The Proof of the Lotus Sutra
Nichiren, the votary of the Lotus Sutra
A person who, in the evil world of the
latter age, believes in the teachings of the Lotus Sutra just as they are set forth in the sutra-how does the mirror of the
Lotus Sutra portray him? Shakyamuni Buddha has left us words from his golden mouth revealing that such a person has already
made offerings to a hundred thousand million Buddhas in his past existences. But ordinary persons in the latter age might
well doubt the words spoken by one Buddha only. With this thought in mind, Taho Buddha expressly came all the way from his
world of Treasure Purity, many lands to the east. Facing Shakyamuni Buddha, he gave his words of testimony to the Lotus Sutra,
saying, "All that you have expounded is the truth." If this is so, then there can be no room for doubt about the matter. Nevertheless,
Shakyamuni Buddha may have felt that ordinary persons in the latter age would still be skeptical. Hence he summoned all the
Buddhas throughout 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 an ordinary
person in the latter age believes in even one or two words of the Lotus Sutra, he is embracing the teaching to which all the
Buddhas in the ten directions have given credence. I wonder what good karma we created in the past to have been born as such
persons, and I am filled with joy. Shakyamuni’s words which I have mentioned above indicate that the blessings that
come from having made offerings to a hundred thousand million Buddhas are so great that, even though one may have 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 during this lifetime.
T’ien-t’ai 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."
Those who slander the Lotus Sutra will fall to the ground of the three evil paths or of the human and heavenly realms, yet
through the help of the Lotus Sutra they will in the end attain Buddhahood.
Now since you, Ueno Shichiro Jiro, are an
ordinary person in the latter age and you were born into a warrior family, you should by rights be called an evil man, and
yet your heart is that of a good man. I say this for a reason. Everyone, from the ruler on down to the common people, refuses
to take faith in my teachings. They inflict harm on the few who do embrace them, heavily taxing or confiscating their estates
and fields or even in some cases putting them to death. So it is a difficult thing to believe in my teachings, and yet both
your mother and your deceased father dared to accept them. Now you have succeeded your father as his heir and, without any
persuasion from others, you too have wholeheartedly embraced these teachings. Many people, both high and low in rank, have
advised or threatened you, but you have refused to give up your faith. Now that you appear certain to attain Buddhahood, the
devils of heaven and the demons are trying to use this illness to intimidate you. But remember that life in this world is
limited. Never allow yourself to be intimidated!
"And as for you evil spirits -- will you
cause this disciple of mine to suffer and swallow a sword point first, or embrace a raging fire, or become the archenemy of
all the Buddhas of the ten directions in the three existences? How terrible this will be for you! Now, will you cure this
man’s illness immediately and hereafter give him your protection instead, in this way escaping from the grievous sufferings
that are the lot of evil spirits? If you fail to do so, then you will have your heads broken into seven pieces in this life
and after your death fall into the hell of incessant suffering! You should absolutely free yourself from this fate; if you
ignore my words, you will regret it later.
The twenty-eighth day of the second month
in the fifth year of Koan (1282)
Handed to you by Hoki-bo.