Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins
I have read your letter carefully. In the past as well, when I was exiled to the province of Izu on account
of the Lotus Sutra, I rejoiced at heart, though when I say so I suppose people will think that I am speaking immodestly.
If, since the beginningless past, I had ever incurred blame for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, whether I
was sincerely devoted to it or not, would I then have been born in this lifetime as a mere common mortal? [Therefore, when
I was condemned to exile,] though I felt downcast for a while, seeing that it was for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, I was also
delighted, for I thought that I might thereby eradicate to some small extent the sins of my previous existences. However,
the various grave offenses represented by the ten evil acts, the four major offenses, the six major offenses, the eight major
offenses, the ten major offenses, the five sins that condemn one to the hell of incessant suffering, the slander of the True
Law, and the sin of incorrigible disbelief, accumulated since the beginningless past, must be huger than huge mountains, deeper
than the great sea.
When it comes to the five cardinal sins, the commission of even one of them will condemn one to the hell
of incessant suffering for the space of an entire kalpa. A kalpa is the length of time it takes for the life span of human
beings to decrease from eighty thousand years to ten years, decreasing at the rate of one year every hundred years, and then
to increase again to eighty thousand years at the same rate. One who murders one's parent will fall into the hell of incessant
suffering and undergo its terrible pain without a moment's respite for such a period of time.
As for the person who slanders the Lotus Sutra, though he may not be serious at heart, if he so much as
manifests the outward appearance of animosity, or if he disparages the sutra even in jest, or if he makes light, not of the
sutra itself, but of those who act in its name, then, the sutra says, he will fall into the hell of incessant suffering for
countless kalpas of the kind described above.
The people who cursed and struck Bodhisattva Fukyo at first behaved with such animosity, though later they
took faith and became followers of the Lotus Sutra, looking up to Fukyo and treating him with great respect, honoring him
as the heavenly deities would Taishaku, and standing in awe of him as we do the sun and moon. However, they were unable to
wipe out the great offense of their initial slander, so that for a thousand kalpas they were condemned to the Avichi Hell,
and for twenty billion kalpas they were abandoned by the three treasures.
If one were to liken the [retribution for the] five cardinal sins and slander of the Law to illness, then
the five cardinal sins would be comparable to sunstroke, which affects one suddenly. Slander of the Law, on the other hand,
is like white leprosy, which does not appear to be so serious at first, but bit by bit becomes very serious indeed. Those
persons who commit slander of the Law are in most cases reborn in the hell of incessant suffering, or, in some few cases,
in one of the six lower paths. If they are reborn in the realm of human beings, then, the sutra tells us, they will suffer
on account of poverty, low status, white leprosy and so forth.
When I, Nichiren, hold up the bright mirror of the Lotus Sutra before my own person, all is spotlessly
revealed, and there can be no doubt that, in my previous existences, I was guilty of slandering the Law. If in my present
existence I do not wipe out that offense, then in the future how can I escape the pains of hell?
How could I gather together all the grave offenses that I have accumulated in age after age since the
far distant past and eradicate them all in my present lifetime, so that I may be spared great pain in the future? When I pondered
this question, it occurred to me that now, in the present age [of the Latter Day of the Law,] slanderers of the Law fill every
province of the nation. What is more, the ruler of the nation is himself the foremost perpetrator of such slander. If in such
a time I do not expunge these heavy sins, then at what time can I expect to do so?
Now if I, Nichiren, insignificant person that I am, were to go here and there throughout the country of
Japan denouncing these slanders, then innumerable persons among the four categories of Buddhists who follow erroneous doctrines
would in one instant join their innumerable voices in reviling me. At that time the ruler of the nation, allying himself with
those monks who slander the Law, would come to hate me and try to have me beheaded or order me into exile. And if this sort
of thing were to occur again and again, then the grave offenses that I have accumulated over countless kalpas could be wiped
out within the space of a single lifetime. Such, then, was the great plan that I conceived; and it is now proceeding without
the slightest deviation. So when I find myself thus sentenced to exile, I can only feel that my wishes are being fulfilled.
