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The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream

I have received one kan1 of coins and respectfully reported in the presence of the Lotus Sutra2 that this is an offering from Yorimoto.3 I believe that from afar, Lord Shakyamuni, Taho Buddha and the Buddhas of the ten directions, and close at hand, the gods of the sun and moon in their heavenly palaces, will certainly watch over you.

If someone excels in this world, even those who are regarded as worthies and sages, to say nothing of ordinary people, will all become jealous and bear grudges against that person. Three thousand court ladies harbored jealousy against Wang Chao-chun,4 the favorite of the emperor of the Han dynasty. Taishaku’s consorts, who numbered nine million nine hundred thousand nayuta,5 all envied Kyoshika.6 Minister Fujiwara no Saneyori7 bore a grudge against Imperial Prince Kaneakira, and Fujiwara no Tokihira,8 jealous of Sugawara no Michizane, spoke falsely of him to the emperor, causing him to be exiled.

Consider your own situation in light of these examples. Your lord Ema Nyudo’s9 domain used to be vast, but has now diminished. He has many sons who could succeed him, and there are also many retainers who have long served him. His retainers must be possessed by growing envy, just as fish become agitated when the water of their pond decreases and birds vie with one another to secure branches when autumn winds begin to blow. Moreover, since you have disobeyed your lord and gone against his wishes from time to time, the calumnies made to him against you must have been all the more numerous. However, even though you have been forced to relinquish your fief time and again, in your letter you said that he has now conferred an estate upon you. This is indeed wondrous. This is precisely what is meant by the statement that unseen virtue brings about visible reward. It must have happened because of your profound sincerity in trying to lead your lord to faith in the Lotus Sutra.

King Ajatashatru, though once the Buddha’s enemy, came to take faith in the Lotus Sutra at the urging of his minister Jivaka10 so that he was able to prolong his life and continue his rule. King Myoshogon11 corrected his mistaken views at the exhortation of his two sons. The same is true in your case. Lord Ema has now softened probably as a result of your admonishment. This is solely because of your deep faith in the Lotus Sutra.

The deeper the roots, the more luxuriant the branches. The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream. All sutras other than the Lotus Sutra have shallow roots and short streams, while the Lotus Sutra has deep roots and a distant source. That is why the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai stated that the Lotus Sutra would survive and spread even in the evil latter age.

Many people have taken faith in this teaching. But since great persecutions, both official and otherwise, have repeatedly befallen me, though these people followed me a year or two, many of them later abandoned their faith, and some even turned against the Lotus Sutra. Some of them outwardly maintain their practice but cherish doubt in their hearts, while others may continue to believe in their hearts but have abandoned their practice.

Shakyamuni Buddha, the heir to King Shuddhodana,12 was a great king who reigned over the world’s 84,210 countries. All kings of the entire world bowed to him, and he had ten myriad million servants. Nevertheless, he left the palace of King Shuddhodana at the age of nineteen and entered Mount Dandaka,13 where he was to carry out austerities for twelve years. At that time he was attended by five men:14 Ajnata Kaundinya, Ashvajit), Bhadrika, Dashabala Kashyapa and Mahanama. Of these five, however, two left Shakyamuni during the sixth year, while the remaining three deserted him in the next six years [no longer able to believe in him]. Alone, Shakyamuni continued his practice and became the Buddha.

The Lotus Sutra is even more difficult to believe [than Shakyamuni] and therefore the sutra itself states that it is ". . . the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand."15 Moreover, in the Latter Day of the Law, persecutions are far more frequent and intense than in the lifetime of Shakyamuni Buddha. The sutra states that a votary who perseveres despite these adversities will gain benefits greater than those obtained by making offerings to the Buddha for an entire aeon.

It is now some 2,230 years since the Buddha’s passing. Those who spread Buddhism in India for more than a thousand years following his death are recorded in history without omission and those who disseminated Buddhism in China for a thousand years and in Japan for seven hundred are also clearly listed. Very few of them, however, met persecutions as terrible as those of the Buddha. Many described themselves as worthy men or sages, but not one of them has ever lived the sutra’s prediction: "[Since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha,] how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?" Bodhisattva Nagarjuna,16 T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo met great persecutions for the sake of Buddhism, but none as great as those the Buddha describes in the sutra. This is because they were born before the time when the Lotus Sutra is to be spread.

We have now already entered "the last five hundred years,"17 or the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law. This time period is like the sun at the summer solstice on the fifteenth day of the fifth month or the harvest moon on the fifteenth day of the eighth month. T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo were born too early to see it; those born after will regret that they came too late.

The main force of the enemy has already been defeated,18 and the remainder is no match for me. Now is the very time which the Buddha predicted: "the last five hundred years," "the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law" and the age indicated by the passage, "How much worse will it be in the world after his passing?" If the Buddha’s words are not false, a sage must certainly have appeared in this world. According to the sutras, the greatest war the world has ever seen will break out as a sign of this sage’s advent, and since such a war has already occurred,19 the sage must already have appeared in this world. The appearance of a legendary beast called ch’i-lin20 told Chinese contemporaries that Confucius was a sage, and there is no doubt that the resounding of a village shrine heralds a sage’s coming. When the Buddha made his advent in this world, the growth of sandalwood informed his contemporaries that he was a sage. Lao Tzu was recognized as a sage because at birth the sole of one foot was marked with the Chinese character "two" and the other with the character "five."21

Then how does one recognize the sage of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law? The sutra states that a person who can preach and embrace the Lotus Sutra is the Buddha’s envoy. In other words, one who embraces the eight volumes, or a single volume, chapter or verse, of the Lotus Sutra, or who chants the daimoku, is the Buddha’s emissary. Also, one who perseveres through great persecutions and embraces the sutra from beginning to end is the Buddha’s emissary.

