In our world, everyone believes that there is a deity, force, being,
or something outside of themselves controlling their destiny and
watching over them. If we just pray to this being, they believe,
the outside force will take care of them in life as well as in death.
Even Buddhists believe this for the most part. Despite the fact
that nearly everyone on the planet holds this same basic belief,
I am so arrogant that I have the audacity to disagree with them
I believe that all of the power of the universe, God, life, "the
force," Jehovah, Shiva, Vishnu, etceteras, are all within my
own body. And, even more arrogantly, I also believe that I can,
and have, tapped that power within myself to actually become MORE
powerful than the combined powers of the other forces within the
universe. I feel that I not only have complete control over my own
destiny, but yours as well. In other words, I am God. I rule this
world and this universe. I don't limit this power to myself, however.
I believe that ALL people have this potential within themselves.
All people could be rulers of the universe and change the destiny
of the entire planet if only they'd look and see the power within
them. How can they do this? Only by practicing the teachings contained
in the Lotus Sutra and chanting Namu-myoho-renge-kyo.
Now that I've said all that, people who believe in something greater
than themselves existing outside of themselves will be angry. Christians
who read this essay will be enraged. Even other Buddhists will be
appalled by what I said in the previous paragraph. I can imagine
them all shifting uncomfortably in their chairs as they read my
words. In fact, I have enraged people in person using similar words.
They slander me. They slander my Buddha nature. And they slander
their own Buddha nature as well, believing that they could not become
like what I described above. Ultimately, they are slandering the
I could write an essay for them. But for just this once, I want
to write something for my comrades in faith. I am writing to other
Buddhas and those earnestly seeking Buddhahood within themselves.
Our beliefs are opposed to the beliefs of all of the people in
the world today. You cannot believe that the Law, and ALL of its
power, is within you, while also believing in a force outside of
yourself that is greater than you and which has control over the
world. Because our beliefs are contrary to all other beliefs on
the planet, we cannot say to people that Christianity is just the
same as Buddhism. Nor can we say to them that Christianity is just
as good as Buddhism. The same thing applies to all other religions.
And if we say that there could be other paths to enlightenment,
we must qualify it by saying the word "theoretically,"
because if there are, we don't know of such paths. In other words,
we have to come out and say that Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Islam,
etc. are all incorrect religions. This is shakubuku.
Imagine that you are Christopher Columbus, living in the 18th century.
You need to write a letter to obtain funding to sail to India. The
only way to convince another person to let you find a new route
to India is to convince them that the world is actually round despite
the fact that nearly everyone believes it to be unmistakably flat.
Can you ride the fence saying, "yes, it's flat, but it's also
round as well"?
In Buddhism too, you can't ride the fence. If you're telling people
that Christianity is just the same as or just as good as Buddhism,
you're not teaching people Buddhism correctly. It would be just
as absurd to say that as to say that the world is flat as well as
If a person truly believes that Christianity and Buddhism are the
same, they have not fully understood Buddhism. In that case, they
should keep quiet. But you who know what a Buddha is -- you who
are Buddhas yourselves -- you are the leaders of those other people.
You can't be swayed by them. They lack faith in the possibility
of their own Buddha nature because they can't see it. And if they
can't see their own Buddha nature, how could they see yours? Please,
stand up and lead! Even should your leaders or priests tell you
not to upset Christians by denouncing their faith, understand that
you are in fact their leader and their priest. Have courage. I want
you to know that there are other Buddhas out there, in other parts
of the world and maybe the country, working together with you to
spread enlightenment throughout the universe. Have heart and be
bold because you are not alone.
I recently read Dr. Atkins' book after doing some research on diabetes
and heart disease. The Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, and many
other diets have been become more popular these days. However, the
idea that carbohydrates are related to weight gain is by no means
a recent discovery. Dr. Atkins published his findings on carbohydrates
over thirty years ago. The concept defied everything doctors had
been told about nutrition and diet. Akins did not say that carbohydrates
were responsible for just weight gain, but also for all kinds of
medical conditions, most importantly heart disease. The idea of
patients with heart problems eating a high fat, high protein diet
was appalling to the other doctors around the country. Atkins, however,
pressed on. He didn't just show his own research on how well a low
carbohydrate diet works for his patients. He attacked high carbohydrate
diets, saying that they hurt people, and ultimately kill people.
Because he attacked high carbohydrate diets, he attacked the belief
system of thousands of doctors in this country. We'd been taught
to eat mostly carbohydrates by our own school system which used
the food pyramid published by our government! Today, slowly, our
belief system is changing. More and more cardiologists are recommending
low carbohydrate diets to their patients. Soon the phrase "meat
and potatoes" will be replaced with "meat and green veggies."
