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Two Kinds of Faith

I have duly received your offerings of taros, skewer-dried persimmons, parched rice, chestnuts, bamboo shoots and bamboo containers of vinegar.

There was once a great ruler in India named King Ashoka. He reigned over a quarter of the land of Jambudvipa and, attended by the dragon kings,1 controlled the rain at his will. He even used spirits to do his bidding. At first he was a merciless ruler, but later he was converted to Buddhism. He made offerings to sixty thousand monks each day and erected eighty-four thousand stone stupas. In inquiring into the previous lifetime of this great sovereign, we find that in the days of Shakyamuni Buddha there were two little boys called Tokusho Doji and Musho Doji,2 who once offered the Buddha a mud-pie. Because of this act of sincerity, the boy Tokusho was reborn as King Ashoka within one hundred years.

The Buddha is of course respectworthy, but when compared with the Lotus Sutra, he is like a firefly beside the sun or the moon. The Lotus Sutra is as superior to Shakyamuni Buddha as heaven is higher than the earth. To present offerings to the Buddha produces such great benefits [as to be born a king], yet even greater benefit is obtained by making offerings to the Lotus Sutra. If such a marvelous reward was brought about by the mere offering of a mud-pie, how much more will come about as a result of all your various gifts! The Buddha was far from being short of food, but now we are in a land where hunger prevails. Therefore how could it be possible that the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Taho and the ten demon daughters will fail to protect you?

Today there are people who have faith in the Lotus Sutra. The belief of some is like fire while that of others is like water. When the former listen to the teachings, their passion flares up like fire, but as time goes on, they tend to discard their faith. To have faith like water means to believe continuously without ever regressing. Since you pay frequent visits to me regardless of the difficulties, your belief is comparable to flowing water. It is worthy of great respect!

Is it true that there is illness in your family? If so, it cannot be the work of evil spirits. The ten demon daughters must be testing the strength of your faith. None of the spirits who listened to the Lotus Sutra would ever dare trouble a votary of the sutra and have their heads broken as punishment.3 Persist in your faith with the firm conviction that both Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra are free from any falsehood.

With my deep respect,

The twenty-fifth day of the second month

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  1. Dragon kings: one of the eight kinds of lowly beings who protect Buddhism. From ancient times, dragon kings and demons were believed to possess supernatural power and produce miraculous phenomena, beyond human wisdom to comprehend. "Attended by the dragon kings, [he] controlled the rain at his will" and "He even used demons to do his bidding" show that King Ashoka was endowed with great good fortune and power.
  2. Tokusho Doji and Musho Doji: According to the Za-agon (Skt Samyuktigama) Sutra, Shakyamuni was once going about begging on the out skirts of the city of Rajagriha when he came upon two little boys playing in the mud. The boys, observing the so-called "thirty-two distinguishing features, offered Shakyamuni a mud pie.
  3. Have their heads broken as punishment: See P. 258, footnote 5.

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin; Vol 2.

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