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Major Writings II - Nichiren Daishounin

The Third Doctrine
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]

The Third Doctrine
 
I have read through your letter.
 
In it, you report that you said, "The ninth volume of the Hokke mongu ki states, ‘Freeing oneself from the [threefold] world by means of the provisional teachings is termed an ephemeral liberation.’" To which Ryosho-bo replied, "There is no such passage." Yet in commenting on [the section of the Hokke mongu that deals with] the Juryo chapter, the ninth volume of the Hokke mongu ki does indeed say, "From the passage, ‘There is no one who emerges from the ephemeral...,’ to the passage, ‘The ephemeral teachings of the past were expounded for the sake of the truth,’ [the meaning of the text is that] freeing oneself from the [threefold] world by means of the provisional teachings is termed an ephemeral liberation. There are no people of the three vehicles who have not freed themselves from the threefold world, and no beings of the human and heavenly realms who have failed to escape the three evil paths. Yet these are both termed ephemeral liberation."
 
The ninth volume of the Hokke mongu reads, "There is no one who emerges from the ephemeral and yet fails to enter into the true. Therefore, we know that the ephemeral teachings of the past were expounded for the sake of the truth."
The Juryo chapter states, "Good men, the Thus Come One observes how among living beings there are those who delight in inferior teachings, meager in virtue and heavy with defilement.... Because living beings have [different natures..., I preach different doctrines.... This, the Buddha’s work,] I have never for a moment neglected." T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo are commenting on this passage. In this passage of the sutra, all the teachings from the Kegon Sutra, which was expounded immediately after the Buddha’s enlightenment and which combine both specific and perfect teachings, to the fourteen chapters that comprise the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra, are termed "inferior teachings." Those who delight in them are called people "meager in virtue and heavy with defilement," and the liberation achieved through them is shown to be an ephemeral liberation.
 
This being the case, concerning the Kegon sect, which relies on the Kegon Sutra; the Hosso sect, which upholds the Jimmitsu Sutra; the Sanron sect, which is based upon the Hannya sutras-, the Shingon Sect, which relies on the Dainichi Sutra; the Pure Land sect, which cherishes the Kammuryoju Sutra; the Zen sect, which upholds the Ryoga Sutra, as well as all the other various sects which rely on their respective sutras -- even if their adherents read and recite the sutra that their sect relies on just as that sutra teaches, they will neither free themselves from the threefold world nor escape the three evil paths. Even less will those who term these sutras true teachings, or who claim that they surpass the Lotus Sutra! They are like people spitting at the heavens or pounding at the earth in rage.
 
With respect to this doctrine: After the passing of the Thus Come One, in India for more than fifteen hundred years, the Buddha’s twenty-four successors, such as Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu, knew of it but did not reveal it. In China for more than a thousand years, others did not know of it; only T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo gave a rough account of it. However, it seems that they did not explain its true significance. And the same was true of the Great Teacher Dengyo. Now when I, Nichiren, consider the matter, I find that in addition to the above passage of the Lotus Sutra, the Nirvana Sutra states, "If there are those who conceive differing ideas concerning the three treasures, then truly you should know that these people can no longer hope to take refuge in or rely upon these three pure treasures. They will be unable to uphold any of the precepts, and, in the end, they will be unable to obtain the fruits of the voice-hearer, the cause-awakened one or the bodhisattva. This passage is clearly referring to [the essential point of] the Juryo chapter of the Lotus Sutra. It subsequently likens the Juryo chapter to a tree, and the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and the theoretical teaching, to its shade. Other sutra passages also employ this metaphor. They teach that the benefits of the five periods and eight teachings, of the teachings that are still in a certain dimension and that extend beyond, and of the Mahayana and Hinayana, are all like shade, while the doctrine of the essential teaching is like a tree. They also teach that the benefits gained from the teachings expounded before the Juryo chapter by those who lived during the Buddha’s lifetime are like a tree’s shade in the darkness, for such benefits were obtainable only by those who had already heard the Juryo chapter in prior existences.
 
