The Creed of Half Japan, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
Nichiren and the Earlier Sects
In the year 1257 Japan was visited by a very terrible earthquake. After the earthquake, in 1258, came a destructive hurricane which overthrew much that the earthquake had left standing. In 1259 there was, as a natural result of the two calamities already mentioned, a famine throughout Japan, with the pestilence which always seems to follow in famine's train. The distress was so great, says Nichiren, in one of his letters, that men prayed to die rather than remain alive in the midst of the universal misery. The Government was at its wits’ end to know what to do to relieve the general suffering: supplications and prayers were ordered to be offered up in all temples throughout the land. But months passed by without any signs of alleviation or abatement. At last, in 1260, Nichiren took to preaching in the public streets of Kamakura, after having handed in to the Regent and his retired father his newly written treatise entitled "Rissho Ankoku-ron." In the same year, Kublai Khan, the grandson of Jingis Khan, established his capital at Pekin, or Khambalik, where he received a visit from the Italian traveller, Marco Polo. These few facts will serve, I trust, as a sufficient introduction to this chapter.
Nichiren was born in 1222, in a remote village on the coast of Awa. He was in the habit of describing his
father as an outcast, from whence some have inferred that he was of low descent. This was not so, however; his father had been the retainer of a high noble at the Court of Kyōtō, and had been banished, according to the custom of the time, for some fault which had displeased his master. What the fault was is not mentioned; if the father was at all like the son, we may infer that it was that outspoken plainness which men of high position do not always like. The family, which consisted of father, mother, and the one child born to them in exile, lived alone and apart in the fishing village, shunned by the natives because they were in disgrace, and holding little intercourse with their neighbours. The child, sensitive, tender-hearted, high-spirited, and fearless, grew up solitary and alone, the butt of the fisher lads, but devoted to animals, especially to the injured and maimed.
In 1234, being about twelve years, he was taken by his parents to the Temple of Kyosumidera, not far from his native village, and there placed under the care of an old Shingon priest, who was the incumbent. It has always been, in Japan, the course pursued in dedicating a child to the priesthood, to take him to some worthy priest to be trained and educated, and to let him serve as acolyte and personal attendant on his master until such time as he is ready to take upon himself the Vows of the Order.
Nichiren took his life seriously. One of his first acts after entering the Kiyozumi Temple 1 as a student was
to slip away by himself into the Temple Oratory, and there, before the image of Kokūzō Bosatsu, to offer a prayer that he might grow up to be a good priest worthy of the name; and as he went on with his studies in the quiet seclusion of that country monastery, he felt the premonitory symptoms of his great vocation. He realized that the Buddhism of the Kamakura period had departed very widely from the primitive Buddhism of its Indian Founder; he saw that it was hopelessly divided by sects, schisms, and varieties of contradictory doctrines, and that, being so, it was necessarily incapable of doing the good in the world which its Founder had meant it to accomplish. The condition of Japan was miserable; the Buddhist sects, whether of Kyōtō, Nara, or Kamakura, were powerless to resist the growing evils: a Buddhism purified, vivified, united, might and would save Japan from dangers external and internal. He determined to be the man who should accomplish this great design.
Those who know the precociousness of youthful Japanese will not be surprised at Nichiren's forming this plan before he was twenty years of age. The idea seems to have been suggested to him by the reading of that very remarkable book, the "Saddharmapundarika Sutra." 1
[paragraph continues] Having read it and interpreted it to himself, he became quite confident of his mission, and with characteristic energy set himself to work to prepare for executing it. He left the quiet Temple of Kyosumidera, and for several years set himself to work to travel throughout Japan and make a study of every existing form of Buddhism. When he had thus finished his survey of the whole field, he felt himself in a position to formulate his own views on religion and national life. Nichiren has often been described, by those who knew him only superficially, as a mere dreamer and fanatic. A more careful study reveals him as a man of very decided opinions, and extremely outspoken. But he was always able to give a reason for his conclusions, and those reasons were sane and cogent; and in putting his views into practice he constantly showed that if he dared to upbraid error in severe tones, his courage came from reflection and not from mere impulse.
