A Letter to Sir Shimoyama

Goshō Zenshū, pp. 343-364
Goshō Shinpen, pp. 1137-1160

[Written at Mount Minobu in the sixth month of 1277 as a petition to Shimoyama Hyōgo Gorō Mitsumoto, the steward of the district of Shimoyama near Mount Minobu in the province of Kai, on behalf of a priest named Inaba-bō Nichiei.]

[Here Nichiren is speaking from the point of view of the petitioner.]

[You have said:] “The Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) should be recited at the appointed time as a matter of the greatest importance.” Even before your directions in this concern, as a representative of my father and on my own behalf, for these last four or five years, without any omission, I have regularly and reverently recited the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra).

Then, from the end of spring and the beginning of the end of summer last year, I stopped my recitation of the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) and reciting Namu Amida Butsu and have single-mindedly recited the metric hymn of the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata in the Dharma Flower Sutra and at the same time have been reading the whole sutra. I do this wholeheartedly as a means of praying for my present and future existences.

But with regard to my no longer reciting the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) along with the reciting of Namu Amida Butsu, recently the holy person Nichiren has been known throughout the country of Japan and taken up a hermitage, in around the eleventh year of the summer of the reign called Bun’ei, in the province of Kai. Here in our same province of Kai, he took up residence on Mount Minobu near the peak and in the districts Iino and Mimaki, deep in the mountains.

Even though certain persons have given the reason of receiving Dharma gateways, they have been restrained and not allowed to go into the mountains. There is a hazy feeling that without a strong relationship with him (Nichiren), it will be useless to try. Since an acquaintance was going to see him, without my being interested in taking any faith in his teaching, but because I wanted to observe, I (went along and) slunk into the toilet and hid (from where I was able to listen).

What people do not understand he (Nichiren) roughly explained about certain Dharma gateways, such as the superiority, the inferiority, the depth and shallowness of such sutras as the Dharma Flower Sutra, the Dainichi Kyō (Mahāvairochana Sutra), the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), the wisdom teachings (The Praja Pāramitā Sutras), the profoundly secret teachings, the Lankāvatāra Sutra, and the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha). He explained that the Dharma Flower Sutra’s superiority over that of the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) was not simply one or two layers, but that they were as far apart as the clouds in the sky or mud on the ground. For instance, he made the comparison between the Dharma Flower Sutra and the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha), saying that the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) would be like a monkey compared to Taishaku (Shakra Devānām Indra) [who is one of the principal tutelary divinities of the Buddha teaching with Bonten (Brahma) and is one of the deva who protects our existential realm], like a phoenix to a magpie, or like a great mountain to a speck of dust, or even the brightness of the sun and moon compared to that of a firefly.

He also quoted various sutric texts as well as the Dharma Flower Sutra in such a way that even a person with diminished intelligence could understand his argument, in the same way as clear white is contrasted to scarlet vermillion. Nevertheless, this Dharma gateway was already generally known to the people present, and was not something for them to be surprised at. Again he stated that people who wished to practice the Buddha Dharma should make a distinction between the Universal Vehicle and the Individual Vehicle, the provisional teachings and those that refer to reality, as well as the exoteric and esoteric teachings. Also, one should be aware of the period in which we live, as well as taking into account people’s propensities.

[From here, until further on in this writing, the words of the narrator are those of Nichiren himself.]

[His discourse went on as follows:] However, in Japan, at the present time, all people base their lives on the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) and reciting his name reverentially (Namu Amida Butsu) and look upon the Dharma Flower Sutra with disesteem. Those who are seen as persons of wisdom are those who think they have a knowledge of the time we are living in and the possible propensities of the people. They hold to a smalltime goodness and push the greater good to the side. They rely on the provisional teachings and lose out on what the sutras that refer to reality [can teach them]. On receiving the lesser good, it becomes a great evil. Their medicine turns into a poison, and where they should act as close relatives, they behave like sworn enemies. This is a situation that is difficult to cure.

Again, although a person may seem to have an intelligent view of the Buddha Dharma, if he does not really understand the conformity with the period in which people are living, their possible propensities, and their country and how the result will be before propagation and after the dissemination of such a teaching, then even if this person may suffer in body and mind in trying to put this teaching into practice, any physical or mental efforts will be without a trace of realization. For instance, this is so should one try to propagate the Universal Vehicle where the Individual Vehicle dominates and seriously in a country where the Individual Vehicle is a necessity. But you should know that if one propagates the Individual Vehicle in a country, that country [where the Universal Vehicle is established] will have troubles and the people will be reborn in negative paths of existence.

[A Vehicle is a means or a type of teaching whereby the Buddha imparts his enlightenment according to the propensities of his hearers and which will bring about an awakening. The Individual Vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) is only concerned with personal salvation or for individual realization as in Hinduism, whereas the Universal Vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna) is not only concerned with personal salvation, but also for that of everyone and thus stresses the importance of setting all beings on the road to Buddhahood. The Nichiren Kōmon School is, from the viewpoint of its own teaching, the summit of the Universal Vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna). In the teaching of Nichiren, there is only one vehicle, which is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō and means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) (entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (which is every possible psychological wavelength) (Kyō).]

Again, when a person decides on practicing the Buddha teaching, that person should not practice two Dharmas at the same time. In India, it was the custom for people who belong to temples dedicated to the Individual Vehicle not to walk on the King’s road [in the middle]. And monks of the Universal Vehicle would not step in the left or right lanes. They would refrain from drinking the water of the same well or river. So how could they even live in the same living quarters for monks?

For all that, with regard to the Dharma Flower Sutra, for novices in monasteries solely dedicated to the teachings of the Universal Vehicle, the Buddha expounds (in the following manner), “only desirous of holding to and accepting sutras of the Universal Vehicle and not holding to even a single metric hymn [of any other teaching]”. Again, he says, “One should not seek out to become intellectuals (shōmon, shrāvaka) or even associate with monks, nuns, laymen, or laywomen (of other teachings).” Also, he says that one should not question them.

For example, although one’s own parents are living in a monastery solely dedicated to teachings of the Individual Vehicle or even with regard to any monks or nuns living there, although the offspring are dwelling in a temple that is dedicated to the Universal Vehicle, they should not associate closely or pay reverence to their parents. And also, they should not practice any of the rites of the Individual Vehicle with them. Novices were not allowed to enter temples in which both the practices of the Universal Vehicle and the Individual Vehicle are carried out.

However, as regards the Buddha teaching in present-day Japan, when the Buddha Dharma was first introduced into our country, it was a mixture of the Universal Vehicle and the Individual Vehicle. During the reign of the forty-fifth ruler of humankind, the Emperor Shōmu, there came from China to our Japan a person known as the Venerable Ganjin (Chien-chen) from the Lung-hsing monastery in Yang-chou province in China, bringing with him the Dharma Flower Sutra and the teachings of the Tendai (T’ien T’ai) School. But the Venerable Ganjin felt that the propensities (of the people) for the all-inclusive teaching were not sufficient, so he kept this Dharma gateway to himself without ever speaking of it. In Chung-nan-shan, there was a monastery Feng-te szu, whose master of Discipline Dōsen (Tao-hsan) established a platform [for the ordination of the precepts of the Individual Vehicle] in three places in Japan. This was done with the intention of being an expedient means for the propagation of the Dharma Flower School (Tendai School). After the Universal Vehicle had been established, it was not intended that these precepts of the Individual Vehicle [and those of the Universal Vehicle] should be practiced alongside each other.

In the case of China where there were the three sages [Confucius, Lao Tzu, Yen Hui], all three of them, Confucius, who was the founder of the Confucian school, and Lao Tzu [who established the Taoist system of thought], plus Yen Hui, were sent [by the Buddha] in order to teach everybody [in China] something about rites and music. Hence, in the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan), there is a quote from a sutra which says, “I have sent the three sages to China in order to influence [their way of thinking].” The Universal teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo) said, “At first ritual and music were dispatched; later the correct way was opened up.”

