Nichiren Buddhist Association of America

Nichiren Buddhist Association of America
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Written July 25, 2004

This letter is written to a Soka Gakkai member in response to comments and questions raised by him. The concept of disrupting the unity of believers is his primary concern. This letter is one in a series of correspondences over the course of years with him. The same topics kept coming up again and again, so we wrote a single letter to cover them all at once for the sake of clarity. It takes his strongest points from several letters and responds to each. Due to the length of the letter, it was broken down into topics. The original letter was broken down in the same manner as it is shown here.

In an effort to refrain from using people's names without permission, we changed the name references to:
Soka Gakkai member: SG
NBAA member: NB

 

SG's Arguments (click on a topic to go straight there):

Part 1. Causing disunity is one of the five cardinal sins.

Section a: You should unite with SGI since they spread Namu-myoho-renge-kyo to people around the world.

Section b: "You see, cutting yourself off from the very body of believers on the account that they do not do 'shakubuku' is an absurd reason....So you have discarded over 10 million people who practice Buddhism...." "Unless you come to the realization that you are the one who needs to change, no one in SGI is going to trust you."


Part 2. "You have taken Nichiren's personification to justify your interpretations..."

Part 3. "No one is in a position to judge what is 'the best of [other's] ability.' We can only judge our own ability...."

Part 4. "I agree 100 percent that we are in the time of Mappo and need to practice shakubuku."

Part 5. "In the case of refuting non-Buddhists, planting the seed of enlightenment is just as equal as shakubuku. And nurturing this seed to those who do embark on the journey of faith is shakubuku as well"

Part 6. "If you see a reason to refute non-Buddhists to the best of your ability, go for it."

Part 7. "No one has stopped you from doing shakubuku to non-Buddhists."

Part 8. "Your purpose of trying to enter SGI facilities is not because of your change of heart to return to a true faith. Your intentions are still to make distorted points among the pure-hearted SGI members."

Part 9. "SGI did not cast you out. You left SGI."

 

Dear SG,

I have taken the liberty of breaking down your points and my points to make it more clear for everyone. Arguments are set up as the original points made by you or me (actually only you in this case). The counter-arguments are refutations of the original argument or of the counter-argument the other person made. The substantiation sections are gosho quotes that back up the argument or counter-argument that the person is making right above it. Some of the counter-arguments include separate points. Each point is one counter-argument against the original argument made. Some sections are comments or agreements. They aren’t arguments, just comments about the argument.

1. SG Argument:

Causing disunity is one of the five cardinal sins.

NB Comment:

Yes, this is true. There is no need for you to substantiate this to me as I'm aware of the reference.

SG Argument:

You should unite with SGI since they spread Namu-myoho-renge-kyo to people around the world.

Substantiation:

"All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind, transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren's propagation. When you are so united, even the great desire for widespread propagation can be fulfilled. But if any of Nichiren's disciples disrupt the unity of many in body but one in mind, they would be like warriors who destroy their own castle from within."

NB Agreement:

I quite agree with you. I have repeatedly said that I agree with it, yet you keep accusing me of ignoring it. I would like to unite with SGI, as I have repeatedly said. I don't know why you bring this up to me. Have you considered that it is SGI who is ignoring this quote in regards to us, rather than vice versa? Is it not possible that it could be SGI who is making the mistake? Can SGI not, in your mind, make mistakes? I have, indeed, attempted for years to work together with SGI. Rather, maybe you can help me figure out how to do so without giving up my own vows to do shakubuku and to insist that people follow the Law rather than the person. I have tried to have amicable relationships with SGI and the members of SGI. I have not yelled at people or threatened them. I have never asked anyone in SGI to leave SGI and join NBAA. In fact, the only things I have attempted to do is encourage people to chant, read the gosho, do shakubuku, and follow only the Law (as in the teachings of the Lotus Sutra). Of those, SGI leaders have told members of NBAA that they are formally against two of them, namely doing shakubuku and following only the Law, which is why we are not allowed to attend meetings. I cannot stop teaching those things, though, as I took a vow from which I cannot retreat.

SG Counter-argument:

"You see, cutting yourself off from the very body of believers on the account that they do not do 'shakubuku' is an absurd reason....So you have discarded over 10 million people who practice Buddhism...." "Unless you come to the realization that you are the one who needs to change, no one in SGI is going to trust you."

NB Counter-argument Point 1:

In response to this I must also point out that you have also said, "You do not need to apologize for doing shakubuku...." You are at once saying that it is I who needs to change, yet you say that I don't need to apologize for doing shakubuku. Do I need to apologize or not? The only way I could get back into SGI's good graces would indeed be to apologize for doing shakubuku and tell them that I will stop. One of SGI's national-level leaders, [name removed for privacy], said that SGI is opposed to doing shakubuku to anyone other than other Nichiren Buddhist organizations. If they're opposed to it, then I would indeed have to stop doing it in order to be allowed to go back to SGI meetings. So what is your true opinion about this matter? Should I apologize for doing shakubuku and go back to SGI, or should I continue to practice according to Nichiren's example and guidance? I made my decision the day I took my vows.

