Letter to Ko-no-ama Gozen
I have received three hundred mon of coins from the wife of Abutsu-bo. Since both of you are of the same
mind, have someone read this letter to you and listen to it together.
I have also received the unlined summer robe you sent to me here in the recesses of this mountain in Hakiri
Village, Kai Province, all the way from the province of Sado where you live. The Hosshi chapter in the fourth volume of the
Lotus Sutra states: "If there is one who, in his quest for the Buddha Way, shall throughout one kalpa join his palms and in
my presence praise me with countless verses, because of this praise of the Buddha he will gain immeasurable benefit. But one
who praises the bearers of this sutra will have blessings surpassing even that." This means that the benefit of making offerings
to a votary of the Lotus Sutra in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law surpasses that of serving in all sincerity as
noble a Buddha as Shakyamuni with one's body, mouth and mind for an entire medium kalpa. Although this may seem unbelievable,
you should not doubt it, because such are the Buddha's golden words.
The Great Teacher Miao-lo further clarifies this passage from the sutra by saying, "If there is one who
troubles [a preacher of the Dharma], then his head will be split into seven pieces; if there is one who makes offerings [to
the preacher], his good fortune will surpass that of the ten honorable titles." In other words, the benefit of making offerings
to a votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law exceeds that of making offerings to a Buddha endowed with the
ten honorable titles. On the other hand, one who persecutes a votary of the Lotus Sutra in the impure age will have his head
broken into seven pieces.
I, Nichiren, am the most extraordinary person in Japan. The reason I say so is this. The seven reigns of
heavenly gods I will set aside, and the five reigns of earthly gods are beyond my knowledge, but throughout the ninety reigns
from the time of the first human emperor Jimmu until the present, or during the more than seven hundred years since the reign
of Emperor Kimmei [when Buddhism was introduced to this country], no one has ever been so universally hated as Nichiren on
account of either secular or Buddhist matters. Mononobe no Moriya burnt down temples and pagodas, and Kiyomori Nyudo had Todai-ji
and Kofuku-ji temples destroyed, but the people of their clans did not harbor hatred toward them. Masakado and Sadato rebelled
against the imperial court, and the Great Teacher Dengyo incurred antagonism from the priests of the seven major temples of
Nara, but these men were not hated by priests, nuns, laymen and laywomen throughout the whole of Japan. In my case, however,
parents, brothers, teachers and fellow priests - every single person from the ruler on down to the common people - treat me
as if I were their parents' enemy, and show me more hostility than if I were a rebel or a robber.
Thus, at times I have been vilified by several hundred people; and at other times, besieged by several thousand,
I have been attacked with swords and staves. I have been driven from my residence and banished from my province. Finally I
twice incurred the regent's displeasure, being exiled once to Izu Province and again to Sado Island. When I was banished to
Sado in the northern sea, I had neither provisions to sustain me nor even clothes as coarse as those made of wisteria vines
to cover my body. The people there, both priests and laity, hated me even more than did the men and women of Sagami Province.
Abandoned in the wilderness and exposed to the snow, I sustained my life by eating grass.
I felt as though I were personally experiencing the sufferings of Su Wu, who survived by eating snow while
living in captivity in the land of the northern barbarians for nineteen years, or of Li Ling, who was imprisoned in a rocky
cave on the shore of the northern sea for six years. I underwent this ordeal not because of any fault of my own but solely
because of my desire to save all the people of Japan.
However, while I was in exile there, you and your husband Ko Nyudo, avoiding the eyes of others, brought
me food by night. You were ready to give your lives for my sake without fearing punishment from the provincial officials.
Therefore, although life in Sado was harsh, I was loath to leave, feeling as if my heart were being left behind, and I seemed
to be pulled back with each step I took.
I wonder what karmic bonds we formed in the past. Just when I was thinking how mysterious it was, you sent
your most precious husband as your messenger to this distant place. I thought it must be a dream or an illusion. Even though
I cannot see you, I am convinced that your heart remains here with me. Whenever you yearn for me, Nichiren, look toward the
sun which rises in the morning and the moon which appears in the evening. I will invariably be reflected in the sun and the
moon. In the next life, let us meet in the pure land of Eagle Peak. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The sixteenth day of the sixth month