The spread of the Akins eating approach is taking hold among individuals
not only because of the fact that it works. It spreads when people
learn that carbohydrates have been causing them some of the mental
and most of the physical problems they've been plagued with throughout
their lives. In other words, to teach someone that a low carbohydrate
diet is good never seems to convince them. It is when you begin
to list the reasons why a high carbohydrate diet is harmful to them
that they begin to think seriously about it.
Atkins is not the first case of a lone scientist taking on the
entire scientific community. However, time and time again, when
a scientist confronts the beliefs of other scientists, he has to
show why the other beliefs are wrong in order to also prove that
he is right. This has been the case over and over again in the history
of science and medicine. It's the method any person has to use to
convince others of a new, opposing mental paradigm.
Consider also the case of civil rights. Blacks were told that to
participate in acts of civil disobedience would only slow the progress
toward equal rights. After years of being treated as less than human,
new laws were passed within a relatively short period of time after
civil disobediences began to take place. It was their action against
the status quo that finally created the forward momentum toward
Think of a person running for President. Imagine that all around
you, you begin to see signs and stickers with the slogan, "Just
as good as the other candidate." It's really not enough for
a candidate to claim that his ideas are equally as good as the other
guy's. He must convince the people that he's better than the other
guy. He has to convince the people that not only will his ideas
make their lives better, but the other candidate's plans will hurt
them. The people will not be convinced by someone who's flippant.
Imagine watching a movie about children who live in an abusive
household. Suppose they have a favorite aunt in the movie who plays
with the children all of the time. When she finds out that the children
are being abused, what would make a better heroine action for her?
Would it be better if she just talked with the parents over the
course of years and tried to convince them to stop hurting the children?
Or would it be better if she stormed into the house and grabbed
the children away while the parents yelled at her and threatened
her? And which do you think would be better for the children?
It sounds very noble to be calm all of the time, but only in theory.
In real life we need to take the bull by the horns and get some
things done for the sake of others. We can't let the people of the
world continue to suffer while we practice our meditation on tranquility,
shutting out the pain of others.
For years now Christianity has been spreading through the world
like the plague. People feel they need someone upon whom they can
rely. They feel lonely and powerless over their lives. They feel
unloved. They don't get the sense that they are the heroes and heroines,
completely in charge of their own destiny. They're scared, tired,
alone, and confused. The simple line, "Jesus loves you,"
strengthens the conviction of Christians everywhere. They want someone
to love them
to look over them
to look after them. It
doesn't matter that the religion doesn't make sense, defies reason,
and doesn't work. They feel they need something. Christianity plays
on people's sense of fear, powerlessness and neediness.
What people really need is to take control of their lives and actions.
They need wisdom and courage. They need to realize that they have
an enormous impact on the world and can make a difference for humanity.
A new religion needs to be spread. The new religion needs to be
one capable of injecting people with vitality, hope, compassion,
wisdom, confidence, and personal strength.
I know of such a philosophy. It's called Nichiren Buddhism, or
the Buddhism of the Lotus Sutra. This is a powerful, yet radical
religion. It provides just what people are really looking for in
their lives but don't know it yet. Every time I chant determinedly,
with conviction for others, and then take action for their sake
(shakubuku them), I see the power of this Buddhism. It's at that
time that I attain enlightenment myself. The most encouraging thing
to me, though, is watching others grow and become happy and strong
as they practice. This is the only religion that works equally for
all people. It's the only thing that can inspire the hope, compassion,
and wisdom that people are searching for in their lives.
I know that some people chant, yet don't know what I'm talking
about. They still lack faith. That's okay. They still get benefit
from chanting and are still a little wiser than they otherwise would
be. But there are a few of you out there who know what it's like
to have your life completely altered by chanting. Some of you know
a side of yourself that has only ever been seen through the power
of Myoho-renge-kyo. You there! It's you I am speaking to.
Why can't those other people see the power of a Buddha within themselves?
Because they fail to act for the sake of others. They harbor doubts
about whether there even is such a thing as Buddhahood, so rather
than taking a risk to find out, they hedge their bet, chanting out
of superstition yet failing to act boldly. In the "Life Span"
chapter, Shakyamuni says, "When living beings have become truly
single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha, not hesitating
even if it costs them their lives, then I
my favorite quote comes at the end of the "Life Span"
chapter. He says, "At all times I think to myself: How can
I cause living beings" to attain enlightenment.
