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Hell is the Land of Tranquil Light


An ancient Chinese maxim states: "If a sage admonishes his sovereign three times and still is not heeded, he should depart the country." In April of 1274, after winning his release from exile on Sado Island, Nichiren Daishonin remonstrated with the Kamakura government for the third time. He passionately declared to the government leaders that the primary cause for the people's sufferings lay in their belief in misleading religions. As with the first two remonstrations -when he presented the "Rissho Ankoku Ron" in 1260, and at the time of his arrest before the Tatsunokuchi Persecution in 1271 - his words were ignored. Nichiren Daishonin decided that he had done all that he could in Kamakura, where priests, officials and many of the people refused to heed his warning. Convinced that the government would not soon recognize its errors, he left Kamakura on May 12, 1274, and settled about thirty kilometers west of Mount Fuji at a small dwelling at the base of Mount Minobu.

His life at Minobu was far from easy. He lived in an out-of-the-way place, covered with snow in winter and tall weeds in summer. Often he ran short of food and clothing. His chief occupation in retirement was to prepare for the future by inscribing the Dai-Gohonzon and training disciples who could carry on his teachings.

On July 11, 1274, Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter and addressed it to the mother of Nanjo Tokimitsu. Tokimitsu was the lord of Ueno District, Suruga Province. Also called Lord Ueno, he is famous in the annals of Nichiren Shoshu as the donor of the land for the Head Temple, Taiseki-ji. Tokimitsu's mother staunchly upheld her faith and single-handedly raised her nine children, following the death of her husband in 1265. Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter in gratitude for offerings she had made for the repose of her late husband.

In this letter, Nichiren Daishonin states that when one embraces the Lotus Sutra, he will be able to realize the pure land inherent within himself, that is, the supreme state of Buddhahood. He encourages Lady Ueno by saying that her late husband must certainly have attained Buddhahood as a votary of the Lotus Sutra. He also explains the profound principle of sokushin jobutsu, or attaining enlightenment as you are.

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