NB Counterpoint Point 2:

I would not be following Nichiren's guidance myself if I stopped doing shakubuku, since I do have the ability to do shakubuku.

Substantiation:

"Teach others to the best of your ability, even if only a single sentence or phrase."

NB Counter-argument Point 3:

You seem to think this one issue isn't significant, or is less significant than conforming to a Buddhist organization. However, this issue of shakubuku is of crucial importance to the practice of Buddhism -- more so than getting along with other Buddhists. Even your own organization, SGI, faced the issue of whether to follow the priests of NST. Did they choose to overcome the differences between them and Nikken and just get along with NST in order to refrain from committing one of the five cardinal sins? When facing a serious concern about what is a correct practice of Buddhism, unity takes a back seat to seeking out the true way. You are very wrong about the importance of shakubuku. That is why I have been refuting you on this one point about shakubuku time and time again.

Substantiation:

"If, failing to understand this principle, one were to practice shoju or shakubuku at an inappropriate time, then not only would one be unable to attain Buddhahood, but one would fall into the evil paths. This is firmly laid down in the Lotus and Nirvana sutras, and is also clearly stated in the commentaries by T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo. It is, in fact, an important principle of Buddhist practice." (pg. 126)

"Some people criticize me, saying, 'Nichiren does not understand the capacities of the people of the time, but goes around preaching in a harsh manner—that is why he meets with difficulties.' Other people say, 'The practices described in the "Encouraging Devotion" chapter are for bodhisattvas who are far advanced in practice; [Nichiren ought to follow the practices of] the "Peaceful Practices" chapter, yet he fails to do so.' Others say, 'I, too, know the Lotus Sutra is supreme, but I say nothing about it.' Still others complain that I give all my attention to doctrinal teachings. I am well aware of all these criticisms against me. But I recall the case of Pien Ho, who had his legs cut off at the knee, and of Kiyomaro (Pure Man), who was dubbed Kegaremaro (Filthy Man) and almost put to death. All the people of the time laughed at them with scorn, but unlike those two men, those who laughed left no good name behind them. And all the people who level unjust criticisms at me will meet with a similar fate. The 'Encouraging Devotion' chapter says, 'There will be many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of us.' I observe my own situation in this passage. Why should it not apply to all of you as well? 'They will attack us with swords and staves,' the passage continues. I have experienced this passage from the sutra with my own body. Why do you, my disciples, not do likewise?" (pg. 209)

Question: "How should one practice if one takes faith in the Lotus Sutra?" (pg. 125)

Answer: "Shoju is to be practiced when throughout the entire country only the Lotus Sutra has spread, and when there is not even a single misguided teacher expounding erroneous doctrines." (pg. 126)

"The methods of shoju and shakubuku are also like this. When the correct teaching alone is propagated and there are no erroneous doctrines or misguided teachers, then one may enter the deep valleys and live in quiet contentment, devoting one’s time to reciting and copying the sutra and to the practice of meditation. This is like taking up a writing brush and inkstone when the world is at peace. But when there are provisional schools or slanderers of the correct teaching in the country, then it is time to set aside other matters and devote oneself to rebuking slander." (126 & 127)

"Therefore, we must look at the world today and consider whether ours is a country in which only the correct doctrine prevails, or a country in which erroneous doctrines flourish." (pg. 127)

"One should practice only the shakubuku method of propagation, and if one has the capacity, use one’s influence and authority to destroy slander of the correct teaching, and one’s knowledge of the teachings to refute erroneous doctrines."(127)

"Question: Then it would be wrong to say that faith in any sutra or any Buddha of the expedient and provisional teachings equals faith in the Lotus Sutra. But what of those who believe only in the Lotus Sutra and carry out the five practices set forth in the sutra or follow the practices described in the 'Peaceful Practices' chapter? Could we not say that their practice accords with the Buddha’s teachings?

"Answer: Anyone who practices Buddhism should first understand the two types of practice—shoju and shakubuku....

"In this age, the provisional teachings have turned into enemies of the true teaching. When the time is right to propagate the teaching of the one vehicle, the provisional teachings become enemies. When they are a source of confusion, they must be thoroughly refuted from the standpoint of the true teaching. Of the two types of practice, this is shakubuku, the practice of the Lotus Sutra. With good reason T’ien-t’ai stated, 'The Lotus Sutra is the teaching of shakubuku, the refutation of the provisional doctrines.'

"The four peaceful practices [in the 'Peaceful Practices' chapter] correspond to shoju. To carry them out in this age would be as foolish as sowing seeds in winter and expecting to reap the harvest in spring. It is natural for a rooster to crow at dawn, but strange for him to crow at dusk. Now, when the true and the provisional teachings are utterly confused, it would be equally unnatural for one to seclude oneself in the mountain forests and carry out the peaceful practice of shoju without refuting the enemies of the Lotus Sutra. One would lose the chance to practice the Lotus Sutra.

"Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, who is carrying out the practice of shakubuku in strict accordance with the Lotus Sutra? Suppose someone, no matter who, should unrelentingly proclaim that the Lotus Sutra alone can lead people to Buddhahood, and that all other sutras, far from enabling them to attain the way, only drive them into hell. Observe what happens should that person thus try to refute the teachers and the doctrines of all the other schools. The three powerful enemies will arise without fail.

"Our teacher, the Thus Come One Shakyamuni, practiced shakubuku during the last eight years of his lifetime, the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai for more than thirty years, and the Great Teacher Dengyo for more than twenty." (pg. 394, “On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings")

"The Lotus Sutra is the teaching of shakubuku, the refutation of the provisional doctrines." (pg. 392)

“Although few people slander the Lotus Sutra with actual words of abuse, there are none who accept it. Some appear to accept the sutra, but their faith in it is not as deep as their faith in the Nembutsu or other teachings. And even those with profound faith do not reproach the enemies of the Lotus Sutra. However great good causes one may make, or even if one reads and copies the entirety of the Lotus Sutra a thousand or ten thousand times, or attains the way of perceiving three thousand realms in a single moment of life, if one fails to denounce the enemies of the Lotus Sutra, it will be impossible to attain the way.” (WND p. 78)

“The Great Teacher Nan-yueh has stated, ‘If one sees a foe of the Lotus Sutra and yet fails to censure him, one becomes a slanderer of the Law and will fall into the hell of incessant suffering.’ Even a man of great wisdom, if he sees such a person and fails to speak out, will fall into the depths of the hell of incessant suffering, and as long as that hell shall endure, he will never escape.” (pg. 1021-1022)

NB Counter-argument Point 4:

Nichiren left the Tendai sect over the one issue of shakubuku.

Substantiation:

"But the men of the Tendai school [who do not refute misleading teachings] are all great enemies of the people. [As Chang-an has noted,] 'One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent.'" (pg. 287)

“For persons of the Tendai Lotus school to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo themselves and yet give their approval when others repeat the Nembutsu would be strange enough. Yet not only do they fail to remonstrate with them, but they criticize one who does confront the Nembutsu school, which is strange indeed!” (pg. 856)

NB Counter-argument Point 5:

Nichiren didn't stop doing shakubuku even though his own disciples opposed him on this single point. In continuing to do shakubuku despite the fact that his disciples were opposing the practice, was he going against his OWN belief that his disciples should be united? Was he committing one of the five cardinal sins?

Substantiation:

"In the same way, the renegade disciples say, 'Though the priest Nichiren is our teacher, he is too forceful. We will spread the Lotus Sutra in a more peaceful way.' In so asserting, they are being as ridiculous as fireflies laughing at the sun and moon, an anthill belittling Mount Hua, wells and brooks despising the river and the ocean, or a magpie mocking a phoenix." (pg. 306)

“Among my disciples, those who think themselves well versed in Buddhism are the ones who make errors….To revere another teaching as [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’s] equal…can only be a cause for disaster.” (pg. 903)

NB Comment:

I have already tried again and again to explain the correct concept of unity to you. You still fail to understand. You also fail to follow Nichiren's example in doing shakubuku and instead give in to the criticism of others who claim to follow the Lotus Sutra. You even fail to follow SGI's example to create their own organization in order to teach people not to follow priests. Is it possible that you cannot understand even one of these arguments due to your attachment to SGI? Maybe you need to check your own intentions about this matter. I don't understand why you are scolding me for practicing shakubuku. Are you trying to convince me to stop practicing according to Nichiren's teachings and his lifetime example in order to conform to SGI's wishes? Why would you do this? Did Nichiren merely conform to others’ beliefs in order to get along with anyone? Conforming for the sake of conforming is not a correct concept of Buddhist unity. And a "Buddhist sangha" that scolds people or bans them for practicing according to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra is NOT a true Buddhist sangha anyway. So, to oppose you and SGI in this matter, no matter how many people support you from within the SGI organization, would not cause me to violate the 5 cardinal sins.

Substantiation:

"The question, however, is not whether one lives in the Former, the Middle, or the Latter Day of the Law, but whether one bases oneself upon the text of the true sutra. Again, the point is not who preaches a doctrine, but whether it accords with truth." (pg. 168)

“A good believer is one who does not depend upon persons of eminence or despise those of humble station; who does not rely on the backing of superiors or look down on inferiors; who, not relying on the opinions of others, upholds the Lotus Sutra among all the sutras. Such a person the Buddha has called the best of all people.” (pg. 880)

“In both secular and religious realms, as is plain to see, good persons are rare while evil persons are numerous. Why, then, do you insist upon despising the few and favoring the many? Dirt and sand are plentiful, but rice and other grains are rare. The bark of trees is available in great quantities, but hemp and silk fabrics are hard to come by. You should put the truth of the teaching before everything else; certainly you should not base your judgment on the number of adherents.” (pg. 125)

2. SG Argument:

"You have taken Nichiren's personification to justify your interpretations..."

