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日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2022年 05月 18日

48. Nichiren Erects the Principal Image First in Sado Island


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From "The Chronicle of Nichiren Daishonin's Life"


How many days had passed since their departure from Kamakura?

 On a country road, Nichimyo and his son asked an old woman for directions to Teradomari. The old woman pointed to the mountains far to the north.

 The sun was setting on the forest road.

 They had come to a point where they could see the Sea of Japan over the pass.

 "We're almost to the sea. We are almost there."

 Then a man's voice came from behind them.

 "Hey, you two!”

 She was startled and turned around.

 They looked like peasants, but their physiognomy was vicious. They were holding axes and sickles in their hands.

 ”A woman traveling with a child... This is our territory."

 The man made a circle on his finger.

 "Leave some money and I'll let you go. If you don't like it, we'll take you by force, even strip you."

 The men laughed weirdly.

 Nichimyo felt pity rather than fear for the men. Had the ravages of war spread to the countryside like this?

 She went calm.

 'Well, well. I'm afraid, but I've already spent all my money on the road. Could you please let me pass?"

 The men licked his lips.

 "I'm sorry to hear that."

 The mother and daughter were puzzled for a while, but then began to meekly remove their shades.

 The men's hardened expressions fell.

 "An honest woman."

 At this moment, Nichimyo and her daughter pulled out their sideburns and took a stance. They looked desperate.

 The men were so frightened that they fell back and fell on their buttocks.

 Nichimyo bellowed like a warrior.

 "We are going to meet a very important person. We have risked our lives to come here. If you frighten us, you must be prepared!"

 She threw away a few Song coins and ran up the hill, her hair in disarray. The robber no longer followed.

 Eventually, they reached the top of the pass.

 Below them was the dazzling sight of the Sea of Japan reflected in the morning sun. They looked down and saw the island of Sado, which they had dreamed of floating in the ocean.

 Nichimyo was relieved to have finally reached the point where she could see Sado Island.

 

The mother and daughter passed Kashiwazaki and reached the shore of Teradomari, but their money was almost gone.

 Nichimyo negotiated with the boatman at the landing place.

 The loincloth-wearing boatman waved his hand.

 "I can't do it at that price. You can't. Give up."

 Nichimyo persisted.

 "It took us all the way from Kamakura for a month to finally get here. Can you not do something about that?"

 She is already running out of money to pay for the boat. The boatman pretended not to hear her, but she could not give up.

 The boatman was cold and pretended not to hear her.

 "We can't do business if we have to listen to every word. Go elsewhere."

 "My daughter is not strong enough to walk anymore. She can no longer walk."

 The boatman was about to leave, but Nichimyo stood in his front. As she tried to remove the hairpin from her hair, the boatman shouted,

 "What the hell are you doing? Don't be hasty!"

 The boatman shouted and backed away.

 Nichimyo laughed at the boatman's panic and said,

"I'm not going to do anything. I will take this hairpin as our boat fare, so please take us on board."


 The boat carried the mother and child across the Sea of Japan.

 The boatman took the helm. Seeing that he had even offered the woman's memento, he decided to take her on board.

 The boatman thought,

 (What persistence! I don't know why, but there must be a man on Sado who she wants to meet. I've heard of women who would give up their lives for the man they love, but I wonder if my wife would believe me if I told her that she had paid for a hairpin to bring a woman on board...)

 Nichimyo held the sleeping daughter Oto in her arms and stared at the glimpse of Sado island between the waves.

 

 The sun was shining softly in the residence of Ichinosawa.

 Outside, a young apprentice wearing a white robe placed a bucket on his head and bring water. There were also disciples helping peasants and plowing the fields alongside them.

 At last, Nichiren's days of peace had come.

 In the room were Kou Nyudo, Abutsu-bo and his wife.

 "Was that so? Was I a great villain when I first arrived here?”

 They all laughed, and Nichiren laughed even louder.

 "It's a terrible thing. It's really a big difference between seeing and hearing."

 "I'm glad to hear that. If I had remained a great villain, I would not be alive today, and I would have lost my life to the swordsmanship of Abutsu-bo."