My mind may not be that of the Buddha’s envoy, since I am but a common mortal. However, since I have incurred the hatred of the three powerful enemies and been exiled twice,22 I am like the Buddha’s envoy. Though my mind is steeped in the three poisons and my body is that of a common mortal, because my mouth chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I am like the Buddha’s envoy. If I seek an example in the past, I may be likened to Bodhisattva Fukyo. If I look at the present, I have been living the sutra’s description of persecution "by swords and staves, tiles and stones."23 In the future, I will doubtless arrive at the place of enlightenment, and those who have sustained me will also dwell together in the pure land of Eagle Peak. I have many other things to tell you, but I will stop here and leave the rest for you to conclude.

The ailing acolyte has recovered, which makes me very happy. Daishin Ajari24 died exactly as you foresaw. Everyone here praises you, saying that even a latter-day Jivaka would be no match for you. I think they may well be right. We have been telling each other that your predictions about Sammi-bo and Soshiro25 have come true exactly, just as two tallies match precisely. I entrust my life to you and will consult no other physician.


The fifteenth day of the ninth month in the first year of Koan (1278)

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 3, page 285.


  1. Kan: See P. 71, n. i.
  2. Lotus Sutra: Here, a reference to the Gohonzon.
  3. Yorimoto: Shijo Kingo's given name. His full name and title are Shijo Nakatsukasa Saburb Zaemon-no-j& Yorimoto. Kingo denotes his official position.
  4. Wang Chao-chiin: See P. 247, n. 15.
  5. Nayuta: An Indian numerical unit. The Kusha Ron defines it as one hundred billion (iol I). Other sources define it as 107.
  6. Kyashika: (Skt Kaushika) The name of Taishaku when he was once a Brahman accordin to the Daichido Rot4 but in this context it would seem to indicate hi; wife or favorite consort.
  7. Fujiwara no Saneyori (900-970): A court official. Apparently disappointed in his ho a 0 . t nister ,Yes that his son Yoritada would be p in ed Mi ' of the Left, he bore a grudge against Imperial Prince Kanea ra, the son of the sixtieth Emperor I go did achiev th t . t . 0 .
  8. Fujiwara no Tokihira (871- court official. Though he was Minister of the Left and ranked above the er of the Right, he became jealous of Sugawara no Michizane, another of Emperor Uda, when Michizane was appointed Minister of the Ri e Michizane was a man of superior learning and character. Tokihira Isely accused him to the emperor, and as a Minist advisor Fht, sine result Michizane was banished to the westernmost part ofJapan, where he died in despair.
  9. Ema Nya& Hojo Chikatoki, a son of Hojo Mitsutoki and a great-grandson of Hojo Yoshitaki (the second regent of the Kamakura government). His father MitSLItoki was relegated to a remote place called Ema in Izu because of alle, ed t . R t Hbjo Tokiyori. Along with Mitsutoki's pardon, iCtoreason a inst egen ki ra Ch was a So permitted to serve the government.
  10. Jivaka: Seep. 274, n. 5.
  11. My6shogon: (Skt Shubhavyuha) A king who appears in the My6shogonn5 (27th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. His wife was Lady Jbtoku, and his two sons were Jozb and J6gen. See also P. 27, rL 74.
  12. Shuddhodana: A king of Kapilavastu in northern India and the father of Shakyamuni Buddha. He originally opposed his son's desire to renounce the world, but when Shakyamum returned to Kapilavastu after his awakening, Shuddhodana converted to his teaching.
  13. Dandaka: A mountain in the Gandbara region of the northwestern part of ancient India.
  14. Five men: The five ascetics. See p. 84, n. 20.
  15. Lotus Sutra, chap. io.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Last five hundred years: See Fifth five-hundred-year period in Glossary.
  18. Main force of the enemy: Major heretical teachings of Buddhism, or the doctrines of the Shingon, Nembutsu, Zen and Ritsu sects, which contradict the teachings expounded in the Lotus Sutra. Their doctrines were refuted by Nichiren Daishonin on the basis of the Lotus Sutra.
  19. This refers to the vast campaign of conquest then being waged by the Mongol Empire. The better part of the Eurasian continent was under either the rule or direct influence of the empire, which had been founded by Genghis Khan. His grandson Khubilai Khan launched massive naval attacks against Japan in 1274 and 1281, but did not succeed.
  20. Chi-lin: See p. i8o, n. 299.
  21. According to ancient Chinese legend, when a sage is born, the sole of one foot is marked with the character "two" and the other with the character "five." This is mentioned in the Cheng-i commentary on chapter 63 of the Shih Chi (Records of the Historian).
  22. E)dled twice: See P. 74, n. 7.
  23. Lotus Sutra, chap. io.
  24. Daishin Ajari: A disciple of Ni~hiren Daishonin, who was born in t . Shim5sa Province and is though to nave been a relative of the Soya family. He Mta lit the believers in Kamakura, and took responsibility for guiding them e the Daishonin was in eidle on Sado Island.
  25. Sammi-b6 and Sashiro: See p. 2og, rL iS. Little is known about Soshiro-, but in all likelihood he was a follower ofthe Daishonin who later turned against him.

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