Nevertheless, being no more than a common mortal, I have at times been apt to regret having embarked upon
such a course. And if even I am beset by such feelings, then how much more so in the case of a woman such as your wife, who
is ignorant of all the circumstances surrounding the matter! Persons like you and her do not fully comprehend the Buddhist
teachings, and it pains me to think how greatly you must regret that you ever elected to follow Nichiren. And yet, contrary
to what one might expect, I hear that you two are even firmer and more dedicated in your faith than I myself, which is indeed
no ordinary matter! I wonder if Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, himself may have entered and taken possession of your hearts,
and it moves me so that I can barely restrain my tears.
The Great Teacher Miao-lo says in his commentary (Hokke Mongu Ki, seven): "Therefore we know that if,
in the latter age, one is able to hear the Law even briefly, and if, having heard it, one then arouses faith in it, this comes
about because of the seeds -planted in a previous existence." And he also says (Maka Shikan Bugyoden Guketsu, two): "Being
born at the end of the Middle Day of the Law, I have been able to behold these true words of the sutra. Unless in a previous
existence one has planted the seeds of auspicious causation, then it is truly difficult to encounter such an opportunity."
During the first forty or more years of his teaching life, Shakyamuni kept secret the five characters
of Myoho-renge-kyo. Not only that, he still remained silent concerning them when he preached the first fourteen chapters of
the Lotus Sutra, which comprise the theoretical teaching. It was only with the Juryo chapter that he spoke openly regarding
the two characters renge, which [represent the five characters Myoho-renge-kyo and] indicate the True Effect and the True
Cause. The Buddha did not entrust these five characters to Monju, Fugen, Miroku, Yakuo or the others of their group. Instead
he summoned forth the bodhisattva Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jyogyo, Anryugyo and their followers from the great earth of Tranquil Light
and transferred the five characters to them.
What took place then was no ordinary ceremony. The Tathagata Taho, who lives in the world of Treasure
Purity, made his appearance, seated in a tower that emerged from the earth and was adorned with seven kinds of gems. Shakyamuni
Buddha purified four hundred billion nayuta worlds in addition to this major world system, planted them with rows of jewel
trees measuring five hundred yojana high at intervals of an arrow's flight, placed a lion throne five yojana in height beneath
each jewel tree, and seated on these thrones all the Buddhas from the ten directions, who were his emanations.
Thereupon Shakyamuni Buddha removed his dusty robe, opened the Treasure Tower, and took a seat beside
the Tathagata Taho. It was as though the sun and moon were to appear side by side in the blue sky, or as though Taishaku and
the King Born from the Crown of the Head were to sit together in the Hall of the Good Law. Monju and the other bodhisattvas
of this world, as well as Kannon and the other bodhisattvas of the other worlds, were gathered together in open space throughout
the ten directions like so may stars filling the sky.
At this time there were gathered together in this place the great bodhisattvas such as Dharma Wisdom,
Forest of Merits, Diamond Banner, Diamond Repository and others, equal in number to the dust particles of the worlds of the
ten directions, who had gathered at the seven places and eight assemblies of the Kegon Sutra and were disciples of Vairochana
Buddha who sits on the lotus pedestal of the worlds of the ten directions; the Buddhas and bodhisattvas who had gathered like
clouds at the Great Treasure Chamber when the Hodo sutras were preached; Subhuti, Taishaku and the thousand Buddhas who had
gathered to hear the Hannya sutras; the four Buddhas and four bodhisattvas, belonging to the nine honored ones on the eight-petaled
lotus, who appear in the Dainichi sutra; the thirty-seven honored ones of the Kongocho Sutra; and the Buddhas and bodhisattvas
of the worlds of the ten directions who gathered at the city of Kushinagara to listen to the Nirvana Sutra. All these figures
were recognized by Monju, Miroku and the others of their group, who talked together with them, so it appeared that the
great bodhisattvas Monju and Miroku were quite accustomed to their being in attendance.