Even though the Buddha Shākyamuni expounded the precepts of the Individual Vehicle so as to introduce the teachings of the Universal Vehicle, still when the time had passed, the Buddha forbade them to be used. Hence it says in the Sutra on the Buddha’s Passing Over to the Extinction of Nirvana (Nehan kyō, Nirvana Sutra), “Should any person say that the Tathāgata is impermanent, how could this person’s tongue not fall out?”

Later, in the reign of the fiftieth sovereign of humankind the great Emperor Kammu, that holy individual the Universal Teacher Dengyō appeared. At first, he not only chose to make a complete study of the six schools [of the Buddha teaching at that time in Japan], but he also studied the realities of the depths and the basis of the Bodhidharma School (Zen), along with making an inquiry into the two schools of the Tendai (T’ien T’ai) Dharma Flower and the Mantra schools (Shingon), which at that time had not yet been propagated in Japan. The object of these inquiries was to reveal the shallowness or depth, or the superiority or inferiority, of these teachings, so that he would know what was at the heart of them.

The six (or seven) schools [of the Buddha teaching at that time in Japan] are 1) the Flower Garland School (Kegon), 2) the Three Treatises on the middle way School (Sanron), 3) the Peculiarities of the Dharma School (Kusha), 4) the School of the Doctrinal Store of the Dharma (a school which teaches that the self is non-substantial whereas dharmas really exist) (Hossō), 5) the School that would establish the real meaning of the sutras (Jōjitsu), 6), the School of Monastic Discipline (Risshū, Ritsu), 7), the School of the Immaculate Terrain (Jōdo).

In the twenty-first year of the reign Enryaku, on the nineteenth day of the first month, the Emperor Kammu visited the Takao monastery, where he invited the learned heads of the seven major temples of Nara, along with Zengi, Gonsō, and others, fourteen persons in all, who were all pure Dharma teachers, in order to investigate as to whether one could become enlightened through any of the six schools, or the Dharma Flower School, as well as to investigate their superiority or inferiority, or their triviality or depth. At first, each of the learned scholars of the schools claimed that the doctrines of their particular persuasion represented the extreme point of Shākyamuni’s lifetime of teachings. But the Universal Teacher Dengyō with a single word shattered all their reasoning.

After that, the emperor once again issued an order to Wake no Hiroyo, as a delegate on the emperor’s behalf, to admonish these fourteen eminent individuals. Those learned scholars of the seven major temples [in Nara which was the southern capital] were unanimous in expressing their gratitude. In their expression of thanks, they stated, “In this world, every being endowed with a spirit shall from now on embark on the ship of the utterly all-embracing teaching and quickly reach the opposite shore (of Nirvana).”

The Universal Teacher Dengyō said, “I have just thrown away two hundred and fifty precepts.” Also, he declared that the correct Dharma and the period when it was an imitation of itself were coming to completion and the end of the Dharma of Shākyamuni was extremely close at hand. Again, he said, “In the family of the single vehicle, not all [the other teachings] should be used.” In addition, he said, “One should not put unclean food in a valuable receptacle.” He is also quoted as saying, “In all integrity, one must throw away the expedient means and only expound the superlative path.”

Furthermore, Dengyō said, “Once there was an outstanding individual who was free from all craving and rebirth [the highest stage to be attained through the Individual Vehicle (arakan, arhat)], who was alive during the Buddha’s lifetime and had already been scolded. So, after the Buddha’s passing into the extinction of nirvana, how could little mosquitoes and horseflies not comply?”

In the Sutra on the Buddha’s Passing Over to the Extinction of Nirvana (Nehan kyō, Nirvana Sutra), it says, “the people with distorted views…” Those distorted views refer to the “expedient means”, which implies the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), the Dainichi Kyō (Mahāvairochana Sutra), the Wisdom Sutras (The Praja Pāramitā Sutras), the Amida Sutra (Amitābha Sutra), and all the other forty years of teachings prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra. As for “throwing away”, Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) said that “throw away” means “abolish”, and he also says that “to vilify” means “to turn one’s back on”.

The means whereby all honest beginners should do the practices of the Dharma Flower Sutra is to abandon the abovementioned schools and their sutras. And they should wholeheartedly do the practices of the Dharma Flower Sutra. However, such beginners, since they are well-positioned bodhisattvas, do not compare all the sutras alongside the Dharma Flower Sutra. Those that do are not honest. In normal society, a worthy person does not serve two lords. A woman with a sense of morality does not have two husbands. I must not say anything different.

The Tathāgata looked into a mirror that revealed the future (in the following manner): ‘After my passing into the extinction of nirvana, during the period when people can become enlightened (the thousand years of the correct Dharma), the thousand years of when the Dharma is an imitation of itself, and from the ten thousand years of when the Dharma of Shākyamuni has ended onwards, whoever would propagate my Dharma gateway as well as which one of the sutras, albeit should anyone appear in the world who opposes those wishes of mine, whether it be an intellectual or a worthy sovereign, then his statements must not be heeded.

‘After my passing into the extinction of nirvana, from that day onwards for five hundred years, the teachings of the Individual Vehicle should be exclusively propagated. This should be done by Kashō (Kāshyapa), Anan (Ānanda), and others on down to Funasha (Punyayashas), ten or so people in all. Then, in the following five hundred years or so, it has to be the provisional universal sutras (that are taught), such as the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), the Equally Broad Sutras (Hōdō, Vaipulya), the deeply secret teachings, the Sutra on Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Kyō, Mahāvairochana Sutra), the Wisdom Teachings (The Praja Pāramitā Sutras), the Sutra on Kannon (Avalokitasvara Sutra), and the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha). This work should be done by the bodhisattvas of the four dependencies, such as Bodhisattvas Memyō (Ashvaghosha), Ryūju (Nāgārjuna), Mujaku (Asanga), and Tenjin (Vasubandhu), who are all universal masters of reason.’

[The four dependencies are 1) to follow the Dharma and not the person, 2) to follow the teachings of the sutras which are regarded as complete and final, 3) to follow the meanings and not the words, 4) to follow wisdom (praja) and not to follow discursive thinking.]

Moreover, all these persons were arhats (arakan) as well as being universal masters of reason and must have understood the deepest significance of the Dharma Flower Sutra. But they knew it was not the time for the propagation of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Shākyamuni the World Honored One had commanded them not to publish it, since it was an all-embracing Dharma. So, these arhats kept it in their hearts and did not speak about it, or they vaguely alluded to it. But its real significance was hidden away.

When the Dharma was an imitation of itself (Zōbō), the Dharma Flower made its appearance, but gradually the Indian Buddha teaching crossed over to China and then on to Japan. The World Honored One, for the sake of bodhisattvas from elsewhere [but not those who had swarmed up out the earth] and who belonged to the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), had manifestly allowed the first fourteen chapters of the Dharma Flower Sutra that are borrowed from the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon).

Then again, we will have the appearance of the universal bodhisattvas who swarm up out of the earth, at the beginning of the period that is the end of the Dharma of Shākyamuni Buddha, who will induce the sentient beings of the world of humankind (Embudai, Jambudīpa) to recite the heart of the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata which is the five ideograms for Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. [Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō means to devote one’s life to and found it on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) (entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (which is every possible psychological wavelength) (Kyō).]

The persons to propagate the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon) were Nangaku (Nan-yeh), Tendai (T’ien-t’ai), Myōraku (Miao-lo), and Dengyō.

At the present time, the world has entered the beginning of the final era of the Dharma of Shākyamuni. So, according to the World Honored One Shākyamuni’s recorded text, the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō, Prabhūtaratna) and the Buddhas of the ten directions can be witnesses to the fact that [this is the time for the teaching of the original archetypal state] ever since [the concept has been in the depths of our minds of a distant past, which in the India of Shākyamuni was expressed as the uncountable grains of dust that would be left over should someone grind five hundred universes, from their inception to their termination, into powder]. This concept is perpetuity itself, which we experience in our daily lives as the ever-present infinity in time.

[This is the time when] one should single-mindedly practice the essence of the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, that belongs to the part of the sutra that deals with the original archetypal state. It is the suitable and proper time that Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra), as well as the other three major bodhisattvas should appear.

