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Ten Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin

RISSHO ANKOKU RON
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ON CHANTING THE DAIMOKU OF THE LOTUS SUTRA
RISSHO ANKOKU RON
THE OPENING OF THE EYES part ONE
The Opening of the Eyes part TWO
The True Object of Worship
THE ESSENTIALS OF THE LOTUS SUTRA
The Selection of the Time
Repaying Debts of Gratitude
On the Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practice
LETTER TO SHIMOYAMA
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP

Rissho Ankoku Ron

 

Once there was a traveler who spoke these words in sorrow

to his host:

 

In recent years, there are unusual disturbances in the

heavens, strange occurrences on earth, famine and pestilence, all

affecting every corner of the empire and spreading throughout the

land. Oxen and horses lie dead in the streets, the bones of the

stricken crowd the highways. Over half the population has

already been carried off by death, and in every family someone

grieves.

 

All the while some put their whole faith in the "sharp

sword" of the Buddha Amida and intone this name of the lord of

the Western Paradise; others believe that the Buddha Yakushi will

"heal all ills," and recite the sutra that describes him as

the Tathagata of the Eastern Region. Some, putting their trust

in the passage in the Lotus Sutra that says, "Illness will vanish

immediately, and he will find perpetual youth and eternal

life," pay homage to the wonderful words of that Sutra;

others, citing the passage in the Ninno Sutra that reads: "The

seven difficulties vanish, the seven blessings at once

appear," conduct ceremonies at which a hundred preachers

expound the sutra at a hundred places. There are those who

follow the secret teachings of the Shingon sect and conduct

rituals by filling five jars with water; and others who devote

themselves entirely to Zen-type meditation and perceive the

emptiness of all phenomena as clearly as the moon. Some write

out the names of the seven guardian spirits and paste them on

a thousand gates, others paint pictures of the five mighty

bodhisattvas and hang them over ten thousand thresholds, and

still others pray to the gods of heaven and the deities of earth

in ceremonies conducted at the four corners of the capital and

on the four boundaries of the nation; certain that government on

the national and local levels is carried out in a benevolent

manner.

 

But despite all these efforts,they merely exhaust

themselves in vain. Famine and disease rage more fiercely than

ever, beggars are everywhere in sight, and scenes of death fill

our eyes. Cadavers pile up in mounds like observation platforms,

dead bodies lie side by side like planks on a bridge.

 

If we look about, we find that the sun and moon continue

to move in their accustomed orbits, and the five planets

follow the proper course. The three treasures of Buddhism

continue to exist, and the period of a hundred reigns [during

which the Bodhisattva Hachiman vowed to protect the nation]

has not yet expired. Then why is it that the world has already

fallen into decline and that the laws of the state have come to

an end? What is wrong? What error has been committed?

 

The host then spoke: I have been brooding alone upon this

matter, indignant in my heart, but now that you have come, we can

lament together. Let us discuss the question at length.

 

When a man leaves family life and enters the Buddhist

way, it is because he hopes to attain Buddhahood through the

teachings of the Dharma. But attempts now to move the gods fail

to have any effect, and appeals to the power of the Buddhas

produce no results. When I observe carefully the state of the

world today, I see ignorant people who give way to doubts because

of their naivete. Therefore they look up at the heavens and

mouth their resentment, or gaze down at the earth and sink deep

into anxiety.

 

I have pondered the matter carefully with what limited

resources I possess, and have searched rather widely in the

scriptures for an answer. The people of today all turn their

backs upon what is right; to a man, they give their allegiance to

evil. That is the reason why the benevolent deities have

abandoned the nation, why sages leave and do not return, and in

their stead come devils and demons, disasters and calamities that

arise one after another. I cannot keep silent on this matter. I

cannot suppress my fears.

 

The guest said: These disasters that befall the empire,

these calamities of the nation -- I am not the only one pained by

them; the whole populace is weighed down with sorrow. Now I have

been privileged to enter your home and to listen to these

enlightening words of yours. You speak of the gods and sages

taking leave and of disasters and calamities arising side by side

-- upon what sutras do you base your views? Could you describe

for me the passages of proof?

 

The host said: There are numerous passages that could be

cited and a wide variety of proofs. For example, in the Konkomyo

Sutra we read: "[The Four Heavenly Kings said to the Buddha,]

'Though this sutra exists in the nation, the rulers have never

allowed it to be propagated. In their hearts they turn away from

it, and they take no pleasure in hearing its teachings. They do

not serve it, respect it, or sing its praises. Nor are they

willing to respect ... or give material support to the four kinds

of Buddhist who embrace the sutra. In the end, they have

made it impossible for us and the countless other heavenly beings

who are our followers to hear the teachings of this profound and

wonderful Dharma. They have deprived us of the sweet dew of its

words and cut us off from the flow of the True Law, so that our

majesty and strength are drained away. Thus the number of beings

who occupy the four evil paths increases and the number who enjoy

the human and heavenly states decreases. People fall into the

river of birth and death and turn their backs on the road to

nirvana.

 

"'World-Honored One, we, the Four Heavenly Kings, as well

as our various followers and the yakshas and other beings,

observing this state of affairs, have decided to abandon this

nation, for we have no more heart to protect it. And it is not

we alone who cast aside these rulers. All the great benevolent

deities who guard and watch over the countless different regions

of the country will also invariably reject them. And once we and

the others have abandoned and deserted this country and the

rulers will fall from power. Not a single person in the entire

population will possess a heart of goodness; there will be

nothing but binding and enslaving, killing and injuring, anger

and contention. Men will slander each other or fawn upon one

another, and the laws will be twisted until even the innocent are

made to suffer. Pestilence will become rampant, comets will

appear again and again, two suns will come forth side by side and

eclipses will occur with unaccustomed frequency. Black arcs and

white arcs will span the sky as harbingers of

ill fortune, stars will fall, the earth will shake, and noises

will issue from the wells. Torrential rains and violent winds

will come out of season, there will be constant famine, and

grains and fruits will not ripen. Marauders from many other

regions will invade and plunder the nation, the people will

suffer all manner of pain and affliction, and there will be no

place where one may live in safety.'"

 

The Daijuku Sutra says: "When the principles of Buddhism

truly become obscured and lost, then people will all let their

beards, hair and fingernails grow long, and the laws of the world

will be forgotten and ignored. At this time, loud noises will

sound in the air and the earth will shake; everything in the

world will begin to move as though it were a waterwheel. City

walls will split and tumble, and all houses and dwellings will

collapse. Roots, branches, leaves, petals and fruits will lose

their medicinal properties. With the exception of the five

highest heavens in the world of form, all the regions of the

worlds of form and desire will become deprived of the seven

flavors and the three essences that nourish life and

human society, until nothing remains alive any more. All the

good discourses that lead men to emancipation will at this time

disappear. The flowers and fruits that grow in the earth will

become few and will lose their flavor and sweetness. The wells,

springs and ponds will all go dry, the land everywhere will turn

brackish and will crack open and warp into hillocks and gullies.

All the mountains will be swept by fire and the heavenly dragons

will no longer send down rain. The crops will all wither and

die, all living creatures will perish, and even the grass will

cease to grow any more. Dust will rain down until all is

darkness and the sun and the moon no longer shed their light.

 

"All the four directions will be afflicted by drought,

and evil omens will appear again and again. The ten kinds of

evil behavior will increase greatly, particularly greed,

anger and stupidity, and people will think no more of their

fathers and mothers than does the roe deer. Living beings will

decline in numbers, in longevity, physical power and enjoyment.

They will become estranged from the pleasures of human and

heavenly existence and all will fall into the evil states of

existence. The wicked rulers and monks who perform these ten

kinds of evil behavior will destroy the True Law of the Buddha

and make it impossible for sentient beings to be born in the

human and heavenly states of existence. At that time the various

benevolent deities and heavenly rulers, who would ordinarily take

pity on living beings, will abandon this nation of confusion and

evil and all will make their way to other regions."

 

The Ninno Sutra states: "When a nation becomes

disordered, it is the spirits which first show signs of

rampantcy. Because these spirits become rampant, all the people

of the nation become disordered. Invaders come to plunder the

country and the common people face annihilation. The ruler, the

high ministers, the heir apparent and the other princes and

government officials all quarrel with each other over right and

wrong. Heaven and earth manifest prodigies and strange

occurrences; the twenty-eight constellations, the stars, the

sun and the moon appear at irregular times and in irregular

positions, and numerous outlaws rise up."