For more than twenty years Nichiren devoted himself with great diligence to the study of Japanese Buddhism. He has told us in one of his letters that from twelve to thirty-two he gave himself up to the comparative study of all Buddhist sects in his country—Kusha, Jojitsu, Ritsu (Vinaya), Hossō, Sanron, Kegon, Shingon, and the Tendai-Hokke, which was the official designation of the sect founded by Dengyo Daishi at Hieizan. To these he
had added the more recent foundations of the Jōdo and Zen, having pursued his studies at Kamakura and Kyōtō, at Hieizan and Onjōji, at Kōbo's great shrine on Kōyasan, and Shōtoku's temple of Tennōji at Osaka. 1 At the conclusion of his studies he had some very bitter things to say about the older sects into which Buddhism, "which should be one," had crumbled.
My readers will have noticed, in the previous chapters of this book, that Buddhism, whether in India, in China, or in Japan, has always shown an inveterate tendency to shield itself under Government favour and patronage. Kings were its nursing-fathers in India, where, under As’oka, Kanishka, and like-minded rulers, it had flourished and become a mighty tree. When royal patronage was withdrawn, and Hinduism asserted itself once more, the zeal of the Indian Buddhist lost its ardour, and the Faith maintained itself only in those lands where the rulers were Buddhists. We see the same phenomenon in China, where the personal creed of the ruling house had very much to do with the ups and downs of the religion of S’akyamuni.
In Japan, Buddhism failed to take root at all until
it came as a personal gift from the King of Kudara to the Emperor of Japan, and it put forth no leaves or buds until watered by the Imperial hand of the Crown Prince, Shōtoku Taishi. The Nara priests were nearly all courtiers, who, though they might intrigue at times against the Government, still intrigued only as courtiers, in the interests of one faction against another. The Heian clergy, followers of Dengyō and Kōbō, had become the subservient courtiers of the dominant Fujiwara family; the pietists of the Gempei period had been the favoured ones of Emperors like Toba and Shirakawa in their resistance to the gloved hand of the Fujiwara; the Zen had become political tools in the powerful grasp of the Hōgō Regents. Nichiren could see no hope of social or political amelioration from the sectwise Buddhism of his time. Religious and political Japan were, in Nichiren's eyes, alike suffering from a dangerous disease.
"Awake, men, awake!" he cried in one of his earliest sermons; "awake, and look around you. No man is born with two fathers or two mothers. Look at the heavens above you: there are no two suns in the sky. Look at the earth at your feet: no two kings can rule a country." 1
And yet that was precisely what Japan was trying to do. Politically, she was giving her allegiance to Emperor, Shōgun, Regent; spiritually, to Amida, Vairoc’ana, S’akyamuni. Politically, the rightful sovereign had been pushed aside to make way for ambitious subjects; spiritually, the rightful Lord of the Buddhist heritage had been thrown "to the moles and bats" to make room for
the ambitious upstarts, Amida and Dainichi, whose claim to spiritual homage rested on no sound rock of Buddhist doctrine.
He therefore constantly condemned the already existing sects of Buddhism. He denounced them in his first sermon; he continued his denunciations to the very end. Nembutsu wa mugen no gō. 1 The Nembutsu was consistently deprecated as a practice which leads men to the lowest of the hells. Nichiren never treated Amida as being in any sense a Buddhist divinity. He looked on him, in the garb which the Shinshu made him wear, as an unauthorized importation from somewhere outside of Buddhism, and his Paradise as a pure fancy. At the very best he held him to be but a partial manifestation of S’akyamuni, the One and Eternal. It was not likely that the peculiar Jōdo tenet of salvation by faith alone, without repentance or works, would commend itself to Nichiren's mind.
Zenshū wa tenma ha-jun no setsu. "The Zen," he continued, "is a doctrine of demons and fiends." We are familiar with the illustration of the man whose house, "empty, swept, and garnished," stood open for the return of a company of evil spirits larger than the one that had been cast out. The Zen house was just in that position. Bodhidharma had cast out of his Buddhism all the superstitious books and doctrines with which the miracle-mongering Mahāyānism of Central Asia and China had overlaid the original simplicity of S’akyamuni's teaching. He had put nothing in its place, and had bidden his followers look within to see what form they should see, and to listen for what voice they should hear, coming to them from the empty chambers of their own minds. The practice of Zazen leads to spiritual pride, a
failing not rare amongst bushi and samurai, in spite of their other great virtues, and the many things that Nichiren had to suffer at the hands of Zenshū priests and laymen will perhaps account for the extreme bitterness of this sentence.
