virtues of ] pity, compassion, joy, and impartiality for the god Brahma, the practice of almsgiving for the devil king, the two hundred and fifty precepts for monks, the five hundred precepts for nuns, the four noble truths for voice-hearers, the twelve-linked chain of causation for cause-awakened ones, and the six paramitas for bodhisattvas. This method of teaching is comparable to water that assumes the round or square shape of its container, or to an elephant that exerts just enough strength to subdue its enemy.
The Lotus Sutra is entirely different. It was preached equally for all, including the eight kinds of nonhuman beings and the four kinds of believers. This method of teaching is comparable to a measuring rod that is used to eliminate uneven places, or to the lion king that always exerts its full power in attack, regardless of the strength of its opponent.
When one examines all the various sutras in the clear mirror of the Lotus, it is evident that the three True Word sutras, including the Mahavairochana, and the three Pure Land sutras5 are teachings expounded in accordance
with the peoples capacity. And yet because the people have made the teachings of Kobo, Jikaku, and Chisho their basis, this truth has been obscured in Japan now for more than four hundred years. It is like exchanging a gem for a pebble or trading sandalwood for ordinary lumber. Because Buddhism has gradually been turned upside down, the secular world also has been plunged into corruption and chaos. Buddhism is like the body, and society like the shadow. When the body bends, so does the shadow. How fortunate that all of my disciples who follow the Buddhas true intention will naturally flow into the ocean of comprehensive wisdom! But the Buddhist scholars of our time put their faith in teachings expounded according to the peoples capacity, and are therefore doomed to sink into the sea of suffering. I will explain in more detail on another occasion.
With my deep respect,
The twenty-sixth day of the fifth month
This letter was written at Minobu to Toki Jonin in Shimosa in the fifth month of the third year of Koan (1280). Nichiren Daishonin explains to Toki the meaning of the passage from the Teacher of the Law chapter of the Lotus Sutra that describes the sutra as the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand. In the beginning of the letter, the Daishonin introduces the three Buddhist scholars who correctly interpreted this passage Nagarjuna of India, Tien-tai of China, and Dengyo of Japan. Next, he
distinguishes two types of teachings the provisional teachings, which Shakyamuni Buddha taught according to the peoples capacity, and the Lotus Sutra, which was a direct statement of Shakyamunis own enlightenment. The Daishonin says that, while the former type of teaching is easy to believe and understand, only the Lotus enables one to overcome the fundamental darkness inherent in life.
Finally, the Daishonin asserts that, because the Japanese people have embraced the misleading doctrines of