islands,8 in the palm of his hand, and people bowed before him as plants and trees bow before a great wind.
But he became arrogant and puffed up with pride and, in the end, treated the gods and Buddhas with contempt and attempted to control the shrine keepers and the Buddhist priests. As a result, he aroused the enmity of the priests of Mount Hiei and of the seven major temples of Nara. Eventually, on the twenty-second day of the twelfth month in the fourth year of the Jisho era (1180), he went so far as to burn down two of those seven temples, Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji.
The retribution for this grave offense soon fell upon the person of the grand minister and lay priest himself. In the following year, the first year of the Yowa era, on the fourth day of the intercalary second month, [having contracted a fever] he began to burn like a piece of charcoal, his body the fuel, his face the flames. In the end, tongues of flame shot out from his body, and he perished from the heat.
The results of his grave offense then fell upon his second son, Munemori. Munemori was thought to have drowned in the western sea [at the battle of Dannoura], but he came floating up on the eastern horizon, where he was captured, bound, and forced to kneel in the presence of the general of the right, Minamoto no Yoritomo.
Meanwhile, Kiyomoris third son, Tomomori, threw himself into the sea and ended up as the excrement of fish. And his fourth son, Shigehira,9 was taken captive and bound and, after having been dragged first through Kyoto and then through Kamakura, was in the end handed over to the seven major temples of Nara. There a great multitude of a hundred thousand temple followers gathered and, declaring him to be an enemy of their Buddha, one by one slashed him with swords.
The greatest evil among evils pro
duces consequences that not only affect the perpetrators personally but extend to their sons, their grandsons, and so on down to the seventh generation. And the same is true of the greatest good among good.
The Venerable Maudgalyayana put his faith in the Lotus Sutra, which is the greatest good there is, and thus not only did he himself attain Buddhahood, but his father and mother did so as well. And, amazing as it may seem, all the fathers and mothers of the preceding seven generations and the seven generations that followed, indeed, of countless lifetimes before and after, were able to become Buddhas. In addition, all their sons, their wives or husbands, their retainers, supporters, and countless other persons not only were enabled to escape from the three evil paths, but all attained the first stage of security and then Buddhahood, the stage of perfect enlightenment.
Therefore, it is said in the third volume of the Lotus Sutra, We beg that the merit gained through these gifts may be spread far and wide to everyone, so that we and other living beings all together may attain the Buddha way.10
With all this in mind, I note that you have a grandson, Jibu-bo, who is a Buddhist priest. This priest does not uphold the precepts and is lacking in wisdom. He does not observe a single one of the two hundred and fifty precepts or a single one of the three thousand rules of conduct. In his lack of wisdom he is in a class with oxen or horses, and because of his failure to observe the rules of conduct he resembles a monkey. But he reveres Shakyamuni Buddha and puts his faith in the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Hence he is like a snake that grips a jewel in its mouth, or a dragon that bears sacred relics on its head.11 A wisteria vine, by twining around a pine, may climb a thousand fathoms into the air; and a