Refuting Nichio and the Niike Gosho

The document Refuting Nichio was long considered lost, but a copy was found in 1988 in the collection at the library of Rissho Daigaku. It is dated 1629 and appears to have been copied by Nichion. It is widely accepted that this work was composed by Jakushoin Nichiken in consultation with Nichion (some suggest it was a joint work), who was abbot of Minobu at the time, and it was offered as the composition of Nichion's disciple Nissen. From the start, clearly, there was confusion about the authorship. It is quite long, so I will be transcribing only the first paragraph to give you the setting and then the portion specific to this gosho

Refuting Nichio

Translated by Jeffrey Hunter, Ph.D.

When the ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi held the thousand-monk service at Myohoin [1599], it was difficult to refuse to obey the sovereign's order, and so the monks of the Lotus school also participated. Nichio declares that those who accepted offerings on that occasssion have committed the offense of accepting offerings from those who slander the Dharma and created the karma for falling into Avichi Hell. All the learned men of our sect laugh at these insidious falsehoods, which he spouts so irresponsibly. He is ignorant of the meaning of slandering the Dharma, unable to distinguish the reasoning behind the hallowed regulations of our sect, unable to grasp the true intent of the Buddha and Nichiren, and is unelightened about the teaching concerning "adopting or rejecting shoju or shakubuku as is proper, without adhering solely to one or the other." In the fourth year of the Keicho era [1599], the shogun Ieyasu ordered the leaders of various temples and Nichio to convene at Osaka Castle, debate this topic, and come to a decision. (First he had the documents read, and then the debate began.) It was decided that Nichio's position was unsubstantiated, and he was banished to a distant island by the order of the sovereign. And even after he returned to his old temple, he failed to abandon his personal prejudices. Now again he issues articles attacking the virtuous leaders of our sect. Though his claims are so specious that there is no need to discuss them, in order to put to rest the doubts he stirs up among monks and laity alike, I have taken up my brush.

10. Concerning the authenticity of the Niike Gosho.

In general, as far as forged scriptures, treatises, and commentaries in China and Japan are concerned, there is no agreement on whether they are authentic or not, and there are many considerations involved. One is whether the style is different from genuine scriptures, treatises, and commentaries; another is whether the teachings in it differ from other scriptures, treatises, and commentaries; yet another is whether there are historical differences in the tenor of the teachings, a mixing of ancient, medieval, or recent doctrines. For example, in Tang poetry there are clearly discernable styles marking works as High Tang, Middle Tang, or Late Tang compositions. In a similar fashion, those familiar with the Japanese poetry can distinguish different styles, but to one who has not mastered this art, it makes as much sense as the croaking of frogs. As far as the reasons for labeling this work a forgery are concerned, let me note one or two points. First, its style is rough and unlike that of authentic writings. Next, the doctrines it teaches differ from those of other writings. Third, there are many errors in the writing itself. Fourth, there are many discontinuites in the thoughts and the expression. Fifth, let us carefully consider the logic of this issue. If both acts, that is donating to and accepting donations from those who slander the Dharma, are offenses, there should be passages in the catalogued writings of Nichiren that forbid the acceptance of those offerings by presenting evidence from the sutras, treatises, and commentaries, just as Nichiren does when he forbids the practice of making offerings to those who slander the Dharma. Yet, throughout the entire catalogued writings we find no basis for this; isn't it suspect [that the Niike Gosho is the only work that does so]?

Question: If the Niike Gosho is a forgery, why do the masters of the past quote it as if it were authentic? Were they ignorant of the fact that it is a forgery?

Answer: If we only forbid the practice of making donations to other sects, people will accuse us of being niggardly and selfish. Thus, in order to mollify public opinion we established [in the Niike Gosho] the regulation against accepting offerings of other sects as well. Now some knew that the Niike Gosho a forgery but kept silent about it and quoted it as if it were authentic, while others were not aware of the facts and believed in it implicitly. There is no basis for clinging to the fact that the masters of the past have quoted a work as a proof that it is necessarily authentic. The problem is not limited to the Niike Gosho; there are many works that make false claims to be genuine writings of Nichiren. Among the writings transmitted in both the Tendai sect and our own, authentic and forged writings are mixed together. As a sage of old has said, "Truth and falsity are mixed together like weeds and rice shoots; the skillful cultivator leaves the rice shoots behind and plucks out the weeds." If you want to distinguish between genuine and fake, [Nichio] cast away the banner of your arrogance and come to learn from me.

Question: If the masters of the past knew that the Niike Gosho was a forgery, why didn't they say so when they quoted from it?

Answer: If, when the Buddha uses skillful means to draw people to the truth, he were to announce that this is only a skillful means, would it be possible for him to lead anyone to the truth? If those who wished to establish the policy of not accepting offerings states, when they quoted the Niike Gosho, that it was a forgery, who would ever believe the regulation against accepting offerings establsihed in that work?

Question: What scriptures and treatises are forgeries?

Answer: Forged scriptures are listed in the catalogues of forged scriptures, so there is no need to list them here. [As for forged treatises,] the Shi Moheyan Lun (attributed to Nagarjuna), the Tacheng Zhiquan (attribued to Nanyue), the Jingtu Lun (attribued to Zhiyi), and the Honri Daikoshu (attributed to Saicho) are all forgeries, not authentic works. The masters of the past frequently quote from such works, though they know them to be forgeries, for the purpose of converting people. Daoan says in the Er Jiao Lun, "Though such works fall into the categories of forgeries, there is no harm in using them to propagate the teachings."

Question: If we accept offerings from those who slander the Dharma without discrimination, what is there to differentiate us from the Tendai sect?

Answer: The claim that the two sects are to be differentiated based on whether they accept the offerings of those who slander the Dharma is a perverted oversimplification that knows no limit. Have those who make it not yet received the transmission of the eight teachings of our sect? How tragic it is indeed to be ignorant of the original reason that Nichiren founded our sect and with unprincipled accusations mislead others with one's own errors.

When, in accord with the Buddha's teachings, we wander through the countryside and drink from public wells and use other public facilities, these are great offerings provided by the sovereign of the realm. Do we then call the inconsequential donation of a single meal that was accepted on a particular occassion 'offerings' and refuse to call the large donations we accept day and night, standing, walking, sitting, and laying down 'offerings'? This is like making use of the benefits of the sun's rays without having any gratitude toward the sun, like being unaware of the great virtue of the parents who bore and raised you, and praising instead the meager wisdom of a stranger, or the light of a single lamp at night as being deserving of enormous gratitude. Alas, how perverse this is! Even if Nichio says that from now on he will not accpet any offering from the ruler of the realm, does he plan to renounce (the land and water)?

To study this entire document, you can obtain Dr. Hunter's doctoral dissertation:
The Fuju Fuse Contraversy in Nichiren Buddhism: the Debate Between Busshoin Nichio and Jakushoin Nichiken. by Jeffrey Robert Hunter, pages 237-8, 240, 326-7, 376-82. University of Wisconsin: Madison. 1989. Available thru UMI Dissertation Services for loose-leaf copies; or call 1-800-521-0600 to obtain a soft- or hard-bound volume: Order #9105837.

The Fuju Fuse Debate Ryuei
Myokakuji Regulations 1413
Myomanji Regulations 1451
The Kansho Accord 1466
Fuju Fuse Articles Nichio

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