Condolences on a Deceased Husband Chapter14

Condolences on a Deceased Husband Chapter14

In the past there was a bodhisattva named Never Disparaging who worked to propagate the Lotus Sutra. Monks and nuns who were outstanding in wisdom and eminent monks who observed the two hundred and fifty precepts gathered and conspired with laymen and laywomen to curse and beat Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. But because he showed no weakening of his resolve and went on spreading the teachings, in the end he became a Buddha. The person who formerly was Bodhisattva Never Disparaging is now Shakyamuni Buddha.

The eminent monks and others who envied and attacked him all fell into the Avīchi hell for a period of a thousand kalpas. Those persons had recited the Meditation Sutra, the Amida Sutra, and several thousand other sutras, they recited the name of Amida Buddha and pronounced the names of all the other Buddhas, and day and night they read the Lotus Sutra. But because they showed enmity toward the true votary of the Lotus Sutra, their recitations of the Lotus Sutra and the name of Amida Buddha and their observance of the precepts did not help them, and they fell into the Avīchi hell for a period of a thousand kalpas. These monks and nuns at first manifested hatred toward Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, but later they underwent a change of heart and in the end served Never Disparaging as faithfully as any lowly servant serves his master. And yet they were not able to escape the hell of incessant suffering.

Nowadays I am hated by the people of Japan in much the same manner. And yet there are ways in which my case is different from that of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. He was cursed and beaten, but he was not condemned to exile by the rulers of the nation. He was attacked with sticks and staves, tiles and stones, but he was never wounded or threatened with beheading. I have been subjected to ceaseless defamation and attacks with sticks and staves for a period of over twenty years. I have been wounded, condemned to exile, and threatened with beheading. My disciples have been deprived of their fiefs or thrown into prison, exiled to distant places, driven from their hometowns, or stripped of their fields. They have been treated more severely than one would treat night raiders, thieves, pirates, mountain bandits, or plotters of rebellion. And all this has come about because of the accusations of the eminent priests of the True Word, Nembutsu, and Zen schools.

The errors committed by those persons are weightier than the earth itself. Therefore the earth quakes and trembles as though it were a boat on the ocean being tossed by a great wind. The eighty-four thousand stars in the sky32 blaze forth their anger, and day and night the heavens show strange manifestations. In addition, the sun and moon show numerous peculiarities in their behavior.

Already 2,227 years have passed since the demise of the Buddha. In India King Mihirakula burned down the temples of the five regions of India and beheaded the monks in sixteen great states. In China Emperor Wu-tsung destroyed the temples of Chinese Buddhism and smashed their Buddha images, while in Japan Moriya, kindling a fire of charcoal, melted down the bronze-gilt image of Shakyamuni Buddha and attacked and harassed the priests and nuns, forcing them to return to lay life. Yet when these events were taking place in India, China, and Japan, there were no comets or great earthquakes such as we see now.33

The people of today are a hundred, thousand, ten thousand times more evil than those men in the past. In the past it was simply a case of the ruler alone having evil designs; his high ministers and the others under him did not share his passion for destruction. Moreover, the destructive efforts of the rulers were directed at provisional Buddhas and provisional sutras, and the priests they attacked were not the votaries of the Lotus Sutra.

But now this great animosity is directed toward the Lotus Sutra, and arises not from the ruler alone, but from the hearts of wise men throughout the country and the mass of common people.

It is like the case of a woman possessed by jealousy. A great fire burns within her breast, and as a result her whole body turns red. The hair on her body stands on end, her entire body quivers, and the flames ascend to her face until it has become crimson. Her eyes are as round as those of a cat about to pounce on a mouse, and her hands tremble like oak leaves tossed in the wind. When bystanders observe her, she looks no different than a demon.


32. “Eighty-four thousand” is a figure used in Buddhist texts to represent a large number, or a quantity that is immeasurable or all-inclusive.

33. This last is a reference to the great earthquake of the Shōka era that devastated the Kamakura area in the eighth month of 1257 and the huge comet of the Bun’ei era that appeared in the seventh month of 1264.

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