NB Comment:

I can't understand why you would say this. I have, indeed, referred to gosho quotes as well as Nichiren's life example in order to prove that the teaching I'm practicing is the teaching that he meant for us to practice. Are you scolding me for using the gosho to make my points? I refuse to apologize for this, too. I am a disciple of Nichiren. I will remain his disciple until you can prove to me that his teachings are false. If you continue to call yourself a Nichiren Buddhist, I think that you should also base your arguments on his teachings, or refrain from calling yourself such. So far, the only way you've refuted me is using the opinions of your SGI leaders, rather than the gosho. You are not proving that I've misinterpreted Nichiren, only that I've gone against SGI's teachings, which are inferior to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. None of your leaders in SGI have told us that we've misinterpreted Nichiren. They have, on the contrary, told us that they disagree that we should practice according to Nichiren's instructions, which is merely their own opinion. If you believe that I have misinterpreted Nichiren, you have failed to prove it. I, on the other hand, have given you gosho passage after gosho passage to prove my points. How can you read these passages, which are as plain as day, and say that I've misinterpreted them? How could anyone possibly read the words, "And even those with profound faith do not reproach the enemies of the Lotus Sutra....[I]f one fails to denounce the enemies of the Lotus Sutra, it will be impossible to attain the way,” and "The Taoists...by relying on...deities...became enemies of Shakyamuni Buddha" and interpret them to mean that we should not do shakubuku if other Nichiren Buddhists, such as you and SGI, are opposed to it? Is it my misinterpretation of these words or is it your refusal to accept Nichiren's instructions?

3. SG Argument:

"No one is in a position to judge what is 'the best of [other's] ability.' We can only judge our own ability...."

Substantiation:

"Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase."

NB Counter-argument Point1:

You are quite right. We shouldn't judge what others are capable of doing. That's why I believe that we should give them all of the tools to do whatever they can. Therefore, we should not scold people or discourage them from doing shakubuku, even if their practice of shakubuku brings about animosity from others. Instead, we should respect them and teach them everything we know so that they can make their own decisions about whether to do shakubuku or not. That means that we should show them in the gosho where Nichiren encourages people to do shakubuku so that they can decide to do it as well. If a person has the capacity to do shakubuku and yet fails to do it, then yes, they will be judged as failing to do what they're capable of. Only it's not me doing the judging. It's the Buddha within their own lives that will "judge" their practice by failing to respond to a lack of courage and compassion. All I do is point out that this is an important part of their Buddhist practice – a crucial part, so that they can avoid the offense of complicity in slander.

NB Counter-argument Point2:

On the other side of the coin, we need to discourage people from writing articles in magazines that interfere with the cause of teaching the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra, such as the one run by the Living Buddhism magazine. This is because they are making an extremely bad cause and we should try to convince them not to do it. I think this because it is within our abilities to discourage another person from making a bad cause when we see it happening. That, too, is an act of shakubuku, but it is entirely for the other person’s sake, not out of arrogance.

(In the beginning of the substantiation section, I will substantiate that it is a bad cause to say or imply that Christianity could also be a path to attain the way. At the end I substantiate that it is acting out of compassion to try to stop a person from making that cause. Then I show that even Nichiren’s disciples are capable of slander.)

Substantiation:

“To ignore the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and assert that other sutras stand on a par with it is to commit the worst possible slander of the Law, a major offense of the utmost gravity.” (pg. 61)

“Among my disciples, those who think themselves well versed in Buddhism are the ones who make errors. Namu-myoho-renge-kyo is the heart of the Lotus Sutra. It is like the soul of a person. To revere another teaching as its equal is to be like a consort who is married to two emperors, or who secretly commits adultery with a minister or a humble subject. It can only be a cause for disaster.” (pg. 903)

“Our seeing, hearing, and making no attempt to stop slander that, if we spoke out, could be avoided, destroys our gifts of sight and hearing, and is utterly merciless.

“Chang-an writes, ‘If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy.’ The consequences of a grave offense are extremely difficult to erase. The most important thing is to continually strengthen our wish to benefit others.

“Many such examples of slander are also found among Nichiren’s disciples and lay believers.” (pgs. 625-626)

4. SG Statement:

"I agree 100 percent that we are in the time of Mappo and need to practice shakubuku."

NB Comment:

Good! I'm glad we see eye-to-eye on this issue. Then we can move on to discussing what we're going to do about it. Can we not?

