"How do we avoid the sin of slandering the Dharma?"
We avoid the sin of slandering the Dharma by rebuking slander of the Dharma and by undergoing persecution. There are clear passages to prove this. The Akimoko Sho says: "How sad, that we were born in a land of Dharma slanderers and must encounter these great sufferings! Though we may avoid slandering the Dharma ourselves, we cannot escape the sins of being a family of Dharma slanderers, a nation of Dharma slanderers. If we wish to escape the first sin, covert your parents and siblings to the Lotus Sutra. Will you be hated by them or will you lead them to faith? If you want to escape the sin of being a nation of Dharma slanders, rebuke the nation's rulers, and you may be condemned to death. ‘Do not love your life; care only for the highest way' ['Exhortation to Hold Firm' Chapter of the Lotus Sutra] teaches the sutra, and the commentary tells us ‘regard your life lightly and the Dharma gravely; at the cost of your life propagate the Dharma.'" [the "commentary" is the Nieban Jing Shu, Taisho Daizolyo, 38:114b. Akimoto Gosho is located in Showa Teihon, 1737]
Isn't this enough canonical proof? Great numbers of Priests and Lay people alike have been mislead, confused and have fallen into heretical faith, for no purpose.
Nichiren, in his letters of admonishment wrote: "According to the scriptures, the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra during the age of the Latter Day of the Dharma is the true Mahayana monk if he upholds the sutra to the extent that he is hated by people. He is then a Dharma master who propagates the Dharma and benefits people. A monk who everyone thinks well of, who is agreeable and tries to be looked up to should be regarded as the enemy of the Lotus Sutra and an evil influence in the world." (Hokke Shoshin Jobutsu Sho, ST 1431).
It also says, "Though one may have been fortunate enough to be born as a human being and may perhaps have renounced the world in order to seek the truth, if he fails to study Buddhism and to refute its slanders but simply spends his time in idleness and chatter, then he is no better than an animal dressed in monk's robes. He may call himself a monk and earn his livelihood as a true monk, but in no way does he deserve to be regarded as a true monk. He is nothing but a thief who has stolen the name of monk. How shameful and frightening!" (Matsuno Dono Gohenji, MW 3:215)
When someone says, "it is OK to do shoju or shakubuku, are they a beast wearing the skin of a Dharma master and a thief who steals the name of monk", as Nichiren said in his letters?
I hesitate to even write about this, because I wish to uphold the teachings of the Great Saint, if I hesitate to speak the truth, it will seem as if I seek to defame a person. Yet, if I am silent, some people will not be able to distinguish wrong from right. If people do not know that certain priests of sects are heretical they might follow those teachings and fall into the fiery pit themselves. Yet to confront persecutions and reveal the heretical teacher or sect is the original intent of Buddha and the testament of our sect's founder, Nichiren himself.
Nichiren warns in his letters, if we do not rebuke others for their slander of the Dharma we are no better than a thief or a beast. Not only that, but I have seen with my life that these people show great hostility to those who chose to observe the regulations of our sect. Some even accuse Nichiren of slandering the Dharma in order to hide their own blame. "Nichiren was too strict", "Nichiren should not have rebuked slander so harshly", and many other slanderous remarks. Such wickedness is utterly unprecedented. We can see that those sects who have introduced other practices along with daimoku are seeking companions in crime far and wide and are set to destroy the Dharma principles of our sect's teachings.
Anyone who thinks, "we should accept all" or "all are welcome to our Nichiren Sect" are a great enemy of the Buddha and Nichiren, and an evil influence on all sentient beings. They and anyone like them are the greatest brigand among brigands, and most beastly of beasts. Shakyamuni himself did not accept "ALL" into his Sangha.
When such unprincipled people walk the earth, the legions of five thousand demons follow in their tracks. Defamation and flattery are the regimen of such slanderers of the Dharma, and they never rebuke slander. All recourse to repaying their debt to Buddha is closed off to them. Because the followers of "wishy-washy" sects are slanderers of the Dharma, they can bring no benefits to their lay believers. They are like a lame elephant who has strayed into the mud; it cannot pull itself out nor can it be of use of others. It is terribly sad, that many people are being deceived by demonic actions of these fake believers by failing to distinguish from true and false.