It would be like around four o’clock in the morning when the sun comes up. At this time, the tide of the ocean is somewhat less apparent. A sightless person cannot see, but those who are endowed with vision can see these omens without a doubt, albeit all these people with a way of seeing these portents are stupid about such things that are not obvious.

However, all the schools of the Buddha teaching rely on the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), the Dainichi Sutra (Mahāvairochana Sutra), and the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha), which should have been propagated during the first thousand years of when the Dharma could enlighten people. The following five hundred years that preceded the outset of when the Dharma was an imitation of itself is the period when the various sutras were an object of controversy. Not only were those teachers of humankind confused as to these sutras being shallow or profound or even superior or banal, but they were also forgetting what the Buddha’s instructions were about. They did not think about the time people were living in, or even the propensities of the population.

Furthermore, they set up their individual schools for the practice of when the Dharma would be an imitation of itself and when the Dharma of Shākyamuni would come to its end. It would be like planting seeds in an empty field in the middle of winter and hoping for grain to come up, or when the moon is waning to expect to see a full moon, or to wish for the sun’s disk to appear in the middle of the night.

If we really think about it, that so-called monastic discipline school (Risshū, Ritsu) is entirely a teaching of the Individual Vehicle. In India, during the first five hundred years of the thousand, when one could become enlightened through the teachings of Shākyamuni, it was a minor instruction which again in Japan turned up around about the time when the Dharma was an imitation of itself. This was, moreover, before the propagation of the Dharma Flower Sutra and the Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) School and was used to nourish and develop the propensities of the people of that time.

For example, it is like the bright star that shines before sunrise, or like the clouds that appear before the rain falls. After the sun has come out and the rain has fallen, or the morning star no longer shines, what can be the function of those meteorological events?

Now is the time for the end of such doctrines. Now we have entered the period of the end of the Dharma of Shākyamuni. If we were to do such practices, it would be like giving an insipid medicine for a major illness or like putting a huge rock on a small boat. Doing such stupid practices only implies suffering without any time for leisure. They are blossoms that do not bring fruit. They are peals of thunder, but rain does not fall.

For this reason, the Universal Teacher Dengyō appeared at a time when the Dharma was an imitation of itself, in order to set up the three disciplines of holding to the precepts, as well as fixing one’s mind in one place so as to be able to see the truth of the subject of meditation, as well as the wisdom to perceive it. These three principles were applicable only to the teachings of the Dharma Flower Sutra that were derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon). Dengyō established the altar for the ordination of monks on Mount Hiei, for the all-inclusive and immediate enlightenment. At the time, the Universal Teacher Dengyō promptly forswore two hundred and fifty precepts. Consequently, fourteen eminent monks from the seven major temples in Nara had affixed their seals [to show] that three hundred or more persons [had agreed] to become followers of the Universal Vehicle, so that the whole country had forsworn the ceremonies of the Individual Vehicle. You should take a look at the document on receiving the precepts. This will become quite clear.

Nevertheless, there are at present some cunning individuals who claim to be teachers of the Dharma who pick up used sutras of the Individual Vehicle, which had been thrown away long ago, and who in a petty way do not hold to even a single precept. In name only, they claim to be teachers of the Dharma of the two hundred and fifty precepts, lying and cheating the people in the royal court circles and warrior families and pretending they are teachers of the state.

Furthermore, these monks in their arrogance give vent to (contempt toward) persons who have accepted precepts of the Universal Vehicle, calling them breakers of the precepts and people without any concept of them. For instance, this would be like a dog barking at a lion or a monkey calling Taishaku (Shakra Devānām Indra) names.

At present, all the teachers of the Dharma of the School of Monastic Discipline (Risshū, Ritsu) are seen to be like those people of the world who hold to the precepts and speak the truth. But if one were to discuss the matter, they are the most untruthful of all the people under heaven. The reason for this is that they rely on the texts of the Fourfold Rules of the Dharmagupta School and the Ten Supernatural Powers of the Monastic Rules, which are among the Universal and Individual Vehicle’s writings but belong entirely to the compilations of the Individual Vehicle. These smalltime monastic rules of discipline are the lowest of all.

When the Buddha was in the world, after twelve years of the Agon (Āgama) teachings, before he had moved on to the Equally Broad (Vaipulya) and the doctrines of the Universal Vehicle, Shākyamuni expounded these rules as a pause in preaching. After the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana, before the appearance of the first five hundred years before the Dharma could enlighten people, these rules for monastic discipline were solely practiced in temples of the Individual Vehicle. These precepts were again vilified in temples dedicated to the teachings of the Universal Vehicle. For all that, in the country of Japan, halfway through the period of when the Dharma was an imitation of itself, the Venerable Ganjin (Chien-chen) introduced these precepts as a means of preparation for the teachings of the Universal Vehicle.

The Universal Teacher Dengyō rebutted the teachings of the School of Monastic Discipline (Risshū, Ritsu) and took its believers into the Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) School. Even though this school should have been abolished completely, later so that people would know how this situation had come about, the Universal Teacher Dengyō sent some of his disciples of the Universal Vehicle, so as to help [the school survive]. The Buddha Dharma does not diminish due to its own bewilderment. Now the scholars of our present age are unaware of the particulars of the situation. They believe that the six schools of Japan, without ever being rebutted, have gone on since the beginning.

With regard to the great earthquake in the first year of the past reign called Shōka (1257), it is noted down in the first scroll of the document. I showed my respect for the late lord who had taken religious vows in the Saimyō-ji Temple [by presenting it to him], whom I was to think had been ordered by the ruler of the province and not a teacher of the Dharma and that he had made a mistake and was not to blame.

During the night, some thousand pushed their way into my tiny retreat with the intention of murder. [This included] people who recite “Namu Amida Butsu” [and monks] along with their disciples who again I have heard should agree with them. What was one supposed to do? That night I wasn’t hurt. However, there were too many of them and they were set upon one thing. Are these people without fault? They broke the laws of the governors’ rules.

Nichiren was thinking how wonderful it was to still be alive and only to be exiled in the province of Izu. Such people I think would destroy me without looking back. Will they destroy their own written pledge? I have seen this written pledge. Would Bonten or Shakuten (Brahma or Indra) or the Four Quarter Kings or Amaterasu Ōmikami (the Sun Goddess) or Shō Hachiman (the God of War) have written this down with such reverence?

Apart from myself, were I to mention other gateways to the Dharma, you would not understand them in detail. Should one call together all the monks that had taken refuge in the three treasures (of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the clerical community) in Japan, furthermore, they would not go to such a meeting. Should we visit China and India to find out? Such a thing might not measure up to expectations. Even though there are particulars, for all that, it would be better to wait. The people who do not understand the subtle details of the Dharma are those who are destroyed by making pledges by hooking each other’s little fingers. If that important written pledge of yours is destroyed, your mind will not be reduced.

This may seem to be like self-praise, but you should depend on this document’s (sutra’s) essence (which shows me to be) superior to the people of Japan, from the emperor down to the ordinary populace. There are reasons for this. One, I am both parents (to them); two, I am their teacher; and three, I am the emissary of the Lord Buddha.

In the Sutra (Dharma Flower Sutra) it says, “and is accordingly an emissary of the Tathāgata”. It also says, “are the eyes”. Also, it says “resplendent as the sun and the moon”. Shōan (Chang-an) said, “In order to shake off evil, he is therefore (acting as) a relative.”

However, the teachers of the Dharma vilify the Dharma and are of irreclaimable disbelief (issendai, icchantika), as well as being enemies of the state and those that may use false charges. I will not defend the significance of those words. Without going left or right, they bend and twist the administration that is important. Can they avoid misfortune? How transient! How short-lived! Albeit if they could sweep this under the carpet, then there would be no blame. So, would they be ashamed?

Because it would come back to them, thus they had quickly hidden the affair of the lord who had taken religious vows. When the time is ripe, their bodies will be covered with sores, or their disciples will be killed, or to whatever places they are driven away, or however they may be attacked, one day, in an instant, they will be forced to live on the ground, with no means whatsoever.

