Letter to Horen
The Hosshi chapter in the fourth
volume of the Lotus Sutra states: "If there should
be an evil person who, his mind destitute of goodness, should
for the space of a kalpa appear in the presence of the Buddha
and constantly curse and revile the Buddha, that persons
offense would still be rather light. But if there were a
person who spoke only one evil word to curse or defame the
lay persons or monks or nuns who read and recite the Lotus
Sutra, then his offense would be very grave."
The Great Teacher Miao-lo comments on this:
"The benefits conferred by this sutra are lofty and
its principles are the highest. Therefore this statement
is made with regard to it. Nothing like this is said about
any other sutra."1
With regard to the meaning of this sutra
passage, the definition of a kalpa is as follows. Suppose
that the span of human life is eighty thousand years, and
that it decreases one year every hundred years, or ten years
every thousand years. Let us suppose that it decreases at
this rate until the life span has reached ten years.
At this point, a person ten years old would
be like an eighty-year-old man of today. Then the process
would reverse, and, after a hundred years, the life span
would increase to eleven years, and, after another hundred
years, to twelve years. After a thousand years it would
have increased to twenty years, and this would continue
until it once more reached eighty thousand years. The time
required to complete this combined process of decrease and
increase is called a kalpa. There are various other definitions
of a kalpa, but, for the time being, I will use the word
kalpa in the sense defined above.
There are persons who, throughout this
period of a kalpa, manifest hatred toward the Buddha by
carrying out various activities in the three categories
of body, mouth and mind. Such a person was Devadatta.
The Buddha was the son and heir of King
Shuddhodana, and Devadatta was a son of King Dronodana.
These two kings were brothers, so Devadatta was a cousin
of the Buddha.
In the present as in the past, among sages
as among ordinary men, trouble arising over a woman has
been one of the prime causes of enmity. When Shakyamuni
Buddha was still known as Prince Siddhartha, and Devadatta
had been designated prince and heir to his father, it happened
that a high minister named Yasha had a daughter named Yashodhara.
She was the most beautiful woman in all of the five regions
of India, a veritable goddess whose fame was known throughout
the four seas. Siddhartha and Devadatta vied with each other
to win her hand in marriage; hence discord arose between
Later, Siddhartha left his family and became
a Buddha, and Devadatta, taking the monk Sudaya as his teacher,
left his family to become a monk.
The Buddha observed the two hundred and
fifty precepts and abided by the three thousand rules of
conduct, so that all heavenly and human beings looked up
to him with admiration and the four kinds of believers honored
and revered him. Devadatta, however, did not command such
respect from others, so he began to consider whether there
was not some way he could gain worldly fame that would surpass
that of the Buddha. He came across five criteria by which
he might surpass the Buddha and gain recognition from society.
As noted in the Shibun ritsu, they were: (1) to wear
robes of rags; (2) to seek food only by begging; (3) to
eat only one meal a day; (4) to sit out always in the open;
and (5) to take neither salt nor the five flavors.2
The Buddha would accept robes given to him by others, but
Devadatta. wore only robes made of rags. The Buddha would
accept meals that were served to him, but Devadatta lived
on alms alone. The Buddha would eat once, twice or three
times a day, but Devadatta would eat only once. The Buddha
would take shelter in graveyards or under trees, but Devadatta
sat out in the open all day long. The Buddha would on occasion
consent to take salt or the five flavors, but Devadatta
accepted none of them. And because Devadatta observed these
rules, people came to believe that he was far superior to
the Buddha, and that they were as far apart as clouds and
In this way Devadatta sought to deprive
the Buddha of his standing. The Buddha was supported by
the lay believer King Bimbisara. Every day the king supplied
five hundred cartloads of alms to the Buddha as well as
to his disciples, doing so over a period of years without
missing a single day. Devadatta, jealous of such devotion
and hoping to secure it for himself, won Prince Enemy Before
Birth3 over to his side
and persuaded him to kill his father.
He himself set out to kill the Buddha,
hurling a rock and striking the Buddha with it. Such was
the deed he carried out with his body. In addition, he slandered
and cursed the Buddha, calling him a liar and a deceiver;
such was the deed he committed with his mouth. And, in his
heart, he thought of the Buddha as a foe from his previous
lifetime; such was the deed he engaged in with his mind.
The great evil of these three interacting deeds has never
Suppose that a terribly evil man, like
Devadatta, were to engage in these three types of deeds,
and, for an entire medium kalpa, curse and revile Shakyamuni
Buddha, striking him with staves and behaving toward him
with jealousy and envy. The enormous guilt he would incur
would be weighty indeed.
This great earth of ours is 168,000 yojana
thick, and therefore it is capable of supporting the waters
of the four great seas, the dirt and stones of the nine
mountains, every kind of plant and tree, and all living
creatures, without ever collapsing, tipping or breaking
apart. And yet, when Devadatta, a human being whose body
measured five feet, committed no more than three cardinal
sins,4 the great earth
broke open and he fell into hell; the hole through which
he fell still exists in India. The Tripitaka Master Hsuan-tsang
states in the text known as Saiiki ki, or Record
of the Western Regions, that when he journeyed
from China to India for the sake of his practice, he saw
However, it is said that if one neither
at heart thinks ill of the votary of the Lotus Sutra in
the latter age nor in ones bearing shows envy toward
him, but merely reviles him in a joking manner, then the
consequences will be even worse than those brought about
by Devadatta when, by committing the three types of deeds,
he cursed and reviled the Buddha for an entire medium kalpa.
How much worse, then, would the consequences be if the people
of the present age were to set about conducting themselves
like Devadatta, carrying out these three types of deeds
with truly evil hearts over a period of many years--cursing
and reviling the votary of the Lotus Sutra, subjecting him
to defamation and insult, envying and feeling jealous of
him, beating and striking him, putting him to death under
false charges and murdering him!
Question: When someone displays animosity
toward the votary of the Lotus Sutra in this latter age,
what hell will that person fall into?
Answer: The second volume of the Lotus
If this person [should slander a sutra
such as this,] or on seeing those who read, recite, copy
and uphold this sutra, should despise, hate, envy or bear
grudges against them, [the penalty this person must pay--listen,
I will tell you now:] When his life comes to an end, he
will enter the Avichi hell, be confined there for a whole
kalpa, and when the kalpa ends, die there again.5
He will keep repeating this cycle for a countless number
Five hundred yojana beneath the
surface of the earth is the palace of King Emma. And fifteen
hundred yojana beneath the palace of King Emma are
the eight great hells and the other hells that comprise
the 136 hells. Of these 136 hells, 128 are for the consignment
of persons who have committed minor offenses; the eight
great hells are for those who have committed grave offenses.
