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Major Writings II - Nichiren Daishounin

Letter to the Brothers
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]

Letter to the Brothers

- Kyodai Sho -

 

The Lotus Sutra is the heart of the eighty thousand teachings and the core of the twelve types of sutras. All the Buddhas, whether of the past, present or future, attain enlightenment because they take this sutra as their teacher. Throughout the universe, they lead the people with the sight they have obtained from the supreme vehicle. Entering the sutra repository and examining the complete collection contained therein, I found that there were two versions of the sutras and treatises brought to China between the Yung-p'ing era of the Latter Han and the end of the T'ang dynasty. There were 5,048 volumes of the older translations and 7,399 volumes of the newer translations. Each sutra, by virtue of its contents, claimed to be the highest teaching of all. However, comparison reveals that the Lotus Sutra is as superior to all the other sutras as heaven is to the earth. It rises above them like a cloud above the ground. If other sutras should be compared to stars, the Lotus Sutra is like the moon. If they are as torches, stars or the moon, the Lotus Sutra is then as bright as the sun.

 

More specifically, the Lotus Sutra contains twenty important principles. The first two are the teachings of sanzen-jintengo and gohyaku-jintengo. Sanzen-jintengo is explained in the seventh chapter entitled Kejoyu-hon. Suppose someone grinds a galaxy into dust. Then he takes this dust with him and goes one thousand galaxies toward the east, where he drops one particle. He then proceeds another thousand galaxies eastward and drops the second particle. He continues on in this manner, dropping another particle and another until he has exhausted the entire galaxy of dust particles. Then he gathers up all the galaxies along his journey, whether they received a particle or not, and reduces them all to dust. He places these dust particles in a row, allowing one entire aeon to pass for the placement of each particle. When the first aeon has passed he places the second particle, and then the third, until as many aeons have passed as there are particles of dust. The total length of time represented by the passage of all those aeons is called sanzen-jintengo.

 

It was this long ago--in the remote past indicated by sanzen-jintengo--that the three groups of Shakyamuni's disciples, including Shariputra, Mahakashyapa, Ananda and Rahula, learned the Lotus Sutra from a bodhisattva who was the sixteenth son of Daitsu Buddha. However, deluded by evil people, they eventually abandoned the Lotus Sutra. They fell back into the Kegon, Hannya, Daijuku or Nirvana Sutra, or further down into the Dainichi, Jinmitsu or Kanmuryoju Sutra, or even backslid to the Hinayana teachings of the Agon sutras. Continuing this descent, they fell down through relatively blessed lives of Rapture or Tranquility and finally into the paths of evil. During this period of sanzen-jintengo they were most often born into the hell of incessant suffering. Sometimes they were born in the seven major hells, or less frequently, in the hundred and some other hells. On very rare occasions they were born into lives of Hunger, Animality or Anger, and only after myriads of aeons they were able to be born again as humans into lives of Tranquility or Rapture.

 

The third chapter of the Lotus Sutra states, "They dwell in hell so long that they come to think it as natural as playing in a garden, and the other evil paths seem like their own home." Those who commit the ten evil acts fall into the hell of Tokatsu or Kokujo and there must spend five hundred lifetimes or one thousand hell-years. Those who commit the five cardinal sins fall into the hell of incessant suffering, and after staying there for one medium aeon, are born again in this world.

 

Why is it, then, that those who abandon the Lotus Sutra fall into the hell of incessant suffering and have to stay there for such an unimaginably great number of aeons? The sin of discarding one's faith in the sutra must at the time seem nowhere near as terrible as killing one's parents. However, even if one killed his parents in one, two, ten, one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand, one million or even one billion lifetimes, he would not have to remain in hell for a period as long as sanzen-jintengo. Even if one were to kill one, two, ten, one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand, or as many as one billion Buddhas, would he have to dwell in hell for as long as gohyaku-jintengo? The three groups of men of Learning, however, had to suffer through the period of sanzen-jintengo, and the great bodhisattvas, through that of gohyaku-jintengo, because of the sin they committed by discarding the Lotus Sutra. This shows what an unimaginably terrible sin it is.

