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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"SGI is not Buddhism any more, if it ever was"

"I'm sure you'll get good answers here, but as the sister of someone who has been a member since her suicide attempt in 1967 (SGI is opportunistic and pursues anyone going through a vulnerable period, as you indicated you were), I suggest you get out while the getting is good. SGI is not Buddhism any more, if it ever was: It's a cult. My sister is a shell of a person with no interests, hobbies, or activities outside chanting and meetings. She never married, though I realize some members do, and is looking at a boring old age, esp. once she can no longer drive to meetings, meetings, meetings.

You are wise to look before you leap." -- Person on Reddit

RESPONSE TO THE ILLNESS WITHIN NICHIREN BUDDHISM by Hamilton Graham Lamont

THE SO-CALLED ‘SHOJU’ INITIATIVE AND ITS SPONSORS

By Hamilton Graham Lamont

We in the Kempon Hokke, the spiritual descendants of old Jumonryu, have received a recent initiative by certain people who, on the pretext that there is an “illness” in Nichiren Buddhism, have called for an end to the method of propagation called shakubuku (lit., “Break and Subdue”) and the adoption of the method of shoju (lit., Subsuming and Acceptance”); the claim is made that the violent language used among various “Nichiren” groups especially on the Internet is ruining the reputation of Nichiren Buddhism and keeping them from making converts. They say that if they adopt an attitude of complete tolerance and the use of other types of teaching that they will be able to get more converts. They then cite a number of passages from some translation or other of Nichiren Shonin’s works trying to prove that Nichiren Shonin would have approved their abolition of his methods.

First, we should ask: is there, indeed, an illness in “Nichiren Buddhism” especially on the internet? Yes, there is and it is mainly the very work of the people who now desire to abandon Nichiren Shonin’s fundamental standpoint: many of these same people have participated in some of the most vicious, dishonest exchanges and smear campaigns ever seen on the internet; armed with misinformation, disinformation, half-truths, faulty translations, and erroneous, preconceived notions and personal obsessions, they have reacted to any factual refutations of their fantasy Buddhism with violent hostility masquerading as kind of religious version of “political correctness”; their leaders are allowed to “refute” any contrary opinion by cutting off debate on their own server or by launching ad hominem counterattacks against any one who differs from their arbitrary pronouncements on doctrine and practice.

They have confused (and I think it is safe to say, deliberately) the rudeness of their own internecine warfare on the Internet with the true meaning of shakubuku and in order to silence all opposition they have issued what is in effect a peremptory order, disguised as a ‘shoju’ pledge, cutting off all debate and leaving their position as the only acceptable one: to all intents and purposes whatever ideas and practices are currently favored by the leadership of this movement are to be accepted: they sound almost like the old Roman pontiffs: “we have spoken, the case is finished.”

The real reason behind this is that many of these people do not really believe in the fundamental conceptions of Nichiren Shonin’s religion, with which they are extremely uncomfortable. The origin of this situation lies in the fact that all of these people were trained by the Soka Gakkai to follow a version of “shakubuku” which consisted largely of intimidation, smear tactics and the standpoint of “win at any cost”. About ninety-five percent of those who come out of this milieu do one of two things: they either become more extreme than the Soka Gakkai in its worst phases or else they abandon the exclusive practice and genuine shakubuku of Nichiren Shonin (the fundamental nature of which they have never really comprehended in any case). But even when they take the latter course in formal terms they simply cannot avoid going back to their old tactics.

THE KEMPON HOKKE POSITION

The Kempon Hokke in America itself fell victim to this kind of situation when for four long years it was run by people of the former type, given to extreme language and unethical tactics (even by the standards of the Soka Gakkai). But, fortunately, those people no longer have anything to do with us and their approach was never the real position of the Kempon Hokke.

As long ago as October 25, 1995, in defending the orthodox position on the mandala I stated: “I am not really interested in personal remarks; I am interested in truth and salvation.”

Moreover, our genuine viewpoint can be seen in the “Fundamental Principles” which includes the following unambiguous passage:

Second, the rule of conversion and instruction (the method for spreading the true teaching to others) is “breaking and subduing” (shakubuku) which corresponds to this terrible Age of the Latter Dharma when the other teachings of Buddhism outside the Hokekyo have hidden and sunk and lost their effectiveness. In other words, we fervently disprove the teachings and practices at variance with the true teaching (smashing the wrong) and fully assert the right doctrine (revealing orthodoxy). It is said, “Assert aloud, ‘The various sutras have no attainment and are the source of falling to hell; the Hokekyo alone is the Dharma for Attaining Buddhahood and try to break and subdue the people and dharmas of the various sects.” (“On Practice According to the Preaching”) The True Teacher Nichiju also holds that, “The monks and laity who are disciples should reverence and make offering to the person who has firmly declared, ‘The various sects are the source of falling to hell; the Hokke sect alone will attain Buddhahood.’” (“The Testament of One Meaning in Three Copies”)

(N.B. In the above statements and in Buddhist works “hell” is really a type of purgatory; there is no “eternal damnation” in Buddhism.)

Moreover, lest there be any misunderstanding concerning the practical interpretation of ‘shakubuku’ in light of its literal meaning, “break and subdue”, there is in the same place the following clear statement:

“Fourth, when we spread the teaching by means of “breaking and subduing” we confront believers in wrong doctrines and have discussions from a rational standpoint based on the above-mentioned Three Proofs (Textual Proof, Reasonable principles, and Actual Proof). Taking the previous teachers of our sect as exemplars we will not use vulgar methods and words.”

What could be clearer than these statements? The Kempon Hokke Sect practices shakubuku through the rational method of argument employing the Three Proofs, Textual, Rational and Actual.

(Lest Kempon Hokke believers be misled, the whole of these “Principles” in Japanese were submitted twice to Rev Kubota who published the English translation in his “Hotoke no hikari” in August, 1996 (No. 395) with a letter which stated: “I read the Japanese version, I was very pleased to know that he understood and described the principle (doctrine) of Buddhism very well.” (op. cit. p. 10) Unfortunately, though known in the U.S., they were not followed in practice by the American group under its Soka Gakkai-oriented leaders.)

It is obvious then that we, as we are now constituted, have nothing to do with the “illness” which it is claimed is engulfing Nichiren Buddhism. We also state that we are not responsible for the actions or words of the former “leaders” of the Kempon Hokke, who emerged from the Soka Gakkai. Thus we can hardly be included in the present blanket accusation.

A SMOKESCREEN FOR IGNORANCE AND LACK OF FAITH

What has happened here is that the ‘shoju’ supporters have confused rudeness, smear tactics, unsupported assertions and personal insults (which they have long used) with the genuine, Sutra-based shakubuku that we espouse.

This initiative is, I believe, largely a smoke-screen put forward by people who have long since abandoned the fundamental ideas of Nichiren Shonin (if, indeed, they ever held them in the first place). There are two aspects of Buddhist practice: one’s own practice (jigyo) and converting others (keta); it is obvious that the proposed change is not merely a shift in “converting others” but rather the ratification of their own beliefs and practices which seem in many cases to be merely a form of syncretism to which various bits and pieces of Nichiren Shonin’s religion have been added. In other words, many of these people do not really uphold Nichiren Shonin’s “exclusive practice of the Hokke” (senji Hokke) as their own ideal and, indeed, some have even said in the past that there is “not one bit of evidence” to show that Nichiren Shonin believed in “exclusive practice” (an assertion that would surprise Japanese Buddhist historians.).

The problem then is that these people neither believe in Nichiren Shonin’s historic doctrines nor do they understand the fundamental doctrinal background of his words; as a result they simply substitute what all of them learned in the Soka Gakkai, personal abuse, for Sutra-based and rational argument. Even now as they put on the mask of reason and learned debate, we can see their thorough-going confusion in their seeming apologetic for Nichiren Shonin’s methods and their simultaneous call for abandoning his methods because, they claim, we live in a different era. Their nominal goal of getting rid of the abusive language and hatred might be laudable, if that were, in fact, what they were aiming for, but that is not their real goal.

MAPPO, THE AGE IN WHICH WE LIVE

First of all, they do seem to concede that Nichiren Shonin taught according to the time (ji) and the capacities (ki) but they deny the clear teaching that we as well as Nichiren Shonin live in the same age of the Latter Dharma which is to last ten thousand years; the Kyo gyo sho gosho, which they cite as proof for some of their assertions, specifically condemns the idea that the Latter Dharma is limited to the five-hundred-year period which constitutes its beginning. (STN, v. 2, 1481) (If they should then argue that they do not accept Nichiren Shonin’s argument on this and wish to go back to the Tendai Sect---and not a few of them really wish to do so--, they should know that the argument broached there is based on the interpretation of the Tendai Patriarch Myoraku Daishi (Hokke mongu ki 1B T.34.157b)) 

Moreover, elsewhere Nichiren Shonin asserts that the degenerate age of the Latter Dharma last for ten thousand years:

“After the Counterfeit Dharma the Latter Dharma is ten thousand years” (STN, v. 1 322)

“Furthermore, it is not that one should personally speak differing principles (doctrines). The Tathagata reflected on the future and [said ‘I] separate and assign the people who would spread My Doctrine as well as the various sutras each and every one during the one thousand years of the True Dharma, the one thousand years of the Counterfeit Dharma, and the ten thousand years of the Latter Dharma after My Extinction. However, when people who turn against this appear in the world, even though they be wise ones or worthy kings, one should not employ them.’” (STN, v. 2, 1316)

and of his own mission he says:

“If Nichiren’s compassion is broad and great, “Namu Myoho renge kyo” will flow on to the future, beyond ten thousand years.” (STN, v. 2, 1248)

And in a surviving fragment (STN, v. 3, 2477 frag. 1) Nichiren Shonin specifically says the teaching of widely spreading and diffusing in the fifth five hundred years will not be cut off into the entire future until Lord Ajita (Maitreya, the next Buddha) comes forth in the world.

Nowhere does the Sutra or Nichiren Shonin predict or state that there will be a change after so many years and the world shall revert to the better times of the Lord Buddha in ancient India when “Subsuming and Accepting” (shoju), i.e, a gradual preparation of capacities (ki) by means of provisional and expedient teachings. is to be put to the fore. 

