Shakubuku is the ultimate act of compassion for people who have not yet taken faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. They suffer misfortune derived from the effects of continuing adherence to false teachings. This results in their inability to eradicate the negative karma that causes them unhappiness. Thus, we must teach and lead people to help them break through their misfortune.
When we look at people living around us, they may look happy on the surface and even seem to have no problems. But, when we look deeper into a person’s life, what we actually see is a whirl of difficulties such as sickness, family discord, financial problems, and so on. Unless one accepts and believes in the true Law, one cannot overcome material and spiritual sufferings in the deepest sense.
As Nichiren Shoshu believers, the greatest act of compassion we can perform is to teach others about Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism whenever possible and lead them to true happiness. This is the practice of shakubuku.
Sometimes people don’t understand the importance of exerting themselves to care for others. The Daishonin stated:
If you are to be compassionate toward those who are inferior to you in virtue, you must think of them as a parent thinks about his child, and you should always lead them with compassion.
(Gosho, p. 922)
When we understand that true Buddhism is the path to true happiness, it is natural to want to share the joy we feel with others so we can become happy together. It is stated in the Lotus Sutra:
Even the Buddha himself will fall into the state of hunger as a result of the offense of greed, if he first perceived the Mahayana teaching that teaches the supreme path (where all living beings equally attain enlightenment), then afterwards, expounded the inferior teaching of Hinayana.
(Hokekyo, p. 110)
This passage admonishes us that even though we have taken faith in true Buddhism, if we begrudge teaching others about it, we will not gain true satisfaction from our practice. It is our mission to shakubuku the people around us, never forgetting the joy of accepting this wonderful Gohonzon.
Shakubuku Erases the Negative Karma from our Past Lives
Nichiren Daishonin stated:
Thus it would seem extremely difficult for you to avoid the offense of complicity in slander. Nevertheless, you have communicated this teaching to your lord and urged him to take faith in it. How admirable! Even though he may not accept it now, you have been able to avoid the offense of complicity.
(MW-6, p. 91; Gosho, p. 744)
He teaches us that we can avoid complicity with slander if we do shakubuku. The offense of complicity manifests itself if we do not remonstrate with a person while seeing him committing slander, thus being accomplices to the same offense. Just as water drips out of a container through a crack, the benefit accumulated through our practice of Gongyo and Daimoku will diminish if we don’t make efforts to do shakubuku.
The great benefit of doing shakubuku will implant fortune deep within our lives and will lessen the effects of heavy negative karma from past causes. The difficulties we encounter while doing shakubuku are evidence that our own negative karma is being expiated. In this way we steadily change our karma from past lives. We gradually transform our lives into a state of happiness.
The benefit of doing shakubuku is not limited to helping others realize the joys inherent in true Buddhism. It is also the straight path to a greater, more open life condition for ourselves. With firm belief in the Gohonzon, we have profound incentive to do shakubuku with a smile and a warm heart, no matter how difficult the path may become.
(Note: This Chapter can be read in its entirety in the book: Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice. For more information, please contact your local temple.)