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Major Writings - Nichiren Daishounin

Letter to Konichi-bo
Home
The True Entity of Life
The One Essential Phrase
The Essence of the Juryo Chapter
The True Object of Worship
The Selection of the Time
The Problem to Be Pondered Night and Day
Reply to the Mother of Lord Ueno
The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings
Teaching, Practice, and Proof
On Omens
On Persecutions Befalling the Buddha
The Votary of the Lotus Sutra Will Meet Persecution
Thus I Heard
The Izu Exile
The Origin of the Urabon
The Royal Palace
The Meaning of Faith
The Third Day of the New Year
Reply to the Followers
The Causal Law of Life
The Swords of Good and Evil
The Teaching for the Latter Day
The Unmatched Fortune of the Law
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Letter to Konichi-bo
Letter to Misawa
An Outline of the Zokurui and Other Chapters
Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha Made by Shijo Kingo
Curing Karmic Disease
Admonitions Against Slander
Bestowal of the Mandala of the Mystic Law
The Receipt of New Fiefs
The Unity of Husband and Wife
Letter to Ko-no-ama Gozen
Winter Always Turns to Spring
On Filial and Unfilial Conduct
A Father Takes Faith
A Warning against Begrudging One's Fief
The Mongol Envoys
Reply to Tokimitsu
Reply to Myoho Bikuni Gozen
Beneficial Medicine for All Ills
A Sage Perceives the Three Existences of Life
The Proof of the Lotus Sutra
Letter to Jakunichi-bo
Aspiration for the Buddha Land
Reply to Lord Shijo Kingo
The Universal Salty Taste
Good Fortune in This Life
The Wealthy Man Sudatta
Letter to Gijo-bo
New Year's Gosho
Persecution at Tatsunokuchi
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Reply to Lord Matsuno's Wife
The Birth of Tsukimaro
Banishment to Sado
Great Evil and Great Good
Happiness In This World
Letter from Echi
Letter to Endo Saemon-no-jo
Letter to Priest Nichiro in Prison
On Flowers and Seeds
On Itai Doshin
Postscript to the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Reply to a Believer
Reply to Ko Nyudo
Reply to Lady Onichi-nyo
Reply to Lord Matsuno
Rissho Ankoku Ron
The Difficulty of Sustaining Faith
The Offering of a Summer Robe
The Property of Rice
The Wonderful Means of Surmounting Obstacles
Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward
Upholding Faith in the Gohonzon
The Drum at the Gate of Thunder

Letter to Konichi-bo

In the ninth month of the eighth year of Bun'ei (1271), when the  reverse marker of Jupiter was in the sector of the sky with the  cyclical sign kanoto-hitsuji, I incurred the displeasure of the ruler and  was exiled to Sado Island in the northern sea. While I was living in  Kamakura in Sagami Province, I used to long vaguely for Awa  province because it was my birthplace. Yet, although it was my  home, the feelings of the people there made it somehow difficult for  me to be on close terms with them, so I rarely went to visit. Then I  was arrested and was to have been put to death, but instead, I was  banished from Sagami Province. It seemed that unless some  extraordinary circumstance arose, I would never be able to return to  Kamakura, and that therefore I would never be ale to visit my  parents' grave again. Thinking of this, I was belatedly consumed by  remorse. Why, I lamented, before finding myself in this predicament,  had I not crossed seas and traversed mountains every day, or at  least once a month, to visit my parents' grave and to inquire after my  teacher?

Su Wu was a prisoner in the land of the northern barbarians for  nineteen years. He envied the geese migrating southward.  Nakamaro went to China as an emissary of the Japanese imperial  court. Years passed, but he was not permitted to return home.  Whenever he saw the moon rise in the east, he would console  himself by thinking that the same moon must be shining above Mount  Mikasa in his native province and that the people there must even at  that moment be gazing at it. Just when I was overwhelmed by similar  longings for home, I received from my native province the robe you  had entrusted to someone journeying to Sado Island. Su Wu's life  was sustained by a mere letter tied to a goose's leg, while I actually  received such clothing! His joy could not possibly have compared to  mine.