Of the eight great hells, seven are for persons who have
committed one or more of the ten evil acts. The eighth hell--the
hell of incessant suffering--is for the consignment of three
types of persons: those who have committed one or more of
the five cardinal sins, those who have been unfilial,6
and those who have slandered the Law. The passage I have
just quoted makes it clear that persons who curse, revile
or slander the votary of the Lotus Sutra in this latter
age, even if they do so merely in jest, will fall into this
The Hosshi chapter in the fourth
volume of the Lotus Sutra states: "If there is someone
who seeks the Buddha way and during a certain kalpa [presses
palms together in my presence and recites numberless verses
of praise, because of these praises of the Buddha he will
gain immeasurable blessings]. And if one lauds and extols
those who uphold this sutra, his good fortune will be even
The Great Teacher Miao-lo remarks: "Those
who vex or trouble [the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra]
will have their heads split into seven pieces, but those
who give alms to them will enjoy good fortune surpassing
the ten honorable titles."7
Among human beings, the foremost is the ruler known as wheel-turning
king. When a wheel-turning king is about to appear in the
world, an omen precedes him, a huge tree known as an udumbara
growing up in the midst of the ocean, bearing flowers and
When a gold wheel-turning king appears,
the mountains and seas of the four continents become level;
the great earth becomes soft as cotton; the seas become
sweet as amrita, the mountains become mountains of
gold; and the plants and trees turn into the seven kinds
The wheel-turning king can travel throughout
the entirety of the four continents in an instant; therefore
the heavenly beings guard and protect him, the spirits gather
about and serve him, and the dragon kings cause rain to
fall at the proper time. If an ordinary person of inferior
capacity follows such a ruler, then he, too, can travel
throughout the four continents in an instant. All of these
things come about solely because the wheel-turning king
abides by the ten good precepts; these are the rewards that
result from that observance.
Incomparably superior to the wheel-turning
kings are Bishamon and the others who comprise the Four
Heavenly Kings. These are the great kings who preside freely
over the four continents.
The heavenly being called Taishaku is the
lord of the Trayastrimsha heaven. The Devil of the Sixth
Heaven dwells at the summit of the world of desire and rules
over the threefold world. These beings were able to obtain
their positions because they observed the highest class
of the ten good precepts and carried out the highly virtuous
act of making impartial offerings.
The heavenly king known as Daibonten is
the most highly honored among the heavenly beings in the
threefold world. He dwells at the summit of the world of
form, is attended by the Devil of the Sixth Heaven and Taishaku,
and holds a major world system in his hand. In addition
to having practiced the kind of meditation that is still
accompanied by illusions, he has cultivated the four infinite
virtues -- pity, compassion, joy and indifference.
The voice-hearer is one like Shariputra
or Mahakashyapa who, in addition to observing the two hundred
and fifty precepts and practicing meditation without illusions,
has concentrated his attention on the concepts of suffering,
emptiness, impermanence and nonself. He has cut off all
the illusions of thought and desire arising in the threefold
world and can move entirely at liberty through water or
fire. For these reasons, he has Bonten and Taishaku as his
The cause-awakened one is one who is incomparably
superior to the voice-hearer, one whose advent in the world
rivals that of a Buddha. Long ago there was a hunter who
lived in an age of famine. At that time he gave a bowl of
food consisting of millet as an offering to a pratyekabuddha
named Rida. As a result, this hunter was reborn as a rich
man in the human and heavenly realms for a period of ninety-one
kalpas. In our present world, he was called Aniruddha, and
was known as the foremost in divine insight among the Buddhas
The Great Teacher Miao-lo comments on this
as follows: "A meal of millet is a trifling thing.
But because the donor gave all that he possessed, and because
the recipient was a superior being, the donor was able to
obtain marvelous recompense."9
The meaning of this passage of commentary
is that, though a meal of millet may be insignificant, because
it was given as an offering to a pratyekabuddha,
a person of great worth, the donor was reborn again and
again with wonderful rewards.
Next are those known as bodhisattvas, represented
by Monju and Miroku. These great bodhisattvas are remarkable
beings who are incomparably superior to the pratyekabuddhas.
Buddhas are beings who have completely dispelled the darkness
associated with the forty-two stages of ignorance and have
attained the level of perfect enlightenment; they are like
the full moon on the fifteenth night of the eighth month.
These bodhisattvas have dispelled the darkness of forty-one
stages of ignorance, thus reaching the mountain summit of
the next to the last stage; they are like the moon on the
The great being known as a Buddha is a
hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand times
superior to the various persons described above. A Buddha
is invariably distinguished by thirty-two features. Among
these features are a pure and far-reaching voice,11
an unseen crown of the head,12
a knot of flesh on the head like a topknot, a tuft of white
hair between the eyebrows,13
and markings of the thousand-spoked wheel.14
Of these thirty-two features, each one was acquired as the
result of a hundred blessings.
What do we mean by a hundred blessings?
Let us suppose that all the persons in Japan, in China,
and in the sixteen great countries, the five hundred middle-sized
countries, and the ten thousand small countries that make
up the five regions of India are blind, indeed, that all
living beings throughout the continent of Jambudvipa, the
four continents, the six heavens of the world of desire,
and throughout the entire major world system are blind.
And let us suppose that there is a great physician who is
capable of bestowing a splendid benefit by opening, in one
instant, the eyes of all these beings, and making them as
they once were. That act would count as the bestowal of
a single blessing. And when a hundred such blessings are
accumulated, it leads to the appearance of one of the thirty-two
From this it is apparent that the benefits
represented by merely one of these features are greater
in number than all the plants and trees within a major world
system, or all the drops of rain that fall upon the four
In the time of the kalpa of decline, a
great wind known as samghata arises, pulling up Mount
Sumeru by the roots, lifting it to the highest heaven in
the world of form,15
and then reducing it to particles of dust. But despite all
that, not a single hair on the body of the Buddha so much
In the breast of the Buddha is a great
fire, made up of the Great Wisdom of Equality, the Shining
Light of Great Knowledge, and the Fire Pit of Meditation.16
When the Buddha enters nirvana, this great fire blazes forth
from his breast and consumes his body. Though the heavenly
deities and the dragons and other beings of the six heavens
of the world of desire and the four seas, distressed at
the thought of losing the Buddha, gather round and cause
torrential rains to fall, until the earth of the entire
major world system is under water and Mount Sumeru is about
to be washed away, still they cannot put out this huge fire.
The Buddha is thus a person of great virtue.
But King Ajatashatru, gathering together evil men from the
sixteen great states of India, plotting with heretics from
all around, and acknowledging Devadatta as his teacher,
turned numberless hordes of evil from the sixteen great
states of India, plotting with heretics from all around,
and acknowledging Devadatta as his teacher, turned numberless
hordes of evil persons loose, causing them to curse, attack
and kill the Buddhas disciples. Not only that, but
he turned against his father, a worthy ruler who was guilty
of no fault, pinning him down in seven places with foot-long
spikes. He also approached the queen--the mother who gave
him birthsnatched away her jeweled hairpins, and held
a sword to her head. Because of these terrible crimes, his
body broke out in virulent sores in seven places.
It was fated that when twenty-one days
had passed, on the seventh day of the third month, the earth
would break open and he would fall into the hell of incessant
suffering, to remain there for an entire kalpa. But because
he sought out the Buddha, not only did his sores heal, but
he was able to escape from the pains of the hell of incessant
suffering and to live forty years longer.
The high minister Jivaka was an emissary
of the Buddha, and as a result he was able to step into
the flames and rescue the son of the rich man of Champa.17
From this it would appear that once one has made offerings
and paid homage to the Buddha, regardless of whether one
is an evildoer or a woman, one will be able without fail
to attain Buddhahood and achieve the way.
