When we examine this wide variety of sutras, we find that they all stress how grave a matter it is to slander the correct teaching. How pitiful that people should all go out of the gate of the correct teaching and enter so deep into the prison of these distorted doctrines! How stupid that they should fall one after another into the snares of these evil doctrines and remain for so long entangled in this net of slanderous teachings! They lose their way in these mists and miasmas, and sink down amid the raging flames of hell. How could one not grieve? How could one not suffer?
Therefore, you must quickly reform the tenets that you hold in your heart and embrace the one true vehicle, the single good doctrine [of the Lotus Sutra]. If you do so, then the threefold world will become the Buddha land, and how could a Buddha land ever decline? The regions in the ten directions will all become treasure realms, and how could a treasure realm ever suffer harm? If you live in a country that knows no decline or diminution, in a land that suffers no harm or disruption, then your body will find peace and security, and your mind will be calm and untroubled. You must believe my words; heed what I say!
This work was originally written in classical Chinese and submitted to Hōjō Tokiyori through the offices of high-ranking government official Yadoya Mitsunori on the sixteenth day of the seventh month in the first year of Bunnō (1260). Tokiyori was then living in retirement, but was still the most influential member of the ruling Hōjō clan. The work occasioned no immediate reaction, and no official response was made to the Daishonin. But the members of the government were incensed at the rational but unrelenting attack that the work made on the Pure Land teachings of Hōnen and his followers. Government officials who were Pure Land followers apparently encouraged an attack made on the Daishonin’s dwelling at Nagoe in Kamakura on the twenty-seventh day of the eighth month. The Daishonin narrowly escaped and made his way to the province of Shimōsa to stay at the home of a follower. He returned to Kamakura early in the following year, 1261. He remained continually under the threat of persecution and was summarily banished to Izu on the twelfth day of the fifth month of the same year.
The work consists of a dialogue between a host and a visitor. The host represents Nichiren Daishonin, and the visitor, it is thought, represents Hōjō Tokiyori. At the outset, the host lays the blame for the disasters that have befallen the country on the belief in an erroneous religion, the Pure Land teachings of Hōnen. Presented are numerous scriptural references to disasters that will befall a nation that follows false teachings.
The Daishonin’s efforts to establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land was a struggle against fundamental evils that rejected fundamental good. Speaking as a host, in this section, he admonishes the guest to prevent him from falling prey to the evil doctrines that entangle people in slandering the law. He teaches that by transforming the tenets we hold in our hearts- a fundamental revolution of our innermost state of mind- we can free ourselves from the chains of misfortune and bring peace and security to the society. What we have faith in indicates what we hold precious. Thus, the focus of the transformation is of our mind, heart and values, without which the correct teaching for the peace of the land cannot be achieved.
The Daishonin speaks of the “single good doctrine” referring to the good taught by the Lotus Sutra- the principle that all people can bring forth their Buddha nature and attain enlightenment. Dedicating to the single good doctrine of the Lotus Sutra is the sure way to transform the karma of all humankind.