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Reply to Lady Onichi-nyo

I had already received the three hundred coins that you sent by the hand of Ben-bo [Nissho], and now you have again sent me two hundred coins.

The Buddha, being truly worthy of respect, never judges by the size of one’s offerings. In the past, Tokusho Doji offered a mudpie to the Buddha, and was reborn as King Ashoka and ruled over all of Jambudvipa. A poor woman cut off her hair and sold it to buy oil [for the Buddha],1 and not even the winds sweeping down from Mount Sumeru could extinguish the flame of the lamp fed by this oil. Accordingly, your offerings of two and three strings of coins are far greater even than those made by one who, ruling over the country of Japan, offers the entire nation and a pagoda he has constructed that is adorned with the seven kinds of treasures and that towers as high as the Trayastrimsha heaven.

A single character of the Lotus Sutra is like the great earth, which gives rise to all things. A single character is like the great ocean, which contains the water from all rivers. A single character is like the sun and moon, which illuminate the four quarters.

This single character changes and becomes the moon. The moon changes and becomes a Buddha? Rice plants change and become seedlings. Seedlings change and become stalks. Stalks change and become rice. Rice changes and becomes a person. And a person changes and becomes a Buddha. A woman changes and becomes the single character myo. The character myo changes and becomes Shakyamuni Buddha seated on a lotus pedestal.2 Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

With my deep respect,

To Lady Onichi


  1. This story appears in the Ajaseajuketsu (Prophecy of Buddhahood for King Ajatashatru) Sutra. The version recounted here is different in some particulars. According to the sutra, an old woman in Magadha had always desired to make an offering to the Buddha but could not fulfill her wish because of her poverty. one day she learned that King Ajatashatru was donating a great quantity of oil to the Buddha for lamps. Deeply impressed, she went out begging but gained only enough money to buy oil for a single lamp. Then, though the lamps offered by King Ajatashatru all eventually went Out, her lamp alone continued to burn throughout the night.
  2. "This single character... becomes a Buddha": The translation of this passage is based on editing of the original Japanese done after the publication of the Gosho Zenshu, and therefore differs somewhat from the Gosho Zenshu text.

 Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 7.

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