In addition to this, the Buddha explained, “Throughout all the worlds, there is so much jealousy it is hard to believe.” All the bodhisattvas expressed their faith, (by saying,) “I do not care about my body and life. I only ungrudgingly depend on the supreme path.” [It is stated,] “They will attack [the believers] with blades and staves, old tiles and stones, and numerous times he will be ostracized.” I have entrusted myself to this sutric phrase and have already been exiled. [I have acted] just as the Bodhisattva Fukyō (Sadāparibhūta), and in the same way as the Venerable Kakutoku. or as the Bodhisattva Ryūju (Nāgārjuna), or as the Bodhisattva Āryadeva, or as Buddamitta, or as the saintly Shishi, who increasingly were strong and mature [in propagating the correct Dharma].

In my next life, I will be destined to be the sworn enemy that practices the Dharma Flower Sutra, and as this sutra says, I will be the father and mother and the teacher, as well as the enemy of the emperor. This is my destiny. Because of this I will be harshly taken to task and decidedly I will be the unenvied butt of the anger of the people.

The governor of the province would take this [letter] as slander. Still it is unlikely that it will amount to another exile. In that case, I will make a written pledge in front of the Buddha, Taishaku and Bonten (Indra and Brahma), the deities of the sun and moon, as well as the Deva Kings of the Four Quarters, so as to plead that they overlook this error. As a practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra, I have my moments of resentment. But I will try writing a written pledge which is something that suits my body and mind.

Shākyamuni, Tahō (Prabhūtaratna), and all the Buddha emanations of the ten directions will all together keep watch, or they will cover me with their robes and will protect me, and in a friendly way will expound things to me. I would like to know whether this is a reality or an illusion. But my faith increases without my giving up my practice, and to this extent I have an incentive without contrary suggestions. In the past reign called Bun’ei, on the twelfth day of the ninth month, I was exiled to Sado for no reason whatsoever.

On the one hand, I was exiled. On the other hand, it had been decided that my head was to be cut off. Despite the number of times I have thought about this matter, so that when I am confronted with my disciples, they say, “I thought that your head had already been cut off,” nonetheless I am happy that my body is intact. It is so hard to receive a human body and yet such bodies are fragile. Even though for eons, from way back I have lost them as though they were trivialities, but I have never thrown my body away for the Dharma Flower Sutra. If my head had been chopped off, it would have been cut off when I was following in the footsteps of the saintly Shishi (Āryasimha). I have surpassed the merits of Dengyō and Tendai (T’ien-t’ai). Simply add one more person to the twenty-five elders in the work that explains the transmission of the Buddha Dharma and Mahākāshyapa and other individuals, so that the total comes to twenty-six. And my practice goes beyond that of the Bodhisattva Jōfukyō (Sadāparibhūta). Because of this I feel that the Buddha Tahō (Prabhūtaratna) along with the Buddhas of the ten directions could not bewail my adversity.

To begin with, these are just words. Were one the governor of a province (Kuni), I would keep all these petty things to myself. There can be no making the two sides of an argument come together. One must come to a conclusion and decide, so as to be able to achieve. Then how is it that the single individual called Nichiren [is not consulted but instead condemned]? All the monks were not assembled to find a huge fault with his argument. This is not a smalltime matter.

In the code of feudal law, fifty-one items were established, which in the end were drawn up and written out as ‘legally binding’. The first and second are about doing the Buddha’s work or that of the gods. The essential of doing the work of the gods or the Buddha is to take hold of the Dharma Flower Sutra in one’s hand. The people who drew up this code were not an assembly of slanderers. They were, so to speak, people who stuck their necks out.

Albeit among other things this essential pledge of yours seems to be in disagreement with the administration, this is something of primary importance. Nichiren in the midst of this hatefulness has returned to his own country. Does it seem that he has lost his body?

Duke Ai of Lu had forgotten to record an item of the first importance, which was forgetting his wife who had moved to another house. Confucius said, “A person who is forgetful, when that person becomes a primary ruler might distort the good rules of government.” However, should not a ruler of a province know this? Even though recording this element of not knowing, such a person becomes the worst enemy of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Would he be able to avoid this heavy wrongdoing?

Tahō (Prabhūtaratna) and the Buddhas of the ten directions, when they discussed the evil period of the end of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, all the bodhisattvas wrote down, “Evil spirits will enter that person’s body so that they will revile me to the point of breaking my endurance.” The text goes on until, “so that he will be ostracized”.

It says in the sutra that is the Superlative Sovereign, which was compiled by the Shākyamuni who expounded the teachings of the Individual Vehicle in Deer Park, the teachings that connect those of the Individual Vehicle to those of the Universal, as well as the teaching that was particularly for bodhisattvas, and the All-inclusive teaching of the Dharma Flower, “Whereas evil persons like to be (and are) loved and respected but the good person is administered punishment to the point of breaking his patience…” The text goes on until, “Discontented evildoers come with the compliance of the people who control the state and are in agreement with this abject confusion.”

Although Nichiren is resented, the lord of the teaching Shākyamuni the World Honored One’s golden words, along with the testimony of Tahō (Prabhūtaratna) and all the Buddhas of the ten directions, cannot be baseless. In spite of the slander of all the evil monks of the Shingon, Zen, and Nembutsu schools, they have made the vows of the four dependencies, and if they do not understand that this (their slander) was a huge wrongdoing, heaven will partially forgive them. Had they even been abandoned by the spirits of good (shoten zenjin)?

[As noted above, the four dependencies are 1) to follow the Dharma and not the individual who teaches it, 2) to follow the teachings of the sutras which are regarded as complete and final and not to follow the provisional teachings, 3) to follow the intention and not to follow the words, 4) to follow the wisdom of the Buddha teaching (praja) and not to follow discriminative thinking.]

They do not ask any questions or heed my (Nichiren’s) words when Nichiren appears. I do not live in fear of anybody. (I have been willing) to abandon my life and body and to make the truth abundantly clear. A wise ruler of a province should have asked for details. But he did not even ask. He did not apply himself to his function the tiniest bit, which is astounding. They tried to cut my head off, but something happened contrary to expectations.

Nevertheless, a greatly evil person uses evil means. A correct person is ashamed of committing a great wrong. With two evil happenings alongside each other, this country should be amazing. For instance, it would be like showing reverence and respect for a shura (ashura) or the god of the sun being shot by an arrow. The reason is that in former epochs, yet unheard of and significant events occurred in this country.

Here are again illustrations from former times. King Ketsu (Chieh) of China’s Ka (Hsia 1818 BCE) cut off the head of the dragon Ryūhō (Lung-feng). King Chū (Chou) of the Yin Dynasty could see whether a subject was loyal or not by putting a rope around that person’s chest. King Nise (Erh-shih) killed the Most Venerable Rishi (Li-ch’i). King Uden-ō (Udayana) fettered the holy person Binzuru (Pindolabhāradvāja, Pindola) by making him a laughingstock. King Danmira cut off the head of that holy individual Shishi (Āryasimha). King Bu (Wu) quarreled with the teacher of the Dharma E’on (Hui-yan). King Kensō (Hsien-tsung) exiled Po Ch-yi. The Emperor Hui-Tsung had Tripitaka Fa-tao’s face branded.

These are all warnings that not only should be used for people who become enemies and at the present time who would destroy the country thereby losing their bodies, but also certainly in the next life will be born into a negative incarnation. These again are individuals who hold other people in contempt.

Getting away from defamation, since it will not be the end of the village, during the second month of the eleventh year of the reign called Bun’ei, I was called back from the province of Sado. On the eighth day of the fourth month of the same year, when I was placed before Taira no Yoritsuna (Hei no Saemon), the reason was that this person was disquieted about my disfavor and wanted me to give an account of the reasons in detail. Also, it seems to be with hatred that another country seeks to destroy ours, which is a wretched situation, so he said, lamenting.

Hei no Saemon (Hei no Saemon-no-jō Yoritsuna, Taira no Yoritsuna) asked as to when the great Mongol Empire would attack. The sutras do not say with clarity as to which month or year. Looking at the mood of the heavens, would it not be reasonable to have implied that they hate our country? I certainly felt they would attack that year. If they attack us, not a single person would face them and again (they would think) that it was the responsibility of heaven.

