An SGI member wrote: No single right way? Abandon expedient means?
"Because living beings have different natures, different desires, different actions, and different ways of thinking and making distinctions, and because I want to enable them to put down good roots, I employ a variety of causes and conditions, similes, parables, and phrases and preach different doctrines. This, the Buddha's work, I have never for a moment neglected." -- LS Chapter 16
Another SGI member wrote, again referring to this passage of the Lotus Sutra:
"I think what was copied below from the Lotus Sutra (posted by xxxxxx) is great. I truly believe that once people get to a certain point in their spiritual growth, this passage below becomes clear. However, there will always be those who will say that the words mean something else and "what it really means is . . . " be they SGI, NST, HBS, KHK, Christian, etc. People will find their way if they search and it doesn't necessarily mean chanting is the only way. I strongly believe that trying to prove you are right and arguing your point to no end goes against this. The part about "putting down good roots" can be done by anyone just by showing respect to others, IMO.
This says to me that there is no single right way, but that different approaches are needed for different people. Everyone who practices the Buddhism of Nichiren chants this passage every time they do gongyo, as this is taken from the Juryo-hon chapter."
Nichiren interprets this passage differently:
"Question: When is the time for the preaching of the Hinayana sutras and and the provisional sutras, and when is the time for the preaching of the Lotus Sutra?
Answer: Even bodhisattvas, from those in the ten stages of faith to those on the verge of full enlightenment find it difficult to judge matters concerning time and capacity. How then can ordinary beings such as ourselves be able to judge such matters?
Question: Is there no way to judge them?"
Answer: Nichiren concludes that if we use the Buddhist sutras and not arbitrary opinion, now is the time for Buddhists to spread Namu Myoho renge kyo and Gohonzon ONLY. The time has passed for the other Buddhist teachings to be effective.
Nichiren explained this passage according to the "time". Depending on the time, there are different parables, metaphors, doctrines etc. that the Buddha taught. Now, in the Latter Day, there is only the doctrine of the Eternal Buddha (Gohonzon) and Namu Myoho renge kyo. If you do not read this passage through the eyes of a Bodhisattva of the Earth, a votary of the Lotus Sutra, you might make the claim as the Nembutsu, Zen, Shingon and others that, depending on the capacity of the person, the Nembutsu, the Zen or the Shingon faith and practices are correct or it is ok to tell someone, "Just chant Daimoku and you will get whatever you wish." This of course is not the import of the Lotus Sutra nor of Nichiren.
The Buddha states in Chapter 14 of the Lotus Sutra:
"After the Buddha's extinction,
In the [last] dreadful age,
We will proclaim abroad [this sutra].
In Chapter 23 he states:
"In the last five hundred years after my extinction, proclaim and spread it abroad in Jambudvipa, lest it be lost and Mara the Evil [One}, his Mara-people, gods, dragons, yakshas, kumbhandas, and others gain their opportunity."
Chapter 2 reads:
"Honestly discarding the provisional teachings I now will reveal the truth."
Teachings lose their power according to the time. A horse and buggy is no longer a practical means for transcontinental travel. The provisional teachings are no longer practical today. The teaching that all paths lead to the same place is an absurdity. Mein Kampf is a teaching. It is the teaching of Adolph Hitler. Does this teaching leads to the same place as the Lotus Sutra? No, the teachings of Mein Kampf lead to hell. The teachings of the Lotus Sutra lead to Buddhahood. Even the advanced teachings in the Flower Garland Sutra, for example, the "ten meditations", are useless in this Latter Day because those in the realms of Learning and Self Realization, our scientific and cultural leaders, are precluded from attaining Buddhahood through the teachings of the Flower Garland Sutra. Furthermore, no where in the Kegon Sutra are we exhorted to practice it in this degenerate age. Tientai taught the principle that the higher the teachings, the more people will be able to benefit. The Lotus Sutra is the highest teaching by the Buddha's own admission. Only the Lotus Sutra can benefit those people that the other sutras are powerless to benefit, we the people of this Latter Day.
"I appreciate your response. Nichiren Daishonin taught that in the Latter Day we must abandon all expedients and since the SGI is an expedient by your own admission, you must abandon it. We are Honmon. We have abandoned the expedient teachings and teach the truth directly. The SGI and especially your Sensei misunderstand Buddhism.