Daishō no Kairitsu wa seken ōwaku no hō (or, as it is to be found in a shorter recension, Ritsu Kokuzoku). "The Vinaya sects, whether of the Small Vehicle (i.e. connected with the Kaidan at Nara), or of the Great Vehicle (i.e. those connected with the Kaidan at Hieizan), are brigands that disturb the peace of the country." We have seen how ambitious priests, in the Nara period, interfered with the Imperial succession in the case, e.g., of the Empress Shōtoku, and the Emperor Junnin, and how, after Kwammu had moved his capital to Kyōtō, to be free from sacerdotal meddling, the Tendai priesthood had still managed to become the allies of the Fujiwara in their manipulation of Emperors to suit their own policy. We have also seen how the Kaidan question, which was mainly one of discipline, and which, therefore, deeply concerned the Ritsu sects, had caused a schism between Hieizan and Nara, and, later, a schism and civil war between Hieizan and her daughter temple of Miidera. When we think of the Fighting Temples, with their train-bands and men-at-arms, we can see some reason for Nichiren's denunciation of the brigand sects that "throw the world into confusion."
Shingon he described as bōkoku, "traitors to their country," probably with reference to their adoption of a lord other than S’akyamuni, the rightful lord in spiritual matters in Japan, and their constant reference to India as the seat of authority in matters of religion. His language as to Vairoc’ana, or Dainichi, was more contemptuous even than that which he had used as to Amida.
[paragraph continues] He maintained that for Vairoc’ana's existence there was no evidence at all that could be brought forward, as in the case of S’akyamuni; that the story of the finding of the Shingon books by Nāgārjuna, in the Iron Tower, in South India, was a pure fabrication; and that Kōbō Daishi was the "prize liar of Japan" (Nihon no dai mōgo).
As for the images of Amida, Kwannon, and the rest; he was charged with recommending that they should be cast into the fire or the sea. They had, in his judgment; wrought enough mischief in Japan. 1
Nichiren first enunciated these views in a sermon preached in the neighbourhood of his native village; which he visited again at the end of his period of study; in 1254. He then took up his abode near Kamakura; where he built a little hermitage for himself in the hamlet of Nagoye; for there was no temple in the capital of the Hōjō Regents which would receive him as an inmate.
[paragraph continues] Neither was there any pulpit for him to occupy, except that which has always been open to the agitator and the reformer, the street corner. He became an outdoor preacher, and his sermons, plain, simple, and full of conviction, soon attracted a great deal of attention. The earthquake, the famine, the pestilence, the fruitless prayers offered in the temples, the shadow of the terrible Mongol power creeping closer to Japan, all served to give point to his oratory. He was rapidly gaining the popular favour; the priests of the official sects were conscious that power was slipping from them; the Regent had reason to be annoyed at the boldness with which the hermit of Nagoye addressed him in his semi-political, semi-religious pamphlet on the "Reformation of Religion and the Pacification of the Country." Nichiren's enemies combined to bring against him a formal accusation of fomenting rebellion and promulgating heresy. He was arrested, brought before the Regent's Court, found guilty, and banished to Ito in the peninsula of Idzu. This was in 1261; in 1264 he was once more in Kamakura, more outspoken than ever. Another great calamity was impending—a long-continued drought hung over the land, and threatened a failure of the rice-crops. The official priesthood were praying for rain, but there was none to answer. Nichiren laughed at their vain efforts. At last he took his turn at prayer: Heaven answered, and the people were convinced that he was a prophet.
But he had, in the excitement of his preaching, allowed himself to use unseemly expressions. He had told the people that the late Regent, the well-meaning and devoted Saimyoji, was in hell, suffering torments, and that the present Regent, Tokimune, was preparing to follow him. The words were seized, twisted, and exaggerated. His enemies procured his arrest and haled him before the
[paragraph continues] Regent's Court, where, after an eventful trial which his followers to-day read with something of the reverence with which we listen to the recital of the familiar story of our Lord's Passion, he was condemned to death, and led out for execution on the sands of Tatsu no Kuchi, 1 halfway between Kamakura and Enoshima.
But the Regent must have felt that Nichiren was in the right. His conscience troubled him after he had passed the sentence of death, and he sent a messenger post haste after the executioner's cavalcade to revoke the condemnation, and changed the sentence to one of banishment to the distant island of Sado. The messenger arrived only just in time. The mats were already spread for the prisoner to kneel on while waiting for the fatal stroke, the prisoner was already kneeling on the mat, and his faithful disciples held, and have ever since held, that their master was given back to them from the dead. Legend has been busy with the embellishment of the story. The executioner, it was said, had already lifted his sword, when a flash of lightning from a cloudless sky rendered the blow innocuous. Before he had recovered for a second stroke, the messenger from the Regent had arrived and the danger was past.
