Be a Lamp (Nirvana Sutra)
World Honored One Flicks Dirt with His Toe (Vimalakirti Sutra)
Order of Enlightenment (Maka Shikan)
Calming and Contemplation of Anger (Maka Shikan)
Effect of Thunderbolts on Ivory (Maka Shikan)
Blind Heir of a Wealthy Merchant (Maka Shikan)
Mongolian Wisdom (ancient sayings)
Mighty Bodhisattva Warriors (13th Dalai Lama)
Seeing Ourselves as Suchness (Shinnyo kan)
Wu-lung and I-lung
[This is excerpted from a letter by Nichiren Daishonin.]
In China, there once lived a calligrapher named Wu-lung. In his art he was without peer in the entire country. He hated Buddhism and vowed that he would never transcribe any Buddhist scriptures. As he approached his end, he fell seriously ill. On his deathbed, he expressed his last wishes to his son, saying, "You are my son. Not only have you inherited my skill but you write with an even better hand than I. No matter what evil influence may work upon you, you must not copy the Lotus Sutra."
The son's name was I-lung. He, too, proved to be the best calligrapher in China. Obedient to his father's will, he pledged that he would never transcribe the Lotus Sutra. The king of the time was Ssu-ma by name. He believed in Buddhism and held the Lotus Sutra in especially high regard. He desired to have this sutra transcribed by an excellent calligrapher — none but the most skilled in all the country — so that he could have a copy of his own. So he summoned I-lung.
I-lung explained that his father's will forbade him from doing so and beseeched the king to excuse him from the task. Hearing this, the king called another calligrapher and had him transcribe the entire sutra. The result, however, was far from satisfying.
The king sent again for I-lung and said to him, "Since you say your father's will forbids you, I will not compel you to copy the sutra. I do insist, however, that you at least obey my command to write the titles of its eight volumes." I-lung begged repeatedly to be excused. The king, now furious, said, "Your father was as much my subject as you are. If you refuse to write the titles for fear of being unfilial to him, I will charge you with disobedience of a royal decree." In this way the king repeated his strict order. I-lung, though unwilling to be unfilial, realized that he could no longer disobey the royal command, so he wrote the titles [of the eight volumes] of the Lotus Sutra and presented his work to the king.
Returning home, I-lung faced his father's grave and, shedding tears of blood, reported, "The ruler commanded me so strictly that, against your will, I wrote the titles of the Lotus Sutra." In his grief that he could not escape the offense of being unfilial, he remained by the graveside for three days on end, fasting until he was on the verge of death. At the Hour of the Tiger on the third day, he was almost dead and felt as if he were dreaming. He looked up at the sky and saw a heavenly being, who looked like Taishaku in a painting and whose multitude of followers filled both heaven and earth. I-lung asked him who he was. The heavenly being replied, "Do you not recognize me? I am your father, Wu-lung. While I was in the human world, I adhered to non-Buddhist scriptures and harbored enmity toward Buddhism, particularly toward the Lotus Sutra. For this reason, I fell into the hell of incessant suffering.
"Each day I had my tongue wrenched
out several hundred times. Now I was dead, now I was alive again. I kept
crying in agony, alternately looking up to heaven and flinging myself to
the ground, but there was no one to heed my screams. I wanted to tell the
human world of my anguish, but there was no means of communication. Whenever
you insisted upon adhering to my will, your words would either turn into
flames and torment me or be transformed into swords which rained down from
heaven upon me. Your behavior was unfilial in the extreme. However, since
you were acting thus in order to abide by my will, I knew I could not entertain
a grudge against you, for I was only receiving the retribution for my own
I-lung said, "It was my hand that wrote the titles. How could you have been saved? Moreover, I did not write them with sincerity. How could it possibly have helped you?" His father replied, "How ignorant you are! Your hand is my hand, and your body is my body. Your act of writing characters equals my doing so. Although you had no faith in your heart, you nevertheless wrote the titles with your hand. Therefore, I have already been saved. Think of a child who sets fire to something and, without the least intention of doing so, causes it to be burned. The same holds true with the Lotus Sutra. If one professes faith in it, he will surely become a Buddha, even though he may not expect it in the least. Now that you understand this principle, never slander the Lotus Sutra. However, since you are among the laity, your are in a better position to repent of my past slanderous words, no matter how grave they may have been."
I-lung reported all this to the king. The king said, "My wish has been answered with splendid results." From then on, I-lung basked increasingly in the royal favor, and the entire populace of the country came to revere the Lotus Sutra.
[From the Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 4, page 305.]