The Four Kinds of Faith and the Five Ways of Practicing

Goshō Zenshū, pp. 338-343
Goshō Shinpen, pp. 1111-1116

I have received a string of wild duck coins knotted together.

Nowadays, all scholars will agree on this point by saying, “Even though there is a difference between the Buddha being in the world and after his extinction into nirvana, in the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra it is absolutely necessary to be equipped with the three kinds of learning.” [These are discipline, meditation, and wisdom: learning from the precepts so as to guard against unfortunate consequences, and by pondering over the profundity of these teachings, as well as applying insight and wisdom.] If even one of these is lacking, one cannot attain to the path of enlightenment. Again, some years ago, I was aware of this concept.

Putting aside a lifetime of holy teaching for the time being, and from within the Dharma Flower Sutra, let us examine this idea. As well as putting aside the two sections of the First and Introductory chapters along with the main part of this sutra, the third section, which is the point to be spread abroad, is a clear mirror for the Final Period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). This has to be by far even more reliable.

In the part to be spread abroad, there are two sections. One section is the teaching on which Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon) are based, which starts at the Tenth Chapter on the Dharma as a Teacher and continues for five consecutive chapters (ending with the Fourteenth Chapter on Practicing in Peace and with Joy). The second section is in the middle of the teachings of the original archetypal state (honmon) and starts from half of the Seventeenth Chapter on Discerning the Meritorious Virtues and goes on through eleven and a half chapters until the end of the sutra (which is the Twenty-eighth Chapter on the Persuasiveness of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy). These eleven and a half chapters (of the original archetypal state) as well as the five chapters (of the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work) consist of sixteen and a half chapters in all. This is the part in which, since having entered the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, the characteristics of the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra are shown clearly. If this is not yet persuasive, then you should searchingly examine the Sutra on Universally Worthy and the Sutra on Shākyamuni’s Final Extinction into Nirvana (Nehan kyō, Nirvana sutra), lest there be anything hidden.

Among those pages of the section to be spread abroad, one can now clearly discern the four kinds of faith which begin with a single instant of mental activity. There is faith and understanding, as well as the five ways of practicing as explained in the Seventeenth Chapter on Discerning the Meritorious Virtues. Such an understanding is valid for the time when the Buddha was alive and also for after his extinction into nirvana.

The Universal teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo) wrote, “Understanding and faith in a single instant of mental activity is the beginning of the practice of the teaching of the original archetypal state (honmon).” At present, among those are the four kinds of faith, beginning with that each instant of mental activity has to have faith and understanding in the theme and title (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō), and the five stages of practicing [gradual stages in the practice of those who would hold faith in the Dharma Flower Sutra after the extinction of Shākyamuni into nirvana].

The Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai) defines those five stages of practice in his Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) and bases his argument on the Seventeenth Chapter on Discerning the Meritorious Virtues, of which the first is “feeling joy”. These two items are the constituents of the treasure chest of the hundred worlds and the thousand such qualities (nyoze) and the one instant of mental activity which contains the thousand existential dimensions and from whence come all the Buddhas of the ten directions of the past, present, and future.

[The five stages are 1) to find joy on hearing Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, 2) to read and recite (practice the theme and title of this sutra), 3) to propagate this teaching, 4) to accept and practice the six kinds of observations whereby bodhisattvas attain enlightenment, and 5) to arrive at the perfection of those practices.]

Tendai (T’ien T’ai) and Myōraku (Miao-lo), who are both holy and worthy individuals, have decided to agree on two points. But there are three explanations. They are the so-called analogical iron circles of the ten stages of faith.

[In the teaching of Shākyamuni there are fifty-two stages of a bodhisattva. These stages are progressive, from one’s first resolution to become a monk or nun until such a person arrives at the state of Buddhahood. These progressive stages are enumerated in the “Sutra on the Garland of Improving One’s Negative Karma” (Bosatsu Yōraku Hongō). They consist of ten stages of faith, ten stages of sureness, ten stages of practice, ten stages of devotion, and ten stages of development, as well as a stage comparable to Shākyamuni’s realization (Tōgaku), and finally the stage of Perfect Enlightenment (Myōgaku).]

[The ten stages of faith are listed as follows: 1) a mind of faith, 2) faith founded on introspection, 3) a mind of faith bent on progress, 4) wisdom derived from faith, 5) a solid faith, 6) a faith that is not forsakable, 7) a faith that will never give up, 8) a transference of merit, 9) a faith based on the monastic precepts, and 10) a faith based on the real desire to become enlightened.]

