日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2017年 05月 27日

Outline of the LIFE of NICHIREN


                           Japanese version



Nichiren was born in Kominato, Tojo volost, Awa Province on February 16 1222.

The Kamakura Shogunate was established in Japan by Yoritomo Minamoto, and 40 years passed. Mongolia empire was going to conquer Asia by military power in the Orient, and invasion of the Crusade began in the West. It was the times of a global fight.


 Father of Nichiren was called Tayuu Mikuni, and mother was called Umegiku. The details are unclear, but Tayuu Mikuni of father lived as a fisherman, and it is said that he was as work by killing creatures. Nichiren writes it down later. "I, Nichiren, is a child of chandāla (untouchable) family in the seaside of the Tojo Village of Awa country in barbaric Japan of east". (Receiving the Disfavor and Banishment to Sado) On the other hand, it is known that Umegiku of mother was the families of the military commander of the Kamakura era. There is talk that mother was a well-educated lady to make Japanese poems. It is thought that his ability to write ingeniously might have discipline of this mother.


Nichiren called a childhood name Zen’nichimaro. 1233. He climbed to the ancient temple Seichoji which was near Kominato of the hometown in 1233 when he became 12 years old, and he became a pupil there. Nichiren is writing in the letter which addressed to the believers of the Seichōji follows later.

 “I received great wisdom from the living Kokuzo Bodhisattva. I prayed to the bodhisattva. ‘Please make me to a wisest person in Japan.’ The Bodhisattva would think that I was poor. He gave the great jewel as brilliant as the morning star to my right sleeve. Thereafter, while I learn the all Buddhist scriptures, I could grasp superiority and inferiority of eight denominations and the all Buddhist scriptures.” (To the Seichoji Temple public)


Four years later, he became a monk formally at 16 years old, and took the tonsure and changed the name to Zeshobo-Rencho. Zesho means that the person from the sun was born. Rencho vowed that he gave life to Law of Buddha without having child and wife.


But the country of Awa with the Seichoji temple was remote land culturally. Rencho visited various temples that was the center of the Buddhism such as the Yakushi-ji Temple of the Southern capital, the Enryakuji of Hi'ei mountain, the Tsuruoka Hachiman Shrine of Kamakura and he learned the essence of the Law of Buddha. Rencho studied 16 years successively and mastered the Law of Buddha at last. At this time, Nichiren prepared himself that hardship was waiting ahead. And he vowed. "I will be the pillars of Japan. I will be the eyes of Japan. I will be a great ship of Japan."


Rencho returned to Awa of the hometown on April 28 of 1253 and declared the establishment of the true Buddhism. And he changed own name to Nichiren. The place was the Buddha statue hall in the Seichoji temple which Rencho has prayed for making himself to the wisest person in Japan.


"Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo."

Nichiren declared that the people of the whole world (Jambudvipa) could open the gate of attaining Buddhahood by chanting this subject.

 At the same time, he criticised the four sects that prevent the road to Buddhahood of people thoroughly. Nembutsu sect create negative karma that cause the people to fail into the hell of incessant suffering; Zen gives rise to devil's functions; Shingon is an evil teaching that destroys the nation; and Ritsu sect is the traitor. The maxims of four mean this. The maxims of this four, it was the sharp sword against worldly desire for cutting off the fundamental darkness of all creatures. 


But Kagenobu Tojo, land steward of Awa, heard this matter, was trying to arrest Nichiren immediately. Because Kagenobu was a strong believer of Nembutsu, also he was trying to control the Seichji Temple. A difficulty befell Nichiren immediately like as Shakyamuni Buddha preached in the Lotus Sutra "A difficulty befalls you if you spread the great clear Law in the Latter Day of the Law".


