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Sumpreme Law: Latter Day Of The Law...

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Posted by Glenn on July 25, 2002 12:23:01 UTC

Yes, the variety forms[sects] of Buddhism differs greatly on this matter. As you can see, disputes, quarrel and rivalry exist until the Pure Law[of Buddhism] has been lost.Thus, the most important thing in practicing Buddhism is to follow and uphold the Buddha's golden teachings, not the opinions of others, believing that there is but one Supreme Law.

With these condition prevalent in Buddhism especially in Japan, however, that Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282) awaken that there is a need to spread the true Dharma. He was the one clearly revealed the great Law that Shakyamuni had not taught explicitly for the (the present, defiled times, when the teachings of Shakyamuni have lost validity and power of salvation)- called the "Latter Day of the Law".

Buddhism teaches that there are many BUDDHAS who appear and expound different teachings in accordance with the time, the place and the capacity of the people. Shakyamuni Buddha said that his teachings would retain the power to benefit people during the limited period of 2,000 years after his passing.

In the Daijutsu Sutra, Shakyamuni divided the time following his death into five periods of 500 years each and predicted the characteristics of each period. The first two 500 years comprise thousand years is called the Former Day of the Law (Shoho), while the third and fourth 500 years is called the Middle Day of the Law (Zoho) and the last 500 years and after is called the Latter Day of the Law (Mappo).

The Former Day of the Law, which Shakyamuni said would commence right after his passing, and last for a thousand years, is a time when his teachings would prosper and lead many people to enlightenment. After a century of Shakyamuni's death, a schism arose which then developed into two major streams of Buddhism, Hinayana and Mahayana. Hinayana Buddhism is based on Shakyamuni's earlier teachings and stresses the denial of desire, renunciation of the world, and strict adherence to monastic precepts and to the letter of Buddhist scripture in search of personal salvation. This form of Buddhism spread south into Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and other parts of South-east Asia. Mahayana Buddhism, however, denies the practice of extinguishing desire. Instead it encourages one to manifest in oneself the universal life so that one can control desire and direct it positively, in this way abating suffering. Mahayana moved north through central Asia, China and Korea, reaching Japan in the Sixth century AD.

For the next thousand years, however, during the Middle Day of the Law, he said that although Buddhism would appear to flourish, with many temples and stupas being built, it would also become increasingly formalized, ritualistic and elitist. Gradually, only priests and the aristocracy would be able to afford the time to practice it properly, and so Buddhist teachings would lose their power to help ordinary people to overcome their sufferings. Buddhism fell into the decline and confusion that Shakyamuni predicted as people had even begun to worship statues of Shakyamuni depicting him as an almost superhuman, godlike figure, in total contradiction to his own admonition which is to worship the Law, and not his person.

In the Latter Day of the Law, which Shakyamuni said would start about two thousand years after his passing and last for ten thousand years and more (the period that we are in right now), the Buddhism he taught would have declined to such an extent that it would prove totally powerless in the face of confusion, corruption and conflict which characterize that age. Thus, in the Latter day of the Law, Shakyamuni's teachings can no longer lead people to enlightenment. People in the Latter Day of the Law are said to be filled with the fundamental evils of greed, hunger and stupidity. We did not receive the seed of enlightenment from Shakyamuni in the past, and therefore, in terms of our receptivity to Buddhism, we are defined as those people who have not accumulated "good causes".

However, Shakyamuni predicted in the Lotus Sutra that from the very chaos of the Latter Day of the Law, a Buddha would appear in a land to the north-east of India who would expound a great Law which would be propagated in the Latter Day of the Law, when Shakyamuni's Buddhism would lose its power of redemption and the people would be without good causes. Ordinary people would thus be awakened to the Great Pure Law and to their own inherent Buddhahood. Nichiren Daishonin appeared in the Latter Day of the Law and established the Buddhism of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, giving substance to the predictions of the Lotus Sutra.

People living in the Latter Day have no relation with Shakyamuni, hence, are unable to attain enlightenment through his teachings. This is why the Lotus Sutra of the Latter Day, Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism is the Buddhism of Sowing, the Buddhism that plants the original seed of Buddhahood in people's lives. By practicing this Mystic Law, one is able to plant, nurture and harvest the seed of enlightenment in one's lifetime and attain Buddhahood. It is a living Buddhism that enables people to actually change their daily life and society for the better.

In contrast, people who lived during the Former and Middle day of the Law had already formed a bond with Shakyamuni Buddha in the distant past. Hence, they are able to gain enlightenment through his teachings. The Lotus Sutra preached by Shakyamuni was the Buddhism of Harvest, which brought enlightenment to those disciples who had already developed their wisdom and capacity under Shakyamuni's guidance for many successive lifetimes.

Unlike Shakyamuni's Buddhism in which the process of sowing, maturing and harvest took place over many existences, in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, one can attain enlightenment in a single lifetime. One of the unique characteristics of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism is that he established the Dai-Gohonzon, the object of worship. Shakyamuni did not reveal any concrete object of worship, nor, for that matter, a way of practice accessible to the people. His Buddhism remained confined to limited number of people. On the other hand, Nichiren Daishonin taught a universal way of practice so that all people throughout the world can practice to attain enlightenment and secure individual happiness.

To return, reasserting the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni's highest teaching, Nichiren Daishonin stated that the eternal truth, the Law, or the essence of life that pervades everything in the universe, is crystallized in the title of the Lotus Sutra – Myoho-Renge-kyo. He concluded that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the correct Buddhist practice for the Latter Day of the Law which will enable ordinary people, within their own lifetime, to reveal their highest state of life in the midst of day to day reality.

His self-enlightenment to the nature of the Mystic Law of Life is one reason why he is known as the "True Buddha" or "Original Buddha", whose mission is to appear at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law in order to reveal this ultimate truth to the people. In other words, this means that Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddha for our present age, for whom Shakyamuni paved the WAY. In addition, by embodying his enlightened state in the physical object of worship, the Gohonzon, Nichiren Daishonin also provides the means for anyone who wishes to develop their own inherent Buddhahood.

In Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, Buddhahood or enlightenment is not a mystical or transcendental state, as many might assume. Rather it is a condition of the highest wisdom, vitality and good fortune wherein we can shape our own destiny, find fulfillment in daily activities, and come to understand and appreciate our purpose in being alive.

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