 

The same sutra also states: "When I look at the three

ages of past, present and future with the five types of vision, I

see that all the rulers of nations were able to attain the

position of emperor or king because in past existences they

served five hundred Buddhas. And this is the reason that all the

various sages and arhats are born in their nations and are

assisting them to gain great advantage. But if a time should

come when the good fortune of these rulers runs out, then all the

sages will abandon them and depart. And once the sages have

departed, then the seven disasters are certain to arise."

 

The Yakushi Sutra states: "If disasters and calamities

should befall members of the ruling kshatriya class and

anointed kings, such disasters will be as follows: the

calamity of disease and pestilence among the populace; the

calamity of invasion and plunder from foreign lands; the calamity

of revolt within one's own domain; the calamity of irregularities

and strange occurrences among the stars and constellations; the

calamity of eclipses of the sun and moon; the calamity of

unseasonable wind and rain; and the calamity of rain that fails

to fall even when the season for it has come and gone."

 

In the Ninno Sutra, the Buddha addresses [King

Prasenajit] in these words: "Great King, the region where my

teachings now hold sway consists of a hundred billion Sumeru

worlds with a hundred billion suns and moons. Each of these

Sumeru worlds comprises four great continents. In the empire of

the south, which is Jambudvipa, there are sixteen great nations,

five hundred medium-sized nations, and ten thousand small

nations. In these nations, there are seven types of fearful

calamities that may occur. All the rulers of these nations agree

that these are indeed calamities. What, then, are these

calamities?

 

"When the sun and moon depart from their regular courses,

when the seasons come in the wrong order, when a red sun or a

black sun appears, when two, three, four or five suns appear at

the same time, when the sun is eclipsed and loses its light,

or when one, two, three, four or five coronas appear around the

sun, this is the first calamity.

 

"When the twenty-eight constellations do not move in

their regular courses, when the Metal Star, when the Broom

Star, the Wheel Star, the Demon Star, the Fire Star, the Water

Star, the Wind Star, the Ladle Star, the Southern Dipper, the

Northern Dipper, the great stars of the Five Garrisons, and all

the many stars that govern the ruler, the three high ministers

and the hundred other officials -- when each of these stars

manifests some peculiar behavior, this is the second calamity.

 

"When huge fires consume the nation and the people are

all burned to death, or when there are outbreaks of demon fire,

dragon fire, heavenly fire, mountain god fire, human fire, tree

fire or bandit fire -- when these prodigies appear, this is

the third calamity.

 

"When huge floods drown the population, when the seasons

come out of order and there is rain in winter, snow in summer,

thunder and lightning in the winter season and ice, frost and

hail in the sixth month, when red, black or green rain falls,

when mountains of dirt and stones come raining down, or when it

rains dust, sand or gravel, when the rivers and streams run

backward, when mountains are afloat and boulders are washed away

-- when freakish happenings of this kind occur, this is the

fourth calamity.

 

"When huge winds blow the people to their death and the

lands, the mountains and rivers and the trees and forests are all

at one time wiped out, when great winds come out of season or

when black winds, red winds, green winds, heavenly winds, earthly

winds, fire winds and water winds blow -- when prodigies of this

kind occur, this is the fifth calamity.

 

"When heaven and earth and the whole country are stricken

by terrible heat so that the air seems to be on fire, when the

hundred plants wither and the five grains fail to ripen, when

the earth is red and scorched and the inhabitants all perish --

when prodigies of this kind occur, this is the sixth calamity.

 

"When enemies rise up on all four sides and invade the

nation, when rebels appear both within the ruler's family and

without, when there are fire bandits, water bandits, wind bandits

and demon bandits and the population is subjected to

devastation and disorder, and fighting and plundering break out

everywhere -- when prodigies of this type occur, this is the

seventh calamity."

 

The Daijuku Sutra says: "Though the ruler of a state may

have for countless existences in the past practiced the giving of

alms, observed the precepts and abided by the principles of

wisdom, if he sees that my Law, the Dharma of the Buddha, is in

danger of perishing and stands idly by without doing anything to

protect it, then all the inestimable store of good causes that he

has accumulated through the practices just mentioned will be

entirely wiped out, and his country will become the scene of

three inauspicious occurrences. The first is high grain prices,

the second is warfare, and the third is pestilence. All the

benevolent deities will abandon the country, and although the

king may issue commands, the people will not obey them. The

country will constantly be invaded and vexed by neighboring

nations. Violent fires will rage out of control, evil winds and

rains will abound, the waters will swell and overflow, and the

inhabitants will be blown about by winds or swept away by floods.

The paternal and maternal relatives of the ruler will join in

plotting revolt. Before long, the ruler will fall gravely ill,

and after his life has come to an end, he will be reborn in one

of the major hells .... And the same fate will befall the ruler's

consort, his heir, the high ministers of the state, the lords of

cities, the village heads and generals, the magistrates of

districts, and the government officials."

 

The passages I have quoted from these four sutras are

perfectly clear -- what person in ten thousand could possibly

doubt their meaning? And yet the blind and the deluded trust to

heretical doctrines and fail to recognize the correct teachings.

Therefore, throughout the empire these days people are inclined

to turn away from the Buddhas and the sutras and no longer

endeavor to protect them. In turn, the benevolent deities and

sages abandon the nation and leave their accustomed places. As a

result, demons and followers of heretical doctrines create

disaster and inflict calamity upon the populace.

 

The guest thereupon flushed with anger and said: Emperor

Ming of the Later Han dynasty, having comprehended the

significance of his dream of a golden man, welcomed the teachings

of Buddhism brought to China by missionaries leading white

horses. Prince Shotoku, having punished Mononobe no

Moriya for his opposition to Buddhism, proceeded to construct

temples and pagodas in Japan. Since that time, from the supreme

ruler down to the numberless masses, people have worshiped the

Buddhist statues and devoted their attention to the scriptures.

As a result, in the monasteries of Mount Hiei and of the

southern capital at Nara, at the great temples of Onjo-ji and

To-ji, throughout the land within the four seas, in the five

areas adjacent to the capital and the seven outlying regions,

Buddhist scriptures have been ranged like stars in the sky and

halls of worship have spread over the land like clouds. Those

who belong to the lineage of Shariputra meditate on the moon

atop Eagle Peak, while those who adhere to the traditions of

Haklenayasha transmit the teachings of Mount Kukkutapada.

How, then, can anyone say that the doctrines of Shakyamuni are

despised or that the three treasures of Buddhism are neglected?

If there is evidence to support such a contention, I would like

to hear all the facts!

 

The host, anxious to clarify his words, replied: To be

sure, Buddha halls stand rooftop to rooftop and sutra storehouses

are ranged eave to eave. Priests are as numerous as bamboo

plants and rushes, monks as common as rice and hemp seedlings.

The temples and priests have been honored from centuries past,

and every day respect is paid them anew. But the monks and

priests today are fawning and devious, and they confuse the

people and lead them astray. The ruler and his ministers lack

understanding and fail to distinguish between truth and heresy.

 

The Ninno Sutra, for example, says: "Evil monks, hoping

to gain fame and profit, in many cases appear before the ruler,

the heir apparent or the other princes and take it upon

themselves to preach doctrines that lead to the violation of the

Buddhist Law and the destruction of the nation. The rulers,

failing to perceive the truth of the situation, listen to and put

faith in such doctrines, and proceed to create regulations that

are perverse in nature and do not accord with the rules of

Buddhism discipline. In this way they bring about the

destruction of Buddhism and of the nation."

 

The Nirvana Sutra says: "Bodhisattvas, have no fear in

your hearts because of such things as wild elephants. But evil

friends -- they are what you should fear! If you are killed by a

wild elephant, you will not fall into any of the three evil

paths. But if evil friends lead you to your death, you are

certain to fall into one of them!"