5. SG Argument:

"In the case of refuting non-Buddhists, planting the seed of enlightenment is just as equal as shakubuku. And nurturing this seed to those who do embark on the journey of faith is shakubuku as well"

NB Comment:

Nurturing the seed of enlightenment is indeed shakubuku in this day and age, as it cannot be done by the act of shoju. You must refute people's attachment to an external deity or they will never get over it. They will just replace it with another external deity (the Gohonzon, the universe, President Ikeda, etc.) If I thought that's what you meant, I would agree. But, if that's what you really meant, a better way to phrase it would be "To do shakubuku is to nurture the seed of faith."

NB Counter-argument Point 1:

I think what you really mean to say here is that merely telling someone about chanting is shakubuku and then encouraging them to chant without ever refuting their mistaken beliefs is shakubuku. In Buddhism, there is a clear distinction made between shoju and shakubuku. To ignore this distinction or fail to understand it is a grave error in the realm of Buddhism. Shakubuku means to refute mistaken beliefs. On the other hand, shoju is the practice of "Peaceful Practices" (peaceful deeds, words, thoughts, and vows). To tell someone about chanting, yet not refute their mistaken attachment to an external deity, is actually not shakubuku.

Substantiation:

"Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, who is carrying out the practice of shakubuku in strict accordance with the Lotus Sutra? Suppose someone, no matter who, should unrelentingly proclaim that the Lotus Sutra alone can lead people to Buddhahood, and that all other sutras, far from enabling them to attain the way, only drive them into hell." (pg. 394)

"The Lotus Sutra is the teaching of shakubuku, the refutation of the provisional doctrines." (pg. 392)

"If, failing to understand this principle, one were to practice shoju or shakubuku at an inappropriate time, then not only would one be unable to attain Buddhahood, but one would fall into the evil paths. This is firmly laid down in the Lotus and Nirvana sutras, and is also clearly stated in the commentaries by T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo. It is, in fact, an important principle of Buddhist practice." (pg. 126)

NB Counter-argument Point 2:

You say, "In the case of refuting non-Buddhists..." implying that refuting a non-Buddhist can be done by the shoju method (which is defined as the opposite of shakubuku), unlike the case of refuting Buddhists. That means that not doing refutation is actually doing refutation in the case of non-Buddhists. Do you realize how twisted that sounds? You are saying that shoju is actually shakubuku when performed on non-Buddhists. Did you invent this concept yourself or did someone tell you this? This is merely your own personal opinion. Even if you got it from some SGI leader, it's still a personal opinion that has no basis in Buddhist doctrine whatsoever. Please be very careful about teaching people your personal opinion or the personal opinions of others and calling them Buddhist doctrine. When you teach a Buddhist concept to someone, you should back up what you say using Buddhist doctrine. If you can't find a quote from Nichiren or the sutras to back up what you say, you should not teach it to others and call it Buddhism. If you do, you will be misleading others.

Substantiation:

"‘Rely on the Law and not upon persons.’ Even when great bodhisattvas such as Universal Worthy and Manjushri, men who have returned to the stage of near-perfect enlightenment, expound the Buddhist teachings, if they do not do so with the sutra text in hand, then one should not heed them.

"The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai states, ‘That which accords with the sutras is to be written down and made available. But put no faith in anything that in word or meaning fails to do so.’ Here we see that one should accept what is clearly stated in the text of the sutras, but discard anything that cannot be supported by the text." (pg. 109)

"A sutra says: 'Rely on the Law and not upon persons. Rely on the meaning of the teaching and not on the words. Rely on wisdom and not on discriminative thinking. Rely on sutras that are complete and final and not on those that are not complete and final.' The meaning of this passage is that one should not rely upon the words of the bodhisattvas and teachers, but should heed what was established by the Buddha." (pg. 872)

"If we merely rely upon the commentaries of various teachers and do not follow the statements of the Buddha himself, then how can we call our beliefs Buddhism? To do so would be absurd beyond description!

"Therefore, the Great Teacher Chisho stated that, if one claims that there is no division of Mahayana and Hinayana among the sutras and no distinction of partial and perfect among revelations of the truth, and therefore accepts all the words of the various teachers, then the preachings of the Buddha will have been to no purpose.

"T’ien-t’ai asserted, 'That which has a profound doctrine and accords with the sutras is to be written down and made available. But put no faith in anything that in word or meaning fails to do so.' He also said, 'All assertions that lack scriptural proof are to be branded as false.' How would you interpret such statements?" (pg. 56)

NB Counter-argument Point3:

In refraining from doing shakubuku, SGI’s own teaching has become erroneous. Rather than refuting erroneous views (as they should have been doing all along), they actually ADOPTED them! That’s what happens when you don’t do shakubuku. For one, SGI is committing an error in their practice with the new teaching they are expounding that Christianity is very similar to Buddhism, like with their article in the Living Buddhism, "Jesus and Shakyamuni: Teachers of Humanity." Second, they allow people to practice 5, 10, 20, even 30 years still believing in a power that exists outside of themselves! They pray to the Gohonzon like it's a god that will bring them benefit if they chant to it. You may think that this is no big deal, but it's a really big deal. We can't just go around accepting every non-Buddhist belief on the planet just because they don't call themselves Buddhists. That would be insane and totally uncaring! If you care at all, you must point out even your fellow SGI members' mistaken views.