The exile in Sado was not of long duration. Nichiren returned in 1272, busily warning the nation about the danger of the Mongol invasion. When asked by the officers of the Kingo, or body-guard, what reasons he had for his predictions of evil, he replied that he had general Scriptural authority for what he said, and that he had come to his particular conclusions as to time, etc., through
[paragraph continues] "discerning the face of the heavens." 1 He now bore a charmed life, and was quite secure in the affection of his followers. His later years were devoted to Minobu and Ikegami, the two monasteries especially connected with the memories of his personality, and at the latter he passed to his rest, in the year 1282. His had been an eventful life. He still has, among his countrymen, many friends and many detractors. To the outsider, who studies him impartially, he will always appear as a fearless man who had the courage of his convictions.
Now let us turn to the theological remedy which Nichiren proposed for the ills both of Church and State.
It was his great idea to restore S’akyamuni (not in his temporal manifestation in fleshly form, but as the Eternal and Infinite) to his proper place in the Buddhist Heavens. False brethren, calling themselves Buddhists, had given to S’akyamuni a place of inferiority. They had spoken of him as only a temporary manifestation of a part of the glories of some other Buddha, Amitābha or Vairoc’ana, greater than himself, and the simpler Sūtras of the Hīnayāna they had despised as containing a simplified Gospel watered down to suit the intelligence of the ill-instructed. Nichiren reversed the position. He had been much shocked on one of his journeys to find some children playing with an idol of S’akyamuni which had been discarded from the temple to make room for a newfangled image of Amida, and he was resolved to make reparation for the insult which had thus been offered to the lawful Lord of Buddhism. "S’akyamuni," he said,
in one of his voluminous writings, 1 "is the lord of this Saba-world, for three reasons—firstly, because he is the World-honoured One for all sentient Beings; secondly, because he is both Father and Mother of all sentient Beings in this Saba-world; and thirdly, because he is the Original and First Teacher of all sentient Beings in this Saba-world." Everything that the Jōdoist said about Amida, Nichiren said about S’akyamuni. S’akyamuni was uncreated, without beginning, without end, unlimited in every aspect. S’akyamuni was the Light of the World, had always been so, would always remain so. Whatever teaching there was in the world, whatever hope there was for man of ultimate perfection, all came to him from S’akyamuni, whose mercies were over all the world, but more especially over the fortunate inhabitants of the ichi-embudai 2—India, China, and Japan—which had embraced his Faith.
S’akyamuni's teachings are summed up, said Nichiren (following herein the teachings of the Japanese Tendai), in the Hokekyō or Saddharmapundarika Sūtra, spoken on the Vulture's Peak during the last few years of his earthly life. 3 But this Sūtra he interpreted in a new manner, with great ingenuity.
The Hokekyō, in Nichiren's interpretation, was an Apocalypse containing a forecast of the things which should come to pass in Buddhism after the death of its founder. It deals with the "Millenniums" of Buddhism—the three periods, one of five hundred, and two of one thousand years each, which should cover what might be called the present dispensation—a conception which is quite a familiar one to the whole family of Japanese Buddhism.
