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2022年 05月 19日

65. Controversy in Kuwagayatsu Valley

 It was June 9, 1277, the third year of Kenji.

 Ryuzo-bo began to preach to a full house in Kuwagayatsu Valley, west of the gate of the Great Buddha. It was about the preciousness of Nembutsu.

 Ryuzo-bo's popularity was booming in Kamakura. Just because he had come from Kyoto at the invitation of Ryoukan, his reputation had grown. The whole of Kamakura was now abuzz with stories of Ryuzo's grateful Buddha Law and man-eating demons.

 Among the audience were Kingo Shijo and Nichiren's disciple, Sanmi-bo.

 In the midst of his Dharma talk, Ryuzo said smilingly,

 "If anyone in this packed audience has any questions, please speak up.”

 At this point, Kingo immediately tried to step forward, but San-i-bo restrained him and stood up.

 Sanmi-bo began to speak smilingly.

 “That death is inevitable from the time of birth is certainly no cause for surprise; in addition, especially in recent times, countless people in Japan have perished in calamities. No one can fail to realize this transience, which lies before our very eyes. Under these circumstances I heard that you, a respected priest, had come from Kyoto to dispel the doubts of the people, so I came to listen. I was feeling hesitant, thinking it rude to ask a question in the middle of your sermon, so I am happy that you have invited anyone who has doubts to speak freely.”

 Ryuzo-bo nodded smilingly. Kingo, on the other hand, looked at Ryuzo- bo with stern eyes.

 Sanmi-bo continues.

 “What puzzles me first of all is this: I am a lowly person, born on the Latter Day of the Law in a remote land [far from the birthplace of Buddhism]. Yet fortunately Buddhism, which originated in India, has already been introduced to this country. One should embrace it by all means. However, the sutras amount to no less than five thousand or seven thousand volumes. Since they are the teachings of a single Buddha, they must essentially be one sutra. But Buddhism is divided into eight schools, if one includes Kegon and Shingon, or ten schools, if one includes Pure Land and Zen. Although these schools represent different gates of entry, I would presume that their truth must ultimately be one.

 However, the Great Teacher Kobo, the founder of the Shingon in Japan, said, ‘The Lotus Sutra, when compared with the Kegon and Dainichi sutras, not only represents a different gate but is a doctrine of childish theory, and the Buddha who expounded it is still in the region of darkness.’ He also stated, ‘The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai of the Lotus school and others vied with one another to steal the true charm of the Shingon.’ The Reverend Zendo of the Pure Land school said, ‘If people practice the Nembutsu continuously until the end of their lives, then ten persons out of ten and a hundred persons out of a hundred will be reborn in the Pure Land. . . . However, not even one person in a thousand can be reborn by

the Lotus and other sutras.’ The Honorable Honen urged people to ‘discard, close, ignore, and abandon’ the Lotus Sutra in favor of the Nembutsu, and also likened the votaries of the Lotus Sutra to ‘a band of robbers.’ And the Zen school declares itself to represent ‘a separate transmission outside the sutras, independent of words or writing.

 Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, said of the Lotus Sutra, ‘The World-Honored One has long expounded his doctrines and now must reveal the truth.’ And Many Treasures Buddha declared, ‘The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law . . . all that you Shakyamuni have expounded is the truth!’ The sutra also states that the Buddhas of the ten directions, who were emanations of Shakyamuni, extended their tongues to the Brahma heaven.

 However, the Great Teacher Kobo wrote that the Lotus Sutra is a doctrine of childish theory. On the other hand, Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha, and the Buddhas of the ten directions unanimously declared that all its teachings are true. Which of all these statements are we to believe?

 The Reverend Zendo and the Honorable Hōnen said of the Lotus Sutra that not even one person in a thousand can be saved by it, and that one should ‘discard, close, ignore, and abandon’ it. However, Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Tathagata, and the Buddhas of the ten directions who are emanations of Shakyamuni assert that, of those who hear the Lotus Sutra, ‘not a one will fail to attain Buddhahood,’ and that all will achieve the Buddha way. Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and all the other Buddhas are in their statements as far apart from the Reverend Zendo and the Honorable Hōnen as fire and water, or clouds and mud. Which of them are we to believe? Which are we to reject?

 In particular, of the forty-eight vows of the monk Dharma Treasury mentioned in the Sokan Sutra, which both Zendo and Honen revere, the eighteenth one states that, if he seeks Buddhahood, only those who commit the five cardinal sins and those who slander the correct teaching will be excluded from salvation. Surely this means that, even if Amida Buddha’s vow is true and enables one to attain rebirth in his Pure Land, those who slander the correct teaching are excluded from rebirth in the land of Amida Buddha?