Substantiation:

"The learned authorities in the world today suppose that there is no harm in mixing extraneous practices with the practice of the Lotus Sutra, and I, Nichiren, was once of that opinion myself. But the passage from the sutra [that I have just quoted] does not permit such a view." (pg. 1014 &1015)

"Therefore, the Great Teacher Chisho stated that, if one claims that there is no division of Mahayana and Hinayana among the sutras and no distinction of partial and perfect among revelations of the truth, and therefore accepts all the words of the various teachers, then the preachings of the Buddha will have been to no purpose." (pg. 56)

NB Counter-argument Point4:

I have already supplied you with a quote proving that Shakyamuni himself did shakubuku to non-Buddhists. Not only that, the phrase "one should use Buddhism to refute them" is an instruction from Nichiren. Here's that quote again:

“In a country where non-Buddhist teachings have already spread, one should use Buddhism to refute them. For example, the Buddha appeared in India and defeated the non-Buddhists; Kashyapa Matanga and Chu Fa-lan went to China and called the Taoists to task; Prince Jogu was born in the country of Japan and put Moriya to the sword." (pg. 80)

SG Counter Argument:

"Your quoting this portion that dealt with refuting non-Buddhists is irrelevant to what you are discussing in your response.”

NB Counter-argument:

I find it to be quite relevant. This passage is irrefutable proof that Nichiren never meant us to NOT do shakubuku to non-Buddhists. It also proves that Nichiren actually INSTRUCTED us TO DO shakubuku to non-Buddhists. And he clearly means the real meaning of shakubuku, not the ridiculous twisted logic you gave me above. He says “one should use Buddhism to refute them.” I’m saying that teaching to the best of our ability includes doing shakubuku to non-Buddhists, and that’s what he told us to do in the quote above. How can you say it's not relevant?

SG Counter Argument:

The main point of that gosho was intended to be that the Lotus Sutra is appropriate for Japan, due to the sequence of propagation that took place in history. This passage does not mean that we should "go around refuting non-Buddhists."

NB Counter-argument:

To be more accurate, the gosho is about the five guides for propagation which were originally intended to be, well, guides, not just historical accounts. Nichiren is indeed pointing out that Japan practiced all of those other religions already, so according to the five guides, it would be inappropriate to go backward and teach a lesser teaching. Since they've already practiced all of those other teachings, he says, they therefore must already have the capacity for the Lotus Sutra. Certainly Nichiren argued that Japan, in particular, should not go backward in its progression toward finding the highest teaching. It could be argued that it's not necessary, in the Latter Day of the Law, for each individual country to practice every teaching that Japan did, but that Nichiren was just pointing out that the sequence had gone exactly as Shakyamuni predicted and now is the time for the Lotus Sutra to spread. However, the guides are still guides. I can't tell if you're implying that that all countries don't have to go through the exact same sequence as Japan did (which I would agree with), or if you're saying that we cannot use Nichiren's interpretation of the five guides and apply them to our own country because he was only concerned with applying them to Japan for his Japanese audience.

Just for perspective, let me go over the main points of the gosho. In the first guide, he says that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and practicing the Lotus Sutra is an act of filial piety toward and appreciation of Shakyamuni. In other words, it's the way to repay our debt of gratitude to him. In the second one, he says that to not do shakubuku is to slander the Law. (Keep that in mind, because I bring it up later.) In the third one, he says that other Buddhists are actually making evil causes when they think they're making good causes, because their teachings are small good that actually wind up creating great evil. The reason they are creating great evil is because even though the practices of the other teachings bring benefit, they don't lead to enlightenment. So they stray from the teachings that lead to enlightenment in order to create small good, which is a great evil. The fourth guide says that Japan is suited to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. As a reminder, the fourth guide is actually about the capacity of the people. He's saying that Japan's capacity is suited to the Lotus Sutra. As you may be very aware, Nichiren says that the Lotus Sutra is the teaching of shakubuku. Some things you have said in the past sound as if you're saying that America, and most of the world, is not suited to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. That's a related but different topic, however. In the fifth guide, Nichiren speaks of the sequence of propagation to be used on a country given the different kinds of countries. That is where the above quote comes from. According to SGI, we fall into a country of non-Buddhists. Of course, Nichiren is specifically relating it to Japan, because that's where he lived, but that doesn't mean that the five guides should not be applied outside of Japan. What should we do when in a non-Buddhist country according to the fifth guide? That is perfectly clear. We should refute them using Buddhism. Well, the Lotus Sutra is Buddhism. Therefore, we can easily say that according to Nichiren's interpretation of the five guides, refuting non-Buddhists using the Lotus Sutra is following the fifth guideline for propagation. Furthermore, to not refute them is to actually turn against the second guide for propagation.

