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The Bow and Arrow

I have received one kan of coins and a bamboo container.  It is the power of the bow that determines the flight of the arrow, the might of the dragon that controls the movement of the clouds, and the strength of the wife that guides the actions of her husband. In the same way, it is your support that has enabled Lord Toki to visit me here now. We know the fire by its smoke, discern the nature of the dragon by the rain, and recognize the wife by observing her husband. Thus, meeting here at this moment with Lord Toki, I feel as if I were seeing you.

Lord Toki has told me that, while grieved at his mother’s death, he was grateful that she passed away peacefully and that you gave her such attentive care. He said joyfully that he would never be able to forget this in any lifetime to come.

My greatest concern now is your illness. Fully convinced that you will recover your health, you should continue moxibustion treatment for three years, as regularly as if you had just begun. Even those who are free from illness cannot escape the transience of life, but you are not yet old, and because you are a votary of the Lotus Sutra you will not meet an untimely death. Your illness is surely not due to karma, but even if it were, you could rely on the power of the Lotus Sutra to cure it.

King Ajatashatru extended his life by forty years by embracing the Lotus Sutra. Ch’en Chen added fifteen years to his life. You also are a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra and your faith is like the waxing moon or the rising tide. Be deeply convinced, then, that your illness cannot possibly persist and that your life cannot fail to be extended! Take care of yourself and do not burden your mind with grief.

When sorrows arise, think of Iki and Tsushima,1 as well as of the Dazaifu office. Or think of the people of Kamakura. They were enjoying the delights of the heavenly realm, but when the soldiers departed for Tsukushi, the parting of the wives and children who stayed behind from the men who left was like bark being ripped from a tree. They pressed their faces together and lamented while gazing into each other’s eyes. Now the men gradually grow more distant, traveling through Yui Beach, Inabura, Koshigoe, Sakawa and the Hakone pass; and so, as one day passes and then another goes by, they march farther and farther away, and rivers and mountains, as well as clouds, are interposed between them and their families. Tears accompany them and grief is their companion. How sorrowful they must be!

If the Mongol armies should come and attack while they are thus lamenting, they will be taken prisoner, whether in the mountains or on the sea, and will suffer misery in ships or in Koryo [on the Korean Peninsula]. This is entirely because of the treatment people have accorded Nichiren, the votary of the Lotus Sutra, who has committed no fault and is father and mother to all the people of Japan. Without reason, they revile and beat him, and parade him through the streets. Such insanity has provoked reprimands from the ten demon daughters, causing the present situation to arise. In addition, events that are a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand and one hundred thousand times more difficult to endure will occur in the future. You will see such mysteries unfold before your eyes.

There is nothing to lament when we consider that we will surely become Buddhas. Even if one becomes an empress, Of what use would it be? Even if one is reborn in heaven, what end would it serve? Instead, you will follow the way of the dragon king’s daughter and rank with the nun Mahaprajapati. How wonderful! How wonderful! Please chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

With my deep respect,

The twenty-seventh day of the third month

To Ama Gozen


  1. Iki and Tsushima are the islands off the coast of Kyushu in southern Japan that bore the brunt of the Mongol attack in 1274. The Dozaifu office was the administrative center for Kyushu, Iki and Tsushima, and served as a foreign affairs conduit as well as a rallying point in the case of foreign invasion. During the attack of 1274, it was a focal point of defense against the Mongols. Even after the attack had ended, many warriors were sent to Kyushu from throughout the country to guard against a second attack.

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 7.

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