Establishment of the Legitimate Teaching
for the Protection of the Country
- Rissho Ankoku Ron -
there was a traveler who spoke these words in sorrow to his
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
the while some put their whole faith in the "sharp sword"1
of the Buddha Amida and intone the name of this lord of the
Western Land; others believe that hearing the name of the
Buddha Yakushi will "heal all ills,"2
and recite the sutra that describes this Thus Come One of
the Eastern Region. Some, putting their trust in the passage
in the Lotus Sutra that says, "His illness will be wiped
out and he will know neither old age nor death,"3
pay homage to the wonderful words of that sutra; others, relying
upon the sutra passage that reads: "The seven disasters
vanish, the seven blessings at once appear,"4
at which a hundred priests expound the sutra at a hundred
preaching platforms. There are those who follow the esoteric
teachings of the Shingon sect and conduct rituals by filling
five jars with water;6
and others who devote themselves entirely to seated meditation
and try to perceive the emptiness of all phenomena as clearly
as the moon. Some write out the names of the seven guardian
and paste them on a thousand gates, others paint pictures
of the five mighty bodhisattvas8
and hang them over ten thousand thresholds, and still others
pray to the heavenly gods and earthly deities in ceremonies9
conducted at the four corners of the capital and on the four
boundaries of the nation. The rulers, taking pity on the plight
of the common people, carry out government on the national
and local levels in a benevolent manner.
But despite all these
efforts, they merely exhaust themselves in vain. Famine and
epidemics rage more fiercely than ever, beggars are everywhere
in sight, and scenes of death fill our eyes. Corpses pile
up in mounds like observation platforms, dead bodies lie side
by side like planks on a bridge.
we look about, we find that the sun and moon continue to move
in their accustomed orbits, and the five planets10
follow the proper course. The three treasures of Buddhism11
continue to exist, and the period of a hundred reigns has
not yet expired12.
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?
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.
a man leaves family life and enters the Buddhist way, it is
because he hopes to attain Buddhahood through the teachings
of the Buddha. 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 people who give way to doubt because of the lack
of understanding [on the part of eminent priests]. They look
up at the heavens and mouth their resentment, or gaze down
at the earth and sink deep into anxiety.
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.
This is the reason that the benevolent deities have abandoned
the nation and departed together, that 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.
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?
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, its
ruler has never allowed it to be propagated. In his heart
he turns away from it, and he takes no pleasure in hearing
its teachings. He does not make offerings to it, honor or
praise it. Nor is he willing to honor or make offerings to
the four kinds of Buddhists13
who embrace the sutra. In the end, he makes it impossible
for us and the countless other heavenly beings who are our
followers to hear this profound and wonderful teaching. He
deprives us of the sweet dew of its words and cuts us off
from the flow of the correct teaching, so that our majesty
and strength are drained away. Thus the number of beings who
occupy the evil paths increases and the number who dwell in
the human and heavenly realms decreases. People fall into
the river of the suffering 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 yakshas14
and other beings, observing this state of affairs, have decided
to abandon this nation, for we have no heart to protect it.
And it is not we alone who cast aside this ruler. All the
great benevolent deities who guard and watch over the countless
different regions of the country will also invariably reject
him. And once we and the others abandon and desert this nation,
then many different types of disasters will occur in the country
and the ruler 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."
Daijuku Sutra says: "When the teachings of the
Buddha 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 that 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 heavens of purity, all the regions of the
world of desire15
will become deprived of the seven flavors16
and the three kinds of vitality,17
until not a trace of them remains any more. All the good discourses
that lead people 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 beings
and dragons will no longer send down rain. The seedlings of
the crops will all wither and die, all the living plants will
perish, and even the weeds 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.
the four directions will be afflicted by drought, and evil
omens will appear again and again. The ten evil acts18
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 strength, dignity and enjoyment. They
will become estranged from the delights of the human and heavenly
realms and all will fall into the paths of evil. The wicked
rulers and monks who perform these ten evil acts will curse
and destroy my correct teaching and make it difficult for
those in the human and heavenly realms to stay there. At that
time the benevolent deities and heavenly kings, who would
ordinarily take pity on living beings, will abandon this impure
and evil nation and all will make their way to other regions."
