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2022年 05月 18日

47. The lady Nichimyo of the strong faiths, crosses the mountains and seas.

 Nichiren was allowed to move into the residence of Soya Nyudo on Sado Island.

 It was a brand new building, a far cry from the samadhi of Tsukahara. The building was a far cry from Tsukahara's ribbed house.

 The shogunate's treatment of Nichiren was clearly improving. After the February disturbance, it was easy to infer that there had been some sort of movement within the shogunate regarding the treatment of Nichiren. Nichiren was now able to come and go freely within the island. He was also able to freely preach the Lotus Sutra to the islanders of Sado.   

After the Tsukahara Question and Answer, people gradually began to come to Nichiren. They willingly surrounded Nichiren and listened to his teachings. Abutsu-bo and his wife were among them.

"The most dreadful things in the world are an entering into the fire, the flashing of swords, and the shadow of death. Even horses and cattle fear being killed; no wonder human beings are afraid of death. Even a leper clings to the rest of one's life; how much more so a healthy person.

 The Buddha teaches that even filling the universe with the seven kinds of treasures does not superior to offering one’s little finger to the Buddha and the sutra. The boy Snow Mountains gave his own body, and the boy Zenzai-doji peeled off his own skin in order to record the Buddha’s teachings. Since nothing is more precious than life itself, one who dedicates one’s life to Buddhist practice is certain to attain Buddhahood. If one is prepared to offer one’s life, why should one spare any other treasure for the sake of Buddhism? On the other hand, if one is loath to part with one’s wealth, how can one possibly offer one’s life, which is far more valuable?

The way of the world dictates that one should repay an obligation to another, even at the cost of one’s life. Although people die for their lords, they would be perhaps many more than one would imagine. A man will die for shame, a woman will die for a man.

Fish want to survive, so they deplore their pond’s shallowness and dig holes in the bottom to hide in, yet tricked by bait, they take the hook. Birds in a tree fear that they locate on low branches, and stay on the high, yet bewitched by bait, they are caught in snares.

Human beings are equal too. They give their lives for shallow, worldly matters but rarely for the Buddha’s precious teachings. So, small wonder they do not attain Buddhahood.

It is the nature of beasts to threaten the weak and fear the strong. Our contemporary scholars of the various schools are just like them. They despise a wise man without power, but fear evil rulers. This is what is called an obsequious vassal.

Only by defeating a powerful enemy can one prove one’s real strength. When an evil ruler in consort with priests of erroneous teachings tries to destroy the correct teaching and do away with a man of wisdom, those with the heart of a lion king are sure to attain Buddhahood. Like Nichiren, for example. I say this not out of arrogance, but because I deeply spare the correct teaching. "

The islanders began to gather in large numbers. Three months ago, this scene would have been unimaginable.

"Twenty-six years have passed since the battle of Hoji, and fighting has already broken out twice, on the eleventh and the seventeenth days of the second month of this year. Neither non-Buddhists nor the enemies of Buddhism can destroy the correct teaching of the Tathagata, but the Buddha’s disciples definitely will do. A sutra says, only worms born of the lion’s body feed on the lion. A person of great virtue will not be ruined by enemies, but be ruined by those who are close. This is what the Yakushi Sutra means by “the calamity of rebellion within one’s own domain.” The Benevolent Kings Sutra states, “Once the sages have departed, then the seven disasters are certain to arise.” The Golden Light Sutra states, “The thirty-three heavenly gods become furious because the king permits evil to run rampant and fails to subdue it.” Although I, Nichiren, am not a sage, I am equal to a sage, for I uphold the Lotus Sutra exactly as it teaches. Furthermore, since I have known the ways of the world for a long time, there was no difference in what I wrote. You must not doubt me about the future for the reason that my words had been no mistake in this world.

