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The Drum at the Gate of Thunder

I have received one kan of blue-duck coins, one to of dried rice, and other articles. Tokusho Doji, who offered a mudpie to the Buddha, was reborn as King Ashoka, and an old woman who made the Buddha an offering of rice gruel was reborn as a pratyekabuddha.

The Lotus Sutra is the teacher of all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three existences. The Buddhas of the ten directions are the Buddha Zentoku in the east, the Buddha Muutoku in the southeast, the Buddha Sendantoku in the south, the Buddha Hose in the southwest, the Buddha Muryomyo in the west, the Buddha Ketoku in the northwest, the Buddha Sotoku in the north, the Buddha Sanjogyo in the northeast, the Buddha Koshutoku of the zenith, and the Buddha Myotoku of the nadir.

The Buddhas of the three existences are the thousand Buddhas of the past Glorious Kalpa, the thousand Buddhas of the present Wise Kalpa, and the thousand Buddhas of the future Constellation Kalpa, as well as all the other Buddhas depicted in the Mahayana and Hinayana, provisional and true, and exoteric and esoteric sutras, including the Kegon, Lotus and Nirvana sutras. These Buddhas, as well as the bodhisattvas in the worlds of the ten directions who are as numerous as particles of dust, all originate from the single character myo of the Lotus Sutra.

Therefore, the Fugen Sutra, the epilogue to the Lotus Sutra, says, "The three enlightened properties of the Buddha's life arise from the Hodo." The term Hodo derives from an Indian word and was translated in China as "great vehicle." Great vehicle, or Mahayana, is another name for the Lotus Sutra. The Agon sutras, when compared with non-Buddhist scriptures, are regarded as Mahayana sutras, or the sutras of the great vehicle. Similarly, the Kegon, Hannya, Dainichi and other sutras, when compared with the Agon sutras, are defined as Mahayana sutras; but they in turn fall within the category of Hinayana sutras, or the sutras of the lesser vehicle, when compared with the Lotus Sutra. As no sutra surpasses the Lotus Sutra, it is the one and only Mahayana sutra.

To illustrate, each ruler of the eighty-four thousand countries in Jambudvipa is called a great king within his country. But when compared with a wheel-turning king, he is called a minor king. In like manner, each of the kings of the six heavens of the world of desire and of the four meditation heavens may be called either a great king or a minor king, [depending on whom he is compared to;] but King Daibonten, who resides at the top of the world of form, is the one great ruler who can never be called a minor king.

A Buddha is a child, and the Lotus Sutra, its parents. If the parents of a thousand children are praised, those thousand children will rejoice. If one makes offerings to the parents, he makes offerings to their thousand children as well. One who makes offerings to the Lotus Sutra will receive the same benefit as he would by making offerings to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the ten directions, because all the Buddhas of the ten directions originate from the single character myo. Suppose a lion has a hundred cubs. When the lion king sees its cubs attacked by other beasts or birds of prey, he roars; the hundred cubs will then feel emboldened, and the heads of those other beasts and birds of prey will be split into seven pieces. The Lotus Sutra is like the lion king, who rules over all other animals.

A woman who embraces the lion king of the Lotus Sutra need not fear the beasts of Hell, Hunger, and Animality. All the offenses committed by a woman in her lifetime are like dry grass, and the single character myo of the Lotus Sutra is like a small spark. When a small spark is set to a large expanse of grass, not only the grass but also big trees and large stones will all be consumed. Such is the power of the fire of wisdom in the single character myo. Not only will all offenses vanish, but they will become sources of benefit. This is what changing poison into amrita means. For example, black lacquer will turn white when white powder is added. A woman's offenses are like the lacquer, and the words Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, like the white powder.

When one dies, if he is destined to fall into hell, his appearance will darken and his body will become as heavy as a stone that requires the strength of a thousand men to move. But in the case of a devotee of true faith, even if she should be a woman seven or eight feet tall and of dark complexion, at the hour of death, her countenance will become pure and bright, and her body will be as light as a goose feather and as soft and pliable as cotton.

It is a thousand ri across the sea and mountains from Sado to this province. You, as a woman, have held fast to your faith in the Lotus Sutra; and over the years you have repeatedly sent your husband here to visit me in your place. Surely the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni, Taho and all other Buddhas of the ten directions know of your devotion. For example, though the moon is forty thousand yojana high in the heavens, its reflection appears instantly in a pond on the earth; and the sound of the drum at the Gate of Thunder is immediately heard ten million ri in the distance. Though you remain in Sado, your heart has come to this province.

The way of attaining Buddhahood is just like this. Although we live in the impure land, our minds reside at Eagle Peak. Merely seeing each other's face would in itself be insignificant. What matters is one's heart. Someday let us meet at Eagle Peak, where Shakyamuni Buddha dwells. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

With my deep respect,

The nineteenth day of the intercalary tenth month in the first year of Koan (1278)

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 5.

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