Lotus in a Sea of Flames
By Ryuei Michael McCromick
For hundreds of years the emperors had reigned peacefully over the islands of Japan from Kyoto, but those days were over. In the 13th century, the predicted Latter Age of Degeneration had begun. The mystical promises of the Buddhafs teachings had once provided hope, but their power to end suffering in the present world was believed to have come to an end. It seemed that the gods had abandoned the land to demons. The time of the Kamakura shogunate had arrived, an age when ruthless samurai ruled the land with bow and sword. But even the samurai had to fear the vast legions of Kublai Khan that were conquering all of Asia. Even as the threat of civil wars and foreign invasion loomed, the common people suffered drought, famine, pestilence, and all manner of natural disasters and ill omens. This was when the monk Nichiren dared confront the evils of his time. He braved death to sow the seeds of buddhahood in the lives of all people so that perfect and complete spiritual awakening could blossom even in the midst of the worst suffering, like a lotus in a sea of flames.
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