The Third Doctrine
read through your letter.
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."
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."
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 Buddhas work,] I have
never for a moment neglected." Tien-tai 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 Buddhas 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.
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.
respect to this doctrine: After the passing of the Thus Come
One, in India for more than fifteen hundred years, the Buddhas
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 Tien-tai
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 Buddhas lifetime are like
a trees shade in the darkness, for such benefits were
obtainable only by those who had already heard the Juryo
chapter in prior existences.
for your opponents 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."
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. Nichirens
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
Tien-tai, 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.
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.
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 Dengyos remark about a tiger
in the marketplace.
now on, you need not hold debates in Shimosa. Having defeated
Ryosho-bo and Shinen-bo, were you to debate with others,
it would only dilute the effect. I hear that these priests
Ryosho-bo and Shinen-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
my deep respect,
first day of the tenth month
- 1. The original
text of the Hokke mongu ki as quoted in the Gosho
contains the parenthetical instruction that the Chinese
character meaning "for
- 11. The Marquis
of Sui once came upon a large snake that had been wounded.
He applied medicine to the wound, and the snake later appeared
holding a jewel in its mouth to reward him. The story is
referred to in the letter addressed to Yang Te-tsu by Ts'ao
Chih (192-232), Wen-hsiian, chap. 42. The source
of the dragon reference is unknown.
- 12. Sky of Tranquil
Light: An expression used to describe the supreme state
- 13. This is described
in the Devadatta (12th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 7.