Letter of Petition from Yorimoto
On the twenty-fifth day of the sixth month I respectfully
read your official letter of the twenty-third, which I received
through the intermediaries Shimada no Saemon Nyudo and Yamashiro
no Mimbu Nyudo. In the letter you state: "I am shocked
to hear that all those present on that occasion are unanimous
in saying that you behaved in a disorderly manner at the
place where Priest Ryuzo was preaching. They say you interrupted
with a group of your cohorts, all wearing weapons."
That is a groundless falsehood. I do not know who told
you so, but surely it would be fitting if, out of pity for
me, you were to summon them to confront me in your presence
and inquire into the truth or falsehood of their accusations.
Briefly, the root of this matter is as follows. On the
ninth day of the sixth month, Sammi-ko, who is a disciple
of the sage Nichiren, came to my residence and said: "Recently
a priest named Ryuzo-bo has arrived from Kyoto and settled
in Kuwagayatsu, west of the gate of the Daibutsu-den. He
preaches day and night, urging those who have questions
about Buddhism to come and hold discourse with him in order
to settle their doubts about this life and the next. All
the people in Kamakura, high and low, revere him as they
would Shakyamuni Buddha. However, I hear that no one has
ever actually debated with him. I want to go to Kuwagayatsu
to debate with him and clarify whatever doubts the people
might have about their next life. Won't you come and listen?"
At that time I was busy with official matters, so I did
not originally intend to accompany him. However, I had heard
that it concerned the Buddhist teachings, and I often went
to hear preaching on that subject. Being a lay believer,
however, I never said a single word. Therefore, I believe
that a strict investigation on your part should be sufficient
to reveal that I was not in any way abusive.
In any event, during his sermon, Ryuzo-bo said, "If
anyone among you has a question about the Buddhist teachings,
please do not hesitate to ask." Thereupon Sammi-ko,
the disciple of the priest Nichiren, raised the following
question: "That death is inevitable from the time of
birth is certainly no cause for surprise; in addition, especially
in recent times, countless people in Japan have perished
in calamities. No one can fail to realize this transience,
which lies before our very eyes. Under these circumstances
I heard that you, a respected priest, had come from Kyoto
to dispel the doubts of the people, so I came to listen.
I was feeling hesitant, thinking it rude to ask a question
in the middle of your sermon, so I am happy that you have
invited anyone who has doubts to speak freely.
"What puzzles me first of all is this: I am a lowly
person, born in the Latter Day of the Law in a remote land
[far from the birthplace of Buddhism]. Yet fortunately Buddhism,
which originated in India, has already been introduced to
this country. One should embrace it by all means. However,
the sutras amount to no less than five or seven thousand
volumes. Since they are the teachings of a single Buddha,
they must essentially be one sutra. But Buddhism is divided
into eight sects, if one includes Kegon and Shingon, or
ten sects, if one includes Jodo and Zen. Although these
sects represent different gates of entry, I would presume
that their truth must ultimately be one.
"However, the Great Teacher Kobo, the founder of the
Shingon sect in Japan, said, 'The Lotus Sutra, when compared
to the Kegon and Dainichi sutras, not only
represents a different gate but is a doctrine of childish
theory, and the Buddha who expounded it is still in the
region of darkness.' He also stated, 'The Great Teacher
T'ien-t'ai of the Hokke [Lotus] school and others have vied
with one another to steal the ghee [of the Shingon].' The
Great Teacher Tz'u-en, the founder of the Hosso school,
said, 'The Lotus Sutra is expedient while the Jimmitsu
Sutra is true; those sentient beings without the nature
of enlightenment can never attain Buddhahood throughout
"Ch'eng-kuan of the Kegon school said, 'The Kegon
Sutra represents the root teaching and the Lotus Sutra,
the branch teachings.' He also said, 'The Kegon Sutra
is the teaching of enlightenment for the people of the sudden
teaching, and the Lotus Sutra, the teaching of enlightenment
for the people of the gradual teaching.' The Great Teacher
Chi-hsiang of the Sanron school said, 'Of all the Mahayana
sutras, the Hannya sutras are supreme.' Priest Shan-tao
of the Jodo or Pure Land school said, 'Of those who practice
the Nembutsu, ten persons out of ten and a hundred persons
out of a hundred will be reborn in the Pure Land. However,
not one in a thousand can be saved by the Lotus and other
sutras.' Priest Honen urged people to 'discard, close, ignore
and abandon' the Lotus Sutra in favor of the Nembutsu, and
also likened the votaries of the Lotus Sutra to 'a band
of robbers.' And the Zen sect declares itself to represent
'a special transmission outside the sutras, independent
of the written word.'
"Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, said of the Lotus
Sutra, 'The World-Honored One has long expounded his doctrines
and now must reveal the truth.' And Taho Buddha declared
of Myoho-renge-kyo, 'All that you [Shakyamuni] have
expounded is the truth.' The sutra also states that the
various Buddhas of the ten directions, who were emanations
of Shakyamuni, extended their tongues to the Brahma Heaven.
"The Great Teacher Kobo wrote that the Lotus Sutra
is a doctrine of childish theory. Yet Shakyamuni Buddha,
Taho Buddha and all the Buddhas of the ten directions unanimously
declared that all its teachings are true. Which of all these
statements are we to believe?
"Priests Shan-tao and Honen said of the Lotus Sutra
that 'not one in a thousand can be saved by it,' and that
one should 'discard, close, ignore and abandon' it. However,
Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha and all the Buddhas of the
ten directions, who are emanations of Shakyamuni, assert
that [of those who embrace the Lotus Sutra,] none shall
fail to attain Buddhahood, and that all shall achieve the
Buddha Way. Shakyamuni, Taho and all the other Buddhas,
and Priests Shan-tao and Honen, are in their statements
as far apart as fire and water, or clouds and mud.
"Which of them are we to believe? Which of them are
we to reject?
"In particular, of the forty-eight vows of the monk
Hozo mentioned in the Muryogi Sutra, which both Shan-tao
and Honen revere, the eighteenth vow states, 'Should I attain
Buddhahood...excepting only those who commit the five cardinal
sins or who slander the True Law.' Surely this means that
even if Amida Buddha's original vow is true and enables
one to attain rebirth in the Pure Land, those who slander
the True Law are excluded from rebirth in the land of Amida
"Now the second volume of the Lotus Sutra reads, 'One
who refuses to take faith in this sutra [and instead slanders
it]...After they die, they will fall into the Avichi Hell.'
If these scriptural passages are true, then how can Shan-tao
and Honen, who both regarded the Nembutsu sect as representing
the essence of Buddhism, escape falling into the great citadel
of the Avichi Hell? And if these two priests fall into hell,
there can be no doubt that the scholars, disciples and lay
believers who follow in their footsteps will also as a matter
of course fall into the evil paths. These are the matters
What is your opinion, Priest Ryuzo?"
In this manner, Sammi-ko posed his question.
Priest Ryuzo answered, "How could I doubt the worthies
and learned men of high antiquity? Ordinary priest that
I am, I believe them with profound reverence." Then
Sammi-ko retorted, saying, "These words do not impress
me as those of a wise man. Everyone believes in those Buddhist
teachers who were revered in their own time. But the Buddha
enjoins us in the Nirvana Sutra as his final instruction,
'Rely on the Law and not upon persons.' The Buddha taught
us to rely on the sutras if the Buddhist teachers should
be in error. You say those teachers could not possibly be
in error, but between the Buddha's golden words and your
personal opinion, I am committed to the former."
Then Priest Ryuzo asked, "When you speak of the many
errors of the Buddhist teachers, to which teachers do you
refer?" Sammi-ko answered, "I refer to the doctrines
of the Great Teacher Kobo and Priest Honen, whom I mentioned
before." Priest Ryuzo exclaimed, "That is impossible!
I would not dare discuss the teachers of our nation. The
people in this audience all follow in their footsteps. If
they are angered, they will surely create an uproar. That
would be a fearsome thing."