 

To put this simply, if one strikes at the air, his fist will not hurt, but when he hits a rock, he feels pain. The sin of killing an evil person is minor, compared to the sin of killing a good person, which is grave. If one kills someone who is not his kin, it is like striking mud with his fist, but if he kills his own parents, it is like hitting a rock. A dog may bark at a deer and not have its skull broken, but if it barks at a lion, its intestines will rot. The Ashura tried to swallow the sun and the moon and had his head split into seven pieces. Because Devadatta harmed the Buddha, the earth split open and swallowed him alive. The seriousness of a sin depends on whom one harms.

 

The Lotus Sutra is the eye of every Buddha. It is the eternal master of Shakyamuni himself. If one discards one character or even a single dot, his sin is graver than that of one who kills his parents ten million times over, or even of one who sheds the blood of Buddhas everywhere in the universe. This is why those who forsook the Lotus Sutra had to suffer for as long as sanzen-jintengo or gohyaku-jintengo. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to meet a person who teaches this sutra exactly as it reads. It is even more difficult than for a one-eyed turtle to find a piece of floating sandalwood or for someone to dangle Mount Sumeru from the sky with a fiber from a lotus stem.

 

The Great Teacher Tz'u-en was the disciple of Priest Hsuan-chuang and the teacher of Emperor T'ai-tsung. He was a saint who was not only well-versed in the Sanskrit and Chinese scriptures but had memorized all of the Buddha's sutras. It is said of him that the Buddha's ashes fell from the tip of his writing brush and that light shone forth from his teeth. His contemporaries respected him as though he were the sun and the moon, and men in later ages earnestly sought out his teachings as guides for living. Even so, the Great Teacher Dengyo denounced him, writing, "Even though he praises the Lotus Sutra, he destroys its heart." The quotation means that even though he intended to praise the Lotus Sutra, in the end, he destroyed it.

 

Priest Shan-wu-wei was once the king of Udyana in India. He abdicated the throne, became a priest, and in the course of his Buddhist practice journeyed through more than fifty countries in India, finally mastering all the esoteric and exoteric teachings of Buddhism. Later he went to China and became the teacher of Emperor Hsuan-tsung. Every Shingon priest in both China and Japan has since become his follower. Though he was such a noble person, he died suddenly, tormented by Enma, the king of hell, although no one knows why.

 

Nichiren considers that this happened because Shan-wu-wei was at first a votary of the Lotus Sutra, but when he read the Dainichi Sutra, he declared it superior to the Lotus Sutra. Similarly, Shariputra, Maudgalyayana and others were not doomed to wander through the evil paths for the period of sanzen-jintengo or gohyaku-jintengo because they had committed the ten evils or the five cardinal sins. Nor was it because they had committed any of the eight rebellious acts. It was because they met someone who was an evil influence, and discarded the Lotus Sutra to take faith in the provisional teachings.

 

According to the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai, "If one befriends an evil person, he will lose his mind." "Mind" means the heart which believes in the Lotus Sutra, while "lose" means to betray one's faith in the Lotus Sutra and follow other sutras. The Lotus Sutra reads, "...but when they are given the medicine, they refuse to take it." The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai stated, "Those who had lost their minds would not take the excellent medicine, even though it was given them. Lost in suffering, they fled to other countries."

