Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin
On the Occasion of the December
Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
December 1, 2019
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji
On this occasion of the December Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony, the last Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony of the year, conducted here today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance.
We have only a month remaining in this year, “The Year of Courageously Advancing Forward.” I imagine that the members of all chapters, based on unity between the priesthood and laity in the spirit of itai doshin, are exerting themselves in their practice, day and night, in order to achieve this year’s shakubuku goals that they pledged in front of the Gohonzon, in order to welcome the auspicious occasion of commemorating the 800th anniversary of the advent of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin in 2021.
The establishment of a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers is the vow we pledged in front of the Gohonzon. Thus, this is currently the most important goal that all chapters throughout the country must achieve at any cost.
In order to achieve this goal, we must reaffirm that each one of us has the awareness and pride as a disciple and follower of our Founder Nichiren Daishonin. Then, we must earnestly chant Daimoku with indomitable determination, no matter what obstacles and devils may confront us. With the benefits and joy from chanting Daimoku, the members of each chapter must stand up and make concerted efforts to do shakubuku—refuting heresy and revealing the truth—following the golden words: “One’s life is insignificant while the Law is supreme. You should be willing to give your life to propagate the Law.”
The Daishonin teaches the following in the Gosho, Questions and Answers between a Sage and a Foolish Man (Shogu mondo-sho):
To begin with, in order to bestow benefit upon all people through the propagation of Buddhism, one first must have a thorough understanding of the teaching, capacity, time, country, and sequence of propagation. As for the periods [of propagation], there are the Former, Middle, and Latter Days of the Law. As for the Law, there are both Mahayana and Hinayana teachings. As for the practices, there are shoju and shakubuku. If one carries out shakubuku during the period when shoju should be practiced, this will be inappropriate. On the other hand, if one performs the practice of shoju during the era when shakubuku must be used, this will be an offense. Thus, it is of foremost importance to know first whether the present time is for shoju or shakubuku.
The time to practice shoju is when the Lotus Sutra spreads throughout the nation and there is not a single evil teaching or master. At that time, one should withdraw to the forests and devote oneself to the practice of observing one’s mind and the Law, carrying out the practices such as the five practices, the six practices, and the ten practices.
However, during the time of shakubuku, one should not act in this manner. When erroneous doctrines of various sects become rampant and compete against each other, gaining acclaim by taking the stance that their respective doctrines are superior to others; and when incorrect teachings are viewed as equal to the correct Law, and Mahayana and Hinayana followers fight with each other over what is correct—this is the time, above all else, to refute these slanderers. This is the practice of shakubuku. The Lotus Sutra and Nirvana Sutra both state that if one is unaware of this principle, and is mistaken about the implementation of shoju and shakubuku, one will be far removed from receiving the benefit of attaining Buddhahood. Rather, one will fall into hell. This is also clearly stated in the interpretations provided by Tiantai and Miaole. What I mention here is critical in conducting Buddhist practices….
(Gosho, p. 402)
Precisely, in the Latter Day of the Law, shakubuku is the correct method that must be used, while in the periods of the Former and Middle Days of the Law, the past shoju method was appropriate. In this passage, the Daishonin indicates how important shakubuku is for the Buddhist practitioners in the Latter Day of the Law by stating the following: “When erroneous doctrines of various sects become rampant and compete against each other, gaining acclaim by taking the stance that their respective doctrines are superior to others—this is the time, above all else, to refute these slanderers. This is the practice of shakubuku. The Lotus Sutra and Nirvana Sutra both state that if one is unaware of this principle, and is mistaken about the implementation of shoju and shakubuku, one will be far removed from receiving the benefit of attaining Buddhahood. Rather, one will fall into hell. This is also clearly stated in the interpretations provided by Tiantai and Miaole. What I mention here is critical in conducting Buddhist practices.”