 

The Lotus Sutra says: "There will be monks in that evil

age with perverse views and hearts that are fawning and crooked

who will say they have attained what they have not attained,

being proud and boastful in heart. Or there will be

forest-dwelling monks wearing clothing of patched rags and living

in retirement who will claim they are practicing the true Way,

despising and looking down on the rest of mankind. Greedy for

profit and nourishment, they will preach the Dharma to

white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world

as though they were arhats who possess the six super natural

powers.... Constantly they will go about among the populace,

seeking in this way to slander us. They will address the rulers,

high ministers, Brahmans and great patrons of Buddhism as well as

the other monks, slandering and speaking evil of us, saying,

'These are men of perverted views who preach the doctrines of

heretical sects!'... In a muddied kalpa, in an evil age there

will be many different things to fear. Demons will take

possession of others and through them curse, revile and heap

shame on us.... The evil monks of that muddied age, failing to

understand the Buddha's expedient means, how he preaches the

Dharma in accord with what is appropriate, will confront us with

foul language and angry frowns; again and again we will be

banished."

 

In the Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha says: "After I have

passed away and countless hundreds of years have gone by, all the

sages of the four stages will also have passed away. After

the Former Day of the Law has ended and the Middle Day of the Law

has begun, there will be monks who will give the appearance of

abiding by the rules of monastic discipline. But they will

scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave

all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies. Though they

wear the robes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms

like so many huntsmen, spying sharply and stalking softly. They

will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And constantly they

will reiterate these words: 'I have attained the state of arhat!'

Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they

will harbor greed and jealousy. [And when they are asked to

preach the Dharma,] they will conceal it, like Brahmans who have

taken a vow of silence. They are not true monks -- they merely

have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views,

they slander the True Law."

 

When we look at the world in the light of these passages

of scripture, we see that the situation is just as they describe

it. If we do not admonish the evil monks, how can we hope to do

good?

 

The guest, growing more indignant than ever, said: A wise

monarch, by acting in accord with heaven and earth, perfects his

rule; a sage, by distinguishing between right and wrong, brings

order to the world. The monks and priests of the world today

enjoy the confidence of the entire empire. If they were in fact

evil monks, then the wise ruler would put no trust in them. If

they were not true sages, then men of worth and understanding

would not look up to them. But now, since worthies and sages do

in fact honor and respect them, they must be nothing less than

paragons of their kind. Why then do you pour out these wild

accusations and dare to slander them? To whom are you referring

when you speak of "evil monks"? I would like an explanation!

 

The host said: In the reign of Emperor Gotoba there was a

priest named Honen who wrote a word entitled the Senchaku Shu

states: "The Chinese priest Tao-ch'o distinguished between

the Shodo or Sacred Way teachings and the Jodo or Pure Land

teachings and urged men to abandon the former and immediately

embrace the latter. First of all, there are two kinds of Sacred

Way teachings [the Mahayana and the Hinayana]. Judging from

this, we may assume that the esoteric Mahayana doctrines of

Shingon and the true Mahayana teachings of the Lotus Sutra are

both included in the Sacred Way. If that is so, then the

present-day sects of Shingon, Zen, Tendai, Kegon, Sanron, Hosso,

Jiron and Shoron -- all these eight schools are included in

the Sacred Way that is to be abandoned.

"The priest T'an-luan in his Ojo Ron Chu states: 'I

note that Nagarjuna's Jujubibasha Ron says: "There are two ways

by which the bodhisattva may reach the state in which there is no

retrogression.

 

One is the Difficult-to-Practice-Way, the other is the

Easy-to-Practice-Way."'

 

"The Difficult-to-Practice-Way is the same as the Sacred

Way, and the Easy-to-Practice-Way is the Pure Land Way. Students

of the Pure Land sect should first of all understand this point.

Though they may previously have studied teachings belonging to

the Sacred Way, if they wish to become followers of the Pure Land

school, they must discard the Sacred Way and give their

allegiance to the Pure Land teachings."

 

Honen also says: "The Chinese priest Shan-tao

distinguished between correct and incorrect practices and urged

men to embrace the former and abandon the latter. Concerning the

first of the incorrect practices, that of reading and reciting

sutras, he states that, with the exception of the recitation of

the Kammuryoju Sutra and the other Pure Land sutras, the

embracing and recitation of all sutras, whether Mahayana or

Hinayana, exoteric or esoteric, is to be regarded as an incorrect

practice. Concerning the third of the incorrect practices, that

of worshiping, he states that, with the exception of worshiping

the Buddha Amida, the worshiping or honoring of any of the other

Buddhas, bodhisattvas or deities of the heavenly and human worlds

is to be regarded as an incorrect practice. In the light of this

passage, it is clear that one should abandon such incorrect

practices and concentrate upon the practice of the Pure Land

teaching. What reason would we have to abandon the correct

practices of the Pure Land teaching, which insure that, out of a

hundred persons, all one hundred will be reborn in the Western

Paradise, and cling instead to the various incorrect practices

and procedures, which could not save even one person in a

thousand? Followers of the Way should ponder this carefully!"

 

Honen further states: "In the Jogen Nyuzo Roku we

find it recorded that, from the six hundred volumes of the

Daihannya Sutra to the Hojoju Sutra, the exoteric and

esoteric sutras of Mahayana Buddhism total 637 words in 2,883

volumes. All of these should now be replaced by the recitation

of the single Mahayana phrase [the Nembutsu]. You should

understand that, when the Buddha was preaching according to the

capacity of his various listeners, he for a time taught the two

methods of concentrated meditation and unconcentrated

meditation. But later, when he revealed his own enlightenment,

he ceased to teach these two methods. The only teaching that,

once revealed, shall never cease to be taught, is the single

doctrine of the Nembutsu."

 

Again Honen states: "The passage which says that the

practitioner of the Nembutsu must possess three kinds of mind

is found in the Kammuryoju Sutra. In the commentary on that

sutra, we read: 'Someone asked: "If there are those who

differ in understanding and practice from the

followers of the Nembutsu, persons of heretical and mistaken

belief, how can one make certain that their perverse and

differing views will not cause trouble?"' We also see that these

persons of evil views with their different understanding and

different practices are compared to a band of robbers who call

back the travelers who have already gone one or two steps along

their journey. In my opinion, when these passages speak of

different understanding, different practices, varying doctrines

and varying beliefs, they are referring to the teachings of the

Sacred Way."

 

Finally, in a concluding passage, Honen says: "If one

wishes to escape quickly from the sufferings of life and death,

one should confront these two superior teachings and then proceed

to put aside the teachings of the Sacred Way and choose those of

the Pure Land. And if one wishes to follow the teachings of the

Pure Land, one should confront the correct and incorrect

practices and then proceed to abandon all those that are

incorrect and devote one's entire attention to those that are

correct."

 

When we examine these passages, we see that Honen quotes

the erroneous explanations of T'an-luan, Tao-ch'o and Shan-tao

and establishes the categories he calls Sacred Way and Pure Land,

Difficult-to-Practice-Way and Easy-to-Practice-Way. He then

takes all the 637 works in 2,883 volumes that comprise the

Mahayana sutras of the Buddha's lifetime, including those

bodhisattvas, and deities of the heavenly and human worlds, and

assigns them all to the Sacred Way, the Difficult-to-Practice-Way

and the incorrect practices categories, and urges men to

"discard, close, ignore and abandon" them. With these four

injunctions, he leads all people astray. And on top of that he

groups together all the sage monks of the three countries of

India, China and Japan as well as the students of Buddhism of the

ten directions, and calls them a "band of robbers," causing the

people to insult them!

 

In doing so, he turns his back on the passages in the

three Pure Land sutras, the sutras of his own sect, which

contain Amida's vow to save everyone "except those who commit the

five cardinal sins or slander the True Law." At the same

time, he shows that he fails to understand the warning contained

in the second volume of the Lotus Sutra, the most important sutra

expounded in the five preaching periods of the Buddha's life,

which reads: "One who refuses to take faith in this sutra and

instead slanders it.... After he dies, he will fall into the hell

of incessant suffering."

 

And now we have come to this later age, when men are no

longer sages. Each enters his own dark road, and all alike

forget the direct way. How pitiful, to see them vainly lending

encouragement to these false beliefs! And as a result, everyone

from the ruler of the nation down to the humblest peasant

believes that there are no true sutras outside the three Pure

Land sutras, and no Buddhas other than the Buddha Amida with his

two attendants.

