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日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2022年 05月 19日

63. Kingo Shijo Visits Nichiren in Minobu Mountain

 The time has changed from the eleventh year of Bun'ei to the first year of Kenji (1275).

 On a night in Kamakura, with the full moon hovering in the sky, the streets were as bright as dusk.

 A farmer was carrying potatoes in his cart. The potatoes would be sold at the market tomorrow.

 He took a break and looked up at the clear moon. It is said that people in this era often went out when the moon was bright.

 The farmer heard a faint noise, and when he listened carefully, he saw that someone was sucking on something with a good appetite.

 (Who could it be, at this time of night?)

 The farmer approached the sound.

 "Hey, who's there?”

 The peasant approached where the noise was coming from.

 He looked over and saw a dead body at the man's feet. The corpse glowed pale in the moonlight. The man had been eating human flesh in the dark with blood all around his mouth.

 The peasants were stunned and fell back.

 Two samurai were walking near here. They were the samurai who guarded Kamakura at night. They were called samurai, the night watchman.

 “Nothing seems to have happened today.”

 “I hope so...but it's when you say nothing is happening that you are most dangerous.”

 At that moment, a peasant came running from the other side of the road.

 "There it is, samurai!”

 “What's the matter?”

 The farmer turned around and pointed to the road he had just come from.

 "Cannibals, cannibals, sir!"

 The samurai grabbed his sword by the hilt.

 "Again? I won't let him get away this time! "

 The samurai immediately rushed to the scene. But the cannibal had already fled.

 The warrior inspected the corpse.

 "This must have been brought from the morgue. He ate the soft parts of her belly and legs.  Even though food is scarce, this is unbecoming of a human being. It's unforgivable!”

 “This cut is the work of someone who is very experienced. He must be a habitual cannibal. I didn't know such a person existed in Kamakura.”

 The samurai spotted a series of bloodstains on the ground nearby.

 "Hey, look at this.”

 As the samurai followed the blood, a cannibal suddenly jumped out of the grass and ran in front of him.

 The cannibal's eyes glowed eerily.

 “Wait!"

 The two warriors chased after it, but the cannibal shouted strangely and flew away, scratching the ground. It was too fast. The strong samurai could not catch up with it and gave up.

 “Was he a demon or a devil?”


 For the people of Kamakura, the memory of the great famine and disaster of the Shoka and Shogen years, which Nichiren wrote about in his "Rissho Ankoku Ron," had not disappeared.


 “In the first year of the Shōka era (1257), on the twenty-third day of the eighth month, at the time when the hour of the dog gave way to the hour of the boar (around 9:00 p.m.), there occurred an earthquake of unprecedented magnitude. In the second year of the same era, on the first day of the eighth month, there was a great wind. In the third year, a major famine occurred. In the first year of the Shōgen era (1259), epidemics were rampant, and throughout the four seasons of the second year, the epidemics continued to rage without abating. By this time more than half the people of the nation had been laid low by death. The ruler of the country, alarmed at this state of affairs, turned to the scriptures of Buddhism and the non-Buddhist writings for help, ordering that various prayers be offered. These, however, failed to produce the slightest effect. On the contrary, famine and epidemics raged more fiercely than ever." ‘Origin of the writing of the Rissho Ankoku Ron’


 The suffering of hunger was spreading throughout Japan. The fear of the Mongol invasion was just around the corner. The world was in a state of anxiety. Cannibal was a symbol of this. It is said that there were even people who sold human flesh. Nichiren laments.


 “However, it is the body of this world that is pitiful. The country of Japan has been visited by continuous famine for the last several years, and supplies of food and clothing are exhausted. The domestic animals have all been consumed, and persons who eat human flesh are appearing. They tear flesh from the bodies of the dead, children, and the sick, mix it with fish or deer meat, and sell it. People purchase this mixture and eat it. Thus, this country has unwittingly become an abode of great evil demons.” ‘Reply to the lord Matsuno’


 Kingo Shijo visited Nichiren's hermitage in Kai Minobu.

 Kingo had been reporting to Nichiren in detail on every movement in Kamakura. Through the information provided by Kingo, Toki Jonin, and other followers of the shogunate, Nichiren was able to grasp the movements of the Kamakura shogunate even though he was in the mountains.

