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The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin

The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin - Page 946

THE RECEIPT OF NEW FIEFS

cartloads of offerings to the Buddha every day for the space of several years, and because of the merit he himself would later gain by becoming a supporter of the Lotus Sutra, it was difficult for heaven to abandon him, and the earth remained whole. In the end, he avoided falling into hell and became a Buddha.

Your case is similar to his. You were forsaken by your brothers, resented by your fellow samurai, persecuted by the scions of the clan, and hated by people throughout Japan. Yet, on the twelfth day of the ninth month in the eighth year of Bun’ei (1271), between the hours of the rat and the ox (11:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M.),4 when I had incurred the wrath of the government authorities, you accompanied me from Kamakura to Echi in Sagami Province, holding fast to my horse’s reins. Since you thus proved yourself to be the foremost ally of the Lotus Sutra in all of Jambudvipa, no doubt the heavenly gods Brahma and Shakra have found it difficult to forsake you.

The same is true of your attaining Buddhahood. No matter what grave offenses you might have committed, because you did not turn against the Lotus Sutra, but showed your devotion by accompanying me, you will surely become a Buddha. Yours is like the case of King Possessor of Virtue, who gave his life to save the monk Realization of Virtue and became Shakyamuni Buddha. Faith in the Lotus Sutra

acts as a prayer [to attain Buddhahood]. Strengthen your resolve to seek the way all the more and achieve Buddhahood in this lifetime.

No more gratifying thing has ever happened to any member of your lord’s clan, whether priest or layman. When I say this, it may seem as if it is a desire of the present existence, but for ordinary people, that too is only natural, and moreover, a way exists to become a Buddha even without eradicating desires. Explaining the heart of the Lotus Sutra, the Universal Worthy Sutra says, “Without either cutting off earthly desires or separating themselves from the five desires . . .”5 And the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight reads, “Earthly desires are enlightenment; the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana.” Explaining how the Lotus Sutra surpasses all the rest of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings, Bodhisattva Nagarjuna’s Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom says, “[The Lotus Sutra is] like a great physician who can change poison into medicine.” This passage means that while a lesser physician cures illness with medicine, a great physician cures grave illness with virulent poison.

Nichiren

The tenth month of the first year of Koan (1278), cyclical sign tsuchinoe-tora

Reply to Shijo Kingo



Background

This letter was written at Minobu to Shijo Kingo. Lord Ema, whom Shijo Kingo served, had for some time opposed his retainer’s belief in the Lotus Sutra and even harassed him by, for example, threatening to transfer him to a

remote province unless he abandoned his faith. Kingo’s fellow samurai also treated him with hostility, and for a time it appeared that he might be ousted from the clan and lose his livelihood altogether. Kingo endured several years of