But after those four bodhisattvas who emerged from the earth had made their appearance, then Bodhisattva
Monjushiri, whose teaching Shakyamuni Buddha was the ninth to inherit, and who is the mother of the Buddhas of the three existences,
as well as Bodhisattva Miroku, who will succeed Shakyamuni Buddha after his next rebirth - when these two, Monju and Miroku,
stood beside these four bodhisattvas, they seemed to be of no significance whatsoever. They were like humble woodsmen mingling
in the company of exalted lords, or like apes and monkeys seating themselves by the side of lions.
Shakyamuni summoned the four bodhisattvas and entrusted them with the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo.
And this entrustment, too, was no ordinary affair, for the Buddha first manifested ten mystic powers. When Shakyamuni extended
his long broad tongue upward as far as the limit of the world of form, all the other Buddhas did likewise, so that the tongues
of the Buddhas extended up into the air above the four hundred billion nayuta worlds like a hundred, thousand, ten thousand,
hundred thousand red rainbows filling the sky. Marvelous indeed was the sight!
In this manner the Buddha displayed the wonders of his ten mystic powers, and, in what is termed the transfer
of the essence, he extracted the heart and core of the Lotus Sutra and transferred it to the bodhisattvas. He fervently enjoined
them to bestow it after his passing upon all beings of the ten directions. After that, he again manifested yet another mystic
power and entrusted this sutra, the Lotus, and the other sacred teachings preached during his lifetime, to Monju and the other
bodhisattvas of this and other worlds, to the persons of the two vehicles, and to the heavenly and human beings, dragon deities,
These five characters Myoho-renge-kyo were not entrusted even to Mahakashyapa, Shariputra or the other
disciples, though these men had from the outset attended the Buddha as closely as a shadow follows the form. But even setting
that aside, why did the Buddha refuse to entrust them to the bodhisattvas such as Monju and Miroku? Even though they may have
been lacking in capability, it would seem unlikely that he should reject them. There are in truth many puzzling aspects about
the matter. But the fact was that the bodhisattvas from other worlds were rejected because their connection with this world
was slight; or in other cases, although the bodhisattvas were of this saha world, they had only recently established connections
with this world; or in still other cases, some were rejected because, although they were disciples of the Buddha, they had
not been among his disciples when he first aroused the aspiration for enlightenment [in the remote past]. Thus among those
who had been his disciples during the forty or more years preceding the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, or during the
preaching of the theoretical teaching, the first fourteen chapters of the Lotus Sutra, there was not one who could be called
an original disciple. We see from the sutra that only these four bodhisattvas had been the disciples of Shakyamuni, the lord
of teachings, since the remote past of gohyaku-jintengo; from the time he had first aroused the aspiration for enlightenment,
they had never followed any other Buddha, nor had they required the instruction of the theoretical and essential teachings.
Thus T'ien-t'ai says: "[The great assembly] witnessed the Bodhisattvas of the Earth alone making this
pledge." And he also states: "These are my [Shakyamuni's] disciples, destined to propagate my Law." Miao-lo says: "The sons
will disseminate the Law of the father." And Tao-hsien states: "Because the Law is that realized by the Buddha in the remote
past, it was transferred to those who were his disciples in that distant time." Thus the five characters Myoho-renge-kyo were
entrusted to these four bodhisattvas.
Nevertheless, after the Buddha's passing, during the thousand years of the Former Day of the Law, the
thousand years of the Middle Day of the Law, and the two hundred twenty or more years that have elapsed since the beginning
of the Latter Day of the Law, nowhere in India, China, Japan or any other place in the entire world have these four bodhisattvas
so much as once made their appearance. Why is that?
Bodhisattva Monjushiri, though he was not specifically entrusted with the teachings of Myoho-renge-kyo,
remained in this world for four hundred fifty years following the passing of the Buddha to spread the Mahayana sutras, and
even in the ages thereafter he from time to time descended from the Fragrant Mountain or Mount Clear and Cool, assuming the
form of an eminent monk in order to propagate the Buddhist teachings. Bodhisattva Yakuo took form of the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai,
[Bodhisattva] Kanzeon became the Great Teacher Nan-yueh, and Bodhisattva Miroku became Fu Ta-shih. Moreover, the disciples
Mahakashyapa and Ananda worked to spread the teachings of the Buddha after his passing for twenty and forty years, respectively.
And yet in all this time, the Buddha's legitimate heirs, to whom the teachings of Myoho-renge-kyo had been entrusted, failed
to make their appearance.
During this period of twenty-two hundred years and more, worthy rulers and sage rulers have honored painted
images or wooden images of Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, as their principal object of worship. But although they have
made depictions of the Buddhas of the Hinayana and the Mahayana teachings; of the Kegon, Nirvana and Kammuryoju sutras; of
the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra and of the Fugen Sutra; of the Buddha of the Dainichi and the other Shingon sutras;
and of the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Taho of the Hoto chapter, the Shakyamuni of the Juryo chapter has never been depicted in
any mountain temple or monastery anywhere. It is very difficult to fathom why this should be.
Shakyamuni Buddha made specific reference to the fifth five hundred years and never designated the two
thousand years of the Former and Middle Days of the Law as the time for the propagation of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher
T'ien-t'ai said: "In the fifth five hundred years, the Mystic Way shall spread and benefit mankind far into the future," indicating
that its propagation should be left to the future. The Great Teacher Dengyo wrote: "The Former and Middle Days are almost
over, and the Latter Day is near at hand." In this way, he himself judged that the close of the Middle Day of the Law was
not yet the time for the propagation of the Lotus Sutra.
Are we to assume, then, that the countless great bodhisattvas who sprang up from the earth intend to remain
silent and unmoving and to go back upon the promise that they made when the teachings were entrusted to them by Shakyamuni,
Taho and the other Buddhas of the ten directions?
Yet even the worthy men described in the non-Buddhist scriptures know that one must await the time. The
cuckoo always waits until the fourth or fifth month to sing his song. Similarly, we read in the sutra that these great bodhisattvas
must likewise wait until the Latter Day of the Law to appear.
Why do I say this? Both the inner and outer scriptures make clear that, before a certain destined event
actually occurs, omens will always appear. Thus when the spider spins its web, it means that some happy event will take place,
and when the magpie calls, it means that a visitor will arrive. Even such minor events have their portents. How much more
so do major occurrences! Thus the six auspicious happenings described in the Jo chapter of the Lotus Sutra are great omens
exceeding in magnitude any other major signs appearing in the entire life of Shakyamuni Buddha. And the great omens described
in the Yujutsu chapter are immeasurably greater in magnitude than these.
Therefore, T'ien-t'ai says: "By observing the fury of the rain, we can tell the greatness of the dragon
that caused it, and by observing the flourishing of the lotus flowers, we can tell the depth of the pond in which they grow."
And Miao-lo states: "Wise men can see omens and what they foretell, as snakes know the way of snakes."
Now I, too, in discerning the significance of omens, must share some portion of the wise man's power.
The great earthquake that struck in the first year of the Shoka era (1257), (when the reverse marker of Jupiter was in the
sector of the sky with the cyclical sign hinoto-mi), on the twenty-third day of the eighth month, at the time when the Hour
of the Dog gives way to the Hour of the Boar (9:00 P.M.), and also the great comet that appeared in the first year of the
Bun'ei era (1264), (when the reverse marker was in the sector of the sky with the cyclical sign kinoe-ne), on the fourth day
of the seventh month - these are major portents such as have never before occurred during the twenty-two hundred or more years
since the Buddha's passing. I wonder if they are not great signs indicating that those great bodhisattvas are now about to
make their appearance in this world bearing the great Law.
