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Major Writings II - Nichiren Daishounin

Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro
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]

Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro
 
After Emperor Ming of the Han dynasty dreamed at night of a golden man [and dispatched  emissaries to the western region], the two sages, Kashyapa Matanga and Chu-fa-lan, came  to China and stood for the first time at the gates of Ch'ang-an. From that time until the reign of  Emperor Hsuan-tsung of the T'ang dynasty, the Buddhist teachings of India spread throughout  China. During the Liang dynasty, Buddhism was first introduced to Japan by King  Songmyong of the Korean kingdom of Paekche. This occurred during the reign of Kimmei,  the thirtieth emperor of our country. Thereafter, all the sutras and treatises were circulated  widely, and various Buddhist sects arose throughout Japan. Fortunately, therefore, even  though we were born in the Latter Day of the Law, we are able to hear the teachings  preached at Eagle Peak, and even though we live in a remote corner of the world, we are  able to scoop up with our hands the water of the great river of Buddhism.
 
However, a close examination shows that there are distinctions to be made among the  Buddha's teachings, such as the Hinayana and the Mahayana or the provisional and true  teachings, or those of the sequence of preaching. If one is confused about these distinctions,  he will fall into erroneous views, and even though he may practice Buddhsim, his offense will  be greater than that of committing the ten evil acts or the five cardinal sins. For this reason,  those who abhor the secular world and seek the Way should understand this standard of  evaluation before anything else. Otherwise, they are destined to follow the path of the monk  Kugan and other slanderers. As the Nirvana Sutra says: "If one clings to distorted views, at  the time of his death he will surely fall into the Avichi Hell.
 
Question: How can we discern the error of distorted views? Although I am a humble person, I  am nevertheless anxious about my next life and have resolved to seek the Buddhist Law to  the best of my ability. Therefore, I wish to know this standard of evaluation by all means.  Should it be that I am adhering to distorted views, I will reflect on them and turn to the correct  view.
 

Answer: It can be neither discerned with one's mortal eyes nor clarified with one's shallow  wisdom. One should use the sutras as his eyes and give precedence to the wisdom of the  Buddha. Surely, however, if this standard is made clear, people will become enraged and  harbor indignation in their minds. Let them do as they will. What matters most is that we honor  the Buddha's command. As a rule, people in the world value what is distant and despise what  is near, but this is the conduct of the ignorant. Even the distant should be repudiated if it is  wrong, while that which is near should not be discarded if it accords with the truth. Even  though people may revere [their predecessors' doctrines], if those doctrines are in error, how  can we employ them today?
 
I am told that the scholars of the ten schools - three in southern China and seven in northern  China - were so outstanding in authority and virtue that they were revered by the general  populace for more than five hundred years. However, the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai, who lived  during the reigns of emperors of the Ch'en and Sui dynasties, examined their doctrines and  denounced them as erroneous. Hearing of this, the people hated him intensely, but the Ch'en  and Sui emperors, being worthy rulers, summoned T'ien-t'ai to debate with the priests of the  ten schools and settle the matter. Truth and error were thereby made clear, and in  consequence, the priests all revised the distorted views that their schools had upheld over a  period of five hundred years and became followers of the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai. And in our  own country, the Great Teacher Dengyo of Mount Hiei, the founder of the Tendai sect,  debated with the scholars of Nara and Kyoto and distinguished between right and wrong in  the Buddhist teachings. In every case, T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo based their arguments on the  sutras.
 
However, the people of our time - whether clergy or laity, nobles or commoners - all revere  persons and do not value the Law. They make their own mind their teacher, and do not rely on  the sutras. Consequently, they take up the provisional teachings of the Nembutsu and discard  the mystic scripture of the Mahayana, or employ the heretical doctrines of Shingon to slander  the True Law, the one supreme teaching. Are they not slanderers of the Mahayana? If what is  written in the sutras is true, how can they escape the sufferings of hell? And those who follow  their erroneous teachings will also suffer the same fate.
 
Question: You claim that the Nembutsu and the Shingon should be denounced as provisional  or erroneous doctrines, and that their followers are people of distorted views or slanderers.  This seems very doubtful. Kobo Daishi was a manifestation of Kongosatta and a bodhisattva  of the third stage of development. The Shingon is the most powerful secret teaching.  Moreover, Priest Shan-tao was an incarnation of Amida Buddha, the lord of the Western  Land, and Priest Honen was an incarnation of Bodhisattva Seishi. How can you call such  eminent priests men of erroneous views?
 
Answer: Such criticism must of course not be leveled on the grounds of one's personal  opinion; the matter must be clarified on the basis of the sutras. The statement that the  Shingon teaching represents the most profound of all secrets derives from the assertion that  the Soshisuji Sutra should be ranked as the king among the three Shingon sutras. Nowhere in  the sutras themselves do we read that the Shingon is the highest of all the Buddha's  teachings.
 
In Buddhism, that teaching is judged supreme which enables all people, whether good or evil,  to become Buddhas. So reasonable a standard can surely be grasped by anyone. By means  of it, we can compare the various sutras and ascertain which is superior. The Lotus Sutra  reveals that even the people of the two vehicles can attain enlightenment, but the Shingon  sutras do not. Rather, they categorically deny it. The Lotus Sutra teaches that women are  capable of attaining Buddhahood, but the Shingon sutras make no mention of this at all. In the  Lotus Sutra, it is written that evil people can attain enlightenment, but in the Shingon sutras we  find nothing about this. How can one say that the Shingon sutras are superior to the Lotus  Sutra?
 
Moreover, if we discuss this matter in terms of the omens occurring at the time of preaching,  six portents preceded the preaching of the Lotus Sutra. Among them, flowers rained down  from the heavens, the earth trembled, and a beam of light emanated from the tuft of white hair  between the Buddha's brows, reaching as high as the Akanishtha Heaven and illuminating as  deep as the Avichi Hell. Moreover, the Treasure Tower rose from the earth, and all the  emanations of the Buddha assembled from the ten directions. In addition, the Bodhisattvas of  the Earth led by Jogyo emerged from beneath the earth, each with his followers equaling in  number the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers, fifty thousand, forty thousand, thirty  thousand, and so forth, down to the sands of one Ganges River, one half, and so forth. When  such awesome and wondrous events are considered, how can one still maintain that the  Shingon sutras surpass the Lotus Sutra? I have no time to dwell on these matters. I have  brought up only one drop of the ocean.
 
I have here a copy of the one-volume work called Bodaishin Ron, which is attributed to  Bodhisattva Nagarjuna. This work says, "Only in the teachings of Shingon can one attain  Buddhahood in his present form. Accordingly, the Shingon expounds the method of entering  samadhi. This doctrine is neither found nor recorded in any of the other teachings." As I  thought this statement extremely doubtful, I examined it in light of the sutras. I discovered that  although the Shingon sutras contained the words "attaining Buddhahood in one's present  form," they gave no example of anyone who had actually done so. And even if they had,  because the attainment of Buddhahood in one's present form is also taught in the Lotus  Sutra, Nagarjuna should not have proclaimed that this principle is "neither found nor recorded  in any of the other teachings." This is a gross error.
 
In truth, however, this treatise is not the work of Nagarjuna. I will explain this in detail on  another occasion. Yet, even if it were the work of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, an error is still an  error. In the Daichido Ron, Nagarjuna refers to a vital point in differentiating among the  teachings expounded by Shakyamuni during his lifetime: "The Hannya sutras are not secret  teachings because they contain no mention of the attainment of Buddhahood by persons of  the two vehicles. The Lotus Sutra is the secret teaching because it does." It also says, "Those  sutras which expound the attainment of Buddhahood by those of the two vehicles are esoteric  teachings, and those which do not are exoteric teachings."
 
If one goes by the words of the Bodaishin Ron, then he must not only specifically contradict  Nagarjuna's Daichido Ron, but more generally deny the one great reason why all Buddhas  make their advent in the world. Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and others all appeared in this world  in order to propagate the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. Nagarjuna was one of the  Buddha's twenty-four successors. Could he really have put forth such an erroneous  interpretation?
 
The Shingon sutras are inferior even to the Hannya sutras. How can we compare them with  the Lotus Sutra? Nevertheless, in the Hizo Hoyaku, Kobo claims that all the teachings  expounded during the Buddha's lifetime are contained within the teachings of Shingon. He  not only relegates the Lotus Sutra to third place, but even dismisses it as "childish theory."  Yet, when I reverently open the Lotus Sutra, I find that it declares itself to be the highest  among the teachings of all Buddhas, as well as the sutra supreme "among all those I  [Shakyamuni] have preached, now preach and will preach." In the ten comparisons of the  Yakuo chapter, the Lotus Sutra is likened to the ocean, the sun and Mount Sumeru. This  being the case, could anything be deeper than the ocean, brighter than the sun or higher than  Mount Sumeru? One should realize the truth through such comparisons. On what basis can  Kobo claim that the Shingon sutras are superior to the Lotus Sutra? We find no such  passages whatsoever in the Dainichi or other sutras. Trusting only to his own view, he has  violated the Buddha's intention for a long time.
 
The Great Teacher Miao-lo states, "I call upon those with eyes to examine this thoroughly." Is  he not without eyes, who regards the Lotus Sutra as inferior to the Kegon Sutra? The Nirvana  Sutra reads: "If there is a person who slanders the True Law of the Buddha, his tongue should  be cut off." Ah, how pitiful that the tongue which slanders shall utter no words in world after  world, and that the eye attached to false views shall fall out in lifetime after lifetime, seeing  nothing! Moreover, 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." If this  statement is valid, Kobo will surely fall into the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering  where he will undergo agony for countless kalpas. One should also recognize the fate of  Shan-tao and Honen through his example. Who, among those endowed with wisdom, will dip  into the stream of such slanderous teachings and be consumed together with these men in  the flames of the Avichi Hell? Truly, the votary should fear this. These are all persons of  profoundly distorted views. In this connection, we find, among the true and golden words of  the Buddha: "[This Devil of the Sixth Heaven and other devils will in time try] to destroy this  True Law of mine. They will be like a hunter who wraps his body in a priestly robe. They will  assume the forms of stream-winners, once-returners, non-returners, arhats, pratyekabuddhas  or Buddhas, and will try to destroy this True Law of mine."
 
Shan-tao and Honen, displaying a variety of majestic powers, deceived ignorant priests and  lay believers, and schemed to destroy the Buddha's True law. And the Shingon schools in  particular make it a point to emphasize worldly benefits exclusively. Using animals as objects  of worship, they conduct prayers not only to satisfy the passions of man and woman, but also  to fulfill desires for estates and the like. They claim such trifling results as wondrous benefits.  However, if they are going to assert the supremacy of Shingon on these grounds, they are no  match for the Brahmans of India. Hermit Agastya kept the waters of the Ganges River in his  ear for twelve years. Hermit Jinu swallowed up the four great oceans in a day, and Brahman  Uluka turned into a stone and remained that way for eight hundred years. How could the  results of the Shingon prayers surpass these? Hermit Kudon assumed the form of the god  Taishaku and preached for twelve years, while Kobo transformed himself into Vairochana for  an instant. Judge for yourself whose powers are the greater. If you believe that such  transformations confer great benefit, you might just as well believe in the Brahmans.
 
Yet it should be known that, while the Brahmans possessed such impressive powers, they  could not escape the flames of the Avichi Hell, not to mention those with only trivial powers of  transformation. Even less can slanderers of the Mahayana avoid this fate. The Shingon  priests are evil friends to all living beings. Avoid them; fear them. The Buddha states: "Have  no fear of mad elephants. What you should fear are evil friends! Why? Because a mad  elephant can only destroy your body; it cannot destroy your mind. But an evil friend can  destroy both body and mind. A mad elephant can only destroy a single body, but an evil friend  can destroy countless bodies and countless minds. A mad elephant merely destroys an  impure stinking body, but an evil friend can destroy both pure body and pure mind. A mad  elephant can destroy the physical body, but an evil friend destroys the Dharma body. Even if  you are killed by a mad elephant, you will not fall into the three evil paths. But if you are killed  by an evil friend, you are certain to fall into them. A mad elephant is merely an enemy of your  body, but an evil friend is an enemy of the good Law." Therefore, even more than venomous  serpents or malevolent demons, one should fear evil friends who follow Kobo, Shan-tao and  Honen. This is just a brief clarification of the error of holding distorted views.
 
The messenger is in such a great hurry that I have written only a small part of what I had to  say. When an opportunity arises in the future, I will write to you again, examining sutras and  treatises in detail. Never show this letter to anyone. If I survive until then, I will visit and talk with  you in the fall of next year, as you requested.
 
With my deep respect,

Nichiren

The fifth day of the twelfth month

  

Home
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

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