In the Hokekyō itself the scene is laid on the Vulture's Peak, the favourite haunt of S’akyamuni in his later years. The Master, now an old man, is weary with teaching and has fallen into a trance. "His body was motionless, and his mind had reached perfect tranquillity. And as soon as the Lord had entered upon his meditation there fell a great rain of divine flowers, covering the Lord and the four classes of hearers, … and at that moment there issued a ray from within the circle of hair between the eyebrows of the Lord. It extended over eighteen thousand Buddha fields in the Eastern quarter." The trance Nichiren took as denoting the Parinirvana of S’akyamuni. Then comes a period of silence, that period which we have already noticed in our historical review of the Buddhist Church—a period much longer to the Northern Buddhist who knows nothing of As’oka, and passes straight from the Vaisali Council to that held under Kaniskha. At the
close of that period there comes the "great rain of divine flowers," and the ray of light travels from S’akyamuni eastward. The first "Millennium," 1 the period of the Upright Law (Sho Hō), was over, the activities of As’vaghosha and Nāgārjuna represent a kind of Pentecostal shower of Buddhist revival, and Buddhism travels to China. When the Lord awakes from his trance, he explains the meaning of the shower and ray. The wheel of the Law is to receive a fresh turn, a higher form of Buddhism is to be preached, and the idea of the twofold Vehicle of Salvation is enforced by many parables. 2 The early Apostles of Buddhism, Kaśyapa, Ananda, Rahula, etc., whose labours had kept Buddhism alive during the first Millennium of its existence, are praised and thanked, and the reward prepared for them is announced. A number of discontented monks leave the assembly in anger on hearing of the impending changes in Buddhist doctrine (Nichiren explains this as referring to the discontented Hīnayānists who opposed the Mahāyāna at its first inception), but eighty thousand remain faithful, and S’akyamuni turns to Bhaishajyarāja (Jap. Yaku-Ō) as the representative of the new order of preachers. The period of Image Law (zō hō) 3 has begun; a stupa, or
tabernacle, descending out of Heaven, reveals to the worshipping multitude the image of S’akyamuni fusing itself into that of his predecessor, whom the Japanese know as Tahō Butsu; and crowds of smaller Buddhas, partial manifestations (bunshin) of S’akyamuni the One and Eternal, sit on lotus-thrones around the throne. The great preachers of the New Law are the Bodhisattvas, Manjuśri, Avalokites’vara, Yakuō, etc., whom Nichiren treats as having been historical personages, 1 and the work before them is to prepare for the third Millennium, the Period of the Destruction of the Law 2 (Mappō), which Nichiren places about the middle of the eleventh century A.D. Thanks to Chisha Daishi, Dengyō, and other labourers in the field of the Mahāyāna, the true meaning of S’akyamuni's teaching was gradually being brought out during the whole of this second period. The author of the Hokekyō had spoken of it as the period of the "Destruction of the Upright Law;" with the Mongol terror lying thick and gloomy over two continents, the phrase must have been a significant one.
But Nichiren had a word of comfort for this period of gloom. 3 In chap. xiv. of the "Saddharma pundarika"
there is a scene which reminds the reader of the "multitude which no man could number" in the Book of the Revelation. An innumerable host of Bodhisattvas ("Saints," we might call them in Christian language) is seen issuing from the gaps in the earth and standing before the stupa throne of S’akyamuni. At the head of them are four Great Saints (Bodhisattvas Mahāsattvas) who lead in the worship of the Eternal S’akyamuni and receive his commission. "The very first of those afore-mentioned Bodhisattvas Mahāsattvas" ("S.B.E.," vol. xxi. p. 364) was named Visishta-c’aritra, which in Sinico-Japanese is Jōgyō-Bosatsu. Nichiren proclaimed that he himself was Jōgyō-Bosatsu, the minister of S’akyamuni, predestined by his Master to preach the Faith in the dark period of the Destruction of the Upright Law. Thus had the Master provided for each Millennium in the duration of his Community, and for each of the three great countries comprised in the ichi-embudai—for India, which had been the centre of teaching during the first Millennium; for China, which had received it during the second, and for Japan, from which had now come forth the Apostle and Teacher of the third.
And the saving doctrine which Nichiren felt himself moved to proclaim in the third dark Age was that contained in the Daimoku or Title of the Book which he revered with all his soul—Myō-hō-ren-ge-kyō, "the scripture of the Lotus of the Good Law," the name carved on stone or painted on wood, which is found all over Japan as the honoured symbol of the Nichirenist worship, the name which is constantly on the lips of the Nichirenist believer. The title signifies the doctrine contained in the whole book, and that doctrine is one of Unity. 1 There
are many saints, many Bodhisattvas, many Buddhas. And yet there is but One Buddha—Eternal, Unlimited, in Past, Present, Future, and that Buddha is He whom men know as S’akyamuni, of whom the rest are but partial manifestations or, in some cases, spurious counterfeits. The teachings of that One Buddha are absolutely true and conformable to Reason and Nature; for the Oneness is more than a mere Unity of Person. The One Eternal Buddha is one with all Reason, and one with all Nature. There are not two; there is only One. 1
It is not difficult for a modern critic to pick holes in Nichiren's argument. We know, thanks to modern research, that S’akyamuni's birth must be put no earlier than the fifth century B.C., and that therefore what Nichiren calls the first period cannot have ended earlier than the first century A.D. We feel sure that if Manjuśri, Yaku-ō, and the other Bodhisattvas are meant to be true historical personages, the prophecies announcing their future destinies must be put on a par with, e.g., the prophecy in the Lankāvatāra Sūtra, 1 which mentions the coming of Nāgārjuna, or that which announced the coming of King Kanishka, 2 prophecies made up after the event. What is really of interest is the connection traceable between the millennarian teachings of the Hokekyō and the similar teachings which were so rife among some of the Gnostics and some of the early Fathers. Still more curious is the similarity of thought between Nichiren and
[paragraph continues] Abbot Joachim 1 of the Franciscan Order, who was almost his contemporary. The Christian Friar, who had travelled in the East, and was the protégé of three successive Popes, also postulated three millenniums or periods of 1000 years, connected respectively with the names of the Three Persons of the Trinity. His calculations did not quite coincide with those which Nichiren based on the Hokekyō, but he significantly gave the year 1260 as the date for the inauguration of the third millennium, that of the Holy Ghost. And 1260 brings him very close to Nichiren. 2 Possibly our next chapters may throw some light on the subject.