Devadatta had thirty of the distinctive
features, but lacked the tuft of white hair and the markings
of the thousand-spoked wheel. Because he lacked two of the
features that distinguish the Buddha, he was afraid that
his disciples would belittle him. So he gathered fireflies
and stuck them between his eyebrows to resemble the tuft
of white hair. And for the markings of the thousand-spoked
wheel, he had a blacksmith make pieces of iron in the shape
of chrysanthemum blossoms and tried to stick them on the
soles of his feet, but he succeeded only in burning his
feet. The burns grew worse until he was at the point of
death, when he confessed to the Buddha what he had done.
The Buddha then stroked the burns with his hand and all
the pain went away.
One might suppose that Devadatta would
then repent and reform his ways, but instead he went about
telling people that Gautama practiced petty healing tricks
and that he resorted to magic.
And yet the Buddha harbored no grudges,
even against such enemies. How, then, could he ever cast
aside anyone who had even once put faith in him?
This is how great the Buddha was. Therefore,
when he was depicted in wooden statues or in paintings,
his image walked about like the wooden statue carved by
King Udayana, or preached the various sutras like the painted
image fashioned by Matanga.
So venerable is this personage known as
Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings. And yet the blessings
to be obtained by honoring him not for an hour or two, not
for a day or two, but for the entire space of a kalpa--pressing
ones palms together, raising ones eyes to the
face of the Buddha, bowing ones head, abandoning all
other concerns, going about it as though attempting to put
out the fire in ones own head, as though thirsty and
seeking water, as though hungry and seeking a meal--the
blessings to be obtained by incessantly making offerings
and paying homage to the Buddha in this way cannot match
those to be obtained by praising and making offerings to
the votary of the Lotus Sutra in this latter age, even though
it be only one word spoken in jest, the sort of unenthusiastic
praise a stepmother might offer to her stepchild.
The blessings to be obtained from the latter
act, it is stated, are a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand,
a hundred thousand times greater than those to be obtained
by conducting oneself with a believing heart in the three
categories of body, mouth and mind, and offering alms to
the living body of the Buddha for an entire kalpa. This
is what the Great Teacher Miao-lo means when he writes that
one will "enjoy good fortune surpassing the ten honorable
The ten honorable titles are ten epithets
that are applied to the Buddha. Miao-lo is saying that the
blessings to be obtained by making offerings to the votary
of the Lotus Sutra in the latter age are greater than those
to be obtained by making offerings to the Buddha of the
ten honorable titles. This is one of the twenty ways18
cited by the Great Teacher Miao-lo in which the Lotus Sutra
surpasses all other sutras.
The two doctrines19
outlined above were preached by the Buddha himself, and
yet they may be difficult to believe. How, you may ask,
could one possibly acquire greater blessings by making offerings
to an ordinary person than by making offerings to a Buddha?
And yet if you declare that these doctrines
are mere lies, then you call into doubt the golden words
spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha himself, you make light of the
testimony to their truth given by Taho Buddha, and you disregard
the sign manifested by the Buddhas of the ten directions
when they extended their tongues.20
And if you do these things, you will fall into the Avichi
hell alive. You will be as nervous and uneasy at heart as
a person who tries to ride an unruly horse over a rocky
On the other hand, if you believe these
doctrines, you will become a Buddha of perfect enlightenment.
How, then, are you to go about nurturing faith in the Lotus
Sutra? For if you try to practice the teachings of the sutra
without faith, it would be like trying to enter a jeweled
mountain without hands [to pick up its treasures], or like
trying to make a thousand-mile journey without feet. The
answer is simply to examine the proof that is at hand, and
thus to take hold of faith that is far off.
On the first day of the first month of
the Buddhas eightieth year, when he had finished preaching
the Lotus Sutra, he made this announcement: "Ananda,
Miroku, Mahakashyapa--I came into the world in order to
preach the Lotus Sutra. I have accomplished my original
intention, and now there is no further reason for me to
remain in the world. Three months from now, on the fifteenth
day of the second month, I will enter nirvana."21
Everyone, both those among the Buddhas
followers and outsiders, doubted this pronouncement. But
since the Buddhas words are never spoken in vain,
when the fifteenth day of the second month at last came,
he did in fact enter nirvana. As a result, people recognized
that the golden words of the Buddha were true, and they
began to have a certain amount of faith in his words.
The Buddha made another prediction, saying,
"A hundred years after I pass away, a great ruler named
King Ashoka will appear. He will rule over one-third of
the continent of Jambudvipa, and will erect eighty-four
thousand stupas and pay honor to my remains."22
People doubted this statement as well, but just as the Buddha
had predicted, the king appeared; and from this time onward,
The Buddha also said, "Four hundred
years after I pass away, there will be a great ruler named
King Kanishka. He will gather together a group of five hundred
arhats, and they will compile the work known as the Daibibasha
ron." This prediction also came about just as the
Buddha had stated.
As a result of these proofs, people came
to believe the predictions of the Buddha. if, therefore,
the two doctrines I cited earlier are nothing but lies,
then everything that is in the Lotus Sutra must be a lie.
In the Juryo chapter the Buddha
says that he became a Buddha in the distant past of gohyaku-jintengo.
We are ordinary human beings; we can hardly remember what
has happened to us since our birth in this present existence,
much less what happened one or two lifetimes back. How,
then, can we be expected to have faith in what happened
in the past of gohyaku-jintengo?
Moreover, the Buddha made a prediction
to Shariputra, saying, "In ages to come, after a countless,
boundless, inconceivable number of kalpas have passed,...
you will be able to become a Buddha with the name Flower
Glow." And he also made a prediction concerning Mahakashyapa,
saying, "In future existences ... And in his final
incarnation he will be able to become a Buddha named Light
But these passages in the sutra concern
events in the distant future, and so it is difficult to
expect ordinary persons like ourselves to have faith in
them. It is thus difficult for ordinary persons, who have
no knowledge of the distant past or future, to have faith
in this sutra. That being the case, even if we were to carry
out its practice, what meaning could it have for us?
In light of all this, it would seem that
when one who is able to show clearly visible proof in the
present expounds the Lotus Sutra, there will also be persons
who will believe.
In the declaration concerning sutra readings24
that you, Horen Shonin, have sent to me, you state: "To
mark the thirteenth year of the departure of my late beloved
father I have performed a five-time recitation of the one-vehicle
sutra of Myoho-renge-kyo."
Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings,
is known by the title World-Honored One of Great Enlightenment.
The character that signifies "honored" can be
interpreted as "lofty," and the character for
"lofty" can be interpreted as "filial piety."
Shakyamuni Buddha is honored with the title World-Honored
one because, among all the persons noted for their filial
devotion, he is the most outstanding.
The body of Shakyamuni Buddha was golden-hued
and endowed with thirty-two features. Among these thirty-two
was an unseen crown of the head, which means that although
the Buddha was sixteen feet tall, the Brahman of the Bamboo
Staff school was unable to measure his height,25
and the deity Bonten was unable to see the top of his head.
Hence the name an unseen crown of the head." And he
gained this characteristic because he was a great man who
was foremost in filial devotion.
There are two classics on filial piety.
One is a non-Buddhist work, the Classic of Filial Piety,
by the sage known as Confucius. The other is a Buddhist
text, the work known now as the Lotus Sutra. Though one
text is Buddhist and the other not, with regard to this
point, their import is the same.
