"Answer: The Treatise on the Treasure Vehicle of Buddhahood written by Bodhisattva Sāramati and translated by Ratnamati states: “There are those who deliberately practice a lesser doctrine and slander the true doctrine and its teachers. . . . They preach without understanding the teachings of the Thus Come One, going against the sutras and yet declaring that they are expounding the true doctrine.” If we go by this passage, we must say that those who believe in the Hinayana teachings and declare them to be the true doctrine, failing to understand theMahayana teachings, are slandering the Law.
The Treatise on the Buddha Nature written by BodhisattvaVasubandhu and translated by the Tripitaka Master Paramārtha states: “To hate and reject the Mahayana teachings will make one an icchantika, or person of incorrigible disbelief, because in doing so one causes living beings to cast aside these teachings.” If we go by this passage, we must say that in an age when both Hinayana and Mahayana teachings are propagated, if one concentrates on spreading the Hinayana teachings, personally turns against the Mahayana teachings, and causes others toreject them as well, then such a person is guilty of slandering the Law.
A commentary on the Brahmā Net Sutra by the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai states: “‘To slander’ means to turn against. In all cases where understanding does not accord with what is right in principle and words do not match the truth, and the person is expounding some different interpretation, this is to be labeled an act of slander. Because such persons go against the true doctrine of our school, they are guilty of this offense.”
The “Simile and Parable” chapter of the Lotus Sutra states: “If a person fails to have faith but instead slanders this sutra, immediately he will destroy all the seeds for becoming a Buddha in this world. . . . When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avīchi hell.”
The meaning of this passage is as follows. Even if one has not yet reached the three stages of worthiness of the Hinayana teaching, or has not yet reached the ten stages of faith of the Mahayana teaching; even if one is an ordinary mortal of this latter age who commits the ten evil actsor the five cardinal sins, who is unfilial toward one’s father and mother, or who is a woman; if such a person hears the name of the Lotus Sutra, or chants the daimoku, or accepts and upholds one word, one line of afour-line verse, or four lines, one chapter, one volume, or all eight volumes of the sutra, reads and recites them, or merely responds with joy and praises a person who carries out these practices, then that person is superior to a great bodhisattva who profoundly adheres to all the sacred teachings of the Buddha’s lifetime other than that set forth in the Lotus Sutra, who has fully mastered the principles of those teachings, and who rigorously obeys all the precepts and rules of the Mahayana andHinayana teachings, and that person will be capable of gaining rebirth in a pure land and becoming a Buddha. But if one fails to believe this when one hears it preached, and on the contrary asserts that the Lotus Sutra was preached for the sake of bodhisattvas who have already reached the ten stages of development and the ten stages of security or have advanced beyond them; or that it was preached for ordinary mortals of superior capacity and superior wisdom, but not for the sake of foolish persons, evil persons, women, or ordinary mortals of this latter age, then that person will destroy the seeds for the attainment of Buddhahood by all living beings and will enter the Avīchi hell. This is what the passage is saying.
The Nirvana Sutra states: “When it comes to the correct teaching of the Buddha, they show no inclination to protect, treasure, and establish it over the ages.” This passage means that, at a time when the great teaching set forth in the Great Nirvana Sutra is about to perish from the world, those who do not treasure it are in fact slanderers of the Law.
The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai has described those who are the sworn enemies of the Lotus Sutra, saying, “‘Hatred’ refers to those who take no delight in listening to the doctrine.”