He also teaches the following in the Gosho, Letter to Nanjo Hyo’e Shichiro (Nanjo hyo’e shichiro dono-gosho):
No matter what great merit one gains by performing good deeds; even if one transcribes the Lotus Sutra ten million times, and achieves the observation of the mind based on the principle of ichinen sanzen (three thousand realms in a single life-moment), should he fail to denounce the enemies of the Lotus Sutra, he will not be able to attain enlightenment.
(Gosho, p. 322)
The Daishonin strictly warns us that no matter what good deeds one accumulates, even if one transcribes the Lotus Sutra ten million times, and gains true comprehension of the profound principle of ichinen sanzen, unless one denounces the enemy of the Lotus Sutra, that is, if one does not shakubuku the enemy of the Lotus Sutra, one will fail to attain Buddhahood.
This passage strictly indicates that though you may convince yourself that you are religious and have strong faith—always devoted to the Buddhist practice, have a thorough knowledge of the Buddhist doctrines, and have mastered Buddhism, if you turn a blind eye to slanders that go against the true Law, and neither refute heresy nor do shakubuku, you will not be able to attain enlightenment. These golden words are profound in meaning. We must take them seriously with our entire body and soul, and deeply engrave them into our hearts. We should in no case forget them.
Furthermore, the Daishonin teaches the following in the same Gosho:
One may loyally serve the imperial court for ten to twenty years, but if he recognizes an enemy of the emperor and neither reports it nor personally feels enmity, all the services he has thus far offered will come to naught. Rather, he will be punished.
(ibid. p. 323)
Even if someone is in the service of the imperial court over many years, such as 10 to 20 years, if this person knows an enemy of the master, but neither reports it to his superior nor denounces this enemy, one’s long years of meritorious service will all disappear. On the contrary, this person will be treated like one who is accused of a crime.
Accordingly, if a disciple or a follower of our Founder Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha in the Latter Day of the Law, sees those who suffer from the poison of slander, and neither conducts shakubuku nor denounces slander, this deed will go against the intention of the Daishonin. Thus, this is not a correct way of practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism. Following the Daishonin just as he taught and devoting oneself to one’s practice on the correct Buddhist path is the only way to achieve the attainment of Buddhahood in this lifetime.
The Daishonin teaches in the Gosho, On Chanting the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra (Sho hokke daimoku-sho) as follows:
In the Latter Day of the Law, there are many who do not possess the seed of Buddhahood. There are only a few who possess it. Thus, there is no doubt that the people [in the Latter Day of the Law] will fall into the evil paths. [Since they are going to fall into the evil paths one way or another,] we should strongly teach and make them listen to the Lotus Sutra and let them form a poison-drum relationship with it. Thus, now is certainly the time to create a reverse relationship by propagating the Lotus Sutra.
(Gosho, p. 231) Regarding the “poison-drum relationship,” I have repeatedly mentioned it. The poison-drum is a drum smeared with poison. It is said that when a drum smeared with poison is beaten, all those who hear the sound of the drum will instantly die, whether they wish to hear it or not. This passage uses a metaphor of beating a drum smeared with poison, to indicate that even those who neither listen to nor take faith in the Law can eventually sever their earthly desires and attain enlightenment.
That is, all living beings inherently possess the Buddha nature. Through listening to the correct Law, forming a relationship with it, and then awakening to it and practicing it, our Buddha nature will become manifest so that we can achieve the attainment of Buddhahood. Even those with a reverse relationship, to say nothing of those with a positive relationship, will be saved in the future without fail, if they are made to listen to Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws.
At this time, when we will be welcoming the auspicious occasion of the 800th anniversary of the advent of our Founder Nichiren Daishonin in the year after next, I sincerely wish that each of us will revere these golden words. Then, all members of all chapters will recognize how important shakubuku is, and devote themselves to advance their great propagation activities based on a firm determination. With these efforts, I hope that all chapters will achieve their shakubuku goals without fail so that, they will be able to formally welcome the auspicious occasion of the 800th anniversary of the advent of Nichiren Daishonin.