Ninno Sutra states: "When a nation becomes disordered,
it is the spirits which first show signs of rampancy. Because
the 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
crown prince, the other princes and the hundred officials
all quarrel with each other over right and wrong. Heaven and
earth manifest prodigies and strange occurrences; the twenty-eight
the stars, the sun and the moon appear at irregular times
and in irregular positions, and numerous outlaws rise up."
same sutra also states: "Now when I use the five types
of vision to clearly perceive the three existences, I see
that all the kings in their past existences served five hundred
Buddhas, and that is the reason that they were able to become
emperors and sovereigns. And that also is the reason that
all the various sages and arhats are born in their nations
and bring great benefits. 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."
Yakushi Sutra states: "If disasters and calamities
should befall members of the ruling Kshatriya20
class and anointed kings21,
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
ones 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."
the Ninno Sutra, [the Buddha addresses King Prasenajit22
in these words]: "Great King, the region where my teachings
now hold sway consists of one billion Sumeru worlds with one
billion suns and moons. Each of these Sumeru23
worlds comprises four continents. In the southern continent
of Jambudvipa, there are sixteen major countries, five hundred
middle-sized countries, and ten thousand small countries.
In these countries, there are seven types of fearful disasters
that may occur. All the rulers of these countries agree that
these are indeed disasters. What, then, are these disasters?
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 time24,
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 disaster.
the twenty-eight constellations do not move in their regular
courses, when the Metal Star25,
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
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 fire26
-- when these prodigies appear, this is the third disaster.
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 disaster.
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 disaster.
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 kinds of grain27
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 disaster.
enemies rise up on all four sides and invade the nation, when
rebels appear in the capital and the outlying regions, when
there are fire bandits, water bandits, wind bandits and demon
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 disaster."
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 cultivated wisdom,
if he sees that my teaching is in danger of perishing and
stands idly by without doing anything to protect it, then
all the inestimable roots of goodness that he has planted
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 epidemics. 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, fierce 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 the great hell.... And the same fate will befall the rulers
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."
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 recklessly
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. Because of this, 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.
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 by white horses29.
having subjugated the rebellion of Moriya, [an opponent of
Buddhism,] proceeded to construct temples and pagodas. Since
that time, from the ruler down to the common people, all have
worshipped the Buddha images and devoted their attention to
the scriptures. As a result, in the monasteries of Mount Hiei31,
and of the southern capital at Nara, at the temples of Onjo-ji
throughout the land within the four seas, in the five provinces
of the capital area33
and the seven marches, Buddha images and 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
while those who adhere to the traditions of Haklenayashas
transmit the teachings of Mount Kukkutapada35.
How, then, can anyone say that the teachings of the Buddhas
lifetime are despised or that the three treasures of Buddhism
have ceased to exist? If there is evidence to support such
a contention, I would like to hear all the facts!
host, anxious to clarify his words, replied: To be sure, Buddhist
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 subjects lack understanding
and fail to distinguish between the heretical and the correct.
Ninno Sutra, for example, says: "Evil monks, hoping
to gain fame and profit, in many cases appear before the ruler,
the crown prince 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 ruler, failing
to perceive the truth of the situation, listens to and puts
faith in such doctrines, and proceeds to create regulations
that are perverse in nature and that do not accord with the
rules of Buddhist discipline. In this way he brings about
the destruction of Buddhism and of the nation."
Nirvana Sutra states: "Bodhisattvas, have no fear of
mad elephants. What you should fear are evil friends! 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."
Lotus Sutra says:
that evil age there will be monks with perverse wisdom and
hearts that are fawning and crooked who will suppose 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 all humankind. Greedy for profit and
support, they will preach the Law to white-robed laymen
and will be respected and revered by the world as though
they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers36
Because in the midst of the great assembly they constantly
try to defame us, they will address the rulers, high ministers,
Brahmans and householders, as well as the other monks, slandering
and speaking evil of us, saying, "These are men of
perverted views who preach non-Buddhist doctrines!"
a muddied kalpa, in an evil age there will be many things
to fear. Evil demons will take possession of others and
through them curse, revile and heap shame on us
evil monks of that muddied age, failing to understand the
Buddhas expedient means, how he preaches the Law in
accordance with what is appropriate, will confront us with
foul language and angry frowns; again and again we will
Nirvana Sutra says: "After I have passed away and countless
hundreds of years have gone by, the sages of the four stages37
too will have all 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 clothes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms
like so many huntsmen who, narrowing their eyes, stalk softly.
They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And constantly
they will reiterate these words: I have attained arhatship!
