak of after His death." It says in the second fascicle: "Seeing a person who reads, recites, copoies, or keeps this sutra, some will despise and hate him, look at him with jealousy, and harbor enmity against him." And in the fifth fascicle: "Many people in the world will hate it and very few believ in it." "Ignorant people will speak ill of him and abuse him." "In order to speak ill of him and to slander him, they will say to kings, ministers, and Brahmans, and influential householders that he has heretic views." "He will sometimes be driven out of his monastery." It is also said in the seventh fascicle: 'They will strike him with sticks, pieces of wood and tile or stones.' The Nirvana Sutra states:
Thereupon numerous Brahmans gatheres together and
went to see King Ajatasatru of the Magadha kingdom
saying, "Now, there is a most wicked man, a wanderer,
who is Gautama. For the purpose of making a profit, all
wicked men in the world are gathering around him and
becoming his followers, doing nothinggood. Withhis occult
power Gautama converted such men as Kasyapa, Sariputra,
Explaining the hatred and jealousy against the Lotus Sutra during the Buddha's lfetime referred to in the fourth fascicle, Tien-t'ai said: "Even during the lifetime of the Buddha it was difficult to spread the Lotus Sutra. How much more so after His death? It is because people do not listen to the true dharma, that it is difficult to teach and guide them." Commenting on this, Miao-le said: 'Hatred means slavery to delusions and evil passions and jealousy unwilling to listen to the Lotus.'
Just as the Buddha was confronted with hatred and jealousy when he tried to preach the Lotus Sutra, so it is with those who tried after His death. Numerous scholars in China, including three Southern masters and seven Northern masters, considered T'ien-t'ai the hated enemy. A Japanese Hosso monk, Tokuitsu, had this to say: 'what's the matter with you, Master T'ien-t'ai? Whose disciple are you? With your less than three-inch-long tongue, you have slandered the Hosso doctrine preached by the Buddha with His long and wide tongue.' Chih-tu of Tung-ch'un was questioned: "Much hatred and jealousy existed even during the Buddha's lifetime. Why is it that those who expound this Lotus Sutra after His death encounter so many difficulties?" He answered:
"As a popular saying goes, a good medicine tastes bitter.
This sutra tears down the barriers among the Five Realms
(of human beings, gods, sravaka, pratyekabuddha and
bodhisattvas) and establishes the one ultimate teaching.
Therefore it rejects the common men and scolds the holy
men, refuses the Mahayana and breaks down the Hinayana,
calls celestial demons poisonous insects, regards Brahmans
vicious evils, disparagingly calls men of the Two Vehicles who
stuck to the Hinayana the poor and lowly, and discourages
bodhisattvas by calling them novices. This is the reason why
celestial demons hate to listen to it; it grates upon Brahman
ears; Hinayana sages of the Two Vehicles are alarmed; and
bodhisattvas are discouraged. All of these fellows make
trouble for those who spread the Lotus Sutra. How can we
say that "much hatred and jealousy" is merely an empty
In Japan, superintendants of Buddhist priests in nara defamed Grand Master Dengyo in their petition to the Imperial Court, 'There was a Brahmin wizard in the land of Hsia to the west of china, while there is a bald headed Buddhist monk with a honey tongue in the Land to the East. They are in a secret league to fool the world.'
Grand Master Dengyo refuted this in his Kaikenron, 'We hear of Hui-kung in the past in Ch'i China; now we see six superintendents of Nara in Japan. How true is it of the Lotus Sutra prediction: How much more hatred and jealousy after the death of the Buddha! He also stated in the Hokke shuku:
As for the time, it is toward the end of the Middle Age of
the Imitative Dharma and in the beginning of the Latter
Age of the Decadent Dharma; looking at the land, it is to
the east of T'ang China and west of Katsu, and looking at
the people, they live in the evil world filled with defilements
and engage in constant warfare. It is said in the Lotus Sutra,
"There is much hatred and jealousy even during the Buddha's
lifetime, not to speak of after His death." How true this is!
