Reply to Myoho Bikuni Gozen
I have received your gift of a light summer
You are a woman, and your husband has passed
away, leaving you behind. You are separated from your relatives,
and your one or two daughters are undependable and provide
you with little support. Moreover, you are a woman who has
been hated by others on account of this teaching. Thus you
are like Bodhisattva Fukyo.
The Buddha's aunt, the nun Mahaprajapati,
was also a woman. Nevertheless, she attained the state of
arhat and gained a name as a shomon disciple. Thus
she entered the path by which Buddhahood can never be attained.
She transformed her woman's appearance [and became a nun],
abandoning her status as royal consort, and honored the exhortations
of the Buddha. For more than forty years, she upheld the five
hundred precepts. By day she waited by the roadside [begging
for alms], and by night she sat beneath a tree [in meditation],
aspiring to salvation in her life to come. Yet she was denied
the road that leads to Buddhahood, and her name was bruited
about as someone who would never become a Buddha - a mortifying
thing indeed. Being a woman, she had, whether with or without
cause, been the subject of unsavory rumors throughout long
kalpas past, which surely caused her shame and vexation. Loathing
her [female] body, she clad herself in rags and became a nun,
thinking that in this way she had divorced herself from such
sorrows. But on the contrary, she learned that, having become
a person of the two vehicles, she was never to attain Buddhahood.
How wretched she must have felt! By means of the Lotus Sutra,
however, she was absolved from the displeasure of the Buddhas
of the three existences and was able to become a Buddha called
Beheld with Joy by All Sentient Beings. How happy, how joyful
she must have been! Thus, no matter what might happen, were
it for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, she would surely never
Then the Buddha in a loud voice addressed
the four categories of Buddhists at large, saying, "Who
can broadly preach the Lotus Sutra in this saha world?"
When everyone responded with the thought, "I will, I
will!" the Buddha fully three times admonished that nuns
and laywomen desirous of repaying their debt to all the Buddhas
should persevere through any difficulty to spread the Lotus
Sutra in this saha world after his passing. But they
did not pay attention, and vowed instead "to declare
this sutra widely in the lands of the other directions."
Thus these nuns did not clearly understand the Buddha's intent.
How exasperated he must have been! Thereupon the Buddha turned
aside and instead looked earnestly to the eighty myriad of
millions of nayutas of bodhisattvas.
I had therefore thought that, although women
might tarnish their names and throw away their lives for the
sake of insignificant matters, they were weak in pursuing
the path of Buddhahood. But now you, born a woman in the evil
world of the latter age, have been reviled, struck and persecuted
by the barbaric inhabitants of these islands [of Japan], who
are so ignorant of reason, and have endured it all to propagate
the Lotus Sutra. The Buddha on Eagle Peak surely perceives
that you far surpass that nun [Mahaprajapati]. The name of
that nun [when she attained Buddhahood], the Buddha Beheld
with Joy by All Sentient Beings, refers to none other; it
belongs to you, Myoho-ama Gozen of the present time.
A person who becomes a king is reputed to
be one who in both past and present has observed the ten good
precepts. Though the names of individual rulers change, the
lion throne they sit upon is only one. Likewise, this name
[Beheld with Joy by All Sentient Beings] is the same for you
Even a nun who went against the Buddha's words
received the name Buddha Beheld with Joy by All Sentient Beings.
You have not deviated from the Buddha's words; you are a nun
who, right here in the saha world, has lost her good
name and been willing to discard her life [for the sake of
the Lotus Sutra]. The Buddha did not abandon the nun, his
foster mother. Were he to abandon you because you are no relation
to him, he would be a biased Buddha indeed. But how could
that ever be? Moreover, the sutra states, "The living
beings in it [the threefold world] are all my children."
If we go by this sutra passage, then you are the Buddha's
daughter, while that other nun was merely his foster mother.
If the Buddha did not abandon his foster mother, then how
could he intend to abandon his own daughter? Please understand
this thoroughly. Before this letter becomes too involved,
I will stop here.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,
Vol. 6, page 311.