 “Now the second volume of the Lotus Sutra reads, ‘If a person fails to have faith but instead slanders this sutra…When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avīchi hell.’ If these scriptural passages are true, then how can Zendo and Hōnen, who both regarded the Nembutsu school as representing the essence of Buddhism, escape falling into the great citadel of the Avīchi hell? And if these two priests fall into hell, there can be no doubt that the scholars, disciples, and lay believers who follow in their footsteps will also as a matter of course fall into the evil paths. These are the matters that perplex me. What is your opinion, the Honorable Ryuzo-bo?”

 Ryuzo-bo looked puzzled.

 “How can I doubt the wise men of the past? An ordinary monk like me can only look up and believe.”

 Sanmi-bo pokes him.

 “'How can you doubt the wise men of the past?' These words do not impress me as those of a wise man. Everyone believes in those Buddhist teachers who were revered in their own time. But the Buddha enjoins us in the Nirvana Sutra as his final instruction, ‘Rely on the Law and not upon persons.’ The Buddha taught us to rely on the sutras if the Buddhist teachers should be in error. You say those teachers could not possibly be in error, but between the Buddha’s golden words and your personal opinion, I am committed to the former.”

 Ryuzo-bo faltered and asked,

 “When you speak of the many errors of the Buddhist teachers, to which teachers do you refer?”

 Sammi-bo answered,

 “I refer to the doctrines of the Great Teacher Kōbō and the Honorable Hōnen, whom I mentioned before.”

 Ryuzo-bo exclaimed.

 “That is impossible! I would not dare discuss the Buddhist teachers of our nation. The people in this audience all follow them, and if they blame them, will surely create an uproar. That would be a fearsome thing. Namu-Amida Butsu, Nam-Amidabutsu.”

 Ryuzo-bo began to chant the nembutsu prayer. He thought that by chanting, he would be able to escape from Sanmi-bo's argument.

 However, Sanmi-bo does not let up in his pursuit.

 “Because you asked me to specify which teachers were in error, I mentioned those whose teachings contradict the sutras and papers. But now you suddenly have reservations and refuse to discuss the matter. I think that you merely perceive your own dilemma. In matters of doctrine, to fear others or stand in awe of society’s opinion and not expound the true meaning of the scriptural passages in accordance with the Buddha’s teaching is the height of foolishness. You do not appear to be a wise or honorable priest. As a teacher of the Law, how can you not speak out when evil doctrines spread throughout the land, when the people fall into the evil paths and the country stands on the brink of ruin? That is why the Lotus Sutra reads, ‘We care nothing for our bodies or lives,’ and the Nirvana Sutra says, ‘Even though it costs him his life.’ If you are a true sage, how can you care about your life in fear of the world or of other people?”

 Then Ryuzo-bo replied,

 “Such people cannot possibly appear in the latter age. We are the sort who fear society and dread the opinions of others. Even though you speak so boldly, I doubt that you actually live up to your words.”

 Sanmi-bō retorted.

 “The priest Ryuzo-bo, if you cannot answer my questions, please stop preaching any longer. I am a disciple of Nichiren Shonin, who is now a well-known figure in Japan.”

 Ryuzo-bo's face turned pale. Isn't he the great evil priest that the priest Ryoukan had told him about?

 Kingo Shijo puffed out his chest.

 Sanmi-bo's remarks were smooth.

 “Although the sage, my teacher, is a priest in the latter age, unlike the eminent priests of our day, he neither seeks success nor flatters people, nor has he earned the slightest bad reputation in secular matters. He simply declares, in light of the sutras, that because the evil teachings of such schools as the True Word, Zen, and Pure Land as well as their slanderous priests fill this country, and everyone from the ruler on down to the general populace has taken faith in them, the people have all become archenemies of the Lotus Sutra and Shakyamuni Buddha. Therefore, In this life they will be forsaken by the gods of heaven and earth, and suffer invasion by a foreign country, and in the next life they will fall into the great citadel of the Avichi hell.

 Saint has said that if he declares such a thing he will incur great enmity, but that if he does not he cannot escape the Buddha’s condemnation. The Nirvana Sutra says, ‘If even a good monk sees someone destroying the teaching and disregards him, failing to reproach him, to oust him, or to punish him for his offense, then you should realize that that monk is betraying the Buddha’s teaching.’ Realizing that, if in fear of the world’s opinion he did not speak out, he would fall into the evil paths, my teacher has risked his life for more than two decades, from the Kenchō era through this third year of the Kenji era (1277), without slackening in the least. Therefore, he has undergone countless persecutions at the hands of individuals, and twice he has even incurred the ruler’s wrath. I myself was one of those who accompanied him when the wrath of the shogunate fell upon him on the twelfth day of the ninth month in the eighth year of the Bun’ei era (1271), and I was considered equally guilty and came close to being beheaded myself. Despite all this, do you still say that I hold my own life dear?”

