Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man II
- Shogu Mondo Sho -
At this, the unenlightened man looked somewhat mollified and said, "The words of the
sutra are clear as a mirror; there is no room to doubt or question their meaning. But although the Lotus Sutra surpasses all
the other sutras that the Buddha taught before, at the same time, or after, and represents the highest point in his preaching
life, still it cannot compare with the single truth of Zen, which cannot be bound by words or confined in the text of a sutra,
and which deals with the true nature of our minds. In effect, the realm where the countless doctrines are all cast aside and
where words cannot reach is what is called the truth of Zen.
"Thus, on the banks of the Hiranyavati River, in
the grove of sal trees, Shakyamuni Buddha stepped out of his golden coffin, twirled a flower, and when he saw Mahakashyapa's
faint smile, entrusted this teaching of Zen to him. Since then, it has been handed down without any irregularity through a
lineage of twenty-eight patriarchs in India, and was widely propagated by a succession of six patriarchs in China. Bodhidharma
is the last of the twenty-eight patriarchs of India and the first of the six patriarchs of China. We must not allow this transmission
to be lost, and founder in the nets of doctrine!
"So in the Daibontenno Mombutsu Ketsugi Sutra, the Buddha says,
'I have a subtle teaching concerning the Eye and Treasury of the True Law, the Wonderful Mind of Nirvana, the True Aspect
of Reality That Is without Characteristics. It represents a separate transmission outside the sutras, independent of words
or writing. I entrust it to Mahakashyapa.'
"Thus we see that this single truth of Zen was transmitted to Mahakashyapa
apart from the sutras. All the teachings of the sutras are like a finger pointing at the moon. Once we have seen the moon,
what use do we have for the finger? And once we have understood this single truth of Zen, the true nature of the mind, why
should we concern ourselves any longer with the Buddha's teachings? Therefore a man of past times has said, 'The twelve divisions
of the sutras are all idle writings.'
"If you will open and read the Platform Sutra of Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch
of this sect, you will see that this is true. Once one has heard even a single word and thereby grasped and understood the
truth, what use does he have for the teachings? But how are we to understand this principle?"
The sage replied,
"You must first of all set aside the doctrines for the moment and consider the logic of the matter. Can anyone, without inquiring
into the essential meaning of the Buddha's lifetime teachings or investigating the basic principles of the ten sects, presume
to admonish the nation and teach others? This Zen that you are taking about is something that I have studied exhaustively
for some time. In view of the extreme doctrines that it teaches, I must say that it is a highly distorted affair.
are three types of Zen, known respectively as Tathagata Zen, doctrinal Zen, and patriarchal Zen. What you are referring to
is patriarchal Zen, and I would therefore like to give you a general idea of it. So listen, and understand what it is about.
speaks of transmitting something apart from the teachings. But apart from the teachings there are no principles, and apart
from principles there are no teachings. Don't you understand the logic of this, that principles are none other than teachings
and teachings none other than principles? This talk about the twirled flower, the faint smile, and something being entrusted
to Mahakashyapa is in itself a teaching, and the four-character phrase about its being 'independent of words or writing' is
likewise a teaching and a statement in words. This sort of talk has been around for a long while in both China and Japan.
It may appear novel to you, but let me quote one or two passages that will clear up your misconceptions.
eleven of the Hochu states: 'If one says that we are not to hamper ourselves by the use of verbal expressions, then how, for
even an instant in this saha world, can we carry on the Buddha's work? Do not the Zen followers themselves use verbal explanations
when they are giving instruction to others? If one sets aside words and phrases, then there is no way to explain the meaning
of emancipation, so how can anyone ever hear about it?'
"Farther on, we read: 'It is said that Bodhidarma came
from the west and taught the "direct pointing to the mind of man" and "perceiving one's true nature and attaining Buddhahood."
But are these same concepts not found in the Kegon Sutra and in the other Mahayana sutras? Alas, how can the people of our
time be so foolish! You should all put faith in the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddhas, the Tathagatas, tell no lies!'
restate the meaning of this passage: if one objects that we are hampering ourselves with doctrinal writings and tying ourselves
down with verbal explanations, and recommends a type of religious practice that is apart from the teachings of the sutras,
then by what means are we to carry on the Buddha's work and make good causes in this saha world of ours? Even the followers
of Zen, who advocate these views, themselves make use of words when instructing others. In addition, when one is trying to
convey an understanding of the Buddhist Way, he cannot communicate the meaning if he sets aside words and phrases. Bodhidharma
came to China from the west, pointed directly to people's minds, and declared that those minds were Buddha. But this principle
is enunciated in various places even in the provisional Mahayana sutras that preceded the Lotus Sutra, such as the Kegon,
Daijuku and Daihannya sutras. To treat it as such a rare and wonderful thing is too ridiculous for words. Alas, how can the
people of our time be so distorted in their thinking! They should put their faith in the words of truth spoken by the Tathagata
of perfect enlightenment and complete reward, who embodies the principle of the Middle Way that is the true aspect of all
"In addition, the Great Teacher Miao-lo in the first volume of his Guketsu comments on this situation
by saying, 'The people of today look with contempt on the sutra teachings and emphasize only the contemplation of truth, but
they are making a great mistake, a great mistake indeed!'
"This passage applies to the people in the world today
who put meditation on the mind and the dharmas first and do not delve into or study the teachings of the sutras. On the contrary,
they despise the teachings and make light of the sutras. This passage is saying that this is a mistake.
I should point out that the Zen followers of the present age are confused as to the teachings of their own sect. If we open
the pages of the Zoku Koso Den, we find that in the biography of the Great Teacher Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of Zen
in China, it states, 'By means of the teachings one can understand the essential meaning.' Therefore, one should study and
practice the principles embodied in the sacred teachings preached by the Buddha in the course of his lifetime and thereby
gain an understanding of the substance of the various doctrines and the nature of the different sects.
in the biography of Bodhidharma's disciple, Hui-k'o, the second of the six Chinese patriarchs, it states that the Meditation
Master Bodhidharma handed over the four volumes of the Ryoga Sutra to Hui-k'o, saying, 'Observing this land of China, I find
only this sutra to be of real worth. If you base your practice on it, you will be able to bring salvation to the world.' Here
we see that, when the Great Teacher Bodhidharma came from India to China, he brought the four volumes of the Ryoga Sutra and
handed them over to Hui-k'o, saying, 'When I observe the situation in this country, I see that this sutra is of outstanding
superiority. You should abide by it and put it into practice and become a Buddha.'
"As we have just seen, these
patriarch-teachers placed primary emphasis on the sutra texts. But if we therefore say that one must rely on the sutras, then
we must take care to inquire whether those sutras belong to the Mahayana or the Hinayana, whether they are provisional teachings
or true teachings.