Soren SGI: "Abandon all expedients," Mark? I have to confess, I cannot even begin to imagine how one would do that. Every waking moment of our lives involve expedient means to achieving something; if nothing else, we go on breathing in order to remain alive.
Mark: Yes, abandon all expedients. Stop telling people, "you will definitely get that girlfriend if you chant" or " the abolition of all nuclear weapons will be realized in the next several decades, thanks to the SGI". Saying such things are an indication of "arrogant licentiousness". This is not the way to keep people chanting for fifty years as your (SGI's) miserable track record indicates. People will come to hate you for lying to them. People want to hear the Law not the arbitrary opinions of self proclaimed leaders. It is precisely because SGI does not abandon expedient means that you forfeit your right to call yourselves disciples of Nichiren but even more profoundly, you smother the seed to quickly attain Supreme Enlightenment.
"In essence, the entity of Myoho reng kyo is the physical body that the disciples and followers of Nichiren who believe in the Lotus Sutra received from their fathers and mothers at birth. such persons who honestly discard expedient means, put faith in the lotus sutra alone and chant Namu Myoho renge kyo, will transform the three paths of earthly desires, karma and suffering into the three virtues of the Dharma body, wisdom and emancipation. The threefold contemplation and the Three truths will immediately become manifest in their minds, and the place where they live will become the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light. The buddha who is the entity of Myoho renge kyo, of the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching, who is both inhabiting subject and inhabited realm, life and environment, body and mind, entity and function, the buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies---he is to be found in the disciples and followers of Nichiren. Such persons embody the the true entity of Myoho renge kyo; these are the meritorious workings that the spontaneous transcendental powers inherent in it display. could anyone venture to doubt it? Indeed it cannot be doubted!" (Entity of the Mystic Law, pg.64)
Then, on pg. 67 - 68 we read:
Question: Since the beginning of the kalpa of continuance, has anyone become enlightened to the lotus that is the entity of the Mystic Law?
Answer: The Shakyamuni Buddha who lived in a past even more distant than gohyaku-jintengo became enlightened to the lotus that is the entity of the Mystic Law. Thereafter in age after age and lifetime after lifetime, he declared that he had attained the way and he revealed the fundamental principle of wisdom and reality (the deep merging or fusion of objective reality or truth and the subjective wisdom to realize that truth, or the Buddha-nature inherent within one's life).
In our present world as well he appeared in the kingdom of Magadha in central India, intending to reveal this lotus of the Mystic Law. But the people lacked the proper capacity and the time was not right. Therefore he drew distinctions reguarding this lotus of the single Law and expounded it as three kinds of flowers, delivering to the people of the provisional teachings of the three vehicles. For over forty years he guided and led them with these temporary teachings according to their capacities. During this period, because the capacities of the persons he addressed were so varied, he bestowed upon them the various flowers and plants of the provisional teachings, but he never spoke of Myoho renge kyo. That is why, in the Muryogi Sutra, the Buddha said: "In the past I sat upright in the place of meditation[forsix years] under the Bodhi tree...In these more than forty years, I have not yet revealed the truth."
But when he preached the Lotus Sutra, he cast aside the various plants and flowers of the Hinayana doctrines and the provisional teachings, which correspond to the expedient means of the four flavors and three teachings, and explained the unique doctrine of Myoho-renge. When he opened the three figurative lotuses to reveal the single lotus of Myoho renge, the people of the provisional teachings with their four flavors and three teachings were able to gain the lotus of the first of the ten stages of security.(point of nonregression). Not until he revealed the lotus of 'opening the near and revealing the distant" were they able to obtain the lotus of the highest result, advancing to the second stage of security, the third stage of security, the tenth stage, the stage of near perfect enlightenment and finally, the highest stage of perfect enlightenment."(ibid).
Teaching the Human Revolution, Ikeda Guidances volume 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and the inane snippets of Gosho with hundreds of lines of Ikeda interpretation is not the way to ensure people will chant for fifty years and more or to attain to the higher stages of faith and practice. You cast aside the Lotus flower and embrace the Soka weed. You fail to teach the doctrine of Myoho renge kyo. You would do well to follow the lead of your friend who left the SGI for greener Buddhist pastures. If not, you will fail to see your life fulfilled in the manner you envisioned when you first started chanting. This is not a threat, this is an observation.