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 teachings,] they will remain silent, 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 correct teaching."
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 priests, how can we hope to do
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 worthies and learned
men 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!
host said: At the time of the Retired Emperor Gotoba there
was a priest named Honen who wrote a work entitled the Senchaku
The Nembutsu Chosen above All. He contradicted the sacred
teachings of the Buddhas lifetime and brought confusion
to people in every direction. The Senchaku shu states:
"Regarding the passage in which the Meditation Master
distinguished between the Sacred Way teachings and the Pure
and urged people 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 and
the true Mahayana teachings 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 Shoron41
-- all these eight schools are included in the Sacred Way
that is to be abandoned.
Dharma Teacher Tan-luan42
in his Ojo ron chu states: I note that
Bodhisattva Nagarjunas Jujubibasha ron says:
"There are two ways by which the bodhisattva may reach
the state of avaivartika or non-retrogression. One
is the difficult-to-practice way, the other is the easy-to-practice
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 teachings, they must discard the Sacred Way and
give their allegiance to the Pure Land teachings."
also says: "Regarding the passage in which Priest Shan-tao43
between correct and sundry practices and urged people to abandon
the sundry practices and embrace the correct practices: Concerning
the first of the sundry practices, that of reading and reciting
sutras, with the exception of the recitation of the Kammuryoju
Sutra and the other Pure Land sutras, the embracing, reading
and recitation of all sutras, whether Mahayana or Hinayana,
exoteric or esoteric, is to be regarded as a sundry practice....
Concerning the third of the sundry practices, that of worshipping,
with the exception of worshipping the Buddha Amida, the worshipping
or honoring of any of the other Buddhas, bodhisattvas or deities
of this world is to be regarded as a sundry practice.... In
the light of his statement, I declare that one should abandon
such sundry practices and concentrate upon the practice of
the Pure Land teachings. What reason would we have to abandon
the correct practices of the Pure Land teachings, which insure
that, out of a hundred persons, all one hundred will be reborn
in the Pure Land, and cling instead to the various sundry
practices and procedures, which could not save even one person
in a thousand? Followers of the Way should ponder this carefully!"
further states: "In the Jogen nyuzo roku44
or Chen-yuan Era Catalogue of the Buddhist Canon we
find it recorded that, from the 600 volumes of the Daihannya
to the Hojoju Sutra46,
the exoteric and esoteric sutras of Mahayana or the great
vehicle total 637 works in 2,883 volumes. The phrase [from
the Kammuryoju Sutra] of reading and reciting
the great vehicle should be applied to all these works.
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
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
also states: "Regarding the passage which says that the
practitioner of the Nembutsu must possess three kinds of mind48
is found in the Kammuryoju Sutra. In his commentary
on that sutra49,
[Shan-tao says:] Someone may ask: "If there are
those who differ in understanding and practice from the followers
of the Nembutsu, persons of heretical and mistaken belief,
[how should we confront them?]" I will now make certain
that their perverse and differing views will not cause trouble.
These persons of evil views with different understanding and
different practices are compared to a band of robbers who
call back the traveler who has already gone one or two steps
along his journey. In my opinion, when this commentary
speaks of different understanding, different practices, varying
doctrines and varying beliefs, they are referring to the teachings
of the Sacred Way."
in a concluding passage, Honen says: "If one wishes to
escape quickly from the sufferings of birth 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 sundry
practices and then proceed to abandon all of the sundry practices
and devote ones entire attention to the correct practices."
we examine these passages, we see that Honen quotes the erroneous
explanations of Tan-luan, Tao-cho and Shan-tao,
and establishes the categories-the Sacred Way and Pure Land
teachings, the difficult-to-practice and easy-to-practice
ways. He then takes all the 637 works in 2,883 volumes that
comprise the Mahayana sutras of the Buddhas lifetime,
including those of the Lotus Sutra and Shingon, along with
all the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities of this world,
and assigns them all to the categories of the Sacred Way teachings,
the difficult-to-practice way and the sundry practices, and
urges people 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 countries50
[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!
