The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream
I have received one kan1
of coins and respectfully reported in the presence of the
Lotus Sutra2 that this
is an offering from Yorimoto.3
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,4
the favorite of the emperor of the Han dynasty. Taishakus
consorts, who numbered nine million nine hundred thousand
nayuta,5 all envied
Fujiwara no Saneyori7
bore a grudge against Imperial Prince Kaneakira, and Fujiwara
no Tokihira,8 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 Nyudos9
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 Sutra.
King Ajatashatru, though once the Buddhas
enemy, came to take faith in the Lotus Sutra at the urging
of his minister Jivaka10
so that he was able to prolong his life and continue his
rule. King Myoshogon11
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 Tien-tai
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,12
was a great king who reigned over the worlds 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,13
where he was to carry out austerities for twelve years.
At that time he was attended by five men:14
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 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."15
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
It is now some 2,230 years since the Buddhas
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 sutras 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,16
Tien-tai 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,"17
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. Tien-tai 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,18 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 Buddhas
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
sages advent, and since such a war has already occurred,19
the sage must already have appeared in this world. The appearance
of a legendary beast called chi-lin20
told Chinese contemporaries that Confucius was a sage, and
there is no doubt that the resounding of a village shrine
heralds a sages 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 Buddhas 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 Buddhas emissary. Also, one who perseveres
through great persecutions and embraces the sutra from beginning
to end is the Buddhas emissary.
My mind may not be that of the Buddhas
envoy, since I am but a common mortal. However, since I
have incurred the hatred of the three powerful enemies and
been exiled twice,22
I am like the Buddhas 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
Buddhas 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 sutras description of persecution
"by swords and staves, tiles and stones."23
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 Ajari24
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 Soshiro25
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)
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 3, page
- Kan: See P. 71, n. i.
- Lotus Sutra: Here, a reference to the Gohonzon.
- Yorimoto: Shijo Kingo's given name. His full name and
title are Shijo Nakatsukasa Saburb Zaemon-no-j& Yorimoto.
Kingo denotes his official position.
- Wang Chao-chiin: See P. 247, n. 15.
- Nayuta: An Indian numerical unit. The Kusha Ron defines
it as one hundred billion (iol I). Other sources define
it as 107.
- Kyashika: (Skt Kaushika) The name of Taishaku when he
was once a Brahman accordin to the Daichido Rot4 but
in this context it would seem to indicate hi; wife or
- Fujiwara no Saneyori (900-970): A court official. Apparently
disappointed in his ho a 0 . t nister ,Yes that his son
Yoritada would be p in ed Mi ' of the Left, he bore a
grudge against Imperial Prince Kanea ra, the son of the
sixtieth Emperor I go did achiev th t . t . 0 .
- Fujiwara no Tokihira (871- court official. Though he
was Minister of the Left and ranked above the er of the
Right, he became jealous of Sugawara no Michizane, another
of Emperor Uda, when Michizane was appointed Minister
of the Ri e Michizane was a man of superior learning and
character. Tokihira Isely accused him to the emperor,
and as a Minist advisor Fht, sine result Michizane was
banished to the westernmost part ofJapan, where he died
- Ema Nya& Hojo Chikatoki, a son of Hojo Mitsutoki
and a great-grandson of Hojo Yoshitaki (the second regent
of the Kamakura government). His father MitSLItoki was
relegated to a remote place called Ema in Izu because
of alle, ed t . R t Hbjo Tokiyori. Along with Mitsutoki's
pardon, iCtoreason a inst egen ki ra Ch was a So permitted
to serve the government.
- Jivaka: Seep. 274, n. 5.
- My6shogon: (Skt Shubhavyuha) A king who appears in the
My6shogonn5 (27th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
His wife was Lady Jbtoku, and his two sons were Jozb and
J6gen. See also P. 27, rL 74.
- Shuddhodana: A king of Kapilavastu in northern India
and the father of Shakyamuni Buddha. He originally opposed
his son's desire to renounce the world, but when Shakyamum
returned to Kapilavastu after his awakening, Shuddhodana
converted to his teaching.
- Dandaka: A mountain in the Gandbara region of the northwestern
part of ancient India.
- Five men: The five ascetics. See p. 84, n. 20.
- Lotus Sutra, chap. io.
- Last five hundred years: See Fifth five-hundred-year
period in Glossary.
- Main force of the enemy: Major heretical teachings of
Buddhism, or the doctrines of the Shingon, Nembutsu, Zen
and Ritsu sects, which contradict the teachings expounded
in the Lotus Sutra. Their doctrines were refuted by Nichiren
Daishonin on the basis of the Lotus Sutra.
- This refers to the vast campaign of conquest then being
waged by the Mongol Empire. The better part of the Eurasian
continent was under either the rule or direct influence
of the empire, which had been founded by Genghis Khan.
His grandson Khubilai Khan launched massive naval attacks
against Japan in 1274 and 1281, but did
- Chi-lin: See p. i8o, n. 299.
- According to ancient Chinese legend, when a sage is
born, the sole of one foot is marked with the character
"two" and the other with the character "five."
This is mentioned in the Cheng-i commentary on
chapter 63 of the Shih Chi (Records of the Historian).
- E)dled twice: See P. 74, n. 7.
- Lotus Sutra, chap. io.
- Daishin Ajari: A disciple of Ni~hiren Daishonin, who
was born in t . Shim5sa Province and is though to nave
been a relative of the Soya family. He Mta lit the believers
in Kamakura, and took responsibility for guiding them
e the Daishonin was in eidle on Sado Island.
- Sammi-b6 and Sashiro: See p. 2og, rL
iS. Little is known about Soshiro-, but in all likelihood
he was a follower ofthe Daishonin who later turned against