Questions and Answers Concerning the Fundamental Object of Veneration

Goshō Zenshū, pp. 365-374
Goshō Shinpen, pp. 1274-1283

[Written at Mount Minobu in September 1278 and sent to Joken-bo at Seicho-ji temple.]

The question is asked: What should be decided as an Object of Veneration for ordinary people during the iniquitous age of the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni?

The answer is given: The Fundamental Object of Veneration should be the theme and title of the Dharma Flower Sutra.

Again the question is asked: From which sutric text and which explanation of which teacher of humankind should this come to the fore?

The answer is given: In the fourth scroll of the Dharma Flower Sutra is the Tenth Chapter on the Dharma as a Teacher, where it says, “Yaku’ ō (Bhaishajya-rāja), in any place whatsoever, whether it is expounded or whether it is read or whether it is recited or whether it is written out, or wherever those sutric scrolls are kept where people live, they will all be as an erected stupa of the seven precious materials (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, and cornelian) and decidedly it must be as tall as it is broad and decorated.” Again, it should by all means be a resting place for relics of the Buddha, the reason being that this stupa already contains the whole of the person of the Tathāgata. This is so that his Dharma will last forever and because all the Buddhas are also eternal.

It says in the fourth scroll of the Nirvana Sutra, in the chapter on that which belongs to a person or thing independent of external influences (shō, the inner nature of the Tathāgata), “Again, next is Kashō (Kāshyapa).” The Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai) stated, “What all the Buddhas and teachers do is give instructions in what is called the Dharma. This is the reason why one gives veneration and respect to the Tathāgatas, in order that the whole Dharma will be as everlasting as all the Buddhas are eternal.”

When the Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai) was discussing the samādhi of the Dharma Flower, he remarked, “Then a high seat is arranged in the place of enlightenment, so that the whole Dharma Flower Sutra may be placed there. Also there must be a likeness of the Buddha as a relic, but no other sutric text should be located there. Only the whole of the Dharma Flower Sutra may be installed.”

[Samādhi equals the perfect absorption of the mind into the one object of meditation.]

It is said with some doubt: In the second scroll of the Universal Teacher Tendai’s (T’ien T’ai) The Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan) it says, “The four kinds of samādhi…” On the four kinds of samādhi in relationship to the Fundamental Object of Veneration being Amida Buddha (Amitābha Buddha), the Tripitaka Fukū (Amoghavajra), in his view of the Dharma Flower Sutra, says that the way of developing wisdom through meditation is by means of Shākyamuni and Abundant Treasure (Tahō, Prabhūtaratna) as the Object of Veneration. Why do you oppose this concept?

The answer is given: It is not my concept. First I ask, from which sutra or which explanation of the Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai)? Only in the second scroll of The Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan, Mo-ho-chih-kuan) is it indicated that the four kinds of samādhi as an object of veneration refers to Amida Buddha (Amitābha Buddha) who is always sitting in meditation. The neither sitting in meditation nor practicing [but just standing] is in reference to the three kinds of objects of veneration of the Buddha Amida (Amitābha Buddha). This subject is indicated in the “Sutra on Asking Monju (Mañjushrī) Questions”, the “sutra that is a ferryboat for crossing samādhis”, and the “Sutra on Asking Kannon Bodhisattva (Avalokiteshvara)”. All those sutras were expounded before Shākyamuni had revealed the reality of the Dharma.

[The four kinds of samādhi according to the Tendai School are the following: 1) to sit in meditation for a period of ninety days without engaging in any other religious exercises: 2) to invoke the name of Amitābha for ninety days; 3) to practice seated and ambulatory meditation for a specified period, in order to get rid of bad karma; 4) to practice meditation based upon Isshin Sangan, which are the three viewpoints in an instant flash of mental activity. Isshin Sangan is I) , being produced by various causes and concomitancies, any dharma in its essence is devoid of any permanent existence and is therefore relativity– also simple noumena, memories, which is relativity; II) ke, any dharma does have a real if only a provisional existence; III) chū, since any phenomenon is a mixture of and ke, all dharmas are dependent on causes of various kinds and should be a blending of the two extremes of and ke.]

With regard to the samādhi of half practicing and half sitting, there are two kinds. First there is the Equally Broad Teaching (hōdō, vaipulya) and, according to the above-mentioned teachings, there are seven Buddhas and eight bodhisattvas. Secondly, there is the Lord of the teaching Shākyamuni of the Dharma Flower Sutra, along with the Buddha Abundant Treasure (Tahō, Prabhūtaratna), who are reverentially invoked. The samādhi of the Dharma Flower Sutra suggests that the Fundamental Object of Veneration should include the whole of the Dharma Flower Sutra. The Tripitaka Fukū (Amoghavajra) based his concept of the Fundamental Object of Veneration on the Eleventh Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials.

As the Fundamental Object of Veneration of the Dharma Flower Sutra, this is not the correct meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Above all, this should not be the Fundamental Object of Veneration of only Shākyamuni and Abundant Treasure, but also of all the Buddhas of the ten directions. Herewith is the correct view of the practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra.

The question is asked: In Japan there are ten schools of Buddhist thought.