doing so, he turns his back on the passage in the three Pure
the sutras of his own sect, which contains Amidas vow
to save the people "excepting only those who commit the
five cardinal sins or who slander the correct teaching.52"
At the same time, he shows that he fails to understand the
warning contained in the second volume of the Lotus Sutra,
the heart and core of the entire body of teachings the Buddha
expounded in the five periods of his preaching life53,
which reads: "If a person fails to have faith but instead
slanders this sutra. . . When his life comes to an end, he
will enter the Avichi hell."54
now we have come to this latter age, when people are no longer
sages. Each enters his own dark road, and all alike forget
the direct way. How pitiful that no one cures them of their
blindness! How painful to see them vainly lending encouragement
to these false beliefs! And as a result, everyone from the
ruler of the nation down to the common people 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.55
there were men like Dengyo, Gishin56,
Jikaku and Chisho who journeyed ten thousand miles across
the waves to China to acquire the sacred teachings, and there
visited the mountains and rivers to pay reverence to Buddhist
statues [and carry them back]. 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 worshipped and honored. As a result, the Buddhas
Shakyamuni and Yakushi57
shone side by side, casting their influence upon present and
future ages, while the bodhisattvas Kokuzo and Jizo58
brought benefit to the living and the dead. The rulers of
the nation contributed districts or villages so that the lamps
might continue to burn bright before the images, while the
stewards of the great estates gave their fields and gardens
as an offering.
because of this book by Honen, this Senchaku shu, the
lord of teachings, Shakyamuni, is forgotten and all honor
is paid to Amida, the Buddha of the Western Land. The transmission
of the Law [from Shakyamuni Buddha] is ignored, and Yakushi,
the Buddha of the Eastern Region, is neglected.59
All attention is paid to the three Pure Land sutras in four
and all the other wonderful scriptures that Shakyamuni expounded
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 are not practitioners
of the Nembutsu, then people quickly forget all about giving
those monks alms. As a result, the halls of the Buddha fall
into ruin, scarcely a wisp of smoke rises above their moss-covered
roof 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 nation 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 what is only incidental and forget what is
primary, can the benevolent deities be anything but angry?
If people cast aside what is perfect and take up what is biased,
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
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 Dharma Teacher Tan-luan
had originally studied the four treatises61
but abandoned them and put all his faith in the Pure Land
teachings. Similarly, the Meditation Master Tao-cho
ceased to spread the multifarious doctrines of the Nirvana
and devoted all his attention to propagating the practice
that leads one to the western Pure Land. Priest Shan-tao discarded
the sundry practices and established the single practice of
the Nembutsu, and the supervisor of monks Eshin63
collected essential passages from various sutras to form his
making the single practice of the Nembutsu the essence of
his teaching. 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.
particular note was the sage 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
and had investigated all the eight sects66
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
spite of all this, he was in doubt as to the proper path to
emancipation 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
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 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.
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 passage
describing the oath of 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 doctrines68
and to heap abuse on the sage 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!
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
of the Law and call him a sage, mistrust a correct 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
Buddha expounded the five periods of doctrines, established
the order in which they were preached, and divided them into
the provisional and the true teachings. But Tan-luan,
Tao-cho 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 Buddhas life and discarded
what was taught later. They were not the kind of men who delve
into the deep places of Buddhist doctrine.
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 in 2,883 volumes, and along
with them all the various Buddhas and bodhisattvas and the
deities of this world, 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 people 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 Perfect Bliss, and
forget about the other Buddhas. A man such as Honen is in
truth the archenemy of the 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 one of
the ten directions.
became quite horrified when I blamed an earlier period69
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.
second volume of the Maka shikan quotes a passage from
the Shih chi70
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,
in the second volume, explains this passage by quoting from
the Tso chuan or Commentary on the Spring and Autumn
as follows: "When King Ping of the Chou first moved
his capital to the east, 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.
Maka shikan passage goes on to say:] "Juan Chi72
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 Ssu-ma family [the rulers of the
Western Chin dynasty] would meet with their downfall."
the Nitto junrei ki or Record of a Pilgrimage to
China in Search of the Law by the Great Teacher Jikaku
records that in the first year of the Hui-chang era
(841), Emperor Wu-tsung of the Tang dynasty commanded
the priest Ching-shuang of Chang-ching-ssu temple to transmit
the Nembutsu teachings 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.
the second year of the same era, soldiers from the land of
invaded the borders of the Tang 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 more 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 Chin 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 Jikakus original
view of these events, we should consider the fact that Honen
lived in the time of the Retired Emperor Gotoba, around the
Kennin era (1201-1204). And what happened to the retired emperor
is evident before our very eyes74.