 The topic of conversation turned to the execution of a Mongolian envoy.

 Nichiren couldn't help but look up to the heavens and sigh.

 “I cannot help but regret that the Mongolian envoy was beheaded. It is a pity that the head of an innocent messenger was beheaded, even though he was from the enemy nation of Mongolia, while the priests of Nembutsu, Shingon, Zen, and Precepts, who were enemies of Japan, were not beheaded.”  

 Kingo of this day talked falteringly from beginning to end. His usual eloquence was overshadowed.

 “If the shogunate's policy remains unchanged, our country will have to fight another war with Mongolia. It is inevitable that there will be heavy casualties on both sides, our side and the Mongols. The Shogunate has refused to listen to the advice of the saints, and is relying on Gokurakuji Ryoukan and Kenchoji Doryu to pray for the safety of the nation.”

Nichiren, who had been listening intently to Kingo's words, began to speak in a fluent voice.

 “Of all the problems, the destruction of the nation is the most serious. Of all the evils, the worst is that our country is defeated by other countries because of bad government. If a person becomes the sovereign of a country and promotes evil people and punishes good people, that country will surely be defeated by other countries. Now, the Japanese lord of the land respects monks who hold fast to the 250 precepts, and is about to lose a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra.

 However, although all the people of Japan are grieving, the followers of Nichiren can find joy in their grief. If we are in this country, we will not be able to escape the blame of the Mongols. However, Heaven knows that we were blamed for the sake of our country. It is a joy to think that we will surely be saved in later life. Please continue to look at them. If the Dharma masters who slander Nichiren pray for the safety of Japan, the nation will finally die. In the end, if the blame is too heavy, all the people, from the top to the bottom, will be cut off from their homes and become slaves. Whether or not Nichiren is a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra can be seen by observing this process.”

 Kingo said angrily.

 "My lord, Mitsutoki, is also immersed in the Buddhist practice of Ryoukan. I told him about the Lotus Sutra the other day, but he would not listen to me. It is truly frustrating.”

Kingo felt ashamed that he could not change his lord Mitsutoki's faith in Nembutsu. His master, Hojo Mitsutoki, trusted Kingo as one of his closest aides. Kingo was such a loyal vassal that he tried to martyr himself when Mitsutoki was about to get involved in the February riot.

 However, when it came to faith, it was a different story. Mitsutoki worshiped Gokurakuji Ryoukan. This was frustrating for Kingo. Ryoukan was an evil man who tried to harm the saint Nichiren. Kingo repeatedly admonished his master, but Mitsutoki refused to listen.   Kingo's resentment only grew worse.

 Nichiren chided Kingo.

 “Mr. Kingo is guilty of slander and defamation from a past life. However, he once admonished his master. Kingo's sins are gone now. Now you will have to wait.”

 But Kingo was not satisfied.

 “Is that so, saint? If only he would believe, the Hokke sect would be a major force in the Shogunate. My Lord's evil views cannot be changed because of his close associates' bad behavior.”

 "Do not panic, Lord Kingo. If there is a hidden faith, it becomes an obvious virtue. There will always be a sign.”

 Saint Nichiren said that Kingo's sins were erased when he had admonished his lord.   However, Kingo was frustrated that he could not persuade his lord to take refuge in the Lotus Sutra.


 The Gokuraku-ji temple was a vast site with a forest of magnificent buildings.

 The sun was setting over the temple. Many lowly people and the sick had gathered as usual to receive charity.

 Young monks in black robes provided the food.

 The poor clasped their hands together to receive bowls of porridge and rice gruel. There was not a single person who did not respect Ryoukan.

 There was always a lot of laughter in the guest room of the main hall of Gokurakuji Temple.  With Ryoukan in the center of the room, Hojo Mitsutoki and other court nobles and nuns were chatting and laughing.

 Mitsutoki expressed his gratitude to Ryoukan.

 "As for the prayer for the recent Mongolian extermination, I am deeply grateful to you for your prayers day and night.”

 The drum belly Ryoukan replied pleasantly.

 “This is an important matter for Japan. It is a matter of great importance to the nation of Japan, and it is only natural for us to maintain the precepts and recite the Nembutsu. Like Nichiren, I would never refuse to pray and run away to the mountains.”