"When it comes to making use of sutras, the Zen sect relies on such works as the Ryoga Sutra,
the Shuryogon Sutra, and the Kongo Hannya Sutra. These are all provisional teachings that were preached before the Lotus Sutra,
doctrines that conceal the truth.
"These various sutras expound partial truths such as 'the mind itself is Buddha
and Buddha is none other than the mind.' The Zen followers have allowed themselves to be led astray by one or two such sentences
and phrases, failing to inquire whether they represent the Mahayana or the Hinayana, the provisional or the true teachings,
the doctrines that reveal the truth or the doctrines that conceal it. They merely advance the principle of non-duality without
understanding the principle of duality, and commit an act of great arrogance, claiming that they themselves are equal to the
Buddha. They are following in the tracks of the Great Arrogant Brahman of India and imitating the old ways of the Meditation
Master San-chieh of China. But we should recall that the Great Arrogant Brahman, while still alive, fell into the hell of
incessant suffering, and that San-chieh, after he died, turned into a huge snake. How frightful, how frightful indeed!
Buddha, with his understanding that had penetrated the three existences, and by the light of the clear wisdom-moon of perfect
enlightenment and complete reward, peered into the future and, in the Zobo Ketsugi Sutra, made this prediction: 'Among the
evil monks there will be those who practice meditation and, instead of relying on the sutras and treatises, heed only their
own view of things, declaring wrong to be right. Unable to distinguish between what is correct and what is heretical, all
they will do is face the clergy and lay believers and declare in this fashion, "I can understand what is right, I can see
what is right." You should understand that it is people like this who will destroy my teachings in no time at all.'
passage is saying that there will be evil monks who put all their faith in Zen and do not delve into the sutras and treatises.
They will base themselves on heretical views and fail to distinguish between false and true doctrines. Moreover, they will
address themselves to men and women believers, monks and nuns, declaring, 'I can understand the doctrines, but other people
do not,' in this way working to spread the Zen teachings. But you should understand that these people will destroy the True
Law of the Buddha. If we examine this passage and observe the state of the world today, we see that the two match each other
as perfectly as do the two pieces of a tally. Be careful! There is much to fear here!
"You spoke earlier of twenty-eight
patriarchs of India who orally transmitted this Zen doctrine, but on what evidence is such a statement based? All the texts
I have seen speak of twenty-four or, in some cases, twenty-three persons who transmitted the Buddha's teachings. Where is
the translation that establishes the number of patriarchs as twenty-eight? I have never seen such a statement. This matter
of the persons who were involved in the line of transmission of the Law is not something that one can simply write about arbitrarily.
The Buddha himself left a clear record of what the line of transmission would be.
"Thus in the Fuhozo Den, it
states: 'There will be a monk by the name of Aryasimha living in the kingdom of Kashmir who will strive vigorously to accomplish
the Buddha's work. At that time the ruler of the kingdom will be named Mirakutsu, a man who gives himself up wholly to false
views and has no reverence or faith in his heart. Throughout the kingdom of Kashmir he will destroy Buddhist temples and stupas
and slaughter monks. He will take a sharp sword and use it to cut off Aryasimha's head. But no blood will spurt from his neck;
only milk will come flowing out. With this, the line of persons who transmit the Law will be cut off.'
this passage: The Buddha says that, after he passes into nirvana, there will be a succession of twenty-four persons who will
transmit his Law. Among these, the last to carry on the line of transmission will be a monk named Aryasimha, who will work
to spread the Buddha's Law throughout the kingdom called Kashmir. The ruler of this state will be a man named King Dammira.
He will be a person of false views and profligate ways, who has no faith in the Buddha's Law and no reverence for the monks.
He will destroy Buddhist halls and stupas and use a sword to cut off the heads of the monks. And when he cuts off the head
of the monk Aryasimha, there will be no blood in his neck; only milk will come flowing out. The Buddha declares that at this
time the line of persons who transmit the Law will be cut off.
"The actual events did not in any way differ from
the Buddha's predictions; the Venerable Aryasimha's head was in fact cut off. And as his head fell to the ground, so too did
the arm of the king.
"It is a gross error to speak of twenty-eight patriarchs. This is the beginning of the errors
of the Zen sect. The reason that Hui-neng lists twenty-eight patriarchs in his Platform Sutra is that, when he decided to
treat Bodhidharma as the first patriarch of Chinese Zen, he found that there were too many years between the time of Aryasimha
and that of Bodhidharma. He therefore arbitrarily inserted the names of three Zen teachers to fill up the interval, so that
he could make it seem as though the Law had been transmitted from India to China without any break or irregularity in the
line of transmission. It was all a fabrication designed to make people respect the Zen teachings.
was put forth long ago in China. Thus, the eleventh volume of the Hochu states: 'In our [T'ien-t'ai] school, we recognize
a transmission through twenty-three patriarchs. How could there be any error in this view? Concerning the claim that there
were twenty-eight patriarchs, we can find no translation of a source that supports such a view. Recently Zen priests have
even produced carvings in stone and woodblock engravings, each with a sacred verse attached, which represent the seven Buddhas
and the twenty-eight patriarchs, handing these down to their disciples. Alas, how can there be such blatant falsehoods! If
persons of understanding have any power at all, they should do everything they can to correct such abuses!'
text is saying that to assert a transmission through a line of twenty-eight patriarchs and to produce stone carvings and woodblock
engravings of them to indicate the line of transmission are highly mistaken undertakings, and that anyone who understands
this should work to correct such errors. This is why I say that patriarchal Zen is a gravely erroneous affair.
you quoted a passage from the Daibontenno Mombutsu Ketsugi Sutra to prove your contention that Zen is 'a separate transmission
outside the sutras.' But by quoting a sutra passage you were already contradicting your own assertion. Moreover, this sutra
represents the provisional teachings, and, in addition, it is not listed either in the K'ai-yuan or the Chen-yuan era catalogues
of Buddhist works. Thus we see that it is a work unlisted in the catalogues and a provisional teaching as well. Hence the
scholars of our time do not refer to it; it cannot be used to prove anything.
