“A waterfall called the Dragon Gate exists in China. Its waters plunge a hundred feet, swifter than an arrow shot by a strong warrior. It is said that a great many carp gather in the basin below, hoping to climb the falls, and that any that succeeds will turn into a dragon. Not a single carp, however, out of a hundred, a thousand, or even ten thousand, can climb the falls, not even after ten or twenty years. Some are swept away by the strong currents, some fall prey to eagles, hawks, kites, and owls, and others are netted, scooped up, or even shot with arrows by fishermen who line both banks of the falls ten chō wide. Such is the difficulty a carp faces in becoming a dragon.”
The legendary Dragon Gate is thought to be on the upper or middle reaches of the Yellow River. It was believed that a carp that managed to climb the falls would become dragons. The force of the current is so intense that most carp are unsuccessful in their attempts to climb the falls, no matter how many times they try. Moreover, birds of prey and fishermen lie in wait to catch them. Only a carp that can overcome all these challenges and reach the top of the waterfall can become a dragon with the power to control the rain and thunderclouds. Persevering in faith in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law is like swimming upstream against a powerful current. Precisely because it is so difficult to carry out faith in the Mystic Law in such an age, the bond of mentor and disciple in Buddhism takes on decisive importance. Likewise, a harmonious community of fellow practitioners solidly united in purpose—in what Nichiren terms “the spirit of many in body, one in mind”—is also indispensable.