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日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2020年 09月 04日

43 The Victory of the Tsukahara Debate

Japanese Edition


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From The Chronicle of Nichiren Daishonin's Life


The host, who is a subordinate of Shigetsura, announces.

"The showdown is held between the priest Nichiren of the Lotus Sutra sect and monks of each sect. First of all, Insho-bo of the Jodo sect."

 Insho-bo was excited from the start.

 "Nenbutsu is the supreme teaching of Buddha. It is a great mistake for you to say that Nembutsu goes to the hell of incessant suffering. Nichiren, you are the one who will end up in hell!"

Nichiren immediately replied.

"Which scripture says Nembutsu is the best teaching?"

Insho-bo got a start and hastily opened the sutra.

"Our venerable Zendo, the founder of our Nembutsu, said that all ten out of ten and all one hundred out of one hundred would go to the Pure Land. He asserted that all who chant Amida will become Buddha. Have you never seen it before?"

"That is not Buddha's theory but his disciple's theory. Where is the saying that nenbutsu is the best teaching written in the sutra of the head priest Shakyamuni?"

Insho-bo was stuck for an answer. He speaks in his agony.

“Then, do you insist that there is a clear sutra about it?”

Nichiren opened the Buddhist scriptures.

"The Lotus Sutra says, if people disbelieve and slander this sutra, they will cut off all the seeds of becoming a Buddha in the world. If one despises and looks down on the Lotus Sutra and turns his back on it, the one will cut off the seeds of Buddhahood in this world. This means you who believe in Nenbutsu."

 Insho-bo flinched.

Nichiren continued.

"Do you know the last words of the monk Zendo, whom you adore? He was so desperate that he hanged himself with a willow tree because saying this world was full of suffering."

 A murmur went up from the audience.

"But then, either the rope snapped or a branch broke, and Zendo fell to the ground far below, breaking his hip bone and screaming for seven days and seven nights before dying in agony."

"That's a lie."

" Therefore, the more you recite the Nembutsu, the more you feel the need to commit suicide. That is why today's samurai commit suicide. This is why the more we recite the Nembutsu, the more we commit suicide. It is the judgment of the ten direction’s Buddhas in the past, present, and the future."

Insho-bo could not answer, and Nichiren put an end to it.

 ”Honen Shonin raised the name of the Lotus Sutra, threw it away, or told us to close its gates. Nichiren, in his search for the scripture of the first generation, has not yet found its evidence. Therefore, how could the precepts of the Lotus Sutra, "enter the prison of the Avi Hell," not be applied to him? If Honen Shonin falls into the hell of incessant suffering without a moment's notice, will his disciples and all his followers also fall into the Great Castle of Avi Hell? This time, we must come up with a reliable testimony and extinguish the flame of Honen Shonin's Avi Hell."

 The audience fell silent.

 Nichiren, the target of everyone's hatred, was preaching in a dignified manner. It was an unbelievable sight, and the audience must have been astonished.

 The moderator must have been startled. In a panic, he appointed the next monk.

 “Jido-bo, a Zen priest, is next.”

 Jido-bo said arrogantly.

 "Nichiren, why do you call Zen Buddhism the theory of heavenly demons?”

 "Because it is not based on the sutras of Buddha, and because it slanders the Buddhism of the Buddha's lifetime."

Jido-bo laughed.

 "Nonsense! You do not need the Buddha's sermons to sit in meditation. Shakyamuni Buddha believed that there was truth outside of the first generation of Buddhism and inherited it only from the Mahakasyapa. This is called a separate teaching. Don't you know this?"

 Nichiren quickly replied.

 "Are these your thoughts or the sutras? If it is not based on the sutras, it is not the Buddha's theory and is not Buddhism. If it is not Buddhism, then it is an external religion, a solemn and self-righteous sect that is only a pretense but has no substance."

 Nichiren turned his face toward the audience.

 "This is the work of the devil."

 Jido-bo panicked.

 "No, the Buddha said that his teachings did not represent the truth, that the truth was not in the scriptures, but only in his disciple Mahakasyapa.

 "Is it in the Buddha's scriptures?"

 “That's right.”

 "If that is the Buddha's teaching, then what about your earlier words about not relying on the scriptures?

 Jido-bo flinched.

 Nichiren blamed him further.

 ”When, where, and under what sutra did his disciple Mahakasyapa attain Buddhahood? When and where did he preach the sutra that the Buddha does not represent the truth? How can this be?”

