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Major Writings - Nichiren Daishounin

The Origin of the Urabon
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

The Origin of the Urabon

I have received one to of polished rice as white as snow, a bamboo container of oil as thick as well-aged sake and a monetary offering of one kan, which you took the trouble to send me by messenger as a donation for the urabon ceremony. I was deeply moved by the contents of your letter.

The urabon ceremony has its origins in the time when the Venerable Maudgalyayana saved his mother Shodai-nyo who, because of karmic retribution for her greed and stinginess, had fallen into the world of hunger for a period of five hundred lifetimes. However, he could not enable her to become a Buddha. That was because he himself was not yet a votary of the Lotus Sutra and thus could not help his mother attain Buddhahood. Later, in the eight-year assembly on Eagle Peak, he became a Buddha called Tamalapattra Sandalwood Fragrance by embracing the Lotus Sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. At that time, his mother became a Buddha as well.

You asked about making offerings of food to the hungry spirits. The third volume of the Lotus Sutra reads, "It is as if one came from a famished land and suddenly encountered a great king's feast." This passage means that the four great men of Learning, people of intermediate capacity, had not so much as heard of the choicest delicacy called ghee until the Lotus Sutra was expounded. Then, for the first time they savored ghee to their hearts' content, thus quickly bringing to an end the long-unsatisfied hunger in their hearts. Therefore, when you make offerings of food to the hungry spirits, you should recite the above passage from the sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for their repose.

Hungry spirits are generally divided into thirty-six kinds. One of them, the cauldron-shaped hungry spirits, have no eyes or mouth. The reason for this is that, while in this world, they attacked people under cover of night or committed robberies. Vomit-eating hungry spirits feed on the food that people throw up. The cause of their state is the same as that of the cauldron-shaped hungry spirits. It is also because they robbed people of their food. Thirst-consumed hungry spirits drink the water that people out of filial piety offer to their deceased parents. Property-possessing hungry spirits are greedy enough to try to extract water even from horses' hooves. While alive, they begrudged their property and concealed their food. Property-less hungry spirits have not even heard of food or drink since their birth.

Law-devouring hungry spirits renounce the world to spread Buddhism only because they think that if they preach the Law, people will respect them. Seeking worldly fame and fortune, they spend their entire present lifetime trying to outdo others in everything. They neither help people nor attempt to save even their own parents. Such persons are called Law-devouring hungry spirits, or those who use the Law to satisfy their desires.

When we observe the priests in our times, some of them secretly have offerings given to themselves alone. The Nirvana Sutra calls such men priests with the hearts of dogs. In their next life they will become ox-headed demons. Others openly receive offerings but, being greedy, will not share them with others. In their next existence they will be born as horse-headed demons.

Some lay believers do not pray for the repose of their parents who have fallen into the world of Hell, Hunger or Animality and are undergoing excruciating agonies. They themselves are luxuriously clad and fed, having an abundance of oxen and horses and retainers and enjoying themselves as they please. How their parents must envy and resent them! Even priests, with the exception of a very few, neglect praying for the repose of their parents and teachers on the anniversaries of their deaths. Certainly the gods of the sun and moon in heaven and the deities on earth must be angry and indignant with them, condemning them as unfilial. Although such ingrates possess human form, they are no better than animals. They should rather be called human-headed beasts.

I, Nichiren, am convinced that, by eradicating karmic impediments of the kind described above, I will abe able to go to the pure land of Eagle Peak in the future. Therefore, although various grave persecutions may fall on me like rain or rise up like clouds, because I meet them for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, my sufferings do not seem like sufferings at all. Those who became disciples and followers of this person Nichiren are votaries of the Lotus Sutra. Especially the deceased Myoho, the anniversary of whose death falls on the twelfth day of this month, was none other than a votary of the Lotus Sutra and a follower of Nichiren. How could she possibly have fallen into the world of Hunger? Without a doubt she is now in the presence of Shakyamuni, Taho and all the Buddhas of the ten directions. They themselves must be saying, "So this is the mother of Shijo Kingo!" and, with one accord, stroking her on the head and joyfully singing her praises. For her part, she must be telling Shakyamuni Buddha what a splendid son she has.

The Lotus Sutra says, "If there are men of devout faith or women of devout faith who, hearing the Devadatta chapter of the Lotus Sutra, with a pure heart believe and revere it, harboring no doubts or uncertainties, they will not fall into the world of Hell, Hunger or Animality, but will be reborn in the presence of all the Buddhas of the ten directions. They will constantly hear this sutra wherever they may be born. If they are reborn in the world of Humanity or Heaven, they will enjoy supreme happiness. If they are in the presence of Buddhas, they will be reborn by transformation from a lotus blossom." Note the phrase "women of devout faith." If it does not refer to the deceased Myoho, then to whom does it refer? The sutra also states, "It is difficult to sustain faith in this sutra. One who embraces it even for a short time will delight me [Shakyamuni] and all other Buddhas. A person like this will be praised by all Buddhas." No matter how highly I, Nichiren, may praise your mother, it does not amount to much. But the sutra states that she will be "praised by all the Buddhas." How encouraging! How reassuring! With this conviction, you should deepen your faith all the more. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

With my deep respect,

The twelfth day of the seventh month


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]