The Teaching in Accordance with the Buddha's
kindly sent me three koku of rice. I immediately placed
it as an offering before the Lotus Sutra, the single vehicle,
and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo just once. I have done this so
that your beloved son may "assuredly and without doubt"
be escorted to the pure land of Eagle Peak.
of cause and effect is like the relationship of flower to fruit.
Or it is like the case of a single flame, no bigger than the light
of a firefly, which, when applied to a thousand-ri plain
of dried grass, in the space of an instant burns first one blade
of grass, then two, then ten, a hundred, a thousand and ten thousand,
so that the grass and trees over an area of ten or twenty cho
are consumed all at once. A dragon who places one small drop of
water in its hands and ascends to the heavens can cause rain to
fall upon the major world system. When performed as an offering
to the Lotus Sutra, even a small act of goodness produces benefits
that are equal in magnitude to these.
years after the passing of the Buddha, there was a ruler in India
known as King Ashoka, who reigned over one quarter of the eighty-four
thousand states that make up the continent of Jambudvipa. He was
attended by the dragon kings and summoned the spirits to serve
him, and, with sixty thousand arhats as his teachers, he vowed
to erect eighty-four thousand stone stupas and make offerings
of tens of billions of gold pieces to the Buddha. Such was the
stature of this great ruler. But if we inquire as to what meritorious
deeds from past existences allowed him to achieve such greatness,
we find that he had done no more than offer a single mudpie to
Buddha had an uncle named King Dronodana, and this kings
son was known as Aniruddha. This prince was born with a bowl in
his hand, and the bowl had rice in it. When the rice was eaten,
more rice appeared in the bowl, and kept on appearing, so that
there was never a time when the bowl was empty of rice. As a result,
when he was a child the prince was given the name At Will, and
through the power of the Lotus Sutra he became a Buddha known
as Universal Brightness. If we inquire what cause from a previous
existence brought all this about, we find that it was because,
in a time of famine, he offered a meal of millet to a monk who
was a pratyekabuddha.
can gain benefits such as these even from making an offering to
a pratyekabuddha, then the benefits gained by giving an
offering to the votary of the Lotus Sutra are infinitely greater,
exceeding even those gained by making offerings to countless Buddhas.
is an inhabitant of the country of Japan. Within the 7,000-yojana
area that constitutes the southern continent of Jambudvipa, there
are 84,000 countries. Among these, there are 16 major countries,
500 middle-sized countries, 10,000 small countries and a countless
number of tiny countries scattered about like grains of millet.
India is a major country, comprised of five regions. In the midst
of the ocean to the east of it there is a little island, which
is the country of Japan. Japan is situated over 100,000 ri
to the east of the central region of India.
the 1,000 years following the passing of the Buddha, known as
the Former Day of the Law, Buddhism remained within the confines
of India and was not transmitted to other countries. But after
the 1,000 years of the Former Day of the Law had ended and the
world was 15 years into the Middle Day of the Law, Buddhism was
transmitted to the land of China. Three hundred years after it
was introduced to China, it was transmitted to the country of
Paekche [on the Korean Peninsula]. And after it had been in Paekche
for 100 years and 1,415 years had elapsed since the passing of
the Buddha, a bronze gilt statue of Shakyamuni Buddha and copies
of various scriptures were for the first time introduced to Japan,
in the reign of the thirtieth human sovereign, Emperor Kimmei.
time, over 700 years have passed. The great collection of scriptures
that has reached Japan during this period has increased to more
than 5,000 or 7,000 volumes, and the number of sects has grown
to eight, nine and then ten. In the country of Japan there are
sixty-six provinces and two islands, over 3,000 shrines dedicated
to the gods and over 10,000 Buddhist temples. Half the men and
women of the country are priests and nuns, and the Buddhist teachings
flourish here in a manner that surpasses that of China and India.
the world of Buddhist teachings, various controversies have arisen.