 Jido-bo was unable to answer the questions that kept coming at him.

 The audience looked at each other and became noisy. They had come to see Nichiren being blamed. It's a different story.

 The host said.

 "Next is the Shingon sect, the priest Shoyu-bo."

Unlike the Buddhist monks of the Nembutsu and Zen sects, Shoyu-bo had a dignified appearance and appearance. Everyone's expectations were high. Everyone looked at Shoyu-bo with a passionate gaze. Some even joined hands with him.

Shoyu-bo asked him a question.

 "Priest Nichiren, do you have any evidence that the Shingon Sect is destroying the nation?"

Nichiren replied decisively.

 "It is because they slander the Lotus. It is because they slander the Lotus Sutra and disobey Shakyamuni of the three virtues. In addition, because Shingon disobeys the Myoho-renge-kyo, the sutra of peace and tranquility in this life and good fortune in the next, it will lead to the destruction of the nation in this life and to hell in the next."

"Priest Nichiren, the Lotus Sutra is the third inferior scripture to Esoteric Buddhism. Do you not know that the Lotus Sutra is inferior to even the Kegon Sutra?"

 Nichiren asked without hesitation.

 "Is your doctrine based on the sutras or is it a delusion that you have created yourself?"

 Shoyu-bo returned without answering.

 "So, priest Nichiren, is it based on the scripture that you call Kobo-Daishi "interminable hell"? Or is it your own delusion?"

 "It is a sutra."

  The audience was in an uproar.

 ”Where is it in the Lotus Sutra?”

 Nichiren immediately responded.

 "If it is in the Lotus Sutra, do you understand that the Shingon sect will destroy the nation?"

 "Our great teacher Kobo performed many secret techniques, including making the sun appear in the night and becoming a golden Vairocana after attaining Buddhahood. How can you slander the great master in your such lowly status?"

 Nichiren replied.

 ”The people of the past had wondrous virtues, but the rightness or wrongness of Buddhism does not depend on them. Even if you perform various miracles, they will only cause you to become proud and cause themselves to suffer. This is a very desire for fame."

 When Nichiren saw that Shoyu-bo was in trouble, he intensified his words.

 "No matter how virtuous the Great Teacher Kobo was, no wise person would adopt the handwriting in which he designated the Lotus Sutra as an inferior sutra ranked third from the highest, and the Lord Shakyamuni as the realm of the blind. In the daytime, the sun and becoming the golden Buddha. These could be due to his madness."

 Shoyu-bo resisted.

 “Our Dainichi Sutra contains finger movements and mantras. The Lotus Sutra does not. This is evidence that the mantra is superior. The Lotus Sutra, for example, is the fiercest of the naked, while the Shingon is the fiercest of the armored.”

 Nichiren replys,

 "Which is superior, a naked fierce man who defeats a great army, or a fierce man in armor who retreats and never defeats a single army? By the way, "fierce" refers to the Lotus Sutra, and "armor" refers to the Dainichi Sutra. If there are no fierce warriors, what is the use of armor? Finger movements are a representation, and a mantra is an incantation. Finger movements are for the hands, a mantra is for the mouth. If the host does not attain enlightenment, the mouth and hands should attain enlightenment separately. Therefore, the mantra is only for the body and the mouth, and not for the mind. The Lotus Sutra explains the Buddha's intention of the two types of Lesser Vehicle to attain Buddhahood, and that the Buddha attained Buddhahood in a far past life (note). Are these preached by the Shingon sect? Therefore, Shingon is an inferior sect that ranks third from the highest."

 Shoyu-bo's tongue stopped moving. He could not argue. No matter what kind of high priest he was, he could not move if the scripture was used as a shield. The more he argued, the more he exposed his ignorance.

 Shoyu-bo clenched his fists in frustration, and his body began to tremble.

 The place fell silent. They began to feel their firm beliefs crumbling.

 Nichiren called out to the audience.

 "Regarding the recent exile, Nichiren has not committed a single crime in the world. I have simply stated what I consider to be the most important thing for the nation. If we keep silent and allow all sentient beings in Japan to go to hell, we are not disciples of the Buddha, but national pirates. Now, Nichiren is the master, teacher, and parent of all sentient beings in Japan. The retribution for the exile of Nichiren will be manifested in the form of a civil war in this country and the blame of other countries."

 The host waited to see where the legal argument would lead.

 ”Priest Nichiren of the Lotus Sutra sect and the monks of other sects, do you have anything more to say?”