Thus Tang China provided an earlier example of the fall
of an emperor, and our own country offers similar proof. You
should neither doubt this nor consider it strange. The only
thing to do now is to abandon the evil ways and take up those
that are good, to cut off this affliction at the source, to
cut it off at the root!
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, throughout
the area from Kyoto, the capital, to 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
assertion goes too far and your behavior is unreasonable.
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
scriptures, the Lotus Sutra. How could I observe the decline
of the Buddhist Law and not be filled with emotions of pity
the Nirvana Sutra states: "If even a good monk sees someone
destroying the teaching and disregards him, failing to reproach
him, to oust him or to punish him for his offense, then you
should realize that that monk is betraying the Buddhas
teaching. But if he ousts the destroyer of the Law, reproaches
him or punishes him, then he is my disciple and a true voice-hearer."
I may not be a "good monk," I certainly do not want
to be accused of "betraying the Buddhas teaching."
Therefore, in order to avoid such charges, I have cited a
few general principles and given a rough explanation of the
in the Gennin era (1224-1225), petitions to the throne were
submitted time and again by the two temples of Enryaku-ji
and Kofuku-ji. And as a result an imperial command and a letter
of instruction from the shogunate were handed down, ordering
that the woodblocks used in printing Honens Senchaku
shu be confiscated and brought to the Great Lecture Hall
of Enryaku-ji. There they were burned in order to repay the
debt owed to the Buddhas of the three existences. In addition,
orders were given that the menials who are attached to the
Kanjin-in Shrine should dig up and destroy Honens grave.
Then, Honens disciples Ryukan, Shoko, Jokaku, Sassho75
and others were condemned by the imperial court to exile in
distant regions, and were never pardoned.
view of these facts, how can you say that no one has submitted
a complaint to the authorities concerning these matters?
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 in 2,883 volumes, along with all the
Buddhas and bodhisattvas and the deities of this world, 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.
you assert that all the recent disasters are to be traced
to the Senchaku shu, 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 Law is proven worthy of
reverence 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 Buddhas? 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
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 some passages from the scriptures and offer
some brief thoughts. Concerning the means for insuring order
in the nation, there are numerous passages in both Buddhist
and non-Buddhist texts, 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 the followers of the correct way is the best way
to assure stability within the nation and peace in the world
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"
said, What do you mean when you speak of "one type
Buddha replied, I mean the type described in this sutra
as violators of the precepts.
spoke again, saying, I am afraid I still do not understand.
May I ask you to explain further?
Buddha addressed Chunda, saying: By violators of the
precepts 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.
spoke once more, asking, What is the meaning of the
Buddha said, Chunda, suppose there should be monks or
nuns, lay men or women who speak careless and evil words and
slander the correct teaching, 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.
there may be those who commit the four grave offenses77
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
correct teaching, they show no inclination to protect, treasure
and establish 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. "
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 Senyo,
and I loved and venerated the great vehicle scriptures. My
heart was pure and good and had no trace of evil, jealousy
or stinginess. Good men, at that time I cherished the great
vehicle teachings in my heart. When I heard the Brahmans slandering
these correct and equal sutras, I had them put to death on
the spot. Good men, as a result of that action, I never thereafter
fell into hell."
another passage it says: "In the past, when the Thus
Come One was the ruler of a nation and practiced the way of
the bodhisattva, he put to death a number of Brahmans."
it says: "There are three degrees of killings: the lower,
middle and upper degrees. The lower degree constitutes the
killing of any humble being, from an ant to any of the various
kinds of animals. But the killing of an animal into which
a bodhisattva has deliberately chosen to be born [to help
other living beings] is excluded. As a result of a killing
of the lower degree, one will fall into the realms of hell,
hungry spirits and animals, and will suffer all the pains
appropriate to a killing of the lower degree. Why should this
be? Because even the animals and other humble beings possess
the roots of goodness, insignificant though those roots may
be. That is why a person who kills such a being must suffer
full retribution for his offense.
any person from an ordinary mortal to an anagamin78
constitutes what is termed the middle degree. As a consequence
of such an act of killing, one will fall into the realms of
hell, hungry spirits and animals, 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, an arhat,
a pratyekabuddha or a bodhisattva who has reached the
stage of non-retrogression. For such a crime one will fall
into the great Avichi hell. Good men, if someone were to kill
an icchantika, that killing would not fall into any
of the three categories just mentioned. Good men, the various
Brahmans that I have said were put to death -- all of them
were in fact icchantikas."
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 they do not possess
the kind of power and authority that the king has."