[The ten schools of Buddhist thought in Japan are 1) the School of the Doctrinal Store of the Dharma (Kusha), 2) the school that would establish the real meaning of the sutras (Jōjitsu), 3) the school of monastic discipline (Risshū), 4) the cognition only school (Hossō), 5) the school of the three treatises on the middle way (Sanron), 6) the Flower Garland School (Kegon), 7) the Tantric and Mantra School (Shingon), 8) the School of the Immaculate Terrain (Jōdo), 9) the school of the teachings that were transmitted by Bodhidharma (Zen), and 10) the Dharma Flower School (Hokke-shū).]

Each of these schools has a different object of veneration. On the altar of the Flower Garland School (Kegon), there is Shākyamuni as the wisdom entity of Birushana Buddha (Vairochana Buddha). The Tantric and Mantra School (Shingon) have a single image of Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana). The School of the Immaculate Terrain (Jōdo) have an image of Amida Buddha (Amitābha Buddha). The two schools of those that base their teachings on the three treatises (Sanron) have an image of the Universal Shākyamuni as a Fundamental Object of Veneration. Even the Zen School has an image of Shākyamuni as well, and the three schools of monastic discipline use a less important manifestation of Shākyamuni.

Question: How is it that the Tendai School uses the Dharma Flower Sutra as an Object of Veneration?

The reply is as follows: Those were Buddha images. This is a sutra as an object of veneration, which is significant.

Question: What is this significance? Which is superior, either the Buddha or the sutra?

The answer is given: Then one must use as an object of veneration that which is superior. In the same way as people in ancient China used the three emperors and five rulers as an object of veneration, all Buddhists should use images of Shākyamuni as an object of veneration.

The question is asked: Then why don’t you use an image of Shākyamuni as an object of veneration? Or why do you use the theme and title of the Dharma Flower Sutra?

The reply is given: Then look up towards the heavens and look at the explanations in the sutras. This is not my principle. Both Shākyamuni and Tendai [who according to our teaching is thought to be the Buddha of the period of the imitative Dharma (Zōbō)] decided to use the Dharma Flower Sutra as an Object of Veneration.

Now just like Tendai (T’ien T’ai), there is Nichiren of the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni who uses the Dharma Flower Sutra as an Object of Veneration. The reason is that the Dharma Flower Sutra is the father and mother of Shākyamuni and Dainichi and is the eyes of every Buddha. Generally speaking, both Shākyamuni and Dainichi (Mahāvairochana Tathāgata) and all the Buddhas of the ten directions have their origins in the Dharma Flower Sutra. Therefore, by being that which all the Buddhas rely on for an existence, this sutra becomes an Object of Veneration.

It is questioned: What proof do you have?

The answer is in the Twenty-eighth Chapter on the Persuasiveness of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen) at the end of the Dharma Flower Sutra. It says that this sutric canon of the Universal Vehicle is the treasure store of all the Buddhas and is the eyes of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future and also of the ten directions. Also it says that this sutra of the universal vehicle [(Hōdō, Vaipulya) signifying the sentient beings to be taught, to which is voiced in Japanese meaning all the doctrines to be preached] is the vision of all the Buddhas. All the Buddhas obtain the five kinds of vision from this sutra.

[The five kinds of vision or faculties of perceptions refer to 1) the vision of ordinary mortals such as us, 2) the vision of the deva which permits these beings to perceive beyond obstacles such as distance or other obstacles that impede normal sight, 3) the vision of people of the two vehicles so that they understand that all objects and beings are without substance (), 4) the vision of the Dharma so that bodhisattvas can perceive the whole teaching (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) in order to save other people, 5) the vision of the Buddha who can look into the real nature of life in the three phases of past, present, and future.]

The three kinds of entity of the Buddha, on the whole, stem from the third of the five periods taught by Tendai (Hōdō, Vaipulya) and this is another appellation for the Universal Vehicle [since it indicates the middle path of reality (chūdō jissō)].

[The three kinds of entity are 1) the highest aspect of the Buddhist mind (Hosshin, Dharma-kāya) which is unmanifested, ineffable, and non-substantial, or relativity (, shūnyatā); 2) the entity of retribution (hōshin, sambhoga-kāya) which the Buddha obtained as a reward for having finished all the practices of a bodhisattva and is manifest as the Fundamental Object of Veneration of all the Nichiren schools; 3) the entity whereby the Buddha makes himself manifest to common mortals such as us (ōjin, nirmāna-kāya).]

This all-embracing Dharma Seal in the Buddha teaching means (i.e., Seal) that the Buddha Dharma is true and is stamped by nirvana itself. In this way, the three kinds of immaculate entity of all the Buddhas are able to flow out of the ocean of what reality is in itself. These three kinds of Buddha entity are the field of happiness for both humankind and the deva and are the most worthy of worship among those who are worthy of respect. On account of these sutric texts, the Buddha is given rise to exist, and it is the Dharma Flower Sutra that gives rise to the Buddha’s existence. The Dharma Flower Sutra is our very being. Therefore, the ceremony of opening the eyes of either a painted or sculpted image is limited to the Dharma Flower Sutra only.

However, both painted and sculpted images can now be established (turned into reality). The eyes of the Buddha Dainichi (Mahāvairochana Tathāgata) are his assent; hence, according to the Shingon School, it became the ceremony of opening the eyes. This is somewhat unnatural.

The question is asked: Between the Dharma Flower Sutra and Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana Tathāgata) as objects of veneration, which is the superior?

Answer: As regards the Universal Teacher Kōbō (Kōbō Daishi) and the Universal Teacher Chishō (Chishō Daishi), their intention would be that Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana Tathāgata) is superior and the Dharma Flower Sutra is inferior.

