The Importance of Shakubuku


The Importance of Shakubuku
Reverend Jiho Kusumure and Reverend Setsudo Murakamo

First of all, I would like to congratulate all the overseas members on
all the progress you have made in your daily practice ever since the
First Overseas Believers’ General Tozan last August, aiming at the
750th anniversary of Nichiren Shoshu in 2002. I am also very
pleased to see you at the Head Temple for this pilgrimage. Now, I
would like to spend this time for both of us to learn about “The
Importance of Shakubuku,” as we have been instructed to do by the
Overseas Bureau.
I would like to divide my talk about shakubuku into three sections:
its significance, its merit, and its actual practice. I hope you will
reassess the importance of shakubuku as you overcome any
unreasonable disruptions caused by the SGI.

First Section:
What is Shakubuku?

1. The Supreme Buddhist Practice
Second High Priest Nikko Shonin states in the “Twenty-six
So long as Kosen-rufu has to be achieved, give your life for the sake
of propagation. (NSM, Vol. 2, No. 5, p. 15; Shinpen, p. 1884)
Also, the current High Priest, Nikken Shonin, has given us the
guideline to “shakubuku at least one person a year.” Shakubuku is
the supreme Buddhist practice taught by Nichiren Daishonin for
attaining real happiness.
The Daishonin states: “The advent of the Buddha in the world is
wholly for the sake of saving living beings.”(“Issakujitsu Gosho,”
Shinpen, p. 476)
The Buddha appears in order to save all people. In guiding the
people the Buddha uses two methods; “shoju” and “shakubuku.” Shoju
is a method of propagating Buddhism by leading people in a way
suited to the people’s capacity, thinking, and way of life so that they
will gradually correct their erroneous ideas about faith. In contrast,
in Mappo shakubuku means to correct another’s mistaken views
right away.
The Daishonin states:
At a time when there are many persons of perverse views who
slander the Law, then shakubuku should come first. (“The Opening of
the Eyes,” Shinpen, p. 575)
As he says, we should strive to do shakubuku as our first priority.
This means to have deep faith in Nichiren Daishonin as the True
Buddha and put his teachings into practice. The only ones who can do
this are we of Nichiren Shoshu, the only school that has transmitted
the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin. Those who do not have this
transmission will never be able to do this.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that we want to leave behind
people who are attached to lower or erroneous ideas. Thus we must
continue our practice to lead them in a good way so they will become
even a little closer to the True Buddha’s soul.
We may feel very impatient at the SGI members who are leading
themselves into such a tragic and miserable situation. They once
showed respect to the Gohonzon and I hope they will be touched by
the Buddha’s compassion in one way or another. For this reason we
must strive to do re-shakubuku.
Now, I would like to explain the proper perspective for
understanding what is “right,” since this is the most fundamental
thing for judging right and wrong in religions.
Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin instructed us about the
One Law hidden in the depths of the Juryo chapter by using a quote
from the “Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra” that says, “It is like
hundreds and thousands of branches and leaves going toward a
single root.” In other words, a single root is the True Cause or source
for attaining Buddhahood: to respect both the Dai-Gohonzon of the
High Sanctuary inscribed in 1279 and the water of the Law of the
Heritage. This means that all Buddhas throughout the three
existences and ten directions are assigned their roles in accordance
with this “one root” of the Gohonzon. Therefore, since at this time the
Original Buddha has already appeared, we must adopt the teachings
of the Original Buddha contained in the depths of the Juryo chapter.
Nichiren Daishonin, the Original Buddha, revealed the Buddhism of
his true enlightenment1 in order to save the people. The Daishonin’s
Buddhism contains the boundless meanings of all his teachings and is
“difficult to believe and difficult to understand.” Therefore, the
Daishonin teaches us:
One cannot master this sutra if one has not received the transmission
[from the Buddha]. (“Ichidai Seikyo Tai’i,” Shinpen, p. 92)
As he states, one cannot grasp the Buddha’s enlightenment without
instruction through the correct transmission of the Heritage.
Therefore, Nichiren Shoshu has both the Buddhism of the Heritage of
the Law and the Buddhism of transmission from master to disciple.
The Heritage of Nichiren Shoshu is the Dai-Gohonzon of the High
Sanctuary and the place where the Heritage of the water of the True
Law flows from generation to generation of High Priests. This is the
correct Buddhism. Therefore, people who do not take faith in the
Gohonzon are already “wrong,” even if they do not slander or criticize
Nichiren Shoshu. This is the fundamental distinction between right
and wrong in religion. We cannot imagine how much sorrow Nichiren
Daishonin must feel for people who are deeply poisoned by
erroneous teachings, those whose minds are disordered, and those
who cannot honestly respect the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary
even though they want to become happy.
What we should do now is nothing but shakubuku: we must ascertain
whom and what we must shakubuku as expressed in the saying, “The
Lotus Sutra is the principle of shakubuku, the refutation of the
provisional teachings.”2
We also need to realize that shakubuku cannot be practiced unless
one actually puts it into action. Thinking about it is not enough. If
you practice the next four items while correcting any deficiencies in
your thinking and faith, I am certain that you can achieve
shakubuku. The four items are:
1) Have firm faith in the Daishonin’s teachings. In other words, one
must have deep faith of longing for the Daishonin.
2) Have a firm belief that the benefits of the Gohonzon are absolute.
3) With courage, positively tell others to chant the Daimoku.
4) Chant the Daimoku sincerely, praying for the other person’s
If you practice these four things correctly, you are sure to achieve
shakubuku. Improving one’s own practice by honestly correcting any
gaps in your faith and practicing shakubuku for others will give you
more joy and you will be able to resolve any sufferings you have.
For these reasons, shakubuku is the supreme Buddhist practice.