 

Once there were men like Dengyo, Gishin, Jikaku and

Chisho who journeyed ten thousand leagues across the waves to

acquire the sacred teachings, or visited all the mountains and

rivers of Japan to acquire Buddhist statues which they held in

reverence. In some cases they built holy temples on the peaks of

high mountains in which to preserve those scriptures and statues;

in other cases they constructed sacred halls in the bottoms of

deep valleys where such objects could be worshiped and honored.

As a result, the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Yakushi shone side by

side, casting their influence upon present and future ages, while

the Bodhisattvas Kokuzo and Jizo brought benefit to the

living and the dead. The rulers of the nation contributed

counties or villages so that the lamps might continue to burn

bright before the images, while the stewards of the great estates

offered their fields and gardens [to provide for the upkeep of

the temples].

 

But because of this book by Honen, this Senchaku Shu, the

Lord Buddha Shakyamuni is forgotten and all honor is paid to

Amida, the Buddha of the Western land. The Lord Buddha's

transmission of the Law is ignored, and Yakushi, the Buddha of

the Eastern Region, is neglected. All attention is paid to

the three works in four volumes of the Pure Land scriptures,

and all the other wonderful teachings that Shakyamuni proclaimed

throughout the five periods of his preaching life are cast aside.

If temples are not dedicated to Amida, then people no longer have

any desire to support them or pay honor to the Buddhas enshrined

there; if monks do not chant the Nembutsu then people quickly

forget all about giving those monks alms. As a result, the halls

of the Buddhas fall into ruin, scarcely a wisp of smoke rises

above their mossy tiles; and the monks' quarters stand empty and

dilapidated, the dew deep on the grasses in their courtyards.

And in spite of such conditions, no one gives a thought to

protecting the Law or to restoring the temples. Hence the sage

monks who once presided over the temples leave and do not return,

and the benevolent deities who guarded the Buddhist teachings

depart and no longer appear. This has all come about because of

this Senchaku Shu of Honen. How pitiful to think that, in the

space of a few decades, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of

people have been deluded by these devilish teachings and in so

many cases confused as to the true teachings of Buddhism. If

people favor perverse doctrines and forget what is correct, can

the benevolent deities be anything but angry? If people cast

aside doctrines that are all-encompassing and take up those that

are incomplete, can the world escape the plots of demons? Rather

than offering up ten thousand prayers for remedy, it would be

better simply to outlaw this one evil doctrine that is the source

of all the trouble!

 

This time the guest was truly enraged and said: In the

ages since our original teacher, the Buddha Shakyamuni, preached

the three Pure Land sutras, the priest T'an-luan had originally

studied the four treatises but abandoned them and put all his

faith in the Pure Land teachings. Similarly, the priest Tao-ch'o

ceased to spread the multifarious doctrines of the Nirvana

Sutra and devoted all his attention to the practices of the

Western Region. The priest Shan-tao discarded the incorrect

practices and concentrated on the single practice of the Pure

Land, and the priest Eshin collected passages from various

sutras to form his work, stressing the importance of a single

practice, the Nembutsu. Such was the manner in which these men

honored and respected the Buddha Amida, and uncountable numbers

of people as a result were able to gain rebirth in the Pure Land.

 

Of particular note was the venerable Honen, who as a

child entered the monastery on Mount Hiei. By the time he was

seventeen, he had worked his way through all sixty volumes of

Tendai literature and had investigated all the eight

sects and mastered their essentials. In addition, he had

read through the entire body of sutras and treatises seven times,

and exhausted all the works of exegesis and biography. His

wisdom shone like the sun and moon, and his virtue exceeded that

of the earlier teachers.

In spite of all this, he was in doubt as to the proper

path to salvation and could not make out the true meaning of

nirvana. Therefore he read and examined all the texts he could,

pondered deeply and considered every possibility, and in the end

put aside all the sutras and concentrated on the single practice

of the Nembutsu. In addition, he received confirmation of his

decision when Shan-tao miraculously appeared to him in a dream,

and he proceeded to spread his doctrines among friends and

strangers in all four corners of the land. Thereafter, he was

hailed as a reincarnation of the Bodhisattva Seishi, or was

revered as Shan-tao reborn. In every quarter people of eminent

and lowly birth alike bowed their heads in respect, and men and

women from all over Japan sought him.

 

Since that time, the springs and autumns have succeeded

each other and the years have accumulated. And yet you insist

upon putting aside the venerable teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha

contained in the Pure Land sutras and willfully speak evil of the

writings concerning the Buddha Amida. Why do you try to blame

the sacred age of Honen for the disasters of recent years, going

out of your way to slander the former teachers of Pure Land

doctrine and to heap abuse on a sage like Honen? You are, as

the saying goes, deliberately blowing back the fur and hunting

for flaws in the leather, deliberately piercing the skin in hopes

of drawing blood. From ancient times to the present, the world

has never seen such a speaker of evil! You had better learn a

little caution and restraint. When you pile up such grave

offenses, how can you hope to escape punishment? I am afraid

even to sit here in your company. I must take up my staff and be

on my way!

 

The host, smiling, restrained his guest and said: Insects

that live on smartweed forget how bitter it tastes; those who

stay long in privies forget how foul the smell is. Here you

listen to my good words and think them wicked, point to a

slanderer like Honen and call him a sage, mistrust a true teacher

and take him for an evil monk. Your confusion is great indeed,

and your offense anything but light. Listen to my explanation of

how this confusion arose and let us discuss the matter in detail.

 

The doctrines that Shakyamuni Buddha preached in the

course of his lifetime can be assigned to five distinct preaching

periods. The order in which they were preached can be

established, and they can be divided into provisional and true

teachings. But T'an-luan, Tao-ch'o and Shan-tao embraced the

provisional teachings and forgot about the true ones, went by

what had been taught in the earlier period of the Buddha's life

and discarded what was taught later. They were not the kind of

men who delve into the deep places of Buddhist doctrine.

 

Honen in particular, though he followed the practices

advocated by these earlier men, was ignorant as to the source

from whence they came. How do we know this? Because he lumped

together all the 637 Mahayana scriptures with the 2,883 volumes

of text, and along with them all the various Buddhas and

bodhisattvas and the deities of the heavenly and human worlds,

and urged people to "discard, close, ignore and abandon" them,

with these four injunctions corrupting the hearts of all people.

Thus he poured out perverted words of his own invention and took

absolutely no cognizance of the explanations put forth in the

Buddhist scriptures. His is the worst kind of baseless talk, a

clear case of defamation. There are no words to describe it, no

way to censure it that is not too mild. And yet men all put

faith in this baseless talk of his, and without exception pay

honor to his Senchaku Shu. As a consequence, they revere the

three sutras of the Pure Land and cast all the other sutras

aside; they look up to one Buddha alone, Amida of the Land of

Bliss, and forget about the other Buddhas. A man such as Honen

is in truth the archenemy of the other Buddhas and the

scriptures, and the foe of sage monks and ordinary men and women

alike. And now his heretical teachings have spread throughout

the eight regions of the country; they have penetrated every on

of the ten directions.

 

You became quite horrified when I blamed an earlier

period for the disasters that have occurred in recent years.

Perhaps I should cite a few examples from the past to show you

that you are mistaken in your feelings.

 

The second volume of the Maka Shikan quotes a passage

from the Shih Chi or Records of the Historian which says: "In

the closing years of the Chou dynasty, there were persons who let

their hair hang down, went about naked to the waist, and did not

observe the rites and regulations." The Guketsu commentary on

the Maka Shikan, in the second volume, explains this passage by

quoting from the Tso Chuan as follows: "When King P'ing of

the Chou first moved his capital east to Lo-yang, he saw men by

the Yi River who let their hair hang down and performed

sacrifices in the fields. Someone who had great understanding

said: 'In less than a hundred years the dynasty will fall, for

the rites are already neglected.'" From this it is evident that

the portent appears first, and later the disaster itself comes

about.

 

The Maka Shikan passage goes on to say: "Juan Chi of

the Western Chin dynasty was a man of extraordinary talent, but

he let his hair grow like a mass of brambles and left his belt

undone. Later, the sons of the aristocracy all imitated him,

until those who behaved in a churlish and insulting manner were

thought to be acting quite naturally, and those who were

restrained and proper in their behavior were ridiculed as mere

peasants. This was a sign that the Su-ma family, the rulers of

the Chin dynasty, would meet with their downfall."

