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日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2022年 05月 21日

102. The Evil Doctrine of the Five Elder Priests



After Nichiren's death, Sanenaga was guilty of slander one after another, as if a hoop had been lifted off his head. Sanenaga took Nichiren's Dharma principles lightly.


“He then made an offering at the pagoda of the Fukushi in Nanbu Township. This was an abominable act. In all these twenty-odd years, he had not even seen a single monk of the evil sect, but his faith had weakened in this way.”


The pagoda of Fukushi refers to the Nembutsu stone pagoda built at Fukushi in Hakiri territory. It does not exist today. From the Nara to Kamakura periods, ascetic practices by ascetics who climbed Mt. Fuji to attain Dharma joy developed, dojos were built in the mountains and at the foot of the mountain, and stone pagodas were constructed to commemorate the ascetic practices. Sanenaga supported this. This was a memorial service for the slanderous.

For the past 20 years, no evil priests have entered Mt. Now that had been broken. Sanenaga had clearly marked his name on the votive offering ledger. Sanenaga would have been proud of this, but in Nikko's eyes, it was only a misunderstanding of his teacher Nichiren's teachings.

Nikko said, "I am not a teacher. The reason for this slander was the corruption of one of the Five Elderly Priests, Minbu Nikou.


“For this reason, I have been watching him closely for the past couple of years, thinking that Minbu Nikou was a greedy, arrogant monk who would never think of establishing the Dharma of the saints and who would be very destructive. I occasionally pointed out to him that he was perverting the doctrine and that there was no basis for his argument, but he would not listen to me. He also prayed at this year's Tendai great teacher gathering, "May the heavens be long life and the earth long time, and may your wishes be fulfilled. May the wishes of the ministers of the left and right, and of all the civil and military officials, be fulfilled. I had repeatedly told him that this prayer should not be offered now, but he broke my advice, saying, ‘Why should I not be grateful for the favor of my country?’ For this reason, Nikko decided not to allow him to lecture this year.”


Nikko often gave admonitions, but Minbu Nikou would not listen to him. The prayers of Minbu Nikou are the same as praying for world peace without exterminating evil. If one wants to do something for the good of the country, the only way is to shakubuku (admonish) people as if one is going to break their heads.

Nikko also hesitated to simply dispose of Minbu Nikou, who had worked hard together with him to propagate Buddhism. He might wake up someday. It was the same as Shakyamuni's words to Devadatta and Nichiren's admonition to Sanmi-bo. Unfortunately, they both retreated and received the rewards.

Finally, Sanenaga, the land steward, committed an error by making a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.


“I told him strongly, 'You must enshrine the Gohonzon, which was written by the saint in letters. Why are you trying to destroy in front of your eyes the wooden statue of Shakyamuni Buddha that represents the true meaning of the saint's ascension, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo?’”


Nikko rebuked him. He said that to enshrine the Gohonzon, a mandala with the characters of the Three Great Secret Laws, which is the true purpose of his master, and to chant the title "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" is to carry on Nichiren's legacy.

The "wooden statue of Sakyamuni" refers to the Gohonzon. Nevertheless, Sanenaga attempted to reproduce the statue of Buddha that had been taken away by Nichirō. Nikko reminded him that there was no other object of religious devotion than the Gohonzon of Nichiren, but Sanenaga would not listen to him.

 Thus began the destruction of orthodox Buddhism after the death of Nichiren.

There is an anecdote similar to this one about a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha.

It was 40 years after the Buddha's death.

Ananda, one of the Ten Great Disciples, had already reached old age.

He entered a bamboo grove.

There he saw a monk. This monk was reciting a Dharma phrase.

“If a person does not understand water accumulating and evaporates until he is a hundred years old, it is inferior to understanding it within a day of his birth.”

It means that if you do not see water accumulate and evaporate, it is not worth living. This monk had repeatedly recited this boring Dharma phrase.

Ananda blamed him.

“This is not the Buddha's teaching. Thou shalt not practice.”

The monk questioned him.

“Then how did the Buddha teach?”

Ananda replied.

 “’If a person does not understand the Law of birth and death when he is a hundred years old, he is inferior to a person who understands it within a day of his birth.’ This is the Buddha's teaching. It is this that you have misinterpreted in your recitation of the Buddha's teachings.”

The monk told this to his master.

The master replied.

