Day 29

Illustration Nichiren at Tasunokuchi
Nichiren at Tatsunokuchi by Rhea Adri from Ryūei Michael McCormick’s Lotus in a Sea of Flames

In chanting the daimoku, the power of the whole sutra and all its protectors had been invoked. Who had sent that ball of lightning across the sky at just that moment? Perhaps it had been World Voice Perceiver Bodhisattva, of whom the Buddha sang in the verses of chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra, “Suppose you are sentenced to death, and the sword is drawn to behead you. If you think of the power of World Voice Perceiver, the sword will suddenly break asunder.”

Day 29 covers all of Chapter 25, The Universal Gate of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva.

In earlier readings of Chapter 25, I’ve scoffed at what I described as World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva’s Get Out of Jail Free card but recently I’ve been reading Ryūei Michael McCormick’s Lotus in a Sea of Flames (you can get info on how to purchase this new biography of Nichiren on his blog). Nichiren had not resigned himself to his death on the beach at Tatsunokuchi. No, he embraced it in much the same way Gladly-Seen-By-All-Beings Bodhisattva in Chapter 23 embraced giving himself to the flames of the Dharma. McCormick’s novel imagines Nichiren consoling Shijo Kingo and his brothers just moments before his execution saying: “How dismayed you all are! You should be laughing at such a wonderful occasion as this when I am going to present my wretched head to the Lotus Sutra. It will be like exchanging sand for gold or pebbles for jewels.”

All the more reason to bear in mind what the Buddha says:

Good man! If many hundreds of thousands of billions of living beings hear [the name of] World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva and call his name with all their hearts when they are under various sufferings, World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva will immediately perceive their voices, and cause them to emancipate themselves [from the sufferings].

And while not everyone faces death at the hands of robbers or peril at sea in a storm-tossed ship, there are many other times when thinking of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva can rescue us:

Those who have much lust will be saved from lust if they constantly think of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva and respect him. Those who have much anger will be saved from anger if they constantly think of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva and respect him. Those who have much stupidity will be saved from stupidity if they constantly think of World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva and respect him. Endless-Intent! World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva has these great supernatural powers. He gives many benefits to all living beings. Therefore, they should constantly think of him.

As with Wonderful-Voice Bodhisattva, World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva can be found wandering about this world transforming himself into various beings in order to teach the Dharma:

This World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva does these meritorious deeds. He takes various shapes, walks about many worlds, and saves the living beings [of those worlds]. Make offerings to World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva with all your hearts! This World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva-mahāsattva gives fearlessness [to those who are] in fearful emergencies. Therefore, he is called the ‘Giver of Fearlessness’ in this Sahā-World.

In summary:

World-Voice-Perceiver will save
All living beings from misfortunes
And from innumerable sufferings of the world
By the wonderful power of his wisdom.

He has these supernatural powers.
He employs various expedients with his wisdom.
In the ten quarters there is no kṣetra
In which he does not appear at all.