The people of this country are continually deceived by the Nembutsu  priests, or by the Zen, Ritsu or Shingon sect. Thus they act  outwardly as though they revere the Lotus Sutra, but in their hearts  they do not believe in it. So although I, Nichiren, do not think that I  have done anything particularly wrong, when I assert the supremacy  of the Lotus Sutra, they all resent me, just as the people in the  Latter Day of the Law of Ionno Buddha detested Bodhisattva Fukyo.  From the ruler on down to the common people, they hate even to  hear my name, let alone see my person, therefore, though I was  innocent of any wrongdoing, having been exiled, I could not possibly  be pardoned. To compound matters, I had denounced the Nembutsu --which the people of Japan revere more deeply than their own  parents and more highly than the sun and moon--as the karmic  cause that leads to the hell of incessant suffering. I attacked the Zen  sect as the work of devils, and Shingon as a heresy that will ruin the  nation, and insisted that the temples of the Nembutsu priests, the  Zen sect, and the Ritsu priests be burned down, and the priests of  the Nembutsu beheaded. I even went so far as to assert that the  two deceased lay priests of Saimyo-ji and Gokuraku-ji temples had  fallen into the Avichi Hell. Such was the gravity of my offense.  Having voiced such serious charges to all people both high and low,  even had I spoken in error, I could never again rise in the world.  Even worse, I repeated such remarks morning and evening and  discussed them day and night. I also sternly informed Hei no  Saemon and several hundred officers that no matter what  punishment I might incur, I would not cease declaring these matters.  Therefore, even if a boulder at the bottom of the sea, which requires  a thousand men to move it, were to surface by itself, or if rain falling  from the sky should fail to reach the ground, still I, Nichiren, could  not possibly have returned to Kamakura.

Nevertheless, I encouraged myself by thinking that if the teaching of  the Lotus Sutra were indeed true and the gods of the sun and moon  did not abandon me, I might yet have an opportunity to return to  Kamakura and also visit my parents' grave. Climbing a high  mountain, I would shout these words aloud: "What has happened to  Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and the Four  Heavenly Kings? Are Tehsho Daijin and Hachiman no longer in this  country? Do you intend to break the vow you made in the Buddha's  presence and forsake the votary of the Lotus Sutra? Even if you fail  to protect me, Nichiren, I will have no regrets, no matter what may  happen to me. Remember, however, what you each solemnly  pledged in the presence of the Lord Shakyamuni, Taho Buddha and  all the Buddhas of the ten directions. If you do not protect me,  Nichiren, now, but instead abandon me, will you not be making a  great lie out of the Lotus Sutra, in which the Buddha declared that he  was 'honestly discarding the provisional teachings?' You have  deceived all the Buddhas throughout the ten directions and the three  existences, an offense even graver than Devadatta's outrageous  falsehoods and more blameworthy than Kokalika's deceptions. Now  you may be respected as Great Bonten and live at the top of the  world of form, or be revered as the Thousand-eyed God and dwell  on the summit of Mount Sumeru. But if you discard me, Nichiren, you  will become firewood to feed the flames of the Avichi Hell and be  forever confined to the great citadel of incessant suffering. If you  dread committing this offense, make haste to manifest some sign to  the country [showing my teachings to be correct], so that I may be  permitted to return home!"

Then in the eleventh month, shortly after my arrest on the twelfth day  of the ninth month, a rebellion broke out, and on the eleventh day of  the second month in the following year, several generals, mighty  protectors of Japan, were executed for no apparent reason. It was  clear the Heaven had meted out its punishment. Apparently shaken  by this incident, the authorities released my imprisoned disciples.

However, I myself had not yet been pardoned, so I continued to  berate the heavenly gods all the more vehemently. Then one day, a  white-headed crow flew overhead. I remembered that Prince Tan of  Yen had been released when a horned horse and a white-headed  crow appeared, and recalled Priest Nichizo's poem: "Even the  mountain crow's head/Has turned white./The time for my return  home/Must have come at last." I was now convinced that I would be  released before long. As I had expected, the government issued a  letter of pardon on the fourteenth day of the second month in the  eleventh year of Bun'ei (1274), which arrived in the province of  Sado on the eighth day of the third month.