They are the so-called comparative ten steps of faith, which are an iron circle, or even (can be compared) with the beginning of the fifth stage of practice, which is observing one’s own mind. This is a stage in which the practitioner has not yet broken off thoughts and delusions of being confused in perceiving reality and the dharmas within it. Or it is merely the stage in which one understands that all beings are Buddhas in essence.

The Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan) states that the Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai) “was aware of this uncertainty and wrote that ‘the Buddha’s intentions were difficult to determine, and, according to the propensities of his listeners, he explained things differently in conformity with their non-uniform traits of character. Following this discourse [of the Buddha], if we could only understand this, then why do we go into troublesome and bitter disputes?’”

My personal opinion is that, out of these three explanations, the stage in which all sentient beings are Buddhas in essence seems to correspond to the text of the Dharma Flower Sutra. This is because, in discussing the first of these five practices that are attributed to the time of after the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana, the sutric text mentions “those who do not vilify this sutra and as a result give rise to joy on hearing it”. Should one go beyond this stage of sutric allegoric injunction (and arrive at the) five stages of practice, then the phrase “however, do not slander” would not be well chosen.

Among other things in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, it is mentioned that “those who had lost their minds and those who had not lost them” are all at the stage in which they understand that all sentient beings are Buddhas in essence. In the Sutra on Shākyamuni’s Final Extinction into Nirvana (Nehan kyō, Nirvana sutra), we have, “whether they have faith or whether they have no faith…” right on up to the (Nairajanā) River (present-day Lilaja which flows past Gāya). You should think about this.

Again, (as regards) the four ideograms for “the one instant of faith and understanding”, the single character [for faith] is the beginning of the four kinds of faith. The reason is that the ideogram for understanding has to take its place (after the ideogram for faith). If this is the case, then the expression “with no understanding, but there is faith” is the source of the (first of the) four kinds of faith. The second stage of faith is discussed in the sutra as “on the whole, to understand words and their intention”. In the ninth volume of the Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu ki), it says that “with the exclusion of the beginning of faith, there is no understanding”.

Then we come to the chapter that follows, “Giving rise to joy”, where the first giving rise to joy is once again restated and made clear by saying that for fifty persons, who one after another enjoy hearing (the title and theme of the Dharma Flower Sutra [Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō]), the meritorious virtues that they get from this experience is decreased by each subsequent person one after another. When one arrives at the fiftieth individual, there are two explanations. The first is that the fiftieth person is still within the primary joy of hearing (the title and theme of the Dharma Flower Sutra).

The second explanation is that the fiftieth person is outside the primary joy of hearing (the title and theme of the Dharma Flower Sutra) but is at the stage of being aware that all sentient beings are Buddhas in essence. There is one commentary that says, “The truer the teaching the lower the level…” This comment implies that, more than the three teachings and those of the four flavors (fresh milk, cream, curds, and butter), those that have the aptitude for the all-embracing teaching can attain their goal.

[The first of the three teachings is the period of the Individual Vehicle (Agon, Āgama); the second is that of the doctrine of the Wisdom Sutras (hannya, praja); and the third is the period which includes the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), and the Sutra on Understanding the Depths in the Esoteric Doctrine (Gejimmitsu-kyō).]

The all-embracing teaching that was expounded prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra can enlighten those who have the aptitude for it. More than the teachings that were derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), those of the original archetypal state (honmon) can bring about enlightenment. You should carefully ponder over the six ideograms for “the truer the teaching the lower the level”.

Question: Having entered the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō), is it necessary for beginners to pay attention to the three kinds of learning (the precepts, meditation, and wisdom) of the all-embracing teaching– or do they not have to?

The answer is given: This is extremely important. I will have to look into the sutric text in order to be able to give you an answer. When it comes to the first, second, and third of these five stages of practice, the Buddha correctly holds back and limits the two dharmas of the precepts and meditation (thinking about the totality of existence) and resolutely places all importance on wisdom. And without worrying about sagacity, for which faith can be substituted, the single word “faith” brings about a depth of thinking. Having no faith is the cause of the slander of the person of incorrigible disbelief (issendai, icchantika). Faith is the source of wisdom. It is the stage in which the practitioner understands that all sentient beings are Buddhas in essence.

