Reply to Nii-ama
received a bag of dried laver from you. I would also like
to express my appreciation for the offering of dried laver
from O-ama Gozen.
area is called Mount Minobu.1
Suruga Province lies to the south, and it is more than a hundred
ri2 from the seaside
of Ukishimagahara3 in
that province to this mountain at Hakiri Village4
in Kai Province. The way is more difficult than ten times
the distance on an ordinary path. The Fuji River, the swiftest
in all Japan, runs from north to south. High mountains rise
to the east and west of this river, forming deep valleys where
huge rocks stand about everywhere like tall folding-screens.
The waters of the river rush through the valley like an arrow
shot through a tube by a powerful archer. The river is so
swift and rocky that sometimes a boat will be smashed against
the rapids as it travels along the riverbanks or attempts
to cross the stream. Coming through this dangerous pass, one
arrives at a large mountain called the peak of Minobu.
the east stands the peak of Tenshi, to the south, Takatori,
to the west, Shichimen, and to the north, Minobu, and they
all tower as though four giant folding-screens had been set
up. Climbing these peaks, you will see a vast stretch of forest
below, while going down to the valleys, you will find huge
rocks lined up side by side. The howls of wolves fill the
mountains, the chatter of monkeys echoes through the valleys,
stags call plaintively to their does, and the voices of cicadas
sound shrilly. Here spring flowers bloom in summer, while
trees bear autumn fruit in winter. Occasionally one sees a
woodcutter gathering firewood, and my rare visitors are only
friends of old. Mount Shang6
in China where the four white-haired recluses7
retired from the world and the deep recesses in the mountains
where the Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove8
secluded themselves must have been like this place.
you climb the peak, it looks as if kelp were growing there,
but instead you find only an expanse of bracken. Going down
to the valleys, you think surely it must be laver growing
there, but it is only a dense growth of parsley.
I had long since ceased to think about my home, this laver
brings back trivial nostalgic memories, making me feel sad.
It is the same kind of laver I saw long ago on the shore at
Kataumi, Ichikawa and Kominato9.
I feel an unwarranted resentment that the color, shape and
taste of this laver should remain unchanged while my parents
have passed away, and I cannot restrain my tears.
of this. O-ama has asked me to inscribe the Gohonzon for her,
but I am troubled by her request. The reason is as follows.
This Gohonzon was never mentioned in the writings of the many
Buddhist scholars who traveled from India to China or in those
of the priests who journeyed from China to India. All the
objects of worship ever enshrined in the temples throughout
India are described without exception in the Daito Saiiki
Ki,10 the Jion
Den,11 and the Dento
Roku,12 [and this
Gohonzon is not among them]. Nor have I found it mentioned
among the objects) of worship of the various temples which
were described by those sages who traveled from China to Japan
or by those wise men who went from Japan to China. Since all
the records of the first temples in Japan such as Gango-ji,13
Shitenno-ji14 and other
temples as well as many histories, beginning with the Nihon
Shoki15 name them
without omission, the objects of worship in these temples
are clearly known, but this Gohonzon has never been listed
may say in doubt: "It was probably not expounded in the
sutras or treatises. That is why the many wise men have neither
painted nor carved images of it." I say that, because
the sutras lie before their eyes, those who so doubt should
examine whether or not it is revealed in the sutras. It is
wrong to denounce this object of worship merely because it
was never painted or carved in previous ages.
example, Shakyamuni Buddha once ascended to the Trayastrimsha
Heaven16 to fulfill his
obligations to his [deceased] mother. But no one in the entire
world, except for the Venerable Maudgalyayana, was aware of
it, because of the Buddhas supernatural powers. Thus
even though Buddhism may exist before their eyes, people will
not realize it if they lack the proper capacity, nor will
it spread unless the time is right. This is in accordance
with the natural law, just as the tides of the ocean ebb and
flow and the moon in the sky wanes and waxes according to
Shakyamuni treasured this Gohonzon in mind since the remote
past of gohyaku-jintengo, but even after he appeared
in this world, he did not expound it for more than forty years
following his first preaching. Even in the Lotus Sutra he
did not allude to it in the earlier chapters of the theoretical
teaching. Only in the Hoto chapter did he begin to
suggest it.17 He revealed
it in the Juryo chapter, and concluded his explanation
in the Jinriki and Zokurui chapters.18
such as Monjushiri living in the Golden World, Miroku in the
palace of the Tushita Heaven,19
Kannon on Mount Potalaka20
and Yakuo, who had served the Buddha Nichigatsu Jomyotoku,21
all vied with one another in asking [the Buddhas permission
to propagate faith in the Gohonzon in the Latter Day of the
Law], but the Buddha refused. Those bodhisattvas were well
known as men of excellent wisdom and profound learning, but
since they had only recently begun to hear the Lotus Sutra,
their understanding was still limited. Thus they would not
be able to endure great difficulties in the Latter Day.
the Buddha declared, "There are my true disciples whom
I have hidden at the bottom of the earth since gohyaku-jintengo.
