Letter to the Brothers
- Kyodai Sho -
The Lotus Sutra is the heart of the eighty thousand teachings1
and the core of the twelve types of sutras2.
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 Han3
and the end of the T'ang dynasty. There were 5,048 volumes
of the older translations4
and 7,399 volumes of the newer translations.5
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.
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.6
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
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 acts7
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-en8
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."9 The
quotation means that even though he intended to praise the
Lotus Sutra, in the end, he destroyed it.
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
It was because they met someone who was an evil influence,
and discarded the Lotus Sutra to take faith in the provisional
According to the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai, "If one
befriends an evil person, he will lose his mind."11
"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."12
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."13
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 realms14
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-kuan15.
Then, the priests Chia-hsiang and Seng-ch'uan16
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'o17
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
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 Fuji18
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 Shoi19
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?"20
It also reads, "The people will be full of hostility,
and it will be extremely difficult to believe."21
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 revolt22
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 shura23
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,24
as well as the warriors under Masakado25
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
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
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?"
The 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
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?27
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
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 devils28
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 countries29.
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,"30
and, "Even the great masters of India were not in a
class with him."31
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
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 Hannya32
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
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 gods34
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,
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,
The sixteenth day
of the fourth month in the twelfth year of Bun'ei (1275)
thousand teachings: See p. 55, footnote 30.
types of sutras: One method of classifying Shakyamuni's
teachings according to content and style of presentation.
It indicates all the sutras.
- The Later
Han dynasty began in 25 A.D. The T'ang dynasty ended
in 907 A.D.
- Older translations:
Sutras translated into Chinese primarily by Kumarajiva
(344-409) and Paramartha (499-569), who placed emphasis
on conveying the true meaning.
translations: Primarily made by Hsuan-chuang (602-664),
who placed greater stress on literal translation.
- In vol. 6 of his
Hokke Gengi, T'ien-t'ai explains 136 kinds of hell
-- eight major hells, each with sixteen subsidiary
hells. The last and worst of the eight major hells
is the hell of incessant suffering. The point is that
one's suffering differs according to the nature and
degree of his offense.
evil acts: The acts expounded in the Kusha-ron comprise
the three physical evils of killing, theft and adultery;
the four verbal evils of lying, flattery, slander
and duplicity; and the three mental evils of greed,
anger and stupidity.
- Tz'u-en (632-682):
A priest of the T'ang dynasty and direct successor
to Hsuan-chuang, founder of the Fa-hsiang (Hosso)
- Hokke Shuku.
rebellious acts: Crimes set forth in the Taiho Statute
enforced in eighth-century Japan. They were: 1)attempts
on the emperors life; 2) plots to destroy imperial
graves or places; 3) treason; 4) murder of an older
relative, such as a grandparent, parent, sister or
brother; 5) murder of other senior relatives or one's
wife; 6) disrespectful acts against the emperor or
imperial shrines; 7) unfilial acts against a grandparent;
and 8) killing one's master, teacher or superior.
- Hokke Gengi, vol.
- Lotus Sutra, chap.
- Hokke Gengi, vol.
- Twenty-five realms:
Divisions within the threefold world of desire, matter
and spirit -- another way of viewing the life-condition
of the six lower worlds.
- Tu-shun (557-640),
Chih-yen (602-668), Fa-ts'ang (643-712) and Ch'eng-kuan
(738-839): Respectively, the founder and successive
high priests of the Hua-yen (Kegon) sect in China.
- Chia-hsiang (549-640)
and Seng-ch'uan: Chia-hsiang laid a foundation for
the San-lun (Sanron) sect in sixth-century China but
later became a follower for of T'ien-t'ai. Seng-ch'uan
was a priest of the San-lun school whose teaching
were transmitted to Fa-lang, and through him, to Chia-hsiang.
- Bodhidharma and
Hui-k'o (487-593): Bodhidharma (Chin., Ta-mo) brought
the practice of Ch'an (Zen) to China and founded Ch'an
sect there. Hui-k'o was his successor.
According to the Butsuzo Sutra, he lived in the remote
past after the death of Daishogon Buddha. Daishogon's
followers had then split into five sects; only Priest
Fuji correctly upheld his teachings.
see p. 37, footnote 15.
- Lotus Sutra, chap.
- Ibid., chap. 14.
revolt: It refers to the incident in which Regent
Hojo Tokimune dispatched troops to Kyoto and had his
half-brother Tokisuke killed on suspicion of conspiracy.
- Shura: Anger
(a state of conflict), one of the Ten Worlds.
- Wada (1147-1213)
and Wakasa (d. 1247): Wada Yoshimori, a military official
of the Kamakura regime, was tricked into fighting
against the Hojo clan and was killed in battle along
with all his family. Lord Wakasa, or Miura Yasumura,
another official, was also defeated by the Hojos.
He and more than 500 of his clan took their own lives.
- Masakado (d.
940): A distinguished warrior of the Taira clan who
wielded power in eastern Japan. In 939, he rebelled
against the Imperial court by proclaiming himself
the new emperor. However, his cousin, Taira no Sadamori,
crushed his forces and killed him.
- Sadato (1019-1062):
Abe no Sadato, head of a powerful family in eastern
Japan. He sought independence from Imperial rule but
was defeated and killed in battle with the Imperial
and Yakujo: Brothers who cure people of physical and
spiritual sickness. According to the 27th chapter
of the Lotus Sutra, they are the reembodiments of
Jozo and Jogen.
- Four devils:
Four devils of the three obstacles and four devils.
- The three
countries: India, China and Japan.
- Introduction to
the Maka Shikan, vol. 10.
- Hokke Gengi, vol.
- Kegon, Agon, Hodo
and Hannya: The first four of the five periods.
- Seven other major
Buddhist sects: They are the three Hinayana sects
of Kusha, Jojitsu and Ritsu and the four Mahayana
sects of Hosso, Sanron, Kegon and Shingon.
- Two saints and two
heavenly gods: See p.107, footnotes 19 and 20.
see p. 106, footnote 18.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin;
Vol. 1, pp. 131-147.