Tendai (T’ien T’ai) stated that when persons have reached the level of “seeming to be enlightened” the meritorious virtues they have acquired have been put to the side and in no way are forgotten. There are those people who on hearing the theme and title (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) are filled with joy as well as fully realizing that all sentient beings are Buddhas in essence or those who have arrived at the stage of observing their minds and acting accordingly. They may have their meritorious virtues tucked away and subsequently forgotten until they are reborn into succeeding lives. Maybe there are persons who do not forget. For those who have forgotten, should they meet up with someone who guides them into practicing again, then such meritorious virtues will be revived. But if they meet up with a person who detracts them from practicing, they will lose their original minds.

It is sad how the two Universal Teachers of the middle period, of when the Dharma was an imitation of itself, Jikaku and Chishō reacted to the beneficial knowledge of Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) and Dengyō. Both of them chose the way of thinking of the negative partisans of Shan-wu-wei (Zemmui, Shubhakarasimha) and Fukū (Pu-k’ung, Amoghavajra). Many thinking people of this present age of the final Dharma of Shākyamuni (13th century) have become fanatics due to Eshin’s (a.k.a. Genshin) introduction to his “Essential Collection of being reborn in the Immaculate Terrain” and thereby have lost their original mind for the Dharma Flower Sutra and have become adherents of Amida (Amitābha). They are those who have relinquished an all-embracing doctrine for a lesser one. Thinking about the past, they will, for unbounded kalpas, be placed in and go through the three negative paths of rebirth (in one of the hells, of beings who crave and want, i.e., hungry spirits, or that of animality as persons with animal tendencies).

The question is asked: How about some proof?

The answer is given: In the sixth volume of the Universal Desistance of Troublesome Worries in order to see Clearly (Maka Shikan) it says, “People who have studied the teachings that were expounded prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra are those who have reached a high level of learning, because these teachings were explained as an expedient means. The people who have been realized (illuminated) through the all-embracing doctrine are of a lower level, since those teachings are statements of the actual truth. The Annotations on the Universal Desistance of Troublesome Worries in order to see Clearly states, “The teachings expounded prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra are at a lower level than the provisional doctrine and those that refer to reality itself, since if the teachings are truer [then they can enlighten more people]. In the ninth volume of the Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu ki) it says, “On judging levels, then the level of contemplating the dimension where people are born and live accordingly (would be considered a level in which) the attainment is somewhat lower.”

As to those people who follow other schools, I will say nothing about them. But why would intellectuals of the Tendai School push to one side their justification for the saying “the truer the teaching, the lower the level” or even make use of the writings of the superior of the monks such as Eshin (Genshin)? The testimony of Shan-wu-wei (Zemmui, Shubhakarasimha), Vajrabodhi (Kongōchi, Chin-kang-chih), Fukū (Pu-k’ung, Amoghavajra), Jikaku, and Chishō can wait. This is a matter of the utmost importance. It is by far the most important matter for the world of humankind (Ichienbudai, Jambudvīpa). Persons with a mind should listen, and afterwards you can brush me aside.

The question is asked: In the beginning of the end of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, what kinds of practices are restricted?

The answer is that they should not practice almsgiving or the precepts or even the practices that transport one to the other shore of living and dying (i.e., nirvana) but should resolutely recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. This amounts to the joy which is the mood felt through the single instant of faith and understanding of the Dharma Flower Sutra. This is the true intention of this Buddhist text.

It is expressed doubtingly: I have never heard this before. My ears are befuddled. My mind is taken aback. Please clearly quote some sutric material as evidence, so that you can courteously instruct me.

The answer is in the Dharma Flower Sutra: It says, “There is no need for my sake to build stupas or temples, or work on the living quarters of the religious community, or even donate the four kinds of offering of the four kinds of necessaries of the monks (clothing, victuals, bedding, or medicine [herbs]).” This sutric passage is manifestly clear. It says that those who first aspire to enlightenment should not give donations to monks, monasteries or temples, or keep the monastic precepts, or even indulge in the five practices that transport the practitioners to the other shore of nirvana (haramitsu, pāramitā).

It is asked with doubt: The passage you have just quoted only mentions the restriction of building temples and the making of stupas, as well as working on the living quarters of the religious community. Then what about the monastic precepts, as well as the other five practices whereby bodhisattvas can attain enlightenment (haramitsu, pāramitā)?