I will entrust it to them." So saying, the Buddha summoned
those bodhisattvas led by Jogyo in the Yujutsu chapter
and entrusted them with the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo,
the heart of the essential teaching of the sutra, [in the
the Buddha stated: "You must not propagate it in the
first millennium of the Former Day of the Law or in the second
millennium of the Middle Day following my death. In the beginning
of the Latter Day of the Law, slanderous priests will fill
the entire world, so that all heavenly gods will be enraged
and comets will appear in the sky and the earth will shake
like the movement of huge waves. Innumerable disasters and
calamities such as drought, fires, floods, gales, epidemics,
famine and war will all occur at once. The people throughout
the world will don armor and take up bows and staves, and
since none of the Buddhas, bodhisattvas or benevolent deities
will be able to help them, they will all die and fall like
rain into the hell of incessant suffering. At this very time,
kings can save their countries and the people will escape
calamities if they embrace and believe in this great mandala
of the five characters, and in their next life they will not
fall into the great fires of hell."22
I, Nichiren, am not Bodhisattva Jogyo, but perhaps by his
design I have already attained a general understanding of
this teaching, and I have been expounding it for these more
than twenty years. When one resolves to propagate it, he will
meet difficulties, as the sutra states: "Since hatred
and jealousy [toward this sutra] abound even during the lifetime
of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after
his passing?"23 and,
"The people will be full of hostility, and it will be
extremely difficult to believe." Of the three types of
powerful enemies24 predicted
in the sutra, the first indicates the sovereign, district
and village stewards and lords of manors as well as the ordinary
populace. Believing the charges leveled by the second and
third types of enemies, who are priests, they will vilify
or slander the votary of the Lotus Sutra, or attack him with
swords and staves.
Village in Awa Province, though it is a remote place may well
be called the center of Japan because the Sun Goddess resides
there. In ancient times she lived in Ise Province.25
Later on, the emperor came to take deep faith in Bodhisattva
Hachiman and in Kamo Shrine26
and neglected the Sun Goddess, so that she became enraged.
At that time, Minamoto no Yoritomo wrote a pledge and ordered
Aoka no Kodayu28 to enshrine
her in the outer shrine of Ise. Probably because Yoritomo27
thus satisfied the goddesss desire, he became the shogun
and ruled the whole of Japan. He then decided on Tojo District
as the residence of the Sun Goddess, and so she no longer
lives in Ise Province but in Tojo District in Awa Province.
This is similar to Bodhisattva Hachiman who, in ancient times,
resided at Dazaifu in Chikuzen Province29
but later dwelt at Otokoyama30
in Yamashiro Province and now lives at Tsurugaoka31
in Kamakura in Sagami Province.
began to propagate this true teaching in Tojo District in
Awa Province in Japan, out of all places in the entire world.
Accordingly, the Tojo steward became my enemy, but his clan
has now been half destroyed.
Gozen is insincere and foolish. She was also irresolute, believing
at one time, while renouncing her belief at another. When
Nichiren incurred the displeasure of the government authorities,32
she quickly discarded the Lotus Sutra. This is why, even before,
I told her the Lotus Sutra is "the most difficult to
believe and the most difficult to understand,"33
whenever we met.
I give her the Gohonzon because I am indebted to her, then
the Ten Goddesses will certainly think I am a very partial
priest. On the other hand, if I follow the sutra and do not
give her a Gohonzon because of her lack of faith, I will not
be partial, but she may well harbor a grudge against me because
she does not realize her fault. I have explained the reasons
for my refusal in detail in a letter to Suke no Ajari.34
Please send for the letter and show it to her.
are of the same family as O-ama Gozen, but you have demonstrated
the sincerity of your faith. Because you have often sent offerings
to me, both to Sado and here to Minobu, and because your resolve
does not seem to wane, I have inscribed a Gohonzon for you.
But I still worry whether you will maintain your faith to
the end and feel as if I were treading on thin ice or facing
a drawn sword. I will write to you again in more detail.
I incurred the displeasure of the government, even in Kamakura
999 out of 1,000 discarded their faith, but since popular
feeling toward me has now softened, some of them seem to regret.
I do not class O-ama Gozen with those people and I feel deeply
sorry for her, but I can no more bestow the Gohonzon upon
someone who goes against the Lotus Sutra than flesh can replace
bone. Please explain to her thoroughly why I cannot grant
With my deep respect,
sixteenth day of the second month.
- Minobu: A mountain
in what is now Yarnanashi Prefecture located to the west
of Tokyo. Nichiren Daishonin remained there from May 1274
through September 1282.
- Ri: See p. 2.5,
- Shang, Mt.: A mountain
in Shensi Province in northern China.
- Four white-haired
recluses: Master Tung-yiian, Scholar Lu-1i. Ch'i Li-chi
and Master Hsia-huang.