Now if a child is given moxa treatment by his mother, he inevitably resents his mother. Given precious medicine, a seriously sick person may grumble at its bitter taste. So it was with the Lotus Sutra even during the lifetime of the Buddha. How much more so after the death of the Buddha and in a remote corner of the land! Just like mountains placed on tops of mountains and waves on tops of waves, difficulties on top of difficulties and abuses on top of abuses will occur.
The situation is no different today. I was going to list many dozens of the thousands of slanders and abuses leveled at the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Shonin, and we ourselves, over the last ten years on the various newsgroups, discussion forums, and in person but suffice it to say, every word of the Lotus Sutra is true.
The question remains, how could Nichiren Daishonin specifically (and we generally) be absolutely certain that our difficulties arise from our genuine faith and practice rather than from our slander of the True Dharma? How can we be sure that Nichiren Shonin's and our criticisms of the heterodox sects (the SGI and Nichiren Shoshu) are valid? How can we be sure that the difficulties encountered by the SGI and the Nichiren Shoshu derive from slander of the True Law rather than a correct faith and practice?
This becomes abundantly clear in the following sections of the Opening of the Eyes as Nichiren Shonin goes on to explain the true nature of life, the prime point of Buddhism, and the purport of the master disciple relationship.
The Opening of the Eyes: Nichiren, a Practitioner of the Lotus Sutra Chapter V continued
It was T'ien-t'ai alone who correctly read the Lotus Sutra and all the Buddhist scriptures during the Middle Age of the Imitative Dharma. Various masters in Northern and Southern China hated him. However, as sagacious rulers of the Chen and Sui dynasties in China clarified who was right through polemic debates in front of their own eyes, his enemies eventually disappeared. Toward the end of the Middle Age of the Imitative Dharma, Dengyo alone in Japan correctly read the Lotus Sutra and all the Buddhist scriptures. Although seven great temples of Nara rose against him, nothing happened to him because Emperors Kammu and Saga themselves clarified who was right.
But now, it has been over 200 years since the beginning of the Latter Age of the Decadent Dharma. I have not been allowed to meet opponents in polemic; instead I have been banished with my life in jeopardy. It proves that the warning in the Lotus Sutra of much more hatred and jealousy after the death of the Buddha is not an empty threat. It also proves that we are in the beginning of the endless warfare and in a decadent world of corruption where unreasonableness takes precedent over reason.
Therefore, although my comprehension of the Lotus Sutra is not worth even one ten millionth of that of T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo, I dare say that my endurance on its behalf and compassion for the people are beyond these masters. I am sure I deserve to receive heavenly protection, but there is not even a shred of it. Instead I have been condemned to heavier and heavier penalties. Looming back in this light, I wonder whether or not I am a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra and whether or not various gods and deities have left this land. However, if only I, Nichiren had not been born in this country, the twenty-line verse of the thirteenth chapter, "The Encouragement of Keeping this Sutra," in the fifth fascicle of the Lotus Sutra would be empty words and the Buddha would almost be a great liar. Those uncountable numbers of bodhisattvas, who made the vow to uphold the Lotus Sutra, would be accused of committing the same sin of lying as Devadetta did.
The verse says, 'Ignorant people will speak ill of us, and threaten us with swords or sticks.' Looking at the world today, is their any Buddhist priest other than I, Nichiren, who is spoken ill of, abused, and threatened with swords or sticks on account of the Lotus Sutra? If I, Nichiren were not here, this verse would be a false prediction.
It also says: 'Monks in this evil world will be cunning and ready to flatter others. they will preach the dharma to laymen for worldly gain and be respected by the people just as the arhat who has the Six Superhuman Powers is..' If there were no Anitabha Buddhists or priests of Zen or Ritsu Schools of Buddhism in this world, this prediction would also make the Buddha a great liar.