The answer to your question is that the passage mentions only the essential and only calls attention cursorily to the other five pāramitās.

The question is asked: How are we supposed to know this?

The answer is given: In the succeeding passage, the Buddha describes the fourth way of practicing according to the sutra, which says: “How much more (is this so), if there are other persons who are able to hold to this sutra, as well as making donations, keeping the monastic precepts, along with doing the necessary practice.” This sutric passage is evidence that the persons who are at the first, second, or third way of practicing are restricted from making donations or keeping the precepts, and the other five pāramitās. [The six pāramitās are the highest acme, so as to cross over from this shore of births and deaths to the other shore of nirvana: 1) charity, 2) moral conduct, 3) patience, 4) energetic progress, 5) meditation, and 6) wisdom.] Only when one arrives at the fourth way of practicing are such persons permitted to observe them (pāramitās). But at the beginning stages, they are restricted from doing so.

The question is asked: The sutric quotations you have offered apparently seem to tally with your reasoning. Nevertheless, do you have any explanations from the various commentaries?

The answer is given: Are you seeking the clearest of explanations from the four standards to which ordained monks (biku, bhikshu) must conform? [The standards for ordained monks are to follow the Dharma and not to follow persons, to follow the teachings of the sutras which are regarded as complete and final, not to follow the provisional doctrines, to follow meanings and not to follow words in themselves, to follow wisdom (prajā) and not to follow discriminative thinking.] Or are you looking for the writings of human teachers from either China or Japan?

The answer is given further: To start with, this is in contradiction to the sutras. Do you want original statements of the Buddha? Or if you had various explanations, would it be as if you were to throw away the original texts?

So you ask for commentaries. Therefore, you try to separate the substance and simply seek its superficial appearance. You forget about the source and value the stream. Moreover, you push a perfectly clear sutric passage to the side and say, please send either a discourse or an explanation instead. If there were any contradictions with this sutra, would you then rather follow commentaries or explanations?

The answer is given further: If you are asking for discourses or explanations of the four dependencies from Gesshi, would you rather have explanations of a later date (than the sutra)? [Gesshi is the name of a kingdom and its inhabitants in Central Asia, a.k.a., Yeh-chih, or the Indo-Scythians.] Nevertheless, I will show them if you like. In the ninth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu), it says, “I fear that beginners will be distracted in their practice due to minor concerns. The beginner should especially hold to the sutra which in itself is a supreme offering. If the practitioner were to set aside ritualistic practices and keep to the principle, there would be many broad and meritorious virtues.”

This explanation refers to the six ways in which a bodhisattva can attain enlightenment. If the novice makes an endeavor to practice the six pāramitās, it would hinder faith in the correct practice. It would be like a small boat overloaded with merchandise, and in trying to cross the sea, the merchandise would sink along with the boat. “Diligently hold to the sutra,” as the saying goes, but do not try to get through the whole sutra. Take special care to hold to the title and theme and do not mix it with anything else. Even the reading and reciting of the whole sutra is not allowed, let alone holding to the six pāramitās.

“Throw away the superficial parts and keep the essential.” So, as they say, abandon the precepts and other things. Make a point of reciting the theme and title (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō). There will be many huge and meritorious virtues for the person who aspires to enlightenment. For the person who does all the other practices as well as reciting the title and theme, all the advantages (merit) will be lost.

In the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu), it says, “Question: If what you say is true, then holding to the Dharma Flower Sutra is a precept of the utmost significance. Why then does the text mention keeping the precepts? Reply: This is for the benefit of novices, so as to avoid difficulties at a later stage, etc.”

Without seeing the explanations of intellectuals of the present age, the stupid people of the Final Period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō) make errors. Even those two holy individuals Nangaku (Nan-yeh) and Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) have both made a mistake within an error.

Myōraku (Miao-lo) has clarified this further by saying, “Question: If that is so, then there is no need to construct stupas in a concrete way to house physical relics, or even to hold to in a practical way the monastic precepts, or even to make physical offerings to the religious order, is there?”

