The Unity of Husband and Wife
As for false teachings that gouge out the
eyes and delude the minds of the entire Japanese populace,
in the final analysis, there is none more mistaken than that
upheld by the teachers of Shingon. But let us set this matter
Although the ten similes seem to illustrate
the relative merit of the Lotus Sutra and all the other sutras,
this was not the Buddha's true intention in expounding them.
His aim was to compare the votaries of all other sutras with
the votary of the Lotus Sutra, and to show that, while the
votary of the Lotus Sutra is like the sun or the moon, the
votaries of the other sutras are like stars or torches.
How do we know this? The eighth simile is
followed by a most vital passage. It reads: "He who can
accept and uphold this sutra will be like this too - he will
be first among all the multitude of living beings." This
twenty-two-character passage is the heart of the entire sutra,
the eye of all living beings. Its meaning is that the votary
of the Lotus Sutra is like the sun, the moon, King Bonten,
or the Buddha, while the votaries of the Dainichi Sutra
are like the stars, the streams and rivers, or common mortals.
For this reason, the Buddha surely considers
anyone in this world who embraces the Lotus Sutra, whether
man or woman, monk or nun, to be the lord of all living beings,
and Bonten and Taishaku most certainly hold that person in
reverence. When I think in this way, my joy is beyond expression.
Moreover, in pondering this sutra passage
day and night and reading it morning and evening, I realize
that the votary it refers to is not just any votary of the
Lotus Sutra. Since "he" in the phrase "he who
can accept and uphold this sutra" means "person"
in an unqualified sense, I had thought that it must indicate
anyone among the monks, nuns, laymen or laywomen in this world
who believe in the Lotus Sutra. This, however, is not so.
For, in a subsequent passage where the Buddha again refers
to this person, he says, "If there is a woman..."
When I, Nichiren, read the sutras other than
the Lotus Sutra, I have not the slightest wish to become a
woman. One sutra condemns women as emissaries of hell. Another
describes them as large snakes. Still another likens them
to bent and twisted trees. And there is even a sutra that
describes them as people who have scorched the seed of Buddhahood.
Buddhist scriptures are not alone in this
regard; non-Buddhist writings also [disdain women]. Someone
named Jung Ch'i-ch'i, for example, sings in praise of three
pleasures, one of which is the pleasure of not having been
born into the world as a woman. It is widely accepted that
disaster had its origins in the three women. Only in the Lotus
Sutra do we read that a woman who embraces this sutra not
only excels all other women but also surpasses all men.
Even though she may be slandered by everyone,
for a woman, there is ultimately no greater happiness than
to be loved by the man she holds dearest. Let others hate
you if they will. What have you to complain of, if you are
cherished by Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha and all the other
Buddhas in the ten directions, as well as by Bonten, Taishaku,
the gods of the sun and moon and others? As long as you are
praised by the Lotus Sutra, what cause have you for discontent?
You say that you have now reached the unlucky
age of thirty-three, and for that reason sent offerings. I
have reported this to Shakyamuni Buddha, the Lotus Sutra and
the god of the sun. A person's body has a left and a right
shoulder, on which there are two gods, one named Domyo and
the other, Dosho. These are two deities whom Bonten, Taishaku,
and the gods of the sun and moon have assigned to each person
in order to protect him. From the time he enters his mother's
womb until the end of his life, they accompany him like his
shadow or like his eyes. If he commits an evil act or performs
a good deed, they report everything to the heavenly gods without
omitting even a detail as minute as a dewdrop or a speck of
dust. This is related in the Kegon Sutra and is cited
by the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai in the eighth volume of his
He states, however, that if a person's faith
is weak, even though she be a woman who embraces the Lotus
Sutra, she will be forsaken. For example, if a commanding
general is fainthearted, his soldiers will become cowards.
If a bow is weak, the bowstring will be slack. If the wind
is gentle, the waves will not rise high. All this is in accord
with the principles of nature.
Now [your husband] Saemon is a believer in
the Lotus Sutra, without peer among the Buddhist lay believers
in Japan. Being married to such a man, you also are foremost
among the women in Japan. Because you live for the sake of
the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha surely regards you as equal to
the dragon king's daughter herself. The character for woman
implies "to depend." The wisteria depends on the
pine tree, and a woman depends on a man. Make Saemon your
teacher and be guided in the faith of the Lotus Sutra.
The bad luck of your thirty-third year will
turn into the happiness of your thirty-third year. That is
what is meant by the passage "The seven difficulties
vanish, the seven blessings at once appear." You will
grow younger, and your good fortune will accumulate.
The twenty-seventh day of the first month
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,
Vol. 5, page 155.