Now, if you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banner of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra. Worldly fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are ties that will fetter you in the next one. Ah, you should be ashamed of them! And you should fear them, too!
Although there are different opinions concerning the date of this letter, it is generally accepted that Nichiren Daishonin wrote it in the third month of the third year of Kōchō (1263), shortly after he had been pardoned and had returned to Kamakura following two years of exile on the Izu Peninsula. The Daishonin was then forty-two years old.
In the beginning of this passage, the Daishonin wrote: “Now, if you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banners of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra.” This means that those who want to achieve the status of the Buddha must control their surges of arrogance, eliminate their bouts of anger, and embrace the One Buddha vehicle of the Lotus Sutra.
There are seven types of arrogance (shichi man) described in the Treasury of Expositions on the Law (Jpn. Kusha ron; Skt. Abhidharma-kosha-shastra). They are: 1) Arrogance, 2) Haughty arrogance (ka man), 3) Condescending arrogance (man ka man), 4) Self-centered arrogance (ga man), 5) Supreme arrogance (zo jo man), 6) Immodest arrogance (hi man), and 7) Pompous arrogance (ja man). A brief explanation of each of these types of arrogance follows.
- Arrogance (man): to think that one is superior to those inferior to oneself and that one is equal to one’s equals.
- Haughty arrogance (ka man): to think that one is superior to one’s equals and equal to those who are superior to oneself
- Condescending arrogance (man ka man): to think that one is superior to those superior to oneself
- Self-centered arrogance (ga man): to be attached to the self based on the delusion that one’s life, which is a temporary combination of the five components, is a permanent entity
- Supreme arrogance (zo jo man): to think that one has gained a truth that one has not yet perceived
- Immodest arrogance (hi man): to think that one is not much inferior to those who far surpass oneself
- Pompous arrogance (ja man): to pretend to possess virtue when one lacks virtue.See also nine types of arrogance.
It is essential to correctly uphold Buddhism, based on the relationship between master and disciple (shitei sotai). In general, we follow masters and teachers when we set out to learn something new. There are some self-taught people who manage to secure certificates in different fields without outside instruction, but it is absolutely impossible to attain enlightenment through our own personal, arbitrary means. Buddhahood can be attained only by following the will of the Buddha.