Once upon a time there was a great king. He was the greatest of kings and was called the Wheel-Rolling King. It was said that he owned a magical wheel of jewels that would spin while he governed.
The king was a fine ruler, and when he found a country that was run by evil people, he would wage war against it. He continually fought such evil countries until he had crushed them all.
The king was very glad to see that some of his soldiers were very brave in war. He rewarded these soldiers with treasures such as gold, silver, shell, agate, coral, and amber. He gave some of them farms, houses, villages, and cities. He also gave elephants, horses, and vehicles to those who were worthy.
Every time the soldiers were given these gifts from the king, they boasted, saying “I received golden rings and necklaces from the Wheel-Rolling King.”
Or: “He gave me a fabulous elephant and an ox-cart, praising my brave fight in the war.”Or: “It was clothes this time for me. But I’ll get much more next time for my valiant fight.”
Or: “But you’ll not outdo me. I’ll be fighting with all my might, too.”
There was one thing that the king kept for himself: the brilliant gem which he was keeping in his topknot. This gem was the only one of its kind in the world. If he had given it to anyone, his followers would have been shocked.
Finally, one day, the Wheel-Rolling King saw an especially brave soldier and gave him that precious gem.
“I, the Buddha, have kept the Lotus Sutra carefully in my heart and have told no one about it. In this way, I am like the Wheel-Rolling King — who gave many treasures to his soldiers, but kept the most valuable gem. I, like the king, have fought many battles and defeated many devils. Many of my disciples also fought along side me. I gave them many treasures of the Law and have brought them closer to enlightenment, but I did not teach them the Lotus Sutra. Why? Because the people were not ready and the time was not right.
“I did not tell my followers about the Lotus Sutra earlier because they would not have understood. In a world that is evil and ignorant, people cannot understand such a profound teaching.
“That’s why it was necessary to wage wars and destroy evil. That way, people can learn more and more about the true state of life. Once their mistaken ideas had been changed, they became more open to understanding the great teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
“One day the Wheel-Rolling King saw an especially brave soldier and gave him that precious gem. I am like that king. The Lotus Sutra is the most excellent teaching. Therefore I am teaching it last — just as the king finally gave the brilliant gem to the one who was his most worthy follower.”