What inspired Shakyamuni to devote himself
to religious practice over kalpas equal in number to dust
particles in an effort to attain Buddhahood? It was nothing
other than the ideal of filial devotion. All the living
beings of the six paths and the four forms of birth are
our fathers and mothers. Therefore, as long as Shakyamuni
was unable to treat them all with filial devotion, he refrained
from becoming a Buddha.
The Lotus Sutra offers a secret means for
leading all living beings to Buddhahood. It leads one person
in the realm of hell, one person in the realm of hungry
spirits, and thus one person in each of the nine realms
of existence to Buddhahood, and thereby the way is opened
for all living beings to attain Buddhahood. The situation
is like the joints in a piece of bamboo: if one joint is
ruptured, then all the joints will split. Or it is like
the move known as shicho26
in the game of go: if one stone is declared "dead,"
then many stones will "die." The Lotus Sutra also
is like these. Metal has the power to cut down trees and
plants, and water has the power to extinguish any kind of
fire. In like manner, the Lotus Sutra has the power to bring
all living beings to the state of Buddhahood.
Among the living beings of the six paths
and the four forms of birth there are both men and women.
And these men and women all were our parents at some point
in our past existences. Therefore, as long as even one of
these fails to attain Buddhahood, then we ourselves cannot
become a Buddha.
Hence persons of the two vehicles are referred
to as those who do not know how to repay their debt of gratitude,
and it is taught that they will never be able to attain
Buddhahood. This is because they do not universally manifest
their sense of filial devotion.
The Buddha became enlightened to the Lotus
Sutra, and as a result of the filial devotion that he showed
to the mothers and fathers of the six paths and the four
forms of birth, his person was endowed with blessings.
And these blessings enjoyed by the Buddha
can be transferred by him to persons who put their faith
in the Lotus Sutra. It is like the food eaten by a loving
mother, which turns into milk for the nourishment of her
baby. For the Buddha has said: "Now this threefold
world is all my domain, and the living beings in it are
all my children."27
Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, takes
these blessings and, in the form of the words that make
up the Lotus Sutra, brings them to the mouths of all living
beings for them to taste. A baby does not know the difference
between water and fire, and cannot distinguish medicine
from poison. But when he sucks milk his life is nourished
and sustained. Although one may not be versed in the Agon
sutras the way Shariputra was, although one does not have
the understanding of the Kegon Sutra that Bodhisattva
Gedatsugatsu had, and although one has not committed to
memory all the sacred teachings set forth by the Buddha
in the course of his lifetime, as had Bodhisattva Monju,
if one listens to even one character or one phrase of the
Lotus Sutra, one cannot fail to attain Buddhahood.
The five thousand persons28
of overweening pride lacked faith, having listened to the
Lotus Sutra but failed to understand it. But because they
did not slander it, after three months had passed they were
able to attain Buddhahood. These are the persons referred
to when the Nirvana Sutra says: "Whether they have
faith or do not have faith, all shall be reborn in the immovable
land of Buddhahood."
In the case of the Lotus Sutra, even though
a person may not have faith in it, so long as he does not
slander it, then once he has heard it, he will attain Buddhahood,
strange as it may seem. It is like a person bitten by the
reptile known as the seven-step snake. He may go one step,
or as many as seven steps, but by that time the poison will
have had its effect upon him, strange as it may seem, and
he will be unable to take an eighth step. Or it is like
the seven-day embryo in the womb. Within seven days29
time, the embryo will invariably change shape. It will never
retain the same shape for eight days.
And you, Horen Shonin, are at present in
a similar situation. The blessings of Shakyamuni, the lord
of teachings, have already been transferred to your person.
And your person is a continuation of the face and form of
your departed father.
It is like a seed that puts forth sprouts,
or a flower that produces fruit. Though the flower falls,
the fruit remains; though the seed is hidden from sight,
the sprout is visible to us.
Thus the blessings that you yourself enjoy
are in fact treasures belonging to your late father. When
the pine flourishes, the cypress will rejoice; when the
grasses wither, the orchids weep. And if even feelingless
beings such as plants and trees can behave in this way,
then how much more so those who have feelings, let alone
those who are bound together as father and son?
In your declaration regarding sutra readings,
you state: "From the morning when my compassionate
father closed his eyes to the thirteenth anniversary of
his passing, I have recited the Jigage before Shakyamuni
Buddha and have transferred the merits to the spirit of
At present it would appear that the people
of Japan put faith in the Law of the Buddha. But in ancient
times, before the Buddhist Law was introduced to this country,
people knew nothing about either the Buddha or his Law.
It was only after the battle between Moriya and Prince Jogu
that some persons took faith in Buddhism, though others
The situation was similar in China. After
Matanga had introduced Buddhism to China, he held a debate
with the Taoists. When the Taoists were defeated in debate,
then for the first time there were persons who put their
faith in Buddhism, though there were many more who did not.
In China there was a man named Wu-lung
who was highly skilled at calligraphy and was often requested
to write things for other people. But regardless of where
the request came from, he absolutely refused to write out
any passages from the Buddhist sutras. When he was on his
deathbed, he summoned his son I-lung to his side and said,
"You have been born into our family and have inherited
talent in the art of calligraphy. Out of filial devotion
to me, you must never transcribe the Buddhist sutras. In
particular, do not transcribe the Lotus Sutra! Lao Tzu,
whom I honor as my teacher, bears the title Honorable One
of Heaven. Heaven cannot have two suns in it; and yet, in
the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha declares that I am the
only person [who can rescue and protect others]! I
find such a claim suspicious in the extreme! If you fail
to heed my dying words and transcribe any of the Buddhist
texts, I will instantly change into an evil spirit and put
an end to your life!"
After he said this, his tongue split into
eight pieces, his head broke into seven parts, blood spurted
from his five sense organs, and his life came to an end.
But his son, unable to judge good from bad, was unaware
that his father had manifested these evil signs and had
fallen into the Avichi hell because he had slandered the
Law. Therefore, the son abided by the dying words of his
father, never transcribing Buddhist sutras, much less allowing
himself to recite such texts.
And so he continued awhile in this manner.
The ruler of that time was called Ssu-ma. This ruler, wishing
to have some sutra texts transcribed in connection with
a Buddhist celebration, inquired as to who was the most
skilled calligrapher in all of China, and was informed that
it was I-lung. He summoned I-lung and explained his wishes,
but I-lung repeatedly refused the work. The ruler, unable
to prevail upon him, resigned himself to employing someone
else to write out the sutra text, but he was dissatisfied
with the results. Summoning I-lung once more, he said, "You
inform me that it is out of respect for your fathers
dying wishes that you refuse to undertake the sutra transcriptions
I have requested. Though I hardly regard that as a valid
excuse, I will accept it for the time being. I therefore
ask only that you write out the title of the sutra."
Three times the ruler issued his command,
but I-lung continued to decline. The ruler, his countenance
clouded over with anger, said, "All of heaven and earth
are within the jurisdiction of the ruler! And if that is
so, then your late father, too, is a subject of mine, is
he not? You have no right to slight an official undertaking
simply because of private reasons! You must transcribe at
least the title of the sutra. If you refuse, even though
the place may be the site of a Buddhist celebration, I will
have you beheaded at once!"
Therefore I-lung transcribed just the title
of the sutra. He wrote "Myoho-renge-kyo, Volume
One," and so on for each volume, down to Volume Eight.