2. The Way to Avoid “Committing the Same Offense”3 as Those Who
The Daishonin states:
To seek enlightenment without repudiating slander is as futile as
trying to find water in the midst of fire or fire in the midst of water.
(M.W., Vol. 1, p. 165; Shinpen, p. 1040)
He emphasizes there is no way one can obtain true happiness or
receive benefits unless one refutes mistaken teachings. Why can’t we
obtain true happiness unless we practice shakubuku? It is because
we will incur the same offense as those who slander unless we
correct them. In other words, this concept means “to receive the
same punishment as others who are doing wrong.” Unless we stop
others from performing evil, we will be guilty as they are.
Each one of us has come across True Buddhism, which rarely
happens, and has taken faith in the Gohonzon, breaking off our
attachment to lower or erroneous teachings. However, many of our
family members, relatives, friends, and colleagues may still be
attached to incorrect teachings. If in our daily lives we do not refute
their attachments to their wrong views, we are actually supporting
them and as a result we are equally wrong.
This can be manifested in an obvious way: some people who do not
practice shakubuku for many years meet an unnatural death due to
an unexpected disaster or karmic disease. This is proof that they did
not eradicate their evil karma or build solid happiness.
The Daishonin states:
No matter what great good deed one may perform, even if he reads
and transcribes the entirety of the Lotus Sutra a thousand or ten
thousand times or masters the meditation to perceive ichinen sanzen,
should he but fail to denounce the enemies of the Lotus Sutra, he will
be unable to attain the Way. (“Encouragement to a Sick Person”:
M.W., Vol. 6, p. 24; Shinpen, p. 332)
We common mortals have been accumulating various karmic
hindrances since the past. There is only one way to eradicate these
hindrances Ñ to take faith in Daishonin’s Buddhism. Therefore, the
benefits you will receive from shakubuku are the greatest of all. One
can even change grave sins into a minor ones. This is called
“lessening one’s karmic retribution.”
The Daishonin states:
It is due to the blessing obtained by protecting the Law that one can
diminish his suffering and retribution in this lifetime. (“Letter from
Sado,” M.W., Vol. 1, p. 40; Shinpen, p. 582)
His writings emphasize that the deep sufferings of common mortals
can be resolved by the practice of chanting the Daimoku to the
Gohonzon and the practice of shakubuku based on strong prayers to
the Gohonzon.

3. Repaying One’s Debt of Gratitude:
The High Priest is always praying that each overseas member will
advance in faith. Now is the time for both priesthood and laity to
take our gratitude to the Gohonzon and Nichiren Daishonin for
helping us and use it to relieve another person from his or her
We can achieve shakubuku naturally if we practice with an
understanding of our debts of gratitude and strive to repay the four
debts of gratitude (to the Three Treasures of Buddhism, to all living
beings, to one’s father and mother, and to one’s sovereign). Moreover,
following the High Priest with firm faith in the Dai-Gohonzon of the
High Sanctuary will lead us to build a life in which we can repay our
debt to the Daishonin. Our faith and practice of repaying our debt to
the Daishonin will enable us to overcome the ideas of incorrect
religions and will lead us to shakubuku and to teach others.