As for your opponent’s contention that disbelief does not in itself constitute slander, or his claim that those who disbelieve will not necessarily fall into hell, the fifth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, "[If, with regard to this sutra] one should harbor doubt and fail to believe, he will fall at once into the evil paths."
 
On the whole, you should bear the following in mind. In contrasting the Lotus Sutra with the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and evaluating their relative superiority and depth, the comparison between the teachings still in a certain dimension and those extending beyond may be carried out on three levels. Nichiren’s teaching represents the third doctrine. Though the first and second doctrines have been spoken of in the world rather vaguely, like a dream, the third has never been spoken of at all. Though T’ien-t’ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo explained it to some extent, they did not clarify it fully. In the end, they left it for now, the Latter Day of the Law. This is the time referred to as the fifth five-hundred-year period.
 
However, I was given no information about this doctrinal debate. Ryosho-bo is a person of vast learning. If he had remarked, "I am sorry to have to say this, but I am already well aware of the existence of that passage," and had somehow managed to frustrate you, claiming that our side had been defeated, I wonder what you could have done about it. Anyway, setting aside the fact that he and his fellow monks were ignorant of that passage of commentary, his having said that is does not exist in any of the sixty volumes is due to the punishment of heaven. His offense of slandering the Law became apparent when he encountered a messenger of the Lotus Sutra. Moreover, this affair of the debate surely occurred for some reason. Please find out in detail what Ota Jiro Hyoe of Kashima Daishin-bo and the chief priest of the main temple are saying. Matters such as these are described in detail in the sutra. The votary of the Lotus Sutra is certain to be obstructed by the Devil of the Sixth Heaven. Among the ten objects of meditation, this corresponds to the object of diabolical functions. It is the way of the devil to delight in obstructing good and in causing the production of evil. Concerning those whom he cannot force to perform evil acts, he is helpless and is capable only of allowing them to create good. Those who carry out the practices of the bodhisattva, he hinders by encouraging in the direction of the practice of the two vehicles. And lastly, if there is someone who practices the pure and perfect teaching exclusively, he will topple that person into the perfect teaching that is combined with the specific teaching. You may refer to the eighth volume of the Maka shikan.
 
You say the Ryosho-bo further claimed that a practitioner of the shikan meditation should keep the precepts. However, the ninth volume of the Hokke mongu restrains practitioners of the first, second, and third [of the five stages of practice] from upholding the precepts. This is also clear from the text of the sutra itself. The discrepancy in the Maka shikan is explained by Miao-lo in the form of questions and answers. See volume nine of the Hokke mongu ki. There are two kinds of practitioners at the initial stage of rejoicing. Practitioners of keen faculties may keep the precepts, while those of dull faculties are restrained from doing so. Moreover, there are differences among the Former, Middle and Latter Days of the Law, and differences between the practices of shoju and shakubuku. You should also take into account the Great Teacher Dengyo’s remark about a tiger in the marketplace.
 
From now on, you need not hold debates in Shimosa. Having defeated Ryosho-bo and Shi’nen-bo, were you to debate with others, it would only dilute the effect. I hear that these priests Ryosho-bo and Shi’nen-bo have been slandering me for some years now. These mosquitoes and gadflies, as it were, are such fools that they groundlessly revile Nichiren, who is like the lion king, when they have neither listened to nor seen him. For persons of the Tendai-Hokke sect to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo themselves and yet give their approval when others repeat the Nembutsu would be strange enough. Yet not only do they fail to remonstrate with them, but they criticize one who does confront the Nembutsu sect, which is strange indeed! As for Daishin-bo, as I wrote you before, please strongly admonish him by letter. It would appear that he has been brought back to our faith by the ten demon daughters. It would also seem that a messenger from the devil king has possessed him, but now has parted company with him. It cannot possibly be a lie when the sutra states that "evil demons will take possession of others." There is much that I would like to say, but the messenger is in a hurry, so I am writing this at night.
 
With my deep respect,

Nichiren
 
The first day of the tenth 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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