Then Sammi-ko attacked him, saying, "Because you asked
me to specify which teachers were in error, I mentioned
those whose teachings contradict the sutras and treatises.
But now you suddenly have reservations and refuse to discuss
the matter. I think that you merely perceive your own dilemma.
In matters of doctrine, to fear others or stand in awe of
society's opinion, and not expound the true meaning of the
scriptural passages in accordance with the Buddha's teaching,
is the height of foolishness. You do not appear to be a
wise man. As a priest, how can you not speak out when evil
doctrines spread throughout the land, when the people fall
into the evil paths and the country stands on the brink
of ruin? That is why the Lotus Sutra reads, 'We do not hold
our own lives dear,' and the Nirvana Sutra says, '...even
though it may cost him his life.' If you are a true sage,
how can you begrudge your life in fear of the world or of
"Even in non-Buddhist literature we find mention of
a man named Lung-p'eng, who was beheaded, and of the worthy
Pi Kan, who had his chest torn open. But because Lung-p'eng
remonstrated with King Chieh of the Hsia dynasty and Pi
Kan admonished King Chou of the Yin dynasty, their names
have been handed down in history as those of worthy men.
"The Buddhist scriptures tell us that Bodhisattva
Fukyo was beaten with staves, the Venerable Aryasimha was
beheaded, the monk Chu Tao-sheng was banished to a mountain
in Suchou, and the Learned Doctor Fa-tao was branded on
the face and exiled to the area south of the Yangtze River.
Yet because they propagated the True Law, they gained the
name of sages."
The Priest Ryuzo replied, "Such people cannot possibly
appear in the latter age. We are the sort who fear society
and dread the opinions of others. Even though you speak
so boldly, I doubt that you actually live up to your words."
Priest Sammi-ko retorted, "How can you possibly know
another's mind? Let me tell you that I am a disciple of
the sage Nichiren, who is now widely known throughout the
country. Although the sage, my master, is a priest in the
latter age, unlike the eminent priests of our day, he neither
seeks invitations, nor does he flatter people, nor has he
earned the slightest bad reputation in secular matters.
"He simply declares, in light of the sutras, that
because the evil teachings of such sects as the Shingon,
Zen and Jodo as well as slanderous priests fill this country,
and everyone from the ruler on down to the multitudes of
common people has taken faith in them, the people have all
become archenemies of the Lotus Sutra and Shakyamuni, the
lord of teachings. In this life they will be forsaken by
the gods of heaven and earth and suffer invasion by a foreign
country, and in the next life they will fall into the great
citadel of the Avichi Hell.
"He has said that if he declares such a thing, he
will incur great enmity, but that if he does not, he cannot
escape the Buddha's condemnation. The Nirvana Sutra says,
'If even a good priest sees someone slandering the Law and
disregards him, failing to reproach him, to oust him or
to punish him for his offense, then that priest is betraying
Buddhism.' Realizing that if in fear of the world's opinion
he did not speak out, he would fall into the evil paths,
my master has risked his life for more than two decades,
from the Kencho era through this third year of the Kenji
era (1277), without slackening in the least. Therefore he
has undergone countless persecutions at the hands of individuals,
and twice he has even incurred the ruler's displeasure.
I myself was one of those who accompanied him when the wrath
of the authorities fell upon him on the twelfth day of the
ninth month in the eighth year of the Bun'ei era (1271),
and I was considered equally guilty and came close to being
beheaded myself. Despite all this, do you still say that
I hold my own life dear?"
As Ryuzo-bo closed his mouth and turned pale, Sammi-ko
persisted: "With such paltry wisdom it is unwarranted
for you to declare that you will dispel the people's doubts.