I left [my place of residence on] Sado on the thirteenth day of that  month and reached a harbor called Maura, where I spent the night of  the fourteenth. I should have arrived at the harbor of Teradomari in  Echigo Province on the fifteenth, but a gale prevented my boat from  making port. Fortunately, however, after two days at sea, we  reached Kashiwazaki, and on the following day I arrived at the  provincial seat of Echigo. Thus, after traveling for twelve days, I  finally returned to Kamakura on the twenty-sixth day of the third  month. On the eighth day of the fourth month, I had an interview with  Hei no Saemon. As I had expected all along, my warnings went  unheeded. Altogether I had remonstrated with the authorities three  times for the sole purpose of saving Japan from ruin. Mindful that  one whose warnings are thrice ignored should retire to a mountain  forest, I left Kamakura on the twelfth day of the fifth month.

I had thought at that time of going to my birthplace to visit my  parents' grave once again. However, it is the tradition of both  Buddhism and the secular world that one should return home in  glory. Had I returned without any honor worthy of mention, would I  not have proven to be n unfilial son? And in view of the fact that I  had already overcome such hardships and returned to Kamakura, I  thought that I might have some future opportunity to go home in  triumph, and that I would wait until such time to visit my parents'  grave. Because I feel deeply about this, I have yet to travel to my  birthplace. But I am so homesick that whenever someone says that  the wind is blowing from the east, I rush out from my dwelling to feel  it, and if told that clouds are gathering in the eastern sky, I stand in  the garden to watch them. With such emotions my heart warms even  toward someone I would not otherwise be friendly with if that person  is from my native province. Imagine, then, how beside myself I was  with joy at receiving your letter! I opened and read it in great haste,  only to learn that you had lost your son Yashiro on the eighth day of  the sixth month, the year before last. I had been delighted before I  opened you letter, but then, having read the sad news, I wished I  had not opened it in such a hurry. I felt regret such as Urashima no  Ko must have experienced upon opening his casket.

I never think lightly of the people from my native province or cease  to care about what happens to them, even if they have caused me  sorrow or treated me cruelly. Your son specially impressed me. His  handsome appearance made him stand out among the others, and in  his thoughtful air there seemed to be no trace of obstinacy. It was  during one of my lectures on the Lotus Sutra [that I saw him for the  first time]. Since there were many strangers present, I did not  venture to address him. When my lecture ended, my listeners left,  as did you son. But later he sent a messenger to convey the  following:

"I am from a place called Amatsu in the province of Awa. Since my  childhood, I have always greatly admired your commitment. My  mother also thinks highly of you. You may think that I am speaking  with undue familiarity, but there is something about which I would like  to seek your counsel in confidence. I know that I should wait until  after we have met several times and become better acquainted.  However, as I am in the service of a certain warrior, I have little time  to spare, and moreover, the matter is quite urgent. Therefore, while  fully aware that I am being rude, I implore you to grant me an  interview."

In this way he courteously asked to consult with me. Moreover,  since he was from my native province, I told him he need not stand  on ceremony and invited him to my place. He talked in great detail  about the past and future. Then he said: "Impermanence is the way  of the world. No one knows when he may die. Moreover, I am  committed to a warrior's service, and I cannot avoid a challenge to  combat that I have lately received. I dread what may await me in my  next life. I beg you to help me."

I gave him instruction, quoting sutra passages. Then he lamented,  saying, "I can do nothing for my deceased father. But should I die  before my widowed mother, I would be an unfilial son. Should  anything happen to me, please ask your disciples to look after her."

In this respectful way he made his request. Am I right in assuming  that nothing untoward happened on that occasion but that some later  incident brought about his death?

No one born human, whether high or low, is free from sorrow and  distress. Yet, troubles vary according to the time and differ  according to the person. In this respect, sorrow is like illness: No  matter what malady one may suffer from, as it worsens, he will think  that no illness could be more dreadful than his. There is the sorrow  of parting from one's lord, of parting from one's parent, and of parting  from one's spouse, none of which can be lightly dismissed.  However, one may serve another lord, or find comfort in remarrying.  But the sorrow of having lost one's parent or child seems only to  deepen as the days and months pass. Yet, although death is  sorrowful in any case, for parents to die and their children to live on  is the natural course of things. It is pitiful indeed for an aged mother  to be preceded by her child in death! You may well feel resentment  toward both gods and Buddhas. Why did they not take you instead  of your son? Why did they let you survive only to be tormented by  such grief? Truly, it is hard to bear.