 They all smiled broadly, as if they had understood what he meant.

 “That monk is a coward, that he is. Perhaps he ran away because he was afraid of the Mongols.

 Ryoukan nodded.”

 “Lord, don't worry about Nichiren. He is a man of the past. It is said that he has retired to the mountains of Kai and is living on a shoestring. Instead, his disciples are roaming around Kamakura and arguing with him. However, they only caused a stir in the world. I am sure they will be appealed by the Shogunate again sooner or later. Come to think of it, there was also one in the retainers of Lord Mitsutoki.”

 Mitsutoki opened his mouth bitterly.

 "You mean Kingo Shijo, don't you? I'm having a hard time with that man. He doesn't get along well with the other retainers. I like him for his resilience, but if he continues like this, he may become a nuisance.”

 Ryoukan smiled and agreed with Mitsutoki.

 “The lord, I am sure you’re having a hard time, too. In any case, those who stand in opposition to the precepts and the Nembutsu will not be able to pass away. There will come a time when you will have to make a decision.”

 Ryoukan had been inwardly relieved. He was inwardly relieved because Nichiren, whom he had been eyeing as an enemy, had left Kamakura. There was no longer a formidable enemy. What remained to be worried about were the remnants of Nichiren's followers within the Kamakura Shogunate. Due to the active advocacy of Nichiren's disciples, the number of believers in Gokuraku-ji was rapidly decreasing. Without them, he could regain control of the religious world in Kamakura. Therefore, Ryoukan took all possible measures to prevent the followers of Nichiren from gaining momentum. He had always been the reigning figure in the Buddhist world of Kamakura. The day would soon come when he would once again be revered as a saint by the people of Kamakura. It should have been an easy scheme for Ryoukan.

 However, just as he was about to do so, a major incident occurred.

 The Gokurakuji temple was burned down.


 That night, smoke from the fire filled the building of Gokuraku-ji. The cause of the fire is unknown. The fire was blown away by the wind and spread to all 49 buildings.

 A young monk panicked when he saw smoke billowing into the temple grounds.

 The flames blew down the doors of the main hall and scattered sparks of fire.

 The young priest and others were pacing left and right in the precincts trying to put out the fire. Some of the younger monks were running for cover, unsure of what to do.

 But in the blink of an eye, the fittings were engulfed in flames, and the sparks of fire burned through all the buildings like living creatures.

 The priest Ryoukan, too, was distraught and ranting.

 “We must put it out quickly. There is money in the hall. There are valuable clothes and silks in the hall. Put out the fire at all costs.”

 Ryoukan pushed his disciple away as if he had changed.

 The disciple tried to knock down the building for fear of the fire spreading, but the fire was so strong that he was forced to back down.

 In the meantime, the fire flew one after another, turning the whole temple into a mountain of flames.

 Ryoukan went toward the fire, but his disciple desperately tried to stop him. Ryoukan was half-crazed.

 “It's money, there are reserves in that thing. Don't stop me, don't stop!”

 For Ryoukan, wealth was the means to success. He could not let go of the copper coins. They were more precious than anything else. While preaching the precepts and the Nembutsu, he was also engaged in the financial business of usury and loan. There was enormous wealth in Gokuraku-ji. Even the Shogunate relied on his financial strength. Now, it was about to disappear with the flames.

 The main hall collapsed in a heap and collapsed with the screams of the monks living around it.

 Half the city of Kamakura also heard the sound of fire. The fire that broke out at Gokurakuji Temple spread to every corner of Kamakura. The Imperial Palace, where the shogun resided, also burned down. People were running for their lives.


 The residence of Hojo Tokimune was also on fire, and all hell broke loose.

 Tokimune, however, kept his eyes closed in the midst of the smoke and remained calm and composed.

 Taira no Yoritsuna dropped to one knee in front of Tokimune.

 “My lord, this is a dangerous place, that it is. Please stand up quickly. The fire originated at Gokurakuji Temple.”

 Tokimune, like a man of supreme authority, was unmoved.

 Yoritsuna, the butler, urged him.

 "Please hurry up, my lord!”


 The next morning, the fire at Gokurakuji Temple was extinguished, but smoldering smoke filled the air.

