Chih-i Tientai writes: To liberate oneself from the [three-fold] world by means of the provisional [teachings] is called an ephemeral liberation."
Nichiren Daishonin writes:
"Compared to the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the second half of the preceding chapter, and the first half of the following chapter, that which comprises the main discourse according to this division, all other sutra’s may be called Hinayana teachings, false teachings, teachings in which the truth is not revealed. Those who listen to these "expedient" teachings have little virtue and much illusion; they are immature in thinking, poor in heart, and solitary; like birds and beasts, they do not know the existence of the Eternal Buddha, who is their Father."
"For persons of the Tendai Lotus school to chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo themselves and yet give their approval when others repeat the Nembutsu would be strange enough. Yet not only do they fail to remonstrate with them, but they criticize one who does confront the Nembutsu school, which is strange indeed!"
"Even though it is so, because they have not yet opened the Manifestation to reveal the Original (hosshaku kempon) neither do they reveal the true one thought is three thousand [realms] nor is the Attainment of Buddhahood by the Two Vehicles determinate. They are like seeing the moon in the midst of the water; they resemble rootless grass floating on top of the waves. When one arrives at the Doctrine of the Original (Hommon), when it destroys the First Time Attainment of True Enlightenment, it destroys the Effects [Buddhahood] of the Four Teachings. When it destroys the Effects [Buddhahood] of the Four Teachings, it destroys the Causes of the Four Teachings. Striking down the Causes and Effects of the Ten Realms of the Previous [Sutras] and the Manifestation Doctrine, it preaches and reveals the Causes and Effects of the Ten Realms of the Doctrine of the Original. This is the very doctrine (homon) of the Original Cause and the Original Effect. The Nine Realms are possessed in the Beginningless Buddha Realm and the Buddha Realm is provided with the Beginningless Nine Realms and it is the True Mutual Possession of the Ten Realms (jikkai gogu), the Hundred Realms and Thousand Thusnesses (hyakkai sennyo) and One Thought is Three Thousand Realms (ichinen sanzen). -- Kaimoku Sho
‘For those who wonder what to make of Sakyamuni’s shocking declaration that he initially attained enlightenment before the beginning of time, I will take you into my confidence regarding my own inner realization on this matter. First, the Buddha had recounted that we, mortal beings, have suffered since time immemorial through a myriad of births and deaths — so much so that we cannot conceive of reaching the ever-distant shore of enlightenment even in our dreams. [While his disciples watched with gaping mouths,] in the Lotus Sutra he revealed that the inception of his Perfect Enlightenment was as old as eternity [and, that his aim in revealing this was to help every mortal achieve an identity equal to his own]. In this way, he conveyed that we, ordinary humans, possess the enlightened essence originally endowed to all buddhas before the beginning of space and time. The Lotus Sutra is the most compassionate of all sutras as it produces the jewel that all mortals, without exception, have always possessed: that is, the Perfectly Enlightened Threefold Body of Everlasting Life [whose Universal Reality, Blissful Wisdom, and Mortal Manifestation constitute our whole self]. From this perspective, you should be able to assert to those who are unaware of it that the Lotus Sutra is supreme among all the Buddha’s teachings.’ — NICHIREN (Priest Sammi Ajari, c. 1275 or 1277)
Question: How should one practice if one is to be faithful to the Buddha’s teachings?
Answer: The Japanese people of this age are one in their opinion of what practice accords with the Buddha’s teachings. They believe that, since all vehicles are opened up and incorporated in the one vehicle of Buddhahood, No teaching is superior or inferior, shallow or profound, but all are equal to the Lotus Sutra. Hence the belief that chanting the Nembutsu, embracing the True Word teaching, practicing Zen meditation, or professing and reciting any sutra or the name of any Buddha or bodhisattva equals following the Lotus Sutra.
But I insist that this is wrong. The most important thing in practicing the Buddhist teachings is to follow and uphold the Buddha’s golden words, not the opinions of others. Our teacher, the Thus Come One Shakyamuni, wished to reveal the Lotus Sutra from the moment he first attained the way. However, because the people were not yet mature enough to understand, he had to employ provisional teachings as expedient means for some forty years before he could expound the true teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
In the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, which serves as an introduction to the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha drew the line between the provisional teachings and the true teaching, and clearly distinguished the expedient means from the truth. He declared, “[Preaching the Law in various different ways], I made use of the power of expedient means. But in these more than forty years, I have not yet revealed the truth.” The eighty thousand bodhisattvas, including Great Adornment, understood perfectly why Shakyamuni had preached the provisional teachings, demonstrated that they were nothing more than expedient means, and finally discarded them entirely. They expressed their understanding by declaring that one “will in the end fail to gain unsurpassed enlightenment” by embracing any of the sutras that were preached before the Lotus Sutra and that require countless kalpas of practice [to attain Buddhahood].
Finally the Buddha was ready to preach the Lotus Sutra, the revelation section of his entire body of teachings and stated, “The World Honored One has long expounded his doctrines and now must reveal the truth.” He also warned, “[In the Buddha lands of the ten directions there is only the Law of the one vehicle], there are not two, there are not three, except when the Buddha preaches so as an expedient means,” and taught, “honestly discarding expedient means” and “not accepting a single verse of the other sutras.” Thus, ever since that time, the Mystic Law, “the Law of the one vehicle” of Buddhahood, has been the only teaching that enables all people to become Buddhas. Although no sutra other than the Lotus Sutra can provide even the slightest benefit, the scholars of the Latter Day claim that all sutras must lead to enlightenment because they were expounded by the Thus Come One. Therefore, they arbitrarily profess faith in any sutra and follow whatever school they choose, whether True Word, Nembutsu, Zen, Three Treatises, Dharma Characteristics, Dharma Analysis Treasury, Establishment of Truth, or Precepts. The Buddha said of such people, “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 Avichi hell.” Thus the Buddha himself concluded that one’s practice accords with the Buddha’s teachings only when one bases one’s faith firmly on the standard of these sutra passages, believing fully that “there is only the Law of the one vehicle.”
This is the proper way to have an interfaith dialogue. All people possess the Buddha-nature. The best way to open the door to Buddha wisdom is to proclaim the superiority of the Lotus Sutra.