288:1 I take my materials for Nichiren's life from the following sources: (1) Principally from the "Seigoroku," a collection of extracts from his writings, which is a veritable mine of information; (2) from two Japanese lives of the Saint, which appeared, one in 1893 and one in 1909; (3) from a play entitled Nichirengi, which was brought out in 1894; and (4) from the chapters on Nichiren in vol. v. of "Bukkyō-Kakushū Kōyō" (1885).
289:1 I have already, in my book "The Wheat among the Tares," written at some length on the "Saddharmapundarika." I wish here to add that the book falls into two portions, viz. (1) Shakumon, as it is called in Japanese, which comprises chaps. i.–xiv., and consists of a connected series of what may be termed "Visions;" and (2) Hommon, which consists of a series of miscellaneous chapters, on Spells, on Avalokites’vara, Samantabhadra, and other Bodhisattvas, etc., which are but loosely connected with the main action of the main part of the book.
It is often held by Japanese Buddhists that the Hommon is a series of later additions to the original book, dating not much earlier than Kumarajīva's time (A.D. 350–400), and the Tendai sect, which, like the p. 290 Nichiren, professes to base all its teaching on this Sūtra, confines itself mainly to the Shakumon section.
It was Nichiren's claim that to him had been revealed the true meaning of the Hommon, which had been concealed from former ages, and been kept for revelation in the last "millennium" of the "Destruction of the Law." The Shakumon, according to him, must be interpreted in the light of the Hommon, which is the really important part. The gist of the whole is to be found in the syllables myō-hō-ren-ge-kyō, which form at once the object of adoration, the protective charm, and the Kaidan, or Ordination Vow of the sect. One sub-sect considers only two chapters of the Hommon to be really genuine and authentic.
291:1 I give Nichiren's exact words from a modern Japanese edition of extracts from Nichiren's writings, which has made this great Buddhist leader's mind accessible to me. The book is entitled "Seigōroku," and was published in 1907.
"Hitotsu no negai wo okosu. Nihonkoku ni waretaru tokoro no Bukkyō narabi ni Bosatsu no ron to ninshi no shaku wo narai-mi sōrawabaya, mata Kusha, Jōjitsu, Ritsu, Hossō, Sanron, Kegon, Shingon, Hokke-Tendai, to mōsu Shu tomo amata ari to kiku ue ni Zenshū, Jōdo shū to mōsu shū mo sōrō nari. Korera no shūjū shiyō made komaka ni narawadzu to mo shosen kanyō wo shiru mi to naraba ya to omoishi yue ni, zuibun ni hashiri-mawari jū-ni jū-roku no toshi yori sanjū-ni ni itaru made nijū yo nen no aida Kamakura to, Kyō to, Hieizan to, Onjō to, Kōya to, Tennōji tō no kuniguni tera-dera ara-ara narai mi-mawari sōraishi," etc. ("Seigōroku," p. 764).
292:1 "Same yo hitobito, ma no atari sono mi wo futari no chichi naku, futari no haha nakute umaretaru hitobito, aogi miyo, Ten ni ni-jitsu naku, fushite miyo, chi ni ni-Ō nashi" ("Nichiren," by Murakumo. Tokyo: Minyūsha. 1909).
293:1 "Seigōroku," p. 774.
295:1 "Nembutsu wa mugen no gō: Zenshū wa Tenma, hajun no setsu: Dai-shō no Kairitsu wa seken ōwaku no ha: Toshigoro no Honzon, Mida Kwannon tō no zō wo hi ni ire midzu ni nagasu" ("Seigōroku," p. 774).