"Coming now to the Lotus Sutra,
we should note the groups which benefited when it was preached. When the doctrine of the hundred worlds and the thousand factors,
or ichinen sanzen, was expounded in the theoretical teaching, the people of the two vehicles, who had been likened to rotten
seeds [that can never put forth shoots], had the seeds of Buddhahood sprout. In the previous forty-two years of the Buddha's
preaching, these persons had been despised because it was thought that 'never would they attain Buddhahood.' In every gathering
and assembly, they heard nothing but curses and slander spoken against them and were shunned by all those of the human and
heavenly realms, until it seemed that they were destined to die of hunger. But now, when the Lotus Sutra was preached, it
was predicted that Shariputra would become the Flower Light Tathagata, that Maudgalyayana would become the Tamalapattra Sandalwood
Fragrance Tathagata, that Ananda would become the Mountain Sea Wisdom Unrestricted Power King Buddha, that Rahula would become
the Stepping on Seven Treasure Flowers Tathagata, that the five hundred arhats would become Universal Brightness Tathagatas,
and that the two thousand shomon disciples would become Treasure Form Tathagatas. And on the day when the Buddha's life span
from the time he attained enlightenment in the remote past was revealed, the bodhisattvas who were as countless as particles
of dust increased in their understanding of the Way, discarded their still remaining illusions, and attained the last stage
before the level of supreme enlightenment.
"Now if we examine the commentary of the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai,
it states: 'The other sutras tell us that, although the bodhisattvas may become Buddhas, those persons in the two realms of
shomon and engaku can never do so. Good people can become Buddhas, we are told, but there is no indication that evil ones
can do likewise. Men, it is said, can become Buddhas, but women are branded as emissaries from hell. Persons in the human
or heavenly realms can attain Buddhahood, but it is nowhere stated that nonhuman creatures can do so. And yet, in this sutra,
it is stated that all of these beings can attain Buddhahood.'
"What a wonderful thing this is! Though we have
been born in the impure world in the Latter Day of the Law, we have committed neither the five cardinal sins nor the three
cardinal sins as Devadatta did. And yet it was predicted that even Devadatta would in time become the Heavenly King Tathagata,
so how much more should it be possible for persons like us, who have committed no such sins, to attain Buddhahood! And the
eight-year-old dragon king's daughter, without changing her reptilian form, attained the wonderful fruit of Buddhahood in
the southern realm. Therefore, how much more likely is it that women who have been born into the human realm should be able
to do so!
"It is most difficult to be born in human form, and extremely rare to encounter the True Law. Now,
if you want to rid yourself quickly of erroneous beliefs and adhere to what is correct, transform your status as a common
mortal and attain that of Buddhahood, then you should abandon the Nembutsu, Shingon, Zen and Ritsu teachings and embrace this
wonderful text of the single vehicle. If you do so, you will without a doubt be able to shake off the dust and defilement
of delusion and impurity, and manifest yourself as a pure embodiment of enlightenment."
Then the unenlightened
man said, "Listening to the teachings and admonitions of a sage like you, I find that the misunderstandings I have labored
under in recent days are all suddenly dispelled. It is as though inherent wisdom had awakened within me. When right and wrong
are made so clear, who could fail to take faith?
"And yet, when I look at the world around me, I find that, from
the supreme ruler on down to the numberless common people, all place deep trust in the Nembutsu, Shingon, Zen and Ritsu teachings.
Since I have been born in this land, how could I go against the example of the ruler?
"Moreover, my parents and
ancestors all put their faith in the principles of the Nembutsu and other teachings, and in that faith they ended their lives
and vanished into the clouds of the other world.
"Here in Japan, there are, to be sure, a great many people,
both eminent and humble. Yet, while those who adhere to the provisional teachings and the sects based upon them are numerous,
I have yet to hear the name of a single individual who puts faith in the teachings that you have been explaining. Therefore,
leaving aside the question of which teachings will lead to good places in the next life and which will lead to bad ones, and
not attempting to inquire which teachings are true and which false, we find that the five thousand or seven thousand volumes
of the Buddhist scriptures and the three thousand or more volumes of the Confucian and Taoist writings all emphasize the importance
of obeying the orders of the ruler and complying with the wishes of one's parents.
"In India, Shakyamuni, the
lord of teachings, expounded the principles of carrying out filial conduct and repaying one's obligations, and in China, Confucius
set forth the way of giving loyal service to the ruler and honoring one's parents as filial offspring should. A person who
is determined to repay the debt of gratitude he owes his teacher would not hesitate to slice off a piece of his own flesh
or cast his body away. Among those who were aware of the debt of gratitude they owed to their lords, Hung Yen cut open his
stomach, and Yu Jang fell on his sword. And among those who were truly mindful of their obligations to their parents, Ting
Lan fashioned a wooden image of his deceased mother, and Han Po-yu wept [upon realizing how feeble his aged mother had become]
when she beat him with her staff. Though Confucianism, Brahmanism and Buddhism all differ in their doctrines, they are alike
in teaching one to repay debts of kindness and give thanks for favors received.
"Thus if I were to be the first
one to place faith in a doctrine that neither the ruler, my teacher, nor my parents put faith in, I would surely be guilty
of the charge of turning against them, would I not? At the same time, the passages from the sutras that you have quoted make
perfectly clear the truth of this doctrine, and all my doubts about it have been resolved. And if I do not prepare myself
for the life hereafter, then in my next existence I will find myself submerged in suffering. Whether I try to go forward or
to retreat, my way is beset by difficulties. What am I to do?"
The sage replied, "You understand this doctrine,
and yet you can say a thing like that! Have you failed to comprehend the logic of the matter? Or is it simply beyond your
"Ever since I began to study the Law handed down from Shakyamuni Buddha and undertook the practice
of the Buddhist teachings, I have believed it is most important to understand one's obligations to others, and made it my
first duty to repay such debts of kindness. In this world, we owe four debts of gratitude. One who understands this is worthy
to be called human, while one who does not is no more than a beast.
"As I wish to help my father and mother in
their next existence and repay the debt that I owe to my country, I am willing to lay down my life, simply because I understand
the debt that I owe them and for no other reason.
"Now let me ask you to close your eyes, still your mind, and
apply your thoughts to the logic of the matter. If, knowing the best path, one sees his parents or sovereign taking an evil
path, can he fail to admonish them? If a fool, crazed with wine, is about to drink poison, can one, knowing this, not try
to stop him? In the same way, if one understands the truth of the Buddhist teachings and knows the sufferings of fire, blood
and swords, can he fail to lament at seeing someone to whom he owes a debt of gratitude about to fall into the evil paths?
Rather he should cast away his body and lay down his life in an effort to save such a person. He will never grow weary of
admonishing him, nor will there be limits to his grief.
"The sufferings that meet our eyes in this present world
are lamentable enough. How much more lamentable are those that one will encounter on the long road of death! How can we fail
to be pained at the thought of it? A thing to be boundlessly feared is the life hereafter; a matter of greatest concern is
the existence to come!