Then when their graces used me, I didn’t have the strength (to refuse). It was of no use at all. I inferred that the Shingon monks should not carry out cursing the Mongols. If they were even to go to these lengths, then it would be a reason for more evil.

So they made me return. The people in power as a group did not treat me as before. Fundamentally, they were aware of this. In order to repay the blessings received from my country, I had to remonstrate with them up to three times. If they didn’t heed my warnings, I already was thinking of secluding myself in the mountains and forests. Again, just as in the ancient text, if after three times the warning (dharma) was not heeded and above all if the sovereign did not heed it, then after that, what should that person do? Consequently, that person who gave the warning (dharma) cannot help his country and, as that ancient text says, should go into the wilds and not think that human beings can become enlightened immediately.

Again, the people who are followers of the Nembutsu (Amitābha) teachings are destined for the Hell of incessant suffering (Abijigoku, Avīchi). There is no need to recite the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha). These moreover are not my words. For those people who do the practices of the Nembutsu schools, they were originally (intended) for more than fifty years ago of exposition of the Dharma and forty or so years when these three sutras appeared, including the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha).

Nevertheless, the golden words of the Tathāgata had been stipulated. They were reality indeed and apparently true. Eight years later, the Buddha expounded the Sutra on Implications Without Bounds (Muryōgi-kyō) as an introduction to the Dharma Flower Sutra. After the first forty years of the sutras and the various historical records, he proclaimed “I have not yet revealed the reality.” The text then goes on until, “and finally you have not attained the unsurpassed enlightenment.”

If various desiccated sutras as well as parched gateways to the Dharma had not been swept away with a single word [which they were], it would be as if an enormous amount of water was used to put out a small fire, or it would be like a great wind that would make the dew fall from the plants and trees.

So naturally afterwards, the correct School of the Dharma Flower Sutra arrived: “World Honored One, so that your teachings are to last into eternity, you must indeed expound [this Dharma’s] reality.” The Dharma Flower Sutra also says, “In all honesty, you should abandon the expedient means, and I will expound the unsurpassed path [to enlightenment].” This would be like seeing the full moon appear on a dark night or building a great stupa and then trampling it to nothing.

Then afterwards, he [the Buddha] decided on the real significance by saying, “This threefold dimension, where sentient beings are set in motion according to their desires, who exist in a physical dimension with apparently material surroundings, and at the same time are endowed with fantasies, dreams, thoughts and ideas, is entirely my existence. And all the sentient beings in their midst are my children. However, at present, in the locality of all their many adversaries everywhere, along with all their troubles, only I as a single person am able to save and protect them; yet, again even though (I instruct them) through teachings, they do not accept or have faith in them.”

The text goes on until, “If they see others who read and recite the sutras, but they themselves apparently do not write them out nor hold to them, nor have a feeling for them (and in fact have contempt for those others), such people at the end of their lives will fall into the Hell of incessant suffering (Muken, Jigoku, Avīchi).”

The reason for this sutric text is that it refers to the similarity between the inner nature and phenomenal expression of commonplace dharmas. And there are always the five or seven unpardonable sins. The people who commit such crimes decidedly will fall into the Hell of incessant suffering (Muken, Jigoku, Avīchi).

[The five unpardonable sins are the following: 1) killing one’s father, 2) killing one’s mother, 3) killing an Arhat, 4) injuring the body of a Buddha, and 5) causing disunity in the community of monks.]

[An Arhat has been translated by the Chinese as Fushō, no rebirth, and Ōgu, worthy of veneration, one who has attained the fourth or highest stage of the Individual Vehicle. Such a person has already freed himself from all defilements.]

[The seven unpardonable sins are the following: 1) killing one’s father, 2) killing one’s mother, 3) killing an Arhat, 4) causing a Buddha to bleed, 5) causing disunity in the community of monks, plus 6) killing a senior monk, and 7) killing an Ajari (Āchārya), a teacher or master who sets an example for the monks.]

All the sentient beings, during the Buddha’s lifetime and just after, were strongly attached to the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) along with all the sutras that were expounded during the forty years prior to the All-inclusive teaching, so that they did not move on to the Dharma Flower Sutra. For example, not moving on to and getting into the Dharma Flower Sutra and not abandoning their original attachments [would apply to] those people who tried to practice the Dharma Flower Sutra along with the other sutras and [those people] who had moreover attached themselves to the former sutras. But nevertheless, the Dharma Flower Sutra is superior. When the Dharma Flower Sutra is practiced as the sole Dharma, the practitioners of this sutra become people of modesty and forbearance. About all those people [who still do the practices of Amida (Amitābha) and other disciplines] “it is decided that these people at the end of their lives will fall into the Hell of incessant suffering (Muken, Jigoku, Avīchi).”

This matter can only be settled through imploring the Shākyamuni of the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata. If one does not follow teachings outside those of the Buddha Dharma, then one would be obliged to have no doubts [about this declaration of Shākyamuni]. In all the sutras of the past, present, and future, it says that when things change it is for important matters to occur. From his impeccable pure dimension Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō, Prabhūtaratna) came from a great distance in order to be a witness. (He bore witness to the truth that) those who were strongly attached to the reciting of and being devoted to Amitābha Buddha and what the Tathāgata Shākyamuni first expounded as the Sutra on Mahāvairochana, then the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra), (those people) later it seemed would not get into the Dharma Flower Sutra of Shākyamuni and would be held back in the Hell of incessant suffering (Muken Jigoku, Avīchi).

Again, Amitābha Buddha and all the Buddhas of the ten directions, each one, abandoned their respective terrain so that they could all come to the meeting in the empty space of Spirit Vulture Peak, seated under trees of precious materials, where they protruded their long tongues as far as the Brahma (Bonten) heaven and boundless innumerable rainbows rose up to the empty sky.

Shākyamuni kept in his mind (those provisional teachings) for more than forty years, as material to meditate on, the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra), the Sutra on the Compassionate White Lotus Flower (Hike Kyō, Karuā Puṇḍarīka Sutra), the Sutra on the Bhikshu Store of the Dharma (Dharmākara Bhikshu Sutra). (This was also true of) the forty-eight vows made by Dharmākara Bhikshu along with others and all the bodhisattvas. These vows claimed that an ordinary person can attain rebirth in the Immaculate Terrain [placed in one of nine separate categories depending on merit] and they are to be welcomed by Amitābha himself and his attendant bodhisattvas. Moreover, this was the wording that came from the pause that came before the Dharma Flower Sutra. In fact, this wording is as that from the sutric texts. [However, these claims were provisional and false.] In the ten directions of the western direction, there is actually no such a welcome. In fact, one should not think about it.

The truth of Shākyamuni’s actual way of speaking is that, in fact, Shākyamuni, Abundant Treasure (Tahō, Prabhūtaratna), and the Buddhas of the ten directions are the five ideograms for Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. You should recite these five ideograms with faith. That is why they came to protrude their long tongues that reach the heaven of Brahma (Bonten).

‘Since we are Buddhas to the same extent as Shākyamuni Buddha, Shākyamuni is like the moon in the sky, and we are like its reflection in the water. Shākyamuni’s original terrain is in fact this world that has to be endured. If the moon in the sky remains firm, then so does this terrain which is our dwelling place. So, the practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra is guarded and protected, in the same way as vassals should look up to their emperor or even as parents who love their only child.’ [This is what is meant to be conveyed when they] stuck out their tongue.

At that time, Amitābha Buddha had two disciples (that guarded him). One was the Bodhisattva Perceiving the Sounds of the Existential Dimensions (Kanzeon, Avalokiteshvara), and the other was One Whose Wisdom and Power Reaches Everywhere (Seishi, Mahāsthāmaprāpta). Both these personages were like Amitābha’s pickled plums. Both of them stood at the side as guards against evil in the same way as two eyes. [Seishi stands to the right and Kanzeon to the left.] However, all these persons come from the far distant world of extreme bliss [in order to be at the side of the dying]. At the time, the Buddha had not yet expressed the actual reality of the forty-eight vows mentioned in the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra) and up to the point of calling out the name of Amitābha (as having no validity, as shown in the Dharma Flower Sutra).

