Letter to Jakunichi-bo
I deeply appreciate your sending a letter to this distant
place. It is extremely rare to be born as a human being.
Not only are you endowed with human life, but you have had
the rare fortune to encounter Buddhism. Moreover, out of
the Buddha's many teachings, you have found the daimoku
of the Lotus Sutra and become its votary. Truly you have
served tens of billions of Buddhas in your past existences!
Nichiren is the supreme votary of the Lotus Sutra in Japan.
In this land only he has lived the twenty-line verse of
the Kanji chapter. Eight hundred billion myriad bodhisattvas
pledged with this verse to propagate the Lotus Sutra but
not one of them fulfilled it. The parents who gave life
to this extraordinary person, Nichiren, are the most blessed
of all people in Japan. It is destiny that they should have
been my parents, and I, their child. Since Nichiren propagates
the Lotus Sutra as the envoy of Shakyamuni, then his parents
must also share this relationship. They are like King Myoshogon
and Lady Jotoku who followed their sons, Jozo and Jogen,
in the practice of Buddhism. Could the two Buddhas Shakyamuni
and Taho have been reborn as Nichiren's parents? Or if not,
could his parents have been among the eight hundred billion
myriad bodhisattvas or the Four Bodhisattvas led by Jogyo?
It is beyond comprehension.
Names are important for all things. That is why the Great
Teacher T'ien-t'ai placed "designation" first
among the five major principles. Giving myself the name
Nichiren signifies that I attained enlightenment by myself.
This may sound boastful, but there are specific reasons
for what I say. The sutra reads, "Just as the light
of the sun and moon illuminates all obscurity, this person
will practice among the people and dispel the darkness of
all mankind." Consider exactly what this passage reveals.
"This person will practice among the people..."
means that the first five hundred years of the Latter Day
of the Law will witness the advent of Bodhisattva Jogyo,
who will illuminate the darkness of human ignorance and
earthly desires with the torch of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren's
endeavors to have all the Japanese embrace the Lotus Sutra
are the work of Bodhisattva Jogyo. His unremitting efforts
never slacken, even here on this mountain.
The passage continues, "After my death, you must embrace
this sutra. Those who do so shall travel the straight road
to Buddhahood." Therefore, those who become Nichiren's
disciples and followers should realize the profound karmic
relationship they share with him and spread the Lotus Sutra
in the same spirit. Being a votary of the Lotus Sutra is
a bitter and yet unavoidable destiny.
Fan K'uai, Chang Liang, Taira no Masakado and Fujiwara
no Sumitomo never acted cowardly because they cared so deeply
about their honor and abhorred disgrace. But disgrace in
this life is nothing. What counts is disgrace which appears
in the next life. Advance on the Lotus Sutra's path to enlightenment,
bearing in mind the time when devils, demons and the guards
of hell will strip you of your garments on the bank of the
river of three crossings. The Lotus Sutra is the robe which
will keep you from disgrace after this life. The Lotus Sutra
reads, "...the naked have obtained clothing."
Believe in the Gohonzon with all your heart, for it is
the robe to protect you in the next life. No wife would
ever leave her husband unclothed, nor could any parents
fail to feel compassion for their child shivering in the
cold. Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra are like one's
wife and parents. You have helped Nichiren and saved him
from disgrace in this life; in return, he will protect you
from disgrace in the next. Death came to someone yesterday,
it may come to us today. Blossoms turn into fruit and brides
become mothers-in-law. Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and deepen
I cannot thank you enough for your frequent letters. Jakunichi-bo,
please convey all these teachings in detail to the other
The sixteenth day of the ninth month
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, page