"And yet you say that, without inquiring into what is right and what is wrong, you will
follow your parents' orders; without attempting to determine what is correct and what is erroneous, you will obey the words
of the sovereign. To a fool, such conduct may appear to be loyal and filial, but in the opinion of a wise man, there can be
no greater disloyalty, no greater departure from filial piety!
"Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, was
a descendant of wheel-turning kings, the grandson of King Simhahanu, and the heir of King Shuddhodana, and should by rights
have become a great ruler of the five regions of India. But he awakened to the truth of the impermanence of life and grew
to abhor the world, desiring a way to escape this realm of suffering and attain emancipation. King Shuddhodana, grieving at
this, cleverly contrived to have the sights of the four seasons displayed to their best advantage in the four directions so
that the prince might be diverted from his intention.
"First, in the east, where a break appeared in the trailing
mist, he pointed out the wild geese crying as they made their way back north; the plums blooming by the window, their fragrance
wafting through the beaded blinds; the entrancing hues of the flowers; the countless calls of the bush warblers; and the other
sights of spring.
"In the south he showed him the crystal colors of the fountains, the deutzia flowers blooming
beside the clear-flowing streams, the cuckoos of Shindoda forest, and the other signs of summer.
"In the west
there were the autumn-reddened leaves mingling with the evergreens to weave a pattern of brocade, the breezes blowing gently
over the reed flowers, or the stormy winds that swept wildly through the pines. And as if to remind one of the departed summer,
there were the fireflies glimmering by the swampside, so numerous that one might mistake them for the stars in the heavens,
and the repeated voices of the pine cricket and the bell cricket, bringing one to tears.
"And in the north, before
one knew it, there was the melancholy color of withered fields, the rims of the ponds sealed with ice, and the sad sound of
the little streams in the valley.
"Not only did the king attempt to console his son's mind by presenting the
world to him in this way, he also assigned five hundred soldiers to guard each of the four gates of the palace. But, in the
end, when the prince was nineteen, at midnight on the eighth day of the second month, he summoned his groom Chandaka, ordered
him to saddle his horse, Kanthaka, and made his way out of the city of Gaya.
"He entered the Dandaka Mountain,
where for twelve years he gathered firewood on the high slopes, drew water in the deep valleys, and performed various austerities
and difficult practices. At the age of thirty he attained the wonderful fruit of enlightenment, becoming the only one worthy
of honor in the threefold world and the lord of all the teachings that he expounded throughout his life. He brought salvation
to his father and mother and opened the way for all living beings. Could such a man be called unfilial?
ninety-five schools of Brahman believers were the ones who accused the Buddha of being unfilial. But by disobeying the command
of his father and mother and entering the realm of the unconditioned, he was, on the contrary, able to lead his father and
mother to salvation, thus demonstrating that he was in fact a model of filial piety.
"King Myoshogon, the father
of Jozo and Jogen, adhered to the teachings of the Brahmans and turned his back on the Law of the Buddha. His two sons and
heirs disobeyed their father's orders and became disciples of Unraionno Buddha, but in the end they were able to guide their
father so that he became a Buddha called Sharajuo, or King of Sal Trees. Could anyone say, then, that these were unfilial
"There is a passage in the sutras that says, 'By renouncing one's obligations and entering nirvana one
can truly repay those obligations in full.' Thus we see that he who casts aside all bonds of indebtedness and love in this
present life and enters into the true path of Buddhism is the one who really understands the meaning of obligations.
I know the depth of the obligation owed to one's ruler far better than you do. If you really wish to show that you understand
your debt of gratitude, then you should admonish the ruler from the depths of your heart and forcefully advise him. To follow
his orders even when these are contrary to what is right is the act of an utter sycophant and the height of disloyalty!
Chou of the Yin dynasty was an evil ruler, and Pi Kan, his loyal minister. When Pi Kan saw that the king was going against
what was right in ruling the nation, he vigorously admonished him. As a result Pi Kan's breast was ripped open, but after
his death, King Chou was overthrown by the king of the Chou. To the present day, Pi Kan has been known as a loyal minister,
and King Chou as an evil ruler.
"When Kuan Lung-p'eng admonished his sovereign, King Chieh of the Hsia dynasty,
he was beheaded. But King Chieh has come to be known as an evil ruler, and Kuan Lung-p'eng as a loyal minister. We are taught
that, if one admonishes his sovereign three times and still his advice is not heeded, then he should retire to the mountain
forests. Why do you nevertheless remain silent while the ruler commits misdeeds in your full view?
"I have gathered
together a few examples of worthy men of ancient times who did in fact retire from the world to dwell in the mountain forests.
Open your foolish ears and listen a moment! During the Yin dynasty, T'ai-kung Wang hid himself in a valley called P'o-ch'i;
in the Chou dynasty, Po I and Shu Ch'i hid themselves on Mount Shou-yang; Ch'i Li-chi of the Ch'in dynasty retired to Mount
Shang-lu; Yen Kuang of the Han dynasty lived in a solitary lodge; and Chieh Tzu-sui of the state of Chin became a recluse
on Mount Mien-shang. Are we to call these men disloyal? Anyone who would do so is a fool! If you understand what it means
to be loyal, you will admonish your sovereign, and if you want to be filial, you must speak up!
said that those who adhere to the provisional teachings and to the sects based on them are very numerous, while those who
adhere to the sect I have been recommending are few, and you ask why one would abandon the teachings favored by many and take
up those favored by few. But the many are not necessarily worthy of honor, nor the few, deserving of contempt.
of wisdom and goodness are rare indeed, while fools and evil persons are numerous. A ch'i-lin is the finest of beasts and
a phoenix the finest of birds, yet they are very few in number. On the other hand, cows and sheep, crows and pigeons are among
the lowlier and commoner of creatures, and yet they are extremely plentiful. If the many are always worthy while the few are
to be despised, should one then cast aside a ch'i-lin in favor of cows and sheep, or pass over a phoenix and instead select
crows and pigeons?
"The mani jewel and the diamond are the most wondrous of all precious stones. These gems are
rare, while broken tiles and shards, clods of earth and common stones are the most useless of objects, and at the same time
abound. Now if one follows your advice, ought he to discard the precious jewels and instead content himself with broken tiles
and shards? How pitiful and meaningless that would be!
"A sage ruler is a rare thing, appearing only once in
a thousand years, while a worthy minister appears once in five hundred years. The mani jewel is so rare that we have only
heard of it, and who, for that matter, has ever actually seen a ch'i-lin or a phoenix? In both secular and religious realms,
as is plain to see, good persons are rare while evil persons are numerous. Why, then, do you insist upon despising the few
and favoring the many? Dirt and sand are plentiful, but rice and other grains are rare. The bark of trees is available in
great quantities, but hemp and silk fabrics are hard to come by. You should put the truth of the teaching before everything
else; certainly you should not base your judgment on the number of adherents."
