A Reply to Shijō Kingo,
Troublesome Worries are not
Separate From Enlightenment

Shijō Kingo Dono Go Henji (Bonnō Soku Bodai)
Goshō Shimpen, pp. 597-599


The second day of the fifth month of the ninth year of Bun.ei [1272], at 51 years of age

I must herewith express my heartfelt thanks for your visit, your offerings, and your enquiries about the hardships I have encountered. By being involved as a practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra, I do not consider these hardships to be something to be upset about. For however many times one receives a lifetime, one must also meet so many deaths. But it seems hardly believable that I have received a lifetime with so much reward and fruition as this. Also I wonder – were it not for all these trials, I would probably still be in the cycle of lives and deaths of the three or four evil tendencies. Now, to my deepest joy, I have cut away the rotation of living and dying and am sure to attain the fruition of a Buddha.

Even Tendai (T’ien T’ai) and Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi), who propagated the temporary gateway of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces in theory (ichinen sanzen), still had to face the problems brought about by other people’s resentment and jealousy. In Japan, this teaching was transmitted from Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi) down to Gishin, Enchō, and Jikaku, as well as to others. The eighteenth enthroned lord of the world of mankind was the Universal Teacher Jie, who had a great number of disciples. Among them, the four most outstanding were Danna, Eshin, Soga, and Zen.yu.

At that time, this gateway to the Dharma was divided into two digressions. The Abbot Danna transmitted the doctrine of the Tendai School, whereas the Senior Monk Eshin, its contemplation of the mind. The relationship between doctrine and contemplation was like the sun and the moon. The doctrine itself was not so deep, because it was not all-inclusive. The contemplation of the mind was deeper. The gateway to the Dharma that Danna taught was so spread out that it became shallow. The gateway that Eshin taught was narrow, but profound.

Now, although the gateway to the Dharma that is propagated by Nichiren seems to be constricted, it is utterly fathomless. The reason for this is that it penetrates that one layer deeper than the dharma gateways that were spread abroad by Tendai (T’ien T’ai) and Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi), because it deals with the three esoteric dharmas of the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata of the original gateway. Reciting the seven ideograms for Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō may seem to be constricted, but, because it is the teacher and example for all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, the teacher and guide for all the bodhisattvas of the ten directions, and the compass for all sentient beings to attain to the path of becoming a Buddha, it is unfathomable.

In the sutra it says, “The wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas is infinitely profound and incalculable.” In this sutric text, the expression “all the Buddhas” means all the Buddhas of the ten directions and of the past, present, and future, which includes the Tathāgata of Universal Sunlight (Dainichi Nyorai) of the Shingon school, the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) of the Jōdo school, as well all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of each and every school and their respective sutras – also all the Buddhas of the past, future, and present in general and even the Shākyamuni of our present time. Next, we come to “wisdom and discernment”, and if we ask what indeed this wisdom and discernment is, then it is the fruition of substantiating the ten such qualities of the real aspect, as being the fundamental substance of the Dharma.

So what is this fundamental substance of the Dharma?

It is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, the consecration and foundation of one’s life on the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō) [the consecration and foundation of one’s life on the vertical threads of the sutra, into which is woven the filament of the interdependence of cause and effect of the entirety of existence]. This is explained as the “Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō), which is the fundamentally existing and underlying intrinsicality of its real aspect”.

Also, what we refer to as the real aspect of all dharmas is apprehended through the two Buddhas Shākyamuni and Tahō seated side by side in the stupa made of precious materials. Tahō summarises all dharmas, and their real aspect is represented by Shākyamuni. These are the two dharmas of the objective realm of the Buddha and his subjective insight that is able to understand it. Tahō stands for the realm of objectivity, and Shākyamuni is the wisdom that penetrates into it. Although objectivity and subjectivity are a duality, the non-duality of objectivity and subjectivity is the inner testimony of the enlightenment.

These gateways to the dharmas are profoundly serious and all-embracing matters. They are referred to as our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) not being separate from our inherent enlightenment, or that the cycle of living and dying is not separate from the universality of nirvana. In fact, for those men and women who recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, even when they are in sexual union, everything that goes on in their minds is in no way separate from their inherent enlightenment, and their cycles of life and death are not separate from the ultimate unchanging void or relativity of nirvana. Outside of becoming awakened to the fact that the actual fundamental substance of life and death does not come into being nor does it cease to exist, there can be no other cycles of living and dying that are separate from nirvana.

