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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peace first Buddhism second?

"How do we attain peace?

From the Rissho Ankoku Ron:

Guest: “...Therefore one must first of all pray for the safety of the nation and then work to establish the Buddhist Law....”

The host said: “There is no doubt that I am the foolish one -- I would never dare claim to be wise. However, I would just like to quote a few passages from the scriptures.

Concerning the means for insuring order in the nation, there are numerous passages in both Buddhist and non-Buddhist text, and it would be difficult to cite them all here. Since taking up the study of Buddhism, however, I have frequently given thought to this matter, and it seems to me that prohibiting those who slander the Law and paying respect to monks who follow the Correct Way is the best way to assure stability within the nation and peace in the world at large.”

What a mistake it is to read the Rissho Ankoku Ron from the point of view of the Guest....peace first, Buddhism second. According to the sutras preached by the Buddha, this is not correct. Buddhism first, peace will result. Rev. Kubota in his wisdom, told us to read and re-read chapter 13 of the Lotus Sutra so we understand the practice of “endurance”.

The Nirvana Sutra states: “'Kasho, it is because I was a defender of the True Law that I have now been able to attain this diamond-like body.... Men of devout faith, defenders of the True Law need not observe the five precepts or practice the rules of proper behavior...."

What need is there for me to add any further explanation? If we accept the words of the Lotus Sutra, then we must understand that slandering the Lotus Sutra is more serious than committing the five cardinal sins. Our role is to eliminate slander. Again, in the Rissho Ankoku Ron we read:

The host said: “You have clearly seen the passages from the sutras that I have cited, and yet you can ask a question like that! Are they beyond the power of your mind to comprehend? Or do you fail to understand the reasoning behind them? I certainly have no intention of censuring the sons of the Buddha. My only hatred is for the act of slandering the Law...”

“My only hatred is for the act of slandering the Law”.... those are the words of Nichiren and Shakyamuni Buddha.

We cannot put out the fire of hate in the minds of those that slander the Law with more hate. We need to fight hate with love. Love is caring enough to correct wrong thought.

We can only put out the fire of hate in those that slander the Law by stopping them from slandering the Law. Their anger and hate is a result of slander. Thinking like the host we need to spread Buddhism, then peace will follow. In letters to his disciples, Nichiren wrote that there was no longer time for peaceful persuasion (Shoju). Other beliefs must be directly confronted and shown to be lacking. If necessary, people must be driven by fear of slandering the Lotus Sutra.

We cannot create peace by being “peaceful”. We can only create peace by stopping slander. If peace could be achieved by simply being “peaceful”,  then we should revert back to observing the Five Precepts and striving for “arhatship” (sainthood). Peace” means no slander against the Law.

A critic of such “shakubuku” tactics said the following: “I want to study Buddhism but I don’t want to hear about the errors of Taisekiji, so please take me off your mailing list!” That’s like saying, “I want to study medicine, but I don’t want to learn about sickness and all the nasty diseases and their symptoms! I’ll just learn about the human body, but not about the sicknesses that destroy the body”.

Therefore, it’s a dangerous strategy to accept all people and their principles as a measure of our Buddhist compassion. “Accepting everyone” means that we must sacrifice those principles that set Nichiren Buddhism apart from all other forms of Buddhism and all other religions. “Accepting everyone” looks good but it goes against the very traditions that make Nichiren Buddhism so strict. Nichiren himself is still the outstanding practitioner of the Lotus Sutra in the time of Mappo, and his example must continue to be the high standard that we all strive to emulate. Nichiren’s “rough ways” and his uncompromising method of propagation, even in the face of social rebuke, is the same practice today as it was when he was alive. If anything, people and circumstances have becomes even more polluted. The practice of rebuking slander and censuring those who slander the Law is unchanged, from Nichiren’s time down to our present time.

Stephanie Maltz"

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