When evening came, he returned to his home
and said to himself with a sigh, "I have violated my
fathers dying words and, because the rulers
command left me no choice, have transcribed a Buddhist sutra
and behaved in an unfilial way. The gods of heaven and the
deities of earth must surely be looking upon me with anger
and regarding me as an unfilial son!"
So saying, he retired for the night. In
that nights dream a brilliant light appeared, shining
like the morning sun, and a heavenly being stood in his
courtyard, accompanied by countless followers. In the air
above the head of the heavenly being there were sixty-four
Buddhas. I-lung pressed his palms together and said, "Who
may this heavenly being be?"
The being replied, "I am your father,
Wu-lung. Because I slandered the Law of the Buddha, my tongue
split into eight pieces, blood spurted from my five sense
organs, my head broke into seven parts, and I fell into
the hell of incessant suffering. The terrible torments I
endured at the time of my death were hardly bearable, but
the sufferings that followed while I was in the hell of
incessant suffering were a hundred, a thousand, a hundred
thousand times worse! The pains a person would feel in the
human realm if he were to have his fingernails pried off
with a dull knife or his head cut off with a saw, if he
were forced to walk over live coals or were confined in
a cage of thorns, would be as nothing compared to my pains.
I longed for some way to tell you of my plight but could
think of none. How inexpressible was my regret at the fact
that, at the time of my death, I warned you never to transcribe
the words of the Buddhist sutras and that I left that as
my last instruction! But it was too late for regrets, and
no matter how I despised myself for what I had done, or
cursed my tongue, it was to no avail.
"Then yesterday morning the single
character myo, which begins the title of the Lotus
Sutra, came flying through the air above the cauldron that
is the hell of incessant suffering, and there changed into
a golden-hued Shakyamuni Buddha. This Buddha possessed the
thirty-two features and his face was like the full moon.
He spoke in a loud voice, saying, Even those who have
destroyed enough good causes to fill the universe, if they
hear the Lotus Sutra just once, will never fail to attain
"Then from this one character myo
a heavy rain began to fall that extinguished the flames
of the hell of incessant suffering. King Emma tipped his
crown in a gesture of respect, the wardens of hell put aside
their staffs and stood at attention, and all the transgressors
in hell looked around in astonishment and asked what had
"Then the character ho appeared
in the air and underwent the same kind of transformation,
followed by the character ren, the character ge,
and the character kyo. In this way sixty-four characters
appeared and became sixty-four Buddhas. Sixty-four Buddhas
appearing in the hell of incessant suffering were like sixty-four
suns and moons coming out in the sky. Amrita, or
sweet dew, then descended from the sky and fell upon the
"The transgressors asked the Buddhas
why these wonderful things were happening. The sixty-four
Buddhas answered, saying, Our golden-hued bodies do
not come either from sandalwood or from jeweled mountains.
They come from the eight times eight characters, the sixty-four
characters that make up the titles of the eight volumes
of the Lotus Sutra, which were transcribed by I-lung, the
son of Wu-lung, who is here in the hell of incessant suffering.
The hand of I-lung is part of the body fathered by Wu-lung,
and the characters written by that hand are as though written
by Wu-lung himself
"When the Buddhas had spoken in this
way, the transgressors in the hell of incessant suffering
said, When we were in the saha world, we, too,
had sons and wives and followers. We have wondered why none
of them performed religious acts for our repose, and thought
that, perhaps, although they were performing acts of goodness,
the effect was too weak to reach us here. We sighed and
sighed but to no purpose. One day, two days, one year, two
years, half a kalpa, a whole kalpa went by, and then at
last we met with a good friend who was able to save us."
"So all of us have become followers
and are about to ascend to the Trayastrimsha heaven. I have
come to pay my respects to you before we go." Thus
spoke the heavenly king. In his dream I-lung was filled
with joy. After he and his father had parted, he had wondered
in what world he would see him again. But now he could see
the figure of his father and encounter the Buddhas as well.
The sixty-four Buddhas then announced, "We are serving
no particular master. You shall be our patron. From today
on, we will guard and protect You as though you were our
parent. You must continue to be diligent. When your life
ends, we will without fail come and lead you to the inner
court of the Tushita heaven." Such was the promise
they made. I-lung, filled with awe, swore an oath, saying,
"From this day forth, I will never transcribe so much
as a single character of non-Buddhist scriptures."
It was similar to the oath taken when Bodhisattva Vasubandhu
vowed never again to recite Hinayana sutras, or when Nichiren
declared that he would never recite the name of Amida Buddha.
After I-lung awakened from his dream, he
reported to the ruler what had happened. The ruler then
issued a proclamation, saying, "The Buddhist ceremony
that I undertook is hereby completed. You will write a prayer
describing the events that have taken place." I-lung
did as he was instructed. As a result, people in China and
Japan came to take faith in the Lotus Sutra. These events
are described in the Chinese work entitled Hokke denki,
or The Lotus Sutra and Its Traditions.
What I have said here pertains to the blessings
that derive from transcribing the sutra. For those who carry
out one or another of the five practices, the act of transcribing
the sutra produces the lowest grade of blessings. How much
more immeasurable, then, are the blessings to be won by
reading or reciting the sutra.
As to the blessings derived by you, who,
as chief mourner, have recited the Jigage every morning
for a period of thirteen years, they "can only be understood
and shared between Buddhas."31
The Lotus Sutra represents the bone and
marrow of all the sacred teachings of the Buddhas
lifetime, and the Jigage section represents the soul of
the twenty-eight chapters of the sutra. The various Buddhas
of the three existences look upon the Juryo chapter
as their very life, and the bodhisattvas of the ten directions
likewise regard the Jigage as their eyes.
But it is not for me to describe the blessings
deriving from the Jigage. Rather I refer to the subsequent
Fumbetsu kudoku chapter, which elaborates on them.
It says that those persons who became Buddhas after hearing
the Jigage are equal in number to the particles of dust
in a minor world system or a major world system. Moreover,
those who attained enlightenment by listening to the six
chapters from the Yakuo chapter on are merely those
who had remained unenlightened after gaining blessings from
the Jigage. And in the forty volumes of the Nirvana Sutra
the Buddha once more explained the blessings to be derived
from the Jigage to the fifty-two types of beings who were
So it becomes clear that the great bodhisattvas,
heavenly beings and others, numerous as the particles of
dust in the worlds of the ten directions, who gathered together
like clouds on the occasion of the Buddhas preaching
[of the Kegon Sutra] at the place of enlightenment;
and the various sages who attended on the occasion of his
preaching of the Daijuku and Daibon sutras;
and the twelve hundred and more honored ones who listened
to the Dainichi Sutra and the Kongocho Sutra--it
becomes clear that at some time in the past these persons
listened to the Jigage section of the Lotus Sutra. But because
their faith was weak, they failed to attain enlightenment,
even though incalculably long periods--sanzen-jintengo
and gohyaku-jintengo--passed by. However, when they
encountered Shakyamuni Buddha, the blessings of the Lotus
Sutra began to work for them, so that they were able to
gain enlightenment through the sutras preached prior to
the Lotus Sutra, and did not have to wait until the assembly
at Eagle Peak to do so.
Consequently, the Buddhas throughout the
ten directions looked up to the Jigage as their teacher
and attained Buddhahood. The Jigage is like a father and
a mother to the persons of the world.
A person who embraces the Juryo
chapter of the Lotus Sutra is sustaining the life of the
Buddhas. Would any Buddha, then, abandon a person who embraces
the very sutra through which that Buddha attained enlightenment?
If any Buddha should abandon such a person, it would be
as though he were abandoning himself.
Suppose there was a woman who had given
birth to three thousand outstanding warriors of the caliber
of Tamura or Toshihito. Would one choose to make an enemy
of such a woman? To do so would be like handing three thousand
generals over to the side of ones opponent, would
it not? So, in the same way, anyone who would treat a person
who embraces the Jigage of the Lotus Sutra as an enemy would
be making an enemy of all the Buddhas of the three existences.
All the characters in which the Lotus Sutra
is written represent living Buddhas. But because we have
the eyes of common mortals, we see them as characters. It
is like the example of the Ganges River. Hungry spirits
see the waters of the river as fire; human beings see them
as water; and heavenly beings see them as sweet dew. The
waters are the same in all cases, but each type of being
sees them in a different way, according to the effects of
As for the characters of the Lotus Sutra,
a blind person cannot see them at all. A person with the
eyes of a common mortal sees them as black in color. Persons
in the two vehicles see them as void. Bodhisattvas see various
different colors in them, while a person whose seeds of
Buddhahood have reached full maturity sees them as Buddhas.
So the sutra states: "If one can uphold this [sutra],
he will be upholding the Buddhas body."32
And Tien-tai says: "This sutra of Myoho-renge-kyo,
before which I bow my head, in its single case, with its
eight scrolls, twenty-eight chapters, and 69,384 characters,
is in each and everyone of its characters the true Buddha,
who preaches the Law for the benefit of living beings."33
In light of all this, we can say that each
morning, [when he recites the jigage,] the priest Horen
is sending forth golden-hued characters from his mouth.
These characters are 510 in number, and each character changes
into a sun, and each sun changes into a Shakyamuni Buddha.
They emit great beams of light that penetrate the earth
and shine upon the three evil paths and the great citadel
of the hell of incessant suffering. They also shine toward
the east, west, north and south, and upward, ascending to
the realm where there is neither thought nor no thought.34
They visit the realm where your departed father is dwelling,
wherever it may be, and there hold discourse with him.
"Who do you think we are?" they
say. "We are the characters of the Jigage of the Lotus
Sutra that your son Horen recites each morning. These characters
will be your eyes, your ears, your feet, your hands!"
Thus do they earnestly converse with him.
And at that time your departed father will
say, "Horen is not my son. Rather he is a good friend
to me." And he will turn and pay respects in the direction
of the saha world. For what you are doing is truly
an act of filial devotion.
We speak of embracing the Lotus Sutra.
But although there is only one sutra, the manner in which
we embrace it may vary from one period to the next. There
may be times when a person literally rends his flesh and
offers it to his teacher, and in this way attains Buddhahood.
Or at other times a person may offer his body as a couch
to his teacher, or as so much firewood. At yet other times
a person may bear the blows of sticks and staves for the
sake of the sutra, or may practice religious austerities
or observe various precepts. And there may be times when,
even though a person does the things described above, he
still does not attain Buddhahood. It depends upon the time
and is not something fixed.
Therefore the Great Teacher Tien-tai
declares that on, should use whatever method "accords
with the time."35
And the Great Teacher Chang-an says: "You should let
your choices be fitting and never adhere solely to one or
Question: At what times should one offer
ones body, and at what times should one observe the
Answer: A person of wisdom is one who,
understanding the time, spreads the teachings of the Lotus
Sutra accordingly; this is his most important task. If a
persons throat is dry, what he needs is water; he
has no use for bows and arrows, weapons and sticks. If a
person is naked, he wants a suit of clothes but has no need
for water. From one or two examples you can guess the principle
that applies in general.
Suppose there is a great demon who is working
to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. In such a case
one should offer ones own body as alms to the demon;
there is no need to offer any other food or clothing.
Or suppose there is an evil ruler who is
bent upon destroying the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. In
such a case, even at the cost of ones life one must
not follow him. And if there should be eminent priests who
keep the precepts and practice religious austerities, and
who appear to be spreading the teachings of the Lotus Sutra
but are, in fact, subverting them, you should perceive the
truth of the matter and reprimand them.
The Lotus Sutra says: "We care nothing
for our bodies or lives but are anxious only for the unsurpassed
way."37 And the
Nirvana Sutra states: "It is proper that he [the rulers
envoy] should relate the words of his ruler without holding
back any of them, even though it may cost him his life."
The Great Teacher Chang-an comments on this: "[He
should relate the words of his ruler] without holding back
any of them, even though it may cost him his life
means that ones body is insignificant while the Law
is supreme. One should give ones life in order to
propagate the Law."38
Judging from outward appearances, at present
I, Nichiren, am the most perverse man in all of Japan. Among
a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand and a hundred thousand
persons of the four categories of believers in the sixty-six
provinces and two outlying islands of our country,39
I am detested by the entire populace of both high and low
station. In the seven hundred or more years since the Law
of the Buddha was first introduced to Japan, there has never
been anyone who was hated to such a degree because of the
Lotus Sutra. I have never heard that such persons existed
in India or China, nor do I believe that they could have
existed. Thus, I am the most perverse man in the entire
continent of Jambudvipa.
And because of this, people fear the authority
of the government officials and regard with apprehension
the sneers of the populace. Even my own kindred dare not
visit me, to say nothing of those who are not related to
me. Persons who have been helped by me, not only in religious
matters but in secular affairs as well, fearful of the eyes
of others and hoping thereby to put an end to talk, make
a show of condemning me, though I do not think they do so
in their hearts.
Several times I have met with difficulties,
and twice I have incurred the wrath of the government authorities.
Not only have I myself suffered punishment, but some of
those who are associated with me have had to suffer official
punishment, have had their lands confiscated, have been
dismissed from service by their lords or have been abandoned
by their parents and brothers. As a result of all this,
I have been cast aside by those who followed me in the past,
and at present am without followers.
In particular, in the case of the most
recent instance of punishment from the government, it was
certain that I would be executed, but instead, for some
unknown reason, the government authorities banished me to
the island province of Sado. Among those sent to Sado, most
die; few live. And after I had finally managed to reach
my place of exile, I was looked upon as someone who had
committed a crime worse than murder or treason.
After leaving Kamakura for Sado, each day
I seemed to face more and more powerful enemies. The persons
I encountered were all advocates of the Nembutsu, and as
I made my way through the fields and over the mountains,
the sound of the grasses and trees by the wayside rustling
in the wind I supposed to be the attacks of my enemies.
At last I reached the province of Sado.
There, true to the nature of that northern land, I found
the wind particularly strong in winter, the snows deep,
the clothing thin and the food scarce. I well understood
then how the mandarin orange tree, uprooted and transplanted
to a different locale, can quite naturally turn into a triple-leafed
My dwelling was a dilapidated grass hut
in the midst of a field thick with eulalia and pampas grass
where corpses were buried. Rain leaked in; the walls did
not keep out the wind. Day and night the only sound reaching
my ears was the sighing of the wind by my pillow; each morning
the sight that met my eyes was the snow that buried the
roads far and near. I felt as though, still living, I had
passed through the realm of hungry spirits and fallen into
one of the cold hells.40
I experienced the same thing as Su Wu, who was detained
for nineteen years in the land of the northern barbarians
and ate snow to keep himself alive, or Li Ling, who dwelled
for six years in a rocky cave, clothed in a coat of straw.
Now, as it happens, the sentence of exile
has been lifted. But I found that there was no safety for
me in Kamakura, nor could I remain there for any length
of time. And so, beneath the pines and among these mountain
rocks, I have hidden my body and set my mind at peace. But,
except for having the earth itself to eat and the grass
and trees to wear, I am cut off from all provisions of food
and clothing. What feelings prompted you, I wonder, to come
pushing through the wilderness to visit me in such a place?
Have the spirits of my departed father
and mother perhaps taken possession of you? Or is this some
blessing brought about by the World-Honored One of Great
Enlightenment? I cannot hold back my tears!
Question: You pointed to the great earthquake
of the Shoka era and the great comet of the Bunei
era41 and said that
our country would face danger from revolt within and invasion
from abroad because it failed to heed the Lotus Sutra. May
I ask your reasons?
Answer: Heavenly calamities and strange
occurrences on earth such as these two are not to be found
anywhere in the three thousand or more volumes of non-Buddhist
writings. The major comets or major earthquakes described
in the Three Records, the Five Canons and
the Shih chi, or Records of the Historian,
are comets with tails one or two feet in length, ten or
twenty feet, or perhaps fifty or sixty feet, but not one
with a tail that stretches across the whole sky. The same
applies for the magnitude of the earthquakes described therein.
And if we examine the Buddhist scriptures, we find that
during the entire period since the Buddha passed away, no
such major portents as these have ever appeared.
Even in India, when King Pushyamitra wiped
out the teachings of Buddhism in the five regions of India,
burned the temples and pagodas in the sixteen major states,
and cut off the heads of monks and nuns, no such portents
as these appeared. Likewise in China, when the emperor of
the Hui-chang era42
abolished over forty-six hundred temples and monasteries
and forced 260,500 monks and nuns to return to secular life,
there were no manifestations of this kind. In our own country,
when the Buddhist teachings were introduced during the reign
of Emperor Kimmei, Moriya showed enmity toward the Buddhist
Law, and later Priest Kiyomori burned the seven major temples
of Nara, and the priests of Mount Hiei burned and destroyed
Onjo-ji temple, but even then no such major comet appeared.
It seemed to me that it was essential for
people to know that an even more portentous event was about
to occur in this world of ours, Jambudvipa. Therefore I
composed a work entitled "Rissho
Ankoku ron" and presented it to His Lordship, the
lay priest of Saimyo-ji.43
In that document I stated (and here I summarize): "This
great portent [great earthquake] is a sign that our country
is about to be destroyed by some other country. This will
happen because the priests of the Zen, Nembutsu and other
sects are attempting to destroy the Lotus Sutra. Unless
the heads of these priests are cut off and cast away at
Yui Beach in Kamakura,44
the nation will surely be destroyed."
Later, when the great comet of the Bunei
era appeared, I had the proof of disaster in my very hand,
and I became more convinced than ever of what was about
to take place.
On the twelfth day of the ninth month in
the eighth year of the Bunei era (1271), when I incurred
the wrath of the authorities, I repeated my warning, saying,
"I am the pillar of Japan. If you lose me, you lose
the country!" I knew that my advice was unlikely to
be heeded at that time, but I wanted to give it anyway for
Again, on the eighth day of the fourth
month of last year (1274), when I had an interview with
Hei no Saemon-no-jo, he asked when the Mongol forces would
invade Japan. I replied that the sutra texts gave no clear
indication of the month and day, but that since the eyes
of heaven were so filled with anger these days, it would
surely be no later than the present year.
People may wonder how I happen to know
such things. I am a person of little worth, but I am working
to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. When the ruler
and the ministers and the common people of a country show
animosity toward the votary of the Lotus Sutra, then the
gods of earth and the gods of heaven, who were present when
the Lotus Sutra was preached and who took a vow to protect
its votary, will, respectively, begin to shake with anger
and emit beams of light as a threat to the nation. And if,
in spite of all remonstrance, the ruler and his ministers
fail to heed the warnings, then, in the end, the gods will
take possession of human beings and will cause revolt within
the nation and attack from abroad.
Question: What proof can you offer for
Answer: A sutra says: "Because evil
men are respected and favored and good men are subjected
to punishment, the stars and constellations along with the
winds and rains, all fail to move in their proper seasons."45
In effect, heaven and earth are a mirror
of the nation. In our state now there are heavenly calamities
and strange occurrences on earth. Let it be known that the
ruler of the state must be committing some error. The situation
is revealed as though in a mirror, so there is no disputing
it. If the ruler of the state is guilty of minor errors
only, then only minor calamities will be revealed in the
heavenly mirror. But the fact that we are now witnessing
major calamities must mean that the ruler is committing
The Ninno Sutra speaks of innumerable
types of minor disasters, twenty-nine types of medium disasters,
and seven types of major disasters. One name for this sutra
is Ninno or Benevolent King, but another name is
the Mirror of Heaven and Earth. And this sutra can be used
as a "mirror of heaven and earth" in which to
catch a clear reflection of the nations ruler. Moreover,
the sutra states: "Once the sages have departed, then
the seven disasters are certain to arise."
One should understand from this that there
is a great sage in this country of ours. And one should
also understand that the ruler of the nation does not put
faith in the sage.
Question: In earlier times, when Buddhist
temples were destroyed, why did no omens such as we see
at present appear?
Answer: The omens that appear are large
or small depending upon whether the errors that cause them
are grave or minor. The omens that have appeared this
time are greatly to be wondered at. They have appeared not
just once or twice, not on merely one or two occasions.
Rather they have become more and more frequent with the
passing of time. From this you should understand that the
errors being committed by the ruler of the nation are more
serious than those committed by rulers in earlier times,
and that it is a graver error for a ruler to treat a sage
with enmity than it is for him to kill many of the common
people, or to kill many of his ministers, or to kill his
In Japan at present, the ruler, his ministers.
and the common people are committing major offenses such
as have not been known in India, China or anywhere in the
whole continent of Jambudvipa in the 2,220 years or more
since the passing of the Buddha. It is as though all the
persons throughout the worlds of the ten directions who
are guilty of committing any of the five cardinal sins were
to be gathered together in a single spot.
The priests of this country have all become
possessed by the spirits of Devadatta and Kokalika; the
ruler of the nation has become a reincarnation of King Ajatashatru
or King Virudhaka. And in the case of the ministers and
the common people, it is as though one gathered together
evil men like the ministers Varshakdra and Chandrakirti,
or like Sunakshatra and Girika, and had them constitute
the people of Japan.
In ancient times, when there were two or
three persons guilty of any of the five cardinal sins or
of unfilial conduct, the ground where those persons were
standing split apart and they were swallowed up. But now
the whole country is filled with such persons. Therefore,
the entire earth under Japan would have to split apart in
one instant and the whole country fall into the hell of
incessant suffering. There would be no point in its simply
opening up to swallow one or two persons.
It is like the case of an aging person
who pulls out a white hair here and there. When he becomes
truly old, his whole head turns white and it is no longer
any use trying to pull out the hairs one by one. The only
thing to do then is to shave off all the hair in one stroke.
