Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": NICHEREN PROCLAIMS HIMSELF

THE BODHISATTVA OF SUPERB ACTION


Nichiren (1222-82) was a Japanese religious teacher.

1, Nichiren, a man born in the ages of the Latter Law, have nearly achieved the task of pioneership in propagating the Perfect Truth, the task assigned to the Bodhisattva of Superb Action (Vishishtachiritra) The eternal Buddhahood of Shakyamuni, as he revealed himself in the chapter on Life-duration, in accordance with his primeval entity, the Buddha Prabhutaratna, who appeared in the Heavenly Shrine, in the chapter on its appearance, and who represents Buddhahood in the manifestation of its efficacy; the Saints [bodhisattvas] who sprang out of the earth, as made known in the chapter on the Issuing out of Earth -in revealing all these three, I have done the work of the pioneer [ among those who perpetuate the Truth]; too high an honour, indeed, for me, a common mortal! . . .

I, Nichiren, am the one who takes the lead of the Saints-out-of-Earth. Then may I not be one of them? If I, Nichiren, am one of them, why may not all my disciples and followers be their kinsmen? The Scripture says 'If one preaches to anybody the Lotus of Truth, even just one clause of it, he is, know ye, the messenger of the Tathagata, the one commissioned by the Tathagata, and the one who does the work of the Tathagata.' How, then, can I be anybody else than this one? . . .

By all means, awaken faith by seizing this opportunity! Live your life through as the one who embodies the Truth, and go on without hesitation as a kinsman of Nichiren! If you are one in faith with Nichiren, you are one of the Saints-out-of-Earth; if you are destined to be such, how can you doubt that you are the disciple of the Lord Shakyamuni from all eternity? There is assurance of this in a word of Buddha, which says: 'I have always, from eternity, been instructing and quickening all these beings.' No attention should be paid to the difference between men and women among those who would propagate the Lotus of the Perfect Truth in the days of the Latter Law. To utter the Sacred Title is, indeed, the privilege of the Saints-out-of-Earth. . . .

When the Buddha Prabhutaratna sat in the Heavenly Shrine side by side with the Tathagata Shakyamuni, the two Buddhas lifted up the banner of the Lotus of the Perfect Truth, and declared themselves to be the Commanders [in the coming fight against vice and illusion]. How can this be a deception? Indeed, they have thereby agreed to raise us mortal beings to the rank of Buddha. I, Nichiren, was not present there in the congregation, and yet there is no reason to doubt the statements of the Scripture. Or, is it possible that I was there? Common mortal that I am, I am not well aware of the past, yet in the present I am unmistakably the one who is realizing the Lotus of Truth. Then in the future I am surely destined to participate in the communion of the Holy Place. Inferring the past from the present and the future, I should think that I must have been present at the Communion in the Sky. [The present assures the future destiny, and the future destiny is inconceivable without its cause in the past.] The present, future, and past cannot be isolated from one another. . . .

In this document, the truths most precious to me are written down. Read, and read again; read into the letters and fix them into your mind ! Thus put faith in the Supreme Being, represented in a way unique in the whole world! Ever more strongly I advise you to be firm in faith, and to be under the protection of the threefold Buddhahood. March strenuously on in the ways of practice and learning! Without practice and learning the Buddhist religion is nullified. Train yourself, and also instruct others ! Be convinced that practice and learning are fruits of faith ! So long as, and so far as, there is power in you, preach, if it be only a phrase or a word [of the Scripture] ! Namu Myoho-renge-kyo! Namu Myoho-renge-kyo! [Adoration to the Lotus of Perfect Truth.]


Masaharu Anesaki, Nichiren, the Buddhist Prophet (Cambridge, Mass., 1916), pp. 83-5; as quoted in Wm. Theodore de Bary (ed.), Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), pp.228-9

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