It is interesting to observe that there is no idol on the main altar in a Nichiren temple, though the side altars are frequently so adorned. In, e.g., the Temple of Myōhōji at Kamakura, the oldest of all Nichirenist shrines, there is an absolute stūpa or tabernacle, such as was found in the ancient chaityas in India, and symbolical of the stūpa which descended from heaven in chap. xiv. of the "Saddharma pundarika." In front of this tabernacle is the usual "table of prothesis" which is to be found in all Buddhist temples in Japan, and in front of that, again, what may be called the Choir, with the desks for the monks. Over this part, which comes about the middle of the building, is a baldacchino, or umbrella, from which hang strings of flowers in thin brass, the whole being intended to symbolize the "Pentecostal" shower of celestial flowers with which the action of the "Saddharma pundarika" commences. Curiously enough, S’akyamuni is distinguished from the glorified but Invisible Buddha, who is supposed to be within the tabernacle. For the historical S’akyamuni there is a distinct building in another part of the grounds. This is, I believe, the universal practice.
297:1 To the prosaic foreign resident of Tokyo and Yokohama the place is known as "Poker Flat." "What is Nichiren to him, or he to Nichiren?"
298:1 "Kyōmon ni wa bunmyō in toshi-tsuki wo sashitaru koto wa nakeredomo, Ten no on-keshiki wo haikenshitatematsuru ni," etc. ("Seigoroku," p. 807). Yet it is quite possible that Nichiren, as a priest, had means of obtaining information about foreign countries, which were not accessible to the statesmen of Kamakura. It was still the practice for Buddhist priests to go over to China for purposes of study.
299:1 "Kono Shaka Nyorai wa mitsu no yue mashimashite, ta-Butsu ni kawarase tamaite, Shabo sekai no issai shūjō u-en no Hotoke to nari tamau: ichiniwa, Kono Shabo-sekai no issai shūjō no seson nite o washimasu; … ni ni wa, … Shabo-sekai issai shūjo no fu-mo nari:… san ni wa, … issai shūjō no honshi nari" ("Seigōroku," p. 131).
299:2 The term ichi embudai is used in Nichiren's writings to embrace all the countries which had adopted the Buddhist Faith. It is, therefore, strictly analogous to our word "Christendom," used to denote the sum-total of Christian countries.
299:3 Nichiren was, however, fully aware of the chronological difficulties connected with the acceptance of the Hokekyō as a genuine Sūtra actually preached by S’akyamuni himself. In a passage quoted in p. 300 "Seigōroku" (p. 645), after enumerating the early patriarchs of the Northern Buddhism, he adds that during their terms of office there is not to be found even the name of a single Mahāyāna Sūtra (sho-Daijo Kyo wa myoji mo nashi), and on the following page there is another passage in which he describes the astonishment and perplexity of the Hīnayāna doctors when As’vaghosha and Nāgārjuna began to propound their Mahāyāna doctrines. Nichiren's thought was that the Hokekyō, as a kind of Apocalypse, was far too advanced for the immediate disciples of S’akyamuni, and that for this reason it lay fallow for several centuries, gradually winning recognition for itself as the spiritual intelligence of the Buddhist communities increased.
301:1 We must remember that Nichiren, in common with all northern Buddhists until quite recent times, placed S’akyamuni's birth B.C. 1027, and his death, consequently, about B.C. 947. The true date places the end of the first age in the first Christian century, and squares very well with what we know of the beginnings of Gnosticism, as well as of the Mahāyāna. Nichiren speaks of the pre-Mahāyāna Sūtras as ni zen ("before the rain"), an expression which somehow seems to be an echo, as it were, of phrases like "Pentecostal showers."
301:2 See "S.B.E.," vol. xxi., and my "Wheat among the Tares" (Macmillan, 1908).
301:3 It is significant that this period of the Imago Law should coincide so strangely with the testimony of the Buddhist Stupas in India. See Dahlmann's "Indische Fahrten," vol. ii. capp. 22–27.
302:1 Similarly, the Thibetan history of Buddhism published by Sarat Chandra Das (Calcutta, 1908) speaks of the conversion of India as due to S’akyamuni; of Udyāna, to Vajrapani; Bactria, to the frightful manifestations of the Bodhisattva; of China, to Monjughosha; of Thibet, to Avalokites’vara; ("Pag. Sam. Jon. Zang," part ii., Table of Contents, chap. i.) See also "Une Bibliothēque Médievale retrouvée à Kansou," in Bulletin École Franç. de l’Extreme Orient, viii. 3, 4 (Hanoi, 1908).
