Which Sutra is Buddha’s Ultimate Truth? Which Is Not?

Dear Mr Kobai -

I would like to asked you some input about the disscusion I’ve been having with my friends about the teachings of Nichiren.

They tell me that I am following a provisional Buddhism (Jodo-Shinshu), and not following the lotus sutra which Nichiren said that is the right path (Dharma) for the Mappo time.

Please can you help?

in gassho with Respect and Makoto.


Hi Sebastian.

Thank you very much for your message. How have you been?

About the lotus sutra. Nichiren thinks this sutra is true, and the purpose of the Buddha ’s appearance in this world to preach this sutra. And he thinks other sutras (lager sutra etc.) are false.

Shinran Shonin thinks lager sutra is the true sutra, and purpose of the Buddha ’s appearance in this world to preach this sutra. And he thinks other sutras( lotus sutra etc.) are provisional.

About this point, please see the following in my book on the web:

1. The Purpose of the Buddha’s Appearance in this World


2. Classification of the Teachings.


I’m waiting for your message.

Gassho Eiken Kobai

Hi Dharma Friend -

Eiken Kobai forwarded your letter to me, so I wanted to add my thoughts for your consideration - and your dharma friends’ consideration, too.

When I consider your sincere question, the heart of it is this: Do you, or your Nichiren friends, or any of us (including Eiken and me) have what it takes to do the work of transforming our evil karma completely in order to attain to Buddhahood in this world?

That is not a trivial question. It is, in fact, the most profound question for someone who is already yearning for Buddhahood - not just to end his own suffering - but in order to become truly helpful to countless others as well.

Can you imagine, dharma friend, how many lifetimes it took for the one we know as Gotama to come to that final lifetime when he was able to attain to Buddhahood? How difficult and perilous that journey was?

He himself talks about it.

Now…during his final lifetime, after he attained to Buddhahood - and for many years after that - the power of his own energetic field - called his Buddhafield in the Larger Sutra - empowered many other people - including the serial killer Angulima - a young retarded monk -and countless others - to come to a place of non-retrogression on the path.

But that simply doesn’t happen today. The Buddhafield of Shakyamuni has faded in space and time, and does not pervade the earth as it once did.

Indeed, if you look at the various organizations that promote ANY dharma path, including the Lotus Sutra proponents such as Nichiren Shu, or Theravada Buddhists, or Zen Practitioners, or Tibetan Lamas, or even Pure Land Teachers, how many people come to the point of transcending the pull of their blind passions by means of any of their many practices?

Said another way, how many people ever escape their karmic burden?

And more specifically - can YOU do such a thing? Or are you, like me, just a plain person - with aspiration, but without great ability, great willpower, great dharma strength?

Are you distracted, like I am…and indeed like Shinran was (by his own admission), with the many snakes and scorpions that afflict the human mind? Do you struggle with anger, or fear, or pride? Do you find yourself confused or flustered or depressed at times?

In other words, are the common intractable problems of the human condition YOUR intractable problems?

If so…I have bad news…and also good news.

The bad news is: if you are not yet a person of the same TRUE ENTRUSTING as Shinran, at this moment your karmic future is indeterminate and very uncertain.

Who knows how long you will live?

And if you die, you will most certainly take birth again in some form in Samsara. Perhaps it will be another 1,000 lives before you even get to consider the words Buddha, Sangha, Dharma again.

Who can say? Buddha himself actually warned about this…the rarity of even HEARING the dharma as a human being.

And that is the very HEART of Amida’s intention as described by Shakyamuni in the Larger Sutra - to deal fully and finally with your karmic problem - and mine as well.

Amida Buddha made his vows - and created his world - so that people like us could end our endless journey at last.

The ending comes in an INSTANT - in the one thought-moment when you or I have finally HEARD the dharma as Shinran teaches, and finally entrust our karmic destiny ENTIRELY to Amida Buddha - because you know that you and I are not fit to guide our own karmic destiny at all.

There is no shame in that. You are unfit. I am unfit. We are ALL unfit.

It is the characteristic of our age - called the age of MAPPO - the age of dharma decline.

But that need not stop us anymore.

In that one thought-moment of true entrusting, Amida Buddha freely bestows the most precious dharma jewel - the jewel of his own infinite karmic merit.

In that moment, the IMPLACABLE rule of karma in your life is broken at last, after countless lifetimes - and your karmic destiny is finally and fully determined.

Because of that one thought moment, Amida Buddha’s karma becomes YOUR karma. For that reason, after your life here ends, you will go immediately to the Pure Land of Amida. There, with no distraction, you will QUICKLY complete your journey and emerge into full Buddhahood at last.

Not because of your karmic merit - but because of Amida’s. Not because of your strength - but because of his. Not because of your wisdom - but because of his.

For me, this is what we call a “no-brainer” here in New Jersey. It’s an obvious choice -the choice between depending on my power - in ANY Buddhist path - or depending entirely upon Amida Buddha’s power.

You can read more about “the jewel Amida Buddha chose” in one of my recent posts examing Shinran’s great work, the KyoGyoShinSho.

It is one of the most BASIC ideas of the Larger Sutra - and of course of Shinran’s dharma teaching, because Shinran is the pre-eminent expositor of the dharma of the Larger Sutra.

Only those who have entrusted themselves in this way become people of authentic SHINJIN -the same TRUE ENTRUSTING as Shinran himself. Only people who have come to the same SHINJIN know - beyond any doubt - that their birth in the Pure Land is assured, because of Amida’s Primal Vow.

Such sure knowledge is a PRICELESS blessing - a bulwark against the rip tides of life that can sweep any of us away at any time - Buddhist or not, mature or not, learned or not.

Such sure knowledge is called “Salvation In The Present”. It is something that Eiken discusses powerfully and with great clarity right here:


My sincere wish for any sincere seeker of Buddha’s enlightenment is that we would ALL come to know reality of “Salvation In The Present” as our personal TRUTH - becoming after so many lifetimes a person of the exact same SHINJIN as Shinran himself.

Such SHINJIN cannot be earned. It is Amida Buddha’s GIFT to those who will only LISTEN.

There is no special practice. All that is required of you, of me, of anyone, is that we LISTEN DEEPLY. Listen deeply to this dharma - considering its relevance in your life.

You and I - and all of us - are called to liste with our logical mind to understand the content of what Shinran (and Eiken) are teaching. And you and I - and all of us - are called to listen with our hearts so we can feel deeply our own need for this gift of salvation that Amida Buddha offers to all - the good and evil alike -if only we will entrust ourselves to Him and His Primal Vow.

If we listen deeply, Amida Buddha will speak to us deep inside - because his life and light are infinite and omnipresent. Amida Buddha IS the Buddha of INFINITE life…and INFINITE light.

Continue to ask Kobai Sensei questions, dharma friend. He is a great gift to the sangha - and has been immensely helpful to me personally in giving me a clear and deep understanding of the dharma that I scarcely could have gotten any other way.

And of course, feel free to share what you are hearing from Eiken and even from me with your friends. The questions are just as relevant in their lives as in yours - and mine.



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