Question: What is the meaning of this?

The Universal Teacher Kōbō, in his “Key to the Treasure Store” where he mentions the ten stages in bodhisattva wisdom (Prajñā), says, “The eighth is the Dharma Flower Sutra; the ninth is the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon Kyō, Avatāmsaka Sutra); and the tenth is the Sutra on the Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Kyō, Mahāvairochana Sutra).” This is starting at the shallows and proceeding towards the depths. According to the Universal Teacher Jikaku [who was the third principal of the Enryaku-ji Temple and was the patriarch of the Tendai School (794-866)], in his rough summary of the Sutra on the Point of the Vajra (Kongōchō Kyō, Vajrashekhara Sutra– one of the three major sutras of the Shingon School) and his studies in the Soshitsuji-kyō (Susiddhikara Sūtra), he says that one should make the Sutra on the Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Kyō, Mahāvairochana Sutra) the basis of one’s faith. Dainichi Nyorai is the first and the Dharma Flower Sutra is second.

Question: What do you think about this?

The reply is given: Both Shākyamuni and the Buddha Tahō (Prabhūtaratna), along with all the Buddhas who consulted with each other, say, ‘In the past, now in the present, or in the future, among all the sutras the Dharma Flower Sutra is by far the foremost.’

It is asked: At present in Japan all monks of either the Tendai School or the Shingon School put the sovereign, his ministers, and the common populace all in doubt by saying, ‘How is it that the teacher of the Dharma Nichiren is superior to the Universal Teachers Kōbō, Jikaku, and Chishō?’

The reply is given: In trying to curtail Nichiren, they say, ‘Are not the Universal Teachers Kōbō, Jikaku, and Chishō superior to Shākyamuni, Tahō, and all the Buddhas of the ten directions?’ At present from the sovereign to all the ordinary people, all are the children of the Lord of the teaching Shākyamuni. The World Honored One Shākyamuni says, “according to the Dharma and not according to the person”. The Dharma Flower Sutra is according to the Dharma. Are those three Universal Teachers superior to all the monks, the sovereigns, his ministers, and all the common populace, as well as all cattle and horses that follow them? Are they not all lacking in filial piety?

[The Universal Teacher of the Broad Dharma was Kōbō Daishi. This was a posthumous name given by the Emperor Daigo in 921 to Kūkai, the founder of the Shingon School in Japan.]

Question: Had not the Universal Teacher Kōbō looked into the Dharma Flower Sutra?

Answer: The Universal Teacher Kōbō had read all the sutras out of which he ranked the Dharma Flower Sutra, the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon Kyō, Avatāmsaka Sutra), and the Sutra on the Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Kyō, Mahāvairochana Sutra) from their shallows to their depths and from the viewpoint of which is superior and which is inferior. On reading the Dharma Flower Sutra after his own fashion, he said, “Yaku’ ō (Bhaishajya-rāja), now I am telling you that out of all the sutras I have expounded, nevertheless the Dharma Flower Sutra rates third. Again, on reading it in his own manner, he said to both the Universal Teachers Jikaku and Chishō, “Out of all the sutras, this is by far the most mediocre.” Again, he said, “This is by far the most second-rate.”

The Tathāgata Shākyamuni, the Buddha Tahō (Prabhūtaratna), the Tathāgata of Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Nyorai, Mahāvairochana Tathāgata), and all the Buddhas have all stated that compared with all the other sutras the Dharma Flower Sutra is the most important. Also they all say, “The Dharma Flower Sutra is by far the superior.” When all is said and done, Shākyamuni and all the Buddhas of the ten directions as opposed to Jikaku, Kōbō, and Chishō who are Universal Teachers, why should we make those three the foundation for our faith? But rather, by relying on Nichiren instead of accepting these Universal Teachers, it would be better to hold faith in Shākyamuni and all the Buddhas of the ten directions.

It is questioned: The Universal Teacher Kōbō was from Sanuki-no kuni (the present-day Kagawa province) and was the disciple of the righteous monk Gonsō. He completed his studies in the Sanron (the school of the three treatises on the middle way) and the six schools of the cognition only (Hossō-shū). Afterwards he went to Enryaku-ji Temple for twenty-three years and five months. The Emperor Kanmu summoned him and entrusted him to go to China. Complying with the Emperor Junsō’s (Shun-tsung) summons, he entered the Cerulean Dragon Temple (Seiryūji, Ch’ing-lung-ssu), where he received the important Dharma of the Esoteric Teaching (Shingon) from the Venerable Hui-kuo (Keika). The Venerable Hui-kuo taught the then Kōbō everything with regard to Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana) up to the seven generations (of Buddhas).

If one were to replace the person, he would be the same as so many gateways to the Dharma. For instance, it would be like pouring water into one pot from another. The Tathāgata of Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Nyorai, Mahāvairochana Tathāgata), Kongōsatta (Vajrasattva), Nāgārjuna, Kongōchi (Vajrabodhi), Fukū (Amoghavajra), Hui-kuo (Keika), and Kōbō were in no way different from vessels of the water of the Dharma. What they transmitted was the water of wisdom that was the same as that of the true words of the Buddha.