Nichiren avoided this difficulty and began propagation in Kamakura of the capital of the politics. Nichiren, to spread the subject of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, began to criticize the other sect severely. Nichiren had continued this activity for 18 years. Although he criticized the other sect, he increased notoriety along with the fame. Also Nichiren taught that his believers should spread the Law according to their ability.As a result, believers to Nichiren were gradually increasing to relatives of the disciples, samurai's colleagues, and monk of the other denomination.


In addition, famine and a contagious disease were raging in those days. The great disaster was frequent, too.

“From late years to recently there have been ominous occurrences in the heavens, and natural disasters on earth. Famine and pestilence rage in all lands beneath the skies and in every corner of the realm. Dead cattle and horses are everywhere, and human skeletons clutter the streets. More than half the population has already perished, and there is not a single person who does not mourn."

Nichiren recorded this tragic situation. He asked the way of solution from all sutras of the Buddha.

The large earthquake occurred in May 1257 in addition. This major earthquake destroyed all buildings of Kamakura. Nichiren finds out that a disaster to continue without a break does not get up accidentally but happened from the bad Law of Nembutsu, he finishes writing 'On Securing the Peace of the Land by Establishing True Teachings of Buddhism.' (Risshō Ankokuron).

In July, 1260, Nichiren submitted this to Tokiyori Hojou who have the regal power through the lay priest Yadoya of the Shogunate official.

At this time, Nichiren advised lay priest Yadoya to stop assistance to Nembutsu and Zen sect which had been recognized officially by shogunate. Furthermore, if it was not adopted, he foretold that an internal war and the invasion of other countries happen. (The first of the Advising the Government to Convert the Whole Nation to the Right Religion)


By the way, Hokibo Nikko became a disciple to Nichiren while writing the Rissho Ankokuron.

Nikko will become the successor of Nichiren later. After this, the young 12-years-old Nikko stands on front of the propagation, as if "obey the form of the shadow to Nichiren."


One month after Nichiren submitted Rissho Ankokuron, believers of Nembutsu sect attacked the thatched hut of Nichiren. (Persecution of Buddhists in the Matsuba Valley). Barely Nichiren was able to escape this difficulty. In addition, the following year, May 1261, the Kamakura shogunate exiled Nichiren to Izu. The reason was because there was the strong believer of Nembutsu sect in the cabinet minister of the shogunate. However, two years later, Tokiyori Hojou of the regent admits that this disposal depended on defamatory words and he pardons Nichiren. The activity of propagation (shakubuku) by Nichiren's disciples become even more active with this.


The vast comet appears in the sky in July of 1264 (the Bunei first year) , and the uneasiness of the world increases still more. November of that year, Nichiren was attacked from Kagenobu Tōjō of the estate steward at Komatsubara of Awa country. (Persecution of Buddhists in Komatsubara). Nichiren was cut his brow and broke his left arm. However, he deepened the conviction still more that himself was the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law because he proved the prediction that great calamity would befall on the votary of the Lotus Sutra.


Then in January 1268 after four years, the incident to bring dark clouds in the future in Japan happens. The envoy of the Mongolia empire arrived at Dazaifu and demanded subordination. Mongolia destroyed Korea with the powerful armaments and invaded to mainland China. Kublai Khan, the emperor of the Yuan dynasty, demanded subordination from Japan in his letter. Further, if rejected this, he threatened to attack japan. The Kamakura Shogunate began preparations for defense in defiance of this threat. As a result, the attack of Mongolia became decisive.


This incident meant the hit of the calamity of the invasion of other countries which Nichiren has foretold in Rissho Ankokuron nine years ago. Nichiren was convinced that this national crisis could not be settled if it was not himself and he sent the letters (11 Letters) to each temple of Kamakura including regent Tokimune Hojo in October of that year, and demanded the debate of public place. This purpose is to gather the Buddhist priests of each denominations in front of a king, and to determine right or wrong of the Law of Buddha. Nichiren claimed that a national crisis would approach finally if Shogunate did not stop faith in evil doctrine.