 The nembutsu monks fell silent.

 "Then this is the end of the dispute. I hope that you will make every effort to avoid mutual resentment in the future.”

 The question and answer session was over in a day.

 The Nembutsu priests were stunned and looked into the air. They had overwhelmed Nichiren in numbers. But when it came down to a one-on-one contest, they were outmatched. It was a sumo match between a lion and a lone rabbit.

 The audience quietly dispersed. They closed their mouths and withdrew.

 One of them murmured, "Was the Nembutsu a mistake..."

 Suddenly, a young Buddhist priest declared in front of Nichiren.

 "Priest Nichiren, I will no longer offer the Nembutsu.

 He took off his black robe and threw it on the ground with his prayer beads.

 The audience was dumbfounded and stunned. The nembutsu practitioner panicked.

 The crowd was unhappy. They began to chastise the Nembutsu monk and others. The same accusations they had leveled at Nichiren were now leveled at Nembutsu and the others.

 "What is going on here? How can you be defeated by Nichiren?"

 "I will no longer make offerings to you. I don't believe in anyone anymore!"

 Insho-bo said excusingly.

 "I didn't come here to argue about the Buddha Law. I just came here to express my own opinion."

 Jido-bo, seeing the power of Nichiren in front of him, was terrified and frightened.

 "I just came here to visit. It is not that Zen Buddhism has been defeated. I am leaving."

 The audience reprimanded the monks and tried to drive them out of the square. A fight broke out with those who tried to stop them.

 In this way, the monks who had gathered for the law argument and their congregation withdrew in an uproar.

 Abutsufusa and Sennichinichi's wife remained seated after the crowd had left.

 They opened their mouths and looked each other in the face. Both of them noticed that their impressions of Nichiren had clearly changed.

 The dispute at Tsukahara Funeral house was over.

 Nichiren had brilliantly cut off all the other sects in one fell swoop. Later, he wrote about this day in his book, the "Saint's Behavior."


 “They cited the doctrines of 'Concentration and Insight' and the Shingon and the Nembutsu. I responded to each one and let them consent. Then I asked them a few questions one after another, but they could not answer at all. They were inferior to Kamakura's Shingon, Zen, Nembutsu, and Tendai priests, so you would easily be able to imagine how the debate went. As if a sharp sword cuts a melon or like a gale bends the grass. They not only were poor in the Buddha's Law but violated a slip of the tongue. Or they confused sutras with a theory and confused commentaries with theories. I preached that Zendo [Shan-Tao] of Nembutsu had fallen out of the willow tree and died. Also, I criticized the Great Teacher Kobo's three-pronged-pounder and of how he transformed himself into the Dainichi Norai. As I denounced their falsity and madness one by one, some of the priests swore and some were struck dumb, while others turned pale, in addition there were people who admitted the mistake of Nembutsu. Some threw away their robes, and beads on the spot and pledged never to chant the Nembutsu again.”


 After Honma Shigetsura instructed his subordinates to clean up the stage for the dispute, he greeted Nichiren. He was relieved that the worst had been averted from Nichiren by today's lecture.

 "Thank you for your efforts today. By the way, the monks from Sado and Echigo were quite unreliable, weren't they?"

  A complete change from the past, Shigetsura thanked Nichiren politely and returned to his residence.

 At this time, for some reason, Nichiren ordered Hoki-bo to call Shigetsura back.

 Shigetsura came back with a suspicious look.

 "Is there anything more, sir?"

 "Lord Honma, when will you return to Kamakura?

 "Hum, it will be in autumn, after I have sent my servants to harvest the rice fields."

 Nichiren began to speak strangely.

 "As a warrior, even though you have received your domain from the lord for your valiant work, it would be a shame for a warrior to be late for a battle by cultivating fields in the countryside when the battle is about to begin. You are a famous samurai in the country. You should hurry up and go there and be honored."

Honma had no idea what Nichiren was trying to say, but after a moment of hesitation, he suddenly got a start and hurried home.

 The people in the village around him looked at each other, wondering what was going on.

 On the other hand, Nichiren's disciples were intoxicated with the splendid victory.

 However, Nichiren did not smile and stared at the southern sky where Kamakura was located.


 On the following day, Nichiren was visited by Benjo, a Buddhist monk from Sado who had participated in the dispute, and challenged him to another debate. An authentic handwritten document in which both sides wrote their signatures is preserved as the Collection of the Questions and answers in the Lotus Sutra and the Pure Land sect.'