As I think I made clear earlier in this letter, Nichiren does think we should go around refuting erroneous teachings. Again, it is your opinion that we should exclude non-Buddhists from this. The above passage proves that it is merely your own opinion and not the opinion of Nichiren or Shakyamuni. You have yet to supply me with any proof whatsoever that Nichiren shared your opinion. I, however, have supplied proof that he did not, nor did Shakyamuni share your opinion. Yet, since you don't like the particular passage I quoted, I'll quote more to you about this topic.

Substantiation:

"This passage from the Nirvana Sutra recounts the evil words that the various non-Buddhists spoke against Shakyamuni Buddha because he refuted the scriptures preached by their original teachers, the two deities and the three ascetics....In other words, persons who show no desire to hear or believe in the Lotus Sutra or who say that it does not match their capacity, though they may not actually slander it in so many words, are all to be regarded as persons of hatred and jealousy." (pg. 206)

"Our own age is not unlike theirs. The Taoists Ch’u and Fei of China, and Moriya in Japan, by relying on the major and minor deities of their respective countries, became enemies of Shakyamuni Buddha.

"There is a difference between the Taoists and Moriya on the one hand and our contemporary priests on the other in that the former preferred gods to a Buddha while the latter have replaced one Buddha with another. However, they are alike in that they all abandoned Shakyamuni Buddha." (pg. 838)

"But in ancient times, before the Buddhist teachings were introduced to this country, people knew nothing about either the Buddha or his teachings. It was only after the battle between Moriya and Prince Jogu that some people took faith in Buddhism, though others did not.

"The situation was similar in China. After Matanga had introduced Buddhism to China, he held a debate with the Taoists. When the Taoists were defeated in debate, then for the first time there were people who put their faith in Buddhism, though there were many more who did not." (pg 514)

SG Counter-argument:

None of the goshos you quoted from are primarily about doing shakubuku to non-Buddhists.

NB Counter-argument:

Are you saying that what was appropriate for the people of Japan, India, and China is not appropriate for people of every country in the world in the Latter Day of the Law? Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. are all not to be refuted? Mind you that nearly 94 percent of the people on this planet today are non-Buddhists. Are you saying that now, in what is supposed to be the proper time for shakubuku, 94 percent of the people are not suited to this method of propagation?

The point is, no matter what the topic was, it is a fact that Buddhism spread through India, to China, and then to Japan through the use of shakubuku. Shakyamuni himself did shakubuku to non-Buddhists, and Nichiren refers to it as if he agrees. Nichiren also did shakubuku in reference to non-Buddhist teachings. Can you not see this? Nichiren was not against doing shakubuku to non-Buddhists. He went around doing shakubuku to Buddhists because in his country there were Buddhists all around. Could you see the stupidity of him spending most of his time refuting non-Buddhists, or instructing his disciples to do so, when there weren't any? He did say to do shakubuku, and he never said, "unless, of course, the world is overrun by non-Buddhists."

Think about Nichiren’s purpose in writing the things he did. Most of what he wrote was in response to questions from his contemporaries. Considering what he discussed about the topic of shakubuku, can you imagine what his contemporaries must have been saying? Apparently there wasn't a debate about the issue of whether shakubuku should be done on non-Buddhists. Why do you think he kept answering the question about whether Japan was suited to shakubuku and whether we should do shakubuku to Buddhists? His critics must have been saying that their time and country was not suited to shakubuku due to the fact that they were a Buddhist country. They must have been saying that shakubuku was reserved for non-Buddhists. Maybe part of the reason why he also calls some forms of Buddhism "non-Buddhist" in many places in the gosho was to make the point that they need to be shakubukued because their beliefs are actually non-Buddhist.

In the "Letter from Teradomari" (pg. 206) he uses the above-quoted argument to help make his case to his followers that his disciples should be behind him on the issue of shakubuku (and that IS the primary topic of the entire gosho). In the quote above, he's pointing out the similarities between his contemporary Buddhists and the non-Buddhists of former ages in order to make the point that if the non-Buddhists required shakubuku, then the erroneous Buddhists do, too, based on the similarity of their errors. Nichiren is essentially using Shakyamuni's actions (as if everyone would agree they were correct) as the basis of an argument to do shakubuku to Buddhists. Doesn't it seem, when reading the entire three paragraphs where he talks about it, that he was trying to convince his disciples that shakubuku is not reserved JUST for non-Buddhists, but for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike? If Nichiren was against doing shakubuku to non-Buddhists, why would he have brought up the fact that Shakyamuni did it at all, much less in a letter about shakubuku? No matter what you think his reasons for using it in his arguments, the fact that he likened Shakyamuni's actions to his own proves that he must have thought it a good cause. Given this information, how could you possibly argue that he was against it?

6. SG Comment:

"If you see a reason to refute non-Buddhists to the best of your ability, go for it."

