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The Problem to Be Pondered Night and Day

The second volume of Myoho-renge-kyo 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].... [There will be those who slander a sutra such as this in the Buddha's lifetime or in the age after his death.] They will despise, hate, envy and bear grudges against those who read, recite, transcribe and embrace this sutra.... After they die, they will fall into the Avichi Hell.... In this way they will be reborn there again and again for kalpas without number." The seventh volume reads, "For a thousand kalpas in the Avichi Hell, [they underwent great pain and torment]." The third volume mentions [those who wandered in the evil paths for the duration of] sanzen-jintengo, and the sixth volume refers to [those who were submerged in the realm of suffering for the span of] gohyaku-jintengo. The Nirvana Sutra states, "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."

The Hosho Ron of Bodhisattva Saramati reads, "Those who are ignorant and unable to believe in the True Law, who hold false views and are arrogant, suffer such hindrances in retribution for the slanders of their former lives. They cling to incomplete doctrines and are attached to receiving alms and humble respect; they recognize only false doctrines, distance themselves from good friends, approach with familiarity such slanderers of the Law who delight in attachment to the teachings of the lesser vehicle, and do not believe in the great vehicle. Therefore they slander the Dharma of the Buddhas.

"A wise man should not fear enemy households, snakes, fire, poison, the thunderbolts of Indra, attacks by swords and staves, or the various wild beasts such as tigers, wolves and lions. For these can only destroy one's life, but cannot cause him to fall into the Avichi Hell, which is truly terrifying. What he should fear is slander of the profound Dharma as well as companions who are slanderers, for these will surely cause him to fall into the frightful Avichi Hell. Even if one befriends evil companions and with evil intent spills the Buddha's blood, kills his own father and mother, takes the lives of many sages, disrupts the unity of the Buddhist Order and destroys all his roots of goodness, if he fixes his mind on the True Law, he can free himself from that place. But if there is another who slanders the inconceivably profound Law, that person will for immeasurable kalpas be unable to obtain release. However, if there is one who can cause others to awaken to and take faith in a teaching such as this, then he is their father and mother, and also their good friend. This man is a person of wisdom. Because, after the Buddha's passing, he corrects false views and perverse thoughts and causes people to enter the true Way, he shows himself to have pure faith in the three treasures, and performs beneficial deeds which bring enlightenment."

Bodhisattva Nagarjuna states in his Bodai Shiryo Ron, "The World-Honored One expounded five causes leading to the hell of incessant suffering.... But if, with respect to the profound Law that one has yet to comprehend, one were to remain attached [to lesser teachings, and declare that this is not the Buddha's teaching,...] then the accumulated sins of all the above-mentioned five acts would not amount to even a hundredth part of this offense."

A worthy man, while dwelling in security, anticipates danger; a deceitful flatterer, while dwelling amid danger, takes security for granted. A great fire fears even a small quantity of water, and a large tree can have its branches broken by even a small bird. What a wise man fears is slander of the great vehicle. It was on this account that Bodhisattva Vasubandhu declared that he would cut out his tongue, Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha implored that his own head be cut off, and the Great Teacher Chi-tsang made a bridge of his own body. The Learned Doctor Hsuan-tsang went to the sacred land of India to divine [which teaching represents the truth], the Learned Doctor Pu-k'ung likewise went to India to resolve his doubts, and the Great Teacher Dengyo sought confirmation in China. Did not all these men act as they did in order to protect the true meaning of the sutras and treatises?

In Japan today, among the four kinds of believers of the eight sects as well as of the Pure Land and Zen sects, from the emperor and the retired emperor on down to their vassals and the common people, there is not a single person who is not a disciple or supporter of one of the three great teachers: Kobo, Jikaku and Chisho. Ennin, the Great Teacher Jikaku, stated, "[Even though the Kegon and other sutras are termed 'esoteric,' they do not fully expound the secret teaching of the Tathagata;] therefore, they differ [from the Shingon teachings]." Enchin, the Great Teacher Chisho, said, "When compared with the Dainichi Sutra, the Kegon and the Lotus are mere childish theory." And Kukai, the Great Teacher Kobo, remarked, "[Each vehicle that is put forward is claimed to be the true vehicle, but] when examined from a later stage, they are all seen to be mere childish theory." Thus all three of these great teachers held that, though the Lotus Sutra is foremost among all the teachings that Shakyamuni Buddha has preached, now preaches or will preach in the future, when compared with the Dainichi Sutra [expounded by Dainichi Buddha], it is a doctrine of childish theory. Should any thinking person place credence in this assertion? A hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand times more than mad elephants, vicious horses, fierce bulls, savage doge, poisonous snakes, poisonous thorns, treacherous bluffs, steep cliffs, floods, evil men, evil countries, evil towns, evil dwellings, bad wives, wicked children and malicious retainers, the people of Japan today should fear those eminent priests who keep the precepts and yet hold distorted views!

Question: Are you suggesting that the three great teachers mentioned above were slanderers of the Law? Encho, the Great Teacher Jakko, the second chief priest of Mount Hiei; the Great Teacher Kojo, superintendent of the temple; Anne, the Great Teacher Daigyo; Priest Eryo; Priest Annen; the Supervisor of Monks Jokan; the Administrator of Monks Danna; the Virtuous Monk Eshin and several hundred others [of the Tendai sect], as well as several hundred of Kobo's disciples including Jitsue, Shinzei and Shinga, and also the other great teachers and virtuous monks of the eight sects and ten sects were like so many suns, moons and stars all appearing in succession. During the passage of four hundred years and more, not a single person among these men has ever questioned the teachings of the three great teachers you mentioned above. What sort of wisdom do you base yourself on that you presume to criticize them?

Considering this in light of the points I have made above, I hope my disciples will ponder this matter, cutting short their sleep by night and curtailing their leisure by day. Do not spend this life in vain and regret it for ten thousand years to come.

With my deep respect,

The twenty-third day of the eighth month

I have received one string of coins. I hope all those who seek the truth will gather in one place and listen to this letter.

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 5, page 167.

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