 In the conclusion of his writings, Nichiren wrote as follows.

 ”Priest Honen raised the name of the Lotus Sutra, or threw it away, or told us to close its gates. Nichiren, in his search for the scripture of the first generation, has not yet found its evidence. Therefore, how could the precepts of the Lotus Sutra, "enter the prison of the Avi Hell," not be applied to him? If Honen Shonin falls into the hell of incessant suffering without a moment's notice, will his disciples and all his followers also fall into the Great Castle of Avi Hell? This time, we must come up with a reliable testimony and extinguish the flame of Honen Shonin's Avi Hell."


 When Nichiren had settled down in Tsukahara funeral residence, he sent a letter to a disciple named Sairen-bo, who was also in Sado. According to legend, monk Sairen-bo was a priest who, like Nichiren, had been exiled. The reason for his exile is unknown, except that he was related to Nichiren, but Sairen-bo was a learned priest of the Tendai sect from Kyoto. It is said that he heard Nichiren's preaching during the "Tsukahara Question and Answer" and became his disciple the following February.

 On Sado Island, Nichiren exchanged vows with Sairenbo as a teacher and disciple.

 Like himself, Sairen-bo was exiled to Sado Island, where he became a disciple of him. Therefore, Nichiren's feelings toward Saoren-bo were passionate. He is deeply attached to Sairenbo, who, like himself, was exiled to Sado Island and became his disciple there. Nichiren even promised that if he himself would attain Buddhahood, Saiken-bo also would surely go to the Tranquil Land.

 In a letter written by Saoren-bo five months after he arrived at the Tsukahara house, Nichiren expressed his religious exaltation at the adversity of exile.


“Now, in the Lotus Sutra it is stated, ‘After I have had nirvana, [one] should accept and uphold this sutra. Such a person assuredly and without doubt will attain the Buddha way.’ It also says, ‘This way one will quickly attain the unsurpassed Buddha way.’ If these passages of prophecy should be meaningless, and if the prediction that we will attain Buddhahood should be a lie, then the tongues of all the Buddhas will break apart, the tower of Many Treasures Buddha will crumble and fall, the place upon which the two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Taho, are seated side by side will be changed into a bed of burning iron in the hell of incessant suffering, and the three lands of Transition, Actual Reward, and Eternally Tranquil Light will be transformed into the three evil paths of hell, hungry spirits, and animals. But how could such a thing ever be possible?

 Ah, how assuring! How assuring! If we continue to think in this way, then, though we may be people who have banished to an island, we have cause to be joyful in both body and mind!

So, day and night I ponder the important doctrines, and hour by hour, moment by moment, I savor the principle that allows us to attain Buddhahood. And because I pass the time in this fashion, though months and years go by, it does not seem long at all, and the hours that have elapsed do not seem like many. It is similar to the case described in the sutra when the two Buddhas Shakyamuni and Taho, seated side by side in the treasure tower, nodded in approval over the wonderful principles of the Lotus Sutra, and although fifty small kalpas had elapsed, because of the supernatural powers of the Buddha, it seemed to the great crowd assembled there like no more than half a day.

 Among all the people who since the beginning of our present kalpa have incurred the wrath of their parents or their rulers and have been exiled to distant islands, there can be none who overflow with joy as we do. Therefore, wherever we dwell and practice the sole teaching, that place will be the Capital of Eternally Tranquil Light. And, without having to take a step, those who are our disciples and lay supporters can see the Sacred Eagle Mountain in India and day and night will go to and from the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light that has existed forever. What inexpressible joy this is!” ‘Reply to Sairen-bo’


For Nichiren, wealth and power were of no value. He had never had a more fulfilling day.



Notes.


The two types of Lesser Vehicle to attain Buddhahood.

  It is first taught in the Lotus Sutra, the first part of the Lotus Sutra. In the previous sutras, the Buddha had condemned those who were obsessed with their own liberation and lacked altruism, saying that they would never attain Buddhahood. However, in the provisional chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the three thousand laws of one thought are explained, and for the first time, the promise of Buddhahood is given to them.


The Buddha attained Buddhahood in a far past life. 

In the main body of the Lotus Sutra, in the chapter on the "Quantity of longevity," the sutra states, "Since I attained Buddhahood, an infinite number of years have passed. In response to this, Nichiren Daishonin explained that the word "an infinite number of years" in the Juryōhin means "as it was" or "as it is.

 


Continued


Life of Nichiren. Compact edition.



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