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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Unity must be based on setting aside one's own manner of reading the Sutra and adopting Nichiren's.

We have all sorts of thoughts. Our thoughts come and go. Which thoughts accord with the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha, and Nichiren Daishonin? Just because we think and we are chanting the Daimoku, are our thoughts correct? If they were, every thought of every SGI, Nichiren Shu, HBS, Kempon Hokke, and Nichiren Shoshu member would be correct. Then also, the thoughts of all Six Senior Disciples too must have been correct. If the thoughts we have about anything and anyone accord with the Lotus Sutra and the authentic Gosho, they are correct. Those that deviate from the Lotus Sutra and the mind of the Supreme Votary, are incorrect. How are we to correctly evaluate our thoughts (speech and actions too) and those of others? Nichiren writes:

"The eighteenth volume of the Nirvana Sutra sets forth the doctrine of  “the precious jewels that redeem life.” The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai, after studying and pondering this passage, concluded that “life” refers to the Lotus Sutra, and the “precious jewels,” to the first three of the four teachings expounded in the Nirvana Sutra. But what then of the fourth or perfect teaching, which the Nirvana Sutra also expounds? This teaching represents a reiteration of the doctrine already expounded in the Lotus Sutra concerning the eternally inherent Buddha nature, and was preached to lead people to the Lotus Sutra from which it originated. The Nirvana Sutra’s perfect teaching of the eternally inherent Buddha nature in fact belongs to the Lotus Sutra. The merits unique to the Nirvana Sutra are consequently limited to the first three of the four teachings.

The third volume of T’ien-t’ai’s Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra states, “The Nirvana Sutra offers precious jewels to redeem the life [of the Lotus Sutra], and thus the hands are clapped and the bargain concluded.” The third volume of The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra” explains this by saying, “The T’ien-t’ai school cites this metaphor to indicate that the contents of the Nirvana Sutra are to be regarded as precious jewels.”

The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai, in his work entitled The Four Meditations, cites the passage in the Lotus Sutra that reads, “Though they [the Buddhas] point out various different paths . . . ,” and declares that the four flavors of teachings are also to be regarded as precious jewels. If so, then the sutras that were preached before and after the Lotus Sutra are all to be regarded as precious jewels offered for the sake of the Lotus Sutra.

But the Buddhist scholars in the world today are of the opinion that this interpretation represents a doctrine put forward by the T’ien-t’ai school alone, and that none of the other schools accepts it. When I consider the matter, however, I have this to say: The eight or ten schools we are speaking of all came into existence after the passing of the Buddha and are the creation of the various scholars and teachers of the time. But we should not evaluate the sutras that the Buddha preached during his lifetime on the basis of the doctrines of schools established after his passing. The judgments put forward by T’ien-t’ai, however, completely accord with the teachings of all the sutras. It is wrong to discard them on the grounds that they represent no more than the opinions of a single school.

The scholars of the various schools continue to cling to the mistaken opinions of their respective teachers. Therefore, they declare that Buddhist practices must be accommodated to the people’s capacities, or they defer to the opinions of their founders or try to persuade the worthy rulers of the time to be their allies. The upshot of all this is that in the end they give themselves up wholly to evil intentions, engage in wrangling and doctrinal disputes, and take delight in inflicting injury upon people who are guilty of no fault." (Letter From Teradomari)

These are the causes and effects of the thoughts, words, and deeds of those who go against the Lotus Sutra. If everyone had the thoughts, words, and deeds of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin they could not possibly give themselves up to evil intentions, follow evil teachers, or engage in wrangling and doctrinal disputes (because everyone would have the same noble intentions, embrace the very same doctrines, and never would delight in injuring people who are guilty of no fault).

Nichiren also writes:

"Answer: Chang-an writes: “Hence [T’ien-t’ai’s explanation of the title in] the preface conveys the profound meaning of the sutra. The profound meaning indicates the heart of the text, and the heart of the text encompasses the whole of the theoretical and essential teachings.” And Miao-lo writes, “On the basis of the heart of the text of the Lotus Sutra, one can evaluate all the other various teachings of the Buddha.”

Though muddy water has no mind, it can catch the moon’s reflection and so naturally becomes clear. When plants and trees receive the rainfall, they can hardly be aware of what they are doing, and yet do they not proceed to put forth blossoms? The five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo do not represent the sutra text, nor are they its meaning. They are nothing other than the intent of the entire sutra. So, even though the beginners in Buddhist practice may not understand their significance, by practicing these five characters, they will naturally conform to the sutra’s intent." (On the Four Stages of Faith).

How do we resolve this contradiction? The Nichiren Shu, the Kempon Hokke, the SGI, the Nichiren Shoshu and the HBS members, as well as, the Six Senior Disciples all chant the Daimoku. Yet, they all embrace different doctrines and resort to wrangling and doctrinal disputes? How can that be?!?!

Nichiren writes:

"The Great Teacher Chia-hsiang wrote the ten-volume Hokke Genron, and that would under ordinary circumstances have condemned him to fall into the hell of incessent suffering. But he set aside his own manner of reading the Lotus Sutra and served the Great Teacher Tientai, and thus was able to escape the pains of hell." (Akimoto Gosho)

How much more true for the Latter Day when everyone has a different manner than Nichiren in reading the Lotus Sutra? The SGI says Nam Myoho renge kyo or Nichiren is True Buddha, the Nichiren Shoshu says that the true succession lies in the bequethal received by only a single person, and the Nichiren Shu emphasize the essential unity of the trace and origin while shunning shakabuku practice. These mistaken doctrines are proof that most practitioners of the Lotus Sutra have their own manner of reading the Sutra. This should be kept in mind when evaluating our thoughts about what it is to be a Bodhisattva of the Earth or any other question and answer that we believe to be true.

It is apparent to me, that only those who set aside their own manner of reading the Sutra and adopt Nichiren Daishonin's manner, experience the same Enlightenment as he. It is also apparent that unless this standard is met, there will never be unity in the Nichiren community.

In order to create the Buddha's Land here on earth, nothing is as important as unity in the Nichiren community. I postulate unity based on the same Three Treasures, same Three Great Secret Laws [as described by Nichiren], and a bodily reading of the Lotus Sutra in the same manner as Nichiren.

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