Question: The Zen school teaches that “the mind itself is the Buddha, and the body is none other than the Buddha.” [What is your opinion on this?]
Answer: A sutra states: “The mind is the utmost enemy, and this enemy works the greatest evil. This enemy can bind persons and send them to the place of King Yama. When you are burning alone in the fires of hell because of the retribution for your evil deeds, you cannot hope to save the wife and children you cherished, your brothers, or your kin.” And the Nirvana Sutra says, “May I be the master of my mind and not let my mind become my master!”
Deluded and shameless as the mind is, to declare that “the mind itself is the Buddha” is to be a person who supposes he has attained what he has not attained, who supposes he has understood what he has not understood, is it not?
Question: What is the view of the Lotus school?
Answer: The Lotus Sutra states, “If you are endowed with the thirty-two features, then this will be true extinction.” And it says that [living beings] “quickly acquire the body of a Buddha.”
But the Zen school, revering the Buddha, which is the essential nature of phenomena, supposes that the self and [Shakyamuni] Buddha are equal, which is to fall into the error of overbearing arrogance. Surely a person who does so will be condemned to the Avīchi hell. Hence the Lotus Sutra says, “The monks who are overbearingly arrogant will fall into a great pit.”
The Zen school says, “Go trampling on Vairochana’s head.” But who is this Vairochana?
Do they mean the Dharma body that exists everywhere throughout the entire realm of phenomena? If so, then the mountains and rivers, the great earth itself, are all the body ground of Vairochana. This is Vairochana as the essential nature of phenomena. This body ground is trampled on by dogs and foxes and such like—it is surely not the property of the Zen school alone.
Or do they mean actually trampling on the head of the Buddha [Shakyamuni]? But even the god Brahmā cannot see the top of the Buddha’s head, so how could it be possible for ordinary mortals of an inferior level to trample on it?
In his relation to all living beings, the Buddha manifests the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent. To trample on the head of a loving father whose kindness and virtue are so vast is to behave as an extremely stupid and wicked person, one perversely sinful and void of filial respect.
Even the sacred texts of Confucius condemn such behavior, to say nothing of the correct teaching of the Thus Come One! Could there be anyone so foolish as to praise such wrong behavior, such an erroneous teaching, and thereby incur immeasurably weighty blame?
When the Buddha was in the world, we are told that Mahākāshyapa “bowed his head in respectful obeisance.” But now that he has passed into nirvana, these benighted Zen believers say they will trample on the Buddha’s head—what fearful words! -- Nichiren
Josei Toda and SGI too, are those who suppose they have attained what they have not. Taking a chapter out of the Zen playbook, Josei Toda declared life itself Buddha, contrary to the teachings of Nichiren.