All these gateways to the Dharma are not a true reality. The truth is that Bodhisattva Perceiving the Sounds of the Existential Dimensions (Kanzeon, Avalokiteshvara) unwittingly did not realize this. However, it was certainly true that the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) had been seen (coming to the dead and dying) to give confirmation. Now it is completely false that the believers who recite the name of Amitābha (Nembutsu) will be welcomed to the Immaculate Terrain, which is classified into nine categories according to the natures and qualities of the people who attain birth in this Immaculate Terrain and who press their palms together as a sign of devotion to the calyx of the Lotus.

[Bodhisattva Perceiving the Sounds of the Existential Dimensions (Kanzeon, Avalokiteshvara) and One Whose Wisdom and Power Reaches Everywhere (Seishi, Mahāsthāmaprāpta) thought to themselves:] Well, we must return to our original terrain. Can we do anything about it? It contains either eighty or two myriads of bodhisattvas [or eighty thousand or twenty thousand]. In the Dharma Flower Sutra in the Twenty-fifth Chapter on the Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiving the Sound of the Existential Dimensions (Kanzeon, Avalokiteshvara), it says, “playing in the world that has to be endured” when it said that the practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra is safeguarded and protected in a warm-hearted way. The Japanese state is a part of the world of humankind (Embudai, Jambudīpa) near where Mount Fudaraku (Potalaka) is located in the southern region [of the continent of Embudai (Jambudvīpa)] where Shākyamuni Buddha decided to reside. (There they were given a place.)

Amitābha Buddha (was abandoned by) on the left and right sides of him Kannon (Avalokiteshvara) and Seishi (Mahāsthāmaprāpta). After Amitābha released these two from his service, he did not return to his western side of the world where it had seemed the world would stop revolving. Instead, he came to protect and safeguard the practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra. In this world is contained the world of desire and the Tushita heaven [which is the fourth of the heavens in the world of desire] wherein the Bodhisattva Miroku (Maitreya) has dominion of a single pleasance (a cloistered part of a garden) out of forty-nine. [The framework around the pleasance of Amida (Amitābha) has indeed been made to come to an end.]

Furthermore, it is recounted that, according to the teaching of the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra), Sharihotsu (Shāriputra) as an ordinary person can be reborn in the Immaculate Terrain and Sharihotsu (Shāriputra), Sharihotsu, and again Sharihotsu, who had been mentioned numberless times in sutras, in a loud manner. But in four sheets of paper that make up a scroll, all (is stated) that is not permitted about intellectuals (hearers of the voice of the Buddha such as that of Sharihotsu) or an ordinary person being reborn in the Immaculate Terrain. Yet on coming to the beginning of the Dharma Flower Sutra both [Sharihotsu who will become] the Tathāgata of the White Lotus Light (Kekō-nyorai) and [Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa) who will become] the Tathāgata of Light’s Brightness (Kōmyō-nyorai) are accounted for (as well as others).

The notion of the wisest person in the world of humankind (Embudai, Jambudvīpa), Sharihotsu (Shāriputra) even being reborn as a Buddha according to the three sutras of the Immaculate Terrain School [1) Muryōju Kyō, 2) Amida Kyō, 3) Kammuryōju Kyō] should be obliterated– even more, the (idea of the people who are like) oxen and sheep of the period that is the End of the Dharma of Shākyamuni being born as boys and girls as in those sutras it says, ‘would this be something outside of the cycles of living and dying?’

Besides, this reasoning I will not support, since it refers to the scholars of the final era of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, or even those beginners of the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra who thankfully only read the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) or the so-called Nembutsu sutras, or even those who intone the Dharma Flower Sutra through their noses (without reverence), or even those who simply read the essential of the Dharma Flower Sutra (and think it is on the same level as the Nembutsu), or even those who expect benefits from the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha). (Also I will not support the reasoning of those) who look in the direction of the west and hope to be reborn in the Land of Extreme Happiness due to the ceremony of the School of Amida (Amitābha). Another does so in the same way a flying dragon uses a donkey to carry his baggage. Or should a lion ask a favor from a jackal? Or should the sun’s disk appear with the light of all the stars behind it and then a great rain fall down along with the drops of dew?

For this reason, the Universal Teacher Dengyō said, “In giving a white ox cart, the next day there would be no need of three carts to pull. (To make an analogy), in getting work to do in the house in the evening, it must be something like clearing away the excrement. Thus it says in the sutra, ‘Throw away the expedient means in a straightforward manner, and only expound the supreme path.’” Again he (Dengyō) says, “When the sun comes out, the stars are hidden. See that which is skillful and know what is unskillful.”

It is a matter of course that since the Dharma Flower Sutra appeared, all the sutras of the past, present, and future should be abandoned. For instance, (if one practiced them) along with the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra, they (those other sutras) would certainly only be its followers.

At present in Japan, the people put their trust in false teachers. Dōshō should not have one disciple. Zendō (Shan-tao) said not one in a thousand could benefit from the Dharma Flower Sutra. Throughout the lifetime of Eshin, his essential followers amounted to the beginning of the writing of Yōkan that spoke of the ten causes. Or there was Hōnen who had the firm belief of abandoning, closing, shutting away, and throwing it (the Dharma Flower Sutra) away. This you should firmly hold faith in, or by throwing the Dharma Flower Sutra away, you become an earnest member of the Nembutsu following. Or you do so if you hold Nembutsu as a basis and the Dharma Flower Sutra as an aid, or if you meditate on the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha) and the Dharma Flower Sutra under your nose (as a sideline) and do two practices, or if you take the teaching of Nembutsu as a single Dharma under two names.

These are all teachings from the house of the lord of the teaching Shākyamuni. As the teacher pointed out, the hall of Amitābha, lands, each country, each district, and every household, or one myriad or two or seven myriads are in opposition. Or if within one lifetime one practices (Nembutsu) wholeheartedly, this implies that you have forgotten even the equation of “lord, teacher, and parent” which is astounding.

The eighth is said to be the day of Yakushi Butsu (Bhaishajya Buddha). So the two days for one Buddha to be born and die in the East and West becomes the day of two Buddhas extinction and being reborn again. How could this be so for these unfilial persons, since for them it is the day of Amida (Amitābha)? The eighth day is said to be that of Yakushi Butsu (Bhaishajya Buddha). Moreover, the two days for our fatherly lord of the teaching Shākyamuni become the day of his [Yakushi Butsu’s (Bhaishajya Buddha)] birth and extinction. Are these (things) not shameful! How can such people not be those who had taken the inverse road and have made the seven inversions? (In ancient India, these people were a sect called Vāmalokāya.) All people have this great fault. How shameful, how wrong are the people of the world of humankind (Embudai, Jambudīpa)!

In the Dharma Flower Sutra, these three important matters are discussed in the Second Chapter on Expedient Means. It is really the essence of the whole sutra. (The text says,) “Now in this threefold realm of existence, 1) where sentient beings have desires and appetites, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings, and 3) at the same time are endowed with the immateriality of fantasies, dreams, thoughts and ideas… This threefold realm is all that I possess and those sentient beings in their midst are everywhere my children. However, now in this place there is every suffering and difficulty. I am the only person who can save and protect them.”

Therefore, are those who do the practices of the Nembutsu School apart from the leadership of their founder? Since only (Shākyamuni) as a single person (can save them), [Zendō (Shan-tao)] in breaking this sutric text, in his present body became a madman and threw himself down from the top of a willow tree. He died after falling onto the hard ground. From the fourteenth to the twenty-seventh day (of the month) or for fourteen days after his fall, he died a mad death.

Again, the Shingon School’s founders the Tripitaka Zemmui (Shan-wu-wei), Kongōchi Tripitaka (Chin-kang-chih), and Fukū Tripitaka (Pu-k’ung) repeatedly put down the Sovereign of the Dharma, lord of the teaching Shākyamuni, so as to raise up another Buddha Dainichi (Mahāvairochana). Zemmui Tripitaka (Shan-wu-wei) was also involved in receiving King Emma’s (Yama) responsibility and moreover fell into the Hell of incessant suffering (Abijigoku, Avīchi). If you have any doubts about this matter, then you should take a look at a picture of the tower of Emma (Yama, King of the Dead). With regard to Kongōchi (Chin-kang-chih) and Fukū (Pu-k’ung), though there is (much that could be said, I have) nothing particular to say.