Our times may seem more “advanced” to these people but, from the point of view of the Buddha, where is the change? It is all mappo, the degenerate age of the Latter Dharma, predicted by the Buddha; speaking of a prophecy of the Great Nirvana Sutra Nichiren Shonin says:

“In this sutra text the World-honored One prophesied the future. Now Lord Shakya is for us, on top of being a Worthy Father, an Enlightened Teacher, a Sagely Lord. In the prophetic text wherein He reflects on and prophesies the future evil age by means of the Buddha Eye of the Buddha Who in one body is endowed with the Three Virtues He says, ‘After My Nirvana in immeasurable hundreds of years’: it appears to be after the two thousand years after the Extinction of the Buddha.” (STN, v,. 2, 1319)

Why did not the Buddha, endowed with omniscient Buddha Eye, predict a return to the age of gradual teaching and shoju after just the first five hundred years of mappo? And if the Buddha’s “Golden Words” are wrong, then why did Nichiren Shonin believe in them implicitly? And if he was wrong why do these ‘shoju’ people claim him as their master?

Nichiren Shonin advises: “In sum, when one would practice the Buddha Dharma, one may not use the words of humans. One should just respectfully guard the Golden Words of the Buddha.” (STN, v. 1, 734 ll. 2-3) And Nichiren Shonin warns against this very kind of twisting of his words which are themselves merely “respectfully guarding the Golden Words of the Buddha” when he said

“However, when people who turn against this appear in the world, even though they be wise ones or worthy kings, one should not employ them.” (STN, v. 2, 1319, cited above)

Is he not warning against the very kind of argument being put forth by these ‘shoju’ people: in effect, they are saying that our time is not the mappo predicted by the Buddha and recognized by Nichiren Shonin as the time of shakubuku.

If we look at our time, how can we deny that it is the time of mappo? Look at the type of Buddhism or what frequently passes for Buddhism is propagated? Japanese Buddhism has largely ossified into sects that simply repeat the rituals of the past without any understanding. In the U.S. people flock to Tibetan Buddhism, even though it is clear most of them have no idea what they are embracing; Hollywood stars give money to Tibetan religious groups who “recognize” them as tulkus or reincarnated lamas. Lamas of the Vinaya-observing Gelugpa Order attend cocktail parties where they are hugged and kissed by scantily clad starlets under the gaze of the Dalai Lama himself. (Such touching is strictly forbidden according the Vinaya.)

Tibetan Buddhism itself, a form of Esoteric Buddhism appropriate, at best, only to an earlier age, clearly led to the downfall of Tibet as a political entity at the hands of China (cf. The Mongol invasions in Nichiren Shonin’s writings); Tibetan Buddhism proper is only a shadow of what it used to be within living memory. (For those who still uphold an idealistic view of Tibetan Buddhism, I suggest you read Orville Schell’s Virtual Tibet, Donald S. Lopez’ Jr.’s Prisoners of Shangri-La, and Peter Bishop’s Dreams of Power and The Myth of Shangri-La.

Moreover, just recently were not the Taliban Muslims firing explosives at ancient statues of the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni in Bamiyan Province in Afghanistan?Consider that in the True and Counterfeit Dharma eras that same land was a flourishing center of Buddhism; now it is a land of non-Buddhists, who are so fanatically anti-Buddhist that cannot even abide the sight of the image of the Lord Buddha. How can the ‘shoju’ partisans say that it is a not the terrible age of Mappo!?

We need not even review what passes for Zen in the West but we must ask: has Zen itself suddenly become something good in light of Nichiren Shonin denounced to the Ikegami brothers:

“the evil [spiritual] friends that persuaded them to the Zen Sect: Dharma (Datsuma: Bodhidharma), Hui-k’o are these.”(STN, v. 1, 923 l. 2)

“These {Zen and other ‘evil friends’] are [instances of] the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven entering into the persons (or bodies) of Wise Ones and deluding good people. When in the fifth fascicle of the Hokekyo it is preached, ‘great evil demons have entered their bodies’ [T.9.36c] refers to this.” (STN, v. 1, 923ll. 3-4)

Has this moral and spiritual situation suddenly changed now? Do Zen and pseudo-Zen now do no spiritual evil? 

What of the spiritual evil which comes from those “Nichiren Buddhists” who deny the clear teaching of the Sutra and of the Patriarch? In order to avoid the teaching of the Hokekyo, one group has declared it to be a “modern teaching” not by the Buddha and even say that Nichiren Shonin recognized this fact and did not rely on the Sutra. On the other hand, there are others who say the Hokekyo is not the absolutely Supreme Sutra but much like the other Mahayana Sutras. Still others have attacked the Master of Teachings Lord Shakya and deny the Eternal Buddha on the excuse “too much like Krishna” or “like Santa Claus”.

Moreover, is our age, for all its marvels, even an era of even material perfection: is there not the ever increasing threat of global warming and the persistent destruction of species after species and the very basis of life in this world? Is our food supply safe from the pollution of terrible diseases? Read the news: I do not think I need say more on this aspect.

Let us return to what is ultimately important: the state of the Buddha Dharma. How can one say that this is not still the period of which Nichiren Shonin states: “This time is fixed as the time when ‘they are firm in struggle and the Pure Dharma is hidden and sinks’, an occasion of the mixing and confusion of the Provisional with the Real.” (STN, v. 1, 735, citing the Daijikkyo 55 (“Embudai hon”) (T.13.363)) Is there not strife among Buddhists? Has strife ceased in the world? Are not weapons more terrible than ever? And is not the most terrible aspect of all this the falsification of the Dharma?

SHAKUBUKU AND SHOJU

Let us now turn to the ‘shoju’ partisans argument from the Kaimoku sho that in mappo there is both shoju and shakubuku. Nichiren Shonin always recognized that there are these two methods but the real question is which is the one to use now; which one to put to the fore. By “now”, of course, is meant the era in which we live: mappo; once again we note that neither the Lord Buddha nor His Messenger Nichiren Shonin limited this to his lifetime in medieval Japan.

Nichiren Shonin, analyzing of our age of mappo, writes:

“In the Latter Dharma the Greater and the Lesser, the Provisional and the Real, the Exoteric and the Esoteric [Teachings] are all only Teachings and have no Attainment. The whole of Jambudvipa has all become blasphemous against the Dharma. For the sake of the rebellious condition it is limited to just the Five Characters 'Myoho renge kyo' (Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Sublime Dharma) only. For example, it is like the ‘Chapter of Fukyo’. My disciples are the obedient condition (jun en); the country of Japan is the rebellious condition (gyaku en). (STN, v. 1, 816)
And he states

“....because this era is ‘firm in struggle and the Pure Dharma is hidden and sinks’ [Daijikkyo 55 (“Embudai hon”) (T.13.363)], and, on top of this, there are only evil countries, evil kings, evil ministers, evil commoners and they turn against the True Dharma and revere perverted dharmas and perverted teachers, so evil demons enter into the land and the Three Calamities and the Seven Disasters have arisen in abundance.” (STN, v. 1, 735)


As we can see from these passages Nichiren Shonin regarded his age and the whole of the human world (Jambudvipa), not merely Japan, as blasphemous and evil in terms of their disbelief in the Hokekyo, the True Dharma, and their support for wrong teachings. Such beings, their countries and so on are the proper objects of shakubuku, rightly understood.

Nichiren Shonin explains the important difference between the method of conversion used by the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni in His historical Manifestation and that used by the Bodhisattva entrusted with the teaching for this evil age.



“In the ‘Chapter of Expedience’ and so on it appears one is to preach this Sutra in light of the capacities [of the audience]; in the ‘Chapter of Fukyo’ it appears that, even though they blaspheme, one should just forcibly preach it. The former and latter [parts] of the one Sutra are like water and fire. However, Tendai Daishi reconciles them, saying, ‘As to those who already originally had good [karmic roots], Shakya guards them with the Lesser [Vehicle]; as to those who originally never yet had good [karmic roots], Fukyo forcibly poisons them with the Great [Vehicle].’ [Hokke mongu 10B (T.34.141a27-b1)] The heart (meaning) of the text is: For those who originally had good [karmic] roots and who should obtain understanding within the present lifetime one should directly preach the Hokekyo. However, if among them there are still capacities who hear yet are likely to blaspheme, one should temporarily prepare them with the Provisional Sutras and afterwards preach the Hokekyo. Those who originally have not had the good [karmic] roots of the Great [Vehicle], even now they are not going to believe theHokekyo and for whatever reason are going to fall to the Evil Ways [of Rebirth] so just forcibly preach the Hokekyo and cause them to blaspheme and also make them form a rebellious condition. According to this commentary, in the Latter Age those without good [karmic roots] are many; those having good [karmic roots] are few. Therefore there is no doubt they will fall to the Evil Ways [of Rebirth]. We should all the same forcibly preach and cause them to hear theHokekyo and they should form the condition of the poison drum, should they not? So there are none who contest that this is the season for preaching the Hokekyothat they may form the condition of blasphemy, are there?” (STN, v. 1, 204-205)

Comment: clearly Nichiren Shonin is basing himself on the Tendai interpretation of the Sutra and he notes that the people of this era in general are without the good seeds planted by the Buddha; they are people without good karmic roots; so even if one concedes that there might be people who have such good karmic roots, who formed a connecting condition (kechien) during the Lord Buddha Shakya’s earthly lifetime, now they are few and far between; thus the overwhelmingly predominant method of propagation in this age of the Latter Dharma is shakubuku: the unalloyed assertion of the Unique Vehicle of the Hokekyo.

This passage explains the difference between the age of the Manifest Buddha Shakyamuni (i.e., the historical Buddha, not be confused with the Eternal Shakyamuni of the sixteenth chapter) and the age of the Messenger of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva, who propagates the Dharma in the age long after the Extinction. The ages, the people (capacities) of those ages, and the means of propagating the orthodox Dharma to those respective people are as different as can be.