The unenlightened man thereupon
moved off his mat in a gesture of respect, straightened his sleeves, and said, "I have heard what you stated about the principles
of the sacred teachings. Truly it is more difficult to be born as a human being than it is to lower a thread from the heavens
above and pass it through the eye of a needle at the bottom of the sea, and it is rarer for one to be able to hear the Law
of the Buddha than it is for a one-eyed turtle to encounter a floating log [with a hollow in it that fits him exactly]. Now
I have already obtained birth in the human realm, something difficult to achieve, and have had the privilege of hearing the
Buddhist teachings, which are seldom encountered. If I should pass my present life in idleness, then in what future life could
I possibly free myself from the sufferings of birth and death and attain enlightenment?
"Though in the course
of a kalpa the bones I have left behind in successive existences may pile up higher than a mountain, to this day I have not
yet sacrificed so much as a single bone for the sake of the Buddha's Law. And though, in the course of these many lifetimes,
I have shed more tears over those I loved or was indebted to than there is water in the sea, I have never spilled so much
as a single tear for the sake of my future existences. I am the most stupid of the stupid, truly a fool among fools! Though
I may have to cast aside my life and destroy this body of mine, I am determined to hold life lightly and to enter the path
of the Buddha's teachings, to assist in bringing about the enlightenment of my father and mother and to save my own person
from the bonds of hell. Please teach me exactly how I should go about it! How should one practice if he takes faith in the
Lotus Sutra? Of the five practices, which one should I concentrate on first? Please give me careful instruction in your worthy
The sage replied, "You have been imbued with the fragrance of your orchid-room friend; you have become
upright like mugwort growing in a field of hemp. Truly, the bare tree is not really bare: once spring comes, it bursts into
blossom. The withered field is not really withered: with the coming of summer, it turns fresh and green again! If you have
repented of your former errors and are ready to adhere to the true doctrine, then without doubt you can swim in the calm and
quiet deeps [of nirvana], and dwell at ease in the palace of the unconditioned.
"Now in widely propagating the
Buddhist teachings and bringing salvation to all people, one must first take into consideration the teaching, the capacity
of the people, the time, the country, and the sequence of propagation. The reason is as follows. In terms of the time, there
are the periods of the Former, the Middle and the Latter Days of the Law, and in terms of the teachings, there are the Hinayana
and the Mahayana doctrines. In terms of the practices to be adopted, there are shoju and shakubuku. It is a mistake to practice
shakubuku at a time when shoju is called for, and equally erroneous to practice shoju when shakubuku is appropriate. The first
thing to be determined, therefore, is whether the present period is the time for shoju or the time for shakubuku.
is to be practiced when throughout the entire country only the Lotus Sutra has spread, and when there is not even a single
misguided teacher expounding erroneous doctrines. At such a time, one may retire to the mountain forests, practice the meditation
on the dharmas, or carry out the five, the six or the ten practices. But the time for shakubuku is very different from this.
It is a time when many different sutras and teachings spring up here and there like so many orchids and chrysanthemums, when
the various sects command a large following and enjoy renown, when truth and error stand shoulder to shoulder, and when Mahayana
and Hinayana dispute which is superior. At such a time, one must set aside all other affairs and devote one's attention to
rebuking slander of the Law. This is the practice of shakubuku.
"If, failing to understand this principle, one
were to practice shoju or shakubuku at an inappropriate time, then not only would he be unable to attain Buddhahood, but he
would fall into the evil paths. This is firmly laid down in the Lotus and Nirvana sutras, and is also clearly stated in the
commentaries by T'ien-t'ai and Miao-lo. It is, in fact, an important principle of Buddhist practice.
compare these two ways of practice to the two types of measures, the civil and the military, used in governing a nation. There
is a time when military measures should take precedence, and a time when civil measures ought to be emphasized. When the world
is at peace and calm prevails within the country, then civil measures should take precedence. But when the barbarian tribes
to the east, west, north and south, fired by wild ambitions, rise up like hornets, then military measures should come first.
one may understand the importance of both civil and military arts, if he does not understand the time, donning armor and taking
up weapons when all countries are calm and peaceful and there is no trouble anywhere throughout the world, then his actions
will be wrong. On the other hand, one who lays aside his weapons on the battlefield when enemies are marching against his
ruler and instead takes up a writing brush and inkstone is likewise failing to act in accordance with the time.
methods of shoju and shakubuku are also like this. When the True Law alone is propagated and there are no erroneous doctrines
or misguided teachers, then one may enter the deep valleys and live in quiet contentment, devoting his time to reciting and
copying the sutra and to the practice of meditation. This is like taking up a writing brush and inkstone when the world is
at peace. But when there are provisional sects or slanderers of the Law in the country, then it is time to set aside other
matters and devote oneself to rebuking slander. This is like taking up weapons on the battlefield.
the Great Teacher Chang-an in his commentary on the Nirvana Sutra states: 'In past times the age was peaceful and the Law
spread throughout the country. At that time it was proper to observe the precepts and not to carry staves. But now the age
is perilous and the Law is overshadowed. Therefore it is proper to carry staves and to disregard the precepts. If both past
and present were perilous times, then it would be proper to carry staves in both periods. And if both past and present were
peaceful times, then it would be proper to observe the precepts in both of them. You should distinguish between the shoju
and the shakubuku methods and never adhere solely to one or the other.' The meaning of this passage of commentary is perfectly
"In past times the world was honest, people were upright, and there were no erroneous teachings or erroneous
doctrines. Therefore one could behave in a dignified manner and carry out his religious practices peacefully and amicably.
There was no need to take up staves and berate others, no occasion to attack erroneous teachings.
"But the present
age is a defiled one. Because the minds of people are warped and twisted, and provisional teachings and slander alone abound,
the True Law cannot prevail. In times like these, it is useless to practice the reading, reciting and copying [of the Lotus
Sutra] or to devote oneself to the methods and practices of meditation. One should practice only shakubuku, and if he has
the capacity, use his influence and authority to destroy slander of the Law, and his knowledge of the teachings to refute
"As we have seen, it is said that one should distinguish between the shoju and the shakubuku
methods and never adhere solely to one or the other. Therefore, we must look at the world today and consider whether ours
is a country in which only the True Law prevails, or a country in which erroneous doctrines flourish.
this we should note that Honen of the Pure Land sect says that one should 'discard, close, ignore and abandon' the Lotus Sutra
in favor of the Nembutsu. And Shan-tao in his writings calls the Lotus Sutra an 'incorrect practice,' saying that 'not one
in a thousand' can be saved by it, by which he means that if a thousand people take faith in it not a single one of them will
"Kobo of the Shingon sect states in his writings that the Lotus Sutra is inferior even to
the Kegon Sutra and ranks two steps beneath the Dainichi Sutra, designating it a piece of 'childish theory.' And Shokaku-bo
of the same sect declares that the Lotus Sutra is not fit even to serve as the sandal-bearer of the Dainichi Sutra, and that
Shakyamuni Buddha is not worthy to be an ox-driver to Dainichi Buddha.