Ten-feet-high waves do not rise up in a foot-wide pond, and the braying of a donkey cannot cause the winds
to blow. Though the government of Japan today is in chaos and the common people cry out in distress, such conditions alone
could scarcely cause the appearance of such major omens. Who knows but what these are great signs foretelling that though
the Lotus Sutra has perished, it is in fact eternal!
During the two thousand and more years [since the Buddha's passing], there have been evil rulers who were
cursed by their subjects and traitorous persons who were hated by all. But Nichiren, though guilty of no fault, has without
respite for the past twenty years and more been cursed and abused, assaulted with swords and staves, and stoned with rocks
and tiles, by people both high and low. This is no common affair!
Mine is like the case of Bodhisattva Fukyo, who, toward the end of the Law of the Buddha Ionno, was cursed
and reviled over a period of many years. Moreover, Shakyamuni Buddha cited the example of this bodhisattva and predicted that,
in the Latter Day of the Law, after his own passing, events would unfold in the same manner as in Fukyo's time. And yet whether
here close at hand in Japan or whether in the far distant land of China, such a thing has never yet been known to happen for
the sake of the Lotus Sutra.
Because people hate me, they do not mention the significance of my suffering. If I mention it myself,
it may seem to be self-adulation. If I fail to mention it, however, I will commit the offense of negating the Buddha's words.
I speak of it because to hold one's own life lightly but to value the Law is the way of a worthy man.
I, Nichiren, resemble Bodhisattva Fukyo. Whether the ruler of a nation murders his parents or a lowly
subject does away with his father and mother, though the murderers differ greatly in social position, because the crime is
identical, both will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. Similarly, though Bodhisattva Fukyo is destined to attain
Buddhahood, can there be any doubt that I will gain the fruit of Buddhahood as well?
Bodhisattva Fukyo was cursed by arrogant monks who observed all the two hundred and fifty precepts. I,
Nichiren, am slandered and reviled by Ryokan, who is known as the foremost observer of the precepts. The monks who cursed
Fukyo, though they followed him in the end, still had to suffer in the Avichi Hell for one thousand kalpas. But Ryokan has
yet to seek my teachings. Hence I do not know [the full gravity of his offense]. He may be destined to suffer in hell for
countless kalpas. Pitiful! Pitiful!
Question: With regard to the great earthquake that occurred in the Shoka era, in your admonitory essay,
the "Rissho Ankoku Ron," which you entrusted to Yadoya Nyudo for submission to His Lordship, the late lay priest of Saimyo-ji,
on the sixteenth day of the seventh month in the first year of the Bunno era (1260), (when the reverse marker of Jupiter was
in the sector of the sky with the cyclical sign kanoe-saru), you stated your opinion that heaven and earth had become angered
because people in Japan were destroying Buddhism by their reliance on Honen's Senchaku Shu, and that this error would bring
about rebellion within the country and invasion from countries abroad. But now you say that the earthquake was an auspicious
omen of the propagation of the Lotus Sutra. How do you explain the discrepancy between these two views?
Answer: That is a very good question. The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra says: "Since hatred and jealousy
toward this sutra abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing!"
And in the seventh volume, referring again to the time "after his passing" when things will be "much worse," the Buddha says:
"In the fifth five hundred years after my death, widely declare and spread [the Lotus Sutra]." So we see that the hatred that
abounds after the passing of the Buddha will come about in the fifth five hundred years when Myoho-renge-kyo will spread.
And immediately following the above passage, the Buddha warns of dangers from "the devil, the devil's people, or the deities,
dragons, yakshas and kumbhandas."
