“You should read again and again the previous letter in which I explained that one should of course obey one’s teacher, sovereign, and parents, but should they commit wrongs, admonishing them is in fact being loyal to them,” (The Three Obstacles and four Devils)
“How could I ever feel distantly toward any of you? Even in the case of the Nembutsu priests, the Zen priests, and the True Word teachers, and the ruler of the nation and other men of authority, all of whom bear me such hatred— I admonish them because I want to help them, and their hatred for me makes me pity them all the more.” (Reply to the lay Priest Takahashi)
“If rumor spreads that you appear to be a votary of the Lotus Sutra, both those who are close to you and those who are not will unexpectedly admonish you as if they were your true friends, saying, “If you believe in the priest Nichiren, you will surely be misled.” (The Workings of Brahma and Shakra)
“The Classic of Filial Piety states, “[In a case of moral wrong,] a son must admonish his father, and a minister must admonish his lord.” (The Letter of Petition from Yorimoto )
“The Great Teacher Dengyo states, “In general, where unrighteousness is concerned, a son must admonish his father, and a minister must admonish his lord.” (ibid.)
“Yet not only do they fail to remonstrate with them, but they criticize one who does confront the Nembutsu school, which is strange indeed! As for Daishin-bo, as I wrote you before, please strongly admonish him by letter.” (The third Doctrine)
“It stipulates that, no matter how learned one may be, if one sees an enemy of the Lotus Sutra but fails to admonish that person out of fear, one will fall into the hell of incessant suffering.” (Letter to Akimoto)
“What is more, it was through the Lotus Sutra that these bodhisattvas attained Buddhahood, and because the Buddha fervently admonished them concerning it, they took solemn vows in the presence of the Buddha.” (On Prayer0
“The high minister Pi Kan, seeing that the Yin dynasty was on the path to ruin, strongly admonished the ruler, though it cost him his head.” (Opening of the Eyes)
“The hermit regretfully replied, “It is my fault for not having admonished you enough beforehand.” (Letter to the Brothers)
”But Punyayashas admonished him, saying, “Ashvaghosha, do not behead yourself ! Use that head and mouth to praise Mahayana.” (On Curing Karmic Disease)
“But because Kuan Lung- feng remonstrated with King Chieh of the Hsia dynasty and Pi Kan admonished King Chou of the Yin dynasty, their names have been handed down in history as those of worthies.” (op cit. Letter of Petition to Yorimoto)
“For years, therefore, I have continually admonished myself that, even though I might lack food or clothing, or be rebuked by my parents, brothers, teacher, and colleagues, or be persecuted by the ruler and all the people, if I were going to waver even in the slightest on that account, I would have done better never to have spoken out in the first place. ” (Letter to Misawa)
“Nichiren, who admonishes them for their evil, is father and mother to the ruler, and the teacher of all living beings.” (The Royal Palace)
“Is not a person of wisdom one who admonishes the ruler when the country is endangered or corrects others’ mistaken views? But in your case, no matter what error you may see, you will no doubt refuse to correct it for fear of society’s reaction.” (op. cit. Yorimoto)
The Nirvana Sutra states, “Human life runs its course more swiftly than a mountain stream; the person here today will not likely be here tomorrow.” The Maya Sutra reads, “Imagine, for instance, a flock of sheep being driven by a chandala to the slaughterhouse. Human life is exactly the same; step by step one approaches the place of death.” The Lotus Sutra states,
“There is no safety in the threefold world; it is like a burning house, replete with a multitude of sufferings, truly to be feared.”
In these passages from the sutras, our compassionate father, the World Honored One of Great Enlightenment, admonishes us, the ordinary people of the latter age; it is his warning to us, his ignorant children. Nevertheless, the people do not awaken for even one instant; nor do they conceive a desire to attain the way for even a single moment. In order to decorate their bodies, which, if abandoned in the fields, would be stripped naked overnight, they spend their time striving to pile up articles of clothing.
