introduction

Some 3000 years ago, "Shakyamuni" (born Siddhartha Gautama) made his advent in a kingdom of India (now Nepal) as the first Buddha in the history of the earth. He started to teach people 'The Law' (the ultimate and supreme truth) he had realized. There are many different kinds of Buddhism in today's world, such as the Jodo sect, Shingon sect, Zen sect, etc. It seems that those who are not accustomed to Buddhism may think That all Buddhism sects were preached by Shakyamuni and are the same, but they cannot be the same, because they have quite different doctrines and objects of worship. Shakyamuni must have only one intention. Why, then, are there so many branches of Buddhism? Shakyamuni, in his 50 years, preached a great many doctrines. In one of these doctrines, Muryogi Sutra, at the beginning of his last eight years on earth, hestates: "Once I was deep in meditation under a linden tree, spiritually awakened and came to know the truth, determined to preach it to the people, but I gave up the plan of preaching it directly. Because I understood people those days lack the capacity to understand my doctrine and were all different, I decided to preach each part of my doctrines considering the cultural level of my listeners first. Thus, the doctrines which I have already taught are only temporary expedients, and I have not told the truth completely."

On the other hand, in the Lotus Sutra (Hokkekyo), taught during the last eight years of his life, Shakyamuni stated that it might be hard for people to understand the truth hidden under temporary expedients, and he declared that he was now ready to tell people the supreme doctrine that he had ever and would ever teach (Lotus Sutra, Hoben or 2nd chapter): "I have been preaching a large number of doctrines. But the Lotus Sutra is the most excellent sutra of the past, the present, and the future"(Lotus Sutra, Hossi, or Chapter 10). Shakyamuni affirmed that the Lotus Sutra was his great doctrine, the only one that revealed his Truth directly. To cite an analogy, elementary school students learn easy subjects at first, such as addition or subtraction, and, step by step, according to their capacity, they eventually reach a level where they can understand advanced mathematics like differential or integral calculus.

Similarly,Shakyamuni began to teach from the lowest level doctrine according to people's capacity, and, finally, he taught the Lotus Sutra, the highest doctrine. The Lotus Sutra is comparable to a building, and other doctrines of Buddhism are temporary scaffolding. Once the building is completed, scaffolding set for the construction have to be dismantled. Otherwise they become obstructions. In a similar way, we must renounce the provisional doctrines that precede the Lotus Sutra. It is not only useless but harmful to adhere to the provisional doctrines. Shakyamuni, in fact, told us to do so.

It is plain that the Lotus Sutra embodies real Buddhism, since it adheres to Shakyamuni's intention. However, priests ignorant of Buddhism selfishly organized their sects against Shakyamuni's intention based on the adherence to provisional doctrines that he taught for 42 years. One said, "I think this part of Buddhism is good," whereas another said, "No, I prefer that one." This way, the Jodo sect, Zen sect, Shingon sect, and other Buddhist sects were organized. Even if they insist that they believe in Buddhism they are incorrect; it is pseudo Buddhism, since it is against the Buddha's intention. Actually, priests who organized these sects and spread them had wretched deaths. If the priests had believed the true doctrine, they couldn't have died so miserably. Therefore, we select the Lotus Sutra--out of the great number of Buddhist doctrines-- as the highest one.