Reply to Lord Shijo Kingo
- Shijo Kingo-dono Gohenji -
I have received the rice you sent from Tono-oka.
I used it as an offering to the priests for the urabon
ceremony in the seventh month of this year. Those priests
who participated, the assembly gathered at Eagle Peak, the
Buddha and the gods must surely have accepted your offering
and be rejoicing. Words will not express my appreciation for
your unfailing sincerity and for your frequent visits.
In any event, there can be no doubt about
your enlightenment in your next life. Above all, I remember
how, in the eighth year of the Bun'ei era (1271), when I incurred
the displeasure of the authorities and was about to be beheaded
at Tatsunokuchi in the province of Sagami, you held on to
the reins of my horse, accompanying me barefoot and shedding
tears of grief. You were even prepared to commit hara-kiri
if my execution were in fact carried out. In what age could
I possibly forget it?
And that is not all. Exiled to the island
of Sado, buried as I was beneath the snows from the northern
sea and exposed to the winds from the northern peaks, it hardly
seemed I would survive. Cast away by even my fellows of long
standing, I thought that I could no more return to my birthplace
than a stone on the bottom of the ocean, requiring the strength
of a thousand men to move it, could float to the surface.
Common mortal that I am, naturally I longed for the people
of my native village.
For you, a lay person pressed for time with
your service to your lord, to believe in the Lotus Sutra is
itself very rare. Moreover, surmounting mountains and rivers
and crossing the great blue sea, you came to visit me from
afar. How could your resolve be inferior to that of the one
who broke open his bones at the City of Fragrances, or of
him who threw away his body on the Snow Mountains?
Again, on my part, though there was so little
chance of rising again in the world, for some reason or other
I was pardoned in the spring of the eleventh year of Bun'ei
(1274) and was able to return to Kamakura.
On pondering the meaning of these affairs,
I believe I must now be free from the karma of past errors.
Once I was almost deprived of life. In the Kocho era I was
exiled to the province of Izu, and in the Bun'ei era, to the
island of Sado. Because I remonstrated repeatedly with the
authorities, I have encountered one persecution after another.
Yet, for that very reason, certainly I have already escaped
the charge of "betraying Buddhism."
However, when I desired to leave the world
for a mountain forest in order to pursue the Way, people voiced
differing opinions. Yet, for carefully considered reasons,
I came to this mountain in this province, where I have already
passed seven springs and autumns.
Setting aside for now the question of my wisdom,
in enduring hardship and in suffering injury as an ally of
the Lotus Sutra, I surpass even the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai
of China and excel even the Great Teacher Dengyo of Japan.
This is because the time has made it so. If indeed I am a
votary of the Lotus Sutra, then the Lord Shakyamuni of Eagle
Peak, Taho Buddha of the Land of Treasure Purity, the Buddhas
of the ten directions who are Shakyamuni's emanations, the
great bodhisattvas of the essential teaching, the great bodhisattvas
of the theoretical teaching, Bonten, Taishaku, the dragon
deities and the ten demon daughters must all be present in
this place. Where there is water, fish dwell. Where there
are woods, birds gather. The mountain island of P'eng-lai
is filled with jewels, and sandalwood trees grow on Mount
Malaya. Gold is to be found in the mountains from which the
river Li-shui issues. This place is just the same. It is the
place of the "cluster of blessings" where Buddhas
and bodhisattvas dwell.
The blessings of the Lotus Sutra which I have
so long recited must be vaster even than the sky. Thus, by
having come here frequently year after year, it is certain
that within this lifetime you will eradicate the karmic hindrances
you have accumulated since the beginningless past. You should
exert yourself all the more.
The eighth day of the tenth month
Major Writings of Nichiren
Daishonin, Vol. 6, page 307.