When the chief priest Hsing-man laid eyes on the Great Teacher Dengyo, he exclaimed, "The sacred words
will not become extinct. Now I have encountered this man! All the doctrines that I have learned I will transfer to this acharya
from the country of Japan." And the situation today is just the same. Now, in the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law,
the time has come for the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo to be propagated so that all persons throughout the country of
Japan may receive the seed of the Buddha's teachings.
When a woman of low station becomes pregnant with the ruler's child, the other women grow jealous and angered.
And when a person of humble background is presented with a jewel from the king's crown, then great troubles are bound to arise.
Thus the sutra says, "In the world at that time the people will resent [the Lotus Sutra] and find it extremely difficult to
The Nirvana Sutra declares: "If troubles are inflicted upon a sage, then the country where he dwells will
be attacked by other countries." And the Ninno Sutra states essentially the same thing. If I, Nichiren, am attacked, then
from heaven and earth and the four directions, great calamities will pour down like rain, jet up like fountains, or come surging
forward like waves. If the crowd of monks, those hordes of locusts who afflict the nation, and the ministers in power in the
government persist in their ever-increasing slanders and accusations against me, then great disasters will occur in growing
When an asura demon tried to shoot at the god Taishaku, his arrow rebounded and pierced him in the eye.
And when the garuda birds attempt to attack the dragon king Anavatapta, flames erupt from their own bodies and consume them.
Is the votary of the Lotus Sutra inferior to Taishaku or the dragon king Anavatapta?
The Great Teacher Chang-an wrote: "He who destroys or brings confusion to the Buddhist Law is an enemy
of the Law. If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, he is in fact his enemy." And he also says:
"He who makes it possible for the offender to rid himself of evil thus acts like a parent to the offender."
All the people throughout Japan have been led astray by the wild assertions of Honen, who tells them to
"discard, close, ignore and abandon" [all sutras other than the sutras of his sect], or of the men of the Zen sect, who speak
of a "special transmission outside the sutras," so that there is not a single one who is not destined to fall into the great
citadel of the hell of incessant suffering. So believing, over the past twenty years and more I have never ceased to cry out
in a loud voice against these errors, fearing neither the ruler of the nation nor the common people. I am in no way inferior
to the outspoken ministers Lung-p'eng and Pi Kan of old. I am like the thousand-armed Kannon, the bodhisattva of great compassion,
who strives to rescue at once all the beings confined to the hell of incessant suffering.
When several children are caught in a fire, though the parents wish to save them all at the same time,
having only two arms, they must decide which child to save first and which to leave until after. [The true teaching of the
Buddha] is a parent with a thousand arms, ten thousand arms, or a hundred thousand arms. The sutras preached before the Lotus
Sutra have only one or two arms, as it were. But the Lotus Sutra, which "instructs all living beings, causing them all to
enter the Buddha Way," is a veritable bodhisattva of innumerable arms.
If we go by the Lotus Sutra and the commentary of Chang-an, then Nichiren is a compassionate father and
mother to all the people of Japan. Heaven may be lofty, but it has sharp ears and can hear what is happening. Earth may be
deep, but it has keen eyes with which to observe. Heaven and earth by now know [how the situation stands]. And yet I, who
am father and mother to all people, am cursed and reviled and sent into exile. The abuses of government that have taken place
in this country in the past two or three years are such as have never been heard of in former ages, and exceed all bounds
In your letter you mentioned your filial devotion to your deceased mother. Reading it, I was so moved
that I could barely hold back my tears.
Long ago in China there were five young men, including Yuan-chung. They had originally been strangers from
different districts and had different surnames, but they took a vow to be brothers and never turned against one another, and
in time they amassed three thousand in treasure.
All the young men were orphans and, grieved at this fact, when they met an old woman along the road, they
decided to honor her as their mother. They did so for twenty-four years, never going against her wishes in the slightest.
Then the mother suddenly fell ill and was unable to speak. The five sons gazed up at the sky and said,
"Our efforts to care for our mother have not been appreciated, and she has been seized by an illness that prevents her from
speaking. If Heaven will grant our filial feelings any recognition, we pray that it will restore the power of speech to her."
At that time the mother said to her five sons, "In past times I was the daughter of a man named Yang Meng
of the district of T'ai-yuan. I was married to one Chang Wen-chien of the same district, but he died. At that time, I had
a son named Wu-i. When he was seven rebellion broke out in the area, and I do not know what became of him. You, my five sons,
have taken care of me for twenty-four years, but I have never told you of this. My son Wu-i had markings like the seven stars
of the Big Dipper on his chest, and on the sole of his right foot he had a black mole." When she had finished saying this,
As the five sons were accompanying her body to the burial ground, they encountered the magistrate of the
district along the road. The magistrate happened to drop a bag containing important documents, and the five young men, being
accused of stealing it, were arrested and bound. When the magistrate confronted them, he demanded, "Who are you?" whereupon
the five young men told him all they had learned from their mother.
When he heard this, the magistrate almost toppled from his seat, gazing up at the heavens, then bowing
to the earth in tears. He freed the five men from their bonds, led them to his seat, and said, "I am Wu-i, and it was my mother
you took care of! For these past twenty-four years I have known many pleasures, but because I could never cease thinking about
my beloved mother, they were never real pleasures to me!" In time he presented the five men to the ruler of the country, and
each was appointed to be the head of a prefecture.
In this way, even strangers were rewarded when they came together and treated someone as a parent. How
much more so will be the case with actual brothers and sisters when they treat each other kindly and take care of their own
father and mother! How could Heaven possibly fail to approve?
Jozo and Jogen used the Lotus Sutra to lead their father, who held erroneous views, to salvation. Devadatta
was an enemy of the Buddha, and was condemned by the sutras preached during the first forty or more years of the Buddha's
teaching life. The moment of his death was terrifying; the earth split open and he fell into the hell of incessant suffering.
But in the Lotus Sutra he was summoned back and received the prediction that he would become the Tathagata Heavenly King.
King Ajatashatru killed his father, but just before the Buddha entered nirvana, he heard the teachings of the Lotus Sutra
and was able to escape the great sufferings of the Avichi Hell.
This province of Sado is like the realm of beasts. Moreover, it is full of disciples of Honen who hate
me a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand or a hundred thousand times more than did the people of Kamakura. I am never certain
whether I am going to survive the day. But thanks to the warm support of both of you, I have managed to sustain my life thus
far. When I consider this, I suppose that since Shakyamuni, Taho, and the other Buddhas of the ten directions and great bodhisattvas
as well all make offerings and pay reverence to the Lotus Sutra, these Buddhas and bodhisattvas must be informing your parents
each hour of the night and day [that you are assisting me]. And the fact that you now enjoy your lord's favor must also be
due to the protection you receive from your parents.
Do not think of your siblings as siblings. Just think of them as your own children. It is true that, among
children, there are those like the young of the owl, which are said to eat their own mother, or like those of the hakei beast,
which watch for the chance to devour their own father. Though your own son Shiro takes care of his parents, if he is a bad
person, perhaps there is nothing to be done. However, even a stranger, if you open up your heart to him, may be willing to
lay down his life for you. So if you treat your younger brothers as though they were your own sons, they may become your allies
for life, and of course it will make a favorable impression on others as well. And if you likewise think of your younger sisters
as daughters, then why would they not respond with filial devotion?
When I was exiled to this place, I assumed that no one would come to visit me. But I have no fewer than
seven or eight persons with me here, and if it were not for your consideration, I do not know how we could manage to keep
the whole group in provisions. I am certain that this is all because the words of the Lotus Sutra have entered into your bodies
in order to give us aid. I am praying that, no matter how troubled the times may become, the Lotus Sutra and the ten demon
daughters will protect all of you, praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood or to obtain water from parched
ground. There are many other matters to be discussed, but I will close here.