The adherents of the Pure Land sect look upon Amida Buddha as
their object of worship and the adherents of Shingon worship Dainichi
Buddha, while the people of the Zen sect, ignoring both sutras
and Buddhas, take Bodhidharma as their object of worship. As for
the adherents of the other sects, they for the most part are influenced
by and follow the Nembutsu proponents and the Shingon advocates.
And though they do not necessarily regard either of these sects
as superior, they are swayed by the more powerful and influenced
by the larger of the two, and hence take Amida Buddha as their
principal object of worship.
Shakyamuni Buddha, who is the sovereign, teacher and parent of
our present world, they pray to escape to another world that is
located ten billion worlds away and that belongs to Amida Buddha,
a complete stranger. This Amida Buddha is neither our parent,
nor our sovereign, nor our teacher, but merely someone who, in
a certain sutra, made forty-eight false vows. And yet, foolish
persons, believing these vows to be true, madly clang out a rhythm
on bells and dance and leap about, reciting the name of Amida
Buddha. But though they abandon the world of their parent in disgust,
Amida Buddha, who has promised to come to welcome them, does not
appear. They lose their way in the sky while in an indeterminate
state between death and life, and the karma that comes from slandering
the Law pulls them downward, plunging them into the prison of
the three evil paths. Then the fearful demon wardens of hell pounce
upon them with delight, binding them and subjecting them to endless
on the sutras, I speak in general terms of such matters, only
1, of all the 4,994,828 men and women in Japan, am thought strange,
and the other 4,994,827 persons all regard me as their enemy.
Strangely enough, they do not follow Shakyamuni, who is their
sovereign, teacher and parent. And, what is more, they curse and
strike me, drive me away, and, by resorting to slander, cause
me to be sentenced to exile or execution. It is the way of the
world that the poor fawn upon the rich, the lowly revere the eminent,
and the few follow the many. So even those persons who chanced
to put their faith in the Lotus Sutra are intimidated by society
and fear others, and many of them fall into hell. This is most
because of Nichirens ignorant outlook or some past karma,
when I read the statements that "[among those sutras] the
Lotus is the foremost," that "among the sutras I have
preached, now preach and will preach, this Lotus Sutra is the
most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand,"
and that "I am the only person who can rescue and protect
others," I take them to be the golden words of the Buddha
himself. They are not my own words at all.
of today, however, believe the pronouncements of their own teachers
to be the golden words of the Buddha.
place such pronouncements on the same level as the Lotus Sutra,
considering the two to be of equal authority; or they regard these
teachings as superior to the Lotus Sutra; or they reason that,
though their teachers pronouncements are inferior, they
are well suited to the capacity of the people.
understand that, of the sacred teachings of the Buddha, there
are those known as zuitai, which are preached "in
accordance with the minds of others," and those known as
zuijii, which are preached "in accordance with the
Buddhas own mind." Thus, if a parent yields to the
will of his or her child, that is a case of zuitai. But
if the child complies with the will of the parent, that is zuijii.
All the other sutras are examples of zuitai, because when
preaching them the Buddha adjusted himself to the minds of all
other living beings. But the Lotus Sutra is an example of zuijii,
because in it the Buddha had all living beings comply with his
other sutras represent the teachings of the Buddha, but if one
puts faith in them, then one is simply following the minds of
ordinary people and will never be able to attain Buddhahood. The
Lotus Sutra is both the teaching of the Buddha and the embodiment
of the Buddha wisdom. If one puts sincere faith in each character
and brushstroke in it, then one will become a Buddha in ones
present form. For example, a piece of white paper becomes black
when dipped in black ink, and black lacquer turns white when white
liquid is poured into it. Just as poison turns into medicine,
so do ordinary individuals change into Buddhas. Accordingly we
call it the wonderful teaching.