“What I taught you is the true Buddha's teaching. What Ananda taught was not the Buddha's teaching. Anand is old and his words are full of errors. Do not believe him.”

This monk abandoned Ananda's teaching and recited the original false Dharma phrase.

When Ananda returned to the bamboo grove, he was astonished to hear this.

“This is not what I had taught.”

Again and again, Ananda repeatedly told the monk, but the monk did not believe him. Ananda, thinking of the late Shakyamuni Buddha, lamented. This was only 40 years after the Buddha's death.

Nichiren once described how difficult it is to transmit the Law without error. It is as if he were predicting the current devastation of Minobu-san. In addition, as if to console Nikko, who was suffering from this plight.


“If errors such as this had already appeared a mere forty years after the Buddha’s passing, how much worse must things be now that over two thousand years have gone by!

The Buddha’s teaching was transmitted from India to China, and then from China to Japan.

It would be a one-in-a-million state of affairs that the scholars, masters and teachers of the Daizang Sutra, who conveyed this doctrine to the public, did so without error. And how much worse is the situation now when scholars of Buddhism put biased views above all else, are swayed by arrogance, contend with one another like fire against water, and never reach a conclusion. Even when a scholar appears who happens to relay the teachings as the Buddha proclaimed them, no one will believe or heed him. Hence hardly one person in ten thousand can avoid committing slander against the Law.” ‘On Discerning Cause and Effect in the Ten Worlds.’


The one who upholds the true Law is said to be one among ten thousand. He was reminded of his teacher's teachings. Even though he had warned him, Sanenaga would not listen to him. He was no longer a person who could live together within one place.

Nikko remembered his master's last words.


"'If the land steward does not follow the Dharma, I will not live here either.' I have taken this to be the will of the saint." 'Letter to Mimasaka-bo.' 


When Nikko once heard these words from Nichiren, he had no idea that Sanenaga would commit an error. Sanenaga had converted to Nikko. Nikko was confident in his ability to guide him. Sanenaga was also obedient to Nichiren. However, after his saint's death, he rebelled against Nichiren as if he had changed his mind.

However, what angered Nikko more than anything else was the fact that Minbu Nikou, one of the six senior priests, had approved of the slanderous deeds of Hakiri. Nikko and Minbu Nikou had stood in the line of fire at the time of the Atsuhara crisis. He was also a popular figure within the Order. Even Nikko was pleased to have him in an important position when he returned to Minobu after a long absence. Sanenaga used Minbu Nikou as a shield against him.

Minbu Nikou did not understand the Dharma of Nichiren. He believed that if one chanted a title, all would be forgiven. The principal object of worship could be a wooden Buddha. Pilgrimage to shrines was also free. It would be permissible to chant the Buddhist prayer, to enchant the mantra, to sit in zazen meditation, and to adhere to the precept. 

Minbu Nikou taught Hakiri. If one follows the excellent Law, all is forgiven, and there is no right or wrong. This gives us an idea of the level of understanding he has of the Buddha Law.

On the other hand, his teacher Nichiren told Nikko to strictly separate right from wrong.


“In the case of the standing waves, the blowing winds, and all things, the true manifestation of the true nature should be divided and victory or defeat should be determined.” ‘One Hundred and Six Articles’


Minbu Nokou did not pursue Nichiren's teaching of dividing the sutras into the true manifestation of the sutra and the ultimate victory or defeat of the sutra. Among Nichiren's disciples, who numbered perhaps as many as one hundred, even the disciples designated as the six senior priests were in such a state. The five senior priests, with the exception of Nikko, saw Nichiren merely as a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. They had no idea that Nichiren was the fundamental Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.

Nikko wrote about this situation with great indignation.


“Overall, this is for three reasons. The first is that the true meaning of the Ankoku theory was broken, in the second, a wooden statue of Shakyamuni Buddha [Gohonzon] of the infinite past was torn down in front our eyes, and the third was the first time that offerings were made to the slanderous sects. This is not the fault of the Lord Hakiri, but solely the fault of the arrogant monks. Therefore, I have told lord Hakiri, and from now on, he must believe as the saint has believed for 20 years in his presence, the Ankoku-ron. I also requested that he wrote a letter of conversion and presented it before the presence of the saint's image. But he did not trust me and probably thought I had slighted him. He said to me that he had Minbu Ajari Nikou as his teacher. In this way, his faith in the Lotus Sutra has been reversed.”





by johsei1129 | 2022-05-21 11:36 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)
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