The Opening of the Eyes: Confucianism, Brahmanism, and Buddhism [PROLOGUE PART 1 Chapter 1]
"A man should respect these three: his ruler, his teacher, and his parents. Everyone should study three disciplines: Confucianism, Brahmanism, and Buddhism.
First of all, in Confucianism the Three Emporors (Fu-hsi, Shen-nung, Yellow Emporor), Five Rulers (Shao-hao, Chuan-hsu, Ti-hung, Yao, Shun) of ancient China are called the most respected under heaven. They are reguarded as the leaders of the people and the bridge for them to cross the river of illusions. Until the time of the Three Emperors, people like birds and beasts had no idea who their fathers were. However, since the time of the Five Rulers, people became aware of who their parents were and acted dutifully toward them. King Shun, for instance, treated his stubborn and ignorant father respectfully despite his father plotting to have him killed in favor of his younger half-brother. Han Kao-tze, the Founder of the Former Han dynasty, continued reverencing his father even after he became the emperor. King Wu, the founder of the Chou dynasty, had a wooden statue of his late father, King Wen, carved and carried it in battle with the last king of Yin (Shang). A man called Ting-lan of Later Han in China, is said to have had a statue of his mother made and treated it respectfully as though it were alive. These are examples of filial devotion.
It is said that Pi-kan of the Yin (Shang) dynasty, worrying about the downfall of the dynasty, dared to speak up against Chieh, and was beheaded by the king. Returning from a political mission, a man named Hunh-yen of Wei found that his ruler, the Duke of I (Yee), had been killed. The northern barbarians had cannabilized the duke leaving only his liver on the road. Hung-yen picked the liver up, cut open his own stomach to insert it, and died. These are examples of loyal subjects.
I-shou was the teacher of Yao, Wu-shih was that of Shun,, T'ai-kung-wang was of King Wen of Chou, and Lao-tsu was of Confucius. They were called the Four Sages. Even the kings and rulers, who were most respected under heaven, bowed low and all the people respectfully held their hands together in front of them.
These sages wrote some 3,000 scrolls including the San-fen (Records of Three Emperors), Wu-tien (Records of the Three Rulers), and San-shih (Records of Three Dynasties). Explained in them was nothing more than the "Three Mysteries." The "Three Mysteries" mean, first of all, the "mystery of being," which maintains that everything is created from an original substance called tai-chi. This is the philosophy established by the Duke of Chou and Confucious.
The second is the "mystery of non-being," set forth by Lao-Tsu, who insisted that the source of all beings is an indefinable mystic principle called wu-chi.
Finally, the "mystery of being and non-being" is the philosophy of Chuang-tzu. He stated that beings are created sometimes from tai-chi, but other times from wu-chi.
Mystery can mean profoundness, but it also can mean darkness. In explaining the meaning of life: positions in society, happiness and sorrow, right and wrong, or gains and loses, some of these sages (like Confucius) state that these all arise from tai-chi, while other sages (like Lao-tzu) maintain that they are merely spontaneous. Though exquisite their philosophies may appear, they actually know nothing of life in the past or in the future. As they are in darkness their philosophies are mysterious. Knowing only the present, they insist that in this present world we have to protect ourselves and maintain peace in our country by establishing benevolence and righteousness to avoid bringing ruin upon our families and our country.
These wise and holy men are sages, but they are as ignorant of the past just as men can not see their backs, and they can not see into the future just as blind men can not see in the front. They merely maintain that if one manages his house well, performs filial devotion, and practices the Five Virtues (benevolence, righteousness, politeness, wisdom and fidelity) in this world, people will revere him, and his fame will spread so widely in the land that a wise king will invite him to be his minister or teacher, or even put him on the throne. Even heaven will come to defend and serve him! For instance, they say, King Wu of Chou had five elders who served him, and twenty eight constellations came to assist Emperor Kuang-wu of the later Han as his twenty eight generals.
Ignorant of the past and future, however, these sages can not help in the future lives of their parents, rulers, and teachers. Not knowing what they owe to them in the past, they can not be considered to be truly holy and wise. This is why Confucius said, "Truly wise and holy men do not exist in China, but in the land to the west, there is a man called Buddha. He is a true sage."
