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日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2020年 04月 28日

Letter to the lord Niike. 新池殿御消息

 

身延山山頂より富士山・富士川を望むFuji and the Fuji River from the summit of Mt. Minobu.


The Teaching That Accords with the Buddha’s Mind

Time of writing: The second day of May in the second year of Koan (1279), aged 57.

■Place of writing: In a thatched hut on Mt.Minobu.

■It is a reply to that Niike Saemon-no-jo, who was an immediate vassal and the land steward of the Kamakura Shogunate, had sent rice about 300 kilograms to Daishonin as a memorial service for the deceased child. Niike Saemon-no-jo lived in Niike, Iwata County, Totomi Province (Present Fukuroi City, Shizuoka Prefecture), and it is believed that he and his wife Nun Niike became believers in Daishonin through the edification of Nikko Shonin. In this book, Daishonin admonished to devote oneself to the Lotus Sutra by writing, " Because the Buddha adjusted himself to the minds of all living beings, the other sutras are preaching in accordance with the minds of others. However, the Lotus Sutra is a teaching in accordance with the Buddha’s mind, because it made all people follow the Buddha's mind. The various other sutras represent the teachings of the Buddha, but if one puts faith in them, then one is simply following the minds of ordinary people and so will never be able to attain Buddhahood. The Lotus Sutra is both the teaching of the Buddha and the Buddha wisdom. If one puts sincere faith in each character of it, and then one will become a Buddha in one’s present form." In addition, faith of Niike Saemon-no-jo was so strong that he received the long letter "Writing to Niike", in February 3 of the third year of Koan era.

■Autograph: No longer exists.


[The text]

 You have kindly sent me three koku of rice. I immediately placed it as an offering in front of the Lotus Sutra, the sole teaching, and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo just once. It is for the sake that your beloved child may “assuredly and without a doubt” be sent to the pure land of Spirit Eagle Mountain.

 The law of cause and effect is like the relationship of flower to fruit. For example, it is like the case of a fire which is no bigger than the light of a firefly. When it sets fire to a thousand-ri plain of dried grass, in the space of an instant burns first one blade of grass, then two, then ten, a hundred, a thousand, and ten thousand, so that the grass and trees over an area of ten or twenty cho will be burned down all at once.

 One hundred years after the passing of the Buddha, there was a king in India known as Ashoka the Great, who reigned over one quarter of the eighty-four thousand states that make up the whole world. He was attended by the dragon kings and summoned the fierce gods to serve him, and, respecting sixty thousand arhats as his teachers, he vowed to erect eighty-four thousand stone stupas and make offerings of a hundred thousand million gold pieces to the Buddha. Though he was such a great king, if we inquire how meritorious virtues from past existences allowed him to achieve such greatness, he had done no more than offer a single mud dumpling to Shakyamuni Buddha.


King Ashoka joins hands with the monks. 僧侶に手を合わせるアショーカ王。


 Shakyamuni Buddha had an uncle, called the King Kokubon, and this king’s son was known as Anaritsu. This prince was born with a bowl in his hand, and the bowl had rice in it strangely. Even when the rice was finished eating, more rice appeared in the bowl and kept on appearing, so that there was never a time when the bowl was empty of rice. As a result, when he was a child, the prince was given the name 'satisfied'. Then, he became a Buddha known as the Tathagata Fumyo in the scene of the Lotus Sutra. If we inquire how it had fate from a previous existence, it was because, in a time of famine, he had offered a little meal of millet to a monk called pratyekabuddha. In this way, one can gain virtues such as these even from making an offering to a pratyekabuddha. Much more, the virtues gained by giving alms to the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra are infinitely greater, exceeding even those gained by making offerings to countless Buddhas.

 To begin with, Nichiren is a person of the country of Japan. Within the seven-thousand-yojana area that constitutes the whole world, there are eighty-four thousand countries. Among these, there are sixteen great countries, five hundred middle-sized states, ten thousand small, and countless smaller scattered about like grains of millet. India is a major country, comprising five regions. In the ocean to the east from there, there is a little island, which is the country of Japan. Japan is situated over a hundred thousand ri to the east of the central region of India.

