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2020年 03月 22日

Reply to the Lord Matsuno. 松野殿御返事(十四誹謗抄)

Reply to Lord Matsuno. (Fourteen Slanders)

Original Text.

Time of writing: December 9 in the second year of the Kenji era (Year 1276), age 55

Place: In a thatched hut on Mt. Minobu.

Background of writing : It is a letter addressed to Matsuno-Rokuro-saemon who was the feudal lord of Matsuno, Suruga Province, the father of Nichiji Shonin, one of the six old priests, and the maternal grandfather of Tokimitsu Nanjo. It is the reply to the question "How great is the difference between the merits received when a saint chants the title and the merits received when we chant it?" from Matsuno. Daishonin declared, saying, “There is no superiority or inferiority there at all. This reason, because the gold that a fool possesses is no different from the gold that a wise man possesses; a fire either made by a fool is the same as a fire done by a wise man. … However, there is a difference if one chants the title while acting against the intent of this sutra.”

 Furthermore, Daishonin refers to a priest, saying, “Even people who live a long time rarely live beyond the age of one hundred. And all the events of a lifetime are like the dream in the wink of sleep. Though a person may have been fortunate enough to be born as a human being and may have even entered the priesthood, if he fails to study the Buddha’s teaching and to refute its slanderers, but simply spends his time in idleness and chatter, then he is a beast dressed in priestly robes.” And says to the lay believers, the landowner Matsuno, “As a lay believer, the important thing for you is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo single-mindedly and to provide support for the priests. And if we go by the words of the Lotus Sutra, you should also propagate this to the range of one's capability.” and encourages him that he preaches other people like sutra according to his ability.

■Autograph: Not exists.

[Original Text]

 I received a coin with one string, one polished rice of the horse-load, and one white clothing you sent me.

 To begin with, wilderness and hills stretch out more than a hundred ri to the south of this mountain. To the north stands lofty Mount Minobu, which joins the peaks of Shirane farther off. Jutting sharply up to the west is a mountain called Shichimen, snow remains on these peaks throughout the year. There is not a single dwelling other than mine in the area. My only visitors, infrequent, are the monkeys that come to play among the trees. And to my regret, even they do not stay for long, but scurry back to where they came from. To the east run the surging waters of the Fuji River, which resemble the flowing sands of the desert. I think that it is extraordinarily mysterious that you send me letters from time to time to this place whose inaccessibility makes visitors rare.

 By the way the monk Nichigen of Jisso-ji temple, becoming my disciple,was driven out by his own disciples and lay supporters, and had to give up his lands, so that he now has no place of his own. Nonetheless, he still visits me and takes care of my disciples. He is a true person of devotion to the way and is a saint. Also, he is already unrivaled as a scholar of Buddhism. Yet he has discarded all desire for fame and fortune and become my disciple. He is practicing Buddhism according to the words in the sutra, “we do not spare in our bodies or lives”. To repay his debts of gratitude to the Buddha, he has taught our fellow believers and inspired you to make these sincere offerings. This is truly mysterious.

 The Buddha stated that, in the Latter Day of the Law, monks and nuns with the hearts of dogs would be as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. By this he meant that the monks and nuns of the Latter Day would be attached to fame and fortune. Because they wear robes, they look like ordinary priests and nuns. But in their hearts, they wield a sword of distorted views, hastening here and there among their patrons and filling them with countless slanders so as to keep them away from other monks or nuns. Thus, they strive to keep their patrons to themselves and prevent other monks or nuns from coming near their patrons, for instance, like a dog who first goes to a house to be fed, but growls and is irritated to attack at the moment another dog approaches. All of these monks and nuns will be certain to fall into the evil paths. Being the scholar that he is, Nichigen must have read this passage in the sutra. His special consideration and frequent visits to me and my disciples are deeply appreciated.