Confucius thus indicated Confucianism to be the first step toward Buddhism knowing that Confucianism was not the true way for a wise and holy man. It would be easier, Confucus knew, for the people to understand the fundamental Buddhist teachings of commandments, meditation, and wisdom if they first learned the fundamental Confucian concepts of rituals and music. He therefore, taught the kings' subjects to be loyal to their rulers, children to be devoted to their parents, and students to respect their teachers. Grand Master Miao-le, therefore declared: "The dissemination of Buddhism in China indeed depended on Confucianism. Buddhism found its way by following on the heels of the rituals and music of Confucianism."
Citing the Konkomyo-kyo (Sutra of the Golden Light), T'ien-t'ai stated in his Mo-ho-chih-kuan (Great Concentration and Insight): "Since all the right teachings in the world are based on Buddhism, those who truly know the worldly teachings know the teachings of the Buddha." He also states: "The Buddha sent three sages to convert the people of China." Miao-le's commentary on this (Chih-kuan fu-hsing-chuan-hung chueh, 6) is: "According to the Shojo hogyo-kyo (Practicing the Pure Dharma Sutra), Bodhisattva Gakko reincarnated as Yen-hui in China; Bodhisattva Kojo as Confucious; and Bodhisattva Kasyapa, as Lao-tzu."
All teachings are ultimately the revelation of Buddhist truth and they may [or may not, if they are a source of confusion] serve as an introduction to Buddhism. Nichiren Shonin writes in the Gift of Rice:
"The true path lies in the affairs of this world." The Golden Light Sutra states, “To have a profound knowledge of this world is itself Buddhism.” The Nirvana Sutra states, “All of the non-Buddhist scriptures and writings in society are themselves Buddhist teachings, not non-Buddhist teachings.
When the Great Teacher Miao-lo compared these passages with the one from the sixth volume of the Lotus Sutra that reads, “No worldly affairs of life or work are ever contrary to the true reality,” he revealed their meaning and pointed out that although the first two sutras are profound, since their meaning is still shallow and fails to approach that of the Lotus Sutra, they relate secular matters in terms of Buddhism, whereas the Lotus Sutra explains that in the end secular matters are the entirety of Buddhism."
To explain further the position of of non-Buddhist teachings, according to Nichiren Daishonin, we can look to the Lotus Sutra, another [more important] passage of the Opening of the Eyes, and the entire body of his writings:
"In Tung-ch’un we read: “Question: While the Buddha was in the world, there were many who were resentful and jealous. But in the age after his passing, when someone preaches this [Lotus] sutra, why do so many oppose that person? Answer: It is said that good medicine tastes bitter. This sutra, which is like good medicine, dispels attachments to the five vehicles and establishes the one ultimate principle. It reproaches those in the ranks of ordinary beings and censures those in the ranks of sagehood, denies [provisional] Mahayana and refutes Hinayana. It speaks of the heavenly devils as poisonous insects and calls non-Buddhists demons. It censures those who cling to Hinayana teachings, calling them mean and impoverished, and it dismisses bodhisattvas as beginners in learning. For this reason, heavenly devils hate to listen to it, non-Buddhists find their ears offended, persons of the two vehicles are dumbfounded, and bodhisattvas flee in terror. That is why all these types of people try to make hindrances [for a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra]. The Buddha was not speaking nonsense when he declared that hatred and jealousy would abound.” -- The Opening of the Eyes
"In this age, the provisional teachings have turned into enemies of the true teaching. When the time is right to propagate the teaching of the one vehicle, the provisional teachings become enemies. When they are a source of confusion, they must be thoroughly refuted from the standpoint of the true teaching. Of the two types of practice, this is shakubuku, the practice of the Lotus Sutra. With good reason T’ient’ai stated, “The Lotus Sutra is the teaching of shakubuku, the refutation of the provisional doctrines.” -- On Practcincg the Buddha's Teachings
"Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, who is carrying out the forceful practices of the Lotus Sutra in strict accordance with the Lotus Sutra? Suppose someone, no matter who, should unrelentingly proclaim that the Lotus Sutra alone can lead people to Buddhahood, and that all other sutras, far from enabling them to attain the way, only drive them into hell. Observe what happens should that person thus try to refute the teachers and the doctrines of all the other schools. The three powerful enemies will arise without fail."-- Ibid
Nichiren Daishonin's teachings are in perfect accord with the Lotus Sutra:
“If I convert by a smaller vehicle
Even but one human being,
I shall fall into grudging
A thing that can not be.” (Lotus Sutra Chapter 2)
“In all the Buddha’s lands of the universe there is but one supreme vehicle, not two or three, and it excludes the provisional teachings of the Buddha.”(Ibid)
“Honestly discarding the provisional teachings, I will now expound the Supreme Way.”(ibid)
“The World-honored One has long expounded his doctrines and now must reveal the truth.” (ibid)
“These nine divisions of my Law
Preached according to the [capacity] of all creatures
