The Teaching for the Latter Day
received a quarter-sack1
of polished rice, a horse-load of taro and five strips of
konnyaku2 which you took
the trouble to send me.
of all, regarding the daughter of Ishikawa no Hyoe Nyudo.
She often sent me letters, and in one that reached me on the
night of the fourteenth or fifteenth day of the third month,
she wrote, "When I observe the world around me, it seems
that even healthy people will be unable to survive this year.
I have been ill for a long time, but my illness has suddenly
worsened, and I imagine that this will be my last letter to
you." So she has already passed away!
people believe that those who chant Namu Amida Butsu3
at the moment of their death are sure to be reborn in the
Pure Land, for this is what the Buddha taught. For some reason,
however, the Buddha surprisingly reversed his statement and
said, "[For the past more than forty years,] I have not
yet revealed the truth,"4
and "Honestly discarding the provisional teachings, [I
will expound only the Supreme Way.]"5
I, Nichiren, have been teaching as the Buddha advocated, but
all Japan has become enraged and denounced my words as groundless
were other occasions when the Buddha unexpectedly reversed
an earlier teaching. In the Hinayana sutras he taught that
there is no Buddha other than himself in any of the ten directions
and that living beings do not possess the Buddha nature. But
in the Mahayana sutras he taught that there are Buddhas throughout
the ten directions and that the Buddha nature dwells in every
living being. How then can there be anyone who still employs
the Hinayana sutras? All people have since come to place their
faith in the Mahayana sutras.
we find that there are even more unfathomable distinctions
which Shakyamuni Buddha drew between the sutras. In the Lotus
Sutra, he suddenly refuted all the other sutras that he had
preached, now preached and would preach in the future, and
declared that only the Lotus Sutra was true. But his disciples
would not believe him. At that time, Taho Buddha came to bear
witness to what the Buddha had said, and all the Buddhas of
the ten directions added their testimony to his, extending
their tongues until they reached the Brahma Heaven.
Taho Buddha had closed the door of the Treasure Tower and
the other Buddhas had returned to their original lands, not
even Shakyamuni Buddha himself could have denied the Lotus
Sutra, whatever other sutras he might have expounded in an
effort to do so, because the other Buddhas had all joined
in affirming its truth. That is why the Fugen6
and Nirvana sutras, which follow the Lotus Sutra, praise it
and in no way disparage it.
priests like Shan-wu-wei of the Shingon sect and the founders
of the Zen sect repudiate the Lotus Sutra, and the entire
Japanese nation has now taken faith in their teachings, just
like those who were deceived by the rebels Masakado7
and Sadato.8 Japan is
now on the brink of ruin because it has for many years been
the archenemy of Shakyamuni, Taho and all the other Buddhas
of the ten directions, and in addition, the person who denounces
these heresies is persecuted. Because such offenses are thus
accumulated one on top of another, our nation will soon incur
the wrath of heaven.
because of karma from past lives or some other reason, the
daughter of Ishikawa no Hyoe Nyudo chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
at the moment of her death. This is as rare as the one-eyed
turtle9 finding a suitable
hollow in a floating sandalwood log, or a thread lowered from
the heavens passing through the eye of a needle on the earth.
sutras clearly show that those who believe in the Nembutsu
are destined to fall into the hell of incessant suffering,
but since people are not aware of this, they all think that
it is my own fabrication. People can see neither their own
eyebrows, which are so close, nor the heavens in the distance,10
as the saying goes. Had my teaching been false, the nun, Ishikawas
daughter, could not have died with a correct and steadfast
my disciples, those who think themselves well versed in Buddhism
are the ones who make errors. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the heart
of the Lotus Sutra. It is like the soul of a person. To revere
another teaching as its equal is to be like an empress who
is married to two emperors or who secretly commits adultery
with a minister or a humble subject. It can only be the cause
for disaster. This teaching was not propagated in the Former
or Middle Day of the Law because the other sutras had not
yet lost the power of benefit. Now in the Latter Day of the
Law, neither the Lotus Sutra nor the other sutras lead to
enlightenment. Only Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can do so. And this
is not merely my own opinion. Shakyamuni, Taho and all the
other Buddhas of the ten directions as well as the innumerable
Bodhisattvas of the Earth have so determined. To mix other
practices with this Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a grave error.
A lamp will be useless after the sun rises. How can dewdrops
be beneficial once the rain falls? Should one feed a newborn
baby with anything other than its mothers milk? Good
medicine works by itself; there is no need to add other medicine.
Somehow Ishikawas daughter remained true to this principle
and continued to uphold her faith until the last moment of
her life. How admirable!
my deep respect,
The first day of the
fourth month in the first year of Koan (1278)
- A quarter sack:
That is one "to." A "to" is a
unit of measure of volume, equalling about 18 liters.
- Konnyaku: A kind
of gelatin made from the root of the konnyaku plant. It
is believed to eliminate poisonous substances from the body.
- Namu Amida Butsu:
The Nembutsu or invocation used by the Pure Land sect. It
means devotion to Amida Buddha. The pure land asserts that
by chanting this phrase, one can attain rebirth in Amida
Buddha's Pure Land of Perfect Bliss in the west.
- Muryogi Sutra.
- Lotus Sutra, chapter
- Fugen Sutra: The
sutra regarded as the conclusion to the Lotus sutra. Following
the Fugen (28th) chapter of the Lotus sutra, this sutra
describes how to meditate on Bodhissatva Fugen and explains
the benefit of thgis practice. It also echorts people to
embrace and propagate the Lotus sutra.
- Masakado (d. 940):
A warrior of the Taira clan who weilded power in eastern
Japan. In 939, he rebelled against the Imperial court
by proclaiming himself the new Emperor. However, his cousin,
Taira No Sadamori, crushed his forces and killed him.
- Sadato (1019-1062):
Abe no Sadato, head of a powerful family in eastern Japan.
He sought independence from imperial rule but was defeated
and killed in a battle with the imperial army.
- One eyed turtle: A reference to a story mentioned briefly
in the Shogonno
(27th) chapter of the Lotus sutra. The story behind
this reference appears in the Zo-agon sutra. A blind
turtle, whose life span is immeasurable kalpas, lives
at the bottom of the sea. Once every 100 years,
it rises to the surface. There is only one log floating
in the sea with a hollw in it suitable to the turtle's
size. Since the turtle is blind and the log is tossed
about by the wind and waves, the likelyhood of the turtle
finding the log is extremely remote. See also the
gosho by the same name.
- This statement appears
in the Maka Shikan and elsewhere, indicating the ignorance
of common mortals. The Daishonin first quotes the
expression and then paraphrases it; the quotation is omitted
here to avoid repitition..
of Nichiren Dashonin, Vol. 3, pp. 263-266.