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Major Writings II - Nichiren Daishounin

On the Buddha's Prophecy
Home
A Comparison of the Lotus Sutra and Other Sutras
A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering
Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment
Clear Sake Gosho
Letter to Niike
Letter to Domyo Zemmon
Letter to Akimoto
Letter from Sado
Reply to Nichigon-ama
Roots of Good Fortune
Reply to Jibu-bo
No Safety in the Threefold World - Nichiren Daishounin
Letter to Horen - Nichiren Daishounin
King Rinda - Nichiren Daishounin
Jozo and Jogen - Nichiren Daishounin
Bodhisattva Hachiman - Nichiren Daishounin
On Prayer - Nichiren Daishounin
The Opening of the Eyes Part I
The Opening of the Eyes Part II
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man Part II
Establishment of the Legitimate Teaching for the Protection of the Country
How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood Through the Lotus Sutra
The Learned Doctor Shan-wu-wei
The Entity of the Mystic Law
The Pure and Far-reaching Voice
Reply to Takahashi Nyudo
The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country
The Doctrine of Attaining Buddhahood in One's Present Form
Encouragement to a Sick Person
The Essence of the Yakuo Chapter
The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra
The Supreme Leader of the World
The Treasure of a Filial Child
The Supremacy of the Law
Reply to Nii-ama
The Workings of Bonten and Taishaku
The Story of Ohashi no Taro
The Teaching in Accordance with the Buddha's Own Mind
The Treatment of Illness and the Points of Difference between Mahayana and Hinayana and Provisional
Repaying Debts of Gratitude
On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings
On the Urabon
Letter to the Priests of Seicho-ji
Letter to Nichimyo Shonin
Letter to Shomitsu-bo
Questions and Answers on Embracing the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Sairen-bo
Rationale for Submitting the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Persecution by Sword and Staff
Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins
Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters
Reply to Lord Hakiri Saburo
Reply to Yasaburo
Letter to Ichinosawa Nyudo
Letter to Myomitsu Shonin
Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro
Wu-lung and I-lung
White Horses and White Swans
The Sutra of True Requital
The Kalpa of Decrease
The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream
The Third Doctrine
The One-eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log
Letter to Nakaoki Nyudo
General Stone Tiger
The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life
Lessening the Karmic Retribution
Letter to the Brothers
Hell is the Land of Tranquil Delight
On Prolonging Life
On the Buddha's Behavior
On the Buddha's Prophecy
On the Treasure Tower
Propagation by the Wise
The Embankments of Faith
The Dragon Gate
Strategy of the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Kyo-o
The Person and the Law
The One Essential Phrase
The Gift of Rice
The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon
Letter of Petition from Yorimoto
Introduction and Preface to the Ongi Kuden: Namu Myoho Renge Kyo [Devotion to the Lotus Sutra]
Muryogi Sutra [Sutra of Innumerable Meanings]
Chapter 3: Simile and Parable [Hiyu]
Chapter 4: Faith and Understanding [Shinge]
Chapter 6: Prediction [Juki]
Chapter 7: Phantom City [Kejoyu]
Chapter 8: Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples [Gohyaku Deshi Juki]

On the Buddha's Prophecy


- Kembutsu Mirai Ki -


Nichiren, the Shramana of Japan

The seventh volume of the Lotus Sutra states, "In the fifth five hundred years after my death, accomplish worldwide kosen-rufu and never allow its flow to cease." On the one hand, it is deplorable to me that more than twenty-two hundred and twenty years have already passed since the Buddha's death. What evil karma prevented me from being born in his lifetime? Why couldn't I have seen the four ranks of saints in the Former Day of the Law, or T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo in the Middle Day? On the other hand, I rejoice at whatever good fortune enabled me to be born in the fifth five hundred years and read these words of the Buddha.

Even if I had been born in the Buddha's lifetime, it would have served no purpose, for those who embraced the first four tastes of teachings had not yet heard of the Lotus Sutra. Again, my being born in either the Former or Middle Day of the Law would have been meaningless, for neither the scholars of the three sects to the south or the seven sects to the north of the Yangtze River, nor those of the Kegon, Shingon or any other sects, believed in the Lotus Sutra.

The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai said, "In the fifth five hundred years, the Mystic Way shall spread and benefit mankind far into the future." Doesn't this describe the time of kosen-rufu? The Great Teacher Dengyo said, "The Former and Middle Days are almost over, and the Latter Day is near at hand." These words reveal how he longed to live at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law. When one compares the rewards of living in the three different periods, it is clear that mine surpass not only those of Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu, but those of T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo.

