(click on pic for a closer look)
“…it is deplorable to me that more than 2,220 years have passed since the Buddha’s demise. What evil karma prevented me from being born in his lifetime? Why could not I have seen the four ranks of sages in the Former Day of the Law, or T’ien-T’ai & Dengyo in the Middle Day of the law? On the other hand, I rejoice at whatever good fortune enabled me to be born in the last 500 year period & to read these true words of the sutra.” –Nichiren
Nichiren explains that if he were born in the former day of the law (while Shakyamuni was living) his teachings would have had little impact, since as he says the people had not yet heard the Lotus Sutra. It seems that at this incipient time, people were still benefiting from the Buddha’s teachings (& other sutras), & they might’ve been deciding what value was to be found within the Lotus Sutra, & they had no idea that the key to enlightenment could be found within it.
Although Tien-t’ai & Dengyo are known to have propagated the Lotus Sutra, it wasn’t till Nichiren discovered the Mystic Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo in the Latter day of the law, causing the Buddha’s prophecy to be realized. People were then able to find enlightenment within their own lives & to help others find it within their own.
Nichiren sees being born in the Latter Day of the Law as a great benefit because it’s a time when the Buddha’s teachings are in decline (or a mere formality), the Mystic Law is what is needed as Shakyamuni predicted.
It follows that the tradition of mentor & disciple is exemplified by the transition of Shayamuni’s words to Dengyo & T’ien-t’ai, & then into Nichiren’s capable hands. It can also be said that the reason we’re examining this today is due to Toda, Makaguchi & Ikeda’s efforts along with whoever personally taught each of us to observe the Mystic Law. Shakyamuni saw & foretold it, Nichiren discovered & explained it & Ikeda is now asking us to awaken to it: Nam-Myho-Renge-Kyo. From the mentor to the disciple & from the disciple who becomes the mentor, this idea of widespread propagation is none other then Kosen-Rufu (or widespread propagation). Shakyamuni states in the Medicine King chapter of the Lotus Sutra that:
“After I have passed into extinction, in the last five hundred year period you must spread it abroad widely throughout Jambudvipa & never allow it to be cut off…
“…if you see someone who accepts & upholds this sutra, you must take blue lotus blossoms, heap them with powdered incense, & scatter them over as an offering. And when you have scattered them, you should think to yourself: before long this person will pick grasses, spread them as a seat in the place of practice, & conquer the armies of the devil. Then he will sound the conch of the Law, beat the drum of the great Law, & free all living beings from the sea of old age, sickness & death.
“For this reason when those who seek the Buddha way see someone who accepts & upholds this sutra, they should approach him with this kind of respect & reverence.”–Shakyamuni
This notion to “spread it abroad widely” is Kosen-Rufu’s fundamental meaning, it is the essence of the Buddha’s prophecy, it is the essence of the Lotus Sutra & it is how the practice will stay alive in our hearts & for generations to come. Spread the word widely, chant Nam-Myho-Renge-Kyo & be enlightened to the Mystic Law of cause & effect.