The answer is given: After crossing over three thousand billows and waves, he (Kōbō) arrived in Japan where he instructed the three emperors Heizei, Kiga, and Junna. On the nineteenth of January of the fourteenth year of the reign of Kōnin (810–824), he was commissioned by the emperor to build the eastern temple (Tōji Temple) so that it could broadly propagate the Secret Dharma of the Shingon School. However, as far as the seven roads to the five capitals and to sixty provinces along with two islands, because of the people who maneuvered the clapper of the temple bell, nobody whomsoever could have any descendants.

Again, the Universal Teacher Jikaku was from Shimotsuke-no kuni (present-day Tochigi-ken) and at first was the disciple of Kōchi Bosatsu. In the third year of the reign called Daidō (806-810), at the age of fifteen, he became the pupil of the Universal Teacher Dengyō and was up at Mount Hiei for fifteen years. There he was transmitted the doctrines of six schools, as well as the Dharma Flower and two of the teachings of the Shingon School. During the fifth year of the reign called Shōwa, he went to China (T‘ang). In China he stayed at the palace of the emperor Kai Shō (Hui Ch’ang). There he received from Hōzen, Gensei, Gishin, Hōgetsu, Shu’en, and Shi’on among others the teachings of the two schools of Shingon along with the doctrine of the Tendai School. He then immersed himself in studying the teachings of the Shingon School. He studied with all his might the two paths of the exoteric and esoteric teachings. Above all, he especially studied the Shingon teachings for a period of ten years, so that he finally achieved his goal.

From then on, he (Jikaku) became the ninth patriarch of the Shingon School. At the onset of the reign called Kajō, the Emperor Nimyō made him a Universal Teacher. During the reigns called Ninjū and Saikō, Jikaku wrote a commentary on the two sutras, the Kongōchō-kyō (Vajrashekhara Sutra) and the Soshitsuji-kyō (Susiddhikara Sutra). He then built the main hall of the Hieizan Temple. He became the third in line of the patriarchs of the Hieizan Temple. It was from this point that the teachings of Tendai (T’ien T’ai) became intertwined with those of the Shingon School.

Also the Universal Teacher Chishō was from Sanuki-no kuni Province and became a novice monk at the age of fourteen. In the fourth year of the reign called Tenchō, he went to Hieizan Temple and became the disciple of the Venerable Gishin. In Japan there were only Gishin, Jikaku, Enchō, and Bettō who had all the virtues to be able to teach and transmit the eight schools.

In the first year of the reign called Ninju, on the imperial decree, the then Universal Teacher Chishō was sent to China. The Chinese Emperor Gensō (Hsüan Tsung) got the Universal Teacher Jikaku and monks Enchō, and Bettō who had all the virtues to teach and transit the eight schools, since he (the then Chisō) had decided to study both the exoteric and esoteric teachings of the Buddha Dharma.

In the second year of the reign called Tennan, he (Jikaku) returned to Japan. Monzoku and Seiwa had become the tutors of the Emperor. Either of the two were to appear at present, or not be present at all, rather like the sun and the moon, just like the successive generations of wise rulers, [Nichiren had wandered off into his own opinions…] or at times when the religious fervor of the ministers and the common people became too much, so much so that there is no indolence whatsoever, the reason being that they are all stupid and superstitious. All they can do is to simply believe anything they are told to.

In actual fact, it should be according to the teaching and not according to the person. Those enlightened words should not be opposed, otherwise they will not be according to the Buddha, but rather those that are spread around by Kōbō and the like.

Question: When it comes to the point, what then is mind?

Answer: It is now a thousand years since the Lord of the Dharma, the World Honored One, passed into the extinction of nirvana. After propagating the Indian style Buddha teaching, which was fifteen years of the Individual Vehicle (Hīnayāna), then Shākyamuni argued the point of the Universal Vehicle (Mahāyāna). Even though he had decided to expound in detail the exoteric and esoteric Dharma, he went through the process of teaching the provisional Dharma and the real Dharma.

After that the Buddha teaching went into a phase which was an imitation of the Dharma itself (zōbō, saddharma pratirūpaka) which lasted fifteen hundred years. This was a time when the Buddha Dharma crossed over to Tibet and China. At first there were disputes between the Confucian School and the teaching of Shākyamuni. However, in such disputes, the Buddha Dharma was gradually propagated. Both the Universal and Individual Vehicles (Mahāyāna and Hīnayāna), the provisional and the real teaching, were argued over. Nevertheless, there were many discrepancies in these texts.

It took six hundred years for the Buddha Dharma to come from China. Ever since the reign of the Emperor Gensō (Hsüan Tsung), there were Zenmui (Shubākarasimhma), Kongōchi (Vajrabodhi), and the Tripitaka Fukū (Amoghavajra), who had come from Gesshi (the name of a kingdom in Central Asia) and founded the Shingon School. Fukū condemned the teachings of Kegon (Avataṃsaka) and the Dharma Flower School or any teaching that was outside those of the Shingon School. From the emperor down to the common people, all thought that the Shingon School was superior and that the difference between it and the Dharma Flower Sutra was like light and darkness.

After that, the Emperor Tokusō* thought that the person called Myōraku (Miao-lo) implied that the content of the Dharma Flower was more powerful and that the Shingon teachings were inferior. [*If the emperor was Chinese, then his name was Tê Tsung. Often in the Buddha writings, emperors have Chinese-sounding names.] Nobody could decide whether the Shingon teachings were superior or not.