The Universal Teacher Dengyō once said, “I have ended up by throwing away the two hundred and fifty precepts.” And this was not limited to the single person of Dengyō. The disciples of Ganjin, Nyohō and Dōchū, as well as the monks of the seven more important temples of Nara, all abandoned the monastic precepts. Yet only the Universal Teacher Dengyō left this dissuasion for the future when he said, “If in the Final Period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni people should hold to the monastic precepts, it would be grotesque, rather like a tiger in a market. Who would be able to believe this?”

Question: Why do you not urge people to fully look into the gateway of one instant of mental activity containing three thousand existential dimensions, instead of only reciting the theme and title?

The answer is given: The two ideograms for Japan (Nippon) comprise its sixty-six provinces, which include all the people, wealth, and livestock within them. Do not the two ideograms for Gesshi [a kingdom of the Indo-Scythians in Central Asia] comprise seventy provinces? Myōraku (Miao-lo) said, “In order to be brief, we use the term ‘theme and title’, which in itself in a subtle way involves the whole sutra.” Also, he said, “In order to shorten the concept of existential dimensions (worlds, kai) and in any way dharmas make themselves perceptible to our six senses (such qualities, nyoze), all together they imply all the three thousand.”

The Bodhisattva Monjushiri (Manjushrī) and the Venerable Anan (Ānanda), when at the assembly to collect together all the words spoken by the Buddha, wrote down the title Myōhō Renge Kyō. Then, in order to show their understanding that the whole sutra is contained in these five ideograms, they wrote down, “I heard it this way.”

Question: Without knowing its significance, for people who only recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, are the meritorious virtues and an understanding of its meaning included, or are they not?

Answer: A small infant absorbs its mother’s milk. The baby has no understanding of its taste, but naturally the milk does good to its body. Nāgārjuna (Ryūju) and Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) and others knew that if anyone took the medicine of Utterness of Jīvaka, though not being aware of what this medicine is made of, yet that person still takes it. Even though water is unaware of its existence, it can put out fire. Fire consumes things. How is it that you are unaware of this? These are statements of Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) and Nāgārjuna (Ryūju) which I am restating here.

Question: How is it that the theme and title includes the entirety of existence?

Answer: Shōan (Chang-an), wrote, “Thus in Tendai’s (T’ien-t’ai) introduction it says that the sutra describes the subtle meaning [of existence]. Its text not only discusses the motives of the subtle meaning, but its text also goes beyond the teachings derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon) along with the teachings of the original archetypal state (honmon). Myōraku (Miao-lo) wrote, “According to the essence of the text of the Dharma Flower Sutra, the reason for all his other teachings can be understood.”

Albeit muddy water has no mind, it can reflect the moon so it automatically becomes clear. When plants and trees receive the rainfall, how is it that they are unaware of their flowers blooming? The five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō are not the text of the Dharma Flower Sutra, nor are they its meaning only. The whole sutra is its meaning. When practitioners are only at the beginning, they do not understand (the meaning of the theme and title). They nevertheless recite it and naturally acquire its meaning.

Question: As regards your disciples who do not understand even a portion of it and simply recite the words Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, what do they gain by it?

Answer: Not only do such people go beyond the four flavors and three teachings, as well as those of the fullest realization of the all-inclusive doctrines as described in sutras before the exposition of the Dharma Flower Sutra, but they surpass all the founders of the Shingon School and other schools of the Buddha teaching, such as Shan-wu-wei, Chih-yen, Tz’u-en, Chi-tsang, Tao-hsan, Bodhidharma, and Shan-tao.

I therefore beg the people of this country not to despise my disciples. If you were to look into their past, they are great bodhisattvas who have made offerings throughout a period of eight hundred thousand million kalpas. Have they not carried out practices under Buddhas as many as the grains of sand of the Hiranyavati and Ganges rivers? Then, speaking of the future, they will be endowed with the meritorious virtues of the fiftieth person, and go beyond the person who gave donations to everybody over a period of eighty years. They are comparable to the son of heaven when he was wearing diapers, or the firstborn of a great dragon. So, don’t make fun of them! Don’t make fun of them at all!

Myōraku (Miao-lo) said that if there is any trouble (given to my disciples), (for those who make trouble) their heads will be broken into seven pieces. But those people who make offerings to them will attain a happiness that exceeds the ten titles of a Buddha. King Udayana showed contempt for the Venerable Pindolabhāradvāja; however, within seven years his life was to end. The lord of Sagami had Nichiren condemned to exile. Within a hundred days there was an armed rebellion in his region.

