||Letter to Tibet and the Dalai Lama
To Sogyal Rinpoche, the Dali Lama, and the holders of the precepts
of Tibetan Buddhism.
I have read, "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" with
great interest. It is a part of my mission to read all Buddhist
and non-Buddhist texts. In the year of nineteen-eighty-six, I attended
my sister 25 years of age, four and a half years my junior, as she
lay dying of Leukemia. I had donated my bone marrow in attempt to
save her life. She was unable to recover and the radiation and chemical
treatments simply destroyed her physical body around her. I watched
as she awoke, choking, and then to spit out a chunk of her own tongue.
As the hospital gave up on their laboratory experiments of torment
on her body, they induced a morphine comma and she lay slowly dying
for several days. Almost a week had past since she had been awake.
She was slowly turning green and her breathing became more and more
shallow. For a rare moment, I was allowed to be alone with her as
she lay, in the morning light, with inhuman skin color, drawn face,
short breaths creating a small condensation of moisture on the inside
of the transparent breathing mask she wore. In the dim light of
morning I felt an overwhelming desire to touch her, gently. I slipped
my right hand beneath her limp hand and raised it ever so slightly
to feel the tips of her fingers touch the inner palm of my hand.
I felt so much love at that moment that I wanted to kiss her, but
could not do so without disturbing all the equipment that surrounded
her. Yet, the welling up inside of me to pronounce something aloud
to somehow contact her in her departing state, to let her know something
important, something she needed to know, but what? And suddenly,
words I had never spoken cam from my lips, "I love you",
as tears formed quickly in my eyes. Before those tears could drop,
a tremendous lump of energy penetrated the palm of my hand. It went
directly to my abdomen and folded me over. I blinked my eyes and
looked at my sister's face, Diane. There was no breathing, no condensate
moving about, no movement of any kind. The enormous sensation in
my gut was not painful but extremely overwhelming. I realized I
was not breathing myself. I took a deep breath as I stumbled back
and laid Diane's hand down on the bed. as I moved toward the door
to get air, a nurse came rushing past me to "clean up"
(a disgusting aspect of the hospital protocol). I leaned on the
wall outside the hospital room trying desperately to gather my "self",
to grasp what had just occurred. In seconds, my mother and father
ran into the room with the urgency of having "missed"
something. Shortly upon entering the room my father began exalting
at the top of his lungs, "She is so beautiful!" and "Look
at her skin, she is beautiful!", and still more, "Look,
she is smiling, her skin is perfect, she is so beautiful!"
What I did not understand then was the possibility of awakening
through the experience of death. What I suspected all my life and
came into direct contact with that day, was the continuum of life.
There is only one true philosophy I have discovered in my forty-nine
years in this life that explains this concept fully and accurately
in my experience. It is the doctrine of ichinen sanzen, revealed
in the Lotus Sutra and elucidated by great scholars and sages, Tian-Tai
or Chih-I of China, Dengyo, Miao-Lo, and Nichiren of Japan. It has
been proven by many great debates and historical accuracy that the
culminating teachings of the Buddha, the Lotus Sutra, are the supreme
teaching. Ichinen Sanzen, as well as the eternal life of the Buddha
both transcends the body/mind duality of the provisional teachings.
Yet, Tibetans hang onto provisional teachings and confuse the initiate
with allegiance to Padmasambhava! This is heinous and contradicts
the teachings of the Buddhas of all ten directions, the mutual possessions
of the ten worlds, and the Great One Vehicle True Dharma.
It seems painfully obvious that the troubles that befall Tibet
are a result of these mistaken beliefs. For clarification, I will
not rely on my humble and emotional interpretation of the sacred
texts. I will instead simply attach here a translation of the Rissho
Ankoku Ron, one of the major writings of Nichiren regarding the
disturbances and invasions befalling Japan in the 13th century.
Tibetans would do well to study this teaching fervently.
Establishment of the Legitimate Teaching for the Protection of
- Rissho Ankoku Ron -
Once there was a traveler who spoke these words in sorrow to his
In 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 grieves.
