The Receipt of New Fiefs
I have received one kan of coins. So your lord has
granted you new fiefs! It seems as though it could scarcely
be true; it is so amazing that I wonder if I may not be
dreaming. I hardly know what to say in reply.
The reason is, people throughout Japan as well as those
in Kamakura, even those in your lord's service, including
the scions of his clan, all disapproved of you because of
your belief in Nichiren's teaching. Your continued faith
appeared incomprehensible. The mere fact that you were permitted
to remain in your lord's clan at all was a cause for astonishment.
Moreover, whenever your lord offered to grant you an estate,
you invariably declined to take it. How strange your fellow
samurai must have thought your refusal, how outrageous it
must have seemed to your lord!
Such being the case, I was anxious about how you would
fare this time, and in addition, I learned that dozens of
your fellow clansmen had slandered you to your lord. I therefore
thought you would not possibly be able to obtain a fief;
the gravity of your situation seemed overwhelming. Moreover,
even your own brothers abandoned you. And yet, in spite
of all this, you have been granted such favor. No honor
could be greater than this.
You say that your new domains occupy an area three times
the size of Tono'oka. There is a man from the province of
Sado who is now staying here [in Minobu] and who knows that
area thoroughly. He tells me that, of the three villages,
the one called Ikada is first rate. Although its fields
and paddies may be few, its profits are immeasurable. Two
of the fiefs each annually yield a harvest worth one thousand
kan, and the third, three hundred kan. Such,
he says, are the merits of your estates.
In any event, you had been forsaken by your fellow samurai
as well as by the people close to you, and they mocked you
for their own amusement. Under the circumstances, an official
letter granting you any sort of fief, even had it been inferior
to Tono'oka, would have been welcome. Yet, as it turned
out, your new domains, combined, are three times as large
[as Tono'oka]. No matter how poor these estates might prove
to be, you must not complain of it, not to others nor to
your lord. If you repeatedly praise them as excellent lands,
your lord may grant you still more fiefs. But if you speak
of them as poor lands with only a meager yield, you will
certainly be forsaken by both Heaven and other men. You
should bear this in mind.
King Ajatashatru was a worthy man, but because he killed
his own father, at that very moment Heaven should by rights
have abandoned him, and the earth should have split open
to swallow him up. However, because of the merit that his
father, the murdered king, had acquired by making five hundred
cartloads of offerings to the Buddha every day for the space
of several years, and because of the merit he himself would
later gain by becoming a patron of the Lotus Sutra, Heaven
did not abandon him, nor did the earth swallow him. In the
end, rather than falling into hell, he became a Buddha.
Your case is similar to his. You were forsaken by your
brothers, resented by your fellow samurai, persecuted by
the scions of the clan, and hated by people throughout Japan.
Yet, on the twelfth day of the ninth month in the eighth
year of Bun'ei, between the hours of the Rat and the Ox
(12:00 A.M. to 2:00 A.M.), when I, Nichiren, had incurred
the displeasure of the government authorities, you accompanied
me from Kamakura to Echi in Sagami Province, holding fast
to my horse's bridle. Since you thus proved yourself to
be the most worthy ally of the Lotus Sutra in all the world,
no doubt Bonten and Taishaku could not bring themselves
to forsake you.
The same holds true with your attainment of Buddhahood.
No matter what grave offenses you might have committed,
because you have not gone against the Lotus Sutra but showed
your devotion by accompanying me, you will without a doubt
become a Buddha. Yours is like the case of King Utoku, who
gave his own life to save the monk Kakutoku and became Shakyamuni
Buddha. Faith in the Lotus Sutra acts as a prayer [to attain
Buddhahood]. Above all, strengthen your seeking mind for
the Way even further, so that you can attain Buddhahood
in this lifetime.
No happier thing has ever happened to any member of your
lord's clan, whether priest or layman. In speaking thus
[about receiving the new fiefs], one may appear to be overly
concerned with mundane desires, but for common mortals,
such desires are only natural, and moreover, there exists
a way to become a Buddha without eradicating them. The Fugen
Sutra, in a passage that explains the heart of the Lotus
Sutra, states, "Even without extinguishing their earthly
desires of denying the five desires,..." And the Great
Teacher T'ien-t'ai's Maka Shikan reads, "Earthly
desires are enlightenment; the sufferings of birth and death
are nirvana." Bodhisattva Nagarjuna's Daichido Ron,
in explaining how the Lotus Sutra surpasses all the rest
of the Buddha's lifetime teachings, says, "[The Lotus
Sutra is] like a great physician who changes poison into
medicine." This means that a physician of lesser skill
can cure ordinary illness with medicine, while a great physician
can cure even grave illness with virulent poison.
The tenth month of the firt year of Koan (1278), cyclic
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,
Vol. 6, page 261.