Question: You are not the only person living in this five-hundred-year period; why are you in particular so overjoyed to be living now?

Answer: The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra reads, "Since hatred and jealousy abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?" The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai stated, "It will be 'much worse' in the future because the Lotus Sutra is so hard to teach." The Great Teacher Miao-lo explained, "T'ien-t'ai calls the Lotus Sutra 'hard to teach' to let us know how hard it is to enable people to understand it." Priest Chih-tu stated, "It is said that good medicine tastes bitter. Similarly, this sutra dispels attachments to the five vehicles and establishes the one supreme teaching. It reproaches common mortals and censures saints, denies Mahayana and refutes Hinayana... All those who are repudiated persecute the believers in the Lotus Sutra." The Great Teacher Dengyo said, "The propagation of the true teaching will begin in the age when the Middle Day of the Law ends and the Latter Day opens, in a land to the east of T'ang and to the west of Katsu, among people stained by the five impurities who live in a time of conflict." The sutra says, "Since hatred and jealousy abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?' There is good reason for this statement." The Great Teacher Dengyo wrote as though describing his own day, but actually, he was referring to the present time. That is what gives such profound meaning to his words, "The Former and Middle Days are almost over, and the Latter Day is near at hand."

The sutra states, "Devils, people under their influence, spirits of the heavens and seas, sinister demons called Yasha, demons which drain human vitality and others will seize the advantage." Another portion of the sutra details these "others": "Yasha, nimble demons, hungry demons, demons of filth, vengeful demons, red, orange, black, and blue demons, and so on." These passages explain that those who in previous lifetimes embraced the four tastes or the three teachings, Brahmanism, or the doctrines of Humanity and Heaven appear in this life as devils, spirits or human beings who persecute the votary of the true and perfect teaching when they see or hear of him.

Question: In comparing the Former and Middle days with the Latter Day of the Law, it seems to me that the first two periods were far superior in terms of both time and the people's inborn capacity. Why are these factors of time and capacity ignored in the Lotus Sutra which refers exclusively to this age?

Answer: The Buddha's thoughts are difficult to fathom. Indeed, even I am still unable to do so. We may attempt to understand, however, by taking Hinayana Buddhism as a point of clarification. During the thousand years of the Former Day of the Law, Hinayana was fully endowed with teaching, practice and proof. In the subsequent thousand years of the Middle Day, teaching and practice still remained, but no longer was there any proof. Now in the Latter Day of the Law, the teaching remains, but there is neither practice nor proof. To examine this from the standpoint of the Lotus Sutra: In the thousand years of the Former Day of the Law, those who possessed all three had most probably formed a bond of faith with the Lotus Sutra during the Buddha's lifetime. They were born again in the Former Day and were able to obtain the proof of Hinayana through its teaching and practice. Those born in the Middle Day had not developed strong ties to the Lotus Sutra during the Buddha's lifetime and were therefore unable to attain proof through Hinayana. They turned instead to provisional Mahayana and were thus able to be born in pure lands throughout the universe. In the Latter Day of the Law, there is no longer any benefit to be gained from either Mahayana or Hinayana. Hinayana retains nothing but its teaching; it has neither practice nor proof. Mahayana still has its teaching and practice but no longer provides any benefit whatsoever, either conspicuous or inconspicuous.

Furthermore, the sects of Hinayana and provisional Mahayana established during the Former and Middle Days of the Law cling all the more stubbornly to their doctrines as they enter the Latter Day. Those who espouse Hinayana reject Mahayana, and those who espouse provisional teachings attack the true teachings, until the country is overrun with people who slander. Those who fall into the evil paths because of their mistaken practice of Buddhism outnumber the dust particles which comprise the earth, while those who attain Buddhahood by practicing the true teachings are fewer than the dust specks you can hold on a fingernail. The gods have now abandoned the country, and only demons remain, possessing the minds and bodies of the ruler, his subjects, priests and nuns, and causing them to vilify and humiliate the votary of the Lotus Sutra.

If, however, in this time period after the Buddha's death, one renounces his attachments to the four tastes and three teachings and converts to faith in the Lotus Sutra which is true Mahayana, all the gods and countless Bodhisattvas of the Earth will protect him as the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Under their protection, he will establish the true object of worship represented by the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo and bring it to the entire world.