 

Since this is so, the believers of the Lotus Sutra should fear those who plague their practice more then they fear bandits, burglars, midnight killers, tigers, wolves or lions--even more than invasion by the Mongols. This world is the province of the Devil of the Sixth Heaven. All of its people have been related to him since time without beginning. He has not only built the prison of twenty-five realms within the six paths and confined all mankind, but also made wives and children into shackles and parents and sovereigns into nets that block off the skies. To confound the Buddha nature which is the people's true mind, he causes them to drink the wine of greed, anger and stupidity, and feeds them nothing but poisoned dishes that leave them prostrate on the ground of the three evil paths. When he happens on one with a seeking mind, he acts to obstruct him. If he sees that he is powerless to make a believer in the Lotus Sutra fall into evil, he tries to deceive him gradually by luring him toward the Kegon Sutra, which resembles the Lotus Sutra. This was done by the priests Tu-shun, Chih-yen, Fa-tsang and Ch'eng-kuan. Then, the priests Chia-hsiang and Seng-ch'uan craftily deceived the believers in the Lotus Sutra into falling back upon the Hannya sutras. Hsuan-chuang and Tz'u-en led them toward the Jinmitsu Sutra, while Shan-wu-wei, Chin-kang-chih, Pu-k'ung, Kobo, Jikaku and Chisho deluded them into following the Dainichi Sutra. Bodhidharma and Hui-k'o caused them to stray into the Zen sect, while Shan-tao and Honen tricked them into believing the Kanmuryoju Sutra. In each case the Devil of the Sixth Heaven possessed these Buddhist scholars in order to deceive the believers, just as foretold in the Kanji chapter of the Lotus Sutra: "The devil enters one's body."

 

The devil of fundamental darkness can even enter the life of a bodhisattva who has reached the highest stage of practice and prevent him from attaining the Lotus Sutra's ultimate blessing--Buddhahood itself. Thus he can easily obstruct those in any lower stage of practice. The Devil of the Sixth Heaven enters the lives of a man's wife and children and deludes him. He also possesses the sovereign in order to threaten the votary of the Lotus Sutra, or causes parents to hinder the faith of devoted children.

 

Prince Siddhartha wanted to renounce his title, but his son, Rahula, had already been conceived. His father, King Shuddhodana, therefore admonished him to wait until after the child was born before he left to become a monk. However, a devil delayed the childbirth for six years.

 

In the distant past, Shariputra began his practice of bodhisattva austerities during the Latter Day of Sendara Buddha. He had already practiced for sixty aeons when the Devil of the Sixth Heaven became worried that in another forty aeons, Shariputra would complete his bodhisattva practice. The devil disguised himself as a Brahman, and begged Shariputra for his eye. Shariputra gave him an eye, but from that moment, he lost his will to practice and then gave up, thereby falling into the hell of incessant suffering for countless aeons. Sixty-eight million believers in the Latter Day of Daishogon Buddha were deceived by Priest Kugan and three other priests so that they denounced Priest Fuji and as a result fell into the same hell for as many aeons as there are particles of dust on earth. The men and women in the Latter Day of Shishionno Buddha followed Priest Shoi who observed the precepts, but mocked Kikon and also remained in hell for countless aeons.

 

It is the same with Nichiren's disciples. The Lotus Sutra reads, "Since hatred and jealousy abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?" It also reads, "The people will be full of hostility, and it will be extremely difficult to believe." The Nirvana Sutra reads, "By suffering sudden death, torture, slander or humiliation, beatings with a whip or rod, imprisonment, starvation, adversity or other relatively minor hardships in this lifetime, he will not have to fall into hell." The Hatsunaion Sutra reads, "You may be poorly clad and poorly fed, seek wealth in vain, be born to an impoverished or heretical family, or be persecuted by your sovereign. It is due to the blessings obtained by protecting the Law that one can diminish in this lifetime his suffering and retribution."