Second Section:
Merit of Shaku-buku

1. Correct Judgment:
The Daishonin states:
From illness arises the mind that seeks the Way.” (“Beneficial
Medicine for All Ills,” M.W., Vol. 5, p. 280; Shinpen p. 900)
We usually enter Nichiren Shoshu with various motivations, such as
wanting to have a better life. If one practices even for a little while,
such prayers will be answered by the boundless compassion of the
Buddha. The essential points for continuing one’s faith as a true
disciple of Nichiren Daishonin through the two existences of present
and future are “Pursuit of the Correct Path,” “Faith,” and “Conviction.”
“Pursuit of the correct path” is to have the spirit to “want to be of
service to Kosen-rufu.”
The Daishonin states:
Only I, Nichiren, at first chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then
two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others.
(“The Ultimate Truth of all Phenomena,” M.W., Vol 1, p. 93; Shinpen
p. 666)
The first person to start chanting the Daimoku of the Essential
Teachings was the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, alone. But now
there are many people chanting the Daimoku all over the world. It is
important that each of these people have the same goal as the
Buddha (itai doshin) and deepen their faith to stand up for true
The second point, “faith,” is to have a firm belief in the Dai-Gohonzon
of the High Sanctuary and today’s High Priest. It is important that we
judge how to realize in practice the guidance given by the Dai-
Gohonzon and the High Priest. This is how one can build up
unshakable resolution.
The third point, “conviction,” is to chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to
the Gohonzon and “teach others to the best of your ability, even if
only a single sentence or phrase.”4
The only way to attain true happiness is to practice correctly and
honestly. Without “pursuit of the correct path,” “faith,” and
“conviction,” there will be no progress.

2. Peace in this Lifetime and Good Circumstances in the Next
The Daishonin states, “Is there any offense that will not be expiated?
Any fortune that will not come? (Shinpen, p. 406)5 This promises
that we can lead a truly happy life and also be reborn in good
circumstances in the next life as long as we practice the Buddha’s
teachings exactly as he taught. This is fortune which can be obtained
only by people who correctly practice the true religion.
When our life and work are going smoothly, we tend to be in rapture
and forget about our evil karma. Then, once we meet with difficulty
we lose faith in the Daishonin and give up on our practice. We should
keep in mind that both our evil karma as well as our benefits will
manifest themselves over the three existences of life. This is why we
need to live our lives following the Buddha whose wisdom penetrates
the three existences of life.
What we call “persecutions” are oppressions suffered due to
propagation of the True Law. When SGI members receive
punishment due to their slanders against the true teachings,
however, we cannot call this persecution at all. The SGI has turned
into an incorrect religious group pursuing false benefits in this
lifetime repudiating True Buddhism. There is not the slightest
possibility of Kosen-rufu being achieved by them.
In Buddhist terms, the place we live is called the saha world. It is
also named the “impure land” because one will accumulate evil
karma just by living in this world.
The Daishonin states:
A hundred years of practice in the Land of Perfect Bliss cannot
compare to the benefit gained from one day’s practice in this impure
world. (“Ho On sho,” Shinpen, p. 1036)
There is no other way but to practice the Daishonin’s Buddhism until
we die.
If someone is idling away his time now, when does this person meet
True Buddhism and start accumulating benefits? We are fortunate to
have met the Gohonzon and exert ourselves in practice which is the
supreme state of life. There is no doubt that we can obtain peace in
this lifetime and good circumstances in the next.

3. The Benefits You Gain from Encouraging Others to have faith in the
True Law:
The Zuiki Kudoku Hon Chapter of the Lotus Sutra states:
Suppose there is a person who is sitting in the place where the law is
expounded, and when another person appears, the first person urges
him to sit down and listen, or offers to share his seat and so
persuades him to sit down. The benefits gained by this person will be
such that when he is reborn he will be in a place where the lord
Shakyamuni is seated, where the heavenly king Brahma is seated, or
where a wheel-turning sage king is seated. Ajita, suppose there is a
person who speaks to another person, saying , “There is a sutra called
the Lotus. Let us go together and listen to it.” And suppose, having
been urged, the other person goes and even for an instant listens to
the sutra. The benefits of the first person will be such that when he
is reborn he will be born in the same place as dharani bodhisattvas.
He will have keen faculties and wisdom. For a hundred, a thousand,
ten thousand ages he will never be struck dumb. His mouth will not
emit a foul odor. His tongue will never be afflicted, nor will his
mouth be afflicted.
His teeth will not be stained or black, nor will they be yellow or
widely spaced, nor will they be missing or fall out or be at an angle
or crooked. His lips will not droop down or curl back or be rough or
chapped or afflicted with sores or misshapen or twisted or too thick
or too big or black or discolored or unsightly in any way. His nose
will not be too broad or flat or crooked or too highly arched. His face
will not be swarthy, nor will it be long and narrow, or sunken and
distorted. He will not have a single unsightly feature. His lips, tongue
and teeth will all be handsomely proportioned. His nose will be long
and high, his face round and full, his eyebrows long and set high, his
forehead broad, smooth, and well-shaped, and he will be endowed
with all the features proper to a human being. (Watson, The Lotus
Sutra, p. 247-8)
Like this, the benefits one receives from achieving the shakubuku of
one person are enormous. Then, why don’t we listen to the Law and
recite the sutra and teach others?
The benefits from the practice of the Buddha’s teachings are
immeasurable. This practice is still insignificant in order to praise
even the one ten thousandths of the benefits of the Dai-Gohonzon,
which is the True Buddha from Kuon ganjo. Even so, this benefit is so
huge that we are shocked and as a result, we have no choice but to
take faith in the mystical Myo-ho. One cannot achieve shakubuku
without realizing these benefits and this joy.
Let each one of us be filled with the joy of faith and know the power
of the Buddha and strive for shakubuku.