In the sutra it says, “If anybody sees a person holding to this sutra, yet reveals the past wrongs of that person, even if what the other person says is true or whether it is not true, such a person will be in this present lifetime infected with white leprosy or some other severe illness.” It also says, “In future existences, such a person will be born blind.”

Myōshin and Enchi contracted white leprosy in their present lifetimes, whereas Dōamidabutsu lost his sight. The epidemics and illnesses in our land are as one’s head being broken into seven pieces. If we are to consider such punishments in relationship to their meritorious virtues, then my followers will have, without a doubt, a happiness that exceeds the ten titles of a Buddha.

From the time that the Buddha teaching was first introduced, during the reign of the thirtieth sovereign of humankind Kimmei (539-570) until the reign of the Emperor Kanmu (Kammu), which was roughly over a period of two hundred years and consisted of twenty generations of rulers, in spite of the presence of the six schools, the superiority of the Buddha teaching had not been decided.

Then, during the Enryaku era (782–806), an individual of holiness appeared in this country who was known as the Universal Teacher Dengyō. This person not only broadly propagated the Buddha teaching, but also made a searching examination of the doctrines of the six schools, and made all the monks of the seven major temples of Nara his disciples. Finally, he built the monastery on Mount Hiei, which became the head temple, and annexed the temples in the countryside, which all became the branches of Mount Hiei.

Thus, the Buddha teaching in Japan was made up on one school only. The laws of the sovereign and the Buddha Dharma were not separate. The Dharma was established, so that the country was cleansed of evil. If we are to discuss the merits of Dengyō, then the text of the Dharma Flower Sutra is the source which the Buddha himself stated and continues to state.

Later the three Universal Teachers Kōbō, Jikaku, and Chishō leaned towards (the viewpoint of) China, by saying that the Dainichi Sutra (Mahāvairochana Sutra) was superior to the Dharma Flower Sutra, as well as whittling down the teaching of the Universal Teacher Dengyō, so that the Shingon School increased. Also, the Shingon School added the word “school” to the Shingon teachings [a term which the Universal Teacher Dengyō had purposely omitted in reference to that school, and in this way, the Tantra and Mantra School (Shingon) was seen as the eighth school of the Buddha teaching]. These three individuals together pleaded with the emperor to issue a decree in order to uphold the Tantra and Mantra teachings and propagate those teachings throughout Japan. So, temples everywhere opposed the Dharma Flower Sutra. By doing this, they tried to abolish the text of the Buddha (that says) “has expounded, expounds, and will expound [this Sutra]” and thereby became the sworn enemies of Shakyamuni, Abundant Treasure, and the Buddhas of the ten directions.

Naturally as a result, the Buddha Dharma gradually declined. The deities Amaterasu and the Bodhisattva Hachiman have lost their strength. Bonten (Brahmā) and Indra, as well as the four deities on the corners of the Fundamental Object of Veneration, have abandoned the country and already it is a ruined state. What person with feelings is incapable of being aware of this wound?

When we come to the point, these three Universal Teachers have given rise to a distorted Dharma, which is located in the Tōji temple, the Hieizan monastery, the Sōji monastery (on Mount Hiei), and the Onjō-ji temple and is spread from these three [four] places. If these teachings are not prohibited, then the country will be ruined, and without any doubt the people will fall into the negative paths [the hells, craving spirits, and animality].

I have roughly pondered over these concepts. You may show this writing to the ruler of the country if you deign to. There is no introduction to this treatise.

It makes me sad! It makes me sad!

Unsigned by Nichiren

[This writing is dated the tenth day of the fourth month (April 10), 1277, at Minobu and was sent to Toki Jōnin. It was designated by Nikkō Shōnin as one of the ten major writings of Nichiren Daishōnin.]

Goshō Zenshū, pp. 338-343
Goshō Shinpen, pp. 1111-1116

Note: All wisdom I may have is the result of reciting the theme and title Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō! ~ Martin Bradley

Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas [which is every possible psychological wavelength] (Kyō).

* * * * * * * * *

[This writing (also known as “On the Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practice”) is listed on a page entitled, “The Ten Major Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin”, which says the following: “Nikkō Shōnin designated ten of Nichiren Daishōnin’s writings as the most important of his works. Listed in chronological order, these ten are briefly described in the following paragraphs, including the background and main points.” This writing is the eighth of the ten writings listed here and has previously been translated.]

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