The Teaching and Practices of
Honmon Butsuryu Shu
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7. Disparaging The Dharma (Hobo) Is Unjust

Q:HBS claims that “Disparaging the Dharma" is unjust. Some parishioners claim that because HBS is too rigid, it is difficult to convert others to the religion. We would like to learn more about this.

A:If HBS allows one to engage concurrently in other religions, HBS' belief of a pure religion that adheres to the true teachings of Buddha and Nichiren Shonin will be compromised.

From that viewpoint, the parishioners of HBS should understand the reason and justification of why “Abusing the Dharma" is unjust.

Abusing the Dharma is censuring it. Nissen Shonin stated that Disparaging the Dharma is rebelling against the true teachings of the Buddha and Great Master Nichiren. Not believing in the Gohonzon of the Lotus Sutra that embodies myriads of elements of all existences, and praying at other temples or possessing figures of their Gods or Buddhas are, effectively, Disparaging the Dharma.

Q:Why there is no heed to revere Gods?

A:All I can say is that there is no necessity to revere other Gods or Buddhas separately. An Instructive Poem elucidated:

“What insufficiency is there
  Not to support the Dharma
That embodies myriads of elements
  Of all existence?"

The Gohonzon embodies all Gods, Bodhisattvas, and Guardian Kings of Heaven.

Therefore, there is no need to revere other them separately.

Q:Is the decree of our Gohonzon different from the Scriptures other sects revere, such as Amida Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai, and Kannon Buddha?

A:Yes. HBS's Gohonzon is the Dharma Gohonzon. The Dharma Gohonzon is what the Buddha and Bodhisattvas revered. Their practices were also based upon it. The Dharma provides the life of the Guardian Kings of Heaven. It is the immortal truth of eternal life.

Shakyamuni Buddha and all other Buddhas were enlightened by the Dharma from which they attained Buddhahood. In other words, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are born through the Dharma.

Q:Was the “Dharma" the Gohonzon of Buddha and Bodhisattvas?

A:Yes. HBS's Gohonzon is the Dharma Gohonzon that the Buddha and Bodhisattvas revered. That is why it is on a different degree from the worship of other sects. Since it is difficult for newly converted practitioners to understand it, the ensuing parable will help to explain it. The Gohonzon of HBS is like a large tree with branches. The branches are Kanzeon Bodhisattva or others, and the leaves are Amida Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai, Kanon Buddha, etc. The trunk of the tree is a Wondrous Dharma.

Q:Displaying and revering a figure of Amida Buddha is analogous to cutting a branch of a tree. It will eventually wither and die. It is injurious to the tree as well.

A:Yes. An Instructive Poem stated:

“Laws of the Universe are embodied
  In the Fine Dharma
To possess icons of other sect is
  Reviling the Gohonzon"

Displaying and revering icons of other Gods or Buddhas is making light of the Odaimoku Gohonzon. Thus, it is disparaging the Dharma.

Q:The most difficult aspect of proselytism is to make a newly converted parishioner discard the figures of Gods and Buddhas he has revered in the past.

A:To convince one to discard Hobo possessions is difficult. It must be done cautiously. Do not say, “Throw it away". A good advice is to say, “The spirits of the icons of Buddhas you had displayed and revered in the past are all inclusive in the Odaimoku Gohonzon and it would be the same as praying to them through the Odaimoku. Therefore, all materials and figurines may contribute to Hobo, by HBS standards, should be consigned to their temple."

Do not hold things that look alike

Priest:An important reason not to abuse the Dharma is:

“By not disposing of materials
Considered abusive to the Dharma
Merits cannot be obtained
If the sky is cleared of clouds
The Moon will appear
And its beauty can be appreciated."

Until all the materials considered abusive to the Dharma are discarded, the light of rewards will be deflected and merits will be unobtainable

“Receiving phenomenal merits
  Depends of one discarding
Ornaments or charms
  Considered to be Hobo".

Possessing other sects' amulets will also be an obstacle to receiving rewards. Therefore, it is said:

“If one wants to receive merits
  Abandon Hobo
And above all, chant by mouth
  The Odaimku".

Q:By the way, to hold amulets of other sects, is of couse abusing the Dharma, but how about displaying ornaments and hanging pictures of Gods or Buddha?

A:It is extremely difficult to make a judgment on that issue. If it is used solely for the purpose of decoration, it may not be construed as abusing the Dharma. However, if those materials are an object of worship or considered an item of spiritual power, then it can be construed as abusing the Dharma. For example, if you believe that a picture brings you good fortune, it is considered to be an object that abuses the Dharma.

“Dispose of items that has a likelihood
  Of being an object that abuses the Dharma".

As stated above, wearing a necklace with a cross or displaying ornaments of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune are unadvisable.

A Soul of Prudence is Needed to Avoid Disparaging the Dharma (Hobo)

Q:It is easy to ask for penitence after visiting temples or shrines of other Sects as those acts are known conditions that abuse the Dharma. But isn't it more difficult to become aware of an unconscious soul that disparages the Dharma?

A:Yes, it is. “There are many variations of abusing the Dharma, but, in Nissen Shonin's Instruction, “A soul of distrust and doubt also constitutes abusing the Dharma". Parishioners who feel that they cannot receive rewards or things do not go as they wish, may possess a soul of distrust or self-conceit in the religion. It is best to examine your soul and to repent.

Use of imprudent words

Priest:Other than the “Hobo of Soul", there are the “Hobo of Posing" and the “Hobo of Words". The Posing Hobo is not only confined to visiting shrines and temples, but worshipping various Gods and Buddhas of other sects. An Instructive Poem stated:

“Not expressing gratitude
  By coming in contact with the Fine Dharma
Is disparaging it".

As stated in the Instructive Poem, there is no need to flirt with religion. Having come in contact with a great religion, to neglect and lead an intemperate life is abusing the Dharma. So, be careful.

The “Word Hobo" is speaking ill of the religion or censuring parishioners of the Lotus Sutra. “Preachers of Dharma" (Hosshi Hon) warns of “A bad man who speaks ill of the Buddha in my presence with evil intent for as long as a kalpa is not so sinful. But, it is more sinful to reproach laymen and priests even with a single word of abuse for their reading and reciting the Lotus Sutra"

Accepting the above composition, Nissen Shonin stated:

“To speak ill of or to censure a person
  Who upholds the Fine Dharma
Is a more sinful act than reviling Shakyamuni Buddha ".

Q:It seems peculiar that to censure a parishioner that spreads the teachings of Buddha is a greater sin than speaking ill of the Buddha we esteem. Shouldn't it be the other way?

A:Not so. The Buddha is already in the state of enlightenment. Therefore, it doesn't matter in what form he may be censured or spoken ill of. However, we are basically a common people who get easily upset by words of slander or defamation directed against us. The Buddha, who perceived the weakness of our soul, provided the above-mentioned instruction.

Q:That is Buddha's mercy and compassion, isn't it?

A:Actually, the bottom line is whether parishioners can become united in mind, although separated in body, to refrain from slandering others. Speaking ill of others will eliminate cooperation among parishioners.

Q:It seems like bad-mouthing others is a way of abusing the Dharma.

A:Finally, another instructive poem:

“Although one may think
  He had done nothing wrong
Neglecting to chant the Odaimoku
  Is disparaging the Dharma".