 

Similarly, the Nitto Junrei Ki or Record of a Pilgrimage

to China in Search of the Law by Jikaku Daishi records that in

the first year of the Hui-ch'ang era (841), Emperor Wu-tsung of

the T'ang dynasty commanded the priest Ching-shuang of

Chang-ching temple to transmit the Nembutsu teaching of the

Buddha Amida in the various temples. Ching-shuang spent three

days in each temple, going about from one temple to another

without ever ceasing.

 

In the second year of the same era, soldiers from the

land of the Uighurs invaded the borders of the T'ang empire.

In the third year of the same era, the regional commander in the

area north of the Yellow River suddenly raised a revolt. Later,

the kingdom of Tibet once refused to obey orders from China, and

the Uighurs repeatedly seized Chinese territory. On the whole,

the conflicts and uprisings were like those that prevailed at the

time when the Ch'in dynasty and the military leader Hsiang Yu

were overthrown, and the towns and villages were devastated by

fire and other disasters. What was even worse, Emperor Wu-tsung

carried out a vast campaign to wipe out Buddhist teachings and

destroyed a great many temples and monasteries. He was never

able to put down the uprisings, and died in agony shortly after.

(This is the essence of Jikaku's original passage.)

 

In view of these events, we should consider the fact that

Honen was active during the reign of Emperor Gotoba, around the

Kennin era (1201-1203). And, as everyone knows, in 1221 the

Retired Emperor Gotoba was thwarted in his attempt to assert the

authority of the throne, and he and two other retired emperors

were forces into exile. Thus China provided an earlier

example of how the Pure Land teachings brought about the fall of

an emperor, and our own country offers similar proof. You should

not be in doubt about the matter or consider it strange. The

only thing to do now is to abandon evil ways and take up those

that are good, to cut off this affliction at the source, to cut

it off at the root!

 

The guest, looking somewhat mollified, said: Though I

have not yet probed deeply into the matter, I believe I

understand to some degree what you are saying. Nevertheless,

both in Kyoto, the capital, and in Kamakura, the headquarters of

the shogun, there are numerous eminent Buddhist leaders and key

figures in the clergy. And yet none of them has so far appealed

to the shogun concerning this affair or submitted a memorial to

the throne. You, on the other hand, a person of humble position,

think nothing of spewing out offensive accusations. Your

assertions are open to question and your reasoning lacks

authority.

 

The host said: Though I may be a person of little

ability, I have reverently given myself to the study of the

Mahayana. A blue fly, if it clings to the tail of a thoroughbred

horse, can travel ten thousand miles, and the green ivy that

twines around the tall pine can grow to a thousand feet. I was

born as the son of the one Buddha, Shakyamuni, and I serve the

king of the scriptures, the Lotus Sutra. How could I observe the

decline of the Buddhist Law and not be filled with emotions of

pity and distress?

 

Moreover, the Nirvana Sutra states: "If even a good

priest sees someone slandering the Law and disregards him,

failing to reproach him, oust him or to punish him for his

offense, then that priest is betraying Buddhism. But if he takes

the slanderer severely to task, drives him off or punishes him,

then he is my disciple and one who truly understands my

teachings."

 

Although I may not be a "good priest." I certainly do not

want to be accused of "betraying Buddhism." Therefore, in order

to avoid such charges, I have cited a few general principles and

given a rough explanation of the matter.

 

Long ago in the Gennin era (1224), petitions to the

throne were submitted time and again by the two temples of

Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei and Kofuku-ji in Nara, and as a result

an Imperial command and a letter of instruction from the

shogunate were handed down, ordering that the wood blocks used in

printing Honen's Senchaku Shu be confiscated and brought to the

Great Lecture Hall of Enryaku-ji temple. There they were burned

in order to repay the debt owed to the Buddhas of the past,

present and future. In addition, orders were given that the

menials who are attached to the Gion Shrine would dig up and

destroy Honen's grave in Kyoto. Then, Honen's disciples Ryukan,

Shoko, Jokaku, Sassho and others were condemned by the

government to exile in distant regions, and were never pardoned.

 

In view of these facts, how can you say that no one has

submitted a complaint to the authorities concerning these

matters?

 

The guest, continuing to speak in a mild manner, replied:

One could hardly say that Honen is the only one who disparages

sutras and speaks ill of other priests, [since you do the same

thing yourself]. However, it is true that he takes the 637

Mahayana scriptures with their 2,883 volumes of text, along with

all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas and the deities of the heavenly

and human worlds, and urges people to "discard, close, ignore,

and abandon" them. There is no doubt that these four injunctions

are his very words; the meaning of the passage is quite clear.

But you keep harping on this one little "flaw in the jewel" and

severely slandering him for it. I do not know whether he spoke

out of delusion or out of true enlightenment. Between you and

Honen, I cannot tell which is wise and which is foolish, or

determine whose assertions are right and whose are wrong.

 

However, you assert that all the recent disasters are to

be traced to the Senchaku Shu of Honen, speaking quite volubly on

that point and elaborating on the meaning of your assertion. Now

surely the peace of the world and the stability of the nation are

sought by both ruler and subject and desired by all the

inhabitants of the country. The nation achieves prosperity

through the Buddhist Law, and the validity of the Law is proven

by the people who embrace it. If the nation is destroyed and the

people are wiped out, then who will continue to pay reverence to

the Buddha? Who will continue to have faith in the Law?

Therefore one must first of all pray for the safety of the nation

and then work to establish the Buddhist Law. Now if you know of

any means whereby disasters can be prevented and troubles brought

to an end, I would like to hear about it.

 

The host said: There is no doubt that I am the foolish

one -- I would never dare claim to be wise. However, I would

just like to quote a few passages from the scriptures.

Concerning the means for insuring order in the nation, there are

numerous passages in both Buddhist and non-Buddhist text, and it

would be difficult to cite them all here. Since taking up the

study of Buddhism, however, I have frequently given thought to

this matter, and it seems to me that prohibiting those who

slander the Law and paying respect to monks who follow the

Correct Way is the best way to assure stability within the nation

and peace in the world at large.

 

In the Nirvana Sutra we read: "The Buddha said, 'With the

exception of one type of person, you may offer alms to all kinds

of persons and everyone will praise you.'

 

"Chunda said, 'What do you mean when you speak of

"one type of person"?'

 

"The Buddha replied, 'I mean the type described in this

sutra as violators of the commandments.'

 

"Chunda spoke again saying, 'I am afraid I still do not

understand. May I ask you to explain further?'

 

"The Buddha addressed Chunda, saying: 'By violators of

the commandments I mean the icchantika. In the case of all other

types of persons, you may offer alms, everyone will praise you,

and you will achieve great rewards.'

 

"Chunda spoke once more, asking, 'What is the meaning of

the term icchantika?'

 

"The Buddha said, 'Chunda, suppose there should be

priests or nuns, lay men or women who speak careless and evil

words and slander the True Law, and that they should go on

committing these grave acts without ever showing any inclination

to reform or any sign of repentance in their hearts. Persons of

this kind I would say are following the path of the icchantika.

 

"'Again there my be those who commit the four grave

offenses or are guilty of the five cardinal sins, and who,

though aware that they are guilty of serious faults, from the

beginning have no trace of fear or contrition in their hearts, or

if they do, give no outward sign of it. When it comes to the

True Law, they show no inclination to establish it and help to

protect it over the ages, but rather speak of it with malice and

contempt, their words replete with error. Persons of this kind

too I would say are following the path of the icchantika. With

the exception of this one group of people called icchantika,

however, you may offer alms to all others and everyone will

praise you.'"

 

Elsewhere in the same sutra, the Buddha spoke in these

words: "When I recall the past, I remember that I was the king of

a great state in this continent of Jambudvipa. My name was

Sen'yo, and I loved and venerated the Mahayana scriptures. My

heart was pure and good and had no trace of evil, jealousy or

stinginess. Men of devout faith, at that time I cherished the

Mahayana teachings in my heart. Once, when I heard the Brahmans

slandering these teachings, I had them put to death on the spot.

Men of devout faith, as a result of that action, I never

thereafter fell into hell."

 

In another passage it says: "In the past, when the

Tathagata was the ruler of a nation and practiced the way of the

bodhisattva, he put to death a number of Brahmans."

