The Receipt of New Fiefs
I have received one kan of coins. So your lord has granted
you new fiefs! It seems as though it could scarcely be true; it is so amazing that I wonder if I may not be dreaming. I hardly
know what to say in reply.
The reason is, people throughout Japan as well as those
in Kamakura, even those in your lord's service, including the scions of his clan, all disapproved of you because of your belief
in Nichiren's teaching. Your continued faith appeared incomprehensible. The mere fact that you were permitted to remain in
your lord's clan at all was a cause for astonishment. Moreover, whenever your lord offered to grant you an estate, you invariably
declined to take it. How strange your fellow samurai must have thought your refusal, how outrageous it must have seemed to
Such being the case, I was anxious about how you would
fare this time, and in addition, I learned that dozens of your fellow clansmen had slandered you to your lord. I therefore
thought you would not possibly be able to obtain a fief; the gravity of your situation seemed overwhelming. Moreover, even
your own brothers abandoned you. And yet, in spite of all this, you have been granted such favor. No honor could be greater
You say that your new domains occupy an area three times
the size of Tono'oka. There is a man from the province of Sado who is now staying here [in Minobu] and who knows that area
thoroughly. He tells me that, of the three villages, the one called Ikada is first rate. Although its fields and paddies may
be few, its profits are immeasurable. Two of the fiefs each annually yield a harvest worth one thousand kan, and the third,
three hundred kan. Such, he says, are the merits of your estates.
In any event, you had been forsaken by your fellow samurai
as well as by the people close to you, and they mocked you for their own amusement. Under the circumstances, an official letter
granting you any sort of fief, even had it been inferior to Tono'oka, would have been welcome. Yet, as it turned out, your
new domains, combined, are three times as large [as Tono'oka]. No matter how poor these estates might prove to be, you must
not complain of it, not to others nor to your lord. If you repeatedly praise them as excellent lands, your lord may grant
you still more fiefs. But if you speak of them as poor lands with only a meager yield, you will certainly be forsaken by both
Heaven and other men. You should bear this in mind.
King Ajatashatru was a worthy man, but because he killed
his own father, at that very moment Heaven should by rights have abandoned him, and the earth should have split open to swallow
him up. However, because of the merit that his father, the murdered king, had acquired by making five hundred cartloads of
offerings to the Buddha every day for the space of several years, and because of the merit he himself would later gain by
becoming a patron of the Lotus Sutra, Heaven did not abandon him, nor did the earth swallow him. In the end, rather than falling
into hell, he became a Buddha.
Your case is similar to his. You were forsaken by your
brothers, resented by your fellow samurai, persecuted by the scions of the clan, and hated by people throughout Japan. Yet,
on the twelfth day of the ninth month in the eighth year of Bun'ei, between the hours of the Rat and the Ox (12:00 A.M. to
2:00 A.M.), when I, Nichiren, had incurred the displeasure of the government authorities, you accompanied me from Kamakura
to Echi in Sagami Province, holding fast to my horse's bridle. Since you thus proved yourself to be the most worthy ally of
the Lotus Sutra in all the world, no doubt Bonten and Taishaku could not bring themselves to forsake you.
The same holds true with your attainment of Buddhahood.
No matter what grave offenses you might have committed, because you have not gone against the Lotus Sutra but showed your
devotion by accompanying me, you will without a doubt become a Buddha. Yours is like the case of King Utoku, who gave his
own life to save the monk Kakutoku and became Shakyamuni Buddha. Faith in the Lotus Sutra acts as a prayer [to attain Buddhahood].
Above all, strengthen your seeking mind for the Way even further, so that you can attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.
No happier thing has ever happened to any member of
your lord's clan, whether priest or layman. In speaking thus [about receiving the new fiefs], one may appear to be overly
concerned with mundane desires, but for common mortals, such desires are only natural, and moreover, there exists a way to
become a Buddha without eradicating them. The Fugen Sutra, in a passage that explains the heart of the Lotus Sutra, states,
"Even without extinguishing their earthly desires of denying the five desires,..." And the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai's Maka
Shikan reads, "Earthly desires are enlightenment; the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana." Bodhisattva Nagarjuna's
Daichido Ron, in explaining how the Lotus Sutra surpasses all the rest of the Buddha's lifetime teachings, says, "[The Lotus
Sutra is] like a great physician who changes poison into medicine." This means that a physician of lesser skill can cure ordinary
illness with medicine, while a great physician can cure even grave illness with virulent poison.
The tenth month of the firt year of Koan (1278), cyclic