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How does the mirror of the Lotus Sutra portray the people who, in the evil world of the latter age, believe in the teachings of the Lotus Sutra just as they are set forth in the sutra? Shakyamuni Buddha has left us words from his golden mouth revealing that such people have already made offerings to a hundred thousand million Buddhas in their past existences.1 But ordinary people in the latter age might well doubt the words spoken by just one Buddha. With this in mind, Many Treasures Buddha came expressly all the way from his World of Treasure Purity, many lands to the east. Facing Shakyamuni Buddha, he gave his words of testimony about the Lotus Sutra, saying, “All that you have expounded is the truth!”2 If this is so, then there can be no room for doubt about the matter. Nevertheless, Shakyamuni Buddha may have felt that ordinary people in the latter age would still be skeptical. Hence he summoned the Buddhas of the ten directions to come and join him in the magnificent act of extending their long broad tongues, which had told nothing but the truth for countless kalpas, until they projected into the sky as high as Mount Sumeru.

Since this is the case, when ordinary people in the latter age believe in even one or two words of the Lotus Sutra, they are embracing the teaching to which the Buddhas of the ten directions have given credence. I wonder what karma we created in the past to have been born as such persons, and I am filled with joy. The words of Shakyamuni that I referred to above indicate that the blessings that come from having made offerings to a hundred thousand million Buddhas are so great that, even if one has believed in teachings other than the Lotus Sutra and as a result of this slander been born poor and lowly, one is still able to believe in this sutra in this lifetime. A T’ien-t’ai [school’s] commentary states, “It is like the case of a person who falls to the ground, but who then pushes himself up from the ground and rises to his feet again.”3 One who has fallen to the ground recovers and rises up from the ground. Those who slander the Lotus Sutra will fall to the ground of the three evil paths, or of the human and heavenly realms, but in the end, through the help of the Lotus Sutra, they will attain Buddhahood.


This letter was written at Minobu to Nanjō Shichirō Jirō, commonly known as Nanjō Tokimitsu, in the second month, 1282. The letter is traditionally called The Proof of the Lotus Sutra because it points out that all the Buddhas gave credence to the truth of the Lotus Sutra. However, it is also known as Prayer for a Return to Life from Fatal Illness because Tokimitsu was then battling a serious illness.

In this letter, the Daishonin explains that those who believe in the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law have extremely profound karmic connection with the Buddha reaching back to previous existence. He states that they are people who have made offerings to the hundred thousand million Buddhas in the past. We are able to uphold the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day because our lives are endowed with great good fortune and benefit beyond imagination. The Daishonin teaches that if we practice the Lotus Sutra with this conviction, we will definitely be able to overcome any hardship and attain the life state of absolute happiness that is Buddhahood.

Nichiren explains that inspite of having vast good fortune to be able to uphold the law, we are born in an evil age and experience sufferings and hardships because of the slander to the Law in the past existences. However, the benefit of making offerings to the untold Buddhas brings the good fortune to be able to uphold the Law in this lifetime.

The Daishonin quotes T’ien-t’ai’s commentary and states “It is like the case of a person who falls to the ground, but who then pushes himself up from the ground and rises to his feet again”implying that people, who though fall as a result of slander, form a connecting with the correct teaching that will ultimately enable them to find their way to enlightenment. He expalins that those who fall to the ground get back up on their feet using the same ground. Similarly, those who slander the Mystic Law will gain enlightenment through the Lostus Sutra. The Mystic Law embraces even those who form a reverse relationship with it, enabling all to attain Buddhahood. Such is the unfathomale “poison-drum relationship” in Buddhism.

 

 

Source: Living Buddhism, May 2011

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