On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last year, when I was arrested, I called out in a loud voice, “I, Nichiren, am the pillar, sun, moon, mirror, and eyes of the clan of Kanto. If the country abandons me, the seven disasters will occur without fail.” Did not this prophecy come true just 60 days and then 150 days later? And those battles were only the first signs. How lamenting there will be when the result appears.”

The warrior inquired.

“If you are so wise, then why did you suffer this ruler’s persecution?”

Nichiren answers.

“Ignorant people wonder why Nichiren is persecuted by the rulers if he is truly a wise man. This is something that Nichiren has known for a long time. King Ajase tormented his father and mother, for which he was hailed by the evil six royal ministers. When Devadatta killed an arhat and caused the Buddha to bleed, Kugyari and others were delighted.

Nichiren is father and mother to the ruling house and is like a Buddha or an Arhat to this age. The sovereign and his subjects who rejoice at my exile are truly the most shameless and pitiable of all. Those slanderous monks who have been bewailing the exposure of their errors may be pleased for the moment, but eventually they will suffer no less than myself and my followers. Their joy is like Yasuhira when he killed his younger brother and MInamoto Yoshitsune. The demon who will destroy the ruling clan has already entered the country. This is the meaning of the passage from the Lotus Sutra that reads, ‘Evil demon will enter into that body.’”

  The persecutions Nichiren has faced are the result of sins formed in previous lifetimes. The “Bodhisattva Fukyo " chapter reads, “when his offenses had been remunerated,” indicating that the Bodhisattva Fukyo was vilified and beaten by the countless slanderers of the correct teaching because of his past sins.

 How much more true this is of Nichiren, who in this life was born poor and lowly to a chandāla family. In my heart I cherish some faith in the Lotus Sutra, but my body, while outwardly human, is fundamentally that of an animal. Therefore, it is only natural that the fools should despise me.

  I was born from a red and white liquid, like a fish or a bird. In them dwells recognition. It is as the moon is reflected in muddy water, or as gold is wrapped in a filthy bag.

Since my heart believes in the Lotus Sutra, I do not fear even Bonten or Teishaku, but my body is still that of an animal. With such disparity between my body and my mind, no wonder the foolish despise me. Without doubt, when compared to my body, my mind shines like the moon or like gold. Who knows what slander I may have committed in the past? I may possess the soul of the monk Shoi Intent or the spirit of Daiten. Perhaps I am descended from those who contemptuously persecuted Bodhisattva Fukyo, or am among those who forgot the seeds of enlightenment sown in the infinite past. Or I may even be related to the five thousand arrogant people, or belong to the third group who failed to take faith in the Lotus Sutra in the days of the Daitsu-Chisho Buddha. It is hardly possible to measure one’s sinfulness.

Iron, when pounded in the flames, becomes a sword. Wise men and saints are tested by criticism. My present exile to the island is not because of any secular crime. It is solely so that I may expiate in this lifetime my past grave offenses and be freed in the next life from the three evil paths.”

When the people of Sado heard Nichiren's sermon, they wondered.

They wondered why this man had been exiled. Wasn't it a mistake of the lord Kamakura to exile this priest, Nichiren? As a result, the shogunate caused a disastrous civil war among the Hojo clan, the February Disturbance. Wasn't the cause of this tragedy the retribution for having condemned this monk? Moreover, didn't Nichiren predict the uprising here on Sado Island, more than 1,000 miles away from Kamakura? His prediction was so accurate that there were even rumors that he was part of the rebellion.

People could not help but be in awe of Nichiren Shonin.

This time, the nun Sennichi moved forward. She was the wife of Abutsu-bo.

Her question was sincere.

“The saint, we have been chanting Nembutsu for many years. According to the Lotus Sutra, the sin of slander will not disappear even after a thousand years. Will my sin ever disappear?”

Nichiren nodded twice or three times, with a look that said, "It's wonderful to be able to ask difficult questions.”

