Nichiren Daishonin states in the gosho, "The Fourteen Slanders" ("Matsuno dono gohenji"),
This gosho was written on the ninth day of the twelfth month of the second year of Kenji (1276) to Matsuno Rokurō Saemon. Nichiren Daishonin references fourteen different types of slander a practitioner can commit, and warns to be "on guard against them." In Lord Matsuno's letter to the Daishonin, he asks if there is a difference in the the benefit received between a sage and an ordinary person when they chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. The Daishonin clarifies that no such difference exists. He uses a metaphor saying that gold that a fool possesses is no different than the gold a wise man possesses.However, there is a difference if one chants the daimoku while acting against the intent of this sutra. There are many forms of slander that go against the correct practice of this sutra. Let me sum them up by quoting from the fifth volume of the Hokke Mongu Ki: "In defining the types of evil, the Hokke Mongu states briefly, 'Expound among the wise but not among the foolish. One scholar enumerates the types of evil as follows: 'I will first list the evil causes and then their effects. There are fourteen evil causes: (1) arrogance, (2) negligence, (3) arbitrary, egotistical judgment, (4) shallow, self-satisfied understanding, (5) attachment to earthly desires, (6) lack of seeking spirit, (7) not believing, (8) aversion, (9) deluded doubt, (10) vilification, (11) contempt, (12) hatred, (13) jealousy and (14) grudges.'" Since these fourteen slanders apply equally to priesthood and laity, you must be on guard against them.
(MW-3, p. 208)
Here is a brief description of each of the fourteen slander:
1. Arrogance: when one makes light of Buddhism, placing
excessive confidence in oneself.
2. Negligence: when one neglects to do the Buddhist practice
out of laziness.
3. Egotistical judgment: when one interprets Buddhism
through one’s egotistical viewpoint; to interpret or judge the
deep and profound teaching with distortion.
4. Shallow understanding: when one makes judgments
about Buddhism with a shallow understanding of Buddhist reasoning.
5. Attachment to earthly desires: when one takes advantage
of Buddhism or has no yearning for Buddhism due to being
caught up in one’s earthly desires.
6. Lack of seeking spirit: when one does not seek to understand the deep Buddhist doctrines.
7. Disbelief: when one does not believe in the correct Buddhism or does not wish to take faith in it.
8. Aversion: when one feels repugnance towards Buddhism or
when one insults those who take faith in it.
9. Doubt: when one has doubts and delusions about Buddhism.
10. Defamation: when one criticizes Buddhism and reviles
those who take faith in it.
11. Contempt: when one has contempt for Buddhism or those
who take faith in it.
12. Hatred: when one detests and opposes Buddhism or has
hatred for those who take faith in it.
13. Jealousy: when one is jealous of the prosperity achieved
through correct Buddhism or is jealous of those who take
faith in it.
14. Resentment: when one resents Buddhism or bears grudges
against those who take faith in it.
Nichiren Daishonin clarifies that though there is not a distinction between sages and ordinary beings when they chant, there is a difference when one chant while acting against the intent of the sutra. When once continually commits the fourteen slanders as a practitioner, one is acting against the intent of the Lotus Sutra. This causes us to accumulate negative karma in our hearts which will manifest as obstacles to impede our practice of Buddhism.
Slander against the true Law is a serious offense, and in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law, it is very easy for us deluded common mortals to commit any of the fourteen slanders. I know I personally am guilty of this. Sadly, there have been times where I have slackened in my daily practice or arrogantly interpreted a gosho or sutra, only to find out how wrong I was.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches,
Deep faith in Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws is essential in order to maintain a strong and correct Buddhist practice. When we cast away our biased and arrogant views, and chant Daimoku with the spirit of "single mindedly yearning to see the Buddha, they do not begrudge their lives" we can manifest the Buddha wisdom and practice according to the heart and intent of the Buddha's teachings - thus leading us to attain Buddhahood in our present form (sokushin jobutsu).The fourteen slanders will arise from the slander of not believing.
(Gosho, p. 39)
As Nichiren Shoshu believers, we are fortunate to practice Buddhism in accordance with the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, based on the master-disciple relationship. With deep faith and in the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teachings, a strong and consistent practice, along with the practice for the sake of others (shakubuku), I hope we can all work towards eliminating slander in our practice, and working towards the great aspiration of the True Buddha, Kosen-rufu.
- Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Volume 3
- Heisei Shinpen Nichiren Daishonin Gosho
- Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice