A Warning against Begrudging One's Fief
Your letter dated the twenty-fifth of last
month arrived at the Hour of the Cock (5:00-7:00 P.M.) on
the twenty-seventh of the same month. On reading your lord's
official letter [ordering you to submit a written oath renouncing
your faith in the Lotus Sutra] and your own pledge not to
write such an oath, I feel that your resolve is as rare as
seeing the udumbara plant in blossom and as admirable
as the fragrance of budding red sandalwood.
Shariputra, Maudgalyayana and Mahakashyapa
were great arhats who had acquired the three insights and
the six supernatural powers. Moreover, they were bodhisattvas
who, by hearing the Lotus Sutra, had attained the first stage
of development and the first stage of security, achieving
the perception of non-birth and non-extinction. Yet even these
people deemed themselves unable to endure the great persecutions
that attend the propagation of the Lotus Sutra in the saha
world during the Latter Day of the Law, and declined to accept
the task. How then could a common mortal in the Latter Day,
who has not yet eradicated the three categories of illusion,
become a votary of this sutra?
Even though I, Nichiren, may have been able
to withstand attacks by sticks and staves and tiles and stones,
vilification and persecution by the sovereign, how could lay
believers, who have wives and children and are ignorant of
Buddhism, possibly do the same? They might have done better
never to have taken faith in the Lotus Sutra in the first
place. Should they prove unable to carry their faith through
to the end, upholding it only for a short time, they will
be mocked by others. So thinking, I had felt pity for you.
Yet, during the repeated persecutions I suffered as well as
throughout my two sentences of exile, you demonstrated unshakable
resolve. That alone was wondrous enough, but now, despite
your lord's threats, you have written a pledge to carry through
with your faith in the Lotus Sutra even at the cost of your
two fiefs. I can find no words sufficient to praise you.
The Buddha doubted whether even Bodhisattvas
Fugen and Monju could undertake the propagation of the Lotus
Sutra in the latter age, and he therefore entrusted the five
characters of Myoho-renge-kyo to Jogyo and the other three
leaders of the countless Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Now, pondering
the meaning of this affair, I wonder if Bodhisattva Jogyo
could have lodged himself in your body in order to assist
me, Nichiren. Or perhaps it may be the merciful design of
the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni.
The fact that those of your lord's retainers
[who resent you] are growing more presumptuous must surely
be the work of Ryokan and Ryuzo. Should you write an oath
discarding your faith, that crowd will only become more arrogant
than before, and they will certainly mention it to everyone
they meet. Then all my disciples in Kamakura will be hounded
until not a one remains.
It is the nature of common mortals not to
know what awaits them in the future. Those who know it well
are called worthies or sages. Passing over examples from the
past, I will cite one from the present. Lord Hojo Yoshimasa
relinquished both his domains and became a lay priest. I hear
that, in the end, he abandoned all his many estates, forsook
his sons and daughters as well as his wife and secluded himself
from the world. You have neither sons nor brothers upon whom
you can rely. All that you have is your two fiefs. This life
is like a dream. One cannot know if he will live until tomorrow.
Even if you should become the most wretched of beggars, never
disgrace the Lotus Sutra. Since life is so short in any event,
you should not weep over your fate. As you yourself wrote
in your letter, you must act and speak without the least servility.
Fawning or flattery will only do you more harm. Even if your
fiefs should be confiscated or you yourself driven out, think
that it is due to the workings of the Ten Goddesses, and wholeheartedly
entrust yourself to them.
Had I, Nichiren, not been exiled but remained
in Kamakura, I would certainly have been killed in the battle.
In like manner, because remaining in your lord's service might
prove to be to your detriment, Shakyamuni Buddha may well
have contrived matters [so that you are forced to leave].
I have written a petition on your behalf.
There are several priests [who are my disciples in Kamakura],
but as they are too unreliable, I was thinking of sending
Sammi-bo. However, since he has still not recovered from his
illness, I am sending this other priest in his stead. Have
either Daigaku Saburo, Taki no Taro or Lord Toki make a clean
copy of the petition when he has time, and present it to your
lord. If you can do so, this matter of yours will be resolved.
You need not be in great haste; rather, you should band solidly
together with your fellow believers. As for the others, let
them clamor against you as they will. Then, if you can submit
the petition, news of it may spread throughout Kamakura, and
perhaps even reach the regent himself. This will mean misfortune
changing into fortune.
I explained to you the teachings of the Lotus
Sutra some time ago. Matters of minor consequence arise from
good, but a matter of great import assuredly means that disaster
will change into great fortune. If people read this petition,
the enemies of Buddhism will be exposed. You have only to
state briefly, "I do not intend to leave my lord's clan
and return my fief of my own will. Yet, if my lord should
confiscate it, I will regard it as an offering to the Lotus
Sutra and an occasion for rejoicing." Say this in a scathing
You must in no way behave in a servile fashion
toward the magistrate. Tell him, "This fief of mine is
not one which my lord bestowed upon me for any ordinary reason.
He awarded it to me because I saved his life with the medicine
of the Lotus Sutra when he fell seriously ill. If he takes
it from me, his illness will surely return. At that time,
even if he should apologize to me, Yorimoto, I will not accept
it." Having had your say, take your leave in an abrupt
Under no circumstances should you attend any
gatherings. Maintain a strict guard at night. Be on close
terms with the night watchmen, and request their assistance.
You should always be in company with them. If you are not
ousted this time, the chances are nine to one that your fellow
samurai will make an attempt on your life. No matter what,
do not die shamefully.
The seventh month in the third year of Kenji
(1277), cyclical sign honoto-ushi
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,
Vol. 4, page 281.