Are [but] the introduction of the Great-vehicle
Hence I preach this sutra.”(ibid)
“…desiring only to accept and embrace the sutra of the great vehicle and not accepting a single verse of the other sutras.” (Lotus Sutra Chapter 3)
“If I were to describe the punishments [that fall on persons who slander this sutra], I could exhaust a kalpa and never come to the end.” (ibid)
“If a person fails to have faith but instead slanders this sutra, immediately he will destroy all the seeds for becoming a Buddha in this world. . . . When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avichi hell.” (ibid)
“Suppose that someone coming from a land of famine should suddenly encounter a great king’s feast.” (Lotus Sutra Chapter 6)
“At that time the World-Honored One addressed Bodhisattva Medicine King, and through him the eighty thousand great men, saying: ‘Medicine King, do you see in this great assembly the immeasurable number of heavenly beings, dragon kings, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings, as well as monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen, those who seek to become voicehearers, who seek to become pratyekabuddhas, or who seek the Buddha way? Upon these various kinds of beings who in the presence of the Buddha listen to one verse or one phrase of the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law and for a moment think of it with joy I will bestow on all of them a prophecy that they will attain supreme perfect enlightenment.” (Lotus Sutra Chapter 10)
“The scriptures I preach number in the countless millions. Among all those I have preached, now preach and will preach, this Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand.”(Ibid)
“I constantly expounded the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law alone.” (Lotus Sutra Chapter 12)
“Among all the Sutras it holds the highest place” (Chapter 14)
“At that time the Buddha addressed Emminent Conduct and the host of other Bodhisattvas: “The divine powers of buddhas are so infinite and boundless that they are beyond thought and expression. Even if I, by these divine powers, through infinite, boundless hundred thousand myriad kotis of asemkheya kalpas, for the sake of entailing it, were to declare the merits of this sutra, I should still be unable to reach the end of those [merits]. Essentially speaking, all the laws belonging to the Tathagata, all the mysterious, essential treasuries of the Tathagata, and the very profound conditions of the Tathagata, all are proclaimed, displayed, revealed, and expounded in this sutra.Therefore you should, after the extinction of the Tathagata, wholeheartedly receive and keep, read and recite, explain and copy, cultivate and practice it as the teaching. In whatever land, whether it be received and kept, read and recited, explained and copied cultivated and practiced as the teaching; whether in a place where a volume of the sutra is kept, or in a temple, or in a grove, or under a tree, or in a monastery, or in a lay devotee’s house, in a palace or a mountain, in a valley or in the wilderness, in all these places you must erect a caitya and make offerings.
Wherefore? You should know that [all] these spots are the thrones of enlightenment. On these [spots] the buddhas attain Perfect Enlightenment; on these [spots] the buddhas roll the wheel of the Law; on these [spots] the buddhas [enter] parinirvana.” (Lotus Sutra, Chapter 21)
“Just as Mount Sumeru is the highest among the various mountains , so this Lotus Sutra holds the highest position among all the sutras.”(Chapter 23)
“Amongst all the sutras preached by tathagatas it is the profoundest and greatest.” and “…, so it is also with this Law-Flower Sutra; amongst all the sutras it is the highest,” and “… it is the most illuminating.” and “…it is the most honorable.” and “…it is the king of all sutras.” and “…it is the father of of all the wise and holy men” and “…amongst all the sutras preached by tathagatas, bodhisattvas or preached by sravakas, it is the supreme.”(ibid)
“Star Constellation King Flower! This sutra is that which can save all the living; this sutra can deliver all the living from pain and sufferings; this sutra is able to greatly benefit all the living and fulfill their desires. Just as a clear, cool pool is able to satisfy all those who are thirsty, as the cold who obtain a fire [are satisfied], as the naked who find clothing, as [a caravan of] merchants who find a leader, as children who find their mother, as at a ferry one who catches the boat, as a sick man who finds a doctor, as in the darkness one who obtains a lamp, as a poor man who finds a jewel, …., so it is with this Law-Flower sutra; it is able to deliver all the living from all sufferings and all diseases, and is able to unloose all bonds of mortal life.”(ibid)
“Even the Buddha wisdom could never finish calculating their [benefits] extent.” (ibid)
“If in future ages there should be one who accepts and upholds, reads and recites this sutra,…his wishes shall not be in vain, and he will receive his reward of good fortune in his present life.”(Chapter 28)
We should not become enamored of the non-Buddhist teachings as has the perverse SGI mentor Daisaku Ikeda. We should, however, as the Master Nichiren, become thoroughly familiar with the non-Buddhist and provisional Buddhist teachings in order to logically compare, contrast, and thoroughly refute them. Many of us are actively following in the footsteps of Nichiren Daishonin. We will be praised by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the universe.
Chapter I Confucianism, Brahmanism, and Buddhism continued:
"Next, in Brahmanism of India, the three-eyed and eight armed god and goddess, Siva and Vishnu, are considered to be the compassionate parents and supreme lords of all the people. The Masters named Kapila, Uluka, and Usabha, who lived about 800 years before the time of Sakyamuni Buddha, are called the Three Hermits. The teachings of these Three Hermits, 60,000 in number, are entitled the Four Vedas. Thus at the ttime of Sakyamuni's birth, six powerful Brahmiin masters who had studied these Brahmin scriptures had become teachers of kings all over India. Their branch schools numbered in the 90's, each of which was divided into many sub branches. They all took pride in themselves, each claiming to be higher than the top of heaven(Hisoten), and sticking to their own rock-like contentions. Their teachings are incomparable more profound and exquisite than those of the Confucian masters. They see through not only two, three, or seven lives in the past and future but also 80,000 kalpa past and future.
Their teachings may be summed up in three categories: (1) Some maintain that all phenomena arise from causes, (2) while others claim that all phenomena are spontaneous without any relationship between cause and effect. (3) Still others insist that such relationship may or may not exist between cause and effect.
Among these Brahmin schools, better ones observe the Five Commandments or Ten Commandments, practice preliminary meditation, and work their way up inch by inch like a measuring worm to the summit of heaven (Hisoten). They take it for the world of Nirvana but as soon as they reach their heaven, they all plunge into the Three Evil Realms (hell, realm of hungry souls, and that of beasts) at the bottom. none remain in their heaven although they believe that those who reach Hisoten remain there forever enjoying complete freedom from the cycle of life and death.
Still they are less objectionable compared to other Brahmin schools, which stubbornly insist on following what they had inherited from their masters. Some of them bathe in the Ganges River three times a day in the midst of winter, while others pull out hairs, throw themselves against rocks, roast themselves in fire, burn their limbs and heads, or stay naked. They sacrifice a number of horses, burn grass and trees, or worship every tree, hoping to gain happpiness.
These evil teachings are numerous in number, and their teachers are revered as highly as Indra is by the gods and an emperor by his subjects. Nevertheless, followers of the 95 brahmin schools, whether they are beeter or worse, are unable to leave the cycle of birth and death. Those who follow better masters will fall into evil realms in two or three lives, while those who follow worse masters are bound to plunge there in the next life.
After all, the most important thing for Brahmanism is, like Confucianism, to prepare the way to Buddhism. This is why some Brahmans maintain that the Buddha will be born 1,000 years later, while others insist on 100 years later. It is said, therefore, in the Nirvana Sutra that what is written in all the Brahman scriptures is nothing but the teaching of the Buddha. Again, it is said in the Lotus Sutra that disciples of the Buddha sometimes pretend to be contaminated with the Three Poisons of greed, anger, and ignoranceor show the heretic viewdenying the law of cause and effectas an expedient means to save the people.
In the third place, Sakyamuni Buddha is the supreme leader and excellent eyes for all the people. He is the bridge that enables them to cross the river of evil passions; He is the skipper who guides them over the sea of live and death; and He is the fertile field in which they plant the seed of merits. The so-called Four Sages of Confucianism and Three hermits of Brahmanism, despite their worthy names, are actually unenlightened men unable to rid themselves of the Three Delusions (all delusions and evil passions). Although their names suggest they are wise men, in reality they are as ignorant as infants, who know nothing of the principle of cause and effect. How can we cross the sea of life and death aboard a ship steered by such men? How can we pass through the winding streets of the Six Realms of delusions and evil passions over to the world of Nirvana by means of a bridge constructed by such men? Our Sakyamuni has already crossed the sea of life and death for Arhats, not to speak of that for the unenlightened. He has already extinguished fundamental ignorance, not to speak of delusions and evil passions deriving from it.