 During the thousand years following the passing of the Buddha, known as the Former Day of the Law, Buddhism remained within the confines of India and was not transmitted to other countries. The Former Days ended and it was fifteen years after entering into the Middle Days, Buddhism was transmitted to the land of China. Three hundred years after it was introduced to China, it was transmitted to the Korean kingdom of Paekche. And after it had been in the Paekche for a hundred years, then total 1,415 years had elapsed since the passing of the Buddha, a bronze-gilt statue of Shakyamuni Buddha and the complete Buddhist scriptures were for the first time introduced to Japan in the reign of the thirtieth human sovereign, Emperor Kimmei. Since that time, over seven hundred years have passed. The great collection of scriptures that has reached Japan during this period has increased to more than five thousand or seven thousand volumes, and the number of schools has grown to eight, nine, and then ten. In the country of Japan, there are sixty-six provinces and two islands, over three thousand shrines dedicated to the gods, and over ten thousand Buddhist temples. Half the men and women of the country are priests and nuns, and the Buddhist teachings flourish here in a manner that surpasses that of China and India.

 But within the world of Buddhist teachings, various controversies have arisen. The adherents of the Pure Land sect look upon Amida Buddha as their object of devotion, and the adherents of the Shingon school worship the Dainich Tathagata, while the people of the Zen school, ignoring both sutras and Buddhas, take the monk Dharma as their object of devotion. As for the adherents of the other schools, they for the most part are influenced by and follow the Nembutsu proponents and the Shingon advocates. And though they do not necessarily regard either of these schools as superior, they are swayed by the more powerful and influenced by the larger of the two, and hence take Amida Buddha as their principal object of devotion. Rejecting Shakyamuni Buddha, who is the ruler, teacher, and parent, they pray to escape to another world that is located a hundred thousand million ri away and that belongs to Amida Buddha, a complete stranger. This Amida Buddha is neither our parent nor our sovereign nor our teacher, but merely a figure who, in a certain sutra, made forty-eight false vows. And yet foolish persons, believing these vows to be true, madly clang out a rhythm on bells and dance and leap about, reciting the name of Amida Buddha. But though they abandon the world of their parents in disgust, the messengers whom Amida Buddha has promised to send to welcome them do not appear, and they lose their way in the air while in an intermediate state between death and rebirth. The karma that comes from slandering the Buddha's Law pulls them downward, and plunge them into the prison of the three evil paths, where the fearful demon wardens of hell pounce upon them with delight, binding them and subjecting them to endless torture.

 When, based on the sutras, I speak about such matters, only I, of all the 4,994,828 men and women in Japan, am thought strange, and the other 4,994,827 persons all regard me as their enemy. Strangely enough, they do not follow Shakyamuni, who is their sovereign, teacher, and parent. Nevertheless, they curse and strike me, drive me away, and, by resorting to slander, cause me to be sentenced to exile or execution. It is the way of the world that the poor fawn upon the rich, the lowly revere the noble, and the few follow many. So even those persons who chanced to put their faith in the Lotus Sutra are intimidated by society and fear others, and many of them fall into hell. This is a pity.

 But, perhaps because of Nichiren’s ignorant judgment or some past fate,when I read the statements that “the Lotus Sutra is the foremost,” that “among the sutras I had preached past, preach now, and will preach, this Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand,” and that “I am the only person who can rescue and protect others,” I take them to be the golden words of the Tathagata himself. They are not my own words at all. The people of today, however, believe the pronouncements of their own teachers to be the golden words of the Tathagata. In this way, they place such pronouncements on the same level as the Lotus Sutra, or considering the two to be of equal authority; or they regard these teachings as superior to the Lotus Sutra, or they reason that though their teacher’s pronouncements are inferior they are well suited to their capacity.

 In the sacred teachings of the Tathagata, it is said that there are those that are preached “in accordance with the minds of others,” and “in accordance with the Buddha’s mind”. For instance, when a parent yields to the will of his or her child, that is a case of “in accordance with the minds of others.” But when the child complies with the will of the parent, that is “in accordance with the Buddha’s mind”. Because the Buddha adjusted himself to the minds of all living beings, the other sutras are preaching in accordance with the minds of others. However, the Lotus Sutra is a teaching in accordance with the Buddha’s mind, because it made all people follow the Buddha's mind. The various other sutras represent the teachings of the Buddha, but if one puts faith in them, then one is simply following the minds of ordinary people and so will never be able to attain Buddhahood. The Lotus Sutra is both the teaching of the Buddha and the Buddha wisdom. If one puts sincere faith in each character of it, then one will become a Buddha in one’s present form. For example, a piece of white paper becomes black when dipped in black ink, and black lacquer turns white when white liquid is poured into it. Just as poison turns into medicine, so do ordinary individuals change into Buddhas. Accordingly, we call this the mystic law.