These two ages, types of people, and methods are clearly distinguished by the treatment of recalcitrant audiences by the manifest (historical) Buddha in the first instance and by the Bodhisattva Jofukyo in an age after the Extinction of a former manifest Buddha in the second. The Buddha treats his audiences with great care and preparation as may be seen in the Five Periods of the Buddha’s teaching career worked out by Tendai and restated by Nichiren Shonin (ichidai goji): after His Enlightenment the Buddha immediately tested those who might listen with the Sudden Teaching of the Kegongyo but, finding that a large part of the audience remained deaf and dumb before its message He began to prepare the capacities of his hearers with progressively more difficult teachings until they are ready to hear His declaration just before He preaches the Hokekyo proper that all of the previous teachings are not yet the real Truth. Yet even when he begins to abandon Expedience and preach the Truth of the Hokekyo there are some who are not ready; five thousand “surpassingly arrogant” listeners, thinking they have realized the Truth already, when in fact they have not, rise and depart from the assembly and the Buddha is silent and does not hinder them; He then declares the branches and leaves are no longer present but only the true core, the true, sincere ones. We see that the Buddha does NOT pursue them for they are of a capacity (ki) that would not believe and only blaspheme; to save them from a terrible karmic fate He lets them depart and says it is a good thing. (Hobenbon 2 (T.9.7a5-13) This method is based on their having already planted some good karmic roots: after suitable maturation (juku) he saves them later in the Great Parinirvana Sutra (Daihatsunehangyo) and is able to do so because he allowed them not to blaspheme the Supreme Truth. (STN, v. 1, 944-945) Even later in the Sutra when He prepares to reveal the Hommon, he removes gods and humans to other lands (T.9.33a13-14,23-24,b4-5). Even in the Buddha’s Lifetime (zaise) with a predominance of good karmic influences in the principal capacities there are those with some good but without faith in the Ultimate Truth: the Buddha either allows the Five Thousand to depart or even deliberately removes the gods and humans (STN, v. 1, 705).

Nichiren Shonin concludes very clearly that in general “in the Latter Age those without good [karmic roots] are many; those having good [karmic roots] are few.” This is a general characteristic of the Latter Age (matsudai), meaning the Latter Dharma (mappo). People of our age are blasphemers but there were almost none in the time of the Buddha and so for this age the method must be different: “The Buddha did not cure any blasphemers against the Dharma, because there were none when the Buddha was in the world. In the Latter Dharma (mappo) it is full of the Strong Enemies of the One Vehicle. The benefit of the Bodhisattva Fukyo refers to this.” (STN, v. 2, 1850) In this our age of the Latter Dharma the vast majority of people are blasphemers (unbelievers opposed to the truth) and must receive the seed of the good, the seed of Buddhahood and form ‘the rebellious condition (or, connection, gyakuen) by which they eventually attain Buddhahood much later.

The Buddha Shakyamuni was able to present a full panoply of teachings, both Real (jitsu) and Provisional (gon) or Expedient (hoben), to audiences that were superior in terms of their karmic background; able with His Buddha-Eye (butsugen) to read the inner capacities and faculties (kikon) of all beings and endowed with Divine Pervasive Powers (jinzuriki) to cause beings to behave and move in ways conducive to their own salvation, the Buddha was in an incomparably superior position and thus could use the accommodating method of shoju. The Buddha (as He manifested Himself in ancient India) was an omniscient, superior being, a wise one who was able to teach in a more gradual and diverse way; moreover, it should be noted that even in the Buddha’s time, the wisest of his disciples miscalculated the capacities of his students and led them astray. Thus the Great Parinirvana Sutra 26 (T.12.519c-520a) tells how Shariputra misled a blacksmith (konshi or “metal master”) with an inappropriate teaching and states, “Even though it is Shariputra, Maudgalyayana and so on, one does not name them the true good spiritual friends (zenchishiki) of beings. What is the reason? Because of their cause and conditions that gave rise the icchantika mind.” Even with the best of intentions, the Buddha’s own wisest disciples can still cause spiritual disaster. On this Nichiren Shonin writes:

“The person who spreads the Buddhist Teachings of necessity should know the capacities and faculties. The Venerable Shariputra taught a blacksmith the Contemplation of Impurity and taught a laundryman the Contemplation of Counting Breaths: when ninety-days had passed the disciples he was converting had not realized one bit of the Buddha Dharma but on the contrary had given rise to perverted views and become icchantikas. The Buddha taught the blacksmith the Contemplation of Counting Breaths) and taught the laundryman the Contemplation of Impurity and so in the pace of a moment they obtained Enlightenment. Even Shariputra, who was foremost in Wisdom, still could not understand the capacities. How much more difficult is it for the worldling teacher (bonshi) of the Latter Age to understand the capacities. But the worldling teacher who does not understand the capacities should wholly teach the Hokekyo to the disciples whom he converts.” (STN, v. 1, 242)

Now in light of these words we ask: are those who so easily propose the abolition of the teaching methods of Nichiren Shonin, claiming to be as wise as Shariputra? Or perhaps they are claiming to be as wise as the Buddha Shakyamuni Himself? If Nichiren Shonin felt compelled to use the methods of the worldling (unenlightened) teacher, how is it these people (who cannot even completely agree on a consistent doctrine) claim that they are wiser and can use the methods suited to the Buddha’s Lifetime?

Incidentally the terms, ‘forcibly preach’ or ‘forcibly poison’ in the above passages should not be confused with ‘forced conversions’ in the conventional sense of the expression. Here It means simply to preach the Supreme Truth of the Hokekyo whether the hearers desire and are ready for it or not. It is a public proclamation of the Hokekyo as the only way to Buddhahood but it does necessarily mean violence or compulsion to ensure conversions. The benefit of the ‘poisoned drum’ is from the Great Nirvana Sutra (fasc. 9 ‘Chapter of the Tathagata Nature’ (T.12.420a) and is also mentioned by Myoraku Daishi (Hokke mongu ki 10chu (T .34.349a) “...the surpassingly arrogant still form the distant cause [of Buddhahood]; how should hearing and believing be without manifest benefit?: Therefore, those who disparage and blaspheme form the cause of the poison drum.”

Before we continue let us add one more note here: in commenting on a sentence from the “Chapter of the Bodhisattva Jofukyo” 20 Tendai Daishi, just before he gives the explanation quoted by Nichiren Shonin above, says;

“‘[Jofukyo] would run away and abide at a distance yet would still in a loud voice chant’(T.9.50c29): 

and also they not accept the Four Unities of the Original State Which Opens the Recent and Reveals the Original.” (Hokke mongu 10B (T.34.141a24-25) This Original state (honji) is the Eternal Buddha, the being Whose existence is denigrated by the Fuji-ha and likened to “Santa Claus” etc. by certain caucasian representatives of other sects. It is worth noting then that, judging by the Tendai Daishi’s commentary employed by Nichiren Shonin, the people who are proposing the abolition of shakubuku are (in many instances, at least) more like the unbelieving opponents of Jofukyo than Jofukyo himself. Perhaps then little wonder that they effectively wish to destroy his type of teaching.

Nichiren Shonin further explains the difference between and the preconditions for the two methods of propagation:



“Question: If, because the masses of beings would blaspheme, the Buddha at the very first did not preach the Hokekyo but after more than forty years preached theHokekyo, why do you in the present era not preach the Provisional Sutras but without further ado preach the Hokekyo, cause people to blaspheme and fall to the Evil Ways of Rebirth?
“Answer: When the Buddha was in the world the Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree and reflected on the capacities and He knew and perceived, ‘If at the present time I preach the Hokekyo, the masses of beings would blaspheme and would fall to the Evil Ways of Rebirth; if I preach after more than forty years have passed, they should rise to the Non-backsliding of the First Abode and so on to Sublime Enlightenment.’

“In the polluted era of the Latter Age it is would be difficult for there to be even one person in ten thousand to be of the matched capacity (to ki) and be likely to enter the First Abode. Furthermore, because the person who converts is not the Buddha, it would be a difficult thing for him to reflect on the capacities. Therefore the Buddha has left it that for the sake of rebellious conditions and obedient conditions (gyaku en jun en) one should first preach the Hokekyo. But there would also be cases even after the Extinction [of the Buddha] when to those who would likely become the congregation of the matched (to ki shu) capacities one would first preach the Provisional Sutras. Furthermore the person who puts pity (hi) first preach the Provisional Sutras first, like the Buddha Shakya. Those who put sympathy (ji) first should preach the Real Sutra first, like the Bodhisattva Fukyo.

“Furthermore, it would be difficult for the worldlings of the Latter Age to avoid the Evil Ways of Rebirth anyhow; if just the same they fall to the Evil Ways of Rebirth, if one causes them to blaspheme the Hokekyo and fall, it would not resemble falling by worldly sin (seken no tsumi). As in the text, ‘Hearing the Dharma, giving rise to blasphemy, and falling to hell is superior to making offering to Ganges’ sands of Buddhas.’ and so on. [Maha shikan bugyoden guketsu 1-5 (T.46.174c)] The heart (meaning) of this text preaches that to blaspheme the Hokekyo and fall to hell is hundreds and thousands and myriad times superior to the merit of offering to, adhering to, and adoring Ganges’ sands of Buddhas, the Buddha Shakya, the Buddha Amida and so on.” (STN, v. 1, 260-261)

Here again Nichiren Shonin explains that there are few people with karmic roots with regard to the Buddha Vehicle (not one in ten thousand) and people in this age are overwhelmingly likely to fall to the Evil Ways of Rebirth (beasts, hungry ghosts, hells), based on their past karma, so if they are going to tend that way in any case, why not have them fall and at the same time plant the seeds of future Buddhahood? Nichiren Shonin distinguishes between the punishment of “worldly sin” (seken no tsumi), the conventional sins of lying, stealing, murder and so on with regard to ordinary circumstances, sins which are punished in due course by the law of karma but which do not in and of themselves lead to anything greater and the transworldly sin (shusseken) of blasphemy against the Dharma (hobo). which is far more serious in its nature and consequences but at the same time contains the seed of future Buddhahood. Those who refuse to do shakubuku, that is “conversion by the rebellious (or opposition)” (gyaku ke) or “forced poisoning” (godoku), in this age of mappo with its preponderance of inferior capacities are actually not showing compassion but abandoning those who would receive the seed of Buddhahood (busshu) no other way. Even if there are a few people who will benefit from shoju, to adopt this as the general policy is to ignore the needs of many for the sake of one or two. Those who propose a complete reversion to shoju are wrongly assuming that those ready for the Hokekyo, with good karmic seeds ready to mature, are predominant.