NB Comment:

I have. Thank you for the encouragement! I take it that you are conceding that it is correct for a person to refute non-Buddhists if that is what they are capable of doing. That is exactly what I believe. Obviously, if someone is not capable of doing shakubuku, then they should just chant. I believe that you are quite capable of doing shakubuku to non-Buddhists as well. Since Nichiren said to teach "to the best of your ability," that means that you will join me in doing shakubuku when you meet non-Buddhists, right? That would greatly please me, as that has been my purpose for having this conversation with you.

7. SG Argument:

"No one has stopped you from doing shakubuku to non-Buddhists."

NB Comment:

You're absolutely right about this statement. I strongly believe that we have control over the decisions that we make. Likewise, when others determine to do shakubuku to non-Buddhists, no one will stop them either. I will not allow anyone to stop me from fulfilling my mission. That is why, even though NBAA members have been banned from SGI meetings in 4 cities, I have consistently maintained my determination to practice according to Nichiren's instructions no matter what. Even though the very people I trusted the most turned their backs on me, even though I face scorn and criticism from the people I thought were my closest friends, even though those who signed the vows I took were threatened with law suits for sharing them with the world, I have marched on...alone -- undaunted. And I will continue to "teach others to the best of [my] ability" no matter who rises up against me. This is my determination. This is my vow. When I made it, I didn't expect any opposition at all from SGI, but once I took it, I couldn't retreat. I won't retreat, even today. Even with SGI against me.

8. SG Argument:

"Your purpose of trying to enter SGI facilities is not because of your change of heart to return to a true faith. Your intentions are still to make distorted points among the pure-hearted SGI members."

NB Question:

What distorted points? You already agreed that it's okay to do shakubuku to non-Buddhists. You agreed that it's okay to do shakubuku to Buddhists. Although you haven't mentioned it, I brought up the concept of relying on the Law, not on the person earlier. You made no comment about that, so I take it that you agree. I assume that you believe in chanting the daimoku. I assume that you believe in the power of the Gohonzon within. I assume that you believe in studying the gosho. I assume that you believe in enlightenment. That's pretty much everything, then. Since those are the concepts we teach to everyone, SGI members or not, what distorted points are you referring to?

NB Comment:

Again, you're talking about me changing to conform to SGI without any evidence that I have been wrong. Furthermore, as I said earlier, the only way we could be accepted back into the fold of SGI would be to give up our teaching of shakubuku and the teaching to rely on the Law rather than on persons. Is that what you are referring to when you ask me to return to a "true faith"? Are you encouraging me to give up my vows for the sake of Buddhism? If you are, that is a very bad cause on your part. You should really be more careful in your comments.

9. SG Argument:

"SGI did not cast you out. You left SGI."

NB Counter-argument:

I've repeatedly tried to talk with SGI members over the years and have been to their meetings as well, without incident. I am trying to work with SGI and have been all along. They have stopped me from going to the meetings and discouraged communication between myself and other members. They have done all of this despite my constant reassurances to them that I am not trying to get people to leave SGI or join NBAA, but only to encourage them to chant, study the gosho, do shakubuku, and rely on the Law as their guide to enlightenment. Think about it. Have I, even once, tried to get you to join NBAA? Have I tried to get you to leave SGI? I told you to do shakubuku within SGI -- that it doesn't matter. I have tried to convince you to do shakubuku because I believe that doing shakubuku IS within your abilities.

I have said repeatedly that I want to work with SGI. So, what am I to do now? What are you asking me to do? You have implied that I should renounce my vows in order to conform to their slander of those who do shakubuku. Well, that is not negotiable. I will NOT quit doing shakubuku in order to rejoin SGI. I will not quit encouraging people to read the gosho and interpret and apply it on their own. I will not quit teaching people to rely on the Law and not upon persons. I took those vows and I will not forsake them. Short of doing those things, what else can I do to join with SGI? You tell me.

I have tried to focus on each of our personal practices rather than on organizational topics. I have explained that I cannot come into the fold of SGI without renouncing my vows, and I refuse to do so. If you are truly interested in my happiness, you will give me constructive arguments about things I can do to attain enlightenment rather than encouraging me to conform to an organization that slanders me for merely following Nichiren’s instructions. You must know, deep in your heart, that if I renounce my vows because of SGI’s anger toward me, I will never be able to attain enlightenment and will instead fall into hell. Yet, you are trying to encourage me to renounce my vows. How horrible! I think you do this because you have not been fulfilling your end of the bargain to chant one hour for my enlightenment before writing me, as I have been doing for you. Please consider my enlightenment when you attempt to teach me Buddhism. Likewise, I intend to continue to do the same for you.

I think we have come a long way in our dialogues and that greatly encourages me. I realize that you don't have to write me and that you have many other things to do in your daily life. I'm very glad you have maintained this dialogue with me despite all of that.

Thank you very much.

NB


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