”Since Nichiren himself also committed slander in the past, he became a Nembutsu priest in this lifetime, and for several ten years he had laughed at those who practiced the Lotus Sutra, saying that “not a single person has ever attained Buddhahood” through that sutra, or that “not even one person in a thousand” can be saved by it. However, awakening from my intoxicated state of slander, I felt like a drunken son who, on becoming sober, laments at having delighted in striking his parents. He regrets it bitterly, but to no avail. His offense is extremely difficult to erase. Even more so are the past slanders of the correct teaching that stain the depths of one’s heart. A sutra states that both the crow’s blackness and the heron’s whiteness are actually the deep results of their past karma. The non-Buddhists failed to recognize this and claimed it was the work of nature. Today, when I expose people’s slanders in an effort to save them, they deny it with every excuse possible and argue back with Hōnen’s words about barring the gates to the Lotus Sutra. From Nembutsu believers this is hardly surprising, but even the priests of the Tendai and True Word schools actively support them.

 The one who climbs a high mountain must eventually descend. One who slight another will in turn be despised. One who deprecates those of handsome appearance will be born ugly. One who robs another's food and clothing is sure to fall into the world of hungry spirits. One who mocks a person who observes the precepts and is worthy of respect will be born to an impoverished and lowly family. One who slanders a family that embraces the correct teaching will be born to a family that holds erroneous views. One who laughs at those who cherish the precepts faithfully will be born a commoner and meet with persecution from one’s sovereign. This is the general law of cause and effect.

 My sufferings, however, are not ascribable to this causal law. In the past, I despised the votaries of the Lotus Sutra. I also ridiculed the sutra itself, sometimes with exaggerated praise and other times with contempt—that sutra as magnificent as two moons shining side by side, two stars conjoined, one Mount Hua placed atop another, or two jewels combined. This is why I have experienced the aforementioned eight kinds of sufferings. Usually these sufferings appear one at a time, on into the boundless future, but Nichiren has denounced the enemies of the Lotus Sutra so severely that all eight have descended at once. This is like the case of a peasant heavily in debt to the steward of his village and to other authorities. As long as he remains in his village or district, rather than mercilessly hounding him, they are likely to defer his debts from one year to the next. But when he tries to leave, they rush over and demand that he repay everything at once. This is what the sutra means when it states, “It is due to the blessings obtained by protecting the Law. In this way, through the power of merit and virtue in protecting and upholding the Lotus Sutra, it is possible to become a Buddha without falling into hell. The sins of Abutsu-bo and nun Sennichi, who protect the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, can be erased without fail.”

Hearing Nichiren's assurances, Abutsu-bo and his wife clasped their hands together involuntarily.

Thus, Sado Island was bathed in the color of the Lotus Sutra.

The spread of devotion to the Lotus Sutra in a country is called spreading the teachings. The realization of an ideal land was imminent.

However, there were those who were jealous of this.

Nembutsu and Zen monks whispered in the shadows of the buildings.

“What should we do? If we don't, we will starve to death. Most of the people in Sado have already joined Nichiren. We must do something..."

 In the downtown area of Kamakura, stores lined both sides of the street and people were crowded together. The shouts of peddlers rang out.

People peered into the stalls. Stores called "komachiya" lined up their wares in front of their stalls, narrowed the streets, and began selling and buying everywhere. The February riots in the metropolis of Kamakura had ended and the city was about to return to peace. The riot was a bloody affair between the Hojo clans, but with the passage of time, it is now being forgotten. The common people are too busy with food, clothing, and shelter to be bothered with the struggles of the powerful.

 Lady Nichimyo and her daughter were walking down the street.

 The mother, Nichimyo, bought a straw hat and straw sandals.

 Her daughter, Oto, gazed happily at the store. Oto joined the children and played with them. Nichimyo looked on contentedly, immersed in a fleeting feeling of happiness.

As the evening sun lit up the streets of Kamakura, the smiling parents and children returned home.