Nirvana Sutra states: "Now I entrust the correct teaching,
which is unexcelled, to the rulers, the ministers, the high
officials, and the four kinds of Buddhists. If anyone should
vilify the correct teaching, then the ministers and four kinds
of Buddhists should reprimand him and bring him to order."
also states: "The Buddha replied, [Bodhisattva]
it is because I was a defender of the correct teaching that
I have been able to attain this diamond-like body80....
Good man, defenders of the correct teaching need not observe
the five precepts81
or practice the rules of proper behavior. Rather they should
carry knives and swords, bows and arrows, prongs and lances."
the Buddha said: "Even though there may be those who
observe the five precepts, they do not deserve to be called
practitioners of the great vehicle. But even if one does not
observe the five precepts, if one defends the correct teaching,
then one may be called a practitioner of the great vehicle.
Defenders of the correct teaching 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
Buddha likewise said: "Good man, in past ages in this
very city of Kushinagara a Buddha appeared whose name was
the Thus Come One Kangi Zoyaku or Joy Increasing. After this
Buddha passed away, the correct teaching that he had taught
remained in the world for countless millions of years. Finally,
only forty more years were left before the Buddhist teaching
was due to come to an end.
that time there was a monk named Kakutoku or Realization of
Virtue 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, approached
this teacher of the Law.
this time the ruler of the kingdom was named Utoku or Possessor
of Virtue. He received reports of what was happening, and,
in order to defend the teaching, 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 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
this time the monk Realization of Virtue praised the king,
saying, Splendid, splendid! You, O king, are now a true
defender of the correct teaching. In ages to come, this body
of yours will surely become a boundless vessel of the Law!
that time, the king had already heard the teaching, 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 of 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 Realization of Virtue
also died, and he too was reborn in the land of the Buddha
Ashuku, where he became second among the Buddhas voice-hearer
disciples. Thus, if the correct teaching is about to come
to an end, this is the way one ought to support and defend
the king who lived at that time was I myself, and the monk
who preached was the Buddha Kasho82.
Kashyapa, those who defend the correct teaching 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 body of
that can never be destroyed."
the Buddha declared to Bodhisattva Kashyapa: "For this
reason, laymen believers and others who wish to defend the
Law should arm themselves with swords and staves and protect
it in this manner.
man, in the age of impurity and evil after I have passed away,
the nation will fall into devastation 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 correct teaching, they will chase
after him and drive him away, or perhaps even kill him or
do him injury. That is why I now give permission for monks
who observe the precepts to associate with and keep company
with white-robed laymen who bear swords and staves. 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."
Lotus Sutra says: "If a person fails to have faith but
instead slanders this sutra, immediately he will destroy all
the seeds for becoming a Buddha in this world.... When his
life comes to an end, he will enter the Avichi hell."
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 countless times. Therefore
one who does so will be confined in the great citadel of the
Avichi hell and cannot hope for release for an immeasurable
length of time. According to the Nirvana Sutra, even though
you may give alms to a person who has committed the five cardinal
sins, you must never give alms to a person who has slandered
the Law. One who kills so much as an ant will invariably fall
into the three evil paths, but one who helps 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
Realization of Virtue was reborn as the Buddha Kasho, and
that King Possessor of Virtue was reborn as the Buddha Shakyamuni.
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 Honens Senchaku shu
and grow blinder than ever in their stupidity.
some of them, remembering how their master looked in life,
fashion wooden sculptures and paintings of him, while others,
putting faith in his perverse teachings, carve woodblocks
with which to print his ugly words. These writings they scatter
about throughout the area within the seas84
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.
a result, we see people cutting off the fingers of the images
of Shakyamuni and refashioning them to form the gesture of
Amida, or converting the temples formerly dedicated to Yakushi,
the Buddha of the Eastern Region, and replacing his statues
with those of Amida, the Buddha 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 lectures85
on the doctrines of the Great Teacher Tien-tai
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
Buddhist order? And all their heretical teachings derive from
the Senchaku shu!
how pitiful, that people should turn their backs on the true
words of prohibition spoken by the Thus Come One! 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!
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 sutra passages 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
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 heavenly
and human beings should give him alms. In doing so, they are
giving alms and support to me, for that person is my son.
