A Sage Perceives the Three Existences of Life
is one who fully understands the three existences of life-past,
present and future. The Three Sovereigns, the Five Emperors1
and the Three Sages referred to in Confucianism2
understood only the present; they knew neither the past nor the
future. Brahmanists, however, were able to see eighty thousand
kalpas into the past and the future, thus in a small way resembling
sages. People of the two vehicles of Hinayana teachings were aware
of the law of cause and effect working throughout the past, present
and future. Hence they were superior to the Brahmanists.
bodhisattvas passed three asamkhya kalpas3
in their practice; the bodhisattvas of the connecting teaching
did as many kalpas as there are dust particles; and the bodhisattvas
of the specific teaching spent myriad kotis of kalpas attaining
each of the many stages of practice.
theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha described
the period of sanzen-jintengo in the past. This teaching surpasses
all the previous ones of his preaching life. Moreover, in the
essential teaching of the sutra, the Buddha revealed the remote
past of gohyaku-jintengo, all the kalpas since the distant past,
as well as matters pertaining to countless kalpas in the future.
above it is clear that a thorough understanding of both the past
and the future is intrinsic to the nature of a sage. Shakyamuni
Buddha, the lord of teachings, accurately predicted the near future,
saying that he would enter nirvana in three months time.
Can there then be any doubt about his prediction for the distant
future, that the Lotus Sutra will spread abroad widely in the
last five-hundred-year period after his passing! With such perception
one can see the distant future by looking at what is close at
hand. One can infer what will be from what exists in the present.
This is the meaning of [the passage from the Lotus Sutra that
says, "This reality consists of] the appearance. . . and
their consistency from beginning to end."4
be acknowledged as the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the last five-hundred-year
period! I did not trust my own wisdom, but because the rebellion
and invasion that I had predicted have occurred, I can now trust
it. I do not declare this out of pride.
should know this: I, Nichiren, am the votary of the Lotus Sutra.
Since I follow in the footsteps of Bodhisattva Fukyo, those who
despise and slander me will have their heads broken into seven
pieces,5 whereas those who
believe in me will amass good fortune as high as Mount Sumeru.
Why is it that those who slander you have not yet had their heads
broken into seven pieces?
Since ancient times, of all those who slandered sages other than
the Buddha, only one or two have suffered punishment by having
their heads broken. The offense of defaming Nichiren is not by
any means limited to only one or two persons. The entire populace
of Japan have in fact [slandered Nichiren and] had their heads
broken. What else do you think caused the great earthquake of
the Shoka era and the huge comet6
of the Bunei era! I am the foremost sage in the entire land
all people, from the ruler on down to the common people, have
despised and slandered me, attacked me with swords and staves,7
and even exiled me.8 That
is why Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and the
Four Heavenly Kings incited a neighboring country to punish our
land. This is clearly described in the Daijuku and Ninno
sutras, the Nirvana Sutra and the Lotus Sutra. No matter what
prayers may be offered, if the people fail to heed me, this country
will suffer calamities such as those that occurred on Iki and
you should believe what I say and watch what happens. These things
do not occur because I myself am respectworthy, but because the
power of the Lotus Sutra is supreme. If I declare myself before
the people, they will think that I am boastful, but if I humble
myself before them, they will despise the sutra. The taller the
pine tree, the longer the wisteria vine hanging from it. The deeper
the source, the longer the stream. How fortunate, how joyful!
In this impure land, I alone enjoy true happiness.
- Three Pulers and the
Five Emperors: See P. 71, footnotes 1, 2.
- Three Sages: See
P. 75, footnote 22.
- Asogi: Asamkhya in Sanskrit,
indicating an immeasurable number in ancient India. According
to one method of calculation, one asogi is equal to 1011 and
one aeon is said to be 16 million minus 2,000 years. Altogether
three asogi aeons indicates an inconceivable span of time.
- Consistency from beginning
to end: A phrase found in the second chapter of the Lotus Sutra
indicating the last of the Ten Factors of Life: the appearance,
nature, entity, power, influence, internal cause, relation,
latent effect, manifest effect, and the consistency of all these
nine factors of life. The Daishonin means here that because
there is consistency among the nine factors, from the "appearance,"
one with the Buddha wisdom can discern the ultimate outcome.
- Have their heads broken
into seven pieces: Reference to a verse in the Dharani (26th)
chapter of the Lotus Sutra which reads: "Whoever resists
our spell/And troubles a preacher of the Dharma,/May his head
be split in seven pieces/Like the branches of an arjaka tree."
It is also said that if one touches an arjaka flower
its petals open and fall in seven pieces.
- The great quake which
flattened the Kamakura area in 1257 prompted the Daishonin to
remonstrate with the government in his treatise, "Rissho
Ankoku Ron." The huge comet, which appeared in 1264,
terrified the people because comets were considered very ominous
in those days. Nichiren Daishonin also regarded these extraordinary
natural phenomena as portents of the rise of true Buddhism.
- Attacked me with sword
and staff: Reference to the Komatsubara and Tatsunokuchi
persecutions. On November 11, 1264, a band of Nembutsu followers,
led by a local lord named Tojo Kagenobu, ambushed Nichiren Daishonin
and his disciples at Komatsubara, killing two of them and injuring
others. The Daishonin himself suffered a sword cut on his forehead
and had his left hand broken. On September 12, 1271, the government
made an unsuccessful attempt to execute the Daishonin at Tatsunokuchi
beach near Kamakura.
- Even exiled me: Nichiren
Daishonin was exiled to the Izu Peninsula from May 12, 1261
through February 22, 1263, and again to Sado Island from October
10, 1271 through March 13, 1274.
Major Writings of Nichiren
Daishonin; Vol 2.
[FrontPage Include Component]