- Emperor Kao-tsu
(2.47-195 B.C.), founder of the Ha
- Kataumi, Ichikawa
and Korninato: Places along the Pacific coast in Awa, the
Daishonin's native province. The precise location of Kataumi
is difficult to identify clearly.
- Dait5 Saiiki Ki:
"Record of the Western Regions." A twelve-volume
account by Hsaan-tsang of the Tang dynasty, recording his
travels through Central Asia and India between 629 and 645
in search of Buddhist scriptures. of Nara. he con uction
of h was bbe n by the court official
- i s t 588 b he arup
I t in 5 0.
- Soga no Umako and
was co e ed 596.
- Shitenn6ji: The
oldest extant Japanese Buddhist temple, founded by Prince
Shatoku in 587 and located in what is now Osaka. It is said
that Shotoku built it in gratitude for his victory together
with Soga no Umako over Mononobe no Moriya, and that he
enshrined statues of the Four Heavenly Kings (Jap Shitenn6)
- Nihon Shoki: "Chronicles
of Japan." A thirty-fascicle history of Japan written
in 72o and one of the two oldest extant histories, along
with the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) written in
712. Both were compiled by imperial order.
- Trayastrimsha Heaven:
The Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods. See p. 44, n. 6. Accordin
t the Kako Genzai Inga Sutra, Shakyamuni ascended to this
heaven after t teoleath of his mother, Maya, where he expounded
the Maya Sutra for her.
- 116th chapter: The
eleventh chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which describes the
Treasure Tower of Taho Buddha, who comes to bear witness
to the truth of
- Jinriki and Zokurui~hapters:
The twenty-first and twenty-second cha ters of the Lotus
Sutra. In thefinriki chapter, Shakyamuni Buddha transfers
essence of the sutra specifically to the Bodhisattvas of
the Earth led by J59yo. Then, in the Zokurui chapter, he
makes a general transfer of the sutra to all the bodhisattvas.
Thereafter all the Buddhas who have gathered from throughout
the universe return to their respective lands; the Treasure
Tower returns to its or, Peatal place; and the location
of the assembly shifts from midair back to Eagle
- Tushita Heaven:
The fourth of the six heavens in the world of desire. it
is said that bodhisattvas are reborn there just before their
last rebirth in the world when they attain Buddhahood. Bodhisattva
Miroku is said to reside in the inner court of this heaven.
- Potalaka, Mt.: A
mountain regarded as the home of Bodhisattva Kannon, said
to be located on the southern coast of India.
- Nichigatsu Jomy6toku:
A Buddha who expounded the Lotus Sutra to Bodhisattva Yakuo
when the latter was ra ticing austerities in a past existence
as a bodhisattva called Kiken. This Buddha is referred to
in the Yakuo (23rd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
- Lotus Sutra, chap.
- Ibid., chap. 14.
- Three types of powerful
enemies: See Three powerful enemies in Glossary. in the
Yujutsu chapter the Lotus Sutra. After Shakyamuni's proclamations
in the preceding chapters that the men of Learning and Realization
will attain Buddhahood in t e future, a magnificent tower
emerges from beneath the earth and hangs suspended in midair.
This marks the beginning of the Ceremony in the Air, which
symbolizes the Budd: tenment.
- Ise Province: Presently
Nhe Prefecture, the location of the Grand Shrines of Ise,
the outer and inner shrines, each of which houses a traditional
Japanese deity sacred to the imperial clan.
- Kamo Shrine: A shrine
in Kyoto dedicated to three traditional Japanese deities.
- Nlinamoto no Yoritomo
(1147-H99): The first shogunof the Kamakura government (1192-1333),
who initiated a state administration by samurai, or Warriors.
He shifted the virtual power of government from the imperial
court in Kyoto to Kamakura.
- Aoka no Kodayti:
The first attendant of the shrine to Tensho Daijin or the
Sun Goddess, erected in T-6jo Village by Minamoto no Yoritomo.
- Dazaifu: The government
headquarters established in Kyushu to regulate contact with
the mainland and also for defensive measures. The main shrine
of Hachiman was formerly located nearb *
- Otokoyama: A mountain
to the south where Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine is located.
- Tsurugaoka: A reference
to the shrine built in 1063 by Minamoto noYoriyoshi (988-1075)
at Tsurugacka, for an emanation of the spirit of Iwashimizu
Hachiman Shrine. Even after Minamoto no Yoritomo relocated
the shrine in 1180 at Kitayama in Kamakura, it still retained
the name of Tsurugaoka.
- Displeasure of the
government authorities: Reference to the Tatsunokuchi Persecution,
an unsuccessful attempt to execute Nichiren Daishonin on
September 12, 1271. Shortly after this incident, he was
exiled to Sado Island.
- Lotus Sutra, chap.
- Suke no Ajari: Believed
to have been a follower of the Daishonin who was very close
to the local lord in Tojo District. According to another
view, he may have been amon the priests of Seicho-ji temple
where the Daishonin entered the priesthood.
of Nichiren Daishonin; Vol. 3, page 61.