But if men beat that person, they are beating my son, and
if they curse and insult him, they are reviling me."
we stop to consider, we must realize that, regardless of whether
one is good or bad, right or wrong, if he is a priest, 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 of the Bamboo
Staff school who killed the Venerable Maudgalyayana have for
a long time been sunk in the depths of the hell of incessant
suffering. Because Devadatta murdered the nun Utpalavarna,
he has for a long time gasped in the flames of the Avichi
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 Buddhas prohibitions. I can hardly believe that
such a course would be right. How can you justify that?
host said: You have clearly seen the sutra passages 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 Buddhist teachings, prior to Shakyamuni slanderous
monks would have incurred the death penalty. But since the
time of Shakyamuni, or One Who Can Forbear, the giving of
alms for slanderous monks is forbidden in the sutra teachings.
Now if all the four kinds of Buddhists 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?
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.
this work by the sage 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.
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.
can be no doubt that all persons, 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 icchantikas and insure
that continuing support is instead given to the host of true
priests and nuns, if we can still these "white waves"87
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 Nung88
the nation may flourish as it did under the sage rulers Yao
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.
host exclaimed with delight: The dove has changed into a hawk,
the sparrow into a clam!90
How gratifying! You have transformed yourself through your
association with [me,] a friend in the orchid room, just as
the mugwort growing in the hemp field becomes 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 persons
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.
do I say this? Because, of the seven types of disasters described
in the Yakushi Sutra, five have already occurred. Only
two have yet to appear, the calamity of invasion from foreign
lands and the calamity of revolt within ones own domain.
And of the three calamities mentioned in the Daijuku
Sutra, two have already made their appearance. Only one remains,
the disaster of warfare.
different types of disaster and calamity enumerated in the
Konkomyo Sutra have arisen one after the other. Only
that described as 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 disasters
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
as the Ninno Sutra says, "When a nation becomes
disordered, it is the spirits which first show signs of rampancy.
Because the spirits become rampant, all the people of the
nation become disordered."
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?
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 marauders come from other regions to invade the nation,
or if revolt breaks out within the domain and peoples
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?
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
they put their faith in heretical doctrines, and pay honor
to slanderous teachings. 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 recklessly give credence to heretical
doctrines? If they do not shake off these delusions that they
cling to but continue to harbor distorted views, then they
will quickly leave this world of the living and surely fall
into the hell of incessant suffering.
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 cultivated wisdom,
if he sees that my teaching is in danger of perishing and
stands idly by without doing anything to protect it, then
all the inestimable roots of goodness that he has planted
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 the
great hell. . . . And the same fate will befall the rulers
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."
Ninno Sutra states: "If persons destroy the teachings
of the Buddha, they will have no filial sons, no harmony with
their six kinds of relatives, and no aid from the heavenly
deities and dragons. Disease and evil spirits will come day
after day to torment them, disasters will descend on them
incessantly, and misfortunes will dog them wherever they go.
And when they die, they will fall into the realms of hell,
hungry spirits and animals. Even if they should be reborn
as human beings, they will be destined to become soldiers
or slaves. Retribution will follow as an echo follows a sound
or a shadow follows a form. Someone writing at night may put
out the lamp, but the words he has written will still remain.
It is the same with the effect of the deeds which we carry
out for ourselves in the threefold world."
second volume of the Lotus Sutra says: "If a person fails
to have faith but instead slanders this sutra . . . When his
life comes to an end, he will enter the Avichi hell."
And in the Fukyo chapter in the seventh volume, it
says: "For a thousand kalpas they underwent great suffering
in the Avichi hell."
the Nirvana Sutra we read: "If a person separates himself
from good friends, refuses to listen to correct teachings
and instead embraces evil teachings, then as a result he will
sink down into the Avichi hell, where the size of his body
will become eighty-four thousand yojanas in total length and
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 people should all go out of the gate of the
correct teaching and enter so deep into the prison of these
heretical doctrines! 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 mists and miasmas, and
sink down amid the raging flames of hell. How could we not
grieve? How could we not suffer?
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 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
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!
guest said: Since it concerns both this life and the lives
to come, who could fail to be cautious in a matter such as
this? 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 fault indeed, that violating the Law is in truth a terrible
offense. 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 past91.
And the same is true of all the other persons in the ten directions.
now I realize that to do so means to exhaust oneself in futile
efforts in this life, and to fall into the Avichi hell 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. From now on, with your kind instruction
to guide me, I wish to continue dispelling the ignorance from
my mind. 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
we 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!
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin;
Vol. 2, p. 3 - 46.