The Supreme Leader of the World
glanced through your letter, I feel as relieved as if the
day had finally broken after a long night or as if I had returned
home after traveling a great distance.
primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat, while government
is based on the principle of reward and punishment. For this
reason, a Buddha is looked up to as the supreme leader of
the world, while a king is called the one who rules at his
will. India is called the Land of the Moon and our country
is named the Land of the Sun. Of the eighty thousand countries
in the continent of Jambudvipa, India is one of the largest
and Japan, one of the smallest. When it comes to the auspiciousness
of their names, however, India ranks second and Japan first.
Buddhism began in the Land of the Moon; it will reside in
the Land of the Sun. It is in the natural course of events
that the moon appears in the west and travels eastward while
the sun proceeds from east to west. This truth is as inalterable
as the fact that a lodestone attracts iron or that the zoge
plant is nourished by the sound of thunder. Who could possibly
us examine how Buddhism came to Japan. Our country was ruled
first by seven generations of heavenly gods and then by five
generations of earthly deities. Their reigns were followed
by the age of human rulers, the first being Emperor Jimmu.
The thirtieth emperor was Kimmei, who reigned for thirty-two
years. In those days there was a state called Paekche to the
west of this country. It was under the suzerainty of the Japanese
emperor and was governed by a king named Songmyong. When the
king made annual tribute to Japan on the thirteenth day of
the tenth month in the thirteenth year of Emperor Kimmeis
reign (552), he sent along with it a gilded bronze image of
Shakyamuni Buddha, a number of Buddhist scriptures, and also
priests and nuns.
the emperor sought counsel from his ministers as to whether
or not the nation should worship the Buddha of the western
of the highest ministers, Iname no Sukune of the Soga family,
said, "All the countries of the west worship this Buddha.
Why should Japan alone deny him?" However, Okoshi, another
top-ranking minister from the Mononobe clan, Nakatomi no Kamako
and others advised the emperor, saying, "The sovereign
who rules over our nation has traditionally performed rites
throughout the four seasons of the year, in honor of heaven
and earth, the gods of the land and of grain, and numerous
other deities. If we alter this custom in favor of the god
of the west, our native deities will be angered." Unable
to decide, the emperor decreed that Soga no Sukune alone should
worship the Buddha by way of trial and that no one else should
do so. Sukune was exceedingly glad to receive this decree.
He took the image of Shakyamuni Buddha to his residence at
a place called Ohada and enshrined it there, to the surprise
and outrage of Mononobe no Okoshi.
that time, a terrible epidemic broke out in Japan and killed
a majority of the populace. Since it seemed as though the
entire nation would perish, Mononobe no Okoshi took this opportunity
to declare to the emperor that the Buddha image should be
destroyed. The emperor concurred and commanded that Buddhism,
a foreign religion, be discarded immediately. Mononobe no
Okoshi, acting on the emperors behalf, confiscated the
statue, heated it in a charcoal fire and smashed it with a
hammer. He razed the Buddha image hall and flogged the priests
and nuns. Then, although the sky was cloudless, a gale blew
and rain fell. The imperial palace was consumed in a fire
which descended from heaven. All three men--the emperor, Mononobe
no Okoshi and Soga no Sukune--fell ill in the epidemic. Each
suffered excruciating agony as though he were being mangled
or burnt alive. Mononobe no Okoshi finally died, while the
emperor and Soga no Sukune barely recovered. From that time,
nineteen years passed without anyone taking faith in Buddhism.
thirty-first emperor, Bidatsu, was the second son of Kimmei.
He reigned for fourteen years, aided by the Ministers of the
Left and the Right. One of them was a son of Mononobe no Okoshi,
Yuge no Moriya, who had succeeded to his fathers position.
The other was a son of Soga no Sukune, Soga no Umako. It was
during Emperor Bidatsus reign that Prince Shotoku was
born. He was a son of Emperor Yomei and a nephew of Bidatsu.
One day in the second month of the year when the prince was
two years old, he faced east, extended his third finger and
chanted "Namu Buddha," whereupon the Buddhas
ashes materialized in his palm. This was the first time that
anyone in Japan had invoked the name of Shakyamuni Buddha.
the prince was only eight years one, he proclaimed, "Those
who, in the latter age, worship the image of the sage of the
west, Shakyamuni Buddha, will forestall calamities and receive
benefits. Those who despise it will invite disasters and have
their life span shortened." Hearing this, Mononobe no
Moriya and others said in anger, "The Sogas have been
worshipping the god of a foreign land in violation of the
imperial decree." Epidemics still raged incessantly,
nearly wiping out the entire populace. Mononobe no Moriya
reported this to the emperor. The emperor issued a decree,
which stated, "Soga no Umako has been upholding Buddhism.