On the occasion of the Buddhist persecution, Nichimyo had separated from her husband, who was opposed to her religious beliefs. She was now living alone with her daughter, but was making the most of her days.

However, as soon as they opened the front door, they stopped in their tracks.

The familiar footwears were lined up.

It made Nichimyo nervous. His parents were here.

In the alcove, there was a sutra table with a scroll of the Lotus Sutra.

Nichimyo greeted her parents with a gracious smile, placing her hands on the floor.

"Well, well. If you had only informed me in advance, I would have been waiting for you."

The father looked at the coats and sandals in Nichimyo's hands.

"What are you getting ready for? What are you doing? Are you traveling?"

”No, I have learned that during the recent war. I thought we needed to be prepared to leave Kamakura if anything should happen."

The mother complained.

"What will you do now, a woman alone? You have a small child."

Her mother wiped her cheeks with her sleeve.

Nichimyou smiled.

"Father, mother, don't worry. I still have some reserves. There is no shortage of women in the world."

Her father said,

”That's why you're getting divorced. You need to take better care of your man. Why did you leave your husband?"

Nichimyo said firmly.

"My father, I will not marry again. I am surrounded by unworthy men. They may say they are warriors or samurai, but when it comes down to it, all they care about is appearances and getting ahead. Who would want to follow such men?"

"That's what's wrong with them."

The father pointed to a sutra scroll on his desk.

"Do you still have this Lotus Sutra? It's because you believe in Nichiren that you've developed such a temperament. What do you think your relatives are saying about you? They say you are an example of a bad wife who abandoned her husband in favor of Nichiren."

The daughter, Oto, defended Nichimyo.

"Grandfather and grandmother, please don't bully your mother with such a scary face. What is wrong with you? She is a kind mother to Oto. She is not a scary person like her grandfather and grandmother."

Oto hugged Nichmyo. Her grandmother wavered.

Her grandfather calmed down.

"As long as you adhere to the Lotus Sutra, I cannot share my wealth with you. If you insist on being stubborn, I will cut off the relationship between you and your child. If that happens, you and your young child will have to live alone. I'm sure you must be very worried. What do you think? Can't you reconsider?"

A silence fell.

Unlike today, the authority of the father is immense. In those days, the patriarch held the right to share the inheritance of land and other assets. The patriarch even had the right to take back what he had given to his children. This was called "repentance".

Eventually, Nichimyo nodded as if she had given up.

"I understood. It is natural for children to obey their parents. From now on, I will stay away from Nichiren Shonin and the Lotus Sutra.”

The parents were relieved. The daughter Oto looked at Nichimyo in astonishment.

The mother smiled for the first time.

"I'm so glad you said that. That is why you are my daughter. I have always believed that you would wake up. Now you will be able to find another good match."

Her father's expression relaxed and he held out a copper coin from his pocket.

"This is part of it. I'll give it to you. But don't ever forget what you just said."

Nichimyo put his hands on the floor with a downcast face.

The father and mother left the house briskly, leaving the daughter and granddaughter behind.


Nichimyo's smile returned to her face. Daughter Oto also loosened his expression.

The mother closed one eye on her daughter.

”If I hadn't said that, they wouldn't have left."


Nichimyo placed her cloak and footwear sandals in front of her.

"I will not give up my faith. Let's go. Are you ready for this?"

Oto's eyes lit up.

"Then I will go with you!"

When Nichimyo nodded, daughter Oto hugged her.

The next morning, the sun began to peek through the mountains of Kamakura.

Nichimyo and her daughter were about to leave for Sado.

They were seen off by Kingo Shijo and his wife, Jonin Toki, Zyomyo Ota, and other members of the Nichiren faithful.

The smiles on the faces of Nichimyo and her child were refreshing.

She made up her mind to go to Sado. She had to go and see Nichiren. She believed that by meeting Nichiren again, she would be able to solve all her current problems.