 This time, they all burst into laughter, and when Abutsu-bo rubbed his head on the tatami mat and bowed flatly, his movements were so funny that they could not stop laughing.

 At this moment, a peasant rushed to the house in Ichinotani, shouting, "Saint Nichiren.”

 "Saint Nichiren! A lady with child, dressed as a traveler, has collapsed in the harbor and she is shouting, 'Where is the residence of the saint Nichiren?'"

 Nichiren stood up in astonishment.

 "What is that lady's name? Where did she come from?"

 Then Nichimyo and her daughter arrived, carried by villagers.

 When Nichiren saw the lady's face, he remembered. She is a believer in Kamakura.

 "Oh, you..."

 When Nichimyo saw him, she smiled with a big smile on her face.

 "Master, I'm Nichimyo. Saint Nichiren, I'm so happy to finally meet you..."

 After she had said this, she sat down on the earthen floor with a sigh of relief.


  That night, Nichimyo and her daughter were lying in their bedroom in the residence of Kou Nyudo.

 In the next room, Abutsu-bo, wife nun Sennichi and Kou Nyudo's wife were waiting for them.

 The nuns of Sennichi and Kou Nyudo's wife were deeply moved by the fact that Nichimyo had traveled to Sado to meet the saint with her child.

 "How could a woman travel a thousand miles from Kamakura?

 "How could her daughter have followed the mother so closely?"

 The childless nun Kou could not help but be curious about the daughter of Nichimyo.

 "She's talking in her sleep, saying, 'Saint, the saint.'"


 The next day, early in the morning, Nichiren came to check on Nichmyo and daughter Oto.

 "How is the mother and her child doing?" 

 They all straightened their postures.

 The nun Kou replied.

 ”They seemed to have had a good rest yesterday."

 "I'm glad to hear that. A woman's soul is her husband. If there is no husband, there is no soul for a woman. Even women who have husbands in this world seem to find it difficult to cross the world, but this woman is crossing the world without a soul. She is a woman who is superior to others."

 They all listened attentively.

 "Although Nichiren suffered such a great hardship, I did not make the slightest mistake in my behavior in trying to erase the grave sin of immeasurable eons in my lifetime. Therefore, I am happy with my wish, because I have become like this. However, as an ordinary person, there are always some regrets. Even Nichiren was in such a state, and I was distressed to think that a woman who did not know what to do before and after, and who did not understand the Law of Buddha, might feel regret for siding with Nichiren. However, the fact that she has a stronger faith than Nichiren is more than just a coincidence. Could it be that the Lord Shakyamuni Buddha had entered her mind?“

 While Nichiren was talking, Nichimyo had somehow left the bedroom and was sitting upright. She had a look of relief in her eyes.

 Nichiren looked at her straight in the eyes and said,

 "You have come well. The great distance you have traveled is reflected in your aspirations. The Buddha Shakyamuni, the Taho Buddha, the Buddhas of the ten directions, the great bodhisattvas of the Jogyo (note), the Great Brahma, the Teisyaku, and the Four Heavenly Kings will protect you as if you were in your shadow bodies. You are the most outstanding female ascetic of the Lotus Sutra in Japan. Therefore, I shall name you the name. From now on, I shall call you the saint Nichimyo."

 Then Nichimyo quickly asked.

 “It's a waste of money for me, but I'll accept it gratefully. By the way, my saint, there is something I really want to ask you. That is why I have come over the mountains and the sea.”

 Nichiren nodded. Nichimyo reveals her uncontrollable thoughts and feelings.

 "The war in Kamakura is over and things are settling down. So, we, the faithful of Kamakura, await the return of the Saint as soon as possible. So, is it wrong for us to appeal to the Shogunate and ask for the Saint's pardon?"

 Nichiren's expression changed to one of sternness.

 "You must not do it. Do not bemoan the fact that I am not released early. The heavens surely must be holding this back. It was only because of last year's exile that we were able to avoid this year's turmoil. If Nichiren had been in Kamakura, he would have been struck dead during the uproar. There are times when good fortune becomes bad fortune and bad fortune becomes good fortune. A disciple who tells the world about Nichiren's desire to be forgiven is an unfilial person. If you dare to do so, you will not be saved for the rest of your life. Tell this to each one of them."