Practice of this religion must cease."
compliance with the imperial command, Moriya, together with
Nakatomi no Katsumi, marched upon the temple. There they demolished
the hall and pagoda, burned and destroyed the Buddha image
and set fire to the temple. They stripped the priests and
nuns of their surplices and punished them with whips. After
this incident the emperor as well as Moriya and Umako fell
ill in an epidemic. All three said that they felt as though
they were being burnt alive or hacked to pieces. Moreover,
boils called smallpox appeared all over their bodies. Umako,
lamenting in anguish, said, "Still, we should worship
the three treasures." The emperor commanded that Umako
alone should do so and that no one else must follow suit.
Overjoyed, Umako had a monastery built and there worshipped
the three treasures.
emperor finally passed away on the fifteenth day of the eighth
month in the year in which Prince Shotoku was fourteen. Yomei
became thirty-second emperor and reigned for two years. He
was the son of Kimmei and the father of Shotoku. In the fourth
month of the second year of his reign (587), he fell ill in
an epidemic. Thereupon he expressed a desire to embrace the
three treasures. Soga no Umako insisted that the imperial
wish be honored, and finally brought a priest called Toyokuni
into the imperial palace. Mononobe no Moriya and others flew
into a rage. Furious, they swore to invoke a curse upon the
emperor. At length the emperor died.
the fifth month of that year, Moriya and his clan entrenched
themselves at his residence at Shibukawa and assembled a large
number of troops there. Prince Shotoku and Umako advanced
upon the enemys position and fought. The fifth, sixth
and seventh months saw a total of four encounters. The prince
lost the first three. Before the fourth battle took place,
he offered a prayer and vowed that he would build a stupa
for the preservation of Shakyamuni Buddhas ashes and
also construct Shitenno-ji temple. Umako similarly pledged
that he would erect a temple in which to enshrine and worship
the image of Shakyamuni Buddha which had been sent from Paekche.
the fighting began, Moriya shouted at the prince, "It
is not I but the god of my ancestors, the great deity enshrined
at Futsu, who shoots this arrow." The arrow flew far
and struck the princes armor. The prince responded by
calling out, "It is not I but the Four Heavenly Kings
who shoot this arrow." Then he had a courtier named Tomi
no Ichihi let fly the arrow. It traveled a great distance
and struck Moriya in the chest. Hata no Kawakatsu rushed to
the spot and severed Moriyas head from his body. This
incident took place during the interval between Yomeis
death and Sushuns ascension to the throne.
Sushun became the thirty-third emperor, Prince Shotoku built
Shitenno-ji temple, in which he placed Shakyamuni Buddhas
ashes. Umako erected a temple called Gango-ji, where he worshipped
the image of the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni which had been sent
from Paekche. Here it must be pointed out in passing that
the most appalling fraud in the world today is the statue
of Amida Buddha, allegedly the original object of worship
of Zenko-ji temple. It was because of their enmity toward
Shakyamuni Buddha that the three emperors as well as the members
of the Mononobe clan perished. Prince Shotoku had an image
of Shakyamuni Buddha cast and enshrined it in Gango-ji temple.
This is the object of worship now enshrined in Tachibana-dera
temple. It was the first statue of Shakyamuni Buddha ever
to be made in Japan.
China in the seventh year of Yung-ping (AD 64), the
second emperor of the Later Han dynasty, Emperor Ming, dreamt
of a man of gold. He thereupon dispatched eighteen emissaries,
including the scholars Tsai Yin and Wang Tsun, to India
to seek Buddhism. As a result, in the tenth year of Yung-ping,
two sages of central India, Kashyapa Matanga and Chu-fa-lan,
were brought to China and accorded the highest esteem. Thousands
of adherents of Confucianism and Taoism, schools which had
up until then presided over all imperial rites, resented this
and lodged a complaint with the emperor. The emperor decreed
that an open debate be held on the fifteenth day of the first
month in the fourteenth year of Yung-ping.
the Taoists erected an altar for a hundred Chinese deities
as their objects of worship. The two sages from India had
as their objects of worship the Buddhas ashes, a painting
of Shakyamuni Buddha and five sutras.
was customary in their rituals performed in the imperial presence,
the Taoists brought in the scriptures of their school, as
well as the Three Records, the Five Canons, and the writings
of the Two Sages and the Three Kings, piled some of them with
firewood and set them afire. In similar rites in the past
these books had always withstood the flames, but this time
they were reduced to ashes. Others, which were placed in water,
had previously floated on the surface but now sank to the
bottom. The Taoists called out for demons to appear but to
no avail. They all felt unbearably humiliated, and among them,
Chu Shan-hsin, Fei Shu-tsai and others died, consumed
with shame. When the two Indian sages preached the Law, the
Buddhas ashes ascended to heaven and there radiated
a light so brilliant that it eclipsed the sun. The Buddha
in the painting emitted rays of light from the middle of his
forehead. More than six hundred Taoists, including Lu Hui-tung,
finally capitulated and entered the Buddhist priesthood. Within
thirty days of this confrontation ten temples were constructed.