Even animals of little intelligence cannot endure to part from their  young. The golden pheasant at the Bamboo Grove Monastery  plunged into flames and died in order to save her eggs. The stag at  Deer Park offered himself to the king in order to save a female  deer's unborn fawn. How much greater, then, must be the love of  human beings toward their children! Thus, Wang Ling's mother  smashed her own skull [and died in order to prevent her son from  becoming a traitor], and the consort of Emperor Shen Yao had her  abdomen cut open for the sake of an unborn prince. When you  consider these examples, I am certain you must feel that you  yourself would not hesitate to plunge into fire or smash your own  skull if by so doing you could see your son again. In imagining your  grief, my tears will not cease to flow.

You say in your letter, "Because my son killed others, I would like  you to tell me into what kind of place he may be reborn." A needle  sinks in water, and rain will not remain in the sky. Those who kill  even an ant are destined for hell, and those who merely cut up dead  bodies cannot avoid the evil paths. All the more must they suffer  who kill human beings. However, even a large rock can float on the  sea when carried aboard a boat. Does not water extinguish even a  great fire? Even a small error will destine one to the evil paths if one  does not repent of it. Yet even a grave offense can be eradicated if  one repents of it sincerely.

Let me cite a few examples. The monk who stole millet was reborn  as an ox for five hundred consecutive lifetimes. The person who  plucked water oats fell into the three evil paths. The more than  eighty thousand kings, including Rama, Batsudai, Birushin, Nagosa,  Katei, Bishakya, Gakko, Komyo, Nikko, Ai and Jitanin, all ascended  the throne by killing their fathers. As they did not encounter good  teachers, their offenses could not be eradicated and, in the end,  they fell into the Avichi Hell.

There was a wicked man named Ajita in Varanasi. Falling in love  with his own mother, he killed his father and made her his wife.  When the arhat who had been his father's teacher admonished him,  he killed that arhat, and when his mother took another man for a  husband he killed his mother as well. Thus he committed three of the  five cardinal sins. Shunned by his neighbors, he had no place to  turn. He went to the Jetavana Monastery and sought admittance to  the Order, but the monks refused. The evil in his heart grew more  rampant than ever, and he burned down many of the monks'  quarters. Finally, however he met Shakyamuni Buddha and was  permitted to become a monk.

There was a kingdom called Saiseki in northern India that was ruled  by a king named Ryuin. Ryuin killed his father, but later, horrified by  his own act, he abandoned his country, presented himself before the  Buddha and repented of his wrongdoing; thereupon the Buddha  forgave him.

King Ajatashatru was by nature given to the three poisons of greed,  anger and stupidity, and was forever committing one or another of  the ten evil acts. Moreover, he killed his father, attempted to take his  mother's life, and, accepting Devadatta as his teacher, massacred  countless disciples of the Buddha. Due to his accumulated  misdeeds, on the fifteenth day of the second month, the very day on  which the Buddha was to pass away, virulent boils broke out in  seven areas of his royal body, a sign that he will fall into the hell of  incessant suffering. The king writhed in agony; he felt as if he were  being burned by a great fire or doused with boiling water. His six  ministers presented themselves before him and summoned the six  non-Buddhist teachers, asking them to cure him of his foul sores.  This was just like the people of Japan today relying on the Zen and  Ritsu leaders or the Nembutsu and Shingon Priests as good  teachers in the belief that the prayers of these man can subdue the  Mongols and help them in their next life. Moreover, Ajatashatru's first  teacher, Devadatta, had memorized the sixty thousand non-Buddhist  and eighty thousand Buddhist teachings. His understanding of both  secular and religious matters was as clear as the sun, the moon or a  burnished mirror. He was like the learned priests of the Tendai sect  in the world today who are well versed in both the exoteric and  esoteric teachings and know all the Buddhist scriptures by heart.  Because Ajatashatru was guided by such teachers and ministers, he  had refused to become the Buddha's follower. And for this reason,  his country, Magadha, had suffered repeated disturbances in the  heavens and frequent strange occurrences on earth, being ravaged  incessantly by violent winds, severe droughts, famine and  pestilence. Moreover, it had been attacked by another country. Now,  in addition to all this, he was suffering from virulent boils. When his  kingdom appeared to be on the verge of ruin, he suddenly presented  himself before the Buddha and repented of his evildoings, and his  offenses were eradicated.