At the times when you would give your life for the sake of the
Law, the Buddha will appear within you. At the times when you "single-mindedly"
teach the Law to others, then you are a Buddha. The action required
in order to be a Buddha is to teach people the Lotus Sutra with
fortitude and conviction.
Some people refuse to take this particular action. Unfortunately,
they can never know enlightenment until they stop harboring doubts
in their hearts, stop hedging their bets, and focus themselves exclusively
on teaching Buddhism to others.
You know what I mean, though, because you see it in yourself. Maybe
you didn't notice it until I mentioned it, but now you can see it.
Every time you attain enlightenment, it's at a time when you have
determined to teach Buddhism to everyone you can, no matter what.
This is a remarkable thing. Maybe you thought before that many people
have done this, even millions of people. But actually it's rare
in this time period. You're like a diamond sparkling in the sunlight
amongst chunks of glass. It's difficult for a casual observer to
see you, but if one were to look closely, they'd see something of
tremendous rarity and value.
Nichiren wrote in a letter to a disciple, "The reason you
have not succeeded in attaining Buddhahood from countless distant
kalpas in the past down to the present is that when a situation
such as this has arisen you have been too fearful to speak out.
And in the future as well, this principle will prevail.
"Now I, Nichiren, understand these things because of what
I myself have undergone. But even if there are those among my disciples
who understand them, they fear the accusations of the times; believing
that their lives, which are as frail as dew, are in fact to be relied
upon, they backslide, keep their beliefs hidden in their hearts,
or behave in other such ways.
"A passage in the Lotus Sutra says that the sutra is 'the
most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand,'
and I have learned the value of this passage through my own experience.
Slanderers are as numerous as the dust particles of the land; believers
are as few as the specks of dirt that can be placed on a fingernail.
Slanderers are a huge sea, and upholders, one drop of water."
("Letter to Akimoto", WND pg. 1021)
You and I are the ones to spread this Buddhism. You have to ignore
those who would say that Christianity is the same as Buddhism. You've
practiced Christianity before. You know it's just a load of crap,
just as much as I do. It's an infectious disease, but we have the
cure. Let's march past those others that would placate Christians,
and let us be the leaders in this cause to bring Buddhism to the
people of the world. Let's march together for the most important
cause there is, the one that will lead all humanity to enlightenment.
What banner should we march together under? The banner of Myoho-renge-kyo,
holding it high and allowing it to wave boldly and proudly in the
wind. The Buddhas everywhere in the universe will be a cheering
crowd as they watch us march into battle for the sake of Buddhism
and the happiness of the people.
Yes, those who don't have faith in Buddhism are in the majority
and we are but a few people. You may feel alone in your march wherever
you are in the world, but chant strong daimoku and summon deep courage.
You may question yourself, wondering how you can be the only one
who knows what to do next when everyone is saying that you're wrong.
It's okay that you're alone, though. It just means that you're on
the right track.
"But as the Nirvana Sutra, which is intended to propagate the
Lotus Sutra, states: in the defiled times of the latter age, those
who slander the correct teaching will be as numerous as the specks
of dirt in all the lands of the ten directions, while those who
uphold the correct teaching will be as few as the specks of dirt
that can be placed on a fingernail." ("Opening of the
Eyes", WND p.232) People will say that it's not right to attack
other beliefs. The people who say that are not the Buddhas. You're
the Buddha. Assume your role. How can we end suffering in the world
if the Buddhas are taking instructions from the unenlightened people
of the world?
Believe wholeheartedly that you are the one to spread Buddhism
and ignore the remarks of others to tone your arguments down. "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." ("Letter from Sado,"
WND p. 306) The disciples of Nichiren who want to "spread the
Lotus Sutra in a more peaceful way" still exist. Don't be one
"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!" ("The Third Doctrine",
WND p.856) Some may criticize you for remonstrating with people
of other faiths, but have heart because you are keeping company
with Nichiren while they keep company only with those who never
attain enlightenment. You are like the sun. They are like fireflies.
You are like a mountain, while they are like anthills. Look past
them and fulfill your mission.
Just like in science, politics, and other areas of life, you cannot
convince others that what you are saying is true unless you convince
them that their previous beliefs are wrong. If it doesn't work in
any other walk of life, why would that work in religion? It doesn't.
And even if you get people to chant some, they will never be able
to grow in their faith unless they get past the idea that some external
force or power has control over them. To just let them go through
life and never be able to see their potential is completely lacking
in compassion, don't you think? Keep Bodhisattva Never Disparaging
in mind and let's go full speed ahead!
Shakubuku, shakubuku all the way!!!