In Japan, the sovereign of humanity, who was roughly the thirtieth generation, was an age worthy of respect. Although the Buddha teachings had begun to cross over to Japan from a country in Korea (Kudara), at first there were terrible disputes between the supporters of the local deities and the Buddhist faction. This sort of problem continued for more than thirty years.

At about the time of the thirty-fourth generation of the emperors Suiko, the prince Shōtoku started to propagate the Buddha Dharma. Ekan and Kanroku, who were superior monks, crossed over from Korea and started to spread the teaching of the Sanron School (whose teachings were based on three treatises that were founded on the Middle Way). It was during the reign called Dōshō that the Zen School crossed over to Japan. Also it was during the reign of the Emperor Tenmu that Chihō brought the Hossō (the conscious only school) from Silla (an ancient Korean kingdom).

During the reign of the Emperor Genshō, who was considered the forty-fourth monarch after the Sovereign Jinmu, there was the Tripitaka Zenmui (Shubākarasimhma) whose translation of the Dainichi-kyō (Mahāvairochana Sutra) was sent over to Japan. It was nonetheless constantly propagated. Again, it was in the time of the reign of Shomū that the universally virtuous Shinjō, along with the correct monk Rōben, brought the teachings of the Kegon School (Avataṃsaka) to Japan.

Then, it was in the course of the reign of the sovereign of humankind, who was the forty-sixth monarch to rule Japan called the Emperor Kōken, when the Venerable Ganjin brought the Risshū teachings (whose doctrine was based upon the precepts for the clergy of the Universal Vehicle) along with the teachings of the Dharma Flower School from the then T’ang Dynasty of China. The Precepts were distributed but the Dharma Flower teachings were not.

It was during the time of the fiftieth successive ruler of Japan, the Emperor Kanmu, when the then Universal Teacher Dengyō on the orders of the emperor was sent to China. The then Dengyō had three teachers. One was Myōraku (Miao-lo). Then there were two others, Dozui and Gyōman, who assisted in the transmission of establishing the wisdom of the Dharma Flower School. The teacher of the precepts Dōsen conferred the bodhisattva precepts and the Venerable Jungyō imparted the secret teachings of the Shingon School to him.

When he (Dengyō) returned to Japan, the superiority or inferiority of the Shingon School compared with the Dharma Flower teachings, which had been transmitted by teachers from China, (was being considered), so that this problem was thought to be difficult to decide. Here in Japan, with regard to both the Dainichi Sutra (Mahāvairochana Sutra) and the Dharma Flower Sutra, the explanations of those people and the explanations of these people were compared with each other, so that it could be decided as to which (was superior). The Sutra on the Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Kyō, Mahāvairochana Sutra) was considered to be more authoritative, but the Dharma Flower was not seen as its subordinate.

It seems that, judging by the commentaries of the Sutra on the Universal Sunlight (Dainichi-kyō, Mahāvairochana Sutra), the ideas of Tendai (T’ien T’ai) had been filched and put among those of the Shingon School. After that, the Universal Teacher Kōbō, with thoughts of ill will, put down the Dharma Flower and favored the Shingon tendency with schemes to establish the Shingon School. He stated that not only was the Dharma Flower subservient, but also the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon Kyō, Avatāmsaka Sutra) was unimportant.

When the poor Jikaku and Chishō in the garden city of Mount Hiei did not acknowledge this trend of thinking, the prejudiced views of the Universal Teacher Kōbō grossly mixed up the thinking of the Japanese clergy. Even though these two Universal Teachers were to agree to the superiority and inferiority of the Flower Garland Sutra and the Dharma Flower, the continued superiority of the Shingon School was maintained, due to the concentricity of the mind of the Universal Teacher Kōbō. Contrary to expectations, our fundamental instructor the Universal Teacher Dengyō became a sworn enemy of Kōbō.

After that, [because of] all the people who were noteworthy and also those whose wisdom was at a high level even if they did not surpass in rank those three Universal Teachers, now after four hundred years the whole of Japan has the concept fixed in mind that the Shingon School is superior to those who follow the teachings of the Dharma Flower Sutra. On rare occasions there were people who had studied the teachings of the Tendai (T’ien T’ai) School who declared that the Sutra on the Universal Sunlight (Dainichi-kyō, Mahāvairochana Sutra) did not come up to the level of the Dharma Flower Sutra.

Needless to say, it was never feared that the patriarch of the Tendai School would have to move his residence to something better. There were times when people could not defend the meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra, so that they would have to say that the significance of those two sutras was equal. It goes without saying that certain Shingon scholars did not think along these lines, but they were made a laughingstock.

Naturally, in Japan there are several myriads of temples and shrines. They all adhere to the Shingon School. If one had by chance put a temple of the Dharma Flower School alongside one of the Shingon School, then the Shingon acts like a superior and that of the Dharma Flower School is seen as merely a follower. If there were people who had really studied, then in their hearts they are all the same and are followers of the Shingon School. Apart from the patriarchs Chorō, Kengkō, and Bettō, they were all followers of the Shingon tendency and liked being at the top, so that the other people could follow them without leaving a single individual out.

Therefore, in Japan, although people mouth the Dharma Flower Sutra as though it was by far the first of all the sutras, in their hearts they place it second or even in the third place. Or else their bodies, minds, and mouths are in second place or even third. These three kinds of karma correspond with each other, and in reading the Dharma Flower Sutra it should be the most important, as the practitioners of this sutra have done for four hundred years or so (in Japan) without leaving a single person on the side. Furthermore, the practitioners who can hold to this sutra are not thought about.

