I have received the various gifts that you were kind enough to send.
The roots of good fortune are not determined by whether ones offerings are large or small. Depending upon the country, the person and the time, the merit gained will differ in various ways. For example, even if one dries dung, breaks it up, passes it through a sieve and forms it into the likeness of a sandalwood tree, or of a woman, a heavenly goddess or a Buddha, when it is burned, it will give off no other fragrance but the stink of dung. Similarly, if one kills or robs others and takes from them the first fruits of the harvest, then even if one should offer ones gains with the intent of acquiring merit and good fortune, that offering will instead become an evil deed.
The wealthy man Sudatta was the richest person in all of India. He built the Jetavana monastery as an offering and invited the Buddha there. Yet his monastery burned down and not a trace of it remained. This rich man originally gained his wealth by catching and selling fish, thus depriving them of life, and therefore in the end this monastery disappeared.
In the same way, the donations made by people today may seem impressive, but they are offerings of fiefs won in battle or of wealth gained by heedlessly oppressing the people. Though these gifts appear to be great acts of devotion to the Buddha, not only will the people who offer them fail to attain Buddhahood, but their contributions will vanish without a trace.
Again, even if one does no harm to others and honestly strives to make offerings, there will be cases in which one does not attain Buddhahood. To illustrate, if one plants good seed in a bad field, the seed itself will be ruined, and one will in turn suffer loss. Even if one is sincere, if the person to whom one makes offerings is evil those offerings will fail to produce benefit; rather, they will cause one to fall into the evil paths.
Your own offerings were not made to me, Nichiren, but to the Lotus Sutra. Therefore we must leave it to Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha and all the other Buddhas of the ten directions [to fathom the greatness of] the resulting benefits.
I have written to you about various events of this past year, but I must say that I do not recall at any time in my life such cold as we are now experiencing. The snow has fallen and piled up in great quantity. Even those with a strong resolve find it difficult to visit me. The fact that you have sent a messenger to me here shows that yours is certainly no ordinary sincerity!
With my deep respect,
The twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month
Reply to Kubo-no-ama Gozen
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 7.
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