When their lives come to an end, within three days their bodies will turn into water that washes away, into dust that mixes with the earth, and into smoke that rises up into the sky, leaving no trace behind. Nevertheless, they seek to nurture these bodies and to amass great wealth.
This principle has been known since ancient times, but today the situation is pitiable. The country of Japan has been visited by continuous famine for the last several years, and supplies of food and clothing are exhausted. The domestic animals have all been consumed, and persons who eat human flesh are appearing. They tear flesh from the bodies of the dead, children, and the sick, mix it with fish or deer meat, and sell it. People purchase this mixture and eat it. Thus, this country has unwittingly become an abode of great evil demons.
Moreover, from the spring of last year through the middle of the second month of this year, epidemics have spread throughout the country. In five families out of ten, in fifty households out of a hundred, all the members have died from disease. Others have escaped illness but are suffering from great spiritual distress, and thus are in even greater agony than those who are ill. Even the people who managed to survive have lost the children who used to follow them as closely as shadows, or the spouses from whom they had been as inseparable as a pair of eyes, or the parents upon whom they had relied as they would upon heaven and earth. For them, what meaning does life hold? How could sensible people not abhor this world? The Buddha taught that there is no safety in the threefold world, but the current state of affairs seems excessively tragic.
Although I myself am only an ordinary person, I informed the ruler that the Buddha had left behind teachings predicting such a situation. However, he did not heed my admonitions, but rather began to persecute me even more harshly, so there was nothing further I could do. This country has already become a slanderer of the Law, and by turning into an enemy of the Lotus Sutra, it has also made itself an enemy of the Buddhas and the gods of the three existences and the ten directions.
Please consider deeply. No matter what grave crimes I, Nichiren, have been charged with, I am a votary of the Lotus Sutra. No matter what grave crimes a person who chants Namu Amida Butsu may be guilty of, it cannot be denied that he is a follower of the Nembutsu. Because I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with my own mouth, I have been reviled, struck, exiled, and had my life threatened. However, in spite of all this, I have continued to exhort others to do likewise. Am I not then a votary of the Lotus Sutra?
In the Lotus Sutra, it is stipulated that those who bear a grudge against its votary are destined to fall into the Avichi hell. The fourth volume states that the offense of harboring malice toward a votary of the Lotus Sutra in the latter age is graver than that of reviling the Buddha for an entire medium kalpa.2 The seventh volume teaches that people who disparage the votary will suffer in the Avichi hell for a thousand kalpas.3 The fifth volume states that after the Buddha’s passing, when the Latter Day of the Law arrives, a votary of the Lotus Sutra will certainly appear, and that at that time, in that country, an immeasurably great multitude of monks who either uphold or violate the precepts will gather and denounce the votary to the ruler of the country, causing him to be banished and ruined.
These passages from the sutra all coincide precisely with what has happened to me. I am therefore convinced that I will attain Buddhahood in the future. I will speak in more detail when we meet” (No Safety in the Threefold World)
“Question: What eye of wisdom allows you to perceive that the Nembutsu, Zen, and other schools of our time are the enemies of the Lotus Sutra and evil companions who are ready to mislead all people?
Answer: I do not state personal opinions, but merely hold up the mirror of the sutras and commentaries so that the slanderers of the Law may see their ugly faces reflected there and perceive their errors. But if they are incurably “blind,” it is beyond my power.
In the “Treasure Tower” chapter in the fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra we read: “At that time Many Treasures Buddha offered half of his seat in the treasure tower to Shakyamuni Buddha . . . At that time the members of the great assembly [saw] the two Thus Come Ones seated cross-legged on the lion seat in the tower of seven treasures . . . And in a loud voice he [Shakyamuni Buddha] addressed all the four kinds of believers, saying: ‘Who is capable of broadly preaching the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law in this saha world? Now is the time to do so, for before long the Thus Come One will enter nirvana. The Buddha wishes to entrust this Lotus Sutra to someone so that it may be preserved.’ ” This is the first pronouncement of the Buddha.