 Also in your letter, you write: “Since I took faith in this Lotus Sutra, I have continued to recite the Ten Nyoze and the verse section in the Life Span chapter [Ji-ga-ge] and chant the title without the slightest neglect. But how great is the difference between the merit received when a saint chants the title and the merit received when we chant it?” To answer, there is no superiority or inferiority there at all. This reason, because the gold that a fool possesses is no different from the gold that a wise man possesses; a fire either made by a fool is the same as a fire done by a wise man.

 However, a difference arises in chanting the title in defiance of the intent of this sutra. There are various stages in the practice of this sutra. In general terms, the volume five of the Annotations of the Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra only says, " In defining the types of evil, ‘explain at an appropriate time but not preach among at proper time.’"

One person enumerates the types of evil as follows, "I will first list the evil causes and their effects. There are fourteen slanders: (1) arrogance, (2) negligence, (3) egotistical judgment, (4) shallow understanding, (5) attachment to desires, (6) lack of understanding, (7) disbelief, (8) aversion, (9) doubts, (10) slandering, (11) despising goodness, (12) hating of goodness, (13) jealousy for goodness, (14) grudges goodness”. Since these fourteen slanders apply equally to monks and laity, you must be on guard against them.

 Bodhisattva Fukyo of old said that all people have the Buddha nature and that, if they embrace the Lotus Sutra, they will never fail to attain Buddhahood. He further considered that to slight a person is to slight the Buddha himself. Thus, his practice was to revere all people. He revered even those who did not hold the Lotus Sutra because they too had the Buddha nature and might someday believe in the sutra. Therefore, the monks and lay believers who espouse this sutra are even more so.

 The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra says, “If there was a person who spoke only one word to slander the laypersons or monks or nuns who uphold and preach the Lotus Sutra, then his offense would be even graver than that of slandering Shakyamuni Buddha to his face throughout one kalpa”. The Lotus Sutra also states, “If anyone sees a person who accepts and upholds this sutra and tries to expose the faults or evils of that person, whether what he speaks is true or not, he will in his present existence be afflicted with white leprosy”. Take these teachings to heart, and always remember repeatedly that believers in the Lotus Sutra should not abuse one another. This is the reason because all those who keep faith in the Lotus Sutra are most certainly Buddhas, and one who slanders a Buddha commits a grave offense.

 In this way, when one chants the title bearing in mind that there are no distinctions among those who embrace the Lotus Sutra, then the merits one gains will be equal to those of Shakyamuni Buddha. A commentary states, “Both the beings and the environment of the Avi hell exist entirely within the highest saint himself, the life and the environment of Buddha never transcend the minds of common mortals.”You can surmise the significance of the fourteen slanders in the light of the above quotations.

 That you have asked me about Buddhism shows that you are sincerely concerned about your next life. The Lotus Sutra states, “ . . . a person capable of listening to this Law, such a person is likewise rare.” Unless the Buddha’s correct envoy appears in this world, who is there that can expound this sutra in exact accord with the Buddha’s intent? Moreover, it would appear that there are very few who ask about the meaning of the sutra in an effort to resolve their doubts and thus believe in it wholeheartedly. No matter how humble a person may be, if his wisdom is the least bit greater than yours, you should ask him about the meaning of the sutra. But the people in this evil age are so arrogant, prejudiced, and attached to fame and profit that they are afraid that, should they become the disciple of a humble person or try to learn something from him, they will be looked down upon by others. They never rid themselves of this wrong attitude, so they seem to be destined for the evil paths.

 The “Teacher of the Law” chapter says: “If you make offerings to the priest who preaches the Lotus Sutra and hear its teachings for even a moment, then you will experience joy because you can gain even greater benefits and merits than one who offers immeasurable treasures to the Buddha for the space of eighty million kalpas.”

 Even an ignorant person can obtain merits by serving someone who expounds the Lotus Sutra. No matter if he is a demon or an animal, if someone proclaims even a single verse or phrase of the Lotus Sutra, you must respect him as you would the Buddha. This is what the sutra means when it says, “You should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha.” You should respect one another as Shakyamuni and Many Treasures did at the ceremony in the “Treasure Tower” chapter.

 The monk Sanmibo is the lower classes, but since he can explain even a little about the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, you must respect him as you would the Buddha and ask him about the teachings. Rely on the Law and not rely on persons.” This word should be your discipline.

 Long, long ago, there was a young man who lived in the Snow Mountains and was called the Sessen-Doji. He gathered warabi and nuts to keep himself alive, made garments of deerskin to clothe his body, and has quietly practiced himself. As he observed the world with care and attention, the boy came to consider that nothing is permanent and everything changes, and that all that is born is destined to die. This vale of tears world is as fleeting as a flash of lightning, as the morning dew that vanishes in the sun, as a lamp easily blown out by the wind, or as the Basho leaves that are so easily broken.

 No one can escape this transience. In the end, all must take the journey to the Yellow Springs, the land of darkness. When we imagine the trip to the other world, we see the darkness and disconsolate. There is no light from the sun, the moon, or the stars, not even so much as fire to light a torch. And along that dark road, there is no one to keep company. When one was in the Saha world, one was surrounded by parents and relatives, brothers and sisters, wife and children, and retainers. Fathers showed lofty compassion, and mothers, profound loving sympathy. Husband and wife were perhaps as harmonious as two shrimps of the sea who vow to share the same hole and never to part throughout life. Yet, though they push their pillows side by side and play together under quilts embroidered like mandarin ducks, they can never be together on that journey to the land of darkness. One must travel alone in complete darkness. None is to come to ask after him.

 Though old and young alike dwell in the realm of uncertainty, it is part of the natural order for the elderly to die first and the young to remain a while. So, even as we grieve, we can find some cause for consolation. Sometimes, however, it is the old who remain and the young who die first. No one feels more bitter than a young child who dies before its parents. No one despairs more deeply than parents who see their child precede them in death. People live in this fleeting world where all is uncertain and impermanence, yet day and night they think only of how much wealth they can amass in this life. From dawn to dusk they concentrate on worldly affairs, and not revere the Buddha and not take faith in the Law. They ignore Buddhism practice and lack wisdom, idling their days away. And when they die and are brought before the court of Enma, the lord of hell, what can they carry as provisions on the long journey through the threefold world? What kind of a boat or raft is it to sail across the sea of sufferings of birth and death for going to the land of Bodhisattva or the Buddha Land? When one is strayed, it is as if one were dreaming. And when one is enlightened, it is as if one had awakened. Thinking in this way, the Sessen-Doji resolved to awake from the dream of the transient world and to seek the reality of enlightenment. So, he secluded himself in the mountains and devoted himself to deep meditation, sweeping away the dust of delusion and vacillation in his single-minded pursuit of Buddhist teaching.

 The Teishaku of God looked below from heaven and observed the Sessen-Doji in the distance. He thought to himself: “The child fish are many, but there are few that grow up to be a fish . Though the flowers of the mango tree are many, there are few that turn into fruit. In like manner, there are many people who set their hearts on enlightenment, but only a few who continue their practice and in fact attain the true way. The aspiration for enlightenment in common mortals is often hindered by evil connections and easily swayed by circumstances. For instance, though many warriors don armor, few go without fear into battle. Let me go test this young man’s resolve.” So saying, Teishaku disguised himself as a demon and appeared at the boy’s side.

 At that time the Buddha had not yet made his appearance in the world, and although Sessen-Doji had sought everywhere for the scriptures of the Mahayana, he had been unable to learn anything about them. Just then he heard a faint voice saying, “All is impermanence. This is the law of birth and death.” The young man looked all around in amazement, but there was no one in sight except a demon standing nearby. In appearance it was fierce and horrible; the hairs on its head were like flames and the teeth in its mouth like swords, and its eyes were fixed on the boy in a furious glare. But when the boy saw this, he did not frighten him in the least. He was so overjoyed at the opportunity to hear something about Buddhist teaching that he did not even question it. For example, he was like a calf separated from its mother that hears the faint sound of her lowing.

