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Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Three Powerful Enemies

"As for priests who are thought well of by others, who go along with other people’s desires and so come to be revered, one should regard them as the enemies of the Lotus Sutra and as evil influences to the world. A sutra passage likens persons of this type to a hunter who spies sharply about him as he stalks a deer, or to a cat who hides its claws as it creeps up on a mouse. In just such a way, we are told, do they flatter, deceive, and mislead the lay men and women.

In addition, the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter mentions three groups of people who are enemies of the Lotus Sutra. The first group consists of laymen and laywomen. These lay men and women will hate and curse the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, beat them, put them to the sword, drive them from their dwellings, or slander them to the authorities so that they are exiled to distant places. They behave toward them with pitiless enmity.

The second group consists of monks. These men are arrogant at heart, and though they have little true understanding, they pretend to be very wise and are looked upon by the people of the world as great authorities. When these men see the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, they hate and envy them, treat them with contempt and scorn, and speak evil of them to others as if they were inferior to dogs or foxes. In their opinion, they alone have truly understood the Lotus Sutra.

The third group is made up of monks living in secluded places. These monks have all the outward signs of being holy men. They possess only the prescribed three robes and one begging bowl, and live in seclusion in a quiet spot in a mountain forest, so that everyone looks up to them as though they were the arhats living at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, and all people revere them as though they were Buddhas. When these men see the monks who read and uphold the Lotus Sutra in accordance with its teachings, they hate and envy them, calling them great fools or holders of grave erroneous views, claiming that they are completely lacking in compassion, and that they preach non-Buddhist doctrines. And because the ruler looks up to such men and believes what they say, everyone down to the common people gives alms to them as though they were Buddhas. Thus the Buddha taught that persons who read and uphold the Lotus Sutra in accordance with its teachings will invariably be hated by these three types of enemies."

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