All the while some put their whole faith in the "sharp sword"
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, 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," 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," conduct ceremonies 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;
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 spirits and
paste them on a thousand gates, others paint pictures of the five
mighty bodhisattvas and hang them over ten thousand thresholds,
and still others pray to the heavenly gods and earthly deities in
ceremonies 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.
If we look about, we find that the sun and moon continue to move
in their accustomed orbits, and the five planets follow the proper
course. The three treasures of Buddhism continue to exist, and the
period of a hundred reigns has not yet expired. 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?
The 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.
When 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.
I have 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.
The 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?
The 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 Buddhists 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 yakshas 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.'"
The 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 desire will become deprived of the seven flavors and
the three kinds of vitality, 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.
"All the four directions will be afflicted by drought, and
evil omens will appear again and again. The ten evil acts 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."
The 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 constellations, the stars, the sun
and the moon appear at irregular times and in irregular positions,
and numerous outlaws rise up."
The 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."
The Yakushi Sutra states: "If disasters and calamities should
befall members of the ruling Kshatriya class and anointed kings,
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 one's 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."
In the Ninno Sutra, [the Buddha addresses King Prasenajit 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 Sumeru 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?
"When 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 time,
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
"When the twenty-eight constellations do not move in their
regular courses, when the Metal Star, 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 second disaster.
"When 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 fire -- when these prodigies appear, this is the third disaster.
"When 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.
"When 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.
"When 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 grain 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.
"When 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 bandits,
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."
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, 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
ruler's 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."
The 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.
The 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 horses. Prince Jogu, 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 Hiei, and of the southern capital at Nara, at the temples
of Onjo-ji and To-ji, throughout the land within the four seas,
in the five provinces of the capital area 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 Peak, while those who adhere to the traditions of Haklenayashas
transmit the teachings of Mount Kukkutapada. How, then, can anyone
say that the teachings of the Buddha's 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 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.
The 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."
The 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."
The Lotus Sutra says:
In 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 powers
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
In 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
. The evil monks of that
muddied age, failing to understand the Buddha's 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 be banished.
The Nirvana Sutra says: "After I have passed away and countless
hundreds of years have gone by, the sages of the four stages 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."
When 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 good?
The 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!
The host said: At the time of the Retired Emperor Gotoba there was
a priest named Honen who wrote a work entitled the Senchaku shu
or The Nembutsu Chosen above All. He contradicted the sacred teachings
of the Buddha's lifetime and brought confusion to people in every
direction. The Senchaku shu states: "Regarding the passage
in which the Meditation Master Tao-ch'o distinguished between the
Sacred Way teachings and the Pure Land teachings 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 Shoron
-- all these eight schools are included in the Sacred Way that is
to be abandoned.
"The Dharma Teacher T'an-luan in his Ojo ron chu states: 'I
note that Bodhisattva Nagarjuna's 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 way."
"The 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."
Honen also says: "Regarding the passage in which Priest Shan-tao
distinguished 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!"
Honen further states: "In the Jogen nyuzo roku or Chen-yuan
Era Catalogue of the Buddhist Canon we find it recorded that, from
the 600 volumes of the Daihannya Sutra to the Hojoju Sutra, 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
unconcentrated meditation. 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 Nembutsu."
Honen also states: "Regarding the passage which says that the
practitioner of the Nembutsu must possess three kinds of mind: It
is found in the Kammuryoju Sutra. In his commentary on that sutra,
[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
Finally, 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 one's entire attention
to the correct practices."
When we examine these passages, we see that Honen quotes the erroneous
explanations of T'an-luan, Tao-ch'o 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 Buddha's 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 countries [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
In doing so, he turns his back on the passage in the three Pure
Land sutras, the sutras of his own sect, which contains Amida's
vow to save the people "excepting only those who commit the
five cardinal sins or who slander the correct teaching." 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 life, 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."
And 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.
Once there were men like Dengyo, Gishin, 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
Yakushi shone side by side, casting their influence upon present
and future ages, while the bodhisattvas Kokuzo and Jizo 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.
But 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. All attention is paid to the three Pure Land
sutras in four volumes, 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 the trouble!