Question: Your argument is that, though
you are a votary of the Lotus Sutra, your advice is not
heeded, and therefore these heavenly calamities and strange
occurrences on earth arise. But the eighth volume of the
Lotus Sutra states: "Their heads will split into seven
the fifth volume states: "If people speak ill of and
revile him, their mouths will be closed and stopped up."47
Why is it that, though you have been cursed and treated
with animosity for many years now, these latter things have
Answer: By way of answer, let me ask in
turn if the persons who cursed and reviled and beat Bodhisattva
Fukyo had their mouths stopped or their heads split apart?
Question: [They did not.] But in that case,
the text of the sutra is not consistent with itself, is
Answer: There are two types of persons
who show animosity toward the Lotus Sutra. The first are
persons who cultivated the roots of goodness in former existences,
who in their present existence are searching for some connection
with Buddhism, who conceive a desire for enlightenment and
are capable of attaining Buddhahood. It is these persons
whose mouths are stopped or whose heads split apart.
The other type are persons who have slandered
the Law in their previous existences, slander it in their
present existence, and for existence after existence go
on creating karma that will condemn them to the hell of
incessant suffering. These persons, even though they may
curse, will not have their mouths stopped. They are like
men who have already been sentenced to execution and are
awaiting their turn in prison. While they are in prison,
regardless of what evil acts they may commit, they will
receive no further punishment other than the death sentence
already passed upon them. However, with regard to persons
who are eventually to be released, if they commit evil acts
in prison, then they will receive warnings.
Question: Since this is a very important
point, may I ask you to explain it in detail?
Answer: It is explained in the Nirvana
Sutra and in the Lotus Sutra.
- Hokke mongu ki, Vol. 8.
- Five flavors: Sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty.
- Enemy Before Birth: Ajatashatru (see Glossary).
- Three cardinal sins: See p. 286, n. 28.
- Lotus Sutra, chap. 3. In this quotation, the Daishonin
paraphrases the sutra passage "be born there again"
as "die there again."
- According to the Kambutsu sammai Sutra and the
Kako genzai inga Sutra, those who are unfilial
will, after their death, fall into the hell of incessant
- Hokke mongu ki, Vol. 4. The ten honorable titles
are epithets applied to the Buddha expressing his virtue,
wisdom and compassion.
- This story, which appears in the Zokurui (Various
Treasuries) Sutra, is related in greater detail in the
"Reply to Tokimitsu".
- Hokke mongu ki, Vol. 2.
- Near-perfect enlightenanent: See Fifty-two stages
of bodhisattva practice in Glossary.
- Pure and far-reaching voice: According to the Daichido
ron, the voice of a Buddha delights those who hear
it; it touches people's hearts and rouses a feeling of
- Unseen crown of the head: One of a Buddha's eighty characteristics,
generally associated with a knot of flesh like a topknot
on the crown of the head-one of a Buddha's thirty-two
features. Neither human nor heavenly beings are able to
see the crown.
- Tuft of white hair: See p. 286, n. 26.
- Markings of the thousand-spoked wheel: See P. 286,
- Highest heaven in the world of form: The Akanishtha
heaven or Summit of Being heaven. See Glossary
for Summit of Being heaven.
- These virtues represent the state and nature of Buddhahood:
the Great Wisdom of Equality indicates the Buddha wisdom
that benefits all beings impartially; the Shining Light
of Great Knowledge refers to the Buddha wisdom that shines
universally and eliminates the darkness of illusions;
and the Fire Pit of Meditation describes a state of concentration
that is free of delusions.
- This story appears in the Nirvana Sutra. The rich man's
wife died during pregnancy, but Shakyamuni nevertheless
assured him that he would receive a male child. When his
wife was cremated, a baby boy emerged frorn her body and
sat up in the flames. At the Buddha's command, Jivaka
entered the fire and bore the child to safety.
- Twenty ways: The twenty outstanding points enumerated
in the Hokke mongu ki. one of them, for example,
is the revelation in the Juryo
(16th) chapter that Shakyamuni in fact attained Buddhahood
in the remote past.
- Two doctrines: The doctrines explaining the offense
incurred by those who oppose the votaries of the Lotus
Sutra and the blessings obtained by those who support
- In the Ho (11th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra,
Taho Buddha appears to bear witness to the truth of the
sutra. In the Jinriki (21st) chapter, all the Buddhas,
testifying to the truth of the sutra, extend their long
broad tongues until they reach the Brahma heaven.
- The first statement Shakyamuni Buddha makes in the Fugen
Sutra, the epilogue to the Lotus Sutra, which reads,
"Three months from now I will enter nirvana."
Shakyanium makes the same announcement in a Pali scripture
called the Mahiparinibbina-suttanta (Sutra of the
Great Nirvana). The Daishonin may have added the information
about the exact date of the Buddha's passing because Buddhist
tradition related that the Buddha passed away on this
- Lotus Sutra, chap. 3.
- Ibid., chap. 6. In this passage the expression "final
incarnation" indicates the existence in which one
frees oneself from illusions, thus liberating oneself
from the sufferings of birth and death.
- Declaration concerning sutra readings: A document in
which one expresses both one's wish for the repose of
the deceased and one's desire that a priest should perform
sutra readings. This declaration is read at a memorial
ceremony for the deceased.
- When a Brahman attempted to measure Shakyamuni's height
with his bamboo staff, he discovered that his staff was
too short to take the measurement.
- Shicho: A move in the game of go. it occurs when
a particular stone, and all the stones that have been
set in place to protect it, are rendered immobile by the
move of one's opponent. At this point, the stones are
said to be "dead."
- Lotus Sutra, chap. 3.
- Five thousand persons: As described in the Hoben
(2nd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, those who left the
assembly, thinking that they had understood what they
- This story of the seven-step snake appears in the Daibibasha
ron, vol. 46.
- Lotus Sutra, chap. 3.
- Ibid., chap.
- Ibid., chap. 11.
- Source unknown.
- The world of formlessness being divided into four realms,
this refers to the uppermost. See also Threefold
world in Glossary.
- Hokke mongu, vol. 8.
- Nehangyo sho, vol. 8.
- Lotus Sutra, chap. 13.
- Nehangyo sho, vol. 12.
- Two outlying islands: Iki and Tsushima, islands off
the coast of Kyushu
- Cold hells: Eight cold hells (see Glossary).
- A reference to the major earthquake that devastated
the Kamakura area in the eighth month of 125 7, and to
the great comet that appeared from the sixth through the
eighth month in 1264.
- Emperor of the Hui-ch'ang era: Wu-tsung (814-846), the
fifteenth emperor of the T'ang dynasty, who was an adherent
of Taoism. in 845 he initiated a nationwide drive to destroy
- Lay priest of Saimyo-ji: A reference to Hojo Tokiyori
(1227-1263), the retired fifth regent of the Kamakura
- Similar statements from the Nirvana Sutra, suggesting
that slanderers of the Law should be put to death, are
cited in the "Rissho
ankoku ron." In that treatise the Daishonin makes
it plain that such statements are not meant to be taken
literally; the slander itself, rather than the person
who commits it, is what must be eradicated.
- Konkomyo saishij Sutra, vol. 8.
- Lotus Sutra, chap. 26.
- Ibid., chap. 14.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 7.