But Kamakura monks including the shogunate smothered Nichiren's remonstration. They had been afraid that the force of Nichiren become more powerful. The number of believers who are believing in the Lotus Sutra has already reached a one-tenth of Japan.


The Kamakura Shogunate gave Ryokan of the Gokurakuji temple the order to pray for rain in June, 1271 when three years passed from the arrival of the letter of Mongolia. Japan's fields had been hit by drought that year. Gokurakuji Ryokan was the high priest of the shogunate recognition and has criticized Nichiren opposing in a doctrine intensely.

Nichiren offered the confrontation of praying for rain to this Ryokan. Result, Ryokan was defeated miserably at this game and began a plan to entrap Nichiren into for self-protection. Ryokan gained the favor of wives of Shogunate officials and poured obstinate defamatory words. This voice spread out in the Shogunate, and the air which shall investigate Nichiren opened.


On September 10, Nichiren was summoned to Yoritsuna Taira of the chief vassal of the Shogunate. Yoritsuna was overseeing the military and police of shogunate, was the brain truster of the regent Tokimune. Yoritsuna asked about the truth of defamatory words, but because Nichiren had insisted on preparing of Mongolia by the correct Law, Nichiren provoked a rage of Yoritsuna.


On the night of September 12, Yoritsuna Taira attacked the thatched hut of Nichiren. Yoritsuna had a plan to assassinate Nichiren without receiving permission of the regent Tokimune. Nichiren shouted while receiving a wound to the forehead, “You guys are right now trying to overthrow the pillar of Japan!" and foretold the calamity of revolt and the calamity of invasion from foreign country again. (The second of the Advising the Government to Convert the Whole Nation to the Right Religion)


Nichiren was to be beheaded in Kamakura coast called "Tatsunokuchi (dragon's mouth)." (Persecution of Buddhists in Tatsunokuchi)But enforcement of the death penalty was aborted by the luminous object that suddenly appeared between the hours of the Ox and the Tiger (from a.m. 1:00 to a.m.5:00). At that moment, Nichiren wiped away the temporary style of the reincarnation of the Bodhisattva Jogyo who was preached in the Lotus Sutra from the particular omen that happened at the place of desperate situation. At the same time, he expressed that he himself was the Buddha having the intrinsically perfect wisdom and is the origin of the Buddha in the infinite past. (Sweeping the provisional and revealing the origin.)And he declared,“Nichiren, I am master, teacher, father and mother to all the people of Japan.” and showed that he was the Buddha who have the three virtue of master, teacher, parent in the Latter Day of the Law.


Oppression such as exile or the territory confiscation began to the believers by the arrest of Nichiren. Nichiren records that 99 of 100 people of the same discipline abandoned their beliefs. Although regent Tokimune spared the life of Nichiren, he received defamatory words and decided the banishment to the Sado island.


Sado Island was a land of adversity, but Nichiren erected the true object of worship, the Gohonzon, in the situation of the Primordial Buddha in the latter day of the Law.

"Teaching" called the Lotus Sutra of Shakyamuni Buddha was left in the latter day of the Law, but "Practice" to become Buddha became unsuitable for the times and it lost power. Therefore, although all creatures have been practicing Buddhism, they had not been able to acquire the "proof" that they attain Buddhahood. Nichiren conferred the object of worship (Gohonzon) of a scroll on all creatures of the latter day of the Law, and he established a “practice" that all creatures attain Buddhahood by chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the Gohonzon over the future forever.


In January, 1272 of the next year, Nichiren had won in dispute with other sect at Tsukahara of Sado. 'Debate in Tsukahara' Then, Nichiren had predicted to Honma Shigetsura of the agent of constables of Sado, “The civil war will soon occur in Japan." A battle (February disturbance) happened among the whole families of Hojo in Kamakura one month later and gave the Shogunate a shock.


In February, 1273, regent Tokimune Hojo pardoned Nichiren at last. Tokimune made the plan to borrow power of Nichiren, and to raise the fate of the country against the attack of the Mongolia empire. The doctrine of Nichiren who was prohibited was recognized officially by this pardon virtually.