This 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 T'an-luan had originally studied
the four treatises but abandoned them and put all his faith in the
Pure Land teachings. Similarly, the Meditation Master Tao-ch'o ceased
to spread the multifarious doctrines of the Nirvana Sutra 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 Eshin collected essential passages from various sutras
to form his work, 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.
Of 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 literature and had investigated
all the eight sects 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 earlier teachers.
In 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 a dream, and 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.
Since 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 doctrines 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!
The 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 in detail.
Shakyamuni 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 T'an-luan, Tao-ch'o 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 Buddha's life and discarded what was taught later. They were
not the kind of men who delve into the deep places of Buddhist doctrine.
Honen 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.
You became quite horrified when I blamed an earlier period 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
The second volume of the Maka shikan quotes a passage from the Shih
chi 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 Annals as follows: "When King P'ing
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.
[The Maka shikan passage goes on to say:] "Juan Chi 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."
Similarly, 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-ch'ang era (841), Emperor Wu-tsung of
the T'ang 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.
In the second year of the same era, soldiers from the land of the
Uighurs invaded the borders of the T'ang 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 Ch'in 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 Jikaku's original passage.)
In 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 eyes. Thus T'ang 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!
The 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
Your assertion goes too far and your behavior is unreasonable.
The 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 and distress?
Moreover, 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 Buddha's 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."
Although I may not be a "good monk," I certainly do not
want to be accused of "betraying the Buddha's teaching."
Therefore, in order to avoid such charges, I have cited a few general
principles and given a rough explanation of the matter.
Earlier, 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 Honen's 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 Honen's grave.
Then, Honen's disciples Ryukan, Shoko, Jokaku, Sassho and others
were condemned by the imperial court to exile in distant regions,
and were never pardoned.
In view of these facts, how can you say that no one has submitted
a complaint to the authorities concerning these matters?
The 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.
However, 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 it.
The 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 at
In 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'"
"Chunda said, 'What do you mean when you speak of "one
type of person"?'
"The Buddha replied, 'I mean the type described in this sutra
as violators of the precepts.'
"Chunda spoke again, saying, 'I am afraid I still do not understand.
May I ask you to explain further?'
"The 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.'
"Chunda spoke once more, asking, 'What is the meaning of the
"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.'
"Again there may be those who commit the four grave offenses
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.' "
Elsewhere 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 Sen'yo, 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."
In 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."
Again 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.
"Killing any person from an ordinary mortal to an anagamin
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."
In 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
The 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."
It also states: "The Buddha replied, '[Bodhisattva] Kashyapa,
it is because I was a defender of the correct teaching that I have
been able to attain this diamond-like body.... Good man, defenders
of the correct teaching need not observe the five precepts or practice
the rules of proper behavior. Rather they should carry knives and
swords, bows and arrows, prongs and lances'."
Again 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 the precepts."
The 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.
"At 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.
"At 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 unharmed.
"At 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!'
"At 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
Buddha's voice-hearer disciples. Thus, if the correct teaching is
about to come to an end, this is the way one ought to support and
"Kashyapa, the king who lived at that time was I myself, and
the monk who preached was the Buddha Kasho. 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 the Law that can never be destroyed."
Then 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.
"Good 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."
The 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."
The 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.
The 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
Honen's Senchaku shu and grow blinder than ever in their stupidity.
Thus 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 seas, carrying 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.
As 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 lectures
on the doctrines of the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai 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!
Alas, 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!
The 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 we not?
In 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
If 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 Hell. 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 Buddha's prohibitions. I can hardly believe that such a course
would be right. How can you justify that?
The 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?
With 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.
Nevertheless, 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
Now, 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.
There 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" 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 Nung, and the nation
may flourish as it did under the sage rulers Yao and Shun. 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.
The host exclaimed with delight: The dove has changed into a hawk,
the sparrow into a clam! 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 person's 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.
Why 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 one's 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.
The 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
Moreover, 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."
Now 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?
Emperors 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 people's 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?
It 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.
Thus 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 ruler's
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."
The 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."
The 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."
In 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 breadth."
When 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 miasma's, and sink down amid the raging flames of hell. How
could we not grieve? How could we not suffer?
Therefore 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 harm?
If 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!
The 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 past. And
the same is true of all the other persons in the ten directions.
But 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.