Later Nichiren Shonin explains his position again in terms of history (which, as most scholars have acknowledged, was extremely important to Nichiren Shonin):

“Now at the beginning of the Latter Dharma, by the Lesser they strike the Great and by the Provisional they smash the Real [Great Vehicle]. East and West together are lost, Heaven and Earth are overturned. The Four Reliances of the [Bodhisattvas] Converted by the Manifestation [Buddha] are hidden and do not manifest themselves before [the world]. The devas (gods) abandon this country and do not guard it. At this time the Bodhisattvas Who Sprang from the Earth for the first time come forth and manifest themselves and take only the Five Characters ‘Myoho renge kyo’ and have the young children swallow them. [When Myoraku’s Hokke mongu ki 10chu (T.34.349b)commenting on the ‘Chapter of Jofukyo’ says,] ‘If, caused by blasphemy, they fall to the Evil [Ways of Rebirth], of necessity, caused by it, they shall obtain benefit,’ it refers to this. Let my disciples ponder this. The Thousand Realms [of the Bodhisattvas] Who Sprang from the Earth are the Master of Teachings Lord Shakya’s disciples who first gave rise to the Mind [of Enlightenment. They came not to the Place of Enlightenment Where He Attained Nirvana [Realization] nor did they visit His Final {Parinirvana] at the Pair of Sal Trees and had the fault of unfiliality. Nor did they come to the Fourteen [Chapters] of the Doctrine of the Manifestation (Shakumon) and at the Six Chapter of the Doctrine of the Original [from the Chapter of Yakuo 23 on] they rose from their seats and only during the Eight Chapters did they come back. Such high exalted Bodhisattvas promised to the Three Buddhas [Shakyamuni, Taho and the Buddhas of the Ten Directions] promised to receive and keep this [‘Myoho renge kyo’]. Shall they come forth at the beginning of the Latter Dharma?” (STN, v. 1, 719)

Comment: In this passage likewise we see that Nichiren Shonin notes the utterly confused and hopeless state of the present age; moreover, when he explains the appearance of the Great Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas who are to bestow the Daimoku only on the young children he links this propagation of the Daimoku to Myoraku’s exposition of the ‘Chapter of Jofukyo’ 20 in the Hokekyo which speaks of converting by causing blasphemy; the full text says:

“Question: If by cause of blasphemy they fall to suffering, for what reason does the bodhisattva create the cause of suffering?
“Answer: They have no good cause and, not blaspheming, they will likewise fall. If, caused by blasphemy, they fall to the Evil [Ways of Rebirth], of necessity, caused by it, they shall obtain benefit. It is as when a person falls over on the earth, but on the contrary rises from the earth. Therefore by blasphemy of the True he takes them to the fall of the Perverted.”

According to the collection of Nichiren Shonin’s works in the Iwanani shoten Nihon shiso taijei (v. 14), p. 156, this passage of forming a connection to the True Dharma by blaspheming it, being punished, and then attaining Buddhahood in the future, is “forming the condition of the poison drum” (dokku kechien) and is the basis of Nichiren Shonin’s “shakubuku”.

The theory of letting people blaspheme, fall and obtain the benefit of future Buddhahood (forced poisoning, the condition of the poison drum) is in the Tendai commentary itself and Nichiren Shonin connects it closely with the spread of the Daimoku by the Bodhisattvas Who Sprang from the Earth. And their appearance with this type of propagation is a necessity connected with the veracity of the Buddhas themselves:

“These Bodhisattvas having received the Buddha’s Edict, have been under the Great Earth. They have not come forth and appeared in the True or Counterfeit [Dharma eras], If they do not come forth in the Latter Dharma [era], they will be Great Beings {Mahasattvas) of great lies. The prophetic texts of the Three Buddhas also would be the same as foam bubbles.” (STN, v. 1, 719)

This propagation is for the era of the Latter Dharma (mappo) or Latter Age (matsudai) which is not limited to Nichiren Shonin’s time as we demonstrated above.

We should add perhaps one more note here on an immediately subsequent passage (STN, v. 1, 719): “When these Four Bodhisattvas manifest Breaking and Subduing (shakubuku), they become worthy kings and rebuke and attack (kaishaku) foolish kings; when they practice Subsuming and Accepting (shoju) they become monks and spread and keep the True Dharma.”

Doubtless people who think they are clever will say that this proves Nichiren Shonin really meant to practice shoju. But clearly he is here using the shakubuku-shoju dichotomy in a different way: namely, the use of force in spreading the Dharma, not the fundamental technique. Obviously the shakubuku here refers to the Mongol king’s chastising of the ruler of Japan. As we shall see in his more or less definitive work on the subject Nichiren Shonin’s use of shakubuku clearly applied to his own propagation and his harsh but entirely logical criticism of other sects. It was closely intertwined with his view of the Hokekyo, its position in the Buddha’s preaching and exclusive practice.

THE NYOSETSU SHUGYO SHO

The treatise which most fully brings out Nichiren Shonin’s insistence on the doctrine of “Breaking and Subduing” (shakubuku() not merely in a temporal sense but as fundamental to the nature of the Hokekyo itself. This work, which was composed in the tenth year of Bun’ei (1273) survives in a copy by Nichizon (1265-1345) from the year 1297 (Einin 5), was so important that he instructed his disciples:

“To all of you: You should not let this letter leave your persons and you should read it constantly.” (STN, v. 1, 735 l. 6)

In this Nyosetsu shugyo sho Nichiren Shonin teaches:

“At the present time, it is the Provisional Teachings which have become the enemy of the Real Teaching. If at the time of the age of diffusion of the One Vehicle, there is a Provisional Teaching that becomes an enemy, one may attack it from the Real Teaching. Within the practices of Subsuming and Breaking one calls this the Breaking and Subduing for the Hokke. Tendai says, ‘The Breaking and Subduing of the Hokke smashes the ideal truths of the Provisional Doctrines.’ Truly this has a reason!” (STN, v. 1, 735 l. 13 - 736 l. 1)

“With the lesser good of the Nembutsu of [A]mida, they lose the Great Good of the Hokekyo and the Nembutsu which is the lesser good surpasses the Five Rebellious Sins (gogyakuzai) which is a great evil.” (STN, v. 2, 1543 ll. 10-11)

“Now at the beginning of the Latter Dharma with the Lesser they strike the Great; with the Provisional they smash the Real; east and west are lost together; heaven and earth are overturned.” (STN, v. 1, 719 ll. 9-10)

The Provisional Teachings, good within their own sphere (tobun), are now not merely ineffective but also have become positive hindrances to the fundamental intention of the Buddha which is the spread of the Hokekyo and, in particular, its Essence, exclusively. (We should keep in the mind the quotation from Tendai (Hokke gengi 9A (T.33.792b)); it is important in understanding the nature of shakubuku; in the present case it is applied to the temporal circumstances of the Latter Dharma.

In the Nyosetsu shugyo sho Nichiren Shonin explains the relationship of shakubuku and shoju and the temporal constraints of Buddhist practice: 

“In general, those who would practice the Buddha Dharma should know the two aspects (lit., ‘gates’) of Subsuming and Breaking. All the Sutras and Treatises do not go beyond these two. Therefore, although the scholars of the sects within the country roughly learn the Buddha Dharma, they do not know the Way which corresponds to the time.

The four times and four seasons change one after another. In summer it is hot, in winter it is cold, in spring the flowers bloom, and in autumn the fruits form. Now in spring one should plant the seeds and in autumn take the fruits; if one plants the seeds in autumn and gathers the fruits in spring, how could they be gathered? In the time of extreme cold, thick garments are useful; in the time extreme heat, what would they do? A cool wind is useful in summer; in winter what would it do?

The Buddha Dharma is also like this. There is a time when the Lesser Dharma is diffused and will have benefit. There is also a time when the Provisional Great Vehicle may spread. There is also a time when the Real Teaching spreads and one will obtain Buddhahood. Moreover, the two thousand years of [the ages of] the True and Counterfeit [Dharmas] are the times when the Lesser Vehicle and Provisional Great Vehicle are diffused. The five hundred years of the beginning of the Latter Dharma is the time when only the Hokekyo, which is the Purely Perfect One Real [Teaching], ‘shall be widely proclaimed and diffused’ [‘kosen rufu’ in the ‘Chapter of Yakuo’ (T.9. 54c22)]. This time is fixed as the time when ‘they are firm in struggle and the Pure Dharma is hidden and sinks’ 
[Daijikkyo 55 (‘Embudai hon’) (T.13.363)], an occasion of the mixing and confusion of the Provisional with the Real.” (STN, v. 1, 735 ll. 4-12)

This is the era of the wide diffusion and the proclamation of the real teaching of the Hokekyo and the “season” (as the farmer follows those seasons in nature) must be adhered to. The excuse that it is limited to the first five hundred years of mappo, after which there might be a return to the teachings of earlier ages, makes no sense, for then the ideal of “widely proclaiming and diffusing” would be gone as well; rather it is clear that it refers to the beginning of the mission with reference to the fall of the Provisional Great Vehicle (and other) teachings prophesied in the Daijikkyo. As there are only evil people and countries, the whole of Jambudvipa or human world needs to be ‘seeded’ by the Daimoku and the other teachings detract from and hinder this; allowable for the maturation of good seeds in earlier eras, they are now hindrances and, as predicted, even the most rationally-based shakubuku leads to violent, demon- inspired opposition from their partisans. Moreover, these Provisional Teachings now have given rise to evil sects. Thus “when they are dyed by the perverted evil ones of the Shingon, Zen, Nembutsu Sect and so on they necessarily fall to hell; when they are dyed by the Hokekyo, they necessarily become Buddhas.” (STN, v. 2, 1252)

(Incidentally some of the ‘shoju’ partisans claim that ‘mappo is merely in one’s mind’, and deny the significance of history. It is clear from Nichiren Shonin with the objective historical events and the history of Buddhism with frequent references to historical events and so on (e.g., STN, v. 2, 1612ff.); history played a large role in Nichiren Shonin’s thought; mappo was not merely some illusion for his emphasis was not on the non-dual (funi) aspect of reality but the contrasting dual (ni ni) aspect as Professor Tamura Yoshiro and others have shown.(Professor Tamura’s analysis of Nichiren Shonin versus the Zen teacher Dogen shows that the former is distinctly historicist and the latter not (Kamamura Shin Bukkyo shiso no kenkyu, p. 628 and cf. p. 199); the chief ‘shoju’ partisans are clearly more in line with Zen than with Nichiren Shonin.) However, this will lead to another broad question so I shall leave this for now.)