 

Again it says: "There are three degrees of killings: the

lower, middle and upper degrees. The lower degree constitutes

the killing of any humble creature, from an ant to any of the

various kinds of animals. (Only the killing of a bodhisattva who

has deliberately chosen to be born in animal form is excluded.)

As a result of a killing of the lower degree, one will fall into

the realm of Hell, Hunger, or Animality, and will suffer all the

pains appropriate to killing of the lower degree. Why should

this be? Because even the animals and other humble creatures

possess the roots of goodness, insignificant though those roots

may be. That is why a person who kills such a creature must

suffer full retribution for his offense.

"Killing any person from an ordinary mortal to an anagamin

constitutes what is termed the middle degree. As a

consequence of such an act of killing, one will fall into the

realm of Hell, Hunger, Animality, and will suffer all the pains

appropriate to a killing of the middle degree. The upper degree

of killing refers to the killing of a parent, and arhat, a person

who has reached the state of pratyekabuddha or Realization, or a

bodhisattva who has completed his efforts and will never

retrogress. For such a crime one will fall into the hell of

incessant suffering. Men of devout faith, if someone were to

kill an icchantika, that killing would not fall into any of the

three categories just mentioned. Men of devout faith, the

various Brahmans that I have said were put to death -- all of

them were in fact icchantika."

 

In the Ninno Sutra we read: "The Buddha announced to King

Prasenajit, 'Thus I entrust the protection of my teachings to the

ruler of the nation rather than to the monks and nuns. Why do I

do so? Because the monks and nuns do not possess the kind of

power and authority that the king has.'"

 

The Nirvana Sutra states: "Now I entrust the True Law,

which is unexcelled, to the rulers, the ministers, the high

officials, and the four kinds of believers. If anyone should

vilify the True Law, then the high officials and four kinds of

believers should reprimand him and bring him to order."

 

It also states: "The Buddha said, 'Kasho, it is

because I was a defender of the True Law that I have now been

able to attain this diamond-like body.... Men of devout

faith, defenders of the True Law need not observe the five

precepts or practice the rules of proper behavior. Rather

they should carry knives and swords, bow and arrows, prongs and

lances.'"

 

Again the Buddha said: "Even though there may be those

who observe the five precepts, they do not deserve to be called

practitioners of the Mahayana. But even if one does not observe

the five precepts, if he defends the True Law, then he may be

called a practitioner of the Mahayana. Defenders of the True Law

ought to arm themselves with knives and swords, weapons and

staves. Even though they carry swords and staves, I would call

them men who observe the precepts."

 

The Buddha likewise said: "Men of devout faith, in past

ages in this very city of Kushinagara a Buddha appeared whose

name was Kangi Zoyaku Nyorai or the Buddha Joy Increasing. After

this Buddha passed away, the True Law that he had taught remained

in the world for countless millions of years. Finally, only

forty more years were left before the Law was due to come to an

end.

 

"At that time there was a monk named Kakutoku who

observed the precepts. There were many monks at this time who

violated the precepts, and when they heard this monk preaching,

they all conceived evil designs in their hearts and arming

themselves with swords and staves, attacked this teacher of the

Law.

 

"At this time the ruler of the kingdom was named Utoku.

He received reports of what was happening and, in order to defend

the Law, he went at once to the place where the monk was

preaching the Law and fought with all his might against the evil

monks who did not observe the precepts. As a result, the monk

who had been preaching the Law was able to escape grievous

injury. But the king received so many wounds from the knives and

swords, prongs and lances, that there was not a spot on his body

the size of a mustard seed that remained unharmed.

 

"At this time the monk Kakutoku praised the king, saying

'Splendid, splendid! You, O King, are now a true defender of the

True Law. In ages to come, this body of yours will surely become

a boundless vessel of the Law!'

 

"At that time, the king had already heard the teachings

of the Law, and he felt great joy in his heart. Thereupon his

life came to an end, and he was reborn in the land of the Buddha

Ashuku, where he became the principal disciple of the Buddha.

Moreover, all the military leaders, citizens and associates to

the king who had fought beside him or had rejoiced in his effort

were filled with an unflagging determination to achieve

enlightenment, and when they died, all of them were reborn in the

land of the Buddha Ashuku.

 

"Later, the monk Kakutoku also died, and he too was

reborn in the land of the Buddha Ashuku, where he became second

among the disciples who received the direct teachings of the

Buddha. Thus, if the True Law is about to come to an end, this

is the way one ought to support and defend it.

 

"Kasho, the king who lived at that time was I myself, and

the monk who preached the Law was the Buddha Kasho. Kasho,

those who defend the True Law enjoy this kind of boundless

reward. As a consequence, I have been able to obtain the

distinguishing characteristics that I possess today, to adorn

myself with them, and to put on the Dharma Body that can

never be destroyed."

 

Then the Buddha declared to the Bodhisattva Kasho: "For

this reason, lay believers who wish to defend the Law should arm

themselves with swords and staves and protect it in this manner.

 

"Men of devout faith, in the age of confusion and evil

after I have passed away, the nation will fall into neglect and

disorder, men will plunder and steal from one another, and the

common people will be reduced to starvation. Because of hunger,

many men at that time will declare their determination to leave

their families and become monks. Men such as these may be called

shavepates. When this crowd of shavepates see anyone who is

attempting to protect the True Law, they will chase after him and

drive him away, or perhaps even kill him or do him injury. That

is why I give permission for monks who observe the precepts to

associate with and keep company with laymen who bear swords and

staves. For even though they carry swords and staves, I would

call them men who observe the precepts. But although they may

carry swords and staves, they should never use them to take

life."

 

The Lotus Sutra says: "One who refuses to take faith in

this sutra and instead slanders it immediately destroys the seeds

for becoming a Buddha in this world.... After he dies, he will

fall into the hell of incessant suffering."

 

The meaning of these passages from the sutras is

perfectly clear. What need is there for me to add any further

explanation? If we accept the words of the Lotus Sutra, then we

must understand that slandering the Mahayana scriptures is more

serious than committing the five cardinal sins. Therefore one

who does so will be confined in the great fortress of the hell of

incessant suffering and cannot hope for release for countless

aeons. According to the Nirvana Sutra, even though you may give

alms to a person who has committed one of the five cardinal sins,

you must never give alms to a person who has slandered the Law.

He who kills so much as an ant will fall into one of the three

evil paths, but he who helps to eradicate slander of the Law will

ascend to the state from which there can be no retrogression.

Thus the passage tells us that the monk Kakutoku was reborn as

the Buddha Kasho, and that King Utoku was reborn as the Buddha

Shakyamuni.

 

The Lotus and the Nirvana sutras represent the very heart

of the doctrines that Shakyamuni preached during the five periods

of his teaching life. Their warnings must be viewed with the

utmost gravity. Who would fail to heed them? And yet those

people who forget about the Correct Way and slander the Law put

more trust than ever in Honen's Senchaku Shu and grow blinder

than ever in their stupidity.

 

Thus some of them, remembering how their master looked in

life, fashion sculptures and paintings of him, while others,

putting faith in his perverse teachings, carve wood blocks with

which to print his offensive words. These images and writings

they scatter about throughout the area within the seas,

carrying them beyond the cities and into the countryside until,

wherever honor is paid, it is to the practices of this school,

and wherever alms are given, it is to the priests of this sect.

 

As a result, we see people cutting off the fingers of the

images of Shakyamuni and refashioning them to form the gesture

appropriate to Amida, or renovating temples formerly dedicated to

Yakushi, the Buddha of the Eastern Region, and fitting them with

statues of Amida, the lord of the Western Land. Or we find the

ceremony of copying the Lotus Sutra, which has been carried out

for over four hundred years on Mount Hiei, being suspended and

the copying of the three Pure Land sutras substituted in its

place, or the annual lectures on the doctrines of the Great

Teacher T'ien-t'ai being replaced by lectures on the teachings of

Shan-tao. Indeed, the slanderous people and their associates are

too numerous to count! Are they not destroyers of the Buddha?

Are they not destroyers of the Law? Are they not destroyers of

the Priesthood? And all their heretical teachings derive from

the Senchaku Shu!