the people of today, both the distinguished and the lowly, look
with contempt upon Shakyamuni Buddha, their father in the present
world, and instead revere Amida or Dainichi, who are strangers
to them, persons with whom they have no connection at all. In
doing so, are they not lacking in filial piety? Are they not slanderers
of the Law? When I say this, however, all the people of Japan
join together in reviling me.
is quite natural that they should, for the crooked piece of wood
hates the straightness of the carpenters string, and the
dishonest man is not pleased with the honest administration of
the reigns of the ninety-one human sovereigns of our country,
there have been twenty-six persons who committed treason. Among
them were men such as Prince Oyama and Oishi no Omaru, as well
as Masakado, Sumitomo and the Evil Minister of the Left. When
these men concealed themselves in the mountain forests of Yoshino,
or of the Totsu River, of went into hiding in the waters around
Tsukushi and Chinzei, the natives of every island in the region
and the warriors in every village around set out to attack them.
But the distinguished sages, as well as the priests, nuns and
women of the various mountains, temples and shrines, did not regard
them as their particular enemies. In the case of myself, however,
men and women of high and low station, as well as nuns, priests
and distinguished sages, all look upon me as their particular
is this. All people are concerned about their next lifetime, but
the priests and nuns, who would appear to ponder more deeply about
this than other men and women, in fact set aside the matter of
rebirth in the pure land and act as intermediaries in helping
people get along well in this present lifetime. Wise persons and
sages are also given to insisting that they are correct and superior
to others, that they are heirs to the teachings of a certain founder
and that they have legitimate claim to a certain domain. They
place great emphasis upon fame and personal gain, and give little
thought to any kind of serious search for the way.
when I, neither hesitating to speak out nor fearing others, tell
them frankly that they are stupid persons who have misunderstood
the true meaning of the Buddhist teachings, and that they are
slanderers of the Law; when I deliver a sharp rebuke to them,
mindful of the Buddhas golden words "then that monk
is betraying Buddhism" and trusting in the passage of scripture
that reads, "We will be envoys of the World Honored One,
facing the assembly without fear"; when I do this, censuring
those who "suppose they have attained what they have not
attained, being proud and boastful in heart," then how can
they fail to turn upon me with hatred and jealousy?
the seven reigns of the heavenly deities, the five reigns of the
earthly deities, and the reigns of the more than ninety human
sovereigns of Japan, no one can match me in the degree to which,
for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, I am detested by the three types
of enemies. It was no ordinary connection that led you to visit
such a man, one who is hated by all persons of both high and low
station. Perhaps it is because you were my parent in a previous
existence or my brother sometime in the past that you were moved
to visit me. Or perhaps it is because you established profound
ties with the Lotus Sutra in the past, and the seeds that will
lead to your attainment of Buddhahood have reached maturity in
this present age, that, busy as you are in your capacity as a
lay member of society, you have found time from your public duties
to give thought to me.
your journey from the province of Totomi to Mount Minobu here
in the village of Hakiri in Kai Province is over three hundred
ri, and the lodgings along the way must have been wretched.
Ascending the ridges, you came out into the light of the sun or
the moon, but descending into the ravines, you must have felt
as though you were entering a pit. The current in the rivers is
as swift as an arrow, and the huge stones carried along in them
prevent men and horses from crossing. Boats are as perilous as
scraps of paper cast on the water. The men one encounters in such
a journey are rough woodcutters, and the women are like female
mountain demons. The trail is as narrow as a rope, and the trees
are as dense as grass. What ties from past existences could have
led you to pay me a visit in such a place as this? Shakyamuni
Buddha must have led you by the hand, with Taishaku as the horse
you rode on, Bonten as your companion, and the sun and moon acting
as your eyes along the way. Thank you, thank you for your extraordinary
many other things I would like to say, but I have caught a cold
and am feeling quite miserable, so I will end here.
day of the fifth month in the second year of Koan (1279), cyclical
Reply to Lord Niike
Major Writings of Nichiren
Daishonin, Vol. 7.
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