To continue with the Nyosetsu shugyo sho we note that Nichiren Shonin specifically condemns the use of the Four Practices of Peaceful Joy (shi anrakugyo) as in appropriate to this era:

“However, if one does the practice of the Four Peaceful Joys, which is Subsuming and Accepting, at the present time, is it not planting seeds in winter and seeking a benefit? A rooster crying at dawn is useful; crying in the night is a baleful specter. At the time of the mixing and confusion of the Provisional with the Real, if one does not attack the enemies of the Hokekyo and closes oneself off in seclusion in the mountains and forest, and does the practice of Subsuming and Accepting, how can one not be a baleful specter that misses the time of practicing the Hokekyo? So at this time of the Latter Dharma who are they that have done the practice of Breaking and Subduing according to the Sutra text? Whoever it may be, let them not spare their voices to cry, ‘The other sutras have no Attaining of the Way and are the fundamental source of dropping to the hells; the Hokekyo alone is the Dharma for attaining Buddhahood!’” (STN, v. 1, 736 ll. 1-6)

(Note that this last phrase, partially a general recapitulation of Nichiren Shonin famous Four Watchwords (shi ka kakugen), “the Nembutsu leads to the Unremitting Hell” (nembutsu mugen), “Zen is of the Celestial Demons” (Zen temma), “the Shingon is the ruin of the country” (Shingon bokoku) and “the Ritsu or Vinaya Sect are rebels against the country” (Ritsu kokuzoku), was taken up by our founder Nichiju Shoshi:

“...whoever it is among the monks’ assembly who are followers, carrying out propagation in the Capital and steadfastly saying, ‘The various sects are the root cause of falling to hell and the Hokke Sect alone shall attain Buddhahood’, to that person you monks and laity alike should show reverence and make offering.” (“On the Matter of Nichjju’s Legacy”)} In any case why is it that Nichiren Shonin says this: it relates to this time, the age when there are “only” (nomi) evil (blasphemous) people and “only” the Hokekyo can save them, even if it means largely doing so by having them fall to hell carrying the hidden seed of future Buddhahood (gyakuen). To do other wise is to act like some ghastly apparition out of season. It is to fail to carry out the Buddha’s injunction, particularly to Buddhist monks (priests) to castigate that which destroys the Dharma:

“If there is a good bhikshu who sees those destroying the Dharma, but sets it aside and does not upbraid, drive out, and accuse and deal with them, you should know this person is a hateful enemy within the Buddha Dharma.”(Daihatsunehangyo 3 (T.12.381a)

Nichiren Shonin, who repeatedly cited this text, saw it as the inspiration for his life’s work (STN, v. 1, 853; v. 2, 1738-1739) and felt that those who “do not fear the character ‘chi’ (set aside)” would live easy lives now but fall to the Unremitting Hell thereafter. (STN, v. 1, 487) together with their disciples (STN, v. 2, 1254-1255).

Returning to the Nyosetsu shugyo sho, we find, moreover, that Nichiren Shonin clearly describes his mission:

“Though it was at such a time, when the time was inauspicious, that I, Nichiren, received the Buddha's Edict and was born in this country, yet the Decrees of the King of the Dharma [the Buddha] are difficult to defy; so, relying upon the Sutra texts,I raised the battle of the two teachings, Provisional and Real,’put on the armor of endurance’ [a quotation from the ‘Chapter of Urging the Keeping’ 13: T.9.36c], brandished the sword of the Sublime Teaching, raised the flag of the Five Characters of the Sublime Dharma, the quintessence of the eight fascicles of the whole work [the Hokekyo], stretched the bow of ‘I have never yet revealed the Truth’ [Muryogikyo (T.9.386b1-2), loosed the arrows of ‘forthrightly abandoning the Provisional’ [The ‘Chapter of Expedience’ 2 (T.9.10a19), mounted the Great White Ox Cart [the ‘Chapter of the Parable’ 3 (T.9.14c14)], smashed through the Gate (Doctrine) of the Provisional, sallied to here, pushed forward to here, and destroyed the enemies, the Eight Sects and Ten Sects, Nembutsu, Shingon, Zen, Ritsu and so on; however, they either escaped, or withdrew, or, the ones taken alive became my disciples. Or they counterattacked, or, though I attacked and subdued them, the enemies were of great power and the one person of the Dharma King was powerless. Until now the battle has not stopped.

“When, because they are the Golden Words, ‘The Breaking and Subduing (shakubuku) of the Hokke (Dharma Flower [Sutra]) smashes the ideal truths of the Provisional Doctrines’ [Hokke gengi 9A (T.33.792b17)], I finally shall have attacked and subdued the groups of the Provisional Teachings and the Provisional Doctrine without excluding one person and made them retainers of the Dharma King and the various vehicles of the myriad commoners of the empire shall have become the One Buddha Vehicle and the Sublime Dharma alone shall flourish, then if the myriad commoners all together chant, ‘Namu Myoho renge kyo’, let each of you see the time: the blowing wind shall not whistle through the branches, the rain shall not smash the clods of earth, the age shall become the era of [Fu-]hsi and [Shen-]nung, in the present life they shall sweep away inauspicious disasters and obtain the technique of long life and not growing old, and persons and dharmas [phenomena] together shall manifest the principle of not growing old and not dying [or not dying before growing old]. One cannot doubt the proof [or prophetic] text, ‘peaceful and secure in this world.’” [The ‘Chapter of the Parable of Medicinal Plants’ (T.9.19b)]. (STN, v. 1, 732 line 14 - 733 l. 12)

We can ascertain from these passages that Nichiren Shonin clearly saw his whole mission in figuratively military terms: a struggle to overcome the Provisional Teachings, which had outlived their usefulness and had become hindrances, and establish the Hokekyo alone as the single truth for our age.

But we can also see that this position was not simply something relative to our time, the age of mappo; it was something more fundamental and absolute, something inherent in the nature of the Hokekyo itself: we saw above the text from the Hokke gengi 9A (T.33.792b17):
“The Breaking and Subduing (shakubuku) of the Hokke (Dharma Flower [Sutra]) smashes the ideal truths of the Provisional Doctrines.”

This fundamental attitude of the Hokekyo is in contrast to the Nehangyo (Nirvana Sutra) which allows Provisional Teachings (T.33.792b18); this is because it is a supplementary re-exposition and re-effacement of the Buddha’s various teachings (tsuisetsu tsuimin).

And Nichiren Shonin cites this Hokke shakubuku again in relation to a more general pattern of propagation, relating not merely to the Latter Dharma but even to the Buddha’s Own Lifetime:

“Our fundamental (original) teacher, the Tathagata Shakya, during the eight years [of the Hokekyo] of His time in the world practiced Breaking and Subduing. Tendai Daishi [did this] for more than thirty years and Dengyo Daishi for more than twenty years and now I, Nichiren, have for more than twenty years ‘smashed the ideal truths of the Provisional Doctrines’”. (STN, v. 1, 736 ll. 7-8)

Here the Lord Shakyamuni Himself propagated by “Breaking and Subduing” (shakubuku), when He finally preached the Hokekyo in the last eight years of his life, for the Hokekyo in and of itself casts away all the other teachings. The same applies to Tendai teachers of the Counterfeit Dharma era, Tendai Daishi and Dengyo Daishi, who were the Messengers of the Buddha (STN, v. 2, 1850-1851, 1661) as is Nichiren Shonin himself (STN, v. 2, 1875) All of these ultimately did Breaking and Subduing when they propagated the Hokekyo as the Supreme Truth against all other teachings.

In the Nyosetsu shugyo sho Nichiren Shonin exalted this Hokke gengi quotation by referring to it as “Golden Words”, a term more often limited to the words of the Buddha, and later he further demonstrated the importance of this text:

“In the Muryogikyo it says, ‘For more than forty years I have never yet revealed the Truth.’ [(T.9.386b1-2)]

In the Hokekyo it says, ‘As to the World Honored One’s Dharma, after a long time He is certainly about to preach the Truth.’ [The ‘Chapter of Expedience’ 2 (T.9.6a23)]

The Buddha Taho says ‘It is all the Truth.’ [The ‘Chapter of Appearing of the Jewelled Stupa’ 11 (T.9.32c2)]

And so they determine that there is attainment of Buddhahood in the Present Body (sokushin jobutsu) limited to the Hokekyo. No matter how much they preach that there is attainment of Buddhahood in the Previous Sutras, or how the people of the Provisional Sects madly rave, it will be ‘one hammer to a thousand earthen pans’. ‘The Breaking and Subduing (shakubuku) of the Hokke (Dharma Flower [Sutra]) smashes the ideal truths of the Provisional Doctrines’ refers to this. It is a most excellent and secret inner doctrine.” (STN, v. 2, 1634)

Here we see that the concept of shakubuku goes well beyond a mere time-related method of propagation but is directly related to the absolute supremacy of the Hokekyo itself; this Hokekyo alone is the Supreme Truth:

“All the Sutras (issaikyo) are all the preaching of the Golden [647] Mouth of the Buddha and are His Words (onkotoba) of no-lies. When we put them against the Hokekyo they are like lies, like prevarications, like bad-mouthing, like duplicity (or, double-dealing).

“It is this Sutra (onkyo) that is the True Word among True Words. It is the Sutra (onkyo) of True Words that the forthright (honest) one masters.” (STN, v. 1, 646-647)

Returning to the Nyosetsu shugyo sho, we can see how this Supremacy of the Hokekyo is related to the concept of the proper practice against those who would simply reduce the Hokekyo to a principle of unity which indifferently affirms all teachings and practices:

“Question: For us to say that someone is the practicer who practices according to the preaching, in what way should we say he believes?
“Answer: What the people of the country of Japan of the present age all say is the person who practices in accordance with the preaching (nyosetsu shugyo) is:
“‘When the Vehicles are sublated (opened and merged) into the One Buddha Vehicle, they are all the Hokekyo and there is no matter of superiority and inferiority, shallowness or profundity. When one believes that saying the Nembutsu, keeping the Shingon (mantras), practicing Zen, and in general keeping and reciting all the sutras and the Names of the Buddha and the bodhisattvas are all the Hokekyo, one is said to be the person who practices in accordance with the preaching.’