Nichiren returns to Kamakura and, in this April, meets Yoritsuna Tairano who received the intention of Tokimune Hojo. And Nichiren answered a question of Yoritsuna. "It will not certainly spend this year". In other words Nichiren predicted that Mongolia would attack by the end of this year, and he preached it that shogunate must not let the various sects including Shingon say grace . (The third of the Advising the Government to Convert the Whole Nation to the Right Religion)

But the Shogunate was not able to remove existing sects. Nichiren pushed away the Shogunate and lived in seclusion in Mount Minobu of Kai country. He was according to this maxim on the surface “If you remonstrate about a lord three times and were not used, you must live in the forest.” The real intention was to train disciples, and to achieve the purpose of his life.


In October of that year, like he foretold, Mongolia came in to attack. Dazaifu was broken including Iki Tsushima, and the Japan side was the state that looked like defeat. The Mongolia forces went away, but pessimistic information that Japan would be destroyed by the next attack was transmitted.


After secluded life in the mountain of Minobu, Nichiren was not out of the mountain even one step. But he left the writings and erected the Gohonzon and educated disciples and wrote letters to believers incessantly. He poured his best so that the correct Law of the Buddha is transmitted to the far future.

Shijo Kingo of the believer of Kamakura was the strong believer who shared a persecution of Tatsunokuchi, but he was forced apostasy on by a lord. Nichiren continues to send letters of encouragement to Kamakura far away from the thatched hut of Minobu mountain.

Also Ikegami brother who was born in the house of Minister of Construction fell into predicament that had been forced to Nembutsu from father. Nichiren encouraged to withstand and said "Grit your teeth!"


Persecution of Buddhists in Atsuhara happened in September 1279. Nikko of disciple had propagated the Law of Nichiren at Atsuhara of Fuji region extensively. Therefore, the monks of other sect devoted to the Lotus Sutra one after another, this faith went spreading to farmers

 Yoritsuna Taira saw this situation seriously and arrested people of 20 farmers who are believing in the Lotus Sutra and urged the apostasy. Yoritsuna could not arrest Nichiren who were permitted, but he aimed at the farmer socially vulnerable instead. This was the great persecution that believers of Nichiren received the first time. Although farmers were threatened, they refused rigidly, and three brothers including Jinshirō were executed.

Nichiren was impressed by the sight of unnamed farmers carrying through the religious belief, at that time, he felt all the people of the world to embrace the marvelous Law, so he erected the real object of worship (Dai-Gohonzon). it was not erected by mere opportunity or relationship, this great mandala was erected for all creatures of the whole world. Nichiren drew the Dai-gohonzon to the surface of the big camphor tree to withstand to 10, 000 years or end of the future in the latter day of the Law.

This Dai-gohonzon was the purpose in his life that needed time, "I was 27 years" from the declaration of the establishing true Buddhism.

The Dai-gohonzon erected on October 12, 1279 (the second year of Koan Era) is the One Great Secret Law to gather up the Three Great Secret Law (the Essential Object of Worship, the Essential High Sanctuary, the Essential Subject) of the basic theory of the Law of Nichiren, and it is placed in Ho'an Hall of Daisekiji temple of Fuji now.


Nichiren repeatedly preached that Japan would fall by the Mongolia forces.

Mongolia attacked Japan at 140,000 soldiers and 4,400 warships again in 1281.

Mongolia approached Japan on a big boat by the force that conquered China, but met with a typhoon and was exterminated and was defeated.

Nichiren who advocated the destruction of the country to this result had kept silence, but the Buddhist priest of various sects boasted that it was the result of own prayer.

Nichikan of the 26 generation in Fuji Taisekiji temple said, "Because various gods received the commandments from Nichiren of the sect founder, gods helped the country". Nichikan is declaring that the victory of Japan is an achievement of Nichiren. (Commentary of 'Repaying Debts of Gratitude', Part One)


Nichiren who became 61 years old realized that the death was approaching and, in September, 1282, he established the successor in Byakuren Ajari Nikko.