In any event, even though one's parents may be evildoers, if that  person himself is virtuous, his parents' offenses will be forgiven. On  the other hand, although the child may be an evildoer, if the parents  are good people, their child's faults will be pardoned. Hence, even  though your late son Yashiro committed evil, if you, the mother who  gave birth to him, grieve for him and offer prayers for him day and  night in the presence of Shakyamuni Buddha, how can he not be  saved? Rather, as a believer in the Lotus Sutra, he will surely lead  his parents to Buddhahood.

Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra should beware of and guard  themselves against the sutra's enemies. Know that the Nembutsu  priests, the upholders of the precepts, and the Shingon teachers--in  fact, all those who refuse to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo--are the  enemies of the Lotus Sutra, no matter how earnestly they may read  it. If you do not know your enemies, you will be deceived by them.  How I wish I could see you personally and talk to you about these  matters in detail! Whenever you see Sammi-bo or Sado-ko, who will  visit your area from Minobu, have them read this letter to you. Place  it in the custody of Myoe-bo. Those lacking in wisdom would no  doubt mock me or criticize this letter as mere clever words on my  part. Or they would compare me with others, saying, "This priest  could never match the Great Teacher Kobo or surpass the Great  Teacher Jikaku!" Consider those who say such things ignorant.

Nichiren

Written in the third month in the second year of Kenji (1276), cyclical  sign hinoe-ne, in the mountains of Hakiri Village in the Nambu area  of Kai Province.

  

Home
A Comparison of the Lotus Sutra and Other Sutras
A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering
Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment
Clear Sake Gosho
Letter to Niike
Letter to Domyo Zemmon
Letter to Akimoto
Letter from Sado
Reply to Nichigon-ama
Roots of Good Fortune
Reply to Jibu-bo
No Safety in the Threefold World - Nichiren Daishounin
Letter to Horen - Nichiren Daishounin
King Rinda - Nichiren Daishounin
Jozo and Jogen - Nichiren Daishounin
Bodhisattva Hachiman - Nichiren Daishounin
On Prayer - Nichiren Daishounin
The Opening of the Eyes Part I
The Opening of the Eyes Part II
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man Part II
Establishment of the Legitimate Teaching for the Protection of the Country
How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood Through the Lotus Sutra
The Learned Doctor Shan-wu-wei
The Entity of the Mystic Law
The Pure and Far-reaching Voice
Reply to Takahashi Nyudo
The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country
The Doctrine of Attaining Buddhahood in One's Present Form
Encouragement to a Sick Person
The Essence of the Yakuo Chapter
The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra
The Supreme Leader of the World
The Treasure of a Filial Child
The Supremacy of the Law
Reply to Nii-ama
The Workings of Bonten and Taishaku
The Story of Ohashi no Taro
The Teaching in Accordance with the Buddha's Own Mind
The Treatment of Illness and the Points of Difference between Mahayana and Hinayana and Provisional
Repaying Debts of Gratitude
On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings
On the Urabon
Letter to the Priests of Seicho-ji
Letter to Nichimyo Shonin
Letter to Shomitsu-bo
Questions and Answers on Embracing the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Sairen-bo
Rationale for Submitting the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Persecution by Sword and Staff
Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins
Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters
Reply to Lord Hakiri Saburo
Reply to Yasaburo
Letter to Ichinosawa Nyudo
Letter to Myomitsu Shonin
Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro
Wu-lung and I-lung
White Horses and White Swans
The Sutra of True Requital
The Kalpa of Decrease
The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream
The Third Doctrine
The One-eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log
Letter to Nakaoki Nyudo
General Stone Tiger
The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life
Lessening the Karmic Retribution
Letter to the Brothers
Hell is the Land of Tranquil Delight
On Prolonging Life
On the Buddha's Behavior
On the Buddha's Prophecy
On the Treasure Tower
Propagation by the Wise
The Embankments of Faith
The Dragon Gate
Strategy of the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Kyo-o
The Person and the Law
The One Essential Phrase
The Gift of Rice
The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon
Letter of Petition from Yorimoto
Introduction and Preface to the Ongi Kuden: Namu Myoho Renge Kyo [Devotion to the Lotus Sutra]
Muryogi Sutra [Sutra of Innumerable Meanings]
Chapter 3: Simile and Parable [Hiyu]
Chapter 4: Faith and Understanding [Shinge]
Chapter 6: Prediction [Juki]
Chapter 7: Phantom City [Kejoyu]
Chapter 8: Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples [Gohyaku Deshi Juki]

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