The monks Kugan and Shoi thought they knew the True Law
and intended to save the people, but they fell into the
hell of incessant suffering along with their disciples and
lay believers. If you, with your limited knowledge of Buddhist
doctrines, preach in an attempt to save many people, then
surely you and your followers will fall into the hell of
incessant suffering. You had better reconsider such preaching
from this day forth. I had not felt that I should speak
in this way; but I, too, cannot be exempted from the Buddha's
warning that if one sees a misguided priest sending others
into hell with his evil teachings and fails to reproach
that priest and expose his errors, then he himself is an
enemy of Buddhism. Moreover, I feel pity that all those,
both high and low, who listen to your preaching will fall
into the evil paths. Therefore I am speaking out in this
way. A wise man is so called because he admonishes the ruler
when the country is endangered or because he corrects others'
mistaken views. But in your case I can do nothing, because,
no matter what error you may see, you will no doubt refuse
to correct it for fear of society's reaction. Even if I
had Monju's wisdom and Purna's eloquence, they would be
wasted on you." So saying, Sammi-ko rose to leave;
but the members of the audience, rejoicing, joined their
palms together and sought to detain him, imploring him to
teach them the Buddhist doctrines for a little while. However,
I have no further details to add, so you may surmise what
really happened. How could a person who believes in the
Lotus Sutra and aspires to the Buddha Way possibly contemplate
misbehavior or deliberately use foul language when the Buddhist
teaching is being expounded? However, I leave this to your
Having declared myself to be a follower of the sage Nichiren,
I returned home and reported to you exactly what had happened
during the debate. Moreover, no one was present on that
occasion whom I did not know. What you heard must have been
the fabrication of those who harbor jealousy against me.
If you quickly summon them to face me in your presence,
the truth of the matter will be brought to light.
In your official letter you also state, "I revere
the elder of Gokuraku-ji temple as the World-Honored One
reborn," but this I cannot accept. The reason is: if
what the sutra states is true, the sage Nichiren is the
envoy of the Buddha who attained enlightenment in the remote
past, the provisional manifestation of Bodhisattva Jogyo,
the votary of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra,
and the great leader in the fifth five-hundred-year period
[following the Buddha's passing]. In an attempt to have
this sage executed, Priest Ryokan submitted a letter of
petition to the authorities proposing that he be beheaded;
but for some reason the execution was not carried out, and
he was instead exiled far away to Sado Island. Was this
not the doing of Priest Ryokan? I am sending you a copy
of his petition together with this letter.
Even though Priest Ryokan preaches day and night on each
of the six days of purification against killing even a blade
of grass, he actually proposed that the priest who propagates
the true teaching of the Lotus Sutra be beheaded. Has he
not contradicted his own words? Is Priest Ryokan himself
not possessed by the Devil of the Sixth Heaven?
Let me explain how this situation came about. Whenever
Priest Ryokan preached, he would lament, saying, "I
am endeavoring to help all people in Japan become 'observers
of the precepts' and to have them uphold the eight precepts
so that an end can be put to all the killings in this country
and the drunkenness in the realm; but Nichiren's slander
has prevented me from achieving my desire." Hearing
of this, the sage Nichiren declared, "Somehow I must
overthrow the delusion of his great arrogance and save him
from the agonies of the hell of incessant suffering."
Hearing this, I, Yorimoto, and his other disciples all anxiously
advised him, saying: "Even though you speak out of
profound compassion as a champion of the Lotus Sutra, since
Priest Ryokan is revered throughout Japan, especially by
the samurai in Kamakura, you should perhaps refrain from
making strong statements."
Then, at the time of the great drought, the government
ordered Priest Ryokan to perform a ceremony for rain on
the eighteenth day of the sixth month in the eighth year
of the Bun'ei era (1271), cyclical sign kanoto-hitsuji,
in order to save the people. Hearing this news, the sage
Nichiren said, "Although prayers for rain are a trifling
matter, perhaps I should take this opportunity to demonstrate
to everyone the power of the Law that I embrace." He
sent a message to Priest Ryokan's place, saying: "If
Priest Ryokan brings about rainfall within seven days, I,
Nichiren, will stop teaching that the Nembutsu leads to
the hell of incessant suffering and become his disciple,
observing the two hundred and fifty precepts. But if no
rain falls, that will show clearly that Priest Ryokan is
deliberately confusing and misleading others, though he
appears to be observing the precepts. In ancient times there
were many instances in which the supremacy of one teaching
over another was determined through prayers for rain, such
as the challenge between Gomyo and the Great Teacher Dengyo,
or between Shubin and Kobo."