She was a woman, and she was anxious. And she was with child. But her single-minded desire to see Nichiren prevailed. She persistently asked Kingo Shijo, who had visited Nichiren before her, about his knowledge of the journey and the situation on Sado Island. Nichimyo decided that it was her turn to go to Sado.

Ota and the others were worried. Even though the commotion in Kamakura was over, it had only been three months.

"Is it safe for you to go to Sado as a woman, and with a child? It is dangerous. You should not do this."

Kingo Shijo restrained Ota.

"Wait. Lady Nichimyo's resolve is firm."

Kingo looked at Nichimyo with a stern gaze.

"Please be safe."


 Nichimyo made his departure speech.

 "We'll be going now."

 Those who were to see them off clasped their hands to their backs. Kingo's wife, Nichigan-nyo, wiped away her tears.

 Nichimyo and her daughter departed.

 They rode horses on the way, or walked when there was no horse service.

 In those days, it took thirteen days to travel from Kamakura to Sado. I wonder how it would have been for a mother and daughter. In any case, it was a big trip.

 This journey is also the route that Nichiren followed. First, he left the country of Sagami from Kamakura and entered Musashi. He traveled northward through the vast Kanto Plain, past Kumegawa and Kodama, and arrived at Takasaki in Ueno Province. From Takasaki, they headed west and crossed the 1,000 meter high Usui Pass to enter Shinano. The inn was called Oiwake, which is now Karuizawa. From here, they traveled further north into Echigo. Then, we reached the Sea of Japan. We continued north along the sea, passing through Kashiwazaki and arriving at Teradomari. At this point, we boarded a ship and sailed to Sado Island. But we had to wait for a favorable wind. The sea was a stormy sea sometimes, and even today, many ships are canceled.

 Lady Nichimyo and her daughter walked across the far Kanto Plain. The shades on their heads, sacks on their shoulders, and leggings on their feet indicated that they were on a long journey.

 A horseman came galloping up from far behind. The warrior's horse stopped in front of Nichimyo. It seemed to be a government official.

“Where are you going?"

 Nichimyo replied cautiously.

 ”Thank you for your service. I would like to travel to Shinano.”

 ”Oh, that's a long way. There was just a battle in Kamakura. You seem to be too careless. Do you have any intention of turning back?"

 Nichimyo shook his head.

 "Officials, I have a relative in Shinano who is suffering from a serious illness and I must go there.”

 "It is inevitable. Be careful then."

 The horses rode away.

 The mother and daughter moved forward again.

 Oto asked curiously.

 "Why are you lying, Mother? We are going to Sado, aren't we? We are not going to see our relatives, but to see Saint Nichiren."

 Nichimyo's eyes were gentle.

 "The saint is on that island for a crime he did not commit. He is on that island because he is innocent, but he is a criminal. I can't tell the truth."

 "Mother, why are you going to the saint?"

 Nichimyo looked at the northern sky.

 "That Saint is the most honorable person I have ever met. His teachings are still embedded in my heart. Only I know how wonderful he is. Thinking about it, I have spent my days in vain. Your mother is now going to bring back that joy. I want to see him as soon as possible."

 The mother and child went through the endless wilderness.

 Nichimyo stopped at a farmer's house. She bought some barley rice in exchange for a few coins.

 The rain began to fall quietly.

 That night, they stayed in the small hall of the temple.

 Nichimyo looked up at the sky as Oto slept. It was raining and she could not make progress as she wished.

 She counted the coins in her bag. The coins were running low. She knew it was a reckless journey to begin with, but she was already facing difficulties.

 Moreover, perhaps it was because of the February riots. People were distant and cold on the road and at the inn where we stayed. Few people responded to our inquiries, and when we tried to rent a place to stay, we were often refused. It seemed that the plague of the war had spread to every corner of the country.

by johsei1129 | 2022-05-18 16:30 | Trackback | Comments(0)

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