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The Royal Palace

I have received one and a half kan1 of coins. I am pleased that you informed me in detail about the fire that destroyed Gokuraku-ji temple.2 Conflagration is mentioned in the Ninno Sutra as the third, and in the Lotus Sutra as the first, of seven disasters.3

No sword can cut the air, and no fire can burn water. Similarly, no fire can harm a sage, a worthy man, a man of good fortune or a man of wisdom. The walled city of Rajagriha4 in ancient India is said to have enclosed 900,000 dwellings but was destroyed by big fires which broke out on seven occasions. When the king saw the people about to flee the city in despair, his grief knew no bounds. At that time a wise man advised him, saying: "Conflagration, as one of the seven disasters, occurs when a sage has left the country and the good fortune of the king has been exhausted. In this case, however, even though successive fires have destroyed the houses of the populace, they have never once engulfed the royal palace. This indicates that the fault lies not with the king but with the people. Therefore, if you name the entire city in which they dwell ‘the royal palace,’ the god of fire will be afraid to burn their houses." The king thought this advice reasonable and named the city Rajagriha (Royal Palace), and fire never broke out there afterwards. This story teaches us that fire cannot destroy a man of great good fortune.

In this country, however, the shogun’s palace has just burnt down, a sign that the good fortune of Japan is about to be exhausted. Calamities are visiting this country with growing frequency, probably because priests steeped in slander are offering up fervent prayers in an attempt to subdue me, Nichiren.

A name reveals the essence of a thing. The slanderous "saint," Ryoko-bo5 (Priest Double-fire), is the teacher of all people, high and low, who live in Kamakura. One of the two fires claimed him as its victim, reducing Gokuraku-ji (Paradise Temple) to Jigoku-ji (Hell Temple). The other fire leaped over to devour the ruler’s palace.

Furthermore, this double fire has not only ravaged the country in this life but foretells that the teacher of all Japan and his disciples shall in the next life fall into the hell of incessant suffering and burn in its karmic flames. The ignorant priests did not heed the words of a man of great wisdom and this disaster came about as a result. How pitiful! I have already written to you about this.

Incidentally, I pastured the mare you gave me, and she has found a mate and given birth to a chestnut-colored colt. What a wonderful horse! I want you to see it by all means.

I have heard a great deal about Nagoe-no-ama6 here too. I was told that someone happened to meet her and took her soundly to task for praising [T’ien-t’ai’s] theoretical doctrine.

As for your wife’s prayers, I suspect that her faith may be weak, even though she does not doubt the Lotus Sutra. I have found that even those who appear to believe just as the sutra teaches may not actually have strong faith, as you are already well aware. Moreover, one could more easily catch the wind than fathom a woman’s mind. The fact that Nichigen-nyo’s prayers have gone unanswered is like a strong bow with a weak bowstring or a fine sword in the hands of a coward. It is in no sense the fault of the Lotus Sutra. Explain to her thoroughly that she herself should discard the Nembutsu and Ritsu teachings once and for all, and to the full extent of her ability teach others to do the same, just as you yourself have carried out your faith steadfastly even despite others’ hatred. No matter how much she may believe in the Lotus Sutra, I doubt that she hates its enemy as much as she would a courtesan.

In all worldly affairs, those who oppose their parents or who disobey their ruler incur the wrath of heaven for their unfilial or disloyal conduct. However, if one’s parent or ruler becomes an enemy of the Lotus Sutra, then disobedience is an act of filial piety and repays one’s debt of gratitude to the nation. Therefore, since I first read the Lotus Sutra, I have upheld my faith without faltering, even though my parents implored me with their palms joined to desist, though my teacher disowned me, and the regent twice exiled me7 and nearly put me to death. Because I persevered, there are now people who think my teachings may be true. I may well be the only person in all Japan to disobey sovereign, parents and teacher and yet still receive the protection of the heavenly gods in the end. Watch what will happen in the future. If those priests who abuse me, Nichiren, should pray for the peace of the country, they will only hasten the nation’s ruin. Finally, should the consequences become truly grave, all the Japanese people from the ruler on down to the common people will become slaves of the pigtailed Mongols and have bitter regrets.

Aside from the agony which awaits slanderers in the next life, I have enjoined Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and the Four Heavenly Kings to punish in this life those who have become enemies of the Lotus Sutra, as a warning to the people. You will see by the results of my prediction8 whether I, Nichiren, am the votary of the Lotus Sutra or not.

When I speak in this way, the ruler and others may think I am making threats, but I in no way speak out of hatred. I speak out of profound compassion to let them eradicate in this life the tortures of the hell of incessant suffering into which they are otherwise destined to fall. The Great Teacher Chang-an said: "He makes it possible for the offender to rid himself of evil, and thus he acts like a parent to the offender."9 I, Nichiren, who admonish them for their evil, am father and mother to the ruler and the teacher of all mankind.

There is much more that I would like to say but I will stop here. I appreciate your offerings of one horse load of hulled wheat and ginger.


The twelfth day of the fourth month in the first year of Kenji (1275)

  1. Kan: An old monetary unit consisting of 1000 coins strung together with a cord. The holes in some modern Japanese coins are derived from this tradition.
  2. Gokuraku-ji: A temple of the Shingon-Ritsu sect in Kamakura, built in 12~9 by Hoja Shigetoki. L t H- Nagatold invited Ryokan to act as chief priest, and in 1281 the temple was ignated by Hojo Tokimune as the government's official place of prayer. In 1332 it became affiliated with the imperial court.
  3. Seven disasters: Disasters said to be caused by slander of the True Law. In the Ninno Sutra they are listed as (1) extraordinary chan es of the sun and moon, (2) extraordinary changes of the stars and planets, (3) fires, (4) unseasonable floods, (5) storms, (6) drought and (7) war, including attacks from without and rebellion from within. TL Kann'on (the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra also lists seven disasters from which one can be saved by the power of Bodhisattva Kannom (1) fire, ~2) flood, (3) raksiiaka demons, (4) attack by swords and staves, (5) attack by yaksha and other demons, (6) imprisonment and (7) bandits.
  4. RajagAa: The capital of the kingdom A Magadha, where Kin Bimbisara and his son Ajatashatru lived and Shakyamuni often preached his doctrines. It was one of the largest cities in India in Shakyamuni's time and the center of several new cultural and philosophical movements. Rajagriha is now Rajgir in Bihar.
  5. Ryoka-bo: Reference to Ryokan, chief priest of Gokuraku-ji temple. The Daishonin puns on the name Ryokan and Ryoka, which means "two fires."
  6. Nagoe-no-ama: The wife of the provincial lord of Awa, Hojo Tomotoki (1193-1245). Also called 0-ama. She at first took faith in the Daishonin's Buddhism, but abandoned it out of fear at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution in 1271.
  7. Twice exiled: The Izu Exile imposed on Nichiren Daishonin in from May 1261 to February 1263, and the Sado Exile which lasted from October 1271 through March 1274.
  8. Prediction: The Daishonin's prediction of foreign invasion made in his "Rissho Ankoku Ron" submitted to Hojo Tokiyori in 1260. This prophecy materialized with the attack of the Mongol forces on the southern part of Japan in October 1274 and their continued threats of another invasion.
  9. Nehanwa sho.

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 3, page 71.

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