 

Alas, how pitiful, that others should turn their backs on

the enlightened prohibitions of the Buddha! How tragic, that

they should heed the gross and deluded words of this ignorant

monk! If we hope to bring order and tranquillity to the world

without further delay, we must put an end to these slanders of

the Law that fill the country!

 

The guest said: If we are to put an end to these people

who slander the Law and do away with those who violate the

prohibitions of the Buddha, then are we to condemn them to death

as described in the passages from the sutras you have just cited?

If we do that, then we ourselves will be guilty of inflicting

injury and death upon others, and will suffer the consequences,

will we not?

 

In the Daijuku Sutra, the Buddha says: "If a person

shaves his head and puts on clerical robes, then, whether that

person observes the precepts or violates them, both gods and men

would give him alms. In doing so, they are giving alms and

support to me, for that person is my son. But if men beat and

abuse that person, they are beating my son, and if they curse and

insult him, they are reviling me."

 

If we stop to consider, we must realize that, regardless

of whether one is good or bad, right or wrong, if he is a priest

or monk, then he deserves to have alms and nourishment extended

to him. For how could one beat and insult the son and still not

cause grief and sorrow to the father? The Brahmans who beat the

Buddha's disciple Maudgalyayana to death with their staves have

for a long time been sunk in the hell of incessant suffering.

Because Devadatta murdered the nun Utpalavarna, he has gone on

and on choking in the flames of the Avichi Hell. Examples

from earlier ages make the matter perfectly clear, and later ages

fear this offense most of all. You speak of punishing those who

slander the Law, but to do so would violate the Buddha's

prohibitions. I can hardly believe that such a course would be

right. How can you justify it?

 

The host said: You have clearly seen the passages from

the sutras that I have cited, and yet you can ask a question like

that! Are they beyond the power of your mind to comprehend? Or

do you fail to understand the reasoning behind them? I certainly

have no intention of censuring the sons of the Buddha. My only

hatred is for the act of slandering the Law. According to the

teachings of the Buddha who lived prior to Shakyamuni, slanderous

priests would have incurred the death penalty. But in the sutras

preached since the time of Shakyamuni, priests of this type have

merely been prevented from receiving alms. Now if all the four

kinds of believers within the four seas and the ten thousand

lands would only cease giving alms to wicked priests and instead

all come over to the side of the good, then how could any more

troubles rise to plague us or disasters come to confront us?

 

With this the guest moved off his mat in a gesture of

respect, straightened the collar of his robe, and said: The

Buddhist teachings vary greatly and it is difficult to

investigate each doctrine in full. I have had many doubts and

perplexities and have been unable to distinguish right from

wrong.

 

Nevertheless, this word by the venerable Honen, the

Senchaku Shu, does in fact exist. And it lumps together all the

various Buddhas, sutras, bodhisattvas and deities and says that

one should "discard, close, ignore, and abandon" them. The

meaning of the text is perfectly clear. And as a result of this,

the sages have departed from the nation, the benevolent deities

have left their dwelling places, hunger and thirst fill the world

and disease and pestilence spread abroad.

 

Now, by citing passages from a wide variety of

scriptures, you have clearly demonstrated the rights and wrongs

of the matter. Therefore I have completely forsaken my earlier

mistaken convictions, and my ears and eyes have been opened on

point after point.

 

There can be no doubt that all men, from the ruler down

to the common people, rejoice in and desire the stability of the

nation and the peace of the world. If we can quickly put an end

to the alms that are given to these icchantika and insure that

continuing support is instead given to the host of true priests

and nuns, if we can still these "white waves" that trouble

the Ocean of the Buddha and cut down these "green groves" that

overgrow the Mountain of the Law, then the world may become as

peaceful as it was in the golden ages of Fu Hsi and Shen Nung,

and the nation may flourish as it did under the sage rulers Yao

and Shun. After that, there will be time to dip into the

Waters of the Law and to decide which are shallow doctrines and

which are deep, and to pay honor to the pillars and beams that

support the House of the Buddha.

 

The host exclaimed with delight: As the proverb says, the

dove has changed into a hawk, the sparrow into a clam! How

gratifying! You have transformed yourself through your

association with me, and like the bramble growing in the hemp

field, you have learned to stand up straight! If you will truly

give consideration to the troubles I have been describing and put

entire faith in these words of mine, then the winds will blow

gently, the waves will be calm, and in no time at all we will

enjoy bountiful harvests.

 

But a person's heart may change with the times, and the

nature of a thing may alter with its surroundings. Just as the

moon on the water will be tossed about by the waves, or the

soldiers in the vanguard will be cowed by the swords of the

enemy, so, although at this moment you may say you believe in my

words, I fear that later you will forget them completely.

 

Now if we wish first of all to bring security to the

nation and to pray for our present and future lives, then we must

hasten to examine and consider the situation and take measures as

soon as possible to remedy it.

 

Why do I say this? Because, of the seven types of

disasters described in the passage from the Yakushi Sutra that I

cited earlier, five have already occurred. Only two have yet to

appear, the "calamity of invasion from foreign lands" and the

"calamity of revolt within one's own domain." And of the three

calamities mentioned in the passage from the Daijuku Sutra, two

have already made their appearance. Only one remains, the

"disaster of warfare."

 

The different types of disaster and calamity enumerated

in the Konkomyo Sutra have arisen one after the other. Only that

described as "bandits and marauders from other regions invading

and plundering the nation" has yet to materialize. This is the

only trouble that has not yet come. And of the seven calamities

listed in the Ninno Sutra, six are now upon us in full force.

Only one has not yet appeared, the calamity that occurs "when

enemies rise up on all four sides and invade the nation."

 

Moreover, as the Ninno Sutra says, "When a nation becomes

disordered, it is the spirits which first show signs of

rampantcy. Because these spirits become rampant, all the people

of the nation become disordered."

 

Now if we examine the present situation carefully in the

light of this passage, we will see that the various spirits have

for some time been rampant, and many of the people have perished.

If the first predicted misfortune in the sutra has already

occurred, as is obvious, then how can we doubt that the later

disasters will follow? If, in punishment for the evil doctrines

that are upheld, the troubles that have yet to appear should fall

upon us one after the other, then it will be too late to act,

will it not?

 

Emperors and kings have their foundation in the state and

bring peace and order to the age; ministers and commoners hold

possession of their fields and gardens and supply the needs of

the world. But if bandits come from other regions to invade the

nation, or if revolt breaks out within the domain and people's

lands are seized and plundered, how can there be anything but

terror and confusion? If the nation is destroyed and families

are wiped out, then where can one flee for safety? If you care

anything about your personal security, you should first of all

pray for order and tranquillity throughout the four quarters of

the land, should you not?

 

It seems to me that, when people are in this world, they

all fear what their lot may be in the life to come. So it is

that some of them put their faith in heretical teachings, or pay

honor to those who slander the Law. It distresses me that they

should be so confused about right and wrong, and at the same time

I feel pity that, having embraced Buddhism, they should have

chosen the wrong kind. With the power of faith that is in their

hearts, why must they vainly give credence to heretical

doctrines? If they do not shake off these delusions that they

cling to but continue to harbor false ideas, then they will

quickly leave the world of the living and fall into hell of

incessant suffering.

 

Thus the Daijuku Sutra says: "Though the ruler of a state

may have for countless existences in the past practiced the

giving of alms, observed the precepts and abided by the

principles of wisdom, if he sees that my Law, the Dharma of the

Buddha, is in danger of perishing and stands idly by without

doing anything to protect it, then all the inestimable store of

good causes that he has accumulated through the practices just

mentioned will be entirely wiped out.... Before long, the ruler

will fall gravely ill, and after his life has come to an end, he

will be reborn in one of the major hells.... And the same fate

will befall the ruler's consort, his heir, the high ministers of

the state, the lords of cities, the village heads and generals,

the magistrates of districts, and the government officials."

 

The Ninno Sutra states: "If a man destroys the teachings

of the Buddha, he will have no filial sons, no harmony with his

close relatives, and no aid from the heavenly deities. Disease

and evil spirits will come day after day to torment him,

disasters will descend on him incessantly, and misfortunes will

dog him wherever he goes. And when he dies, he will fall into

one of the three realms of Hell, Hunger or Animality. Even if he

should be reborn as a human being, he will be destined to become

a slave in the army. Retribution will follow as an echo follows

a sound or a shadow follows a form. A person writing at night

may put out the lamp, but the words he has written will still

remain. It is the same with the destiny we create for ourselves

in the threefold world."

