January 2009 Oko

 

The Lotus Sutra says: "There will be monks in that evil age with perverse views and hearts that are fawning and crooked who will say they have attained what they have not attained, being proud and boastful in heart. Or there will be forest-dwelling monks wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement who will claim they are practicing the true Way, despising and looking down on the rest of mankind. Greedy for profit and nourishment, they will preach the Dharma to white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who posses the six supernatural powers ...Constantly they will go about among the populace, seeking in this way to slander us. They will address the rulers, high ministers, Brahmans and great patrons of Buddhism as well as the other monks, slandering and speaking evil of us, saying, 'These are men of perverted views who preach the doctrines of heretical sects!' In a muddied kalpa, in an evil age there will be many different things to fear. Demons will take possession of others and through them curse, revile and heap shame on us ...The evil monks of that muddied age, failing to understand the Buddha's expedient means, how he preaches the Dharma in accord with what is appropriate, will confront us with foul language and angry frowns; again and again we will be banished."

            In the Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha says: "After I have passed away and countless hundreds of years have gone by, all the sages of the four stages will also have passed away. After the Former Day of the Law has ended and the Middle Day of the Law has begun, there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline. But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies. Though they wear the robes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen, spying sharply and stalking softly. They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And constantly they will reiterate these words: 'I have attained the state of arhat!' Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy. [And when they are asked to preach the Dharma,] they will conceal it, like Brahmans who have taken a vow of silence. They are not true monks--they merely have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the True Law."

            When we look at the world in the light of these passages of scripture, we see that the situation is just as they describe it. If we do not admonish the evil monks, how can we hope to do good?

I would like to thank you for attending today’s Oko ceremony despite your busy schedule. I have offered your sincere Gokuyo to the Gohonzon, and sincerely prayed to the Gohonzon for your further development in faith; eradication of your sins and negative karma from this and infinite past lifetimes; to enjoy a safe and long life; for peace and harmony to reign in your home; for all matters to proceed forth smoothly; and for the successful achievement of all your great objectives in this and future existences.

For those who have requested Tobas, I have offered my sincere prayers to the Gohonzon for the peace and happiness of your late relatives, friends, and ancestors.

 

Once again, this month’s Oko will be from the Rissho Ankoku-ron, where I will cover the final part of the third question and answer between the traveler and the host. This is the part where the host cites the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra in order to explain why the True Law is being slandered. The following passage is from the Kanji Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which says:

"There will be monks in that evil age with perverse views and hearts that are fawning and crooked who will say they have attained what they have not attained, being proud and boastful in heart. Or there will be forest-dwelling monks wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement who will claim they are practicing the true Way, despising and looking down on the rest of mankind. Greedy for profit and nourishment, they will preach the Dharma to white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six supernatural powers...Constantly they will go about among the populace, seeking in this way to slander us. They will address the rulers, high ministers, Brahmans and great patrons of Buddhism as well as the other monks, slandering and speaking evil of us, saying, 'These are men of perverted views who preach the doctrines of heretical sects!' In a muddied kalpa, in an evil age there will be many different things to fear. Demons will take possession of others and through them curse, revile and heap shame on us ...The evil monks of that muddied age, failing to understand the Buddha's expedient means, how he preaches the Dharma in accord with what is appropriate, will confront us with foul language and angry frowns; again and again we will be banished."

 

1. It is a part of the “twenty line verse” that expresses the second and the third of the three powerful enemies. “There will be monks in that evil age with perverse views and hearts that are fawning and crooked who will say they have attained what they have not attained, being proud and boastful in heart,” talks about the cunning priests of misleading sects who slander the believers of true Buddhism. It is the second of the three powerful enemies.

67th High Priest Nikken Shonin offered the following: “These so called priests believe that they have been enlightened, leading up to persecuting those who uphold the True Law.”

2. “There will be forest-dwelling monks wearing clothing of patched rags and living in retirement who will claim they are practicing the true Way, despising and looking down on the rest of mankind. Greedy for profit and nourishment, they will preach the Dharma to white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six supernatural powers” This mentions the third of the three powerful enemies. These monks who enjoy the respect of the people and persuade political or social authorities to persecute the believers of true Buddhism on false charges. For these priests to convince the people, they tell them that they possess the six supernatural powers. These powers are the power of being anywhere at will, seeing anything anywhere, hearing any sound anywhere, knowing the thoughts of all other minds, knowing past lives, and eradicating illusions. 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin tells us the following: “In regards to the first five supernatural powers, there are people who are able to attain them through a certain amount of training, but the sixth power of eradicating illusions is difficult. This is why in Hinayana Buddhism, anyone who attained this final power is known as the enlightened one, an arhat.”