Third Section: The Actual Practice of Shakubuku

1. One’s Ultimate Prayer:
After all, the ultimate prayer is to propagate the law throughout the
world. (Oko Kikigaki; Shinpen p. 1862)
It is important that one has one’s own prayer firmly in mind and
chants the Daimoku to the Gohonzon every morning and night. This
will bring joy and one can achieve shakubuku as a result of one’s
prayer. In order to accomplish shakubuku one should live the life of
Myoho taught by the Daishonin. It is important for each one of us to
have our own prayer and bring forth the fruits of our practice.

2. Itai Doshin:
The Daishonin states in the Gosho, Shoji Ichidaiji Kechimyakusho (the
Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life):
All disciples and believers of Nichiren should chant Nam-Myoho-
Renge-Kyo with one mind (itai doshin), transcending all differences
among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in
which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal
transmission of the ultimate law of life and death. (Shinpen, p. 514)
We all tend to think various things about ourselves instead of others
and basically are not aware of the current situation nor of the deep
meanings about the future. True itai doshin means one should not
have thoughts of ourselves above the thoughts of others. We should
ascertain the incorrectness of the people who do not respect the True
Law (especially the slanders made by the SGI members) and
overcome the incorrect teachings. Where both the priesthood and
laity strive for the propagation of the Law, itai doshin exists,
enabling to advance ourselves on the path of protecting the True Law
and refuting mistaken teachings and revealing the truth.

3. Daimoku such that One’s Prayer is answered:
The Daishonin states:
Though one might aim at the earth and miss it, though one might
bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and flow and
the sun rise up from the west, it could never come about that the
prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered.
(Kito Sho {On Prayer}; Shinpen p. 630)
Prayers entrusted to the Gohonzon are answered without fail. The
Gohonzon is the most supreme entity of the entire world and the
benefits gained from the Gohonzon are the best of all things. Its
benefit is not just having one’s illness cured but relieving the souls
(lives) of all living beings in the entire world from their sufferings.
Revealing one’s meaningful life in daily life is the Daishonin’s
teaching itself. A prayer which meets the Buddha’s mind is always
answered. This is our joy and the reason we feel gratitude to this
teaching. We can easily forget the ultimate prayer of the Buddha and
simply take a short view of things.
“Behave like the Buddha, if you want to become a Buddha.” Let each
one of us practice for our ultimate prayer and feel the joy from the
bottom of our heart.
750th anniversary of Nichiren Shoshu in 2002.
One of the most inhumane and anti-social group in our present-day
society is the SGI. Stealing the doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu, twisting
them, falsifying them to meet their own needs, and misrepresenting
their intentions to thousands of vulnerable persons, victimize them
to believe they hold the valid teachings is shocking. Since their
doctrines are completely false, most of the SGI members do not
realize that they are being deceived by the organization. They say
they are “directly connected to the Daishonin or Gosho,” which is
clearly slandering the True Law. The SGI membership have
separated themselves from the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary
inscribed in 1279 and presently go against the High Priest who
inherits the Law from the Daishonin.
It is stated by Daishonin:
One may make use of my counsel, but if I am not given due respect
[as the Votary of the Lotus Sutra], then the country will
perish.”(Shuju Ofurumai Gosho {On the Buddha’s Behavior}; Shinpen
p. 1066)
The phony honzon sold by the Soka Gakkai is the worst action for
ruining Buddhism. It is an urgent for us to re-shakubuku the SGI
members. The situation is different in each country but why don’t we
strictly follow the guidance given by the High Priest and stand up
and strive for the ultimate prayer of Kosen-rufu together from today
under the guidance of the Overseas Bureau. I pray for your further
progress in practice.

1. The term used here his zuiji’i, which means for the Buddha to
teach “according to the Buddha’s own mind.”
2. This is a quote from the “Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra” of
the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai. Nichiren Daishonin cites this in the Gosho
“On Practicing Just as The Buddha Taught.” A lecture on this part of
the Gosho appeared in Shinyo #3. (See also M.W., Vol. 1, pp. 99-107)
3. “Committing the Same Offense”: yodozai .
4. “Ultimate Reality of All Phenomena,” M.W., Vol. 1, p. 95; Shinpen,
p. 668)
5. For reference, see M.W., Vol. 5, p. 110-1.

©1995 Nichiren Shoshu Monthly. All rights reserved