[As the sutra says,] “There is a lot of jealousy of the Tathāgata at present, so what will it be like after his extinction into nirvana?” So, from the person at the very top down to the myriads of common people, all are the sworn enemy of the Dharma Flower Sutra.

However, Nichiren was from within the fifteen provinces of the Eastern Road (Tōkaidō) and the twelfth is the province of Awa. It is in the Nagasa district in Tōjō along the seashore, and this is due to my karma, since I am a son of the people of Awa. [Tōjō became a district, but in those times it was a part of Nagasa District of Awa Province.] When I was twelve years old, in the same village there was the Seichōji Temple where I had been educated. Apart from its being an out-of-the-way place, I have given this temple a reputation, since I have become a man of learning. Nevertheless, in this rather rustic village, in Seichōji Temple, I studied as in in every province and thereby became a scholar, even though I myself was not suited for it.

There was nobody to guide me further. But it was easy to make out the origins of the ten schools and where their superior points stand and also their shortcomings. Occasionally, on praying to the Buddha or bodhisattvas, I pondered over all the arguments, so as to put together the ten different schools.

The Kusha ron is shallow and near at hand. [The Kusha ron (Abhidharma kosha) teaches that the self is nonexistent whereas other dharmas are essentially real. This teaching also declares that the past, present, and future actually exist.] It partially corresponds to the sutras of the Individual Vehicle. The Jōjitsu philosophy is a mixture of the Universal and Individual Vehicles and is a complete mistake. [The Jōjitsu School is the school that would establish the real meaning of the sutras. It deals with the concept that all is relativity (), strenuously denying the absolute existence of anything and claiming that all things have simply an existence for the time being.]

Basically the teachings of Risshū, the school of monastic discipline, are of the Individual Vehicle, but it stands between the two. This school is now considered to be a part of the Universal Vehicle. Also the Universal Teacher Dengyō had a profound knowledge of the teaching of the Risshū School as well as having made a thorough study of the Risshū sect. The Hossō School is often referred to as the Consciousness Only sect (Yuishiki shū). [Hossō means to discriminate clearly all existence (dharmas). This school had originally based its teachings on the Provisional Universal Vehicle doctrine and is a gateway to the Dharma which is shallow and close at hand. However, gradually this school grew so that the provisional doctrine and the real Dharma were put side by side. In the end, this school broke away and became an independent sect.] For instance, here in Japan the Shogun Masakado Sumimoto and the like tried to put this (Hossō) school down by crushing it.

The Sanron School is another teaching of the provisional doctrine and only has a lopsided concept of relativity (). [Sanron literally means “three treatises” and refers to the three dissertations upon which this school is founded. This school has the viewpoint of the Middle Way, as explained by the eightfold negations.] This school also considers itself a part of the real Dharma of the Universal Vehicle. The Kegon School (Avatāmsaka) is again said to be the provisional doctrine (and is said to be the first discourse of the Buddha Shākyamuni). For example, it would be as though a regent were to act like a domineering husband. Nevertheless, since this school had taken the position of being an enemy of the Dharma Flower Sutra, the ministers under this regent would have to try to follow “the great king”.

The teachings of the Immaculate Terrain School (Jōdo shū) are a part of the Provisional Universal Vehicle, which was skillfully maneuvered by Zendō and Hōnen who condemned all sutras that had an insight into the truth (kangyō). [The Immaculate Terrain School (Jōdo shū) is the school that claims humankind can attain Buddhahood by being born in the land of Amida (Amitābha Buddha).] (This school taught that) the propensities for the correct Dharma, and when the Dharma was a mere imitation of itself, and the minds that can be stimulated for the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni must correspond to the characteristic essences of the final period of the degeneration of the Dharma (mappō, saddharma vipralopa). And by taking the Fundamental Object of Veneration of the Immaculate Terrain School, then by such affinities this sutra would be obliterated. Thus a whole lifetime of holy teaching would be lost, so that the single gateway to the Dharma would be that of the Immaculate Terrain School (Nembutsu). For instance, this would be like one’s head being fully able and one’s body being not so capable. If one’s mind does not really work properly, then it would be like the wise man being lost forever.

The Zen School is something apart from the lifetime of teaching of Shākyamuni, even though it has something of the real Dharma. By killing the parent, the offspring take advantage. When the lord dies, it is as though those that follow him take his position. Indeed, one would have to go through a few years of madness and confusion. At first the Shingon (the Tantra and Mantra School) did not exist in India. Nevertheless, it exists. One should inquire about the evidence of their teaching.

The point is that the Sutra on Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Kyō, Mahāvairochana Sutra) has crossed over here to Japan and pulls the Dharma Flower Sutra face down, so that we cannot see whether it is superior or inferior. The Dharma Flower Sutra is said to have seven heavy shortcomings over and above the Sutra on Universal Sunlight.

One should have a clear understanding of that school and this school– (here I will not re-utter them); or else it can be said that the Dharma Flower Sutra has three lords and masters, or at least there are two lords and masters. Over and above that, all the rest is prejudice. It would be as if Ryū sō (Liu sung), who was physically handicapped, were to take the Emperor Bins’s (Min) horse by the mouth, or like Kō Chō (Kao Ch’ao) holding back the people on his arrival at the position of ruler, or as if the great Brahma were to sit on Shākyamuni as though he was the flooring of a house. Not even being a person who knows China, here in Japan I would not harm such a person.