"The priests of the Zen sect disparage
the Lotus Sutra by calling it so much saliva that has been spit out of the mouth, a finger pointing at the moon, or a net
of doctrine [that serves only to entangle]. The priests of the Ritsu, a Hinayana sect, call the Lotus Sutra an erroneous teaching
and label it the preaching of the Devil.
"Are persons such as these not slanderers of the Law? One can never
be too severe in condemning them, or admonish them too strongly!"
The unenlightened man said, "Throughout the
more than sixty provinces of Japan, there are many kinds of people and a variety of Buddhist doctrines. What with the Nembutsu
believers, the Shingon teachers, and the followers of Zen or the Ritsu teachings, there is truly hardly a single person who
does not slander the Law. But then, why should I criticize other people? My task, it seems to me, is simply to cherish deep
faith within my own heart and to look on other people's errors as no concern of mine."
The sage replied, "What
you say is quite true, and I would be inclined to hold the same opinion. But when we examine the sutras, we find that they
tell us not to begrudge our lives [for the sake of the Law], and also say that [one should spread the Buddha's teachings]
even though it may cost him his life. The reason they speak in this way is because, if one does not hesitate on account of
others but propagates the principles of Buddhism just as they are set forth in the sutras, then in an age when there are many
people who slander the Law, three types of enemies will invariably appear and in many cases deprive him of life. But if, as
the sutras tell us, one observes deviations from the Buddhist Law and yet fails to censure them or to appeal to the ruler
to take measures against them, then he is being untrue to the teachings and is not worthy to be looked on as a disciple of
"The third volume of the Nirvana Sutra says, 'If even a good priest sees someone slandering the Law
and disregards him, failing to reproach him, to oust him or to punish him for his offense, then that priest is betraying Buddhism.
But if he takes the slanderer severely to task, drives him off or punishes him, then he is my disciple and one who truly understands
"The meaning of this passage is that, if a person striving to propagate the True Law of the Buddha
should hear others propounding the teachings of the sutras in a mistaken manner and fail to reproach them himself or, lacking
the power to do that, fail to appeal to the sovereign and in this way take measures to correct them, then he is an enemy of
the Buddha's Law. But if, as the sutras direct, he is not afraid of others but censures these slanderers himself and appeals
to the sovereign to take measures against them, then he may be called a disciple of the Buddha and a true priest.
therefore determined to avoid the charge of 'betraying Buddhism,' although I have incurred the hatred of others, I have dedicated
my life to Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra, extending compassion to all living beings and rebuking slanders of the Law.
Those who cannot understand my heart have tightened their lips and glared at me with furious eyes. But if you are truly concerned
about your future existence, you should think lightly of your own safety and consider the Law above all. Thus the Great Teacher
Chang-an states, '[The sutra says, "...it is proper that he should relate the words of his ruler] without holding back any
of them, even though it may cost him his life." This means that one's body is insignificant while the Law is supreme. One
should give his life in order to propagate the Law.'
"This passage is saying that, even if one must give up his
life, one should not conceal the True Law; this is because one's body is insignificant while the Law is supreme. Though one's
body be destroyed, one should strive to propagate the Law.
"How sad is this lot of ours, that all who are born
must perish! Though one may live to a great age, in the end he cannot escape this impermanence. In this world or ours, life
lasts a hundred years or so at most. When we stop to think of it, it is a mere dream within a dream. Even in the heaven where
there is neither thought nor no thought, where life lasts eighty thousand years, no one escapes the law of mutability, and
in the Trayastrimsha Heaven, too, where life lasts a thousand years, it is swept away at last by the winds of change and decay.
How much sadder, then, is the lot of the human beings living on this continent of Jambudvipa, whose life is more fleeting
than the dew, more fragile than the plantain leaf, more insubstantial than bubbles or foam! Like the moon reflected in the
water, one is not even certain whether he exists or not; like the dew on the grass, he may vanish at any moment.
who grasps this principle should know that it is of utmost importance to take thought for the existence to come. In the latter
age of the Buddha Kangi, the monk Kakutoku propagated the True Law. Countless monks who were guilty of violating the precepts
deeply resented this votary and attacked him, but the ruler, King Utoku, determined to protect the True Law, fought with these
slanderers. In the end, he lost his life and was reborn in the land of the Buddha Ashuku, where he became the foremost disciple
of that Buddha. Similarly King Sen'yo, because he honored the Mahayana teachings and punished the slander of five hundred
Brahmans, was able to reach the stage of non-regression. How reassuring, that those who respect the monks of the True Law
and admonish those who are evil and in error receive such blessings as these!
"But if, in our present age, one
were to practice shoju [rather than shakubuku], then without doubt that person would fall into the evil paths together with
those who slander the True Law. The Great Teacher Nan-yueh in his Shi Anrakugyo states, 'If there should be a bodhisattva
who protects evil persons and fails to chastise them ... then when his life comes to and end, he will fall into hell along
with those evil persons.'
"The meaning of this passage is that, if a practitioner of Buddhism should fail to
chastise evil persons who slander the Law but give himself up entirely to meditation and contemplation, not attempting to
distinguish between correct or incorrect doctrines, provisional or true teachings, but rather pretending to be a model of
compassion, then such a person will fall into the evil paths along with the other doers of evil. Now a person who fails to
correct the Shingon, Nembutsu, Zen and Ritsu adherents who are slanderers of the Law and instead pretends to be a model of
compassion will meet just such a fate as this."
Thereupon the unenlightened man, cherishing his resolve in mind,
spoke out in these words: "To admonish one's sovereign and set one's family on the correct course is the teaching of the worthies
of former times and is clearly indicated in the texts you have cited. The non-Buddhist writings all emphasize this point,
and the Buddhist scriptures are in no way at variance with it. To see evil and fail to admonish it, to be aware of slander
and not combat it, is to go against the words of the sutras and to disobey the Buddhist patriarchs. The punishment for this
offense is extremely severe, and therefore, from now on, I will devote myself to faith.
"But it is truly difficult
to put this sutra, the Lotus, into practice. If there is some essential point to be observed, could you explain it to me?"
sage replied, "I can tell that your aspiration for the Way is very earnest and sincere. The essential thing needed for attaining
the enlightenment of all Buddhas is nothing other than the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. It was solely because of these
five characters that King Dan relinquished his jeweled throne [and attained Buddhahood], and the dragon king's daughter transformed
her reptilian characteristics [into those of a Buddha].