Again, the teacher of the three levels of faith, practice, and meditation of the Zen School says that the holy teaching of a lifetime (the Dharma Flower Sutra) is lower than the teaching especially for bodhisattvas (Bekkyō). (But this is incorrect) because the sutra that I cultivate is profounder. And yet they were revered as if they were great masters of the four dependencies to which ordained monks must conform.

[As noted above, the four dependencies are 1) to follow the Dharma and not individual persons, 2) to follow the teachings of the sutras which are regarded as complete and final and not to follow provisional teachings, 3) to follow the intention and not to follow the words, 4) to think in terms of wisdom (praja) and not to follow discriminative thinking.]

A person that holds to the Dharma Flower Sutra and is a woman devotee refuted them. She took no notice of voices that attacked her. Since she could not be proven wrong, even before his next life he was reborn as a huge serpent that swallowed and digested many tens of his disciples.

Nowadays in the country of Japan, although the people hold to the “superficial” Dharma Flower Sutra in which the Shākyamuni of the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata is held in veneration and weightiness, (they also concurrently revere other teachings) like the Mantra School (Shingon) along with the Zen School and Nembutsu. Those practitioners who do so will be lucky if they escape the Hell of incessant suffering (Abijigoku, Avīchi), and even more in the case of the people who do the practices of these three schools, admiring their advocates in the same way as the sun and the moon. Even in my person there is this thing about the liability of having done the practices of Nembutsu. But it is not something that preys upon my mind.

One should feel the lack of warmth in a festival of cold food (and not make a fire). If people had a mind they would not see the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra) as their father and teacher (as they do). In your former lives, did you not have an enemy that you detested? For instance, did you have a rebellious retainer who would not salute the flag of the imperial forces? [The Nembutsu and the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra) should be thought of as enemies in this way.]

Therefore, the ancient theoretician of the Dharma, the Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, swore he would never pronounce a word from the sutras of the individual teaching (shōjō, hīnayāna) and that worthy person the Universal Teacher Chi-tsang (Kichizō) would not presume to read through the Dharma Flower Sutra. These examples are for getting rid of the teachings of the Individual Vehicle in favor of the Universal Vehicle and abolishing the heavy sin of slander (of having used those teachings to disparage the Universal Vehicle), or in utilizing the Dharma Flower Sutra to denigrate the Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien-t’ai).

In the present-day Japanese State, not even one person out of ten thousand people remembers the slander of Jōfukyō or Kugan or Shūei. In the whole country, all will fall into the Hell of incessant suffering (Abijigoku, Avīchi). It is recorded in the Sutra on the Parinirvāna of the Buddha [Sutra on the Buddha’s Passing Over to the Extinction of Nirvana (Nehan kyō, Nirvana Sutra)] that the people who vilify the Dharma Flower Sutra will be (greater in number than the) pulverized particles of dust that make up the soil of the planet.

Nevertheless, when the practitioner of the Dharma Flower [the way existence functions] appears, the ten thousand people who make up the Japanese population should all follow him, in the same way as Kichizō (Chi-tsang) ceased to merely read the Dharma Flower Sutra and followed the Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien-t’ai), making his body like an incarnate bridge. Or it would be like those eliminating their error of slander toward Fukyō (Sadāparibhūta) and instead it was turned back and everybody followed and submitted to him (Fukyō Bodhisattva, Sadāparibhūta) as a servant. But even if the people followed the practitioner of the Dharma Flower either for one day, two days, or one month or two months, or one year or two years, or one lifetime or two lifetimes, on account of the heavy wrongdoing of vilifying the Dharma Flower Sutra, it would be hard for them to eradicate their offence. (Yet in contrast) the people of this time, the monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen as a whole, do the opposite and thus do not eliminate their wrongdoing.

Those who revere Amida (Amitābha) will throw away the Dharma Flower Sutra and be simply called the Nembutsu. On the contrary, Nichiren holds to the Dharma Flower Sutra and pushes away the Nembutsu teaching.

Those people of the Nembutsu will throw their Dharma Flower Sutra (sutras) away and will hold no faith in them. Those who have taken the precepts think that they practice all manner of good. These examples are like rabbits attempting to hide their foot marks or like a phoenix hiding its head in a hole in the clouds from the blue of the sky. Or they are like an ordinary person sniggering at Confucius.

A good star does not scare the Buddha. A deer is easily confused for a horse. But a hawk would change into a dove with great difficulty. How vain! What an empty dream!

Since I was putting together various old-fashioned adages about what might happen in the future, [now that these things are starting to occur], how is it that people’s minds seem to try to think up what to do? But since for over three years (and indeed many more) I have been vilified too much by evil mouths about the Dharma, how then would they change to believing without any reason? Moreover, the Mongol Empire appears to be stronger and more threatening, so that we mourn in the same way as Munemori and Yoshitomo.

People’s hearts should be like Confucius with his nine thoughts before speaking a single word. Also the Duke of Chou (Shu) delayed his visitors by bathing three times and at meals spitting out his food three times. Worthy individuals have been prepared in this manner. Even in the ways of this world, one should not be surprised (by these extreme behaviors). And people who run the state when offered advice should look into all of the circumstances, so that neither to the left nor the right do mistakes occur, (yet they do not do so). But one should act with compassion. [Still, I was arbitrarily thought to be guilty and abruptly exiled.]

When King Ketsu (Chieh, Jie) of Ka (in China, Hsia) had to pass the responsibility of the state to King T’ang and while King Wu was being kept alive as a prisoner by King Yeh, (they lamented). Thus, worthy individuals who do not use their powers of dissuasion will have regrets. King Ajase (Ajātashatru) was plagued with skin eruptions and afterwards was assaulted by another country. So it was sworn by him that his eyes would not see Daiba (Devadatta) and that he would become unable to hear him. Also, up to the point when Taira no Munemori (1147 –1185) was defeated in battle and thereon to the time when Minamoto no Yoshitsune, while still alive, was brought to Kamakura and had to face being executed, he then lamented burning to the ground the grand head temple of the Kegon School in Nara and that the portable shrine (Mikoshi) had been shot at.

The present (time) in this world again does not differ. Since Nichiren is a lowly and commonplace monk who is not highly respected, naturally (the retribution of going against) the Dharma Flower Sutra gives rise to resentful enmities that are not discerned. Apart from (the evil) political goings-on, Taishaku (Shakra, Indra), the devas of the sun and moon, the Four Quarter Deva Sovereigns who live halfway up Mount Sumeru, and the Dragon Kings have all become all-embracing resentful enemies (because of the contempt shown to Nichiren and the Dharma Flower Sutra). Those who protect the Dharma Flower (the way existence works), Shākyamuni and Tahō (Prabhūtaratna), and all the emanations of all the Buddhas of the ten directions, the thousands of bodhisattvas who surged up from the earth, and those who were converted in other times and spaces, the two holy ones, the two devas, the ten Rakshasi daughters of Kishimōjin and Kishimōjin herself– all those Sovereign beings will influence those persons who are representative of their respective countries so that our country will be punished or destroyed, though they do not know of this.

If the heavens are really attacking (our kingdom), then even putting the circle of Iron Mountains (of Mt. Sumeru) around Japan (will not protect it). Even under the cover of Mount Sumeru (and if) all the deva of the ten directions are gathered together, also including the Four Quarter Kings who are at the four corners of the Fundamental Object of Veneration who protect the eastern, southern, western, and northern continents all stand lined up on the edge of the waves, once having become the enemies of the Dharma Flower Sutra, the Lord of the Teaching, the World Honored One of the Shākya tribe, and an important practitioner (Nichiren), who on account of the fifth scroll of the Dharma Flower Sutra Nichiren had his head struck– altogether this enormous (evil) lapse consisted of bestrewing about the ten scrolls of this sutra and stamping on them– (there is no protection that can occur).