 “Who did speak that verse? There must be more words!” he thought, and once more he searched all around, but still there was no one to be seen. He wondered if it could have been the demon who recited the verse. But on second thought that seemed impossible, since the demon must have been born a demon in retribution for some past evil act. The verse was certainly a teaching of the Buddha, and he was sure it could never have come from the mouth of a lowly demon. But as there was no one else about, he asked, “Was it you who preached that verse?” “Don’t speak to me,” replied the demon. “I’ve had nothing to eat for days. I’m starved, exhausted, and almost out of my mind. I may have uttered some sort of nonsense, but in my dazed condition I don’t even know what it was.”

 “For me to hear only the first half of that verse,” said the boy, “is like seeing only half the moon, or obtaining half a jewel. You certainly said it, so I beg you to teach me the remaining half.” The demon replied, “You are already enlightened, so you should feel no resentment even if you don’t hear the rest of the verse. I’m dying of starvation, and I haven’t the strength to speak—say no more to me!”. “Can you teach me if you had something to eat?” asked the boy. “If I had something to eat, I might be able to teach,” said the demon. Elated, the boy said, “Well, then, what kind of delicious food would you like?” But the demon replied, “Ask me no more. You will certainly fear when you hear what I will eat. Besides, you would never be able to give it.” Yet Sessen-Doji was insistent. “If you will just tell me what you want, I will try to find it for you.” The demon answered, “I eat only the tender flesh of humans and drink only their warm blood. I fly through the air far and wide in search of food, but people are protected by the Buddhas and gods, so that, even though I want to kill them, I cannot. I can only kill and eat those whom the Buddhas and gods have forsaken.”

 Hearing this, the boy decided to give his own body for the sake of the Law so that he could hear the entire verse of the sutra. “Your food is right here,” he said. “You are not necessary for searching it from another place. Since I am still alive, my meat is warm. Since my body is warm, so is my blood. Therefore, teach me the rest of the verse, and in exchange, I will offer you my body.” Then the demon grew furious and said to him, “Who can believe your words? After I’ve taught you the rest of the verse, who can I call on as a witness to make you keep your promise?” Sessen-Doji replied: “This body of mine is mortal at all. But if I give my life for the Law and cast away this vile body that would otherwise die in vain, in the next life I will certainly attain enlightenment and become a Buddha and I will gain an exquisite body. It is like throwing away an unglazed earthenware and gaining a precious vessel in exchange. I make Brahma, Teishaku, the four heavenly kings, and Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions to be my witnesses. I will absolutely not deceive you in their presence!”

 The demon, somewhat softened, said, “If what you say is true, I will teach you the rest of the verse.” Sessen-Doji was overjoyed and, removing his deerskin garment, spread it out so that the demon could sit on and preach. Then the boy knelt, bowed his head to the ground, and placed his palms together in reverence, saying, “All I ask is that you teach me the rest of the verse.” Thus, he offered his heartfelt respect to the demon. The demon, seated himself on the deerskin, then recited these words: “Must annihilate the perception of birth and death and enjoy a quiet nirvana.” The moment he heard this, the boy was filled with joy, and his reverence for the verse was boundless. Resolving to remember it in his next life, he repeated it over and over, and etched it deep in his heart. He thought to himself, “I rejoice that this verse is no different from the teaching of the Buddha, but at the same time I am sad that I alone have only heard it and that I am unable to transmit it to others”. Thereupon he inscribed the stanza on stones, cliff faces, and the trees along the road, and he cried, "Those who later pass by, must see and understand its meaning and enter the true way!" This done, he climbed a tall tree and threw himself down before the demon. But before he had reached the ground, the demon quickly resumed his original form as Teishaku, caught the boy, and gently placed him on a level spot. Bowing before him reverently, the god said, “In order to test you, I spared the Tathagata’s sacred teaching for a time, causing anguish in the heart of a Bodhisattva. I hope you will forgive my faults and save me without fail in my next life.” Then, the whole heavenly beings appeared and gathered around to praise the boy, saying, “Excellent, excellent! You are truly a Bodhisattva”. By casting away his body for listening to half of a verse, the Bodhisattva was able to eradicate offenses of the sufferings of birth and death throughout twelve kalpas. This story is referred to in the Nirvana Sutra.