"When we stop to consider it, we find that the sutra
itself says, concerning how much or how little of it is to be embraced, that a single verse or phrase is sufficient, and,
concerning the length of practice [necessary to reach enlightenment], that one who rejoices even for a moment on hearing it
[is certain to become a Buddha]. The eighty thousand teachings in their vast entirety and the many words and phrases of the
eight volumes of the Lotus Sutra were all expounded simply in order to reveal these five characters. When Shakyamuni Buddha
in the clouds above the Sacred Mountain, in the mists of Eagle Peak, summed up the essence of the doctrine and entrusted it
to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, what do you suppose that teaching was? It was nothing other than these five characters,
the essential law.
"The six thousand leaves of commentary by T'ien-t'ai and Miao-lo, like strings of jewels,
and the several scrolls of exegesis by Tao-sui and Hsing-man, like so much gold, do not go beyond the meaning of this teaching.
If you truly fear the realm of birth and death and yearn for nirvana, if you carry out your faith and thirst for the Way,
then the sufferings of change and impermanence will become no more than yesterday's dream, and the awakening of enlightenment
will become today's reality. If only you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, then what offense could fail to be eradicated? What blessing
could fail to come? This is the truth, and it is of great profundity. You should believe and accept it."
unenlightened man, pressing his palms together and kneeling respectfully, said, "These priceless words of yours have moved
me deeply, and your instruction has awakened my mind. And yet, in light of the principle that superior things encompass those
that are inferior, it would seem that the broad should also encompass the narrow and the many should take in the few. However,
when we examine the matter, we find that these five characters you have mentioned are few, while the words in the sutra text
are many, and that the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is narrow, while its eight scrolls are very broad. How then can the two
be equal in the blessings that they bring?"
The sage said, "How foolish you are! Your attachment to this belief
that one should abandon the few in favor of the many towers higher than Mount Sumeru, and your conviction that the narrow
should be despised and the broad honored is deeper than the vast ocean! In the course of our discussion, I have already demonstrated
that something is not necessarily worthy of honor simply because it is many in number or despicable simply because it is few.
Now I would like to go a step farther and explain how the small can actually encompass the great, and the one be superior
to the many.
"The seed of the nyagrodha tree, though one-third the size of a mustard seed, can conceal five hundred
carts within itself. Is this not a case of the small containing the large? The wish-granting jewel, while only one in number,
is able to rain down ten thousand treasures without a single thing lacking. Is this not a case of the few encompassing the
many? The popular proverb says that 'one is the mother of ten thousand.' Do you not understand the principle behind these
matters? The important thing to consider is whether or not a doctrine conforms with the principle of the true aspect of reality.
Do not be blindly attached to the question of many or few!
"But since you are so extremely foolish, let me give
you an analogy. Myoho-renge-kyo is the Buddha nature of all living beings. The Buddha nature is the Dharma nature, and the
Dharma nature is enlightenment. The Buddha nature possessed by Shakyamuni, Taho and all the Buddhas of the ten directions;
by Jogyo, Muhengyo and the other Bodhisattvas of the Earth; by Fugen, Monju, Shariputra, Maudgalyayana and the others; by
Bonten and Taishaku; by the deities of the sun, the moon, the morning star, the seven stars in the Big Dipper in the northern
sky, the twenty-eight constellations and the countless other stars; by the heavenly gods, the earthly deities, the dragon
deities, the eight kinds of lowly beings, and the human and heavenly beings who gathered in the great assembly to hear the
Buddha's preaching; by King Emma--in short, by all living beings from the realm where there is neither thought nor no thought
above the clouds down to the flames in the lowest depths of hell--the Buddha nature that all these beings possess is called
by the name Myoho-renge-kyo. Therefore, if you recite these words of the daimoku once, then the Buddha nature of all living
beings will be summoned and gather around you. At that time the three properties of the Dharma nature within you--the properties
of the Law, of wisdom, and of action--will be drawn forth and become manifest. This is called attaining Buddhahood. To illustrate,
when a caged bird sings, the many birds flying in the sky all gather around him at once; seeing this, the bird in the cage
strives to get out."
The unenlightened man said, "You have now explained to me in detail the benefits of the
daimoku and the significance of the Mystic Law. But I would like to ask whether these matters are explained in this manner
in the sutra."
The sage replied, "Since you have already understood the principle involved, there is really no
need to go on and inquire what scriptural passages it is based on. However, I will cite a passage from the sutra as you request.
the eighth volume of the Lotus Sutra, in the Dharani chapter, the Buddha says, 'If only you protect those persons who receive
and embrace the name of the Lotus Sutra, you will enjoy good fortune beyond measure.' In this passage, the Buddha is praising
Kishimojin and her ten daughters for their vow to protect the votaries of the Lotus Sutra. He is saying: 'You have taken a
vow to protect those who embrace the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra. The blessings that you will receive as a result are beyond
even the power of the Buddha wisdom, which completely comprehends the three existences, to fathom.' While by rights nothing
should be beyond the grasp of the Buddha wisdom, the Buddha says here that the blessings that accrue from receiving and embracing
the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra are the one thing it cannot measure.
"The blessings of the entire Lotus Sutra
are all contained solely within the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. While the words in the eight volumes of the Lotus
Sutra differ according to the contents of the twenty-eight chapters, the five characters of the daimoku remain the same throughout.
To illustrate, within the two characters Nihon, or Japan, are included the more than sixty provinces and two islands [Iki
and Tsushima]. Are there any districts or provinces that are not contained within this name?
"If one uses the
term 'birds,' people know that one is talking about creatures that fly in the sky; if one says 'beasts,' people understand
that one is referring to animals that run over the ground. In all things, names are of great importance precisely because
they can convey general meanings in this way. This is what the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai meant when he said that names convey
the basic nature of a thing while phrases describe how it differs from other things, or when he said that names designate
the fundamental character of a thing.
"In addition, names have the virtue of being able to summon the things
to which they refer, and things as a matter of function respond to the name that refers to them. In similar fashion, the name
or daimoku of the Lotus Sutra has the power [to summon the Buddha nature to which it refers]."
man said, "If it is as you say, then the blessings of the daimoku are very great indeed. But these blessings must differ according
to whether or not one understands the significance of the daimoku. I am a man who carries a bow and arrows and devotes himself
to the profession of arms. I have no understanding of the true nature of the Buddhist teachings. How could a person such as
I gain any great amount of good fortune?"