"When the sovereign embraces this Law, you should establish the High Sanctuary of Hommongi Temple to Mount Fuji. You must await the time. This is the thing called religious precepts of the actual Law." and he entrusted Nikko with the propagation throughout world (kosen-rufu) .

And, for all monks to follow himself, he admonished them, "You would suffer Law punishment of nature if you do not place the name of sun when you attach a name to yourself".

After this, Nichiren went down the mountain of Minobu on September 8, and stayed in house of Munenaka Ikegami in Musashi country. And in spite of the disease, he lectured the Risshō-Ankokuron to disciples.

And October 8, he appointed six monks of becoming the leader between disciple, then he entered the nirvana at Ikegami house at the time of dragon (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.)October 13.


Nikko of the successor has protected Buddhism of Nichiren as a administrator of the Kudoo temple of Mount Minobu after death of Nichiren during six years, but Sanenaga Hakii of the lord of a manor who should protect Nikko during this period committed four slanders of the Law. Hakiri had erected the Buddha statue, and worshiped at the Shinto shrine, and held the service for slandering of the Law and had built the hall of Nembutsu.Furthermore, Nikou, one of the six monks, had agreed this slander, so slandering of the Law in Minobu Mountain has spread.

Nikko cannot stay there anymore if the landowner of Minobu do not hear it even if he is stained with slandering of the Law and is remonstrated. 1288 December, brokenhearted Nikko went away the Minobu Mountain which became the land of slander. And 1290 after two years, Nikko accepted a donated land from Tokimitsu Nanjo who was a strong believer receiving discipline of Nichiren for two generations, founded the Fuji Taisekiji Temple in Suruga and placed Dai-gohonzon here. Nikko has continued defending the Law principles of sect founder Nichiren in the land of this Ueno for forty three years.


Nikko, became 88 years old, entrusts Nichimoku who is the best disciple for after his death.

That content was that Nichimoku must hang Dai-Gohonzon of the essential sanctuary which was erected by teacher Nichiren to the Hommonzi temple in dawn of the kosen-ruhu. And Nikko said like teacher Nichiren."Nichimoku would manage Taisekiji Temple including the Holy Hall and the cemetery. He maintain the premises and conduct gongyo (Buddhist religious service) and should await the time of kosen ruhu. "

And the following year, he has left 26 religious precepts to future disciples and believers for kosen-rufu and the rescue of ten thousand years and left the world.

"Fuji style should not be different in the least from the propagation which the former teacher performed.”

"In our denomination, you dye sublime writings into your soul and convey the supreme theory from a teacher, and should hear Tientai if there is spare time."

"Teacher" means Nichiren." The sublime teachings " signify the one which had been written by Nichiren. Precepts of these 26 are being defended in Fuji Taisekiji Temple now firmly.


Nichimoku of the successor did a trip to submit the written opinion to the Imperial Court of Kyoto in November of the year in which Nikko died. It is said to have been the Kokka Kangyo (advising the government to convert the whole nation to the right religion) of the 42nd in his life. But he was in the middle of trip, entered nirvana in the town of Tarui in Mino country. He was seventy four years old.

Nichimoku talked regret becoming the end at deathbed and he said with a will that if there was the person who accomplished a claim to the government on behalf of him, that person would be the second coming of Nichimoku and he left the world.


The spirit spreading Law over three generations was inherited ceaselessly in this way. The Dai-Gohonzon was inherited to Nikko from Nichiren, then was handed down to Nichimoku from Nikko. The Nichiren believer of the same discipline who assumes this Dai-gohonzon the root of the faith is amounting to more than 50 countries in the world now.



continued Life of Nichiren Part 1



by johsei1129 | 2017-05-27 18:42 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Comments(0)


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