“I say, ‘It is not so. In sum, when one would practice the Buddha Dharma, one may not use the words of humans. One should just respectfully guard the Golden Words of the Buddha:

“Although our Original Teacher, the Tathagata Shakya, thought he would preach the Hokke (Dharma Flower Sutra), because the capacities of beings were not yet mature, he first preached the Expedients, which are the Provisional Teachings, during more than forty years and afterwards preached the Hokekyo,which is the Truth. In the Muryogikyo (Sutra of Immeasurable Meanings), the Preface Section of this Sutra, he points to the boundary marker between the Provisional and the Real and divides the Expedient from the Truth, when he says, ‘By the power of Expedience for more than forty years I have never yet revealed the Truth.’ [Muryogikyo (T.9.386b1-2)] The Eighty Thousand Great Beings, Daishogon, and so on, having understood and distinguished the reasons for ‘putting forth the Provisional, opening (sublating) the Provisional, abolishing the Provisional’ [as expounded in the Hokke gengi] and so on, say as their received understanding, ‘With the Sutras before the Hokke according to which one practices through successive kalpas, “in the end they do not attain Supreme Bodhi.”’ [Muryogikyo (T.9.387a28-b1)]

“Moreover, after coming to the Hokke, which is [the Section of] the Principal Significance, He starts by preaching, ‘As to the World Honored One’s Dharma, after a long time He is certainly about to preach the Truth.’ [The ‘Chapter of Expedience’ 2 (T.9.6a23)] , and issues prohibitions: ‘There are neither two nor again three [Vehicles], excluding the Expedient Preaching of the Buddha’, [The ‘Chapter of Expedience’ 2 (T.9.8a)] ‘forthrightly abandon Expedience’ [Ibid. (T.9.10a)], and ‘do not even receive one verse of other sutras’ [The ‘Chapter of the Parable’ (T.9.16a)]. After this, only the Sublime Dharma of which ‘there is only One Buddha Vehicle’ [The ‘Chapter of the Transformational City’ 7 (T.9.27b2)] is the Great [Vehicle] Dharma, which makes all beings Buddhas, and the sutras outside of the Hokekyo cannot have one bit of benefit; however, the scholars of the present in the Latter Dharma, think that because every [sutra] is the preaching of the Tathagata, they all will have attainment of Buddhahood, and they believe all and sundry of the sects and sutras, whether Shingon or Nembutsu or the Zen Sect, Sanron, Hosso, Kusha, Jojitsu, Ritsu and so on. It was about persons like this that [the Buddha] determined, ‘If a person does not believe but disparages and blasphemes this Sutra, such a one at once cuts off the Buddha seeds of all worlds” and so on to “that person, when life ends, enters Avici Hell.”’ [The ‘Chapter of the Parable’ 3 (T.9.15b)] The Buddha has determined that the one who takes the bright mirror of these rules as basis and does not differ one bit and believes that there is only One Buddha Vehicle is the person who practices in accordance with the preaching.” (STN, v. 1, 733 l. 12-735 l. 2)

This then is the meaning of the ‘Breaking and Subduing’ in the deeper sense: it is closely linked to the concept of the exclusive practice of the Hokekyo (senji Hokke) which, in turn, is based on the concept of the relative sublation (sodai myo kaie) in which the Hokekyo sublates (opens and merges) the various teachings into itself but always remains in a superior position and denies the other teachings; this position was ‘denial in terms of the sections (the five respective periods and types of sutras of the Buddha’s Lifetime: yakubu datsu shaku); this negative view was known in Tendai circles and was associated with the Onjoji (Miidera) Temple and can be traced back to Chisho Daishi and ultimately to Myoraku Daishi (Zhanran/Chan-jan) in T’ang China; Nichiren Shonin’s opponents took the opposite view associated with Hieizan, affirmation with regard to the teachings (yaku kyo yo shaku) that the Hokekyo merely affirmed the validity of all Buddhist teachings and this interpretation was later used by his critics to attack the whole Nichiren Shonin and his whole movement. It is not a question of a mere sectarian superiority or transcending other types of Buddhism as a some sort of boast: it goes to the very heart of the Sutra and its fundamental position in Buddhism.

Nichiren Shonin simply states that the “Golden Words” of Lord Shakya show that He did shakubuku once He came to preach the Hokekyo: all other teachings were abolished and the One Truth, the Unique Vehicle of the Hokekyo is proclaimed. Therefore, when the Hokekyo is preached in the last eight years of the Buddha’s Lifetime and again by the messenger of the Buddha sent to the epoch of the Latter Dharma, it ‘breaks and subdues’ all other teachings and is to be practiced exclusively. According to the Sutra, a hellish punishment awaits those who do not accept this fundamental truth. Thus following in Lord Shakya’s footsteps in preaching the Hokekyo, all those who “practice according to the preaching” (nyosetsu shugyo) must also do ‘breaking and subduing’ on a fundamental level: they must assert the Absolute Truth and Supremacy of the Hokekyo as against the other teachings:

“And so in the more than two thousand years since Lord Shakya's entering Extinction, out of the practicers who have practiced according to the preaching we put aside the three, Lord Shakya, Tendai and Dengyo. Within the Latter Dharma I, Nichiren, as well as my disciples and lay donors are such as these. If they do not say we are the ones who practice according to the preaching, Lord Shakya, Tendai, and Dengyo would not have been people who practiced according to the preaching. If Deva[datta], Kokkuri, Zensho, Kobo, Jikaku, Chisho, Shan-dao, Honen, Ryokanbo and so on are said to be the practicers of the Hokekyo, Lord Shakya, Tendai, Dengyo, and I, Nichiren, as well as my disciples and donors would be practicers of Nembutsu, Shingon, Zen, Ritsu and so on; if the Hokekyo is said to be an Expedient Provisional Teaching, then would the sutras of the Nembutsu and so on, on the contrary, become the Hokekyo? Though east become west and the west become east, though there be examples of the great earth along with the plants and trees which it holds flying up to become heaven and heaven along with the sun, moon, and constellations falling down to become the earth, how could there be this principle [of the Hokekyo and other sutras changing places]?” (STN, v. 1, 736 l. 13 - 737 l. 6)

If we compare Nichiren Shonin’s ideals with those of the so-called ‘shoju’ leaders we can see a clear contrast: the former merely “respectfully guards the Golden Words of the Buddha” and determines that the Buddha has fixed the true practice of the Sutra as the assertion of the One Buddha Vehicle and the punishment of Avici for unbelief; the latter are uncomfortable with many salient features of the Sutra and wish to change things to suit their own tastes and desire to recruit people who will naively follow them. (It is clear where they will follow the ‘shoju’ leaders TO!) Moreover, it is hardly surprising that one of them has already declared his abandonment of Nichiren Shonin and his “return to Shakyamuni”; how sad, for Nichiren Shonin has shown throughout his writings that he is merely following the Decrees of Lord Shakyamuni, as can be seen from of the passages cited above. In reality, of course, this person is not really trying to “return” to the teaching any more than he really wishes to establish the practice of shoju for he and his allies will violently attack anyone who disagrees with them. They are reminiscent of the pseudo-Asian martial arts show whose protagonists claimed to practice “selective non-violence”. (Even the armed forces practice “selective non-violence.) These people practice “selective shoju”: they will be very “accepting” as long as one consents to their ideas.

DOES KYOGYOSHO GOSHO REALLY URGE SHOJU?

(Before I proceed further, I wish to state that I am discussing this work because the ‘shoju’ proponents have introduced it as proof of their position; the work itself, which survives only in later copies, notably that by Gyogakuin Nitcho has some dubious passages; it refers to Ryokan’s appeal to “Hokoji dono”, His Lordship of Hokoji, a reference to Hojo Munetoki (1251-1284) but this title was one applied to Munetoki when he took the tonsure during his last illness in 1284, AFTER Nichiren Shonin’s death; though it is possible he was addressed by such a title before his tonsure, it is noteworthy that the term appears among Nichiren Shonin’s writings only in the notorious forgeries, the autobiographical letters, Hakiri dono gosho (STN, v. 2, 1927) and the Hokke hommon shuyo shu; the Kyogyosho gosho thus appears to be a dubious work, at least in its present form.)

In the Kyogyosho gosho which the ‘shoju’ party puts forward as proof of the abolition of shakubuku it says,

“Now in the two thousand years of the True and Counterfeit [Dharmas] when they kept and relied upon the Lesser Vehicle and Provisional Great Vehicle, and practices putting one’s merit [effort] into them, in general there was benefit. Even so, although everyone who practiced those various sutras thought that they obtained the benefit by the various sutras upon which they relied, when we inquire on the meaning by the Hokekyo, they had not one bit of benefit. What is the reason why? It being when the Buddha was in the world they formed a connecting condition with the Hokekyo but it depended upon whether or not there was maturation or not in their capacities. Those whose capacities of the Perfect Teaching are pure and matured in the time [when the Buddha] was in the world attained Buddhahood. Those whose faculties and capacities were faint and inferior [or not yet mature] backslid to the True Dharma [era] and took their realization from the Jomyo [Vimalakirti], Shiyaku, Kan[muryoju]kyo, Ninno hannya kyo and so on, just as when [the Buddha] was in the world. And so in the True Dharma [era] was jointly possessed together of the three, teaching, practice and realization.

“In the Counterfeit Dharma [era] there was teaching and practice but no realization. Now on entering the Latter Dharma there are the teachings, but there is no practice or realization. There is not one person of those who formed the connecting condition when the Buddha was in the world. The two capacities of the Provisional and Real [Teachings] are all gone. At this time for the two [types] of people who are of the rebellious [sins] and blasphemy of the present era for the first time one takes Namu Myoho renge kyo of the ‘Chapter of the Measure of Life’, the Essence of the Hommon as the laying down of the seed (or, as the Buddha Seed). “‘This good, excellent medicine now I leave here. You should take and swallow it. Do not worry that you will not be cured’” refers to this.
“It is as when long ago in the Counterfeit Dharma [era] of the past Buddha Ionno when there was not one person who knew the Great Vehicle, the Bodhisattva Fukyo came forth and chanted the Twenty-four Characters which the Master of Teachings had preached. Those who heard those Twenty-four Characters not lacking one person also [later] encountered the Great Being (Mahasattva) Fukyo and obtained benefit. This then was because they made the previous hearing of the Dharma the laying down of the seed (geshu).

“Now it is also like this. That was the Counterfeit Dharma; this is the polluted evil Latter Dharma. That was a practicer of the First (Elementary) Following Joy [level]; this is a worldling of the Name {Identity]. That was the laying down of seed of the Twenty-four Characters; this is only the Five Characters [of the Daimoku]. Although the times of obtaining the Way (tokudo: Buddhahood) are different, their ultimate meaning of Attaining Buddhahood would be completely the same.” (STN, v. 2, 1479-1480)

Comment: here again there is emphasis on the era of the Latter Dharma, described as polluted and evil (joku aku), and the point is made that there is some difference between the Counterfeit Dharma and the more evil Latter Dharma era. In the Latter Dharma the other sutras exist only as teachings having no practical benefits. Likewise the capacities for such teachings have completely disappeared. As Nichiren Shonin had stated earlier: there are “only evil countries, evil kings, evil ministers, evil commoners and they turn against the True Dharma and revere perverted dharmas and perverted teachers” (STN, v. 1, 735, cited above). Even conceding that there a few people who have planted the seed of Buddhahood, among the great number of blasphemers in the world they are “like a little water in the midst of a great fire” and “only result in evil karma.” (STN, v. 1, 778 ll. 1-4) So the only thing left is to lay down anew the seeds (geshu) of future Buddhahood by the Five Characters “Myoho renge kyo” (Nichiren Shonin ibun kogi zenshu, v. 12, 356-357) and this applies to both evil people who commit the Five Rebellious Sins and those who blaspheme; that is all that there is.