 

This means that we, who now believe in the True Law, once committed the sin of persecuting its votary in the past, and should therefore be destined to fall into a terrible hell in the future. However, the blessings gained by practicing the True Law are so great that we can change our karma to suffer terribly in the future by meeting relatively minor sufferings in this life. As the sutra describes, one's past slander may cause him to be born into a poor or heretical family or be persecuted by his sovereign. A "heretical family" is one which slanders the True Law and "persecution by one's sovereign" means to live under the rule of an evil king. These are the two sufferings confronting you now. In order to expiate your past slanders, you are opposed by your parents who hold heretical views, and must live in the age of a sovereign who persecutes the votary of the Lotus Sutra. The sutra makes this absolutely clear. Cast off any thoughts you may have to the contrary. If you doubt that you committed slander in the past, you will not be able to withstand the minor sufferings of this life. Then, you might give in to your father's opposition and desert the Lotus Sutra against your will. Remember that should this happen, you are certain to fall into the hell of incessant suffering and drag your parents into it as well, causing all of you indescribable grief. To grasp this requires a great seeking spirit.

 

Each of you has continued your faith in the Lotus Sutra and can therefore rid yourselves of your heavy sins from the past. For example, the flaws in iron come to the surface when it is forged. Put into flames, a rock just turns to ashes, but gold is rendered into pure gold. This persecution more than anything else will prove your faith genuine, and the Jurasetsu (Ten Goddesses) of the Lotus Sutra will surely protect you. The demon who appeared to test Sessen Doji was actually Taishaku. The dove saved by King Shibi was Bishamon. It is even possible that the Jurasetsu have possessed your parents in order to test your faith. Any weakness will be cause for regret. The cart which overturns on the road ahead is a warning to the one behind.

 

In an age like this no one can help but thirst for the true way. You may hate this world, but you cannot escape. All Japanese are certain to meet with terrible fortune in the immediate future. The revolt which broke out on the eleventh day of the second month in the ninth year of Bun'ei (1272) was like blossoms being lashed by a gale or like bolts of silk burning in an inferno. Who can help but abhor a world like ours?

 

In the tenth month in the eleventh year of Bun'ei (1274), the people on Iki and Tsushima islands were slaughtered at one stroke. How can we say that this is no concern of ours? The soldiers who went off to confront the invaders--how forlorn they must have been! They had to leave behind their aged parents, little children, young wives and cherished homes to go out and defend a strange and foreboding sea. They saw clouds on the horizon and imagined them to be the enemy's banners. They saw ordinary fishing boats, thought them Mongol warships and were paralyzed with fear. Once or twice a day they climbed the hills to look out over the sea. Three or four times in the middle of the night they saddled and unsaddled their horses. They felt the stark reality of the shura in their own lives. All this and the persecutions you have suffered as well can ultimately be blamed on the fact that this country's sovereign has become an enemy of the Lotus Sutra. His opposition was instigated by the slanderous priests who follow the Hinayana precepts or the Nembutsu and Shingon doctrines. You must endure this trial and see for yourselves the blessings of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren will also loudly call upon the Buddhist gods. Now more than ever, you must neither show nor feel any fear.

 

Women are faint-hearted, and your wives have probably given up. Yet you must grit your teeth and never slacken in your faith. Be as fearless as Nichiren when he faced Hei no Saemon. Although theirs was not the road to enlightenment, the sons of Lord Wada and Lord Wakasa, as well as the warriors under Masakado and Sadato, fought to the death to preserve their honor. Death comes to all, even should nothing untoward ever happen. Therefore you must never be cowardly or make yourselves the subject of ridicule.

 

I am deeply worried about you both. Therefore I will relate a story which is important for you. There were two princes named Po-i and Shu-ch'i who were sons of the king of Hu-chu in China. Their father had willed his title to the younger brother, Shu-ch'i, yet after he passed away Shu-ch'i refused to ascend to the throne. Po-i urged Shu-ch'i to assume the title, but Shu-ch'i insisted that Po-i, the elder brother, do so instead. Po-i persisted, asking how the younger brother could contradict their father's will. Shu-ch'i agreed that their father's will clearly named him, yet he still refused the throne, claiming that he could not bear to push his elder brother aside.