 As Ryuzo-bo closed his mouth and turned pale, Sanmi-bo further caught up with Ryuzo-bo.

 “With such paltry wisdom it is unwarranted for you to declare that you will dispel the people’s doubts. The monks Kugan and Shoui thought they knew the correct teaching and intended to save the people, but they fell into the hell of incessant suffering along with their disciples and lay believers. If you, with your limited knowledge of Buddhist doctrines, preach in an attempt to save people, then surely you and your followers will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. You had better reconsider such this preaching from this day forth. I had not felt that I should speak in this way; but I, too, cannot be exempted from the Buddha’s warning that, if one sees a misguided priest sending others into hell with his evil teachings and fails to reproach that priest and expose his errors, then one is oneself betraying the Buddha’s teaching. Moreover, I feel pity that all those, both high and low, who listen to your preaching will fall into the evil paths. Therefore, I am speaking out in this way. Is not a person of wisdom one who admonishes the ruler when the country is endangered or corrects others’ mistaken views? But in your case, no matter what error you may see, you will no doubt refuse to correct it for fear of society’s reaction. Because of this, I am powerless to help you. Even if I had Manjushrī’s wisdom and Huruna’s (note) eloquence, they would be wasted on you!”

 So saying, Sammi-bo rose to leave.

 The audience rejoiced and clasped hands with Sanmi-bo.

 ”Priest Sanmi-bo, will you preach for a while?”

 But Sanmi-bo said, "That's all for now," and left the room with Kingo in high spirits.

 Sanmi-bo was unruffled. Kingo, on the other hand, was exhilarated. It had been a long time since he had felt so good. It was rare for everything to go so well. It was almost frightening.

 As it turned out, an unexpectedly big event was waiting for him a few days later.

 On this day, Kamakura was illuminated by a moonlit night.

In an abandoned temple, shadows were crawling.

 A cannibal was eating meat. A corpse lay beside it. The demon munched on it in the darkness, its mouth turning red.

At this moment, the torchlight was shining on the man at once.

 The warriors in charge of the night patrol, armed with long sticks, rushed to arrest the man.

“Here he is!"

 The cannibal was so frightened that he put on his mask and fled under the eaves of the temple.

 One of the night watchmen caught up with him and held him back with a stick, but the cannibal recklessly shook it off. At this time, the mask came off and his face was illuminated by the moonlight.

 The demon fled as if rolling into the grass. It was dark and the grass was waist high. The pursuers gave up.

 The night watchmen gathered in force.

 “You let him escape again? Did you let him escape again?”

 “Don't you have any clues? Find out if he left anything behind.”

 One of the night watchmen was shaking.

 “I saw his face.”

 The head of the night watchman was pleased.

 “What did he look like? Did you see his face? What did he look like?”

 “He was shaving his head.”

 “Well, then he must be a beggar monk. The cannibal is disguised as a monk. Yes, that must be it."

 The man crossed his arms.

 "Please, hold on. I think I've seen that face before.”

 "Good, do whatever you can to remember.”

 The man slowly bowed his head and traced the thread of his memory.

 On June 25, about half a month after the "Kuwagayatsu Inquiry," Kingo had a visitor at his house. It was Kingo's brother and sister.

 A heavy atmosphere prevailed.

 Kingo was said to have had four or five siblings. He also had many relatives. Among them, Kingo's older brother was against the faith of the Lotus Sutra. He was also tired of Kingo's violent temperament. In addition, Kingo was reportedly having a quarrel with his master over his territory. They could not stand still. The annual tribute from Kingo's fields was keeping the siblings afloat. They would be in trouble if Kingo caused a ruckus. Today was the day they couldn't take it any longer and came to question him.

 Kingo crossed his arms and closed his eyes as if he had grasped a bitter bug. His wife, Nichigan-nyo, took care of them and served him sake.

 His elder brother complained.

 “I'm so tired of your stubbornness. Why do you quarrel with the Lord? Look at the world. There are many people who have lost their lands and are lost in the wilderness, but you are too bloodthirsty. You."

 His sister joined in.

 “The continuation of the Shijo family depends on your determination, my brother. Don't make enemies all the time. Please do as the Lord of Nagoe says.”

