The Actual Practice of Shakubuku

The Significance and Purpose of Shakubuku

Shakubuku is the compassionate act of saving people around the world from lives of disaster and anguish. The fundamental causes for the disasters that ravage this planet are people’s faith in erroneous religions and ideologies, and their slander or rejection of the correct Buddhist Law. Nichiren Daishonin offers counsel on how to resolve this dilemma in the following excerpts from the Rissho ankoku-ron.

“Therefore you must quickly reform the tenets that you hold in your heart and embrace the one true vehicle, the single good doctrine of the Lotus Sutra.”
(Gosho, p. 250; MW-2, p. 45)
“If we hope to bring order and tranquillity to the world without further delay, we must put an end to these slanders of the Law that fill the country!”
(Gosho, p. 247; MW-2, p. 39)

These strong remonstrations show us that slander, or rejection of the truth, is the fundamental reason why the people’s hearts and the environment are being destroyed. We must help the people embrace the reality of the True Law hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra. This is the underlying principle of the Rissho ankoku-ron.

Nichikan Shonin explains the significance of the two Chinese characters that form the word rissho, which translates, “to establish the truth.” In this case, it refers to worldwide belief in True Buddhism.

“Contained within the two characters that comprise the word rissho are the Three Secret Laws.”
(Gosho Commentary by Nichikan Shonin [Nichikan Shonin gosho mondan], p. 6)

The True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, established the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching (Honmon), the embodiment of the Three Great Secret Laws, to serve as the one, unrivaled True Law for all mankind. We should understand, then, that the true purpose of the Rissho ankoku-ron is to communicate that truth.

One might ask how is it that when increased numbers of people refuseing to embrace the Dai-Gohonzon it causes the occurrence of disasters. Slander The reason is that slander of the True Law causes the Five Impurities to grow stronger. The five impurities are:

1) impurity of thought – ideologies become confused and corrupted
2) impurity of desire – the proliferation of greed
3) impurity of the people – society in general becomes dissipated;
4) impurity of life – life expectancy grows shorter; and
5) impurity of the age – as a result of the first four impurities, famine, damaging storms, epidemics, wars and other catastrophes scar the age with misery.

In his writings, Nichiren Daishonin explains that among the Five Impurities, the warping of people’s minds by misguided religions and ideologies (the impurities of the people and of thought) is the fundamental cause for the occurrence of disasters in the world. That is why it is so important that we have the practice of shakubuku, through which we can fundamentally purify our world, which has become stained with the Five Impurities.

An excerpt from “The True Entity of Life” reads:

“If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth.”
(Gosho, p. 666; MW-1, p. 93)

Another passage from the same Gosho states:

“Were they not Bodhisattvas of the Earth, they could not chant the Daimoku.”
(ibid. )

Both of these passages point to the fact that as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, we are charged with the mission of spreading the True Law through shakubuku. That mission is clear from the phrase,

“…but then two, three and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others.”
(ibid. )

This is why each of us is asked to shakubuku one other person each year.

The sensibility with which the Daishonin established the Three Great Secret Laws to save all living beings from the anguish of the hell of incessant suffering is contained within the following passage from “Remonstration to Hachiman.” “This is no more than the compassion of the mother who urges her baby to suckle.” (Gosho, p. 1539) These words demonstrate the depth of compassion with which the Daishonin wants mankind to take the great, good medicine of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Those of us who bask in that compassion should feel a keen sense of appreciation to the Daishonin. At the same time, we must repay the debts of gratitude we owe, both for being able to transform the Three Paths of Earthly Desires, karma and suffering into the Three Virtues of the property of the Law, wisdom and emancipation, and for ourtheblessings given usgood fortune in this life and the next, due to our faith in the Lotus Sutra.

Nichikan Shonin writes the following instruction. “Refuting heresy repays one aspect of our debt of gratitude…propagating the True Law repays the other…This demands that we refute heresy and disseminate the True Law without begrudging our lives, and thereby repay our debt of gratitude in full.” (Gosho Commentary by Nichikan Shonin, p. 384) The priesthood and laity of Nichiren Shoshu, kinsmen of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, must realize that the only acts that truly repay our debt of gratitude are refuting error and revealing the truth through shakubuku, practiced with the faith of not begrudging our lives.

Understanding the Practice of Shakubuku

Shodai, the practice of chanting the Daimoku of the Essential Teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws, is the fundamental practice of Nichiren Shoshu. A passage from “On the Three Great Secret Laws” reads: “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the Daimoku that Nichiren chants, is different from that of former ages because it encompasses practice for oneself and the teaching of others.” (Gosho, p. 1594) This passage clearly tells us that if we do not teach others through shakubuku at the same time that we chant Daimoku for ourselves, then we are not practicing the Daimoku of the Essential Teaching.

Sixty-seventh High Priest Nikken Shonin gave the following instruction: The blessings of immersing oneself in Daimoku every day may be experienced at times as the sudden and mysterious elimination of a negative pattern of behavior. Before long, one may become so saturated with an accumulation of blessings that he cannot help but share his experience with others, thereby naturally manifesting the virtue of keta (the teaching of others).
(Daibyaku-ho, no. 277)

Objectively speaking, on the one hand, everyone born during the Latter Day of the Law is just an ordinary individual who lacks the roots of good fortune resulting from a past life Buddhist practice. On the other hand, priests and lay members of Nichiren Shoshu who conscientiously practice Daimoku for their own sake and that of others can, while in that realm of introspective yearning to see the Buddha, open up within their own lives the realm of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

One condition absolutely necessary for this to occur, however, is chanting Daimoku powerfully, based on doubt-free faith that can overcome any obstacle, and a unified priesthood and laity practicing Shodai in the spirit of itai doshin.

It is also vital when practicing shakubuku that we emphasize drive home to people with great confidence that there is no way to become profoundly happy without faith in the Gohonzon.

However, one must never resort to irrational or emotional speech or behavior. Please keep these words in mind. “By removing evil from a person’s life, you act as his parent.” (Gosho, p. 577) We cannot stand idly by while others commit slander, and we must never perform shakubuku shabbily or as though soliciting.

Having said that erroneous religions are the cause peoplefor misery, and lead to national insecurity, it is vital that we possess the spirit to refute all slander of the Law byand helping those who slander to see the error of their ways. In any event, explaining the True Law to others – shakubuku – is an act of ultimate compassion.
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