 

Both brothers then abandoned their parents' country and traveled to another where they entered the service of King Wen of the Chou dynasty. Shortly thereafter, the country was attacked and King Wen was killed by King Chou of the Yin dynasty. Less than a hundred days after King Wen's death, his son, King Wu, prepared to do battle with King Chou, but Po-i and Shu-ch'i, holding fast to the reigns of his horse, strove to dissuade him, saying, "You should be in mourning for three years after your father's death. If you now start a war, you will only dishonor his name." King Wu grew furious at this and was about to kill them both, but T'ai-kung Wang, his father's minister, restrained him.

 

The two were so loath to have anything more to do with this king that they went off to seclude themselves in Mount Shou-yang, where they lived solely on bracken. One day a person named Ma-tzu passed by and asked, "Why have you hidden yourselves in a place like this?" They told the whole story to Ma-tzu, who replied, "If that is so, don't these bracken also belong to the king?" Thus reproached, they immediately stopped eating the plants.

 

It is not the way of heaven to forsake sages. Thus a god appeared to them as a white deer and provided them with milk. After the deer had gone away, Shu-ch'i said, "Since the white deer's milk is so sweet to drink, its meat must taste even better!" Po-i tried to silence him, but heaven had already heard his words, and they were abandoned at once. Thus they eventually starved to death. Even though a person acts wisely throughout his life, one careless word can ruin him. Not knowing what thoughts you may have in your hearts, I worry about you a great deal.

 

When Shakyamuni Buddha was a prince, his father, King Shuddhodana, could not bear losing his only heir and therefore would not allow him to renounce his royal station. The king kept two thousand soldiers posted at the city's four gates to prevent him from leaving. Nevertheless, the prince eventually left the palace against his father's will. In general, it is the son's duty to obey his parents, yet on the path to Buddhahood, not following one's parents may ultimately bring them good fortune. The Shinjikan Sutra explains the essence of filial piety as follows: "By renouncing one's obligations and entering nirvana one can truly repay those obligations in full." That is, in order to enter the true way, one leaves his home against his parents' wishes and attains Buddhahood. Then he can truly repay his debt of gratitude to them.

 

In worldly affairs as well, if one's parents foment a rebellion, it is dutiful not to follow them. This is mentioned in the Confucian scripture, the Classic of Filial Piety. When the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai had commenced mediating on the Lotus Sutra, the apparitions of his deceased parents sat on his knees and tried to obstruct his practice of Buddhism. This was the work of the Devil of the Sixth Heaven who took the form of his father and mother in order to oppose him.

 

I have just cited the story of Po-i and Shu-ch'i. There is one more lesson you should learn from history. Emperor Ojin, who is now Bodhisattva Hachiman, was the sixteenth ruler of Japan. Emperor Ojin had two sons: The first was Prince Nintoku and the second, Prince Uji. The emperor transferred his throne to the younger brother, Uji. After their father passed away, Uji asked his elder brother to take the throne, but the elder brother reproached him, saying, "How can you refuse to comply with our father's will?"

 

They argued back and forth, and for three full years no one claimed the throne. Therefore, the people suffered indescribable grief. It was like a curse upon the nation, and Prince Uji finally thought, "As long as I am alive, my brother will not assume the throne." So he committed suicide. At this Prince Nintoku was wracked with sorrow and fell into despair. Seeing this, Prince Uji came back to life in order to give words of encouragement to his brother, then he passed away again. It is recorded that when Nintoku at last ascended the throne, the nation became peaceful and received eighty boatloads of tribute from the three Korean kingdoms of Silla, Paekche and Koguryo.

 

There are other cases where the relationship between the sons of wise kings was not harmonious. What bonds have enabled you two brothers to continue on such good terms? Could you be princes Jozo and Jogen reborn, or the embodiments of Bodhisattvas Yakuo and Yakujo? When your father disowned Munenaka, I expected that Munenaga would refuse to side with his brother, thereby making it even more difficult to reconcile your father and Munenaka. Yet if what Tsuruo told me is true, you two are determined to resolve this together. I am overjoyed to hear this surprising news, as I told you in my other letter. Could there ever be a more wonderful story than your own?