 

The second volume of the Lotus Sutra says: "One who

refuses to take faith in this sutra and instead slanders it....

After he dies, he will fall into the hell of incessant

suffering." And in the Fukyo chapter in the seventh volume, it

says: "For a thousand aeons they dwelt in the hell of incessant

suffering and underwent great pain and torment."

 

In the Nirvana Sutra we read: "If a man separates

himself from good friends, refuses to listen to the True Law and

instead embraces evil teachings, then as a result he will sink

down into the hell of incessant suffering, where he will

experience indescribable torment."

 

When we examine this wide variety of sutras, we find that

they all stress how grave a matter it is to slander the Law. How

pitiful, that all men should go out of the gate of the True Law

and enter so deep into the prison of these perverse dogmas! How

stupid, that they should fall one after another into the snares

of these evil doctrines, and remain for so long entangled in this

net of slanderous teachings! They lose their way in these mist

and miasmas, and sink down amid the raging flames of hell. How

they must grieve! How they must suffer!

 

Therefore you must quickly reform the tenets that you

hold in your heart and embrace the one true vehicle, the single

good doctrine of the Lotus Sutra. If you do so, then the

threefold world will all become the Buddha land, and how could a

Buddha land ever decline? The regions in the ten directions will

all become treasure realms, and how could a treasure realm ever

suffer harm? If you live in a country that knows no decline or

diminution, in a land that suffers no harm or disruption, then

your body will find peace and security and your mind will be calm

and untroubled. You must believe my words, heed what I say!

 

The guest said: Since it concerns both this life and the

lives to come, who could fail to agree with you? Now when I

examine the passages you have cited from the sutras and see

exactly what the Buddha has said, I realize that slandering is a

very grave offense indeed, that violating the Law is in truth a

terrible sin. I have put all my faith in one Buddha alone,

Amida, and rejected all the other Buddhas. I have honored the

three Pure Land sutras and set aside the other sutras. But this

was not due to any distorted ideas of my own conception. I was

simply obeying the words of the eminent men of the past. And

the same is true of all the other persons in the ten directions

who follow the Pure Land teachings.

 

But now I realize that to do so means to exhaust oneself

in futile efforts in this life, and to fall into the hell of

incessant suffering in the life to come. The texts you have

cited are perfectly clear on this point and their arguments are

detailed -- they leave no room for doubt. With your kind

instruction to guide me, I have been able bit by bit to dispel

the ignorance from my mind.

 

Now I hope we may set about as quickly as possible taking

measures to deal with these slanders against the Law and to bring

peace to the world without delay, thus insuring that I may live

in safety in this life and enjoy good fortune in the life to

come. But it is not enough that I alone should accept and have

faith in your words -- we must see to it that others as well are

warned of their errors!

The True Entity of Life
The One Essential Phrase
The Essence of the Juryo Chapter
The True Object of Worship
The Selection of the Time
The Problem to Be Pondered Night and Day
Reply to the Mother of Lord Ueno
The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings
Teaching, Practice, and Proof
On Omens
On Persecutions Befalling the Buddha
The Votary of the Lotus Sutra Will Meet Persecution
Thus I Heard
The Izu Exile
The Origin of the Urabon
The Royal Palace
The Meaning of Faith
The Third Day of the New Year
Reply to the Followers
The Causal Law of Life
The Swords of Good and Evil
The Teaching for the Latter Day
The Unmatched Fortune of the Law
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Letter to Konichi-bo
Letter to Misawa
An Outline of the Zokurui and Other Chapters
Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha Made by Shijo Kingo
Curing Karmic Disease
Admonitions Against Slander
Bestowal of the Mandala of the Mystic Law
The Receipt of New Fiefs
The Unity of Husband and Wife
Letter to Ko-no-ama Gozen
Winter Always Turns to Spring
On Filial and Unfilial Conduct
A Father Takes Faith
A Warning against Begrudging One's Fief
The Mongol Envoys
Reply to Tokimitsu
Reply to Myoho Bikuni Gozen
Beneficial Medicine for All Ills
A Sage Perceives the Three Existences of Life
The Proof of the Lotus Sutra
Letter to Jakunichi-bo
Aspiration for the Buddha Land
Reply to Lord Shijo Kingo
The Universal Salty Taste
Good Fortune in This Life
The Wealthy Man Sudatta
Letter to Gijo-bo
New Year's Gosho
Persecution at Tatsunokuchi
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Reply to Lord Matsuno's Wife
The Birth of Tsukimaro
Banishment to Sado
Great Evil and Great Good
Happiness In This World
Letter from Echi
Letter to Endo Saemon-no-jo
Letter to Priest Nichiro in Prison
On Flowers and Seeds
On Itai Doshin
Postscript to the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Reply to a Believer
Reply to Ko Nyudo
Reply to Lady Onichi-nyo
Reply to Lord Matsuno
Rissho Ankoku Ron
The Difficulty of Sustaining Faith
The Offering of a Summer Robe
The Property of Rice
The Wonderful Means of Surmounting Obstacles
Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward
Upholding Faith in the Gohonzon
The Drum at the Gate of Thunder

 

Home
A Comparison of the Lotus Sutra and Other Sutras
A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering
Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment
Clear Sake Gosho
Letter to Niike
Letter to Domyo Zemmon
Letter to Akimoto
Letter from Sado
Reply to Nichigon-ama
Roots of Good Fortune
Reply to Jibu-bo
No Safety in the Threefold World - Nichiren Daishounin
Letter to Horen - Nichiren Daishounin
King Rinda - Nichiren Daishounin
Jozo and Jogen - Nichiren Daishounin
Bodhisattva Hachiman - Nichiren Daishounin
On Prayer - Nichiren Daishounin
The Opening of the Eyes Part I
The Opening of the Eyes Part II
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man Part II
Establishment of the Legitimate Teaching for the Protection of the Country
How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood Through the Lotus Sutra
The Learned Doctor Shan-wu-wei
The Entity of the Mystic Law
The Pure and Far-reaching Voice
Reply to Takahashi Nyudo
The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country
The Doctrine of Attaining Buddhahood in One's Present Form
Encouragement to a Sick Person
The Essence of the Yakuo Chapter
The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra
The Supreme Leader of the World
The Treasure of a Filial Child
The Supremacy of the Law
Reply to Nii-ama
The Workings of Bonten and Taishaku
The Story of Ohashi no Taro
The Teaching in Accordance with the Buddha's Own Mind
The Treatment of Illness and the Points of Difference between Mahayana and Hinayana and Provisional
Repaying Debts of Gratitude
On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings
On the Urabon
Letter to the Priests of Seicho-ji
Letter to Nichimyo Shonin
Letter to Shomitsu-bo
Questions and Answers on Embracing the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Sairen-bo
Rationale for Submitting the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Persecution by Sword and Staff
Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins
Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters
Reply to Lord Hakiri Saburo
Reply to Yasaburo
Letter to Ichinosawa Nyudo
Letter to Myomitsu Shonin
Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro
Wu-lung and I-lung
White Horses and White Swans
The Sutra of True Requital
The Kalpa of Decrease
The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream
The Third Doctrine
The One-eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log
Letter to Nakaoki Nyudo
General Stone Tiger
The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life
Lessening the Karmic Retribution
Letter to the Brothers
Hell is the Land of Tranquil Delight
On Prolonging Life
On the Buddha's Behavior
On the Buddha's Prophecy
On the Treasure Tower
Propagation by the Wise
The Embankments of Faith
The Dragon Gate
Strategy of the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Kyo-o
The Person and the Law
The One Essential Phrase
The Gift of Rice
The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon
Letter of Petition from Yorimoto
Introduction and Preface to the Ongi Kuden: Namu Myoho Renge Kyo [Devotion to the Lotus Sutra]
Muryogi Sutra [Sutra of Innumerable Meanings]
Chapter 3: Simile and Parable [Hiyu]
Chapter 4: Faith and Understanding [Shinge]
Chapter 6: Prediction [Juki]
Chapter 7: Phantom City [Kejoyu]
Chapter 8: Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples [Gohyaku Deshi Juki]

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