I have continued to recite the ten factors of life4 and the verse section of the Life Span chapter and chant the daimoku without the slightest neglect. But how great is the difference between the blessings received when a sage chants the daimoku and the blessings received when we chant it? To reply, one is in no way superior to the other. The gold that a fool possesses is no different from the gold that a wise man possesses; a fire made by a fool is the same as a fire made by a wise man.
However, there is a difference if one chants the daimoku while acting against the intent of this sutra. There are various stages in the practice of this sutra [and various forms of slander exist accordingly]. Let me sum them up by quoting from volume five of The Annotations on The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra: In defining the types of evil, The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra states briefly, Expound among the wise but not among the foolish.5 One scholar6 enumerates the types of evil as follows: I will first list the evil causes and then their effects. There are fourteen evil causes: (1) arrogance, (2) negligence, (3) wrong views of the self, (4) shallow understanding, (5) attachment to earthly desires, (6) not understanding, (7) not believing, (8) scowling with knitted brows, (9) harboring doubts, (10) slandering, (11) despising, (12) hating, (13) envying, and (14) bearing grudges. Since these fourteen slanders apply equally to priesthood and laity, you must be on guard against them.
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging of old said that all people have the Buddha nature and that, if they embrace the Lotus Sutra, they will never fail to attain Buddhahood. He further stated that to slight a person is to slight the Buddha himself. Thus, his practice was to revere all people. He revered even those who did not embrace the Lotus Sutra because they too had the Buddha
nature and might someday believe in the sutra. Therefore, it is all the more natural to revere those priests and lay people who do embrace the sutra.
The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, If there were a person who spoke only one word to curse the lay persons or monks or nuns who uphold and preach the Lotus Sutra, then his offense would be even graver than that of cursing Shakyamuni Buddha to his face for the space of a kalpa.7 The Lotus Sutra also states, [If anyone sees a person who accepts and upholds this sutra and tries to expose the faults or evils of that person], whether what he speaks is true or not, [he will in his present existence be afflicted with white leprosy].8 Take these teachings to heart, and always remember that believers in the Lotus Sutra should absolutely be the last to abuse one another. All those who keep faith in the Lotus Sutra are most certainly Buddhas, and one who slanders a Buddha commits a grave offense.
When one chants the daimoku bearing in mind that there are no distinctions among those who embrace the Lotus Sutra, then the blessings one gains will be equal to those of Shakyamuni Buddha. A commentary states, Both the beings and the environment of the Avichi hell exist entirely within the life of the highest sage [Buddha], and what is more, the life and the environment of Vairochana [Buddha] never transcend the lives of common mortals.9 You can surmise the significance of the fourteen slanders in the light of the above quotations.
That you have asked me about Buddhism shows that you are sincerely concerned about your next life. The Lotus Sutra states, . . . a person capable of listening to this Law, such a person is likewise rare.10 Unless the Buddhas true envoy appears in this world, who is there that can expound this sutra in exact accord with the