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The Causal Law of Life

I hope you will read this letter over and over again together with Toshiro’s wife. The sun dispels darkness, no matter how deep. A woman’s heart may be likened to darkness, and the Lotus Sutra to the sun. A baby may not always recognize its mother, but a mother never forgets her own baby. Shakyamuni Buddha may be likened to the mother, and a woman to the baby. If two people long for each other, then they will never be parted. But though one person yearns for the other, if the other does not feel the same way, then they will be united at times but separated at others. The Buddha may be likened to the one who always longs for the other, and a woman to the one who does not. But if we truly yearn for Shakyamuni Buddha, how could he ever fail to reveal himself to us?

You may call a rock a jewel, but that does not make it one. You may call a jewel a rock, but it remains a jewel. In our age, the doctrines of the Nembutsu and other sects that are based upon the Buddha’s provisional teachings are all like rocks. People may say that the Nembutsu is equal to the Lotus Sutra, but that does not in fact make it so. And people may slander the Lotus Sutra, but that does not affect it any more than calling a jewel a rock affects the jewel.

In the past there was an evil ruler in China named Emperor Hui-tsung.1 Led astray by Taoist priests, he destroyed Buddhist statues and sutras and forced all the monks and nuns to return to secular life until not one remained in the religious calling. Among the monks was one named the Tripitaka Master Fa-tao who refused to be cowed by the imperial command. As a result, he was branded on the face and exiled to the region south of the Yangtze River. I was born in an age when the rulers put their faith in the Zen sect, which is as erroneous as the doctrine of Taoists, and I too, like Fa-tao, have met with great difficulties.

You two women were born as commoners and now live in Kamakura, [the seat of the government,] yet you believe in the Lotus Sutra without concern for the prying eyes of others or the danger it may pose for your lives. This is nothing short of extraordinary. I can only imagine your faith to be like the jewel that, when placed in muddy water, miraculously cleanses it. You are like someone who, when taught something new by a wise man, believes his every word and thus grasps the truth. Is this because Shakyamuni Buddha and the bodhisattvas Fugen, Yakuo and Shukuoke2 are dwelling in your hearts? This is what the passage of the Lotus Sutra means when it says that if in the land of Jambudvipa one is able to believe in this sutra, then that is due to the power of Bodhisattva Fugen.3

A woman is like a wisteria, a man like a pine. The wisteria cannot stand for a moment if it is separated from the pine tree that supports it. And yet, in this turbulent age, when you do not even have servants you can rely on, you have sent your husband here [to Sado Island]. This shows that your sincerity is deeper than the earth, and the earthly gods must certainly realize this. Your sincerity is loftier than the sky, and the heavenly gods Bonten and Taishaku must also be aware of it. The Buddha taught that people from the very moment of their birth are accompanied by two messengers, Dosho (Same Birth) and Domyo (Same Name),4 who are sent by heaven and who follow them as closely as their own shadows, never leaving them even for an instant. These two take turns ascending to heaven to report the person’s offenses and merits, both major and minor, without overlooking the slightest detail. Therefore, heaven must know about your sincerity. How encouraging! How reassuring!

Nichiren (seal)

The Fourth Month, 9th year of Mon'ei (1272)

Reply to the wife of Shijo Kingo


  1. Hui-tsung  (1082-1135): Eighth ruler of the Sung dynasty in China. He ascended the throne in 1100 but took little interest in ruling, devoting his energies instead to calligraphy and painting. His religious policy was to eradicate China's native Taoism and destroy Buddhism. In 1127, his dynasty (Zoruthegn Sung) was overthrown by the Jdrched (Chin) state.
  2. Shukuoke: Bodhisattva who appears in the Yakuo (23rd) chapter of the Lotus Sutra to play the role of questioning the Buddha. In this chapter, Shakyamuni Buddha orders Bodhisattva Shukuoke to protect the Lotus Sutra with his occult power.
  3. Lotus Sutra, chap. 28.
  4. Dosho and Domyo: Two heavenly messengers said to dwell on one's shoulders from the time of one's birth and to observe his every act. They symbolize the workings of the law of cause and effect in life.

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol 2.

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