The sage Nichiren sent this message to the priest Ryokan
through the intermediaries Suo-bo and Irusawa no Nyudo,
who are Nembutsu believers. This priest and lay priest are
Ryokan's disciples, as well as Nembutsu believers, and do
not yet believe in Nichiren's teaching. So the sage Nichiren
said to them: "We will decide whose teachings are correct
through this prayer for rain. If it rains within seven days,
you can believe that you will be reborn in the Pure Land
by virtue of the eight precepts and the Nembutsu, which
you already uphold. But if it does not rain, you should
place your faith in the Lotus Sutra alone." Delighted
to hear this, the two delivered the message to the priest
Ryokan at Gokuraku-ji temple.
With tears of joy, the priest Ryokan, along with more than
120 of his disciples, offered prayers, with the sweat of
their faces rising up in steam and their voices resounding
to the heavens. They chanted the Nembutsu, the Shou
Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, and Ryokan preached on the eight
precepts in an effort to produce rainfall within seven days.
When no sign of rain appeared after four or five days, he
grew frantic and summoned hundreds of his disciples from
Taho-ji temple to join him, exhausting all his powers of
prayer. But within seven days not a drop of rain fell.
At that time, the sage Nichiren sent a messenger to him
on no less than three occasions, saying: "A wanton
woman called Izumi Shikibu and a priest named Noin who broke
the precepts were each able to cause rain immediately with
just a thirty-one-syllable poem that made little sense and
was full of excess flourishes. Why is it, then, that Priest
Ryokan - who observes all the precepts and rules, has mastered
the Hokke and Shingon doctrines and is renowned as the foremost
in compassion - cannot produce rainfall within seven days,
even when assisted by hundreds of his followers? Consider
this: if one cannot cross a moat ten feet wide, can he cross
one that is twenty or thirty feet? If you cannot bring about
rainfall, which is easy, how can you attain rebirth and
enlightenment in the Pure Land, which is difficult?
"Accordingly you should from this point on revise
your prejudiced views which lead you to hate Nichiren. If
you fear for your next life, come to me immediately as you
have promised. I will teach you the Law that causes rain
to fall and the path that leads to Buddhahood. Have you
not failed to produce rain within seven days? The drought
intensifies and the eight winds blow all the more violently,
while the people's grief grows deeper and deeper. Stop your
prayers immediately." When the messenger conveyed Nichiren's
message word for word at the Hour of the Monkey (3:00 -
5:00 P.M.) on the seventh day, Priest Ryokan wept and his
disciples and followers also cried aloud in their chagrin.
When the priest Nichiren incurred the wrath of the Kamakura
government and was asked about this matter, he told the
story as it really happened. So he said: "If Priest
Ryokan had had any sense of shame, he would have disappeared
from public view and retired to a mountain forest. Or, if
he had become my disciple as he had promised, then he would
have shown at least a little seeking spirit. But in actuality,
he made endless false accusations against me in an attempt
to have me executed. Is this the conduct of a noble priest?"
I, Yorimoto, also personally observed the situation. Where
other affairs are concerned, I would not dare to address
my lord in this fashion, but in this matter alone, however
I may consider it, I find I cannot remain silent.
You state in your official letter, "After meeting
the priest Ryuzo and the elder of Gokuraku-ji temple, I
look up to them as I would to Shakyamuni or Amida Buddha."
Addressing this statement, too, with the utmost respect,
I must point out that while in Kyoto, Priest Ryuzo was feeding
morning and evening on human flesh; and when this became
known, the priests of Enryaku-ji temple of Mount Hiei rose
up against him, saying: "The world has entered the
latter age and evil demons are rampant throughout the country.
We must subdue them with the power of the Mountain King."
They burned down his residence and intended to punish him,
but he quickly escaped and no one knew of his whereabouts.