 In the past Sessen-Doji was willing to give his life to hear but half a verse. So, how much more thankful should we be hearing a chapter or even a scroll of the Lotus Sutra! How can we ever repay such a blessing? Indeed, if you care about your next life, you must make this Bodhisattva your example. Even though you may be too poor to offer any treasure, if the opportunity should arise to give up your life to acquire the Law of the Buddha, you should offer your life in order to study the Law.

 This body of ours in the end will become nothing more than the soil of the mountains and fields. Therefore, no matter how much you spare, you cannot spare it forever. Even people who live a long time rarely live beyond the age of one hundred. And all the events of a lifetime are like the dream in the wink of sleep. Though a person may have been fortunate enough to be born as a human being and may have even entered the priesthood, if he fails to study the Buddha’s teaching and to refute its slanderers, but simply spends his time in idleness and chatter, then he is a beast dressed in priestly robes. He may call himself a priest and earn his livelihood as such, but in no way does he deserve to be regarded as a priest. He is nothing but a thief who has stolen the title of monks. Be shameful. Be afraid. In theoretical teaching, there is a passage that reads, “We care nothing for our bodies or lives, but spare only for the unsurpassed road”. The essential teaching reads, “Not hesitating even if it costs our lives”. The Nirvana Sutra states, “Our body is slight, the Buddha's law is supreme. We dedicate our lives in order to propagate the Law”. Thus, the Nirvana Sutra and both the theoretical and essential teachings of the Lotus Sutra, they all indicate that one should abandon one’s life to spread the Law. It is a grave offense to go against these admonitions, and though invisible to the eye, the sin piles up until it sends one plummeting to hell. It is like heat or cold, which has no appearance or form that the eye can see. Yet in winter, cold will come to attack the trees and grasses, humans and beasts, and in summer the heat comes to torment people and animals. While, as a lay believer, the important thing for you is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo single-mindedly and to provide support for the priests. And if we follow the words of the Lotus Sutra, you should also convey this by the range of one's capability.

 When the world makes you feel downcast, you should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, remembering that, although the sufferings of this life are painful, those in the next life could be much worse. And when you are happy, you should remember that your happiness in this life is nothing but a dream within a dream, and that the only true happiness is that found in the pure land of Spirit Eagle Mountain, and with that thought in mind, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. In this way, continue your practice Buddhist without backsliding until the final moment of your life, and when that time comes, behold. How interesting this world was! When you climb the mountain of perfect enlightenment and gaze around you in all directions, then you will see that the entire realm of phenomena is the Land of Tranquil Light. The ground will be of lapis Lazuli, and the eight paths will be set apart by golden ropes. Four kinds of flowers will fall from the heavens, and music will resound in the air. All Buddhas and bodhisattvas receive the soft breezes of eternity, happiness, true self, and cleanliness, and are enjoying, tasting pleasure. The time is approaching when we too will be counted and rejoice with them! But if we are weak in faith, we cannot go to such a wonderful place. We cannot reach there. If you still have any questions, I am waiting to hear.



The ninth day of December in the second year of Kenji (1276)

Reply to the Lord Matsuno

Original Text.  Table of Contents.

by johsei1129 | 2020-03-22 15:06 | WRITING OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)

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