Clear Sake Gosho
I have received all your gifts: one container
of clear sake, ten metal pouring pots, one hundred steamed
rice cakes, one bucket containing perhaps two sho
of syrup, a basket of koji oranges1
and ten skewers of dried persimmons. I have read your message
that your joy at the beginning of spring2
has unfolded like the cherry blossoms and waxed full like
Your late son Goro comes inevitably to
mind. The blossoms that once fell are about to bloom again,
and the withered grasses have begun to sprout anew. Why
does the late Goro not return as well? Ah, if he were to
come back with the evanescent flowers and grasses, then
even though we are not Hitomaro,3
we would wait by the blossoms; even though we are not tethered
steeds, we would never leave the grass!
A certain sutra passage says that children
are ones enemies.4
Perhaps there is reason for this. The bird known as the
owl devours its mother, and the beast called hakei5
destroys its father. A man called An Lu-shan was killed
by his son, Shih Shih-ming,6
and the warrior Yoshitomo killed his father, Tameyoshi.
Thus the sutra has grounds for saying that children are
Another sutra passage says that children
are a treasure. King Myoshogon was destined, after his life
had ended, to fall into the hell called the great citadel
of incessant suffering, but he was saved by his son, the
crown prince Jozo. Not only was he able to escape the sufferings
of that great hell, but he became a Buddha called Sal Tree
King. A woman called Shodai-nyo, for the faults of greed
and stinginess, was confined in the realm of hungry spirits,
but she was saved by her son Maudgalyayana and was freed
from that realm.7 Thus
the sutras statement that children are a treasure
is in no way false.
The late Goro was sixteen years old. Not
only did he surpass others in his disposition and good looks,
but he was fully endowed with a mans strengths and
was praised by all. Moreover, his obedience to his parents
will was like water taking the shape of its container or
a shadow following a body. You relied upon him as the pillar
of your household; you thought of him as your staff upon
the road. All the wealth in your family coffers existed
for this child; so did the family retainers. You must have
been firmly convinced that, when you died, you would be
carried by him on his back to the graveyard, and that there
would be nothing left for you to worry about. But lamentably,
he has preceded you in death. "Why, why did this happen?
It must be a dream, an illusion! I will wake up, I will
wake up!" you must have thought. But without your having
awakened, already one year has given way to the next. You
do not know how long you will have to wait. You must
feel that, if only he had left word where you could go and
meet him, then without wings, you would soar to the heavens,
or without a boat, you would cross over to China. If you
heard he was in the bowels of the earth, then how could
you fail to dig into the ground?
And yet there is a way to meet him readily.
With Shakyamuni Buddha as your guide, you can go to meet
him in the pure land of Eagle Peak. The sutra states, "If
there are those who hear the Law, then not a one will fail
to attain Buddhahood."8
This means that even if one were to point at the earth and
miss it, even if the sun and moon should fall to the ground,
even if an age should come when the tides cease to ebb and
flow, or even if flowers should not turn to fruit in summer,
it could never happen that a woman who chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
would fail to be reunited with her beloved child. Continue
in your devotion to faith and bring this about quickly!
With my deep respect,
The thirteenth day of the first month
Reply to Ueno-ama Gozen
- Koji oranges: See P. 299, n. 1.
- See P. 299, n. 2.
- See Glossary for Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. The
Daishonin alludes here to a traditional association between
poetry and cherry blossoms, which formed the theme of
many verses by both Hitomaro and other classical poets.
- A paraphrase of the Shinjikan Sutra, vol. 3.
The sutra passage mentioned in the next paragraph, which
says that children are a treasure, is taken from the same
- Hakei: A legendary beast resembling a tiger,
said to eat its father.
- See Glossary for An Lu-shan. Shih Shih-ming (d.
761) was not in fact An Lu-shan's son but a close
subordinate who fought beside him at this time. An Lu-shan
was eventually killed in a succession dispute by his real
son An Ch'ing-hsfi, who was in turn killed by Shih Shih-ming.
- This story is described in the Urabon Sutra.
See p. 167.
Lotus Sutra, chap.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 7.