Nichiren, was once of that opinion myself. But the passage from the sutra [that I have just quoted] does not permit such a view. Suppose that a woman who had been the consort of a great king and had become pregnant with his seed should then turn round and marry a man of common stature. In such a case, the seed of the king and the seed of the commoner would become mixed together, and as a result, the aid and assistance of heaven and the protection of the patron deities2 would be withdrawn, and the kingdom would face ruin. The child born from two such fathers would be neither a king nor a commoner, but someone who belongs not to the human realm.
This is one of the most important points in the Lotus Sutra. The doctrine of the sowing of the seed and its maturing and harvesting3 is the very heart and core of the Lotus Sutra. All the Buddhas of the three existences and the ten directions have invariably attained Buddhahood through the seeds represented by the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. The words Namu Amida Butsu are not the seeds of Buddhahood, nor can the mantras or the five precepts act as such seeds. One must be perfectly clear about this point, because this is the fault referred to as being mixed.
If a vessel is free of these four faults of overturning, leaking, being defiled, and being mixed, then it can be called a perfect vessel. If the embankments around a moat do not leak, then the water will never escape from the moat. And if the mind of faith is perfect, then the water of wisdom, the great impartial wisdom, will never dry up.
Now these vessels that you have sent me are sturdy and thick, and in addition they are coated with pure lacquer. They symbolize the firmness and sturdiness of the power of your faith in the Lotus Sutra.
It is said that the heavenly king
Vaishravana presented four bowls to the Buddha, and as a result, became known as the foremost deity of good fortune in all the four continents of the world. Lady Pure Virtue presented eighty-four thousand bowls as an offering to the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound King, and as a result, became Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound. And now, since you have presented these thirty vessels and sixty plates, is there any doubt that you will become a Buddha?
The country of Japan is known by ten different names, such as Fuso, Yamato, Mizuho, and Akitsushima. In addition, it may be described as a country of sixty-six provinces and two islands that measures over three thousand ri in length and varies in width from a hundred ri to five hundred ri. It is divided into the five regions around the capital and the seven marches, and it has 586 districts and 3,729 villages. In terms of fields it includes 11,120 cho of superior lands and 885,567 cho of other kinds. The population numbers 4,989,658 persons. There are 3,132 shrines and 11,037 temples. Men number 1,994,828 and women 2,994,830.
Among all these men, Nichiren alone deserves to be regarded as the foremost. In what sense is he the foremost?? He is foremost in being hated by men and women. The reason is that, although the provinces of Japan are numerous and their inhabitants are likewise numerous, they are alike at heart and their mouths all utter Namu Amida Butsu. They look upon Amida Buddha as their object of devotion and, hating all the other nine directions, long only for the west.4 Thus those who practice the Lotus Sutra, those who carry out True Word practices, those who observe the precepts, those who are wise, and those who are foolish all look upon these practices as secondary and upon the Nembutsu as their primary practice, and, hoping in this way to expiate their offenses, they