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The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin

The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin - Page 637

THE THREE OBSTACLES AND FOUR DEVILS

no Tayu Sakan, will now become one of its votaries.4 You, who think only of immediate affairs, will obey your father, and deluded people will therefore praise you for your filial devotion. Munemori obeyed his father’s tyrannous commands and was finally beheaded at Shinohara. Shigemori disobeyed his father and preceded him in death.5 Who was truly the filial son? If you obey your father who is an enemy of the Lotus Sutra and abandon your brother who is a votary of the one vehicle, are you then being filial? In the final analysis, what you should do is resolve to pursue the Buddha way single-mindedly just as your brother is doing. Your father is like King Wonderful Adornment, and you brothers are like the princes Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye. The age is different, but the principle of the Lotus Sutra remains the same. Recently the lay priest of Musashi6 abandoned his vast territory and his many subjects in order to retire from all worldly affairs. If you ingratiate yourself with your father for the sake of a small private estate, neglect your faith, and fall into the evil paths, you should not blame me, Nichiren. Yet despite my warnings, I feel that this time you will discard your belief.

I state this out of pity because, though you have been faithful until now, you may still fall into the evil paths. If, by one chance out of a hundred or a thousand, you should decide to follow my teaching, then confront your father and declare: “Since you are my father, I should by rights obey you, but since you have become an enemy of the Lotus Sutra, I would be unfilial if I were to do so in this matter. Therefore, I have resolved to break with you and follow my brother. If you should disown him, be aware that you are disowning me too.” You should not have the slightest fear in your heart. It is lack of courage that prevents one from attaining Buddhahood, although one may have professed faith in the Lotus

Sutra many times since innumerable kalpas ago.

There is definitely something extraordinary in the ebb and flow of the tide, the rising and setting of the moon, and the way in which summer, autumn, winter, and spring give way to each other. Something uncommon also occurs when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood. At such a time, the three obstacles and four devils will invariably appear, and the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat. I have long been waiting to tell you this, either through my own messenger or by some other means. So I greatly appreciate your sending these messengers to me. I am sure that, if you were about to abandon your faith, you would not have sent them. Thinking it may still not be too late, I am writing this letter.

To attain Buddhahood is difficult indeed, more difficult than the feat of placing a needle atop the Mount Sumeru of this world and then casting a thread from atop the Mount Sumeru of another world directly through the eye of this needle. And the feat is even more difficult if it must be done in the face of a contrary wind. The Lotus Sutra states: “A million million ten thousand kalpas, an inconceivable time will pass, before at last one can hear this Lotus Sutra. A million million ten thousand kalpas, an inconceivable time will pass, before the Buddhas, WorldHonored Ones, preach this sutra. Therefore its practitioners, after the Buddha has entered extinction, when they hear a sutra like this, should entertain no doubts or perplexities.”7 This passage is extremely unusual even among the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. From the “Introduction” to the “Teacher of the Law” chapters, human and heavenly beings, the four kinds of believers, and the eight kinds of nonhuman beings— those at the stage of near-perfect enlightenment or below— were many in number, but there was