 It was disappointing. The magnificent forty-nine temple buildings, which had been built with the best architectural technology of the time, were reduced to ashes in a single night.

Ryoukan's robe was also burnt to a crisp. He wandered around in a daze, looking around, and then sat down on the ground.

 He put his hands on the ground and continued to cry without knowing when he would end. Ryoukan, who was praised as a living Buddha throughout Kamakura, had not cried since his defeat in the rain with Nichiren.

 It was no wonder.

 At the age of sixty, he had lost everything. A sudden calamity had struck him with an unseen force that he did not recognize. Ryoukan was in despair over his misfortune.

 Suddenly, however, he began to laugh like a madman.

 “It's nothing. I can start all over again. There are still many believers. There are still many believers, some of whom even call me the second coming of Buddha. I will let them rebuild the temple. I have tamed the barbarian of the Shogunate. From now on, I will grab a handful of them and go after the superintendent of the Todaiji temple. There is no one to stand in their way. Except for Nichiren.”

 The reconstruction of the burnt ruins has begun. In a hastily constructed hall, the sound of Nembutsu chanting echoes.

 In the center of the hall was the Buddhist monk Ryoukan, surrounded by black-robed monks.

When Hojo Mitsutoki, the lord of Shijo Kingo, learned of Ryoukan's misfortune, he paid a visit to the temple and prayed with flat prayer beads. Mitsutoki was fascinated by Ryoukan. It was only natural that he offered a huge donation. The family members who adored Ryoukan also offered offerings one after another.

 At the end of the sutra reading, Ryoukan made a speech at the Dharma throne.

 “I would like to express my gratitude for the generous contributions you have made to the restoration of Gokuraku-ji. Today, there are many people from the Shogunate in attendance.”

Even as he preached, Ryoukan could feel the passionate gaze of the samurais.

 “I, too, will devote myself to praying for the safety of the nation and, in the near future, for the extermination of the Mongols. Please observe the precepts and recite the Nembutsu. If you do so, you will be able to pass on to the next life. You will be able to ward off evildoers. You will even be able to exterminate Nichiren.”

 Not a few of the retainers nodded their heads in agreement.

 Ryoukan's tone became heated.

 "Please chant Namu-Amida-Butsu ten thousand times a day, a hundred thousand times a day. It is the only way to stop evil. Is that all right?”

 They all chanted in unison, "Yes.”

 Ryoukan was satisfied. As long as these supporters were around, he would be safe.

 “Let me introduce to you our most reliable ally.”

 A strange old monk appeared. The others were enchanted by his graceful appearance and clasped their hands together.

 "My name is Ryuzo-bo, and I have just arrived from Mount Hiei.”

 The mere mention of the name "Hieizan" was enough to elicit a shout of praise from the audience.

 Ryoukan said with pride. 

 “You can see from his appearance that he is a very graceful monk. He is as if the reincarnation of Shakyamuni Buddha. It is time for the Nembutsu to spread throughout Kamakura.”

 Everyone applauded loudly for Ryuzo-bo.

 Eventually, Ryuzo-bo began to speak in a rather low voice. There was a hint of shade in his expression, but his tone was gentle.

 “I am Ryuzo-bo. I have come here from Hieizan at the invitation of Shonin Ryoukan. I am currently living and preaching in Kuwagayatsu Valley, west of the Great Buddha. If there is anything that you do not understand about the teachings of the Buddha, please do not hesitate to ask. I, too, am a novice, but I would like to spread the Nembutsu along with Ryoukan, the reincarnation of Buddha Amida. Please keep me in your prayers.”

 The audience prostrated themselves on the floor in unison to pay their respects to Ryuzo-bo from Mt. Hiei.


 Kingo Shijo, on the other hand, was mixing medicinal herbs in his workshop at the mansion, grinding and mixing them with a pestle and mortar (note). The earthenware jars of medicinal herbs were lined up next to him.

 Kingo was a master of medicinal herbs. He had cured his husband's illness. In those days, when there were no doctors, Kingo, who was skilled in medicine, was a valuable person to the Nagoe family. In the Kamakura period, people used medicines and moxibustion to treat their illnesses. Interestingly, it is known that there were medicines for each season. It is said that there were medicines for spring and medicines for autumn.