At the present time and actually, this is a wrongdoing difficult to escape indeed. How should the deva who protect Japan help such a country? Quickly and speedily they will probably administer punishment, so that they (the deva) may escape the consequences of their faults, and so that I (Nichiren) can get on with my own business. If they are late in dealing with wrongdoing, then those deva who protect Japan and the Four Quarter Kings should be brought to task, shouldn’t they? This is something that is difficult to know.

The Universal Teacher Dengyō said, “When one secretly thinks about it, bodhisattvas are the treasures of the state according to the Dharma Flower Sutra. The Universal Vehicle benefits others is the discourse of the Mahāyāna teachings. When the (seven) adversities (assail) all beings, is it not only the teachings of the Universal Vehicle (that can dispel them)? But then what is to be left over? When great disasters are caused (in the future), then how can they be averted except by bodhisattvas or monks (of the Universal Vehicle, Mahāyāna)?”

However, in order to avert the threat of the great Mongol Empire, when I look into their records (I see that) the warriors in the Imperial Court are calling on the five Buddhas or the seven Buddhas in the Sutra on Yakushi (Yakushi-kyō Bhaishajya-guru sutra), or the eyes of the Buddha, or the Golden Circle, etc. Yet, these are (trivial teachings) or small matters as opposed to a way to quell a great disaster. Instead, (just as the Dharma Flower Sutra says, this curse) will turn back and stick (on the person who sent it) and it seems this country will be destroyed.

Also people at the shrine of Hie, the Joy of the Sun, in Shiga province, offer incense and prayers and say they will carry out the practice of the Dharma Flower, although (what they do is based on) the Tripitaka Fukū’s (Pu-k’ung) Dharma which was erroneous as a foundation. So when they pray it is just as a ceremony.

Again high ranking monks of the present time conform to the Shingon of Tō-ji Temple, or even the Shingon rites of Tendai, while the Universal Teacher of Tō-ji Temple’s vast Dharma came from the Universal Teacher Kōbō (Pu-k’ung). And (those supposedly from) Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) who has manifold compassion and awareness derived from (Jikaku and) Chishō. Although these three persons can make an appeal to their superiors, they are people of immense slander. Apart from this, all the monks or even the all-inclusive and immoderate precepts of the great temple of Tō-ji (Tōdai-ji temple) are of the Individual Vehicle.

Although the altar of the precept of Mount Hiei, furthermore, is more compassionate and aware, it has become something twisted by the slander (of Jikaku). Even so, that altar of the all-inclusive and immoderate precepts is an altar also pertaining to the teachings derived from Shākyamuni’s life and work. It is not suitable for the present circumstances.

Besides, there is nothing further to be expected, except for this country and terrain presently to be destroyed. There is no longer (any point in) cause (or time) for regret before it happens. It is too pitiful to talk about!

[Here Nichiren is again speaking from the point of view of the petitioner.]

What has been noted down previously is a little out of the ten thousand things (I heard from Nichiren).

Although my body has been lowly and it seems that my mind is somewhat stupid, still this principle is what I have received as karma. Nevertheless, the ruler of this country doesn’t use it (the teaching of Nichiren), so how will it be for Kamakura? Why don’t they think about it? Instead, they oppose him and only have mad thoughts.

Why don’t they look for what is important for this country? Both times the government has sent Nichiren to distant places (exile) without inquiring how he would live or find things to eat. Or they do not even ask him what his principles are but they have prejudices which they are not aware of.

If they (government officials) asked me why I (Inaba-bō Nichiei) did not read the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra) as well as accept its meaning, (I would say I have stopped reciting it) for the benefit of my father and mother and also (of the country). But if they insisted that the meaning of this sutra is endless without bounds and therefore it is a reason for reading it, and for instance if they wouldn’t let me eat during this enquiry, I could comply so people would say that it was done according to the instructions of the inquirer. But, even though my body might follow what is needed, my mind would be kept in another direction (and not obey).

Again, what is frightening is that simultaneously they made enquiries as to so-called vices (of Nichiren). When the time comes for what is important for us all, you probably will later repent. This monk Nichiren is the one and only person (who understands the situation). Even if the people of the world function in this way, it will become a thing of stupidity (for you to do so as well). If and when the government behaves in accordance (with Nichiren’s teachings), who will not also behave in this manner? Yet at that time what could be done about it? People believe in other people, but they do not believe in the Dharma.

Again, the people of the world think in this manner, that their children decidedly must follow their parents. (They also think that) aristocrats, ministers, teachers, disciples should follow this pattern (and comply with their teacher). They do not even understand things according to all that is outside the Buddha teachings, and even those who are within the Buddha teaching are people who do not know and make villainous conjectures. Those teachings outside the Buddha teaching, such as Confucius’s Classic of Filial Piety, may follow instructions and teachings in which there are instances when master and servant (or child and father) quarrel. In the Buddha teaching we have, “Put kindness aside and enter into passivity (as regards obligations to one’s master or parent), so that one can recompense true kindness.” So, the Buddha decided.

Prince Siddhārtha (Siddhartha) was assumed to be the first in filial piety in the continent. But this was because he, the father of the world of humankind (Embudai, Jambudvīpa), indeed went against the king (his father) so as to take over control (of his destiny). Due to (Pi Kan’s) pessimism (and going against) his father Chou Wang whose crimes caused the downfall of the Shang (Yin) Dynasty, 1122 BCE, though his dissuasion went unheeded (and was punished), (he was later praised).

If you come to read about this, (you may not pay attention to what I say). (But it explains why I have stopped reciting) the Sutra on Amida (Amitābha Sutra). What do you really think is suitable for this present time? (Surely that teaching is not.)

With awe (and respect), I ask you (these things).

The monk Nichiei

The third year of Kenji [1277] during sixth month

Nichiren

[This Goshō was written at Mount Minobu in June 1277 to Shimoyama Hyogo Goro Mitsumoto, the steward of Shimoyama in Kai Province, on behalf of a monk named Inaba-bō Nichiei, one of Nichiren Daishōnin’s disciples who lived in Shimoyama. It was designated by Nikkō Shōnin as one of the ten major writings of Nichiren Daishōnin.]

Goshō Zenshū, pp. 343-364
Goshō Shinpen, pp. 1137-1160


Note: All wisdom I may have is the result of reciting the theme and title Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō! ~ Martin Bradley

Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas [which is every possible psychological wavelength] (Kyō).

* * * * * * * * *

[This writing (also known as “Letter to Shimoyama”) is listed on a page entitled, “The Ten Major Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin”, which says the following: “Nikkō Shōnin designated ten of Nichiren Daishōnin’s writings as the most important of his works. Listed in chronological order, these ten are briefly described in the following paragraphs, including the background and main points.” This writing is the ninth of the ten writings listed here and has previously been translated. However, it was not easily found and apparently includes added, perhaps interpretative, text. That version can be seen at this link.]

Note about the SGI version as compared to the translation of Martin Bradley: There are a number of pages more in the text of the SGI rendering than in that of Martin Bradley. The discrepancy occurs between the two paragraph below.

The Universal Teacher Dengyō rebutted the teachings of the School of Monastic Discipline (Risshū, Ritsu) and took its believers into the Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) School. Even though this school should have been abolished completely, later so that people would know how this situation had come about, the Universal Teacher Dengyō sent some of his disciples of the Universal Vehicle, so as to help [the school survive]. The Buddha Dharma does not diminish due to its own bewilderment. Now the scholars of our present age are unaware of the particulars of the situation. They believe that the six schools of Japan, without ever being rebutted, have gone on since the beginning.

[Here is where there are a quite a few pages of text in the SGI version (which is based on the Goshō Zenshū) which are not included in this translation by Martin Bradley (who worked from Nichiren’s writing in the Goshō Shinpen).]

With regard to the great earthquake in the first year of the past reign called Shōka (1257), it is noted down in the first scroll of the document. I showed my respect for the late lord who had taken religious vows in the Saimyō-ji Temple [by presenting it to him], whom I was to think had been ordered by the ruler of the province and not a teacher of the Dharma and that he had made a mistake and was not to blame.



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