Letter to Ko-no-ama Gozen
I have received three hundred mon of coins from the
wife of Abutsu-bo. Since both of you are of the same mind, have someone read this letter to you and listen to it together.
I have also received the unlined summer robe you sent
to me here in the recesses of this mountain in Hakiri Village, Kai Province, all the way from the province of Sado where you
live. The Hosshi chapter in the fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra states: "If there is one who, in his quest for the Buddha
Way, shall throughout one kalpa join his palms and in my presence praise me with countless verses, because of this praise
of the Buddha he will gain immeasurable benefit. But one who praises the bearers of this sutra will have blessings surpassing
even that." This means that the benefit of making offerings to a votary of the Lotus Sutra in the evil age of the Latter Day
of the Law surpasses that of serving in all sincerity as noble a Buddha as Shakyamuni with one's body, mouth and mind for
an entire medium kalpa. Although this may seem unbelievable, you should not doubt it, because such are the Buddha's golden
The Great Teacher Miao-lo further clarifies this passage
from the sutra by saying, "If there is one who troubles [a preacher of the Dharma], then his head will be split into seven
pieces; if there is one who makes offerings [to the preacher], his good fortune will surpass that of the ten honorable titles."
In other words, the benefit of making offerings to a votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law exceeds that of
making offerings to a Buddha endowed with the ten honorable titles. On the other hand, one who persecutes a votary of the
Lotus Sutra in the impure age will have his head broken into seven pieces.
I, Nichiren, am the most extraordinary person in Japan.
The reason I say so is this. The seven reigns of heavenly gods I will set aside, and the five reigns of earthly gods are beyond
my knowledge, but throughout the ninety reigns from the time of the first human emperor Jimmu until the present, or during
the more than seven hundred years since the reign of Emperor Kimmei [when Buddhism was introduced to this country], no one
has ever been so universally hated as Nichiren on account of either secular or Buddhist matters. Mononobe no Moriya burnt
down temples and pagodas, and Kiyomori Nyudo had Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji temples destroyed, but the people of their clans did
not harbor hatred toward them. Masakado and Sadato rebelled against the imperial court, and the Great Teacher Dengyo incurred
antagonism from the priests of the seven major temples of Nara, but these men were not hated by priests, nuns, laymen and
laywomen throughout the whole of Japan. In my case, however, parents, brothers, teachers and fellow priests - every single
person from the ruler on down to the common people - treat me as if I were their parents' enemy, and show me more hostility
than if I were a rebel or a robber.
Thus, at times I have been vilified by several hundred
people; and at other times, besieged by several thousand, I have been attacked with swords and staves. I have been driven
from my residence and banished from my province. Finally I twice incurred the regent's displeasure, being exiled once to Izu
Province and again to Sado Island. When I was banished to Sado in the northern sea, I had neither provisions to sustain me
nor even clothes as coarse as those made of wisteria vines to cover my body. The people there, both priests and laity, hated
me even more than did the men and women of Sagami Province. Abandoned in the wilderness and exposed to the snow, I sustained
my life by eating grass.
I felt as though I were personally experiencing the
sufferings of Su Wu, who survived by eating snow while living in captivity in the land of the northern barbarians for nineteen
years, or of Li Ling, who was imprisoned in a rocky cave on the shore of the northern sea for six years. I underwent this
ordeal not because of any fault of my own but solely because of my desire to save all the people of Japan.
However, while I was in exile there, you and your husband
Ko Nyudo, avoiding the eyes of others, brought me food by night. You were ready to give your lives for my sake without fearing
punishment from the provincial officials. Therefore, although life in Sado was harsh, I was loath to leave, feeling as if
my heart were being left behind, and I seemed to be pulled back with each step I took.
I wonder what karmic bonds we formed in the past. Just
when I was thinking how mysterious it was, you sent your most precious husband as your messenger to this distant place. I
thought it must be a dream or an illusion. Even though I cannot see you, I am convinced that your heart remains here with
me. Whenever you yearn for me, Nichiren, look toward the sun which rises in the morning and the moon which appears in the
evening. I will invariably be reflected in the sun and the moon. In the next life, let us meet in the pure land of Eagle Peak.
The sixteenth day of the sixth month