Again the chapter reads: “At that time the World-Honored One, wishing to state his meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying: ‘This holy lord, this World-Honored One, though he passed into extinction long ago, still seats himself in the treasure tower, coming here for the sake of the Law. You people, why then do you not also strive for the sake of the Law? . . . In addition, these emanations of my body, Buddhas in immeasurable numbers like Ganges sands, have come, desiring to hear the Law . . . Each has abandoned his wonderful land, as well as his host of disciples, the heavenly and human beings, dragons, and spirits, and all the offerings they give him, and has come to this place on purpose to make certain the Law will long endure. . . . as though a great wind were tossing the branches of small trees. Through this expedient means they make certain that the Law will long endure. So I say to the great assembly: After I have passed into extinction, who can guard and uphold, read and recite this sutra? Now in the presence of the Buddha let him come forward and speak his vow!’ ” This is the second proclamation of the Buddha.
The passage continues: “The Thus Come One Many Treasures, I myself, and these emanation Buddhas who have gathered here, surely know this is our aim. . . . All you good men, each of you must consider carefully! This is a difficult matter—it is proper you should make a great vow. The other sutras number as many as Ganges sands, but though you expound those sutras, that is not worth regarding as difficult. If you were to seize Mount Sumeru and fling it far off to the measureless Buddha lands, that too would not be difficult. . . . But if after the Buddha has entered extinction, in the time of evil, you can preach this sutra, that will be difficult indeed! . . . If, when the fires come at the end of the kalpa, one can load dry grass on his back and enter the fire without being burned, that would not be difficult. But after I have passed into extinction if one can embrace this sutra and expound it to even one person, that will be difficult indeed! . . . All you good men, after I have entered extinction, who can accept and uphold, read and recite this sutra? Now in the presence of the Buddha let him come forward and speak his vow!” This is the third admonition from the Buddha. The fourth and fifth admonitions are found in the “Devadatta” chapter, and I will deal with them later.” (op. cit. Opening of the Eyes)
“Adherents of the various schools may attempt to attack you by citing the passage from The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom that states, “If one denounces the teachings others follow out of love for one’s own, then even if one is the practitioner who observes the precepts, one will never escape the pains of hell.” Ask them whether they know why Nagarjuna wrote this admonition, and if Nagarjuna could possibly have been ignorant of how serious an offense it is to slander the true teaching by clinging to provisional teachings. He stated, “The various sutras are not secret teachings; only the Lotus Sutra is secret.”30 He declared that the Lotus Sutra alone is the seed of enlightenment, likening it to a great physician who can change poison into medicine. Is it possible that he later regretted having said these things, and therefore wrote that, if one denounces the teachings others follow out of love for one’s own, one will be destined to fall into the evil paths? If so, he would have been directly contradicting the truthful words of the Lotus Sutra, in which the Buddha states, “Honestly discarding expedient means” and “Not accepting a single verse of the other sutras.”31 This is hardly conceivable. Nagarjuna was a bodhisattva who appeared in accordance with Shakyamuni Buddha’s prediction, as well as a scholar in the direct lineage of the Buddha’s teaching. He may well have written this admonition in his treatise because he foresaw that such priests as Kobo and T’an-luan would slander the Lotus Sutra, the teaching that befits this age of the Latter Day of the Law. You should scoff at your opponents for not knowing the meaning of the words they cite. Tell them: 'Are you yourselves not followers of those destined to fall into the evil paths? How pitiful! Are you not to be counted among those who will suffer for countless kalpas to come?'” (Teaching Practice and Proof)
“He agonized over what course to take, but in the end, fearful of violating the Buddha’s admonition, made known his views to Emperor Kammu.” (Selection of Time)
“The Nirvana Sutra states: “If even a good monk sees someone destroying the teaching and disregards him, failing to reproach him, to oust him, or to punish him for his offense, then you should realize that that monk is betraying the Buddha’s teaching. But if he ousts the destroyer of the Law, reproaches him, or punishes him, then he is my disciple and a true voice-hearer.”
