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Nikko Shonin’s 26 Admonitions

I will here set forth some articles for the sake of later students of Buddhism. This is solely because I treasure the [Daishonin’s] golden words regarding kosen-rufu


1. The doctrines of the Fuji school must not differ in the least from the teachings of the late master.

2. The doctrines of the five senior priests differ in every regard from the teachings of the late master.

3. There will [in the future] appear persons who slander our school, saying that the Gosho are forged writings. You must not associate with such evil priests.

4. Those who produce forged writings and say that they are Gosho, or who practice with the view that the essential and theoretical teachings [of the Lotus Sutra] are the same, are parasites in the lion’s body.

5. You should refrain from indulging in poetry or non-Buddhist works, or from engaging in idleness and chatter without [having the aim of] rebuking slander.

6. Lay believers should be strictly prohibited from visiting [heretical] temples and shrines. Moreover, priests should not visit slanderous temples or shrines, which are inhabited by demons, even if only to have a look around. To do so would be a pitiful violation [of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.] This is not my own personal view; it wholly derives from the sutras [of Shakyamuni] and the writings [of Nichiren Daishonin].

7. Disciples of ability should be allowed to devote themselves to the study of the Gosho and other doctrines of Buddhism, without being pressed to perform miscellaneous services for their teachers.

8. Those of insufficient learning who are bent on obtaining fame and fortune are not qualified to call themselves my followers.

9. Until they are well versed in the difference between the provisional and true teachings, followers of later generations should visit this temple, setting aside the debt of gratitude they owe to their parents and teachers, and undertake various studies in order to free themselves [from the sufferings of birth and death] and attain the Way.

10.Unless you have a thorough understanding of and firm faith in the teachings [of Nichiren Daishonin], you should not study T’ien-t’ai’s doctrines.


11. Followers of this school should engrave the teachings of the Gosho in their lives and thereby inherit the ultimate principles expounded by the master. Then, if they have any leisure time, they should inquire into the doctrine of the T’ien-t’ai school.

12. You should be inclined to engage in discussion or deliver lectures [on Buddhism], and you should refrain from pursuing secular concerns.

13. Until kosen-rufu is achieved, propagate the Law to the full extent of your ability without begrudging your life.

14. As for practitioners who treasure the Law more highly than their own lives, even if they are but humble teachers of the Law, you must hold them in great esteem, revering them as you would the Buddha.

15. You should revere a teacher of the Law who engages in its propagation as a sacred priest, even though he may be your junior.

16.Even though they may be lowly, you should deeply respect and regard as your teachers those whose understanding of Buddhism surpasses your own.

17. Do not follow even the high priest if he goes against the Buddha’s Law and propounds his own views.

18. Even if a view is set forth unanimously by a conference [of believers], the high priest should repudiate it if it goes against the Buddha’s Law.

19. Black robes should not be worn [by priests].

20. Jikitotsu should not be worn [by priests].

21. You should not sit together with slanderers of the Law [at religious ceremonies] for fear of suffering the same punishment as they.

22. You must not accept offerings from slanderers of the Law.

23. Carrying a sword or staff in order to protect the Buddhist Law is permissible.However, [weapons] should not be worn when presiding over religious services, though accompanying priests may be permitted to carry them [to protect themselves and others].

24. [At religious ceremonies] young acolytes should not occupy seats lower than those of high-ranking lay followers.

25. My disciples should conduct themselves as holy priests, patterning their behavior after that of the late master. However, even if a high priest or a priest striving for practice and understanding should temporarily deviate from [the principle of] sexual abstinence, he may still be allowed to remain in the priesthood [as a common priest without rank].

26. You should treasure those practitioners who are skilled in difficult debate, just as the late master did.


I have set forth these 26 articles for the sake of the eternal salvation and protection of humankind Those who violate even one of these articles cannot be called disciples of Nikko

thirteenth day of the first month of the third year of the Genko era (1333).

Nikko(Seal)


Note:
THE Fuji school is the line of Nikko Shonin’s followers. The “late master” is Nichiren Daishonin.


Excerpt from Living Budhism April 1998 issue.