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Buddhist Study

Be Vigilant Against Slander, Jealousy and Resentment


The following excerpt is from The New Human Revolution, volume 26, “Banner of the Law” chapter, pp. 138–41. SGI President Ikeda appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

Josei Toda’s[1] profound spiritual awakening in prison to the fact that he was a Bodhisattva of the Earth was a pivotal moment in the Soka Gakkai’s history.

The Bodhisattvas of the Earth practice and spread the correct teaching of Buddhism in their respective places, just as they are, in the defiled age of the Latter Day of the Law. When we awaken to our identity as a Bodhisattva of the Earth and begin our struggle for kosen-rufu right where we are, the invincible life force of a Bodhisattva of the Earth will pulse within us, the protective functions of the universe will protect us and we will enjoy infinite benefit.

There are cases, however, in which members end up erasing their benefit and straying from the path to happiness. The prime example of that is conflict and antagonism between fellow members.

Shin’ichi Yamamoto said sternly: “In ‘The Fourteen Slanders,’ [Nichiren] Daishonin writes about the fourteen types of slander of the Lotus Sutra.[2] The last four are despising, hating, envying and bearing grudges, especially against those who embrace the Gohonzon. This describes, in other words, ill feelings or hostility toward one’s fellow members.

“Because Nichiren considers these fourteen slanders as extremely grave offenses, he writes, ‘You must be on guard against them’ (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 756). Slander and jealousy not only erase your own benefit and good fortune, they also undermine our organization that is working for kosen-rufu. That’s what makes them so harmful.

“Looking closely at local organizations where members have trouble uniting, things don’t run smoothly and members are giving their all but aren’t receiving benefit, you can see that the underlying problem is slander and jealousy.”

Why do slander and jealousy arise between fellow members, or sometimes even between leaders, who are all upholding the Mystic Law?

The Daishonin writes: “The fourteen slanders described in the ‘Simile and Parable’ chapter represent the embodiment of a lack of faith” (“Nembutsu and the Hell of Incessant Suffering,” WND-2, 24). The fundamental cause of slander lies in disbelief in the Mystic Law, that is, disbelieving in the Buddhist teaching of causality governing life and that we are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth and emissaries of the Buddha.

When one lacks faith in the Mystic Law, one may only be able to see things from a relative perspective, based on the ways of the world. In society, all too often those with high status, wealth or power look down on others. It is also true, conversely, that people often envy or resent those who have a higher social status or more money and power than they. Without deep conviction in the teachings of Buddhism, the same thing can happen within the Soka Gakkai.

For example, leaders who have been entrusted with a major responsibility in the organization may think that makes them more important than others.

This causes them to look down on their fellow members and display arrogant and insolent behavior. Those who lack true confidence and ability are especially apt to make themselves appear more impressive and be haughty and overbearing. They might also try to play up to those whom they see as social superiors, or treat those they see as inferior with contempt. Or they may assume a studied politeness with fellow members. This is because, though they are superficially respectful, they actually think themselves better than others and cannot respect each person as an emissary of the Buddha.

If leaders lapse into such behavior, members won’t be able to unite with them; it will create a situation where slander and resentment arise.

When leaders don’t get along with other leaders, it’s because they cannot overcome their own self-centeredness and cannot respect one another. No matter how they try to gloss things over, they are dominated by the world of anger, the desire to be superior to others.

The reason that Shin’ichi discussed the fourteen slanders was because the Soka Gakkai, the citadel of the people, would not eternally flourish unless a harmonious organization was built through all individuals developing their character and elevating their life condition.

The key is for each individual to establish a way of life based on Buddhism.


  1. Josei Toda served as the second Soka Gakkai president. ↩︎
  2. Fourteen slanders: They consist of fourteen offenses against the Law, or the Buddha’s teachings, and against the people who believe in and practice it. They are 1) arrogance, 2) negligence, 3) wrong views of the self, 4) shallow understanding, 5) attachment to earthly desires, 6) not understanding, 7) not believing, 8) scowling with knitted brows, 9) harboring doubts, 10) slandering, 11) despising, 12) hating, 13) envying and 14) bearing grudges. According to “Simile and Parable,” the third chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the last four offenses are leveled at practitioners of the Lotus Sutra. ↩︎

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