Throughout his life ---- fifty years since attaining enlightenment at the age of thirty to His death at the age of eighty ---- Sakyamuni Buddha preached His holy teaching. Each of His writings and words represent the truth. Not a sentence or line does not ring true. Even sages and wise men of Confucianism and Brahmanism never spoke falsely in presenting their thoughts. They spoke the truth. How much more so with Sakyamuni Buddha, who was a man of truth since uncountable kalpa in the past? Therefore, what He preached during His life of fifty years is greater as a teaching of salvation when compared to Confucianism and Brahmanism. Ever since his attainment of Buddhahood till the eve of His death, He preached only the truth.
Considering the 80,000 teachings preached by the Buddha in various sutras for fifty years, however, we see differences among them, such as those between Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism, provisional and ultimate sutras, exoteric and esoteric teachings, general and rough expressions, genuine and expedient words, or true and false opinions.
The Lotus Sutra alone among them represents the true words of our Lord Sakyamuni Buddha and various Buddhas residing in the worlds throughout the universe in the past, present, and future. Sakyamuni Buddha declared that, although the scriptures preached during the first some forty years are as numerous as sands of the Ganges River, they did not reveal the truth, which would be explained in the Lotus Sutra during the following eight years. At the moment Taho Buddha emerged from the earth and attested it all to the truth. Then various Buddhas in manifestation (funjin) came crowding together from various worlds in the universe attesting it to be true and rejoicing by touching the Brahma with their long tongues. The meaning of these words in the Lotus Sutra is shiningly clear --- brighter than the sun in the blue sky, and the full moon at midnight. Look up and put your faith in it. Prostrate yourself before it and think hard about it."
In this section of the Opening of the Eyes, we first hear that the Eternal Buddha Sakyamuni has been preaching the truth since the infinite past.
Here, I only wish to discuss the last paragraph:
"The Lotus Sutra alone among them represents the true words of our Lord Sakyamuni Buddha and various Buddhas residing in the worlds throughout the universe in the past, present, and future. Sakyamuni Buddha declared that, although the scriptures preached during the first some forty years are as numerous as sands of the Ganges River, they did not reveal the truth, which would be explained in the Lotus Sutra during the following eight years. At the moment Taho Buddha emerged from the earth and attested it all to the truth. Then various Buddhas in manifestation (funjin) came crowding together from various worlds in the universe attesting it to be true and rejoicing by touching the Brahma with their long tongues. The meaning of these words in the Lotus Sutra is shiningly clear --- brighter than the sun in the blue sky, and the full moon at midnight. Look up and put your faith in it. Prostrate yourself before it and think hard about it."
How astounding that Taho Buddha and the Buddhas from throughout the universe came from here to testify to the validity of the Lotus Sutra! In the True Object of Worship St. Nichiren states:
"People can attain enlightenment in two ways: by meeting the Buddha and hearing the Lotus Sutra, or by believing in the sutra even though they do not meet the Buddha. Even before the advent of the Buddha, some Brahmans in India realized the correct view of life through the four Vedas. In China before the arrival of Buddhism, some realized the correct view through Taoism and Confucianism. Many bodhisattvas and ordinary people, endowed with keen faculties, perceived [even before they heard the Lotus Sutra] that Shakyamuni had planted the seeds of Buddhahood within them in the days of the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence or in the far more distant past [when he attained his original enlightenment]."
Coming from throughout the universe means that these men, animals and other beings (Arhats, Pratyekabuddha's and those in the other various realms of existence) had been reborn in India and obtained the Supreme Jewel [Enlightenment] by listening to Sakyamuni Buddha preach the Lotus Sutra. Believing in Myoho renge kyo (Lotus Sutra), we receive the exact same benefit as those disciples who heard the Lotus Sutra from the Buddha. It is not enough for the men and women in the latter age to hear the Lotus Sutra, they must be led to believe in the Lotus Sutra.