I HAVE received one horseload of polished rice (four to) and a sack of yams, and respectfully chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Myoho-renge-kyo is likened to the lotus. The great mandara flower in heaven and the cherry blossom in the human world are both celebrated flowers, but the Buddha chose neither to compare to the Lotus Sutra. Of all the flowers, he selected the lotus blossom to symbolize the Lotus Sutra. There is a reason for this. Some plants first flower and then produce fruit, while in others fruit comes forth before flowers. Some bear only one flower but much fruit, others send forth many flowers but only one fruit, and still others produce fruit without flowering. Thus there are all manner of plants, but the lotus is the only one that bears flowers and fruit simultaneously. The benefit of all the other sutras is uncertain, because they teach that one must first make good causes and only then can one become a Buddha at some later time. With regard to the Lotus Sutra, when ones hand takes it up, that hand immediately attains Buddhahood, and when ones mouth chants it, that mouth is itself a Buddha, as, for example, the moon is reflected in the water the moment it appears from behind the eastern mountains, or as a sound and its echo arise simultaneously. It is for this
reason that the sutra states, If there are those who hear the Law, then not a one will fail to attain Buddhahood.1 This passage means that, if there are a hundred or a thousand people who uphold this sutra, without a single exception all one hundred or one thousand of them will become Buddhas.
In your letter you mention the anniversary of the passing of your compassionate father, the lay priest Matsuno Rokuro Saemon. You say, Since he left many sons behind, memorial services for him will be conducted in as many different ways. I fear, however, that such ceremonies will be slanderous unless strictly based on the Lotus Sutra. Shakyamuni Buddhas golden teaching states, The World-Honored One has long expounded his doctrines and now must reveal the truth.2 The Buddha Many Treasures gave testimony, declaring, The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law . . . all that you [Shakyamuni] have expounded is the truth!3 And the Buddhas of the ten directions gave credence to the sutras verity by extending their tongues to the Brahma heaven.4
To the southwest, across the ocean from Japan, there is a country named China. In that country, some people believe in the Buddha but not in gods, while others believe exactly the opposite. Perhaps a similar situation existed in the early days of our own country.