Persecution at Tatsunokuchi
Shijo Kingo-dono Go-shousoku (Letter to Shijo Kingo)
I cannot adequately express my gratitude for your frequent
letters. At the time of my persecution on the twelfth of
you not only accompanied me to Tatsunokuchi2
but declared that you would die by my side. I was deeply
How many are the places where I died in past existences
for the sake of my family, lands and kin! I have given up
my life on mountains, seas and rivers, on the seashore and
by the roadside, but never once did I die for the Lotus
Sutra or suffer persecution for the daimoku. Hence none
of the ends I met enabled me to reach enlightenment. Because
I did not attain Buddhahood, the seas and rivers where I
died are not the Buddha's land.
In this life, however, as the votary of the Lotus Sutra,
I was exiled and almost put to death-exiled to Ito and nearly
beheaded at Tatsunokuchi. Tatsunokuchi in Sagami Province
is the place where Nichiren gave his life. Because he died
there for the Lotus Sutra, how could it be anything less
than the Buddha
land? A passage from the sutra reads, "In all the
Buddha lands of the universe there is but one supreme vehicle,..."3
Doesn't this bear out my assertion? The "one supreme
vehicle" is the Lotus Sutra. There is no true teaching
other than the Lotus Sutra in any of the Buddha lands throughout
the universe. The Buddha's provisional teachings are excluded,
as the sutra explains elsewhere.4
This being so, then every place where Nichiren meets persecution
is the Buddha land.
Of all the places in this world, it is at Tatsunokuchi
in Katase of Sagami Province where Nichiren's life dwells.5
Because he gave his life there for the sake of the Lotus
Sutra, Tatsunokuchi may well be called the Buddha land.
This principle is found in the Jinriki chapter, where
it states, "Whether in a grove, in a garden, on a mountain,
in a valley or in a broad field,...the Buddhas enter nirvana."
You accompanied Nichiren, vowing to give your life as a
votary of the Lotus Sutra. Your deed is infinitely greater
than that of Hung Yen,6
who tore open his stomach and inserted the liver of his
dead lord, Duke Yi, to save him from shame and dishonor.
When I reach Eagle Peak, I will first tell how Shijo Kingo,
like Nichiren, resolved to die for the Lotus Sutra.
Secretly I learned that I am to be exiled to Sado by order
of Regent Hojo. Of the three heavenly gods, the god of the
moon saved my life at Tatsunokuchi by appearing as a shining
object, and the god of the stars descended four or five
days ago to greet me.7
Now only the god of the sun remains, and he is certain to
protect me. How reassuring! The Hosshi chapter states,
"[The Buddha] will send gods in various guises to protect
the votary of the Lotus Sutra." This passage leaves
no room for doubt. The Anrakugyo chapter reads, "Neither
swords nor staves will harm him." The Fumon
chapter states, "The sword will instantly be broken
into pieces." There is nothing false in these quotations.
Strong and steadfast faith is the vital thing.
With my deep respect,
The twenty-first day of the ninth month in the eighth year
of Bun'ei (1271)
- September 12, 1271
- Tatsunokuchi: A place near Kamakura
used as an execution site
- Lotus Sutra, chap. 2
- The translation here is simplified
to avoid redundant geographic references
- Hung Yen: A loyal retainer in ancient
China whose lord, Yi Kung, was slain in battle. Hung
Yen sacrificed his own life to prevent the desecration
of his lord's body. To the Chinese, the liver was
the source of vitality
- On the night of September 13, while
the Daishonin was confined at Honma Rokurozaemon's
residence in Echi, a luminous object fell from the
sky and hung suspended before him in the branches
of a plum tree. In scientific terms, this seems to
have been a phenomenon caused by atmospheric discharge.
See also p. 183
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin; Vol. I, pp. 13-15.