and erroneous doctrines of the scholars and teachers, and established the correct doctrines of the Tien-tai school.
Likewise, in Japan during the reign of Emperor Kammu there was a humble priest named Saicho, who later was honored with the title of the Great Teacher Dengyo. He refuted the doctrines that had been taught by the Buddhist teachers of the various schools in Japan during the two hundred and some years following [the introduction of Buddhism in] the reign of Emperor Kimmei. At first people were infuriated with him, but later they all joined in becoming his disciples.
These people had criticized Tientai and Dengyo by saying, The founders of our schools were scholars of the four ranks of sages, and worthies and learned persons of antiquity, while you are no more than an ordinary, foolish man of the end of the Middle Day of the Law. The question, however, is not whether one lives in the Former, the Middle, or the Latter Day of the Law, but whether one bases oneself upon the text of the true sutra. Again, the point is not who preaches a doctrine, but whether it accords with truth.
The non-Buddhists criticized the Buddha, saying: You are a foolish man living at the end of the kalpa of formation and the beginning of the kalpa of continuance,3 while the original teachers of our doctrines were wise men of ancient times, the two deities4 and the three ascetics. In the end, however, all the ninety-five non-Buddhist schools were discarded.
On considering the eight schools of Buddhism, I, Nichiren, have discovered the following: The Dharma Characteristics, Flower Garland, and Three Treatises schools, which are based upon provisional sutras, declare that the provisional sutras are equal to the true sutra, or even that the true sutra is inferior to the provisional sutras. These are obviously errors originating with the
scholars and teachers who founded these schools. The Dharma Analysis Treasury and Establishment of Truth schools are a special case,5 while the Precepts school represents the very lowest level of the Hinayana teachings.
Scholars surpass ordinary teachers, and the true Mahayana sutra surpasses the provisional Mahayana sutras. Thus the Mahavairochana Sutra of the True Word school cannot equal the Flower Garland Sutra, much less the Nirvana and Lotus sutras. Yet when the Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei came to judge the relative merits of the Flower Garland, Lotus, and Mahavairochana sutras, he erred in his interpretation by declaring that, though the Lotus Sutra and the Mahavairochana Sutra are equal in terms of principle, the latter is superior in terms of practice. Ever since that time, the True Word followers have arrogantly asserted that the Lotus Sutra cannot even compare to the Flower Garland Sutra, much less to the True Word sutras, or that, because it fails to mention mudras and mantras, the Lotus Sutra cannot begin to compete with the Mahavairochana Sutra. Or they point out that many of the teachers and patriarchs of the Tendai school have acknowledged the superiority of the True Word school, and that popular opinion likewise holds the True Word to be superior.
Since so many people hold mistaken opinions on this point, I have examined it in considerable detail. I have outlined my findings in other writings, which I hope you will consult. And I hope that people who seek the way will take advantage of the time while they are alive to learn the truth of the matter and pass it on to others.
One should not be intimidated by the fact that so many hold such beliefs. Nor does the truth of a belief depend on whether it has been held for a long or short time. The point is simply whether or not it conforms with the