The sage replied, "According to the principle of the perfect and immediate
enlightenment, there is no essential difference between the earlier and later stages of practice, and the blessings of the
advanced stages are inherent in the initial stages as well. To carry out one practice is to carry out all practices, and there
is no blessing that is not included thereby.
"If the situation were as you say and one could not obtain good
fortune until after he had understood the truth of Buddhism, then no one, from the bodhisattvas who have all but attained
enlightenment on down to those who understand the teachings only in terms of names and words, would be able to obtain any
good fortune at all. This is because, as the Lotus Sutra says, '[The true entity of all phenomena can only be understood and
shared] between Buddhas.'
"In the Hiyu chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha declares: 'Even you, Shariputra,
where this sutra is concerned, gained entrance through faith. How much more is this the case for the other shomon disciples!'
passage is saying that even Shariputra, who was known for his great wisdom, was, with respect to the Lotus Sutra, able to
gain entry through faith and not through the power of his wisdom and understanding. How much more so, therefore, does this
hold true with the other shomon disciples!
"Thus, with the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, Shariputra, because
he had faith, was able to rid himself of the name of one who would never be able to attain Buddhahood and was told that he
would in time become the Flower Light Tathagata.
"It is like the case of a baby being given milk to drink. Even
though the baby may not understand the flavor of milk, the milk naturally nurtures the baby's growth. Similarly, if a doctor
gives medicine to a patient, even though the patient may not know the origin and nature of the medicine, if he takes it, then
in the natural course of events his illness will be cured. But if he objects that he does not know the origin of the medicine
that the doctor gives him and for that reason declines to take it, do you think his illness will ever be cured? Whether he
understands the medicine or not, so long as he takes it, he will in either case be cured.
"The Buddha has already
been called an excellent physician, and the Law has been likened to beneficial medicine and all living beings to people suffering
from illness. The Buddha took the teachings that he had preached in the course of his lifetime, ground and sifted them, blended
them together and compounded an excellent medicine, the pill of the Mystic Law. Regardless of whether one understands it or
not, so long as he take the pill, can he fail to be cured of the illness of delusion? Even though the patient may not understand
the medicine or even know the nature of the disease from which he suffers, if he takes the medicine, he is bound to recover.
is the same way with the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. Though he may not understand the principles of Buddhism and may
not know that he is suffering from delusion, if only he has faith, then without a doubt he will be able to free himself simultaneously
from the illnesses of the three categories of illusion--illusions of thought and desire, illusions innumerable as particles
of dust and sand, and illusions about the true nature of existence. He will reach the lands of Actual Reward and Tranquil
Light and cause the three properties of the Buddha that he inherently possesses to shine.
"Therefore, the Great
Teacher Dengyo says: 'Neither teachers nor disciples need undergo countless kalpas of austere practice in order to attain
Buddhahood. Through the power of the Lotus Sutra they can do so in their present form.' This means that both the teacher who
expounds the principles of the Lotus Sutra and the disciple who receives his teachings will, in no long time, together attain
Buddhahood through the power of the Lotus Sutra.
"The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai produced the Hokke Gengi, Hokke
Mongu, and Maka Shikan, thirty volumes of commentary on the Lotus Sutra. And the Great Teacher Miao-lo in addition produced
the thirty volumes of the Hokke Gengi Shakusen, Hokke Mongu Ki and Maka Shikan Bugyoden Guketsu as annotations on T'ien-t'ai's
works. Together these works are known as 'the sixty volumes of the Tendai school.'
"In the Hokke Gengi, T'ien-t'ai
established the five major principles of name, entity, quality, function and teaching, and in their light explained the power
and efficacy of the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. In the section on the third of the five major principles, that dealing
with the quality of the Lotus Sutra, he writes, 'When one pulls on the main cord of a net, there are no meshes that do not
move, and when one raises a single corner of a robe, there are no threads in the robe that are not lifted up.' The meaning
of this passage is that, when one carries out the single practice of exercising faith in Myoho-renge-kyo, there are no blessings
that fail to come to one, and no good karma that does not begin to work on one's behalf. It is like the case of a fishing
net: though the net is composed of innumerable small meshes, when one pulls on the main cord of the net, there are no meshes
that do not move. Or it is like a garment: though the garment is comprised of countless tiny threads, when one pulls on a
corner of the garment, there are no threads that are not drawn along.
"In the Hokke Mongu, T'ien-t'ai explains
all the various words and phrases in the Lotus Sutra, from the opening words, 'Thus have I heard,' to the final words, '...they
bowed and departed.' He explains them in terms of four categories, namely, causes and circumstances, correlated teachings,
the theoretical and essential teachings, and the observation of the mind.
"Next, in the Maka Shikan, he expounds
the meditation on the region of the unfathomable, namely on the three thousand realms within a single mind, based on his thorough
understanding of the Lotus Sutra. This is a practice that derives from the Buddha's original enlightenment and represents
a principle of truth inherent in one's being. I shall not go into it in detail here.
"What an occasion for rejoicing!
Though born into an evil age that is stained with the five impurities, we have been able to hear the true words of the one
vehicle. We read that a person who has planted roots of good fortune equal in number to the sands of the Hiranyavati or the
Ganges River is able to encounter this sutra and take faith in it. Now you have aroused the mind that rejoices in faith. Thus
without a doubt, just as a box and its lid fit together, so will your own faith evoke the Buddha's compassionate response,
and the two will unite as one."
The unenlightened man bowed his head, pressed his palms together and said: "From
now on I will receive and embrace this king of the sutras, the Lotus of the one truth, and revere the Buddha, who in the threefold
world is alone worthy of honor, as my true teacher. From my present body as a common mortal until the time when I attain the
body of a Buddha, I will never venture to turn aside from this faith. Though the clouds of the five cardinal sins should hang
heavy above me, I will strive to emulate the example of Devadatta in attaining Buddhahood. Though the waves of the ten evil
acts should buffet me, I will desire to be like those who formed a bond with the Lotus Sutra by listening to the princes'
The sage said, "The human heart is like water that assumes the shape of whatever vessel it occupies,
and the nature of beings is like the reflection of the moon undulating on the waves. Now you insist that you will be firm
in this faith, but another day you are bound to waver. Though devils and demons may come to tempt you, you must not allow
yourself to be distracted. The Devil of the Sixth Heaven hates the Buddha's Law, and the non-Buddhist believers resent the
path of the Buddhist teachings. But you must be like the golden mountain that glitters more brightly when scraped by the wild
boar, like the sea that encompasses all the various streams, like the fire that burns higher when logs are added, or like
the gura insect that grows bigger when the wind blows. If you follow such examples, then how can the outcome fail to be good?"