A VOTARY OF THE LOTUS SUTRA

One who practices and propagates the Lotus Sutra in exact accordance with its teachings. Nichiren (1222-1282), in his writings, often identifies himself as the votary of the Lotus Sutra. From Nichiren’s perspective, with regard to the propagation of the Lotus Sutra in the time periods following Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, T’ient’ai in China and Dengyoin Japan were the votaries of the Lotus Sutra in the Middle Day of the Law. In the Latter Day of the Law, the term votary of the Lotus Sutra is applied specifically to Nichiren. Nichiren taught the essence of the sutra, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and fulfilled the sutra’s prophecies concerning what sort of persecutions a genuine practitioner, or votary, of the Lotus Sutra would face in the turbulent age after the death of Shakyamuni. For this reason, in The Selection of the Time, Nichiren declares, “There can be no room to doubt that I, Nichiren, am the foremost votary of the Lotus Sutra in all of Japan” (575). Because he fulfilled the mission the sutra says the votaries of the Lotus Sutra would, never once succumbing to any persecution, he wrote, “Nichiren has now read [and lived] the entirety of the Lotus Sutra” (200), meaning that he lived the sutra exactly as it teaches, or “read” the sutra with his life and actions.

Advertisements