Chapter 4 What the Daishonin says about the behaviour of true priests and evil priests

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Chapter 4 What the Daishonin says about the behaviour of true priests and evil priests

Does the robes and shaven head of the Nichiren Shoshu’s priests automatically qualify them as true priests who correctly practice Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism? Or should we make this assessment based on their behaviour and conduct? Surely, the latter is the correct and wiser way to make such an important judgement.  Nichiren Daishonin himself has set the standard of what a true priest is through his compassionate, humble and noble behaviour.  Moreover, the original Buddha has also revealed in his teachings how we can distinguish between true priests and evil priests.

1            What the Daishonin says about the behaviour of true priests
The Essentials of Attaining Buddhahood
“True priests are those who are honest and who desire little and yet know satisfaction.  Volume one of the The Wirds and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra states: ‘Those who have yet to attain the truth should humble themselves before the highest principle, which is comparable to heaven, and feel abashed before all the sages.  Then they will be monks with a sense of shame.  When they manifests  insight and wisdom, then they will be true monks.’” (WND, p747)

How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood through the Lotus Sutra
“A good teacher is a priest who is free from any fault in secular affairs, who never fawns upon others even in the slightest, who desires and is satisfied with little, and who is compassionate; a priest who reads and upholds the Lotus Sutra and leads others to embrace it.  Such a priest the Buddha has praised among all priests as the finest teacher of the Law.” (WND, p880)

The Three Kinds of Treasure

“The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is expounded in the ‘Never Disparaging’ chapter.  What does Bodhisattva Never Disaparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearnace in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behaviour as a human being.  The wise may be called human, but the thoughtless are no more than animals.”  (WND, p851/852)

2            What the Daishonin says about the behaviour of evil priests

On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land


“But the monks and priests today are fawning and devious, and they confuse the people and lead them astray…” (WND, p11)

“The Benevolent Kings Sutra, for example, says:  ‘Evil monks, hoping to gain fame and profit… preach doctrines that lead to the violation of the Buddhist Law and the destruction of the nation…” (WND, p11)

“The Lotus Sutra says:  ‘In that evil age there will be monks with perverse wisdom and hearts that are fawning and crooked who will suppose they have attained what they have not attained, being proud and boastful in heart.” (WND, p11)

“Greedy for profit and support, they will preach the Law to white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers…” (WND, p11)

“…there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline.  But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies.” (WND, p11)

“Though they wear the clothes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen who, narrowing their eyes, stalk softly.  They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice.” (WND, p11/12)

“And they constantly will reiterate these words, ‘I have attained arhatship!’  Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy.” (WND, p12)

“They are not true monks – they merely have the appearance of monks.” (WND, p12)

“’Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the correct teaching.’  When we look at the world in the light of these passages of scripture, we see that the situation is just as they describe it.” (WND, p12)

The Fourteen Slanders

“…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 no better than an animal 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 called as a true priest.  He is nothing but a thief who has stolen the title of priest.  How shameful and frightening!” (WND, p760)

Letter to Niike

“…although they profess faith in the Lotus Sutra and clasp its scrolls, they act against the spirit of the sutra and thereby doomed to the evil paths.” (WND, p1026)


“…it is the priests with perverse wisdom and hearts who are the Buddha’s worst enemies…” (WND, p1028)

“…Nor should you follow priests merely because they are venerable or of high rank.  But if a person has the wisdom to know the true meaning of the Lotus Sutra, no matter how lowly he may appear, pay respect to him and make offerings to him as though he were a living Thus Come One.  This is written in the sutra.” (WND, p1028)

Letter from Sado

“Neither non-Buddhists nor enemies of Buddhism can destroy the correct teaching of the Thus Come One, but the Buddha’s disciples definitely can.  As a sutra says, only worms born of the lion’s body feed on the lion.” (WND, p302)

“The Parinirvana Sutra states, ‘Those who enter the monastic order, don clerical garments, and make a show of studying my teachings will exist in ages to come.  Being lazy and remiss, they will slander the correct and equal sutras.” (WND, p303)

The Selection of Time

“Speaking of the third of the three types of enemies…These passages from the sutras speak of powerful enemies of the correct teaching.  Such enemies are to be found not so much among evil rulers and evil ministers, among non-Buddhists and devil kings, or among monks who disobey the precepts.  Rather they are those great slanderers of the Law who are to be found among the eminent monks who appear to be upholders of the precepts and men of wisdom.  The Great Teacher Miao-lo, speaking of such men, says, “…the third [group] is the most formidable of all.  This is because the second and third ones are increaingly harder to recognize for what they really are.” (WND, p584)