It says, 'In order to slander us in the midst of a great crowd of people they will speak ill of us to kings, ministers, Brahamans, and men of influence.'
These would be empty words unless Buddhist priests in this world slandered me and had me exiled.
It is further stated, "We will be banished many times." If I, Nichiren had not been exiled repeatedly on account of the Lotus Sutra, what would we do with these two words of "many times?" Even T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo did not read these two words from experience, not to speak of other people. I, Nichiren alone read them from experience. For I perfectly fit the Buddha's description of the persons reading the Lotus Sutra "in the dreadful and evil world" at the beginning of the Latter Age.
For example, the Buddha predicted in the Fuhozo Sutra (Heistory of the Buddha's Successors) that one hundred years after His death there would be a great king named Asoka. It is predicted in the Maha Sutra that 600 years after the death of the Buddha, there would be a man named Nagrjuna in South India, while the Daihi-kyo (Sutra of the Great Compassion) says: "Sixty years after the Buddha's death there will be a man called Madhyantika, who will build a base in the Palace of the Dragon King to spread Buddhism." These predictions of the Buddha all came true. Otherwise, who would have faith in Buddhism.
Nevertheless, in both the Sho-hoke-kyo (Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra by Dharmaraksha) and myo-hoe-kyo (Kumarajiva's Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra) the Buddha has precisely defined the time for the spread of this sutra to be when the 'world is dreadful and evil.' 'The future Latter Age,' 'The Latter Age when the dharma is about to be extinguished,' "or the fifth five-hundred-year period after the death of the Buddha.' Had there not been three kinds of strong enemies against the practitioner of the Lotus today, who would believe in the Buddha? Had there not been Nichiren, who would be the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra to prove the Buddha's prediction?
Even three Southern masters and seven Northern masters in China as well as seven great temples of Nara in Japan were among the enemies of the Lotus Sutra during the Middle Age of the Imitative Dharma. How could schools of Zen, Ritsu, and Amidists today escape from being enemies of the sutra? As the words of the sutra correspond with me, the deeper I fall into disgrace with the shogunate, the greater my pleasure is. This is like a Hinayana bodhisattva, who has not completely exterminated all delusions and evil passions, wishing to reborn in this world. That is to say, as he sees his parents suffering greatly in hell, he would intentionally accumulate bad karmas in order to go to hell himself, where he would be glad to share their sufferings. I, Nichiren, am in a similar situation,. Though my sufferings today are difficult to bear, I am happy for in the future I will be free from the evil realms.
Nichiren, as Bodhisattva Emminent Conduct, declares that, though his comprehension of the Lotus Sutra is one ten millionth that of Tientai's and Dengyo's, his compassion for the people is much deeper than that of those great Masters. His compassion was his strength and that which enabled him to retain his faith while overcoming every persecution predicted in the Lotus Sutra for the True Votary.
Through Nichiren Daishonin, the Lotus Sutra was revealed to be as accurate as a finely machined GPS device. Were it not for Nichiren Daishonin the Lotus Sutra would be a great falsehood. Nichiren Daishonin is the Supreme Votary of the Lotus Sutra, Bodhisattva Emminent Conduct (Superior Practices) and Bodhisattva Visisticaritra who is even mentioned in the vedic texts. To have a connection to this Great Mahabodhisattva is awe inspiring. It is the greatest honor in this life to be his disciple. Why would someone choose another mentor? To choose someone like Daisaku Ikeda and then to promote that this relationship is the only condition for attaining Buddhahood is both cause for regret and a serious slander of the Law. Those who call themselves disciples of Nichiren but distort his precious teachings are no better than worms in the body of the lion. The SGI will destroy Buddhism in no time. I will continue to oppose them with every ounce of my being.
The Amidists and Zen men can no more harm the lion than barking dogs or braying donkeys. The Tibetians Buddhists are no more than bewildered bodhisatvas, not unlike deer caught in the headlights, and the Hinayanists are baby baboons clinging to their dead mother killed by a lion.