Shakyamuni Buddha is perfectly just in the administering of
reward and punishment. Because, as I mentioned earlier, the
three emperors and the two subjects became enemies of Shakyamuni
Buddha, they lost their lives and fell into the evil paths
in their next existence.
own age is not unlike theirs. The Taoists Chu and Fei
of China and Moriya in Japan, by relying on the major and
minor deities of their respective countries, became enemies
of Shakyamuni Buddha. But since these gods themselves follow
the Buddha, those believers were all brought to ruin. These
present times are exactly like theirs. The deities of their
respective countries, became enemies of Shakyamuni Buddha.
But since these gods themselves follow the Buddha, those believers
were all brought to ruin. These present times are exactly
like theirs. The image I mentioned earlier which came from
Paekche is that of Shakyamuni Buddha. Nevertheless, [priests
of the other sects] have deceived the Japanese people by calling
it Amida Buddha. In other words, they have replaced Shakyamuni
with another Buddha. There is a difference between the Taoists
and Moriya on the one hand and our contemporary priests on
the other in that the former preferred gods to a Buddha while
the latter have replaced one Buddha with another.
there is anyone among my followers who is weak in faith and
goes against what I, Nichiren, say, he will meet the same
fate as did the Soga family. I will tell you the reason. It
was due to the efforts of father and son, Soga no Sukune and
Umako, that Buddhism came to be established in Japan. They
could have held the same position as Bonten and Taishaku at
the time of Shakyamuni Buddhas appearance in this world.
Because they had brought Mononobe no Okoshi and his son Moriya
to ruin, they became the only influential clan in the country.
They rose in rank, controlled the nation, and their family
enjoyed high prosperity. But Umako therefore grew so arrogant
that he had Emperor Sushun assassinated and many princes killed.
Moreover, his grandson, Iruka, had his retainers put to death
twenty-three of Prince Shotokus children. Thereupon
Empress Kogyoku, following the advice of Nakatomi no Kamako,
had a statue cast of Shakyamuni Buddha and prayed to it fervently.
As a result, Iruka, his father and the entire Soga family
all perished at once.
your own conclusions from what I said above. Those among my
followers who fail to carry through their faith to the end
will incur punishment even more severe. Even so, they should
not harbor a grudge against Nichiren. Remember what fate Shofu-bo,
Noto-bo and others met.
extremely cautious and, for the time being, never submit yourself
to writing a pledge, whatever it may concern. No matter how
furiously a fire may rage, it burns out after a while. On
the other hand, water may appear to move slowly, but its flow
does not easily vanish. Since you are hot-tempered and behave
like a blazing fire, you will certainly be deceived by others.
If your lord coaxes you with soft words, I am sure you will
be won over, just as a fire is extinguished by water. Untempered
iron quickly melts in a blazing fire, like ice put in hot
water. But a sword, even when exposed to a great fire, withstands
the heat for a while, because it has been well forged. In
admonishing you in this way, I am trying to forge your faith.
is reason. Reason will win over your lord. No matter how dearly
you may love your wife and wish never to part from her, when
you die, it will be to no avail. No matter how dearly you
may cherish your estate, when you die, it will only fall into
the hands of others. You have been prosperous enough for all
these years. You must not give your estate a second thought.
As I have said before, be hundreds of thousands of times more
careful than ever.
childhood, I, Nichiren, have never prayed for the secular
things of this life, but have single-mindedly sought to become
a Buddha. Of late, however, I have been ceaselessly praying
for your sake to the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha and the
god of the sun, for I am convinced that you are a man who
can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra. Be extremely careful
not to come into conflict with others. Do not meet anyone
at any place other than your own house. None of the night
watchmen are sufficiently dependable, but considering that
they had their mansions confiscated because of their faith
in the Lotus Sutra, you should, under ordinary circumstances,
maintain friendly relations with them. Then they will exercise
extra caution on their nightly rounds and provide you with
protection. Even should the people on your side make a slight
error, pretend not to see or hear it.
should your lord ask to hear the teachings of Buddhism, do
not heedlessly rejoice and rush off to see him. Answer mildly
that you are not sure that you can comply, and that you will
consult with some of the disciples. If you betray a great
joy in your countenance and allow yourself to be tricked by
his ostensible desire to hear the teachings, you will bring
everything to ruin as surely as fire consumes whatever will
burn or as rain falls from heaven.
the opportunity arises, submit to your lord the petition I
have written in your behalf. Since it contains matters of
great import, it will certainly create a stir.
of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 3, p. 229.