The Kyogyosho gosho then demonstrates the parallelism between Nichiren Shonin’s own case and that of the Bodhisattva Fukyo of the Counterfeit Dharma era of an ancient Buddha. Although the Saint’s narration is somewhat abbreviated but it is clear from the Sutra text itself: the surpassingly arrogant four congregations rejected the Bodhisattva Fukyo’s Twenty-four Character” salutation. (N.B. Nichiren Shonin describes this as having been preached (tokiokitamaishi) by the Master of Teachings; it is a legacy of a Buddha just as the Daimoku has been left by the Buddha Shakya to the Bodhisattva Jogyo, who appears as Nichiren Shonin.) Subsequently, however, after having fallen to Avici Hell for a thousand kalpas and after their sin has been completely atoned for they again meet Jofukyo and the teaching of Supreme Buddhahood. (T.9. 51a26-b1) (Nichiren Shonin zenshu kogi, v. 24, 213).

Now even the ‘shoju’ partisans admit that Jofukyo is a model for Nichiren Shonin and that the latter practices shakubuku (which they want to change); that being the case, we can see that the model for propagation is deliberately approaching the blasphemers (unbelievers) of this age, who are without good seeds, and planting the seeds of Buddhahood in the form of “Myoho renge kyo”; in both cases, that of Nichiren Shonin and that of Jofukyo, it is a deliberately provocative practice which allows those satisfied with lower spiritual goals to be “seeded” with the goal of Supreme Buddhahood by their very rebellious opposition to the Truth; the Sutra says that Fukyo “deliberately went to them” (T.9.51c22) and when Fukyo salutes them with his Twenty-four Character phrase, he is actually telling them their current self-satisfaction with other Buddhist spiritual goals is wrong and that is why they are so violently hostile. His obeisance and his words have nothing to do with conventional politeness. This is clearly a form of shakubuku. If Jofukyo were practicing gentle, gradual shoju, he would not have provoked them so but let them go on practicing their current provisional teachings, confident in their lesser spiritual attainments, for they are described as being of surpassing arrogance (zojoman) (T.9.50c15), one of the seven attitudes of arrogance (shichi man) specifically defined as thinking or claiming to have attained enlightenment even though one has not. (Nakamura Hajime, Bukkyo go daijiten, 588a) In other words, they are in their spiritual disposition a post-Extinction parallel to the Five Thousand Arhats of the Buddha’s Lifetime in the “Chapter of Expedience” 2, which we discussed above. They do not accept the teachings of the Hokekyo with regard to the Shakumon or the Hommon. But the Bodhisattva Messenger of the Buddha, living in a declining or decadent era, must treat them differently from the way the Buddha treats such beings; such a Bodhisattva should deliberately preach the Supreme Truth and thus plant the seeds of Buddhahood (geshu) for future maturation (juku) and liberation (datsu). Thus his practice is exclusively of the Real Sutra, the Hokekyo, and so the “Chapter of the Bodhisattva Jofukyo” 20 concludes with these verses:

“For this reason let the practicers
After the Buddha’s Extinction,
Having heard this Sutra,
Not produce doubts and confusion;
They ought single-mindedly
To preach this Sutra widely.
Age after age they shall meet Buddhas
And rapidly achieve the Buddha Way.” (T.9.51c5-7)

Anticipating the objections of at least some of the ‘shoju’ partisans, I wish to add here that the exclusive practice here is one based on doctrine; some of the ‘shoju’ proponents have tried to misrepresent Nichiren Shonin’s “exclusive practice” as being merely a kind of practical concentration rather than the doctrinal exclusion of the Provisional Teachings. The former assertion is, in fact, typical of the Zen monk Muju (Dokyo Ichien, 1226-1312), Nichiren Shonin’s younger contemporary, who believed in a syncretistic farrago of Buddhist beliefs and who despised both Honen and Nichiren for their respective exclusive-practice ideologies. (See Tamura Yoshiro Kamakura Shin Bukkyo shiso no kenkyu , 290-291, 292-294, 305-306, esp. pp. 292-293) Nichiren Shonin’s exclusive practice is that of asserting only the Hokekyo and not allowing any Provisional Teachings. (This standpoint can be readily seen by the fact that Nichiren Shonin repeatedly attacked other sects on doctrinal grounds, not merely because they were inconvenient for most people.)

If we now return to the text of the Kyogyosho gosho, can we say that it is a shoju document?
After the section on the three eras of this Dharma cycle, mappo and the planting of the Buddhahood the text begins to show the shortcomings of other sects; I shall outline some of his following the commentary of the Nichiren Shonin ibun kogi zenshu, v. 14, 220-277) Other sects’ scholars do not understand that the Hokekyo plants the seed of Buddhahood: 

“Unskilled, indeed” (tsutanai kana) he calls them. (STN, v. 2, 1481 l. 9), for in reality all attainment really comes from the seeds planted by the Hokekyo.

As in the Nyosetsu shugyo sho, discussed above, the point is made from the Daihatsunehangyo that one should rely on the Sutra text, not human teachers’ words (STN, v. 2, 1482 l. 4) and then this work cites the passage from the Muryogikyo (as above) and says, “Cast them away as ‘not yet having revealed the Truth.’” (STN, v. 2, 1482 l. 5)

Further on, we find the refutation of the theory that the Previous Sutras and the Hokekyo are the same again citing the Muryogikyo text along with an allusion to verses of the “Chapter of Expedience”:

“Through the Buddha Lands of the Ten Directions
There is only the Dharma of the One Vehicle,
There are no two, likewise there are not three
Excepting the Buddha’s expedient preaching
Because only by temporary names
Does He lead and draw in the masses of beings
And preach the Buddha Wisdom.” (T.9.8a17-20) (STN, v. 2, 1482 l.7)

Then Nichiren Shonin explains how to answer the claims of the Shingon Sect: he asserts that it is a falsehood (itsuwari) of the Chinese Tripitaka Masters (STN, v. 2, 1482 ll. 10-11)

“No matter what sect it may be, if they speak the doctrine of the Shingon Sect, one should attack (semubeku) the twisted views of the Shingon.” (STN, v. 2, 1482 l. 14 - 1483 l. 1)
The errors of the Nembutsu patriarchs in abandoning the Real Teaching for Provisional Sutras: 

“And thereafter they should intensely (anagachi: fully or wholeheartedly) smash the human teachers of that sect.” (STN, v. 2, 1483 l. 9)

Asserting the superiority of the Hokekyo to a myriad other sutras, the text attacks the claims of other sects that their fundamental sutras are equal or superior to the Hokekyo but especially notes the bad ends of the various erroneous and heretical Patriarchs these should be pointed out with proper demeanor: “One should relate calmly but also forcefully, with eyes half-closed and with composed facial expression and quietly that they are such unenviable deaths.” (STN, v. 2, 1484 ll. 6-7)

Against the Ritsu (Vinaya) Sect it says; “With the Practicer is the Precept Keeper of the ‘Chapter of the Jewelled Stupa’ one should castigate (inveigh against) these.” (STN, v. 2, 1488 l. 2) The word I have translated as ‘castigate’ (nonoshiru) is quite strong and can even mean curse. The passage from the ‘Chapter of the Jewelled Stupa’ 11 referred to is this verse:

“This Sutra is difficult to keep;
If there is one who keeps it even for short while,
I shall at once rejoice
And the Buddhas shall likewise do so.
Such a person
Is one whom the Buddhas praise:
This one then is bold and fervent;
This one then is effortful.
This one is named keeper of the precepts,
One who practices the dhutas,
And so will quickly obtain
The Supreme Buddha Way.” (T.9.34b15-18)

This passage, cited by Nichiren Shonin even from his early career (STN, v. 1, 70, 135), shows his fundamental position that to keep the Sutra is itself to keep the precepts; other (specific, concrete) precepts are unnecessary and may even hinder the faith of the True Dharma in this age (STN, v. 2 1297 ll. 1-4, l. 9) This position does not mean (as some ignorant “Buddhist” critics of Nichiren Shonin have claimed) that he is urging unethical behavior but indicates that the precepts of other teachings, which are taken formally and separately are not appropriate to this age and even harmful as detracting from the maintenance of exclusive faith in the True Doctrine. As Myoraku Daishi (Zhanran/Chan-jan) warns, those who undertake to keep even one precept are held to that precept and, should they break it, must suffer the dire karmic consequences. (STN, v. 2, 1487 ll. 13-14)

Furthermore, the spread of that Great Dharma which has previously remained unknown, is described in realistic, objective historical terms; with reference to and in the midst of this the Daimoku, which is declared to “gather the merits of the myriad practices and myriad good [acts] of the Buddha of the Three Eras” is said to contain the merits of a myriad precepts: it is the Adamantine (Diamond) Jewel Receptacle Precept and “because it is such an excellent precept, the various precepts of Previous [Sutras] and the Manifestation Doctrine (shakumon) have not one bit of merit.” (STN, v. 2, 1488 l. 11)

To suggest, as the ‘shoju’ partisans have done, that the abolition of such former precepts is merely the “opinion of some people” is effectively to dismiss the whole tenor of Nichiren Shonin’s teaching on the subject. It is to insult the Patriarch and his doctrine based on the Sutra.

The final section of the Kyogyosho gosho concludes that it is Ryokanbo’s behavior that is guilty of self praise while disparaging others (jisan kita) and notes his excuses for not debating Nichiren Shonin. Nichiren Shonin instructs his disciples to say “without change” (or, in some versions, “without doubt”) that the Ritsu Sect are rebels against the country (Risshu kokuzoku). He concludes with the passage (cited by the ‘shoju’ advocates) against improper demeanor in a public forum. (If this Kyogyosho gosho were a genuine work and dated to the year 1278 this instruction would be in accord with Nichiren Shonin’s expectation of an imminent debate with the other sects, expressed in the autograph Shonin gohenji (STN, v., 1279)).

In any case Nichiren Shonin instruction that, “because in a public forum one speaks reasonable doctrine, vulgar words and strong words and self-conceited demeanor are not to be seen by others’ eyes; they would be shameful (or base). Be ever more careful of body, speech, and mind and respectfully face the host, face the host”, does not mean--in context-- the abandonment of shakubuku. These are simply the same kind of instructions he had previously given to disciples summoned before the authority. For example, in the Monchu tokui sho (NSIJR, 1135d) (STN, v. 1, 439) addressed to Lord Toki when he was summoned with two others before the Kamakura Shogunate’s Court of Inquiry (monchujo) in 1269 (Bun’ei 6) Nichiren Shonin gives somewhat similar advice about proper demeanor and language in such a court even when provoked by enemies.