 Kingo instructed his servant.

 "Take this medicine to the mountains of Kai. Bring it to Nichiren Shonin. Because of the mountainous terrain, it is easy for him to get cold and suffer from stomach cramps. This medicine will surely help the saint.”

 His wife, Nichigan-nyo, urged Kingo to go.

 “You must go out soon. Will it be late today?”

 “No, what's the matter?”

 “I am worried if it is late at night. I heard that there was a cannibal again, and the whole town's talking about it.”

 Kingo laughed.

 "Well, I might be eaten, too.”

 "You must be joking. I would believe you if you had eaten a cannibal. By the way, you, how is your relationship with your colleagues now?”

 Kingo's mood suddenly turned sour.

 “So, what about it?”

 “The wives I've been keeping company with have suddenly become distant.I met Mr. Shimada and Mr. Yamashiro's wives at the market the other day, but they wouldn't even look at me when I greeted them. I've never seen anything like this before.”

 Kingo was blunt when Nichigan-nyo complained of something unusual.

 “Don't worry about it. I've long since stopped associating with Shimada, Yamashiro, and the like. They are jealous of how well my lord and I get along.”

 “How is it that you don't have a relationship?”

 “How is it? They opposed me at every turn, both in regard to the lord and in my belief in the Lotus Sutra. I am the only one in his vassals who uphold the Lotus Sutra. I may be outnumbered, but I will not be defeated.”

 Kingo put his sword in his waist and mounted his horse.

 Nichigan-nyo looked at his back anxiously.


 There is still a letter that Nichiren had written about Kingo's character. As Nichiren is the person who understood Kingo the most, the contents is quite interesting.

 One day, Toki Jonin’s wife fell seriously ill. Kingo and Jonin were close friends. They were more than relatives because of their longtime faith.

 Nichiren introduced Kingo, who was skilled in the art of medicine, to Toki's wife. Here, Nichiren admonishes her to be careful about Kingo's character.


 “I could ask Shijo Kingo on your behalf, but, while some people would prefer to be approached by an intermediary, others may feel it reflects a lack of earnestness on the part of the individual concerned. It is extremely difficult to fathom another person’s mind. I am a little worried about it. The Lord Shijo Kingo is one who would feel offended if the request came from anyone but the person directly concerned, it would not be a good idea to tell him arbitrarily. Just ask for his assistance yourself, frankly and sincerely, without an intermediary. When he came to see me in the tenth month of last year, he told me how grieved he was about your illness. He said that she was probably not overly concerned, because your illness was not yet serious, but that it would surely become critical by the first or second month of this year. His words deeply saddened me. He also said that your husband Toki depends on you as a staff to lean on and a pillar for support. Kingo was very concerned about you too. He is a man who has an unyielding spirit and who greatly values believers of our sect.” On Prolonging One’s Life Span’


 This shows Kingo's stubborn nature. Readers may imagine Kingo's gruff appearance.

He was also a passionate man. The spirit of defeat was also unusually strong. He was a man who pushed others aside to do what he wanted.

 His stubbornness was the same in his work and faith. It is no wonder that he had many enemies among his colleagues. Kingo also seems to have told Nichiren what he thought without hesitation. In addition, when it came to the people of the Lotus Sutra sect, he gave priority to them at all costs. In fact, Kingo was as concerned about Toki Jonin's wife's illness as he was about his own family.

 Stubborn, obstinate, and easily agitated people are definitely not liked. Such people exist even today. This may be typical of the Kamakura warriors.

 If it had not been for his faith in the Lotus Sutra, Kingo's life might have been short-lived because of his violent temperament. Although he was disliked by people, when the time came, he would share his life with his teacher and try to die a martyr for the sake of his lord.

Usually, he is just a short-tempered man. But once he was in desperate straits, Kingo showed his true value. Regardless of what people thought of him, he was a reliable ally to both Nichiren and his master in critical situations.




To be continued.




Note


 A pestle and mortar

 An instrument used to grind herbs, roots, and other medicinal seeds into a fine powder when making Chinese medicine. It can be made of stone, iron, or wood.


屋内, テーブル, 木製, 椅子 が含まれている画像自動的に生成された説明




by johsei1129 | 2022-05-19 18:48 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)
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