 

The Record of the Western Regions tells about a hermit who lived in the Deer Park at Benares, India, hoping to master occult powers. He learned to turn rocks into jewels and change the forms of men and animals, but he could not yet ride on clouds or travel to the Palace of the Immortals. In order to accomplish these goals, he took as his disciple a man of integrity. Giving him a long sword, the hermit bade him stand in one corner of a meditation platform, telling him to hold his breath and utter not a word. If the disciple could remain mute through that whole night until dawn, the hermit was certain to master the occult. Determined, he sat in the center of the platform with another long sword in hand and chanted the incantations. Making his apprentice take a vow, he said, "Even at the cost of your life, say nothing!" The man answered, "Though I die, not a word will leave these lips."

 

In this manner they passed the night until, as dawn was just about to break, the apprentice cried out suddenly, and the hermit immediately failed in his attempt. He reproached the disciple, shouting, "How could you have broken your vow? This is deplorable!" Repenting deeply, the disciple said, "I dozed off for a little while, and in a dream, my previous master appeared and rebuked me. Yet I endured this, not uttering a word, for my debt of gratitude to you is much greater. My former master grew furious and threatened to behead me, but I still said nothing. Finally I was beheaded, and when I saw my own corpse on the journey of death my sorrow was indescribable. Still, I did not speak. Eventually I was reborn in a Brahman family in southern India. The pain I felt on entering and leaving the womb was unbearable, yet I held my breath without crying. I grew up to be a young man and took a wife. My parents died; my child was born; I felt sorrow and joy but said not a word. Living on like this, I reached my sixty-fifth year. Then my wife said to me, 'If you still refuse to say anything, I will kill your beloved child.' The thought flashed through my mind that I was already in the last years of my life, and if my child were killed, I could not beget another. Feeling that I must shout...I suddenly awoke."

 

The hermit said, "We were not strong enough. You and I have been deceived by a devil. Our task has ended in failure." Lamenting, his disciple said, "Because I was so weak-willed, my teacher failed to master the occult." The hermit regretfully replied, "It is my fault for not having admonished you enough beforehand." Nonetheless, as the record states, his disciple was so grieved that he could not fulfill his obligation to his teacher that he brooded over it and died miserably.

 

In China the occult evolved from Confucianism, and in India it is found among the Brahman teachings. Yet it does not even approach the primitive Agon teachings of Hinayana Buddhism, much less the teachings of tsugyo, bekkyo or engyo. Therefore, how could it be possible to approach the Lotus Sutra? The four devils fiercely oppose even the attainment of the occult. Therefore, how much greater are the tribulations which will confront the disciples of the votary of the Lotus Sutra, for he is the first to embrace and the first to propagate Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the ultimate principle of the Lotus Sutra, in Japan. It is impossible to imagine, let alone describe in words.

 

The Maka Shikan is the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai's masterwork and contains the essence of all the Buddhist sutras. During the five hundred years after Buddhism was introduced to China, there appeared seven great teachers to the north of the Yangtze River and three to the south. Their wisdom was as brilliant as the sun and the moon, and their virtue extolled far and wide, yet they were confused as to which sutras were shallow or deep, inferior or superior, and to the order in which they had been taught. It was the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai who not only clarified the teachings of Buddhism but also brought forth the wish-granting jewel of ichinen sanzen from the repository of Myoho-renge-kyo and bestowed it upon all people in the three countries. This teaching originated in China. Not even the great scholars of India could formulate such a concept. So the Great Teacher Chang-an wrote, "We have never before heard of any teachings as lucid as the Maka Shikan," and, "Even the great masters of India were not in a class with him." The doctrine of ichinen sanzen revealed in the fifth volume of the Maka Shikan is especially profound. If you propagate it, devils will arise without fail. Were it not for these, there would be no way of knowing that this is the true teaching. One passage from the same volume reads, "As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge, vying with one another to interfere...You should be neither influenced nor frightened by them. If you fall under their influence, you will be led into the paths of evil. If you are frightened by them, you will be prevented from practicing true Buddhism." This quotation not only applies to Nichiren but also is the guide for his disciples. Reverently make this teaching your own and transmit it as an axiom of faith for future generations.

