The Unmatched Fortune of the Law
I have received a hundred bamboo shoots,
followed afterward by an additional twenty.
The seventh volume of the Lotus Sutra
reads: "Even if a person were to fill the entire
major world system with the seven kinds of treasures
as an offering to the Buddha and the great bodhisattvas,
pratyekabuddhas and arhats, the benefits gained
by such a person cannot match those gained by accepting
and upholding this Lotus Sutra, even just one four-line
verse of it! The latter brings the most numerous blessings
of all." The tenth volume of the Hokke mongu
states: "The statement that offering the seven
kinds of treasures to the persons of the four noble
states cannot equal upholding one verse [of the Lotus
Sutra] indicates that the Law is the teacher of these
sages. Nothing surpasses the Law in its ability to cause
birth, nurturing, maturity and prosperity. Therefore,
the person is insignificant while the Law is supreme."
The tenth volume of the Hokke mongu ki comments:
"It is similar to the case of parents, who invariably
protect their children through these four functions.
To conceive a desire to seek the way through the power
of the Law is to be born. To follow the Law from beginning
to end is to be nurtured. To harvest the supreme fruit
of Buddhahood is to reach maturity. To appear in various
forms in the phenomenal world for the salvation of others
is to prosper. Although these four stages differ from
one another, they all take the Law as their basis."
What the Lotus Sutra, Tien-tai
and Miao-lo intend to say is that the act of accepting
and upholding or protecting and embracing one verse
of the Lotus Sutra surpasses the act of making offerings
to all living beings, of making offerings to the arhats,
or even of filling the entire major world system with
the seven kinds of treasures as an offering to all the
The sutra reads, "...cannot match
those gained by accepting and upholding this Lotus Sutra,
even just one four-line verse of it! The latter brings
the most numerous blessings of all." Tien-tai
states, "...the person is insignificant while the
Law is supreme." Miao-lo says, "Although these
four stages differ from one another, they all take the
Law as their basis." If we compare all the living
beings of the nine worlds with the Buddha, the good
fortune of all living beings is as light as a single
strand of hair, while the good fortune of the Buddha
is as heavy as a huge mountain. And the good fortune
of all Buddhas is as light as Bontens featherweight
robe, while the good fortune of one character of the
Lotus Sutra is as weighty as the earth. The person in
the phrase "the person is insignificant" is
the Buddha; the Law that is supreme is the Lotus Sutra.
All the sutras preceding the Lotus
Sutra and all the treatises praise the blessings bestowed
by the Buddha, and so are like the Buddha himself The
Lotus Sutra extols the blessings bestowed by the sutra,
and therefore is like the father and mother of the Buddha.
The inferiority of the Kegon, Dainichi
and other sutras to the Lotus Sutra is like the difference
in weight between a single strand of hair and a huge
mountain or between a featherweight robe and the earth.
If we compare the lowest-ranking votary of the Lotus
Sutra to the highest-ranking priests of the Kegon and
Shingon sects, the superiority of the former is like
that of Taishaku when compared to a monkey or like that
of a lion when compared to a hare.
When a subject declares himself king,
it invariably costs him his life. When the practitioners
of the other sutras claim to Surpass the votary of the
Lotus Sutra, the country will surely be ruined and such
persons will certainly fall into hell. When not confronted
by enemies, one is free to speak as falsely and act
as foolishly as one pleases. To illustrate, it is said
that before Sadamori and Yoriyoshi appeared, Masakado
and Sadato were able to govern their lands, and their
wives and children were safe and secure. Without an
enemy to prevent them from doing so, the dew evaporates
up into the sky and the rain falls to the earth. A strong
wind, however, will blow the rain back into the sky,
and the sunrise will bring the dew down to the earth.
Likewise, before Dengyo appeared, the six sects, including
the Kegon sect, were like the dew [rising into the sky].
The Shingon sect is the same; therefore, you should
understand that once a strong enemy appears and attacks
that sect fiercely with the Lotus Sutra, the chief priest
of Mount Hiei and the priests of To-ji and Omuro will
all be like dew confronted by the sun.
In the more than twenty-two hundred
years since the Buddhas passing, no one has yet
fully explained and spread the Lotus Sutra exactly as
the sutra teaches. This is not to say that Tien-tai
and Dengyo did not understand the truth of the sutra.
But since the proper time had not yet arrived, and the
capacity of the people was not suitable, they passed
away without writing fully about it. Those who become
Nichirens disciples, however, can understand it
In the entire land of Jambudvipa, there
has never before been a hall or pagoda that produced
the image of Shakyamuni Buddha of the Juryo chapter
of the Lotus Sutra. How could such an image fail to
appear now? An explanation would be lengthy, so I will
You have sent me 120 bamboo shoots,
and the Lotus Sutra has appeared after over two thousand
years. I have spoken of this matter because while your
gift may seem to be insignificant, your sincerity is
indeed profound. Moreover, at the present time, because
of framework and the building of the shrine, people
have no spare time. Because your seeking mind is nonetheless
so strong, I am certain that the Law has manifested
itself to you.
With my deep respect,
The eleventh day of the fifth month
Reply to Lord Nishiyama
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 7.