“All of the wise persons of Japan at the present time are like the host of stars, and I, Nichiren, am like the full moon.” — The Selection of the Time
The Selection of The Time, one of Nichiren’s Five Major Writings, is a series of thirty-six questions and thirty answers. Can you answer the questions?
Question: If one preaches the great Law to people who do not have the capacity to understand it, then the foolish ones among them will surely slander it and will fall into the evil paths of existence. Is the person who does the preaching not to blame for this?
Question: Now these two views appear to be as incompatible as fire and water. May I ask how one is to resolve this dilemma? [The two views regarding the utilization of the gentle or forceful practices when spreading the Lotus Sutra]
Question: When is the time for the preaching of the Hinayana sutras and the provisional sutras, and when is the time for the preaching of the Lotus Sutra?
Answer: Even bodhisattvas, from those at the ten stages of faith to great bodhisattvas on the level of near perfect enlightenment, find it difficult to judge matters concerning time and capacity. How then can ordinary beings such as ourselves be able to judge such matters?
Question: Is there no way to determine them?
Answer: Let us borrow the eye of the Buddha to consider this question of time and capacity. Let us use the sun of the Buddha to illuminate the nation.
Question: What do you mean by that?
Question: What passages can you cite to prove this?
Question: The sutra passages you have cited clearly prove your point. But are there any prophecies in the writings of T’ien-t’ai, Miao-lo, or Dengyo that would support your argument?
Question: What you say is perfectly true. Nevertheless, we ordinary people have only a very remote idea of what the sutras mean, while the commentaries are more accessible and easier to understand. If there are clear passages of proof in such relatively understandable commentaries, then citing them might help us have greater faith in your argument.
Question: Do the scholars Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu say anything about this principle [of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo]?
Question: Why did they not expound it?
Question: Could you explain the matter in greater detail? [Why Nagarjuna and Vasubandu did not expound the Supreme Law].
Question: How then can you say that in the Middle Day of the Law the teachings of the Lotus Sutra were not widely disseminated and spread abroad?
Question: Do you mean to say that Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, and the others did not teach the true meaning of the Lotus Sutra?
Question: Then what doctrines did they teach?
Question: How do you know that this is so? [repeated two times, that Nagarjuna and Vasubandu did not teach the doctrines of the Lotus Sutra].
Question: Among the treatises remaining in India, are there any that are superior to the ones transmitted to China? [Referring to any which might be superior the Lotus Sutra which was transmitted to China in the 3rd Century CE].
Question: Is there anyone else who thinks the way you do in this matter? [That the Three Truths doctrine is only correctly illucidated in the Lotus Sutra which goes way beyond the mere doctrine of Emptiness expounded in such Sutras as the Perfection of Wisdom and Flower Garland].
Question: In the latter part of the T’ang dynasty, the Tripitaka Master Pu-k’ung introduced to China a treatise in one volume entitled The Treatise on the Mind Aspiring for Enlightenment, whose authorship he ascribed to Bodhisattva Nagarjuna. The Great Teacher Kobo says of it, “This treatise represents the heart and core of all the thousand treatises of Nagarjuna.” What is your opinion on this?
Question: How do you know that the translators other than Kumarajiva made errors?
Question: That tells us about the translators who lived at the time of Kumarajiva or before. But what about later translators such as Shan-wu-wei or Pu-k’ung? [This question pertains to the false and error filled translations and misguided translators in the Middle Day but please keep in mind that today, in this Latter Day, the problem of false and erroneous translations from the misguided Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai translators are an even more grievous matter].
Question: In view of all this, how can you deny that during the Middle Day of the Law the true meaning of the Lotus Sutra was not made clear,..?
Question: How then can you deny that in the latter part of the Middle Day of the Law the wide proclamation and propagation of the Lotus Sutra was not achieved?
Question: What is this secret Law? First, tell me its name, and then I want to hear its meaning.
Question: In what way are these three schools in error? [Pure Land, True Word, and Zen]
Question: What are we to make of such statements put forth in these commentaries? [That the True Word teachings Are Superior to the Lotus Sutra teachings].
Question: When it comes to those who maintain that the Lotus Sutra is superior to the True Word teachings, should they try to make use of these commentaries by Jikaku, or should they reject them?
Question: How do we come to understand it? [The Tendai priest Jikaku's errors].
Question: The great earthquake of the Shoka era, the huge comet of the Bun’ei era— what caused these to appear?
T’ien-t’ai says, “Wise men can perceive the cause of things, as snakes know the way of snakes.”
Question: What do you mean by this statement?
Question: Is there anyone in Japan, China, or India who understands this matter? [That bodhisattva Superior Practices Has been summoned by Shakyamuni Buddha to spread Namu Myoho renge kyo in this dreadful age]?
Question: But if there is no wise person who understands why these calamities have arisen, then how can proper steps be taken to deal with them?
Question: Now the great earthquake and the huge comet that have appeared are calamities brought about by heaven, which is enraged because the ruler of our country hates Nichiren and sides with the Zen, Nembutsu, and True Word priests who preach doctrines that will destroy the nation!
How can I believe that?
Question: At the time of your second pronouncement on the twelfth day of the ninth month in the eighth year of the Bun’ei era, when you incurred the wrath of the authorities, how did you know that if harm was done to you rebellion would break out and the country would also be attacked by armies from abroad?
Question: These men were all guilty of faults that condemned them to the Avichi hell or the hell of incessant suffering. How, then, do you dare to claim that you are the wisest man in the entire land of Jambudvipa? Will you not fall into hell like the others? What a frightful thing to do!
Question: Is there anyone from times past who has spoken the way you have just done? [Nichiren Daishonin's proclaiming himself the Supreme Votary of the Sutra].
Question: “But under what circumstances should one be prepared to sacrifice one’s life and safety?”