Here, in effect, he is saying: do not act in such a way so as to be found in contempt of court and thus wreck our case. It has nothing to do with the abolition or curtailment of shakubuku, which is clearly expressed through much of the rest of this very work. Nor, we may add, does genuine shakubuku have anything to do with personal attacks, misrepresentation or threats that have characterized those who are in or have emerged from the modern Fuji-ha/Soka Gakkai cult.

It is the ‘shoju’ partisans who, having emerged mostly from such a milieu, have most frequently indulged in these tactics:

The shoju practice is based on the “Chapter of the Practices of Peaceful Joy” 14 and this chapter includes the instruction: “When they either expound and preach orally or read the Sutra, they are not to rejoice in preaching the faults of people or sutras. Furthermore, they are not to slight or be arrogant towards the various other Dharma preachers. They are not to preach about other people’s good and evil, advantages and shortcomings” (T.9.38a3)

The leaders of this movement claim to follow shoju, arrogating to themselves the right to declare Nichiren Shonin’s methods invalid and his clear reasoning wrong; is this not criticizing others’ teaching let alone their own (nominal) master’s teaching? But even leaving that aside, since their ‘shoju’ proclamation, have they not continued their attacks, often ad hominem attacks, on those who do not agree with their policies? How is this shoju? And if it is shakubuku, why is it they denounce shakubuku?

Furthermore, they keep no shoju attitude even among themselves: one of them has openly renounced Nichiren Shonin and, in turn, been denounced by one of his erstwhile allies in vulgar terms. How is this shoju or even common courtesy?

We may say then that, contrary to the ‘shoju’ party’s assertions, the Kyogyosho gosho, does not authorize the abolition of shakubuku and, what is more, this ‘shoju’ party has little to do with genuine shoju.

CONCLUSION

From the above discussion we can see that

(1) the criticisms levelled by the ‘shoju’ party have nothing to do with the Kempon Hokke which states its scriptural, actual, and rational shakubuku policy quite clearly in the ‘Fundamental Principles’; any past action by certain ex-Soka Gakkai members who cleverly insinuated themselves into leading positions in this group have nothing to do with us.
(2) the call for shoju methods, which these people cleverly confuse with mere politeness and ethical behavior (a politeness and ethics they freely ignore whenever it suits their purpose) is little more than a smokescreen for cementing their own current views (whatever they may be) in place; their actions speak louder than their innocent-sounding words: ‘shoju’ to them means that no one may differ from them but they are free to attack with vituperative expressions of any kind those who dare to question their muddled ideas.
(3) contrary to these people’s claims, the era of the latter Dharma (mappo) is not over and Nichiren Shonin’s religion will last till Lord Maitreya descends from Tushita Heaven to become the next manifest Buddha. There is no reason to conclude from the orthodox Buddhist standpoint that a new era, returning to the age of the Buddha, with its use of Provisional Teachings, has appeared. Likewise, it is clear that mappo is regarded by both the Sutras and Nichiren Shonin (and even their supposed hero Udana Nichiki for that matter) as an objective historical concept. To make the statement that mappo is all in your mind and can be safely ignored is a misinterpretation of Buddhist idealism (yuishin engi etc.); it is roughly equivalent to an ignoramus reading that all things are empty and without self-nature and then thinking he can run in front of a Mack truck unscathed because “it’s only an illusion”.
(4) The claims from various texts of Nichiren Shonin that mention shoju do not really back its use in this era in a major way; it might be used in certain cases but the overwhelming practice is to be ‘breaking and subduing’’ (shakubuku), asserting the inherent superiority and exclusive practice of the Hokekyo against all other Sutras, Teachings and their derivative sects; this is conversion by opposition or rebellion (gyakke), forced poisoning (godoku), forming the condition of the poison drum (dokku no en wo musubu); the people of this era are overwhelmingly evil. In contrast to people reborn in earlier eras, where Provisional Teachings might serve as the catalyst (condition: en) to awaken the seed of Buddhahood already planted by the preaching of the Hokekyo in earlier eons, the people of this era are ‘those who have never put down the seed of Buddhahood’ and those who ‘do not yet have good’; mostly doomed to fall to evil rebirths, they must be seeded with the Essence of the Hokekyo, ‘Namu Myoho renge kyo’ and if they blaspheme against this One Truth, they will likewise fall but now with a transcendent reason for the seed buried within them will lead eventually to Buddhahood.
(5) The concept of shakubuku is inherent in the Hokekyo’s assertion of absolute supremacy, ending all expedient teachings; from its very nature as the supreme teaching the Hokekyo ‘breaks and subdues’ all other teachings. In preaching the Hokekyo, the Tathagata Shakya does this ‘breaking and subduing’ of all He has preached previously “for more than forty years” in which he “had never yet revealed the Truth.” Thus shakubuku is closely interrelated with the Sutra itself and with exclusive practice.
(6) All we have now are worldling (unenlightened) teachers (bonshi) who cannot really ascertain the inner capacities of beings; such judgments were extremely difficult even for advanced, saintly or sagely disciples in the Buddha’s own time and led to spiritual disasters (as we saw above). Thus we, worldlings acting as the messengers of the Buddha in the Latter Age, have no choice to press ahead with the highest and final teaching.
(7) There can be little doubt that Nichiren Shonin urged his followers to polite demeanor in presenting Sutra-based, rational, and empirical arguments in public; such an attitude did not at all mean the abolition of shakubuku in favor of a shoju policy based on the Provisional Teachings, let alone its replacement by a freewheeling anything-goes policy. Those who propose a so-called ‘shoju’ method are among the most strident employers of smear-campaigns and ad hominem attacks on the internet, dragging down any semblance of rational discourse and prolonging personal vendettas against anyone who dares to question their opinions, sometimes carrying on until even the authorities in their own sects tell them to shut up; they reject most Sutra-based arguments since at least a number of them have sneeringly dismissed the Hokekyo (and, therefore, the Mahayana Canon). Or else they pick and choose what suits their fancy to dress up their own ideas. This process is known as “adorning one’s own doctrine” (shogon ko gi) and the “twisted harmonization with human emotional obsessions” (goku e shijo) condemned by Nichiren Shonin himself (STN, v. 1, 584)

Occasionally, quite fortuitously, of course, they might actually follow some of Nichiren Shonin’s Sutra-based teachings, but for the most part they seem to dream of a syncretistic soup of various ideas, carefully edited to their own tastes and topped off with chanting the Daimoku and (perhaps, if useful) the name “Nichiren” for its drawing power. They also try to give themselves a kind of aura of majority rule by using such invented terms as “mainstream Mahayana”, a conveniently vague name which gives them a free hand to do whatever they want. At times they claim to be disciples of Nichiren Shonin and at others they claim to represent some amorphous majority opinion within Buddhism. Those who have read some of the above translations can see how this majoritarian argument clashes with Nichiren Shonin ideal of a “one hammer to a thousand earthen pans” (STN, v. 2, 1634). As the Patriarch remarks:

“Though the people who say the Nembutsu, keep the precepts and so on are many, the persons who rely upon the Hokekyo are few. The stars are many but they do not illuminate the great sea. Grasses are many but they do not form the pillars of the Imperial Palace. Though Nembutsus are many, they are not the Way to become a Buddha. Though one keeps the precepts they do not form the seed for going to the Pure Land. It is only the Seven Characters ‘Namu Myoho renge kyo’ that are the seed for becoming a Buddha. Though, when I said this, people were jealous and did not adopt it, the late Lord Ueno by his believing it has become a Buddha.” (STN, v. 2, 1603)

As anyone can see, Nichiren Shonin’s doctrine is not a based on majority opinion, either in terms of the Sutras or the what most people desire or believe, but only on the Hokekyo; the whole of his teachings are predicated on the idea of the embattled minority. And this is what is prophesied by the Great Nirvana Sutra: “The Buddha in the Nirvana Sutra prophesies that those of the True Dharma shall seem as the dirt on a finger nail and those who blaspheme against the Dharma as the dirt of the ten directions.” (STN, v. 1, 555)

The so-called ‘shoju’ leaders, in any case, only pretend to be based on majority rule, though they do, indeed, play to the crowd. When they “study” Buddhism, especially that of Nichiren Shonin, they are not looking for the Truth or salvation or anything of that sort. What they are doing is reminiscent of an anecdote about W.C. Fields. Fields was notoriously anti-religious all his life so when a friend visited him in the hospital during his final illness he was surprised to find the great comedian propped up in bed reading the Bible. Asked what he was doing, Fields replied in his trademark nasal voice, “Looking---- for loopholes.” That about sums up what these people are doing.

We must now pose this question: why do these people not just leave Nichiren Buddhism instead of trying to undermine from within? (Nichiren Shonin cites the Sutra teachings which predict that the Buddha Dharma will be destroyed from within by monks not by external persecution: STN, v. 2, 1050-1051) At least past apostates such as infamous Shincho (1596-1659), who left the Nichiren movement for the Shinzei Branch of Tendai and spent the remainder of his life writing scurrilous attacks on Nichiren Shonin while chanting the Nembutsu, had enough honesty to admit they did not really believe in the teachings of Nichiren Shonin and that they even resented everything he said; thus they departed for other forms of Buddhism. These ‘shoju’ people, however, want to have their cake and eat it too: having found priestly patrons who gladly receive their toadying and offerings and who, in return, back anything these people say, it would simply be too much of a sacrifice for them to give up their cushy positions and privileges.

Finally let me remind honest, sincere Kempon Hokke believers of this fact: we ultimately come from a group of spiritual forebears who were a minority, unfairly denounced even by the officials of their own sect. Holding fast and true to the original teachings of Nichiren Shonin, they suffered untold persecutions and difficulties. Are we now to hold their sacrifice at naught and cave in to those who would efface virtually all that Nichiren Shonin said and did based on the Sutras? Are we now to compromise, nay, sell out the martyrs’ noble principles so as to follow the whims of a few ambitious people? Are we to turn against the Patriarch Nichiren and the Sutras?

I know that if you are of the true Kempon Hokke faithful, you can give only one answer. But you, not I, must give it Consider well what I have presented to you and pray to the Eternal Lord Shakyamuni for guidance.

c 2001-2008 Hamilyon Graham Lamont