Since more than four hundred years have gone by, in this way the Buddha teaching has been perverted and confused. But gradually the laws of the sovereign are approaching it. As a result, this country will be destroyed by another and become a vanquished nation.

Because this is something that Nichiren thought up on his own, for the sake of the Buddha Dharma and for the laws of the sovereign, I had collected all the main points from various sutras and condensed them into a single scroll and consequently had this document handed over to Lord Nyudō of Saimyō Temple. This document is called Securing the Peace of the Realm through the Establishment of the Correct Dharma (Risshō Ankoku ron). This writing reveals that which is difficult for fools to know. Coming to the point, I had to mention such information.

The eighty-second generation of the sovereigns of humankind who was called Oki No Hō’ō, during the last three years of the reign called Shōku, on the fifteenth day of the fifth month, at first had the judge Gatarō have Mitsusue arrested and flogged. And a similar fate was to happen to Yoshitoki of Kamakura. In due time, soldiers from the Five Home Provinces and the Seven Roads were summoned to try to thrash a person of great authority in Kamakura, Yoshitoki. Even so, Yoshitoki was overcome. How was it that he was defeated?

As a result, he (Yoshitoki) said he would rather be exiled to Okikuni (which is the present-day northern part of the Shiname Province). Two of the princes wanted him to be exiled in Sado or even the province of Awa. Seven public officials wanted him to be beheaded immediately. That he was saved was due to the sovereign who thought of Yoshitoki as one of his subjects in the same way as one of his people and that beating him would be like a hawk catching a pheasant. It would be as though a cat were to gobble up a mouse. It would be as if a mouse were to be eaten by a cat, or a pheasant were to be seized by a hawk.

Be that as it may, all curses must lose their strength. One could say that the patriarch of the Tendai School, the Correct Monk Ji’en, visited the superior of the Ninnaji Temple and the administrator of the Onjōji Temple so that generally wisdom and the practices of the precepts were like the days and months. On the whole he called on seven temples or even fifteen. The secret Dharma was of Kōbō. Jikaku and the three Universal Teachers were at the center of the deeply esoteric universal teaching.

There are fifteen altars (dais) for the secret Dharma. From the nineteenth day of the fifth month right on until the fourteenth day of the sixth month, dripping with sweat so as to squeeze their brains and practicing with all their might, in case that the chamber that is the ultimate in rank of the lord of the purple imperial palace (the emperor) might have brought over to Japan the as yet unpracticed all-embracing Dharma, on the eighth day of the sixth month, they began to practice in this manner.

On the fourteenth day of the same month, the army of Kantō forced their way over Ujiseta and broke their way into Rakuyō where three temples were taken and nine out of ten of the monks were burned alive in an hour. The surviving monks of those three monasteries were exiled to the three provinces. Again, seven public officials were decapitated on the spot. Without being aware of what they were doing, these troops forced themselves in to the emperor’s living quarters and tortured the emperor’s beloved younger brother who was called Seitaka and was only a child. In the end, these soldiers had their heads cut off. The emperor, being unable to endure this, ended up with thoughts of dying. The mother died and the infant died.

On account of those people who had offered up these prayers, several tens of thousands died, without their realizing (the reason for) it. There was not a single survivor. All those prayers for the emperor began on the eighth day of the sixth month and went on until they ended on the fourteenth. All this was to happen within a full seven days.

The Dharma practiced on those fifteen altars (dais) was formed like the sign of a golden circle– the four heavenly guardians (who live halfway up Mount Sumeru or are at the four corners of the Fundamental Object of Veneration), the Immovable (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala), the Dharma Turning Wheel (Tenbōrin), the Wheel of the Bodhisattva who Perceives the Sounds of the Existential Dimensions (Kanzeon, Avalokitasvara), the Sovereign Tainted with Desire (Aizen-ō, Rāgarāja), the Buddha’s eyes, the six ideograms, the Vajra child, the Sovereign of the Thousand Stars, the Ultimate Origin, along with the All-embracing Dharma of all the protective sutras. Such a teaching, in conclusion, is the enemy of the state as well as being an enemy of its sovereign. Furthermore, it is something that can make him fall.

Such teachings summon and take away one’s life force. I would have the spirit of the Tantra and Mantra School (Shingon), the Flower Garland School (Kegon, Avatāmsaka school), and the School of the Immaculate Terrain (Jōdo) chased away. And the number of people who are practitioners of these schools are by no means trifling. The patriarch of the Tendai (T’ien T’ai) and Jien of the Tojo Temple and the Imperial Household, as well as the Jōjūin monastery of Mitsu whose monks are correct and consist of forty-one individuals, along with three hundred or so people who are associates of the monks, declared that the Dharma is those people who practice it, which includes all former generations of practitioners. So how can it be defeated?

For instance, even though they have not won in any way, even though they would end up by being defeated on the spot, even though they should meet with such a humiliation, how would it be if other people did not know about this matter? What would it be like if the lords of the land were to attack its people? It would be like a hawk seizing smaller birds.

Although those are metaphors for defeat, for one year, two years, ten years, or even twenty, they would have to give their support. Of that which occurred on the fifteenth day of the fifth month until the fourteenth day of the sixth month, we had the worst of it. That passage of time only lasted thirty or so days. The lord in authority at the time was not aware of what was happening. So there are not even any prayers or one cannot even form an attitude.