It was the same with Bodhisattva Fukyo who lived in the Middle Day of the Buddha Ionno's Law. He propagated the teaching of twenty-four characters which begins, "I deeply respect...," and was persecuted and attacked with staves. The words of the twenty-four characters of Fukyo are different from the five characters of Nichiren, but their spirit is the same. The method of propagation is also exactly the same both at the end of the Buddha Ionno's Middle Day and now at the beginning of the Latter Day. Bodhisattva Fukyo was a person of shozuiki and Nichiren is a common mortal of myoji-soku, which are both the initial stages of practice.

Question: How can you be certain that you are the votary of the Lotus Sutra prophesied to appear at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law?

Answer: A passage from the Lotus Sutra states, "...how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?" Another passage reads, "There are many ignorant people who will vilify and attack us, the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, with swords and staves." A third passage says, "We will be banished again and again." A fourth reads, "The people will be full of hostility, and it will be extremely difficult to believe." A fifth reads, "They will stone him and beat him with staves." A sixth reads, "Devils, people under their influence, spirits of the heavens and seas, sinister demons called Yasha, demons which drain human vitality and others will seize the advantage."

That the people might believe in the Buddha's words, I have sought throughout Japan, among the sovereign and his subjects, among priests and nuns, lay men and women, for one who has fulfilled these explicit predictions, but I can find none other than myself. Now is most certainly the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, but had Nichiren not appeared, the Buddha's predictions would be false.

Question: You are an extremely arrogant priest--even more arrogant than Mahadeva or Sunakshatra. Is this not so?

Answer: Slandering Nichiren is a sin even graver than those of Devadatta or Vimalamitra. My words may sound arrogant, but my sole purpose is to fulfill the Buddha's predictions and reveal the truth of his teachings. In all Japan, who but Nichiren can be called the votary of the Lotus Sutra? By denouncing Nichiren, you will make lies of all the Buddha's prophecies. Are you not then an extremely evil man?

Question: You certainly fit the Buddha's prophecies. But are there perhaps not other votaries of the Lotus Sutra in India or China?

Answer: There cannot be two suns in the world. Can there be two sovereigns in one country?

Question: What proof do you have of this?

Answer: The moon appears in the west and gradually shines eastward, while the sun rises in the east and casts its rays to the west. The same is true of Buddhism. It spread from west to east in the Former and Middle Days of the Law, but will travel from east to west in the Latter Day. The Great Teacher Miao-lo said, "Buddhism has been lost in India, and they are seeking it abroad." Thus there is no Buddhism in India anymore. One hundred fifty years ago in China, during the reign of Emperor Kao-tsung, barbarians from the north invaded the Eastern Capital and put an end to what little was left of both Buddhism and the political order there. Now, not one Hinayana sutra remains in China and most Mahayana sutras have also been lost. Even when Jakusho and other priests set out from Japan to take some sutras to China, there was no one there to whom these sutras could be taught. Their efforts were as meaningless as trying to teach Buddhism to wooden or stone statues garbed in priests' robes and carrying mendicants' bowls. That is why Tsun-shih said, "Buddhism was first transmitted from the west, just as the moon first appears in the west. Now Buddhism returns from the east like the sun rising in the east." The words of Miao-lo and Tsun-shih make it clear that Buddhism is lost in both India and China.

Question: Now I can see there is no Buddhism in either India or China, but how do you know there is no Buddhism in the other three lands--to the east, west and north?

Answer: The eighth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, "After the Buddha's death, I will spread this sutra within the entire southern land and never allow it to perish." The word "within" indicates that the other three lands were excluded.

Question: You have fulfilled the Buddha's prophecy; now what do you yourself predict?

Answer: There can be no doubt that the fifth five-hundred-year period has already begun as prophesied by the Buddha. I say that, without fail, Buddhism shall arise and flow forth from the east, from the land of Japan. Omens will occur in the form of natural disasters of a magnitude greater than ever before witnessed in the Former or Middle Day of the Law. When the Buddha was born, when he turned the wheel of doctrine, and also when he entered nirvana, the omens, both auspicious and inauspicious, were greater than any ever observed. The Buddha is the teacher of all saints. The sutras describe how, at the time of his birth, five colors of light shone forth in all directions, and the night became as bright as noon. At the time of his death, twelve white arcs crossed the sky from north to south, the sun's light was extinguished, and the day became as dark as midnight. There followed the two thousand years of the Former and Middle Days of the Law; saints, some Buddhist and some not, were born and died, but never were there any omens of such magnitude.