It says in the Chapter on the Persuasiveness and Quest [for Buddhahood] of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen), “Without cutting off their troublesome worries or freeing themselves from the five desires [that are induced by form, sound, smell, taste, and touch], they were able to purify their senses and eradicate all their wrongdoings.” It also says in the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan), “All the toil and dust of our unenlightenment are, at the same instant, inseparable from our enlightenment. The cycles of living and dying are simultaneously inseparable from the ultimate unchanging void or relativity of nirvana.”

Then, in the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, we have, “What is present in my thoughts is – how can I get sentient beings to enter onto the supreme path and speedily attain to becoming realised as a Buddha?” Again, we have the statement, “The essence of the appearance of the realms of existence is fundamentally eternal.” This must be the intended meaning of these quotations. Thus, there is no other existence apart from the substance of the Dharma, which can only be Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.

In the past, I used to tuck this exquisitely perfect and all to be venerated Dharma Flower Sutra under my knee, or I looked down upon it with a scowl, having no faith in it whatsoever. Also, in some way or another, I maliciously ridiculed anybody who would edify another person by teaching them the Dharma Flower Sutra in order that the destiny of the Dharma should be passed on to the future. I tried to get people to leave this sutra alone in this life, since it was far too difficult, and made them embrace the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) teaching which would correspond more to their present need to be reborn in the immaculate terrain, where they would be more equipped to study the Dharma Flower.

It is through countless vilifications and disparagements that, in this life, I Nichiren am faced with all kinds of great hardships. Because of my having abased the supreme summit of all the sutras, now, in my present realm of existence, I am humiliated and not taken into consideration. It is taught in the Chapter on Similes and Parables, “Through having slandered the Dharma Flower in former lives, even though he would like to make friendly relationships with other people, they will not be sympathetic towards him and will keep him out of their way.”

Nevertheless, you are also a practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra, and, as a result, you too have come up against great difficulties. But, even so, you came to the aid of Nichiren. In the text of the Chapter on the Dharma as a Teacher, it clearly states, “I will send Buddhas and deva (ten) in the guise of people and also the four assemblies of monks, nuns, with male and female lay believers, so that they can listen to his explanation of the Dharma.” If this reference to lay believers does not apply to you, who could it point to? On hearing the Dharma, you accepted it without any recalcitrance whatsoever. How marvellous, how unthinkable and ineffable!!

Consequently, you have no doubts about Nichiren being the teacher of the Dharma of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Then, I would appear to be “the emissary of the Tathāgata” and also the person who, in his practice, “carries out the affairs of the Tathāgata”.

Nichiren has roughly spread abroad the five ideograms of the theme and title, that was handed down to the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra), at the time when the two Buddhas Shākyamuni and Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) sat side by side in the stupa made of precious materials. Was this not then the assignment of the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra)? You too, as a follower of Nichiren and a practitioner of the Dharma Flower, talk about it to everybody. How can this not be circulating the transmission of the Dharma?

Hold fast to your mind of faith in the Dharma Flower Sutra. If you give up striking the flint while trying to ignite the tinder, you will get no fire. Summon up a compelling and overflowing strength of faith. Shijō Kingo must become renowned throughout all the people, high and low, in Kamakura and also among all the sentient beings in Japan, as the Shijō Kingo of the Dharma Flower School. Even a bad reputation gets around, so why shouldn’t it be the same for a good one? Then why would it not be so for the sake of the Dharma Flower Sutra?

You must carefully tell your wife about the purpose of all this. You must be as coordinated as the sun and moon or the eyes and wings of a bird. How can there be a path of bewilderment for the dead, if there is a sun and a moon? You must have no doubt that, with two eyes, you will be able to gaze upon the countenances of the three Buddhas, Shākyamuni, Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna), and all the Buddha emanations of the ten directions. With a pair of wings you can fly in a timeless instant to the precious instant of silence and illumination.

I will talk about this more in detail another time.

With awe, reverence and respect,
Nichiren [formal signature]

The second day of the fifth month [1272]

A reply to Sir Shijō Kingo


The Hoodsoos near Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia

The Hoodsoos near Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia


Martin Bradley, The Buddha Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin, ISBN: 2-913122-19-1, 2005,
Chapter 8, p. 229 (Revised, July 2013)


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