Admonitions Against Slander
The Hoben chapter, Volume One of the Lotus Sutra, states, "The wisdom of all Buddhas is infinitely profound and immeasurable." T'ien-t'ai explains, "'Infinitely profound' indicates the reality attained by the Buddha, which is as vast as a wide and unfathomable riverbed. Because the riverbed is infinitely deep, the water of the Buddha wisdom is 'immeasurable.'"
The sutra and interpretation make clear that the path to enlightenment lies within the two elements of reality (kyo) and wisdom (chi). Reality means the entity of all phenomena in the universe, and wisdom means the perfect manifestation of this entity in the individual's life. When the reality is an infinitely broad and deep riverbed, the water of wisdom will flow ceaselessly. Enlightenment is the fusion of wisdom and reality.
All the sutras expounded prior to the Lotus Sutra are provisional teachings which cannot lead to enlightenment because they separate wisdom and reality. However, the Lotus Sutra joins the two. It expounds the purpose for which the Buddhas appear in this world: to open the door to the Buddha wisdom, to reveal it, to let all beings know it and enter into it. All people can attain enlightenment by realizing this wisdom of the Buddha.
The Hoben chapter states that the Buddha wisdom is far beyond the understanding of the people of the two vehicles: "Neither men of Learning (shomon) nor sages of Realization (engaku) are able to comprehend it." What then are these two elements of reality and wisdom? They are simply Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Shakyamuni called forth the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, his disciples from ages past, to give them this Law which is the essence of his teachings.
The Lotus Sutra states that Bodhisattva Jogyo and the other Bodhisattvas of the Earth will appear in the first five hundred years of the Latter Day of the Law to propagate the Mystic Law, the crystallization of reality and wisdom. This sutra makes it perfectly clear. Who could possibly dispute it? I, Nichiren, am neither Bodhisattva Jogyo nor his messenger, but I was the first to begin the propagation of the Mystic Law and have already taught it extensively. Bodhisattva Jogyo received the water of wisdom of the Mystic Law from Shakyamuni Buddha to let it flow into the wasteland of the people's lives in the evil period of the Latter Day. That is the function of wisdom. Shakyamuni entrusted this teaching to Bodhisattva Jogyo, and now Nichiren propagates it in Japan. In general, this transfer was made to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, but specifically, to Bodhisattva Jogyo himself. If you confuse the general with the specific even in the slightest, you will never be able to attain enlightenment and will wander through endless lifetimes of suffering.
For example, the men of Learning in Shakyamuni's time received the seed of enlightenment from Shakyamuni in the distant past when he was the sixteenth son of Daitsu Buddha. Therefore, they cannot attain enlightenment by following Amida, Yakushi or any other Buddha. Or, to give another example, if someone brings home water from the ocean, his entire family can use it. Should they refuse even a single drop of water and instead go seek water from some other ocean, they would be terribly misguided and foolish. In the same way, if one should forget the original teacher who brought him the water of wisdom from the great ocean of the Lotus Sutra and instead follow another, he is sure to sink into the endless sufferings of life and death.
A disciple should abandon even his teacher if the teacher is misguided. However, this is not always necessary. He should decide according to the laws of both society and Buddhism. With no knowledge of Buddhist law, most priests in the Latter Day grow so conceited that they despise the original teacher and flatter new-found patrons. Only honest priests who desire little and are happy with whatever they have can be called "priests" in the true sense of the word. Volume One of the Hokke Mongu states, "A priest who has yet to attain enlightenment should humble himself before the supreme law and all Buddhist saints. Then, he has true modesty. When he manifests the Buddha wisdom, he will be a true priest."
In the Nirvana Sutra Shakyamuni stated, "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." Never forget this admonition against ignoring another's slander of Buddhism. Both master and disciple will surely fall into the hell of incessant suffering if they see enemies of the Lotus Sutra and fail to reproach them. The Great Teacher Nan-yueh wrote, "They will fall into hell with evil men." To seek enlightenment without repudiating slander is as futile as trying to find water in the midst of fire or fire in the midst of water. No matter how sincerely one believes in the Lotus Sutra, any violation of its teachings will surely cause him to fall into hell, just as one crab leg will ruin a thousand pots of lacquer. This is the meaning of the passage in the Lotus Sutra, "The poison has penetrated deeply, causing them to lose their true minds."
The Lotus Sutra teaches us: "In lifetime after lifetime they were always born together with their masters in the Buddha lands throughout the universe," and "If one seeks out the teacher of the Law, he will soon attain the way of the Bodhisattva. If he follows and studies under this teacher, he will be able to see Buddhas equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River." T'ien-t'ai interprets this, saying, "One who first began to aspire for enlightenment when following this Buddha will follow him again and attain a stage of faith from which he can never backslide." Miao-lo adds, "One who first hears about the Law from some Buddha or bodhisattva will return to the same Buddha or bodhisattva to attain enlightenment." Above all, follow no one but your original teacher and go on to attain Buddhahood. Shakyamuni is the original teacher for all people, as well as their sovereign and their parent. Because I have expounded this teaching, I have been exiled and almost killed. As the saying goes: "Good advice is harsh to the ear." But still I am not discouraged. The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower and the people like the field. If you go against these principles, in your next lifetime, not even I, Nichiren, can save you.
With my deep respect,
The third day of the eighth month in the second year of Kenji (1276)
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, page 163.
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