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The Swords of Good and Evil

Nichiren is the most perverse person in Japan. The reason is this: Nichiren proclaims that because the people revere Amida, Dainichi, Yakushi and other Buddhas even more than their own parents and lords, the three calamities and seven disasters are occurring in greater magnitude than in any previous age, and natural disasters are now more terrible than ever. I am forever reminding them that they will not only ruin themselves and destroy the country in this lifetime, but will fall into the depths of hell in the next. Hence I have suffered this persecution. I might be compared to a moth that flies into a flame or a mouse that dashes in front of a cat. I am like an animal that knows it is in danger and yet pays no heed. But I risk my life as a matter of conscious choice; therefore I, Nichiren, am a perverse person.

It is also true that stones are split open for their hidden gems, deer are slain for the hides and meat, fish are caught for their flavor, the kingfisher is killed for its gorgeous feathers, and a beautiful woman is envied for her beauty. This is the case with Nichiren. Because he is the votary of the Lotus Sutra, he has suffered all manner of persecution at the hands of the three powerful enemies. How wondrous that you have, nonetheless, become a disciple of such a person! There must be some profound reason for our relationship. Make every possible effort to deepen your faith and reach the pure land of Eagle Peak.

I have received the two swords1 - a long and a short one--to be offered in prayer. The long sword must have been made by a renowned swordsmith. It is fully equal to the celebrated swords Amakuni, Onikiri and Yatsurugi,2 or to those famous Chinese swords Kan-chiang and Mo-yeh.3 You have offered this sword to the Lotus Sutra. While you wore it at your side, it was an evil sword, but now that it has been offered to the Buddha, it has become a sword for good, just like a demon who professes Buddhism. How mystic!

In the next life you should use this sword as your walking stick. The Lotus Sutra is the staff which helps all Buddhas of the three existences as they enter upon the path to enlightenment. However, you should rely upon Nichiren as your staff. When one uses a staff, he will not fall on treacherous mountain paths or rough roads, and when led by the hand, he will never stumble. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will be your unbreakable staff to take you safely over the mountains of death. Shakyamuni and Taho Buddhas as well as the Four Bodhisattvas headed by Jogyo will lead you by the hand on your journey. Should Nichiren die before you, I will come to meet you at the moment of your death. If you should die before I do, I will be sure to tell King Emma everything about you. All that I tell you is true. According to the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren is the guide on the difficult road to enlightenment. Devote yourself single-mindedly to faith with the aim of reaching Eagle Peak.

Money serves various purposes according to our needs. The same is true of the Lotus Sutra. It will be a lantern in the dark or a boat at a crossing. At times it will be water, and at other times, fire. This being so, the Lotus Sutra assures us of "peace and security in this life and good circumstances in the next."4

Of all the many places in Japan, Nichiren was born in the province of Awa. It is said that when the Sun Goddess discovered the land of Japan, she first dwelt in Awa Province. The shrine of the Sun Goddess stands in Awa. This goddess is the merciful parent of the entire nation, so this province must be of great significance. What destiny caused Nichiren to be born in this same province? No reward could be greater. That is not the main point of this letter, so I will not go into further detail. But you should think about what I mean.

I will pray to the gods with all my heart. Hold fast to your faith so that your wish will be fulfilled. Tell your wife all that I have said.

With my deep respect,

The twenty-first day of the second month.

  1. Two swords: A sword at Taiseki-ji, the head temple of Nichiren Shoshu, made by the renowned swordsmith, Munechika, is thought to be one of the two offered by Yagenta.
  2. Amakuni, Onikiri and Yatsurugi: All famous Japanese swords. The Amakuni sword was made by a swordsmith of the same name during the Nara period (710-784). The Onikiri sword was a cherished possession of the Minamoto clan, and the Yatsurugi sword is the sacred sword of Yatsurugi Shrine.
  3. Kan-chiang and Mo-yeh: A husband and wife who together forged two superb swords which were named after them.
  4. Lotus Sutra, chap. 5.

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin; Vol. 1, p. 123-125.

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