The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream
I have received one kan of coins and respectfully reported in the presence of the Lotus Sutra that this
is an offering from Yorimoto. I believe that from afar, Lord Shakyamuni, Taho Buddha and the Buddhas of the ten directions,
and close at hand, the gods of the sun and moon in their heavenly palaces, will certainly watch over you.
If someone excels in this world, even those who are regarded as worthies and sages, to say nothing of ordinary
people, will all become jealous and bear grudges against that person. Three thousand court ladies harbored jealousy against
Wang Chao-chun, the favorite of the emperor of the Han dynasty. Taishaku’s consorts, who numbered nine million nine
hundred thousand nayuta, all envied Kyoshika. Minister Fujiwara no Saneyori bore a grudge against Imperial Prince Kaneakira,
and Fujiwara no Tokihira, jealous of Sugawara no Michizane, spoke falsely of him to the emperor, causing him to be exiled.
Consider your own situation in light of these examples. Your lord Ema Nyudo’s domain used to be vast,
but has now diminished. He has many sons who could succeed him, and there are also many retainers who have long served him.
His retainers must be possessed by growing envy, just as fish become agitated when the water of their pond decreases and birds
vie with one another to secure branches when autumn winds begin to blow. Moreover, since you have disobeyed your lord and
gone against his wishes from time to time, the calumnies made to him against you must have been all the more numerous. However,
even though you have been forced to relinquish your fief time and again, in your letter you said that he has now conferred
an estate upon you. This is indeed wondrous. This is precisely what is meant by the statement that unseen virtue brings about
visible reward. It must have happened because of your profound sincerity in trying to lead your lord to faith in the Lotus
King Ajatashatru, though once the Buddha’s enemy, came to take faith in the Lotus Sutra at the urging
of his minister Jivaka so that he was able to prolong his life and continue his rule. King Myoshogon corrected his mistaken
views at the exhortation of his two sons. The same is true in your case. Lord Ema has now softened probably as a result of
your admonishment. This is solely because of your deep faith in the Lotus Sutra.
The deeper the roots, the more luxuriant the branches. The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream. All
sutras other than the Lotus Sutra have shallow roots and short streams, while the Lotus Sutra has deep roots and a distant
source. That is why the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai stated that the Lotus Sutra would survive and spread even in
the evil latter age.
Many people have taken faith in this teaching. But since great persecutions, both official and otherwise,
have repeatedly befallen me, though these people followed me a year or two, many of them later abandoned their faith, and
some even turned against the Lotus Sutra. Some of them outwardly maintain their practice but cherish doubt in their hearts,
while others may continue to believe in their hearts but have abandoned their practice.
Shakyamuni Buddha, the heir to King Shuddhodana, was a great king who reigned over the world’s 84,210
countries. All kings of the entire world bowed to him, and he had ten myriad million servants. Nevertheless, he left the palace
of King Shuddhodana at the age of nineteen and entered Mount Dandaka, where he was to carry out austerities for twelve years.
At that time he was attended by five men: Ajnata Kaundinya, Ashvajit), Bhadrika, Dashabala Kashyapa and Mahanama. Of these
five, however, two left Shakyamuni during the sixth year, while the remaining three deserted him in the next six years [no
longer able to believe in him]. Alone, Shakyamuni continued his practice and became the Buddha.
The Lotus Sutra is even more difficult to believe [than Shakyamuni] and therefore the sutra itself states
that it is ". . . the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand." Moreover, in the Latter Day of the
Law, persecutions are far more frequent and intense than in the lifetime of Shakyamuni Buddha. The sutra states that a votary
who perseveres despite these adversities will gain benefits greater than those obtained by making offerings to the Buddha
for an entire aeon.
It is now some 2,230 years since the Buddha’s passing. Those who spread Buddhism in India for more
than a thousand years following his death are recorded in history without omission and those who disseminated Buddhism in
China for a thousand years and in Japan for seven hundred are also clearly listed. Very few of them, however, met persecutions
as terrible as those of the Buddha. Many described themselves as worthy men or sages, but not one of them has ever lived the
sutra’s prediction: "[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?" Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo met great
persecutions for the sake of Buddhism, but none as great as those the Buddha describes in the sutra. This is because they
were born before the time when the Lotus Sutra is to be spread.
We have now already entered "the last five hundred years," or the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law.
This time period is like the sun at the summer solstice on the fifteenth day of the fifth month or the harvest moon on the
fifteenth day of the eighth month. T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo were born too early to see it; those born after will
regret that they came too late.
The main force of the enemy has already been defeated, and the remainder is no match for me. Now is the
very time which the Buddha predicted: "the last five hundred years," "the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law" and the
age indicated by the passage, "How much worse will it be in the world after his passing?" If the Buddha’s words are
not false, a sage must certainly have appeared in this world. According to the sutras, the greatest war the world has ever
seen will break out as a sign of this sage’s advent, and since such a war has already occurred, the sage must already
have appeared in this world. The appearance of a legendary beast called ch’i-lin told Chinese contemporaries that Confucius
was a sage, and there is no doubt that the resounding of a village shrine heralds a sage’s coming. When the Buddha made
his advent in this world, the growth of sandalwood informed his contemporaries that he was a sage. Lao Tzu was recognized
as a sage because at birth the sole of one foot was marked with the Chinese character "two" and the other with the character
Then how does one recognize the sage of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law? The sutra states that
a person who can preach and embrace the Lotus Sutra is the Buddha’s envoy. In other words, one who embraces the eight
volumes, or a single volume, chapter or verse, of the Lotus Sutra, or who chants the daimoku, is the Buddha’s emissary.
Also, one who perseveres through great persecutions and embraces the sutra from beginning to end is the Buddha’s emissary.
My mind may not be that of the Buddha’s envoy, since I am but a common mortal. However, since I have
incurred the hatred of the three powerful enemies and been exiled twice, I am like the Buddha’s envoy. Though my mind
is steeped in the three poisons and my body is that of a common mortal, because my mouth chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I am
like the Buddha’s envoy. If I seek an example in the past, I may be likened to Bodhisattva Fukyo. If I look at the present,
I have been living the sutra’s description of persecution "by swords and staves, tiles and stones." In the future, I
will doubtless arrive at the place of enlightenment, and those who have sustained me will also dwell together in the pure
land of Eagle Peak. I have many other things to tell you, but I will stop here and leave the rest for you to conclude.
The ailing acolyte has recovered, which makes me very happy. Daishin Ajari died exactly as you foresaw.
Everyone here praises you, saying that even a latter-day Jivaka would be no match for you. I think they may well be right.
We have been telling each other that your predictions about Sammi-bo and Soshiro have come true exactly, just as two tallies
match precisely. I entrust my life to you and will consult no other physician.
The fifteenth day of the ninth month in the first year of Koan (1278)