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Major Writings II - Nichiren Daishounin

Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins
Home
A Comparison of the Lotus Sutra and Other Sutras
A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering
Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment
Clear Sake Gosho
Letter to Niike
Letter to Domyo Zemmon
Letter to Akimoto
Letter from Sado
Reply to Nichigon-ama
Roots of Good Fortune
Reply to Jibu-bo
No Safety in the Threefold World - Nichiren Daishounin
Letter to Horen - Nichiren Daishounin
King Rinda - Nichiren Daishounin
Jozo and Jogen - Nichiren Daishounin
Bodhisattva Hachiman - Nichiren Daishounin
On Prayer - Nichiren Daishounin
The Opening of the Eyes Part I
The Opening of the Eyes Part II
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man Part II
Establishment of the Legitimate Teaching for the Protection of the Country
How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood Through the Lotus Sutra
The Learned Doctor Shan-wu-wei
The Entity of the Mystic Law
The Pure and Far-reaching Voice
Reply to Takahashi Nyudo
The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country
The Doctrine of Attaining Buddhahood in One's Present Form
Encouragement to a Sick Person
The Essence of the Yakuo Chapter
The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra
The Supreme Leader of the World
The Treasure of a Filial Child
The Supremacy of the Law
Reply to Nii-ama
The Workings of Bonten and Taishaku
The Story of Ohashi no Taro
The Teaching in Accordance with the Buddha's Own Mind
The Treatment of Illness and the Points of Difference between Mahayana and Hinayana and Provisional
Repaying Debts of Gratitude
On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings
On the Urabon
Letter to the Priests of Seicho-ji
Letter to Nichimyo Shonin
Letter to Shomitsu-bo
Questions and Answers on Embracing the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Sairen-bo
Rationale for Submitting the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Persecution by Sword and Staff
Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins
Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters
Reply to Lord Hakiri Saburo
Reply to Yasaburo
Letter to Ichinosawa Nyudo
Letter to Myomitsu Shonin
Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro
Wu-lung and I-lung
White Horses and White Swans
The Sutra of True Requital
The Kalpa of Decrease
The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream
The Third Doctrine
The One-eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log
Letter to Nakaoki Nyudo
General Stone Tiger
The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life
Lessening the Karmic Retribution
Letter to the Brothers
Hell is the Land of Tranquil Delight
On Prolonging Life
On the Buddha's Behavior
On the Buddha's Prophecy
On the Treasure Tower
Propagation by the Wise
The Embankments of Faith
The Dragon Gate
Strategy of the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Kyo-o
The Person and the Law
The One Essential Phrase
The Gift of Rice
The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon
Letter of Petition from Yorimoto
Introduction and Preface to the Ongi Kuden: Namu Myoho Renge Kyo [Devotion to the Lotus Sutra]
Muryogi Sutra [Sutra of Innumerable Meanings]
Chapter 3: Simile and Parable [Hiyu]
Chapter 4: Faith and Understanding [Shinge]
Chapter 6: Prediction [Juki]
Chapter 7: Phantom City [Kejoyu]
Chapter 8: Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples [Gohyaku Deshi Juki]

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, and others.

 


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 believe."

 


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 magnitude.

 


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 of reason.

 


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, she died.

 


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.

 


Nichiren

 

  

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The True Entity of Life
The One Essential Phrase
The Essence of the Juryo Chapter
The True Object of Worship
The Selection of the Time
The Problem to Be Pondered Night and Day
Reply to the Mother of Lord Ueno
The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings
Teaching, Practice, and Proof
On Omens
On Persecutions Befalling the Buddha
The Votary of the Lotus Sutra Will Meet Persecution
Thus I Heard
The Izu Exile
The Origin of the Urabon
The Royal Palace
The Meaning of Faith
The Third Day of the New Year
Reply to the Followers
The Causal Law of Life
The Swords of Good and Evil
The Teaching for the Latter Day
The Unmatched Fortune of the Law
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Letter to Konichi-bo
Letter to Misawa
An Outline of the Zokurui and Other Chapters
Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha Made by Shijo Kingo
Curing Karmic Disease
Admonitions Against Slander
Bestowal of the Mandala of the Mystic Law
The Receipt of New Fiefs
The Unity of Husband and Wife
Letter to Ko-no-ama Gozen
Winter Always Turns to Spring
On Filial and Unfilial Conduct
A Father Takes Faith
A Warning against Begrudging One's Fief
The Mongol Envoys
Reply to Tokimitsu
Reply to Myoho Bikuni Gozen
Beneficial Medicine for All Ills
A Sage Perceives the Three Existences of Life
The Proof of the Lotus Sutra
Letter to Jakunichi-bo
Aspiration for the Buddha Land
Reply to Lord Shijo Kingo
The Universal Salty Taste
Good Fortune in This Life
The Wealthy Man Sudatta
Letter to Gijo-bo
New Year's Gosho
Persecution at Tatsunokuchi
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Reply to Lord Matsuno's Wife
The Birth of Tsukimaro
Banishment to Sado
Great Evil and Great Good
Happiness In This World
Letter from Echi
Letter to Endo Saemon-no-jo
Letter to Priest Nichiro in Prison
On Flowers and Seeds
On Itai Doshin
Postscript to the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Reply to a Believer
Reply to Ko Nyudo
Reply to Lady Onichi-nyo
Reply to Lord Matsuno
Rissho Ankoku Ron
The Difficulty of Sustaining Faith
The Offering of a Summer Robe
The Property of Rice
The Wonderful Means of Surmounting Obstacles
Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward
Upholding Faith in the Gohonzon
The Drum at the Gate of Thunder

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