 Nichimyo asked quickly.

 "Almost all the believers in Kamakura have retreated due to the great persecution. Even those who have survived are also in a situation where their behavior is not deteriorating but their mind is deteriorating, and vice versa, their mind is not deteriorating but their behavior is deteriorating. However, there are those who are still holding on to their faith. However, since the saint left Kamakura, they are not sure who or what to turn to for guidance. Some have placed statues of Buddha in their homes, while others have only read the Lotus Sutra. I was also confused, but one day I was struck by a frightening thought. One day, I had a frightening thought: 'What should I do if something should happen to the saint.'"

 Nichiren did not answer, but took a small scroll from his pocket and opened it vertically in front of everyone.

 The words "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo" could be seen on one side of the scroll.

 Everyone put their hands together in unison.

 Nichiren chanted in high spirits.

 "I have written the Gohonzon, the protection for Nichiren. Please chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo on this mandala. I have written the soul of Nichiren in ink. Please believe it. The mind of the Buddha is in the Lotus Sutra. The soul of Nichiren is in this Gohonzon where I wrote Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo."

 When both Mr. and Mrs. Abutsu-bo and Mr. and Mrs. Kou Nyudo saw the Gohonzon, which was shown to them for the first time by Nichiren, they chanted, "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.


 When did Nichiren manifest the principal image?

 The oldest surviving copy of the Gohonzon is dated October 9, 1271, and is inscribed as follows: "Written in Honma, Echi district, Sagami Province." The day before Nichiren left Yechi for Sado, he crushed a tree branch and used it as a brush to write on a sheet of Japanese paper. In the center of the image is a large inscription of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, on the left and right are Fudo-Myoo and Aizen-Aizen-Myoo in Sanskrit, and on the lower left is Nichiren' sign. The Shakyamuni Buddha and the Taho Tathagata are yet to be written. It is thought that this image of principle was given to Shigetsura Honma, the owner of the Honma residence, as a token of appreciation for Nichiren’s stay there for about a month.

 In addition, the "First Gohonzon the saint wrote on Sado Island," which existed at Minobu Kuonji Temple but was destroyed in the great fire of 1875, is said to have been painted on July 8, 1273. The four heavenly kings are written on its surface. However, since the Four Heavenly Kings have been written as the main image of the Gohonzon since the first year of Kenji (1275), after Nichiren's entry into Minobu, it can be strongly inferred that this Gohonzon, which is said to have appeared in Bun'ei 10 (1273), was clearly forged after the Daishonin's death.

 In addition, among the existing Gohonzon, there is a Gohonzon inscribed with the inscription "Written at Sado", which was painted on June 16, 1272.

 The image of this Gohonzon is as follows: Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo in the center, Nam-Shakyamuni-Buddha on the left, Namu Taho Tathagata on the right, Fudo-Myoo in Sanskrit on the left, Aizen-Myoo in Sanskrit on the right, and Nichiren's signature on the lower left. This Gohonzon was undoubtedly the Gohonzon that was displayed in Ichinosawa on Sado Island after the writing of his "Books of Opening the Eyes". Besides, since the name of the recipient is not written on this document, it is assumed that this gohonzon was placed in the Buddhist room of Nichiren's residence in Sado. It is likely that the followers of Nichiren who took refuge on Sado, such as Abutsu-bo and his wife, and Kou Nyudoand his wife, also worshiped this Gohonzon and chanted the Buddhist sutras.



Notes

Bodhisattva Jogyo

He is one of the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas who emerged from the depths of the earth. The four bodhisattvas represent the four virtues of everlasting, happiness, self, and purification. The Jogyo Bodhisattva represents the virtue of "self.

In other words, the term "Jogyo" refers to a state of free and unrestrained life, unbound by the pains of life and death, and the establishment of the true ego. In the "One Hundred and Six Articles," Nichiren Daishonin explains that he is "Nichiren, the rebirth of the Bodhisattva Jogyo and the fundamental great teacher" in the Latter Day of the Law. The Daishonin himself is the leader, Jogyo, of the Bodhisattvas who emerged from the earth to propagate the mystic teachings of the Latter Day of the Law.



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