The Embankments of Faith
In your letter, you asked how the effect varies according
to the degree of slander against Buddhism. To begin with,
the Lotus Sutra was taught to lead all people to enlightenment.
However, only those who have faith in it attain enlightenment.
Those who slander it fall into the hell of incessant suffering.
As the sutra states, "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."
There are many degrees of slander. Even among those who
embrace the Lotus Sutra, very few uphold it steadfastly
both in mind and in deed. But those who do will not suffer
serious retribution even if they have committed minor offenses
against Buddhism. Their strong faith expiates their sins
as surely as a flood extinguishes tiny fires.
In the Nirvana Sutra, Shakyamuni states, "If even
a good priest sees someone slandering the Law and disregards
him, failing to reproach him, to 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."
This admonition forces me to speak out against slander
in spite of the persecutions I face, for fear that I might
become an enemy of Buddhism if I did not.
However, slander can be either minor or serious, and there
are times when we should overlook it rather than attack
it. The adherents of the Tendai and Shingon sects slander
the Lotus Sutra and should be refuted. But without great
wisdom it is very difficult to differentiate correctly between
their doctrines and the teaching which Nichiren expounds.
Therefore, at times, you might be well advised to refrain
from attacking them, just as I did in the Rissho Ankoku
Whether or not we reproach another for his slander, it
is difficult to prevent him from committing a grave sin.
If we see or hear a person commit slander and make no attempt
to stop him even though he could be saved, we betray our
great gifts of sight and hearing and so commit an act of
Chang-an wrote, "If you befriend another person but
lack the mercy to correct him, you are in fact his enemy."
The consequences of this offense are extremely difficult
to erase. The most important thing is to continually strengthen
your compassion to save others from their own slanderous
When a person's slanders are minor, he may sometimes need
to be admonished, but at other times this is unnecessary,
for he may be able to correct his faults without being told.
Reprove a person for acting against Buddhism when necessary
so that both of you can forestall the consequences of slander.
Then you should forgive him. The point is that even minor
slanders can lead to serious ones, and then the effects
he must suffer would be far worse. This is what Chang-an
meant when he wrote, "To remove a man's evil is to
be like a parent to him."
There are examples of slander even among Nichiren's disciples
and believers. I am sure that you have heard about Ichinosawa
Nyudo. In his heart he is one of Nichiren's disciples, but
outwardly he still remains in the Nembutsu sect. Therefore,
I am very concerned about his next life and have presented
him with the ten volumes of the Lotus Sutra.
Strengthen your faith now more than ever. Anyone who teaches
the truths of Buddhism to others is bound to incur hatred
from men and women, priests and nuns. Let them say what
they will. The most important thing is for you to entrust
your life to the golden teachings of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni
Buddha, T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo, Dengyo and Chang-an. This is
the way to practice correctly according to the Buddha's
teachings. The Lotus Sutra reads, "If one teaches this
sutra for even a moment in the dreaded age to come, he will
receive support from all the heavens." This passage
explains that in the Latter Day when evil people stained
by the three poisons will prevail, anyone who embraces the
true teaching for even a short time will be aided and supported
by the heavens.
Now you should cherish the great desire to attain enlightenment
for happiness in your next life. If you doubt or slander
even in the slightest, you will fall into the hell of incessant
suffering. Suppose there is a ship which sails on the open
sea. Even if the ship is stoutly built, should it leak even
a bit, the passengers are certain to drown together. Even
though the embankment between rice fields is firm, if there
is only one tiny crack in it, the water will never be contained.
You must bail the sea water of doubt and slander out of
the ship of your life and solidify the embankments of your
faith. If a believer's offense is slight, forgive him and
lead him to obtain benefits. If it is serious, admonish
him to strengthen his faith so that he can expiate the sin.
You are a very unusual woman since you asked me to explain
the effects of various degrees of slander. You are every
bit as praiseworthy as the Dragon King's daughter when she
said, "I will reveal the Mahayana doctrine to save
people from suffering." The Lotus Sutra reads, "To
ask about the meaning of this sutra will indeed be difficult."
There are very few people who inquire about the meaning
of the Lotus Sutra. Always be determined to denounce slanders
against true Buddhism to the best of your ability. It is
indeed remarkable that you should be helping me reveal my
The third day of the ninth month in the first year of Kenji
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, page