In any event, Nichiren, being endowed with a little wisdom, has thought about the reasons for that event. It is due to that perverse so-called teaching of the Shingon School. I may be biased, but this teaching brings about trouble in every province. Even though only one person practices it, it will bring about disaster in either one or two provinces, let alone that there are those three hundred persons practicing it. [The Shingon School can be compared to the Tibetan (rDorje Thegs pa), the Vajrayāna.]

The lords of the land have become the bitter enemies of the Dharma Flower Sutra, so why do they not simply destroy it? Such an evil teaching (Shingon) has, little by little, made the lord in authority do nothing in the area of Kantō (the present-day Tokyo area). The administrators of every Shingon Temple continually practice.

Originally, the soldiers from a distant region did not know anything about the perversity or the correctness of the Buddha teaching. All they knew was to revere the Buddha, the Dharma, and the community of the clergy. It happens to be that what these soldiers had in mind… will gradually (have become accepted) over the years… until now another country will overrun us, and we will all be wiped out. Not only (will this apply to) the eight provinces of Kantō, but also to the Hieizan monastery, Tōji Temple, and Enchoji Temple. The administrators and patriarchs of the seven temples will all be wiped out because of what the soldiers of Kantō had in mind. And this is all because the sovereign of the Dharma of Oki had allowed these altars of this baneful teaching to be established.

They have in mind the rulers of our country, who are the more important and less important, Bonten (Brahmā deva), Indra, the sun and the moon, the four guardian devas (who live halfway up Mount Sumeru and are on the four corners of the Fundamental Object of Veneration). Because these people are the sworn enemies of the Dharma Flower Sutra, I swore that they should receive criminal procedures. This being the case, the eighty-first sovereign of humankind, the Emperor Antoku, who had become a monk, stood guard at the Dharma gateway. Hyōe-no-suke tried to put a curse on Japan. In spite of Hieizan monastery and its dependent temples begging the kings of the mountains and the protective deities of the various clans, the Emperor Antoku went into the four seas and, in accordance with a certain ceremony, banished the curse. The whole clan was destroyed within an hour.

There was a second time. The next time will be the third. Although Nichiren has not been accused by those in authority, on account of the perverse teaching of the Shingon School, the great Mongol Empire has cursed our country. Instead, Japan will put a curse on them. Nevertheless, I was able to speak to the person who had made this curse and, that being the case, whatever punishment is devised, one has to think in terms of sparing lives.

Going beyond the Dharma Flower Sutra, there is the all-embracing path to Buddhahood. At present, as for the pointlessness of prayer and supplication, we have as evidence that even Lord Hyōe-no-suke read and recited the sutras. Due to this principle, it is on account of the blessings of our fathers and mothers as well as our teachers. Our fathers and mothers have ended up in the past.

Although the Venerable Dōzen was my teacher, it was because of the Dharma Flower Sutra that I feared the local lord of the manor. In my mind I felt compassion, although I thought of him as pitiful. On the outside he was like an enemy, and I hated him for it. Later, I thought of him in a better light through what I have heard. Towards the end of his life, he seemed to be somewhat doddery and unsteady. I don’t suppose that he will go to hell. In my mind, he will have to leave the continuous cycles of living and dying. Floating around the space between dying and being reborn again would seem to be his plight.

When you encounter the anger of the lord of the manor, I wouldn’t think either you or the Venerable Gichō should be forced to leave Seichōji Temple. In some way or another, I think it has to do with venerating the Dharma Flower Sutra. But we have to free him from birth and death which limits the existence of sentient beings.

After the World Honored One had expounded what this Fundamental Object of Veneration was all about, for a period of two thousand two hundred thirty or so years, there has not been anybody to propagate this Fundamental Object of Veneration throughout the world of humankind (Ichienbudai, Jambudvīpa). Both Tendai (T’ien T’ai) of China and Dengyō from Japan indistinctly knew of it. But, nevertheless, they made not the slightest effort to propagate it. This was simply because the time was not ripe yet, even though we see that both of the Bodhisattvas Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra) and Infinite Practice (Muhengyō, Anantachāritra) came out and broadly spread around this teaching.

This Fundamental Object of Veneration has not yet been seen. Even though Nichiren is not this person [Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra)], still I have been fully aware of him. Before the Bodhisattvas who had swarmed up out of the Earth had come into my head, I had always chanted this theme and title [Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō] to myself.

Previously I was thinking in a hazy way as to what it would be like after Shākyamuni had extinguished himself into nirvana. All I ask and pray is that, through this meritorious virtue, I may serve and dedicate myself to all sentient beings as their parent and teacher.

Since you will probably be aware of my train of thinking, I will inscribe a Fundamental Object of Veneration for you. Other things you can throw away, but you must put this Fundamental Object of Veneration first of all. And you should also earnestly pray for future generations. This, however, goes without saying. You must keep an eye on the other monks.

(ornate signature) [with scrolling underneath it, as in Europe up to the eighteenth or even nineteenth century]

[This was written at Mount Minobu in September 1278 and sent to Jōken-bō at Seichō-ji temple. As far as we know, this writing has never before been translated into English.]

Goshō Zenshū, pp. 365-374
Goshō Shinpen, pp. 1274-1283

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 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 tenth and last of the ten writings listed here and designated as “Unavailable”.]

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