have thought. But without your having awakened, already one year has given way to the next. You do not know how long you will have to wait. You must feel that, if only he had left word where you could go to meet him, then without wings, you would soar to the heavens, or without a boat, you would cross over to China. If you heard that he was in the bowels of the earth, then how could you fail to dig into the ground?
And yet there is a way to meet him readily. With Shakyamuni Buddha as your guide, you can go to meet him in the pure land of Eagle Peak. The sutra states, If there are those who hear the Law, then not a one will fail to attain Buddhahood.7 This means that, even
if one were to point at the earth and miss it, even if the sun and moon should fall to the ground, even if an age should come when the tides cease to ebb and flow, or even if flowers should not turn to fruit in summer, it could never happen that a woman who chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo would fail to be reunited with her beloved child. Continue in your devotion to faith, and bring this about quickly!
With my deep respect,
The thirteenth day of the first month
Reply to the lay nun Ueno
This letter was written at Minobu in the first month of the fourth year of Koan (1281), the year before the Daishonins death, to the lay nun Ueno, the widowed mother of Nanjo Tokimitsu.
The title of this letter is taken from the first item on the list of the lay nun Uenos offerings. According to the lunar calendar, New Years Day fell somewhere between January 21 and February 19. It was celebrated as the start of spring.
This was the first New Years Day since Nanjo Shichiro Goro, the lay nuns youngest child, had died about
four months earlier at the age of sixteen. The Daishonin sensed that, despite her outward expressions of good cheer, the joy of the new season would still be overshadowed by her grief. He expresses his profound sympathy for her loss, a loss made sadder still by its contrast with the emergence of new life at the beginning of spring. Explaining that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the eternal Mystic Law, transcends birth and death, he encourages the lay nun to strengthen her faith and manifest the state of Buddhahood, so that she can quickly be reunited with her son.
1. According to the lunar calendar, the first month is the beginning of spring.
2. Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (fl. c. 685 ), one of Japans most outstanding poets. The Daishonin alludes here to a traditional association between poetry and cherry blossoms, which formed the theme of many
verses by both Hitomaro and other classical poets.
3. A paraphrase of a passage in the Contemplation on the Mind-Ground Sutra. The sutra passage mentioned in the next paragraph, which says that children are a treasure, is taken from the same text.