This admonition urged me on, and I spoke out against slander in spite of the various persecutions I faced, because I would have become an enemy of the Buddha’s teaching if I had not.
Slander can be either minor or serious, however, and sometimes we should overlook it rather than attack it. The True Word and Tendai schools slander the Lotus Sutra and should be severely rebuked. But without great wisdom it is hard to differentiate correctly between their doctrines and the teachings that Nichiren spreads. Therefore, at times we refrain from attacking them, just as I did in On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.
Whether or not we speak out, it will be difficult for those who have committed the grave offense of slander to avoid retribution. Our seeing, hearing, and making no attempt to stop slander that, if we spoke out, could be avoided, destroys our gifts of sight and hearing, and is utterly merciless.
Chang-an writes, “If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy.”3 The consequences of a grave offense are extremely difficult to erase. The most important thing is to continually strengthen our wish to benefit others.” (The Embankments of Faith)
“The heart of all these passages is the admonition to embrace and believe in the Lotus Sutra in this Latter Day of the Law.” (The Embankments of Faith)
“Nevertheless, I was concerned that any admonition would be taken by the ignorant as mere jealousy of his wisdom, and so I refrained from speaking out.” (On Persecution Befalling the sage)
“Then the unenlightened man said: “Listening to the teachings and admonitions of a sage like you, I find that the misunderstandings I have labored under in recent days are all suddenly dispelled.” (op. cit. Conversations Sage)
“The third volume of the Nirvana Sutra says: ‘If even a good monk sees someone destroying the teaching and disregards him, failing to reproach him, to oust him, or to punish him for his offense, then you should realize that monk is betraying the Buddha’s teaching. But if he ousts the destroyer of the Law, reproaches him, or punishes him, then he is my disciple and a true voice-hearer.’
“The meaning of this passage is that, if a person striving to propagate the correct teaching of the Buddha should hear and see others propounding the teachings of the sutras in a mistaken manner and fail to reproach them himself or, lacking the power to do that, fail to appeal to the sovereign and in this way take measures to correct them, then he is betraying the Buddha’s teaching. But if, as the sutras direct, he is not afraid of others but censures these slanderers himself and appeals to the sovereign to take measures against them, then he may be called a disciple of the Buddha and a true priest.
“Being therefore determined to avoid the charge of ‘betraying the Buddha’s teaching,’ although I have incurred the hatred of others, I have dedicated my life to Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra, extending compassion to all living beings and rebuking slanders of the correct teaching. Those who cannot understand my heart have tightened their lips and glared at me with furious eyes. But if you are truly concerned about your future existence, you should think lightly of your own safety and consider the Law above all. Thus the Great Teacher Chang-an states, ‘ “[A royal envoy . . . would rather], even though it costs him his life, in the end conceal none of the words of his ruler”91 means that one’s body is insignificant while the Law is supreme. One should give one’s life in order to propagate the Law.’
“This passage is saying that, even if one must give up one’s life, one should not conceal the correct teaching; this is because one’s body is insignificant while the Law is supreme. Though one’s body be destroyed, one should strive to propagate the Law.” (ibid.)
“And what of these admonitions of mine? Because people regard them with suspicion and refuse to heed them, disasters such as those we now face occur.” (Three tripitak Masters Pray For Rain)
“Now this great evil True Word doctrine has spread to Kamakura, deceiving the members of the ruling clan and threatening to bring about the destruction of Japan. This is a matter of the gravest import, and I have not discussed it even with my disciples. Instead I have dissembled, pretending ignorance and filling their ears only with attacks upon Nembutsu and Zen. But since my admonitions continue to go unheeded, without begrudging even my life, I will also tell my disciples what the true situation is.