 

The three obstacles in this quotation are bonno-sho, go-sho and ho-sho. Bonno-sho are the obstacles to one's practice which arise from greed, anger, stupidity and the like; go-sho are the obstacles posed by one's wife or children, and hosho are the hindrances caused by one's sovereign or parents. Of the four devils, the functions of the Devil of the Sixth Heaven are of this last kind. In Japan today, is there anyone who has actually encountered the three obstacles and four devils? Yet many people claim they have mastered the Maka Shikan. The statement, "If you fall under their influence, you will be led into the paths of evil," does not indicate merely the three evil paths but also Tranquility and Rapture, and in general, all of the nine worlds. Therefore, all of the sutras except the Lotus Sutra--including those of Kegon, Agon, Hodo and Hannya as well as the Nirvana and Dainichi sutras--will lead people toward paths of evil. Also, with the exception of the Tendai sect, the adherents of the seven other major Buddhist sects are in reality agents of hell who drive others towards evil paths. Even in the Tendai sect, there are those who profess faith in the Lotus Sutra yet actually lead others toward the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings. They, too are agents of hell who cause people to fall into the evil paths.

 

Now you two brothers are like the hermit and his disciple. If either of you gives up halfway, you will both fail to attain Buddhahood. You are like the two wings of a bird or the two eyes of a man. And your wives are your support. Women support others and thereby cause others to support them. When a husband is happy, his wife will be fulfilled. If a husband is a thief, his wife will become one, too. This is not a matter of this life alone. A man and wife are as close as a body and shadow, flowers and fruit, or roots and leaves, in every existence of life. Insects eat the trees they live in, and fish drink the water in which they swim. If grass withers, orchids grieve; if pine trees flourish, oaks rejoice. Even trees and grass are so closely related. The hiyoku is a bird with one body and two heads. Both of its mouths nourish the same body. Hiboku are fish with only one eye each, so the male and female remain together for life. A husband and wife should be like them.

 

You two wives should have no regrets even if you are harmed by your husbands because of your faith in this teaching. If both of you unite in encouraging their faith, you will follow the path of the Dragon King's daughter and become the model for women attaining enlightenment in the evil Latter Day of the Law. Insofar as you can act this way, no matter what may happen, I, Nichiren, will tell the two saints, the two heavenly gods and the Ten Goddesses as well as Shakyamuni and Taho to make you Buddhas in every future existence. The Rokuharamitsu Sutra states that one should become the master of his mind rather than let his mind master him.

 

Whatever trouble may occur, consider it as transitory as a dream and think only of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren's teaching was especially difficult to believe at first, but now that my prophecies have been fulfilled, those who slandered without reason have come to repent. Even if other men and women become my believers in the future, they will not replace you in my heart. Among those who believed at first, many later discarded their faith, fearing society's rejection. Among these are some who oppose me more furiously than those who slandered from the beginning. In Shakyamuni's lifetime, Priest Sunakshatra at first believed the Buddha, then later not only backslid but slandered so viciously that even the Buddha could not save him from falling into the hell of incessant suffering. This letter was especially written for Munenaga. It should also be read to his wife and Munenaka's. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

 

Nichiren

 

The sixteenth day of the fourth month in the twelfth year of Bun'ei (1275)

  

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The True Entity of Life
The One Essential Phrase
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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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