A Reply to Lord Ueno



I received the equivalent of eighteen liters of white rice, one horseload of sweet potatoes, five packs of konnyaku which you so kindly sent to me.

Above all, the Lady daughter of the lay practitioner Ishikawa no Hyōe has sent me letters frequently. Even on the night of the fourteenth or fifteenth of March, it seems there was a letter for me. She writes, “When I look at the world around me I get the impression that even people who are not sick will not in any case be seen around this year. As a person who is ill, my illness has gotten worse. This may be my last letter to you.” Therefore, did she finally pass away?

These people who have recited Namu Amida Butsu, in the words of the Buddha he stated that such people will be born in Amitabha’s paradise. However, for some reason or other, the Buddha regretted this statement and said, “[In these forty or so years] I have not revealed the reality (of my teaching). You should throw away all expedient means directly.” It is shameful! But there is no such Buddha and there is no such Buddha nature. [When I said these things] the whole of Japan got mad at me.

Not only that, this is a teaching of the Individual Vehicle! And there is no other Buddha than Shākyamuni in the ten directions. Also sentient beings were not endowed with a Buddha nature. However, in the sutras of the Universal Vehicle, there were Buddhas in the ten directions and ordinary people did possess a Buddha nature. The Buddha expounded, ‘How can anybody hang on to the teaching of the Individual Vehicle?’ Indeed, everybody should follow the Universal Vehicle.

Also there is a difference between these two teachings that cannot be thought out or even discussed. In the Dharma Flower Sutra, Shākyamuni regretted and refuted all the other sutras that he had expounded. The Dharma Flower Sutra was the only sutra that contained the truth in all the past, present, and future. But his disciples did not take this discourse seriously. However, the Buddha Abundant Treasure came to give evidence along with the testimony of the Buddhas of the ten directions by protruding their tongues until they reached the heaven of the Bonten Brahma.

Then when the Buddha Abundant Treasure shut the sliding doors of his stupa and the Buddhas of the ten directions had returned to their terrains, for some reason or other the Buddha could not deny the Dharma Flower Sutra. Whatever other sutras he may have expounded, the Buddhas of the ten directions made it indestructible. This is why the “Sutra of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy” and the “Sutra on the Buddha’s Passing Over to Nirvana” which followed the Dharma Flower Sutra are praised and never disparaged.

Nevertheless, Zen Mu-i of the Mantra and Tantra School and the founders of the Zen School have all refuted the Dharma Flower Sutra and throughout the country of Japan nobody wants to believe this teaching. For instance, in the same way as Masakado and Sadatō who were rebels, the whole of Japan became enemies of Shākyamuni, Abundant Treasure, and the Buddhas of the ten directions. Also Japan, over the last number of years, has been slowly going to ruin. Any person who says so is resented by those in power. Because these offenses cycle round and round like a whirlpool, this country has already incurred the anger of heaven.

It is due to her inherent karma or for some reason or other that this lady recited Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō as she was dying. This is as rare as a one-eyed turtle finding a hole in a piece of floating wood or a thread dangling from the heavens passing through the eye of a needle on the ground. How marvelous! How wonderful!

The sutras distinctly make clear that those who follow the Nembutsu teaching are destined to fall into the Hell of Incessant Suffering. Everybody thinks this only comes from the mouth of Nichiren. It is comparable to the saying, “Heaven is like one’s eyelashes. Empty space is as close as one’s eyelashes are near.” This Lady practitioner (nun) would not have been biased towards Nichiren’s teaching at the moment of her death and would not have held a steadfast faith at the end [if my teaching were false].

Among the disciples of Nichiren those who are apparently well-versed in the Buddha teaching make the most errors. Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō is the essence of the Dharma Flower Sutra in the same way as all people have a soul. This could be compared to a consort who is married to two sovereigns or who secretly commits adultery with a minister, or she even surreptitiously becomes the mistress of someone in her family circle. It can only be a cause for misfortune.

This gateway to the Dharma was not propagated during the time when the Dharma was correct (and could enlighten other people), or even when the Dharma was a formal imitation of itself, since other sutras had not yet lost their ability to lead people onto the Buddha path. Now during the end of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, all the other sutras or even the Dharma Flower Sutra are of no advantage. It only has to be Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō that can (enlighten sentient beings). This is not simply my personal judgment. Shākyamuni, Abundant Treasure, the Buddhas of the ten directions, as well as the bodhisattvas who swarmed up out of the earth have decided it.

To mix Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō with other practices is a deliberate distortion. When the sun rises, a lamp is useless. When rain falls, how can the dew be beneficial? Should one nourish a newborn baby with anything also besides its mother’s milk? A good medicine needs no additions. Somehow or other, this woman naturally corresponded with this teaching. How admirable, how admirable!

With my respect,

The first day of the fourth month in the first year of Kōan (1278)

Ueno dono gohenji
Goshō Zenshū
, p. 1545

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