“When I do so, they will be even more perplexed, saying that, no matter how admirable or worthy of respect Nichiren may be, he can scarcely surpass Jikaku and Kobo. I fear I will never succeed in banishing all their doubts. How can I dispel them?” (op. cit. Takahashi)
“It is a grave offense to go against these admonitions, and though invisible to the eye, the error piles up until it sends one plummeting to hell.” (Fourteen Slanders)
“My admonitions have surpassed even those set forth in the yüeh-fu poems of Po Chüi, and my prophecies are not inferior to those of the Buddha.” (The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra)
“In ancient China, King Chou of the Yin dynasty refused to heed the admonitions of his loyal minister Pi Kan and instead cut out Pi Kan’s heart.” (ibid.)
“But just as a high wind creates great waves, or a powerful dragon brings forth torrential rains, so my admonitions called forth increasing animosity.” (ibid.)
“However, he did not heed my admonitions, but rather began to persecute me even more harshly, so there was nothing further I could do. (op. cit. no Safety Threefold World)
“I, Nichiren, fearing these admonitions of the Buddha, accordingly accused all those throughout the nation who were deserving of it, and more than once I was condemned to exile or to death.” (Letter to Akimoto)
“Thus, although Shan-wu-wei, Hsüantsang, Kobo, Jikaku, Chisho, and the others put forth a variety of clever arguments, they could produce no passage of scripture proving the Lotus Sutra to be inferior to the Mahavairochana Sutra. Their whole argument rests solely on the question of whether the sutra includes mudras and mantras. Rather than writing hundreds of volumes of argument, traveling back and forth between China and Japan with their unending schemes, and arranging for the promulgation of imperial edicts in order to intimidate people, they would have been better off producing some clear passage of proof in the sutras themselves. Who then could have doubted their assertions??
Dewdrops accumulate to form a stream, and streams accumulate to form the great ocean. Particles of dust accumulate to form a mountain, and mountains accumulate to form Mount Sumeru. And in the same way, trifling matters accumulate to become grave ones. How much more so in the case of this matter, which is the gravest of all! When these men wrote their commentaries, they should have exerted themselves in examining both the principles and documentary evidence of the two teachings, and when the court issued imperial edicts, it, too, should have delivered its admonitions after thoroughly investigating both sides and citing some clear passage of proof.
Not even the Buddha himself could repudiate his statement that, among all the sutras he has preached, now preaches, and will preach, [the Lotus Sutra stands supreme]. How much less, then, can scholars, teachers, and rulers of states use their authority to do so! This statement [of the Buddha] has been heard by Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, and the four heavenly kings, and duly recorded in their respective palaces.
So long as the people truly did not know of this statement, it seems that the false interpretations of the teachers I mentioned spread without anyone incurring retribution. But once a person of forceful character has come forward to make this sutra passage known in a bold and uncompromising fashion, then grave matters are certain to occur. Because people have looked down on this person and cursed him, struck him, sent him into exile, or attempted to take his life, Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, and the four heavenly kings have risen up in anger and become that votary’s allies. Thus unexpected censures have come down from heaven, and the people are about to be wiped out and the nation destroyed.
Though the votary of the Lotus Sutra may be of humble background, the heavenly deities who protect him are fearsome indeed. If an asura tries to swallow the sun or moon, its head will split into seven pieces. If a dog barks at a lion, its bowels will rot. And as I view the situation today, the same sort of retribution is happening here in Japan.
On the other hand, those who give alms and support to the votary will receive the same benefit as though making offerings to the Lotus Sutra itself. As the Great Teacher Dengyo says in his commentary, “Those who praise him will receive blessings that will pile up as high as Mount Calm and Bright, while those who slander him will be committing a fault that will condemn them to the hell of incessant suffering.”
The person who offered a humble meal of millet to a pratyekabuddha became the Thus Come One Treasure Brightness. He who offered a mud pie to the Buddha became the ruler of Jambudvipa. Though one may perform meritorious deeds, if they are directed toward what is untrue, then those deeds may bring great evil, but they will never result in good. On the other hand, though one may be ignorant and make meager offerings, if one presents those offerings to a person who upholds the truth, one’s merit will be great. How much more so in the case of people who in all sincerity make offerings to the correct teaching!” (The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings)