Sunday, 6 July 2014

Devil King of the Sixth Heaven

This is another study point I prepared for a Discussion meeting. I ended up not sharing it at the meeting, but I had made this text into a handout which I circulated at the end.


Devil King of the Sixth Heaven (Jpn dairokuten-no-mao)
AKA, Devil King, Heavenly Devil, Demon of the Sixth Heaven.

The Devil King of the 6th Heaven is #19. 
You can easily Google this map or you could look here.

To understand this concept we must talk about Fundamental Darkness, the negative aspect of life, which is bound to appear in some form when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood.
This negative aspect is often referred to as the 'three obstacles and four devils' (in Japanese, sansho shima).

The Obstacles refer to things which appear to be outside of ourselves, but which ultimately have their origins in our lives. They are the obstacle of Earthly Desires, the obstacle of Karma and the obstacle of Retribution.The devils, or negative elements, are 'internal'.  The first arises from our Earthly Desires and from the Poisons of Greed Anger and Animality. The second is the devil of weakness in our own bodies. The third is the devil which manifests as the hindrance of Death.
Finally, the fourth devil is known as the Devil King of the Sixth Heaven.

In Buddhist mythology, he is the king of devils, who dwells in the highest or the sixth heaven of the world of desire. He is also named Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, the king who makes free use of the fruits of others' efforts for his own pleasure. Served by innumerable minions, he obstructs Buddhist practice and delights in sapping the life force of other beings. Works to obstruct Buddhist practice and drain our life force.
He is the manifestation of fundamental darkness inherent in life.

The three Obstacles and Four Devils confront us at a specific point in time - usually when we are about to grow in our lives and move forward, and they may lead us to stop practising.
Flipping the coin entirely, these hindrances enable us to see a weakness in our lives so that we can chant and become stronger in that area, so long as we are neither influenced nor frightened by them.
The Daishonin advises us to rejoice when Fundamental Darkness arises, and to take these obstacles and devils as confirmation that we are practising the true Law correctly.

Some quotes from the Gosho:
[T]he Devil of the Sixth Heaven, scheming to prevent the people of this world from going to the pure lands elsewhere, seizes every opportunity to carry out his perverse acts.
It appears that his scheming is ultimately intended to prevent the Buddha from expounding the Lotus Sutra. The reason is that the nature of this devil king is to rejoice at those who create the karma of the three evil paths and to grieve at those who form the karma of the three good paths. He does not lament so greatly over those who form the karma of the three good paths, but he sorrows indeed at those who aspire to the three vehicles. Again, he may not sorrow that much over those who seek to attain the three vehicles, but he grieves bitterly at those who form the karma to become Buddhas, and avails himself of every opportunity to obstruct them. He knows that those who hear even a single sentence or phrase of the Lotus Sutra will attain Buddhahood without fail, and, exceedingly distressed by this, contrives various plots and restrains and persecutes believers, in an attempt to make them abandon their faith.

(From “The Four Debts of Gratitude”)

Arouse strong faith, and do not heed what they say. It is the way of the great devil to assume the form of a venerable monk or to take possession of one’s father, mother, or brother in order to obstruct happiness in one’s next life. Whatever they may say, however cleverly they may try to deceive you into discarding the Lotus Sutra, do not assent to it.
(From “Encouragement to a sick person”)

When an ordinary person of the latter age is ready to attain Buddhahood, […] this devil is greatly surprised. He says to himself, “This is most vexing. If I allow this person to remain in my domain, he not only will free himself from the sufferings of birth and death, but will lead others to enlightenment as well. Moreover, he will take over my realm and change it into a pure land. What shall I do?” The devil king then summons all his underlings […] and tells them: “Each of you now go and harass that votary, according to your respective skills. If you should fail to make him abandon his Buddhist practice, then enter into the minds of his disciples, lay supporters, and the people of his land and thus try to persuade or threaten him. If these attempts are also unsuccessful, I myself will go down and possess the mind and body of his sovereign to persecute that votary. Together, how can we fail to prevent him from attaining Buddhahood?”
(From “Letter to Misawa”)

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate your study of the devil king. I am trying to understand his/her function better. Are some tendencies in our life as well? Most likely as he/she is seated on the gohonzon, and part of those 10 worlds. I would like to talk about this topic more..


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