Reply to Lord Shijo Kingo
- Shijo Kingo-dono Gohenji -
I have received the rice you sent from Tono-oka. I used it as an offering to the priests for the urabon ceremony in the seventh month of this year. Those priests who participated, the assembly gathered at Eagle Peak, the Buddha and the gods must surely have accepted your offering and be rejoicing. Words will not express my appreciation for your unfailing sincerity and for your frequent visits.
In any event, there can be no doubt about your enlightenment in your next life. Above all, I remember how, in the eighth year of the Bun'ei era (1271), when I incurred the displeasure of the authorities and was about to be beheaded at Tatsunokuchi in the province of Sagami, you held on to the reins of my horse, accompanying me barefoot and shedding tears of grief. You were even prepared to commit hara-kiri if my execution were in fact carried out. In what age could I possibly forget it?
And that is not all. Exiled to the island of Sado, buried as I was beneath the snows from the northern sea and exposed to the winds from the northern peaks, it hardly seemed I would survive. Cast away by even my fellows of long standing, I thought that I could no more return to my birthplace than a stone on the bottom of the ocean, requiring the strength of a thousand men to move it, could float to the surface. Common mortal that I am, naturally I longed for the people of my native village.
For you, a lay person pressed for time with your service to your lord, to believe in the Lotus Sutra is itself very rare. Moreover, surmounting mountains and rivers and crossing the great blue sea, you came to visit me from afar. How could your resolve be inferior to that of the one who broke open his bones at the City of Fragrances, or of him who threw away his body on the Snow Mountains?
Again, on my part, though there was so little chance of rising again in the world, for some reason or other I was pardoned in the spring of the eleventh year of Bun'ei (1274) and was able to return to Kamakura.
On pondering the meaning of these affairs, I believe I must now be free from the karma of past errors. Once I was almost deprived of life. In the Kocho era I was exiled to the province of Izu, and in the Bun'ei era, to the island of Sado. Because I remonstrated repeatedly with the authorities, I have encountered one persecution after another. Yet, for that very reason, certainly I have already escaped the charge of "betraying Buddhism."
However, when I desired to leave the world for a mountain forest in order to pursue the Way, people voiced differing opinions. Yet, for carefully considered reasons, I came to this mountain in this province, where I have already passed seven springs and autumns.
Setting aside for now the question of my wisdom, in enduring hardship and in suffering injury as an ally of the Lotus Sutra, I surpass even the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai of China and excel even the Great Teacher Dengyo of Japan. This is because the time has made it so. If indeed I am a votary of the Lotus Sutra, then the Lord Shakyamuni of Eagle Peak, Taho Buddha of the Land of Treasure Purity, the Buddhas of the ten directions who are Shakyamuni's emanations, the great bodhisattvas of the essential teaching, the great bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching, Bonten, Taishaku, the dragon deities and the ten demon daughters must all be present in this place. Where there is water, fish dwell. Where there are woods, birds gather. The mountain island of P'eng-lai is filled with jewels, and sandalwood trees grow on Mount Malaya. Gold is to be found in the mountains from which the river Li-shui issues. This place is just the same. It is the place of the "cluster of blessings" where Buddhas and bodhisattvas dwell.
The blessings of the Lotus Sutra which I have so long recited must be vaster even than the sky. Thus, by having come here frequently year after year, it is certain that within this lifetime you will eradicate the karmic hindrances you have accumulated since the beginningless past. You should exert yourself all the more.
The eighth day of the tenth month
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 6, page 307.
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