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A Father Takes Faith

As I had not heard from you in a long time, I was feeling quite anxious. But nothing could be more wonderful than this matter of Tayu-no-sakan and yourself. It is indeed marvelous!

It is the usual way of things that when the latter age begins, sages and worthy men all vanish, and only slanderers, flatterers, smiling backstabbers and those of crooked principles fill the land. So we read in the sutras. To illustrate, as the water dries up, [fish in] the pond will be disturbed, and when the wind blows, the sea will not remain calm. We also read that in the latter age, because droughts, epidemics and great rains and winds come in succession, even the large-hearted become narrow, and even those who seek the Way lapse into erroneous views. This being the case, the sutras tell us, father and mother, husband and wife, and elder brother and younger brother will be pitted against one another, like a hunter and a deer, a cat and a mouse, or a hawk and a pheasant--to say nothing of quarrels among strangers. Ryokan and other priests, inspired by devils, deceived your father Saemon-no-tayu and attempted to destroy the two of you, but you yourself proved to be wise and heeded my admonition. Therefore, just as two wheels support a cart or two legs carry a person, as two wings enable a bird to fly or as the sun and moon aid all living beings, the efforts of you two brothers have led your father to take faith in the Lotus Sutra. It is solely on account of you, Hyoe-no-sakan, that matters have worked out in this way.

According to the teachings of the true sutra, when the world enters the latter age and Buddhism falls into complete disorder, a great sage will appear in the world. For example, the pine tree, which withstands the frost, is called the monarch of trees, and the chrysanthemum, which continues to bloom after other plants have withered, is known as a sacred plant. When the world is at peace, worthy men do not become apparent, but when the age is in turmoil, both sages and fools are revealed for what they are. How pitiful the Hei no Saemon and the lord of Sagami failed to heed me, Nichiren! If they had, they would surely not have beheaded the envoys from the Mongol nation who arrived before last year. No doubt they regret it now.

The eighty-first sovereign, the great ruler known as Emperor Antoku, commissioned several hundred Shingon teachers, including the Tendai chief priest Myoun, to offer prayers in an attempt to subdue Minamoto no Yoritomo, the general of the right. But their curses "returned to their originators," as the sutra says. Myoun was beheaded by Yoshinaka, and Emperor Antoku was drowned in the western sea. The eighty-second, eighty-third and eighty-fourth sovereigns, the tonsured Retired Emperor of Oki, the Retired Emperor of Awa and the Retired Emperor of Sado, as well as the reigning emperor--these four rulers had the Tendai chief priest and Administrator of Monks Jien, as well as more than forty other eminent monks, including the Omuro and others of the Mii-dera, offer prayers to subdue the Taira general Yoshitoki. But again, the curses "returned to their originators," and these four rulers were banished to remote islands.

Concerning this great evil teaching [of Shingon]: The three Great Teachers--Kobo, Jikaku and Chisho--repudiated Shakyamuni's golden words that designate the Lotus Sutra as supreme, reading them to mean that the Lotus Sutra ranks second or third and that the Dainichi Sutra is the highest. Because the above-mentioned emperors placed their trust in these distorted views, they destroyed both the nation and themselves in this life and fell into the hell of incessant suffering in the next.

This next special prayer ritual will be the third. Among my disciples, those who have passed away are probably now observing this with the Buddha's eye. And you who have been spared, watch with your mortal eyes! The ruler and other high-ranking officials will be carried off to a foreign country, and those people who conducted the prayer ritual will die insane, or flee to other provinces, or hide themselves in the mountains and forests. The messenger of the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni has twice been paraded through the street, and his disciples have been thrown into prison, killed, injured or driven from the provinces where they were living. Therefore, the guilt of those offenses will surely extend to each inhabitant of those provinces. For example, many will be afflicted with white leprosy, black leprosy or all manner of other terribly grave illnesses. My disciples should understand this matter thoroughly.

With my deep respect,

The ninth day of the ninth month

This letter is specifically intended for Hyoe-no-Sakan. It should also be shown to all my disciples in general. Do not disclose its contents to others.

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 6, page 239.

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