Is this why Nichiren quotes Zhiyi's comment about being in ‘accord with the time' and Guanding's interpretation of that his remark, ‘adopting or rejecting Shoju or Shakubuku as is proper, without adhering solely to one of the other."
Nichiren's intent in quoting those remarks are as different from yours, as heaven is from earth, or fire is from water. How dare you and your followers shamelessly spout deluded words and bring confusion to so many of my friends and people of the world?
After the death of Buddha, in the age of the Image Dharma, two saints appeared in our world: Zhiyi (TienTai) and Saicho (Dengyo). They were true saints and lived in an age when they were enlightened but kept the full truth to themselves, so, in accord with the requirements of that age and the capacities of the people, they remained at the level of the sage and in that form brought benefit to sentient beings during the Image Dharma. But, in the Latter Day of the Dharma there is not even a sage teacher, much less a saintly teacher. Even our sect's founder, though his original sources were the loftiest of all, had fallen to the level of Identity Through Words, and in that form brought benefit to sentient beings of the evil world of the Latter Dharma.
The "Original Source" refers to the tradition within our sect that Nichiren was a reincarnation, or a "trace" of Visistacaritra. The terms honji and suijaku are used here. As an ordinary human being in his historical existence, however, Nichiren was at the level of Identity Through Words, as described in Zhiyi's system of the Six Identities.
Nichiren was an unsurpassed sage who exceeded both Zhiyi and Saicho because he awakened to the Three Great Secret Teachings without a teacher and because he bore the attacks of the three fierce enemies of the Lotus Sutra and confronted great persecutions, such as being struck with swords and staves. "One who preservers through great persecutions and embraces the sutra from beginning to end is the Buddha's emissary." (ST, 1667)
When I hear your interperation of "according with the times" I sense someone who thinks they are a saint and is using great trickery.
"In accord with the time" is found in the eighth scroll of TienTai's Hokke Wenju. He discusses the difference between the methods of accepting and embracing (Shoju) and breaking and subduing on the other, in the Nirvana Sutra and the Lotus Sutra. TienTai says that "the Nirvana Sutra speaks mostly about the shakubuku approach. But it also mentions dwelling in the state where one looks on all beings as one's own children. Could it not say so, if it did not have the shoju approach? The Lotus Sutra is concerned mainly with elucidation of the shoju approach. But in the ‘Dharani's' chapter there is also the curse on anyone who offends the Dharma, which says he will have his head split into seven parts. Could it say so if it did not have the shakubuku approach? One should examine both methods and use whichever one accords with the time." (MW, 2:207)
This means, that the Nirvana Sutra and the Lotus Sutra alike teach both accepting and embracing and breaking and subduing. Which approach is selected depends on the age. When determining which approach the age calls for, we take the words, "accords with the time" and apply them to the features of practice in the three ages of the Right Dharma, the Image Dharma and the Latter Dharma.
Now, during our present age of the Latter Day of the Dharma, when vehement slander of the Dharma flourishes, breaking and subduing is the only practice, and refusing to accept slander is the practice in accord with the time. This is what, "accords with the time" means. You have learned a great perversion. One who embraces slander or accepts slander is no different from the slanderers. Your admonishment of offenders have lost all force. How can you break or subdue anyone? Just like a father that is supported by an evil son, you can have no effect in reprimanding him. Scholars and Priests of the current times have lost the true meaning of Zhiyi and Guanding, and have adopted a twisted interpretation.
In the present day of the Latter Day of the Law we must adopt the exclusive practice of Daimoku and reject other practices like Nembutsu and Zen practices. We must adopt the practice of breaking and subduing of the original converts of the Buddha and reject the TienTai practice of accepting and embracing; it means we must adopt only the daimoku and reject slander. This is the proper meaning of the phrase, "adopting or rejecting." -- Graham Lamont