On the Great Teacher Jikaku Chapter2

On the Great Teacher Jikaku Chapter2


How deplorable is the way that the Great Teacher Jikaku interprets the word “Crown” in the title of the Diamond Crown Sutra! He states: “The word ‘Crown’ means that, among all the doctrines of the great vehicle, this one is the finest of all. Nothing can surpass it, and therefore it is called the Crown. . . . Just as in the human body, the crown or head is the most superior part. . . . The Lotus Sutra says, ‘These phenomena are part of an abiding Law2—now this secret principle is herein clearly explained. Therefore it is called the Diamond Crown Sutra.”3

And he also says, “Just as diamonds are the most precious of all jewels, so is this sutra among all the sutras. Among all the sutra doctrines, it is the foremost, the jewel in the topknot of the Thus Come Ones of the three existences.”4

The meaning of this interpretation is that the Lotus Sutra is to be robbed of its title as foremost among all the sutra doctrines and that that title is to be bestowed upon the Diamond Crown Sutra. Not only that, but the assertion that the crown or head is the most superior part of the human body means that the head of the Lotus Sutra is to be cut off and the head of this True Word sutra accepted in its place. This is like cutting off the head of a crane and substituting the head of a frog. And if this is done, one will see that the frog that is the True Word has died, and the crane that is the Lotus Sutra has been left headless.

This interpretation [of Jikaku] appears strange to the eyes of one who has been born in a human body. The udumbara flower, which blooms only once in three thousand years, can only be recognized by a wheel-turning king. Unless one is a Buddha who has reached the stage of ultimate enlightenment, one cannot recognize these enemies of the Lotus Sutra. But I have come to discern the foes of the one vehicle as though they were revealed to me in a dream.

Just where the grave of the Great Teacher Jikaku is located is a matter of uncertainty. Popular accounts say that his head is buried at the temple Risshaku-ji5 in the province of Dewa. If this is so, it would seem that his head and his body are buried in different places. One may recall that the chief priest Myōun had his head cut off by Minamoto no Yoshinaka.


This is a reply to Ōta Jōmyō of Shimōsa Province, who had sent donations of money and a priest’s surplice to Nichiren Daishonin at Minobu. It is dated simply the twenty-seventh day of the first month, but it is thought to have been written in 1280.

Acknowledging receipt of Ōta’s offerings, the Daishonin refers Ōta to another letter, which he wrote to a follower named Akimoto, for doctrinal details. He then expresses delight at the rare opportunity of having encountered the Lotus Sutra and grasped the supremacy of its teaching. Next he addresses the erroneous interpretation of Jikaku, the third chief priest of Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Tendai school, which held that the esoteric Diamond Crown Sutra is the “crown,” or supreme, among sutras, ranking above the Lotus Sutra. The Daishonin compares Jikaku’s usurping of the Lotus Sutra’s supreme status and assigning it to the True Word sutras to cutting off the head of a crane and trying to substitute the head of a frog, which ends in the death of both. He indicates that it appears that the head and the body of Jikaku are buried in different places, and that that reminds one of the fact that Myōun, who was both the fifty-fifth and the fifty-seventh chief priest of Enryaku-ji, had been killed.

Dengyō, the founder, and his two successors, Gishin and Enchō, respectively the first and second chief priests of Enryaku-ji, regarded the Lotus Sutra as the primary teaching and the True Word sutras as subordinate, but this view was inverted by Jikaku, the third chief priest. Since the time of Myōun, a latter-day successor of Jikaku, all the chief priests of the Tendai school became chief priests of the True Word teaching, the Daishonin says. In closing he admonishes his disciples to be aware of this fault within the Tendai school, and to bear in mind that those chief priests who upheld the True Word doctrines are the enemies of all the Buddhas and gods.


2. Lotus Sutra, chap. 2.

3. A Commentary on the Diamond Crown Sutra.

4. Ibid.

5. A temple of the Tendai school, which Jikaku founded in 860 as an annex to its head temple Enryaku-ji.

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