 And yet the people of today, of both high and low stations, look with contempt upon Shakyamuni Buddha, their father in the present world, and instead revere Amida or Dainichi, strangers with whom they have no connection at all. Is this not unfilial? Is this not slandering the Buddha's law? When I say this, however, all the people of Japan join in to blame me. It is natural, too. For the crooked wood dislikes a straight rope marked with ink for cutting and the hypocrite is not pleased with the honest politics.

 During the reigns of the ninety-one human sovereigns of our country, there have been twenty-six persons who committed treason. Among them were men such as Prince Oyama and Oishi no Komaru, as well as Masakado, Sumitomo, and the Evil Sadaijin. When these men concealed themselves in the mountain forests of Yoshino or of the Totsu River, or went into hiding in the waters around Tsukushi and Chinzei, the warriors in every nearby village and the natives of every island in the region set out to attack them. But the distinguished sages, as well as the priests, nuns, and women of the various mountains, temples, and shrines, did not regard them as their special enemies. In the case of myself, however, men and women of high and low station, as well as nuns, priests, and distinguished sages, they look upon me as their special enemy.

 The reason is this: All people are concerned about their next lifetime, but the priests and nuns, who would appear to ponder more deeply about this than other men and women, in fact, set aside the matter of rebirth in the pure land and merely act as guides in helping people get through this present lifetime. Wise persons and sages are also given to insisting that they are correct and superior to others, that they are disciples of the teachings of a certain founder, and that they claim a legitimacy of a certain land. They place emphasis upon fame and personal gain, and give little thought to any kind of serious search for the Buddha's law. And so, neither hesitating to speak out nor fearing others, I tell them frankly that they are ignorant persons who have misunderstood the true meaning of the Buddhist teachings, and that they are slanderers of the Law. I am mindful of the Tathagata’s golden words “You should realize that that monk is betraying the Buddha’s teaching” and trusting in the passage of scripture that reads, “I am an envoy of the Buddha, facing the public without fear”. Because I do this, it is natural that those who “think to have attained what they have not attained, being proud and boastful in heart” look upon me with hatred and jealousy. Thus, throughout the seven reigns of the heavenly gods, the five reigns of the earthly gods, and the more than ninety reigns of emperor persons, no one can match me in the degree to which, for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, I am detested by the three types of enemies.

 Nevertheless, it is no ordinary connection that led you to visit such me, one who is hated by all people. Perhaps it is because you were my parent or my brother in a previous existence that you visited me. Or, it is because you established profound ties with the Lotus Sutra in the past and the seeds that will lead you to become a Buddha have matured in this present time, in spite of your busy as a lay member of society, you probably have found time from your public duties to give thought to me.

 In addition, your journey from the province of Toutoumi to Mount Minobu here in the district of Hakiri in Kai Province is over three hundred ri, and the lodgings along the way must have been wretched. Ascending the ridges is as if hugging the sun or the moon, descending into the ravines is as though you were entering a pit. The currents in the rivers are as swift as an arrow, and the large stones carried along in them prevent men and horses from crossing. Boats are as a paper cast on the water. The men one encounters on such a journey are rough woodcutters, and the women are like female mountain demons. The trail is as narrow as a rope, and the trees are as dense as grass. What ties from past existences could have led you to pay me a visit in such a place as this? Shakyamuni Buddha must have led you by his hand, with the Teishaku as your horse you rode on, with the Bonten as your companion, and by the sun and the moon as your eyes along the way. Thank you, this is a very rare thing! There are many other things I would like to say, but I have caught a cold and am unwell, so I will end here.

Nichiren

The second day of May in the second year of Koan (1279),

To the lord Niike


Original Text.  Table of Contents.




by johsei1129 | 2020-04-28 22:43 | WRITING OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)


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