Law-devouring hungry spirit ［食法餓鬼］ ( jikihō-gaki): One of the thirty-six types of hungry spirits listed in the Meditation on the Correct Teaching Sutra. According to this sutra, one who preaches the Buddhist Law, or teachings, out of the desire to gain fame or profit is reborn as a Law-devouring hungry spirit. The sutra details the karmic causes of Law-devouring hungry spirits. During their lives as human beings, they are so greedy that they expound teachings to the people for the purpose of earning a livelihood and accumulating riches. They violate the precepts and have no respect for the Buddhist Law. They expound impure and erroneous teachings and propagate false views; for instance, the view that, though one may rob others of their possessions, one will not be subject to retribution. While disseminating false views, they accumulate riches that they use only for their own benefit. As a result, in the next life they are reborn as Law-devouring hungry spirits.
In The Origin of the Service for Deceased Ancestors, a letter written in 1271, Nichiren applies this term to certain priests, saying: “Law-devouring hungry spirits are people who renounce the world and spread Buddhism. They think that if they preach the Law people will respect them, and because of their ambition for fame and profit, they spend their entire present lifetime striving to be thought of as better than others. They neither help other human beings nor have a mind to save their parents. Such people are called Law-devouring hungry spirits, or hungry spirits who use the Buddhist teachings to satisfy their own desires” (191).