Now he has reappeared in Kamakura and is again eating human
flesh, causing right-minded people to tremble in fear. Nevertheless,
you say you respect him as a Buddha or a bodhisattva. How
can I, as your retainer, refrain from pointing out my lord's
error? I wonder what the level-headed people in our clan
think about this matter.
In the same letter you also state, "To defer to one's
lord or parents, whether they are right or wrong, is exemplary
conduct according with the will of Buddhas and gods and
also with social propriety." As this matter is of the
utmost importance, I will refrain from expressing my own
opinion and instead cite authoritative works [of sages and
worthy men]. The Classic of Filial Piety states,
"[In a case of moral wrong,] a son must admonish his
father, and a minister must admonish his lord." Cheng
Hsuan says, "If a lord or a father behaves unjustly
and his minister or son fails to remonstrate with him, then
the state or the family will come to ruin." The Shinjo
states, "If one fails to remonstrate against his ruler's
tyranny, he is not a loyal minister. If one fails to speak
out for fear of death, he is not a man of courage."
The Great Teacher Dengyo states, "In general, where
unrighteousness is concerned, a son must admonish his father
and a minister must admonish his lord. Truly one should
know this: as is the case with lord and minister or with
father and son, so it is with master and disciple. A disciple
must speak out when his master goes astray." The Lotus
Sutra states, "We do not hold our own lives dear. We
value only the supreme Way." The Nirvana Sutra reads,
"For example, if an envoy who is skilled in discussion
and knows how to employ clever expedients should be sent
to a foreign country to carry out a mission for his sovereign,
it is proper that he should relate the words of his ruler
without holding back any of them, even though it may cost
him his life. And a wise man should do the same in teaching
Buddhism." The Great Teacher Chang-an says, "'[He
should relate the words of his ruler] without holding back
any of them, even though it may cost him his life.' This
means that one's body is insignificant while the Law is
supreme. One should give his life in order to propagate
the Law." He also states, "He who destroys or
brings confusion to the Buddhist Law is an enemy of the
Law. If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy
to correct him, he is in fact his enemy. But he who is willing
to reprimand and correct the offender...makes it possible
for the offender to rid himself of evil, and so he acts
like a parent to the offender." My fellow samurai may
think that I, Yorimoto, am lacking in propriety [toward
you], but in all other, worldly, affairs, I will resolutely
heed the words of my lord and my parents.
I can only lament when I see my lord, to whom I am so profoundly
indebted, being deceived by those who embrace evil teachings
and in danger of falling into the evil paths. Because King
Ajatashatru took Devadatta and the six non-Buddhist teachers
as his mentors and opposed Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings,
all the people of the kingdom of Magadha became enemies
of Buddhism, and the 580,000 clansmen of the king also opposed
the Buddha's disciples. Among them, only Minister Jivaka
was the Buddha's disciple. The great king disapproved of
his minister's devotion to the Buddha just as my lord disapproves
of me, Yorimoto. But in the end he discarded the heretical
doctrines of the other six ministers and took faith in the
true teaching that Jivaka espoused. Perhaps, in the same
way, I will save you in the end.
When I speak thus, you may wonder how I dare compare you
to Ajatashatru, who committed the five cardinal sins. But
it is clear in the light of the sutra that your offense
is a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand times more grave
than his, though I hesitate to say such a thing.
The Lotus Sutra states, "Now this threefold world
is all my domain. The living beings in it are all my children."
If this scriptural statement is correct, then Lord Shakyamuni
is the father and mother, teacher and sovereign of all the
people in Japan. Amida Buddha does not possess these three
virtues. However, you ignore the Buddha of the three virtues
and invoke the name of another Buddha [Amida] day and night,
morning and evening, sixty or eighty thousand times a day.
Is this not an unfilial deed? It was Shakyamuni Buddha himself
who originally taught that Amida had vowed to save all people;
but in the end he regretted it and said, "I alone can
save them." After that, he never again taught that
there are two or three Buddhas who can save the people.
No one has two fathers or two mothers. What sutra says that
Amida is the father of this country? What treatise indicates
him as its mother?
The teachings of Nembutsu such as the Kammuryoju
Sutra were expounded provisionally, in preparation for the
Lotus Sutra. They are like the scaffolding used when building
a pagoda. Some think that because [the Nembutsu teachings
and the Lotus Sutra] are both a part of Buddhism, they differ
only in that one was expounded earlier and one later; but
these people are laboring under a profound misconception.
They are like someone foolish enough to value the scaffolding
even after the pagoda has been completed, or like someone
who says that the stars appear brighter than the sun. Concerning
such people, the sutra states, "Even though I teach
and command, they neither believe nor accept," and
"After they die, they will fall into the Avichi Hell."
All the inhabitants of Japan at present are people who
reject Shakyamuni Buddha while invoking the name of Amida
Buddha, who discard the Lotus Sutra and believe in the Kammuryoju
and other sutras. Or they are lay men and women who make
offerings to these slanderers, or renowned priests and even
the ruler of the country who revere as wise men those who
in fact commit the five or seven cardinal sins or the eight
offenses. Of such people as all these, the sutra states,
"In this way they will be reborn again and again [in
the hell of incessant suffering] for kalpas without number."
Being aware to some small degree of these errors, I have
ventured to bring them to your attention. Among those in
service, despite their differences in rank, there are none
who do not honor their lords, each according to his station.
If, while personally knowing that my lord will fare badly
in both this life and the next, I were to remain silent
in fear of my fellow samurai or of the world at large, then
would I not be guilty of complicity in your offense?
No one can deny that the Nakatsukasas of two generations,
my father and myself, have dedicated our lives for the sake
of our lord. When your father incurred the wrath of the
authorities, his hundreds of retainers all shifted their
allegiance; among them, my late father Yorikazu alone remained
faithful to the end, accompanying him [into exile] to the
province of Izu. Shortly before the battle that took place
in Kamakura on the twelfth day of the second month in the
eleventh year of the Bun'ei era (1274), I, Yorimoto, was
in the province of Izu, but no sooner had I received word
at the Hour of the Monkey on the tenth day than I hastened
alone over the Hakone pass and joined with seven others
who vowed before you to put an end to their lives. But the
world at length grew calm again, and my lord now lives in
peace. Since that time, you have included me among those
who enjoy your trust in all matters, whether trifling or
significant. How, then, could I estrange myself from you?
I would obediently follow you even into the next life. If
I should attain Buddhahood, I would save my lord as well,
and if you were to attain Buddhahood, I expect you would
do the same for me.
So I listened to the sermons of various priests and inquired
into which teaching leads to Buddhahood. And I came to believe
that, according to the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, the
sage Nichiren is the sovereign of the threefold world, the
father and mother of all people, and the emissary of Shakyamuni
Buddha - Bodhisattva Jogyo.
More than four hundred years have now passed since the
evil teaching called the Shingon school was introduced to
Japan. The Great Teacher Dengyo brought it from China in
the twenty-fourth year of the Enryaku era (805), but he
considered it undesirable for this country, and therefore
did not allow it to be designated as a sect in its own right,
defining it merely as an expedient teaching of the Tendai-Hokke
sect. Later when the Great Teacher Dengyo had passed away,
the Great Teacher Kobo, not to be outdone my him, took advantage
of the opportunity to establish the Shingon teaching as
an independent sect; but Enryaku-ji temple on Mount Hiei
would not accept it. However, Jikaku and Chisho were of
limited insight, and although they lived on Mount Hiei,
their hearts inclined toward Kobo of To-ji temple. Perhaps
for this reason, they turned against their teacher Dengyo
and for the first time established the Shingon sect at Enryaku-ji
temple. This marked the beginning of our country's ruin.
For the more than three hundred years that followed, some
insisted on the superiority of the Shingon teaching over
the Lotus Sutra; others, on the superiority of the Lotus
Sutra over the Shingon teaching; and still others, on the
equality of both teachings. As the dispute continued unresolved,
the imperial rule remained unaffected and did not come to
an end. However, in the time of the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa,
the seventy-seventh sovereign, the chief priest of the Tendai
sect, Myoun, became exclusively committed to the Shingon
teaching and was killed by Minamoto no Yoshinaka. This is
an example of the passage that states, "May his head
be split in seven pieces."
Then, in the time of the Retired Emperor Gotoba, the eighty-second
sovereign, the Zen and Nembutsu sects appeared and spread
throughout the land, as had the great evil teaching of Shingon.
So the vows made by the Sun Goddess and the god Hachiman
to protect one hundred sovereigns throughout one hundred
reigns were broken, and the imperial authority came to an
end. Through the workings of the Sun Goddess and the god
Hachiman, affairs of state then came to be entrusted to
the Gon no Tayu, Hojo Yoshitoki of the Kanto region.
These three evil teachings spread to Kanto, where they
gained support within the ruling clan to a surprising degree.
Therefore the two heavenly gods Bonten, Taishaku, the gods
of the sun and moon, and the Four Heavenly Kings were enraged
and admonished the rulers by means of unprecedented disturbances
in the heavens and calamities on earth. When their admonitions
went unheeded, they commanded a neighboring country to punish
those who slandered the Lotus Sutra. The Sun Goddess and
the god Hachiman were powerless to help. The sage Nichiren
alone was aware of all this.
Such being the strictness of the Lotus Sutra, I have set
aside all trivial concerns and served you devotedly until
this day in my desire to lead my lord to enlightenment.
Are not those who accuse me falsely thereby disloyal to
you? If I leave the clan and abandon you now, you will immediately
fall into the hell of incessant suffering. Then, even if
I myself were to attain Buddhahood, I could only grieve,
feeling that I had done so in vain.
As for the Hinayana precepts, the two hundred and fifty
precepts were expounded for the heavenly gods by the great
arhat Purna; but Vimalakirti reprimanded him, saying, "You
should not place impure food in a jeweled vessel."
Angulimala reproached Monju, saying, "You will never
realize the truth of Emptiness expounded in the Mahayana
teachings through [Hinayana] practices, which are as insignificant
as mosquitoes and gadflies." Monju later set forth
seventeen flaws in the Hinayana precepts, and the Buddha
likewise repudiated them with the eight analogies. The Great
Teacher Dengyo denounced them as donkey's milk and likened
them to a toad. The later disciples of Ganjin accused the
Great Teacher Dengyo of calumny and appealed directly to
Emperor Saga; but because what Dengyo had said is clearly
indicated in the sutras, their efforts were to no avail.
The petition submitted to the emperor by the sects of Nara
proved futile, and the great ordination platform [for conferring
the Mahayana precepts] was erected at Enryaku-ji temple
on Mount Hiei; so the Hinayana precepts have already long
since been discarded. Even if I, Yorimoto, should compare
Priest Ryokan to a mosquito, a gadfly or a toad, because
such assertions are clearly based on the sutras, you would
have no reason to find fault with me.
Now it is unimaginably grievous to me that you would order
me to submit a written oath [discarding my faith in the
Lotus Sutra]. If I, Yorimoto, were to follow the trend of
the times, which goes against the Buddhist Law, and write
such an oath, you would immediately incur the punishment
of the Lotus Sutra. When the sage Nichiren, the envoy of
Shakyamuni Buddha, was exiled because of the false charges
leveled against him by the priest Ryokan, fighting broke
out within one hundred days, just as he had predicted -
and a great number of warriors perished. Among them were
the scions of the Nagoe clan. Is not the priest Ryokan solely
to blame for their deaths? And if you now pay heed to the
views of the priests Ryuzo and Ryokan and force me to write
this oath, will you not be equally guilty?
I am not sure whether those who slander me are simply ignorant
of this causal principle or whether they are intentionally
trying to do you harm. In any event, I urge you to summon
those who are plotting to use me in order to provoke some
major incident, and have them confront me in your presence.
With my deep respect,
The twenty-fifth day of the sixth month in the third year
of Kenji (1277), cyclical sign hinoto-ushi
Submitted by Shijo Nakatsukasa-no-jo Yorimoto
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 5, page
[FrontPage Include Component]