302:2 See, for instance, "Sacred Books of the East," vol. xxi. p. 273.
302:3 Nichiren divided the "Saddharma pundarika" into two parts. The first thirteen chapters he calls the Shakumon, or Preliminary part. This part was understood by the Tendai doctors. The second part, Hommon, or the Real Section, was not understood until its meaning was revealed to and through Nichiren. See chapter on Nichiren in "Bukkyō, Kakuḥa Koyō," vol. v.
303:1 Some years ago I had a pupil who always spoke of himself as a Unitarian, who afterwards went to America, and there again posed as a Unitarian. When he returned from America he turned out to p. 304 be a Nichiren priest. He had no intention to deceive. The term "Unitarian," to his mind, exactly described what he was.
304:1 I think it is best to let Nichiren speak for himself here. He says as follows:—
"Our merciful Father, the Tathāgata, manifested himself in Central India in historical times (lit. since man's life has been limited to one hundred years), and expounded, for the benefit of all sentient creatures, the whole of the Holy Teachings of his lifetime. The sentient creatures of the times when the Tathāgata was in the world, being closely bound to him by the merits of good actions acquired in the past, entered upon the way of Truth (and were saved). 'But what,' he lamented, shall happen to the Sentient Beings who shall come after my Nirvana?' So he caused the whole eighty thousand of his Holy Teachings to be committed to writing, and out of these entrusted to Kaśyapa the monk (sonja) all the writings of the Lesser Vehicle, whilst those of the Greater Vehicle, together with the Saddharma pundarika and the Nirvana Sūtras, etc., he entrusted to the care of the Bodhisattva Manjuśri. But the kernel of all the eighty thousand Teachings, the five syllables Myō-hō-ren-ge-kyō, which contain the gist (or main section) of the Saddharma pundarika Sūtra, he entrusted neither to Kaśyapa and Ananda, nor yet to Manjuśri, Samantabhadra, Avalokites’vara, Maitreya, Kshitigarbha, Nāgārjuna, or any of the Great Bodhisattvas, though they desired him to do so; but summoning, from the depths of the earth, the old man Visishta-c’aritra, he did there, in the presence of the Buddha Prabhūtaratna and all the Buddhas of the Ten Quarters, from the centre of the Stūpa of S’akyamuni made of Seven Precious Substances, deliver to Visishta-c’aritra the Five Syllables of the Myō-hō-ren-ge-kyō. Hence, after his Nirvana he considered all Sentient Beings as his sons, to be treated with absolute equality of consideration. But, just as it is the wont p. 305 of physicians to give medicines according to the disease, so during five hundred years he bade Kaśyapa and Ananda to administer the medicine of the Small Vehicle Doctrines to all beings, and during the next five hundred years he gave to Manjuśri, Maitreya, Nāgārjuna, and Vasubandhu, etc., the medicines of the Avataṃsaka, Vairoc’ana, Prajnaparāmita, and other Sūtras. A thousand years after his death, in the period of the Image Law, he bade Yaku-Ō, Kwannon, and the other Bodhisattvas, impart to all Sentient Beings all the other doctrines, with the exception of the Real Section of the Hokekyō. 'When the period of the Failure of the Law shall commence,' said he, 'the Scriptures which I give to Kaśyapa, Ananda, etc., to Manjuśri, Maitreya, etc., to Yaku-Ō, Kwannon, etc.—the Scriptures of the Great and Small Vehicles—shall remain in the letter, but shall no more serve as medicines, for the sickness shall be grievous, but the medicine light. At that time shall Visishta-c’aritra be manifested, and shall give the medicine of the Five Syllables of the Myō-hō-ren-ge-kyō to the Sentient Beings within Buddhadom.'"
305:1 Mr. Tada Kanae quotes this prophecy in his chapters on Nāgārjuna in "Shōshinge Wasan" (p. 224).
305:2 See Kern's "Buddhismus" (German Trans.), vol. ii. p. 187 (150).
306:1 Abbot Joachim was born 1145, and was Abbot of Corace (1178) and of Floris (1196).
306:2 Nichiren, however, writing about 1254, speaks of himself as 220 years after the commencement of the Last Period, which must therefore have begun about 1034. The student will perhaps remember the peculiar wave of excitement which swept over Europe as the year A.D. 1000 approached.