Also, 67th High Priest Nikken Shonin reminds us that people whose lives are filled with power, hunger, sexual desires will not attain the six supernatural powers. The current appearance of the world reflects this.

3. “Constantly they will go about among the populace, seeking in this way to slander us. They will address the rulers, high ministers, Brahmans and great patrons of Buddhism as well as the other monks, slandering and speaking evil of us, saying, 'These are men of perverted views who preach the doctrines of heretical sects!'” This tells us how the people involved in heretical religions will snuggle up to those with official powers, and undermine the True Law. 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin said, “The heretical sects means all the other religions other than Buddhism…. Today, heretical are the “evil” sect. These heretical sects will in turn call us an “evil sect.” Those involved in heretical teachings will cling to authority and talk ill about us. Authority will take them seriously and they will persecute us. Look at the life of Nichiren Daishonin. He faced many persecutions based on fabrications. The exile to Izu, the Komatsubara Persecution, the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, exile to Sado Islands. They tried to do away with Nichiren Daishonin by clinging to authority; saying negative things based on fabrications, and using the power of authority. Even in our current time, the evil forces will appear without fail.”

4. “The evil monks of that muddied age, failing to understand the Buddha's expedient means, how he preaches the Dharma in accord with what is appropriate, will confront us with foul language and angry frowns; again and again we will be banished” mentions a prophecy where the votary of the Lotus Sutra is confronted by the evil monks and forced out of his dwellings.

Nichiren Daishonin knew He would be facing these persecutions in the Gosho “Opening of the Eyes”:

Who on earth is the person cursed and spoken ill of by the people? Who, among all the priests, was attacked with swords and staves? What kind of priest, because of the Lotus Sutra, gave a solid demonstration to the courtiers and warriors? Who is the priest who is "again and again banished," as the Lotus Sutra predicted? Who else in Japan besides Nichiren could fit this description?

 

The following passage is where the host cites the Nirvana Sutra in explaining why the True Law is being slandered:

"After I have passed away and countless hundreds of years have gone by, all the sages of the four stages will also have passed away. After the Former Day of the Law has ended and the Middle Day of the Law has begun, there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline. But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies. Though they wear the robes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen, spying sharply and stalking softly. They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And constantly they will reiterate these words: 'I have attained the state of arhat!' Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy. [And when they are asked to preach the Dharma,] they will conceal it, like Brahmans who have taken a vow of silence. They are not true monks--they merely have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the True Law."

1. “After I have passed away and countless hundreds of years have gone by, all the sages of the four stages will also have passed away. After the Former Day of the Law has ended and the Middle Day of the Law has begun, there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline.” This mentions that after the Buddha passes away, all the sages who have attained the four stages of Hinayana enlightenment will have passed away as well. Then, after the Former Day of the Law has ended and the Middle Day of the Law has begun, monks who can slightly recite the sutra will start to appear. These monks are more like a know-it-all type of monks.

 

2. “But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies.” In regards to this portion, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin said: “In reality, they (the monks) have two sides. And when the Latter Day of the Law starts, these evil monks will begin to show up.”

 

3. “Though they wear the robes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen, spying sharply and stalking softly. They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice.” This portion refers to these monks being the hunter and the people the hunted. 68th High Priest mentions: “A model example is Ryokan of Gokurakuji Temple. Just as the Lotus Sutra says “(They will be) respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six supernatural powers”, Ryokan was conducting charitable work, and at first the people thought of him as a great priest. But in reality, Ryokan was not… Just as the hunter aims for the target, Ryokan aimed for the people, and they will fall into hell in a hideous form. This is why we must firmly see through their true form. The only way to see through them is to firmly chant Daimoku.”

 

4. “And constantly they will reiterate these words: 'I have attained the state of arhat!'” These evil monks will always say these words in order to convince the people.

 

5. “Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy. [And when they are asked to preach the Dharma,] they will conceal it, like Brahmans who have taken a vow of silence” mentions that the evil monks will look clever on the outside, but are strong in their feeling of greed and jealousy. And they would rather not talk about the Dharma, keeping silent instead.

 

6. “They are not true monks--they merely have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the True Law” mentions the evil monks will imitate as monks, and will slander the True Law.

 

The host closed his response with the following:

When we look at the world in the light of these passages of scripture, we see that the situation is just as they describe it. If we do not admonish the evil monks, how can we hope to do good?

By observing the various sutras, it clearly mentions what it says.

 

As we practice this True Law, we are definitely going to deal with various forms of hindrances. But as long as we firmly devote ourselves to this practice, we can overcome any kind of hindrances. Especially the fact that we are in 2009, “The Year of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice” and the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho Ankoku-ron, we must absolutely devote ourselves to this practice.

 

In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.