However, from the beginning of the Shoka period through this year, there have been tremendous earthquakes and extraordinary phenomena in the heavens, exactly like the signs which marked the Buddha's birth and death. Know that a saint like the Buddha has been born. A great comet crossed the sky, but for which sovereign or subject did this omen come? The earth tilted, and gaping fissures opened three times, but for which saint or sage did this occur? You should realize that these great omens, both good and bad, are of no ordinary significance. They are signs that the Great Pure Law is ascending and the Pure Law is in decline. T'ien-t'ai stated, "By observing the fury of the rain, we can tell the greatness of the dragon that caused it, and by observing the flourishing of the lotus flowers, we can tell the depth of the pond they grow in." Miao-lo said, "Wise men can see omens and what they foretell, as snakes know the way of snakes."

Twenty-one years ago I, Nichiren, understood what was to come. Since then I have suffered persecution day after day and month after month. In the last two or three years, among other things, I was almost put to death. The chances are one in ten thousand that I will survive the year or even the month. If anyone questions these things, let him ask my disciples for details. What joy is ours to expiate in one lifetime our slanders from the eternal past! How fortunate to serve the Buddha who has never been known until now! I pray that before anything else I can guide to the truth the sovereign and those others who persecuted me. I will tell the Buddha about all the disciples who have aided me, and before they die, I will share the great blessings of this faith with my parents who gave me life. Now as if in a dream I understand the heart of the Hoto chapter, which reads, "To hurl Mount Sumeru into countless Buddha lands would not be difficult...but to spread this sutra in the evil age after the Buddha's death is difficult." The Great Teacher Dengyo stated, "Shakyamuni taught that the shallow is easy to embrace, but the profound is difficult. To discard the shallow and seek the profound requires courage." The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai practiced in a manner true to Shakyamuni's teachings and spread the Hokke sect throughout China. Dengyo and his followers received the doctrine from T'ien-t'ai and disseminated it throughout Japan. Nichiren of Awa Province inherited the lineage of Buddhism from these three teachers and propagated the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. Together they should be called "the four masters of Buddhism in the three countries." Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The eleventh day of the fifth intercalary month in the tenth year of Bun'ei (1273)

 

  

Home
The True Entity of Life
The One Essential Phrase
The Essence of the Juryo Chapter
The True Object of Worship
The Selection of the Time
The Problem to Be Pondered Night and Day
Reply to the Mother of Lord Ueno
The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings
Teaching, Practice, and Proof
On Omens
On Persecutions Befalling the Buddha
The Votary of the Lotus Sutra Will Meet Persecution
Thus I Heard
The Izu Exile
The Origin of the Urabon
The Royal Palace
The Meaning of Faith
The Third Day of the New Year
Reply to the Followers
The Causal Law of Life
The Swords of Good and Evil
The Teaching for the Latter Day
The Unmatched Fortune of the Law
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Letter to Konichi-bo
Letter to Misawa
An Outline of the Zokurui and Other Chapters
Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha Made by Shijo Kingo
Curing Karmic Disease
Admonitions Against Slander
Bestowal of the Mandala of the Mystic Law
The Receipt of New Fiefs
The Unity of Husband and Wife
Letter to Ko-no-ama Gozen
Winter Always Turns to Spring
On Filial and Unfilial Conduct
A Father Takes Faith
A Warning against Begrudging One's Fief
The Mongol Envoys
Reply to Tokimitsu
Reply to Myoho Bikuni Gozen
Beneficial Medicine for All Ills
A Sage Perceives the Three Existences of Life
The Proof of the Lotus Sutra
Letter to Jakunichi-bo
Aspiration for the Buddha Land
Reply to Lord Shijo Kingo
The Universal Salty Taste
Good Fortune in This Life
The Wealthy Man Sudatta
Letter to Gijo-bo
New Year's Gosho
Persecution at Tatsunokuchi
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Reply to Lord Matsuno's Wife
The Birth of Tsukimaro
Banishment to Sado
Great Evil and Great Good
Happiness In This World
Letter from Echi
Letter to Endo Saemon-no-jo
Letter to Priest Nichiro in Prison
On Flowers and Seeds
On Itai Doshin
Postscript to the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Reply to a Believer
Reply to Ko Nyudo
Reply to Lady Onichi-nyo
Reply to Lord Matsuno
Rissho Ankoku Ron
The Difficulty of Sustaining Faith
The Offering of a Summer Robe
The Property of Rice
The Wonderful Means of Surmounting Obstacles
Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward
Upholding Faith in the Gohonzon
The Drum at the Gate of Thunder

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