 “I don't care about your faith now. If I tell you to abandon the Lotus Sutra, we will have another quarrel. However, it is important to get along with the world. If we keep our relations with the world broad and shallow, we won't have any troublesome quarrels.”

 "Brother. I feel sorry for your sister-in-law. If she continues like this, all the land she has received will be taken away from her. My siblings and I have to make do with what we can get, but we can't face the world like this.”

 Kingo finally opened his mouth.

 “What are you thinking about when you talk about the world, having a wide range of friends, and not being able to face the world?”

 The siblings were astonished.

 “Don't be yourself, don't look outward. I will be who I am. If you don't like it, I'll cut you off.”

 “How dare you?”

 At this moment, there was a voice at the gate of the mansion. It seemed to be a visitor.

 The old servant went to meet him, but found an unexpected person standing there.

 They were Shimada Nyudo and Yamashiro Nyudo. They were on bad terms with Kingo.

 What was going on at a time like this?

 Kingo responded with a suspicious look on his face as he held up his sword and grabbed the hilt.

 “What do you want?”

 Shimada took a letter from his pocket, "It's a letter from our lord.”

 It was an unexpected visit, and a letter from his lord, Mitsutoki. Kingo had no choice but to invite them in.

 Shimada and Yamashiro entered the living room, and the Kingo family ducked down to greet them.

 Shimada stood and read out the master's sentence. Kingo had no choice but to listen with his hands on the floor.

 The content was astonishing.

 “The first. I was surprised to hear that all those who had seen and heard of your visit to the sermon of Kuwagayatsu Priest Ryuzo on June 9 were unanimous in their opinion that the sermon was not a peaceful one. I was surprised to hear that you formed a mob and went everywhere, coming and going with swords and staff. It is truly regrettable.

 I believe that Ryoukan of the Gokurakuji Temple is the reincarnation of the Buddha. I believe that the Priest Ryuzo-bo is the reincarnation of Amida.

 Second. If you obey the will of the Lord or your parents, you will be blessed by the Buddha and will be respected by the world. But you have already turned against the Lord. What do you think about this?

 For these reasons, I command you, Yorimoto Kingo Shijo. Renounce the Lotus Sutra and take a vow to serve Amida Buddha. If you do not do so, I will take away your current domain and banish you. I have prepared a written oath as a sign of your commitment. I hope that you will be wise. That is all.”

 Shimada Nyudo graciously placed the written oath paper in front of Kingo.

 Kingo shouted at them, half-rising from his floor.

 “Wait a minute. I told our lord about the situation at the Ryuzo-bo when I met him. I'm sure he will agree. I'm sure there was no one there who didn't know Kingo at the time of that dispute. It does not match the facts at all. It is probably just a fabrication of those who are jealous of me. I want you to call those people together as soon as possible. It will surely become clear!”

 Shimada looked down at Kingo.

 “Lower your head. That's the word of the Lord.”

 Kingo sat back down with an annoyed look on his face.

 "Kingo Shijo, this is the command. Think it over carefully.”

 Shimada and Yamashiro walked away smiling.

 Kingo chased after them.

 "Wait. This must be your plan. You are cowards. You have deceived my Lord!"

 The two men left, their backs to each other.

 Kingo sat back down in front of the letter of written oath.

 “It is a trap.”

 His elder brother says.

 “This is not a trap, Kingo. You must obey your master. A warrior can live only on his land. Write an oath to protect yourself.”

 My sister also urged him.

 "Yes, brother. Please leave Nichiren behind. I will not leave this place until you have written your oath.”

 Kingo was lost in thought, and there was a long pause.

 The siblings were right. He can't live if they take away his land. Not only he, but also his wife and children would be lost.

 Eventually, Kingo opened his mouth.

 “I understand. I'm a samurai too. I don't want to be a beggar. Don't worry, everyone. I'll write him a letter of oath.”

 The tension was relieved.

 The siblings looked relieved.

 On the other hand, his wife, Nichigan-nyo, remained downcast. Their young daughter, Tsukimaro, became worried and hugged her mother.

 My brother was unnecessarily happy.

 “I'm glad. Now the house of Shijo will be safe. Let's go home and tell our ancestors.”

 My sister was also relieved.

 “It's true. I was afraid of what would happen. But I'm relieved. Now I can buy my clothes.”

 Eventually, the siblings left quietly.

 After they left, the entire house was filled with a somber atmosphere.

 Kingo folded his arms in front of the oath letter of petition and closed his eyes.

 The written oath is a proof of vows to all the gods and Buddha. It is also included in the Formulary of Adjudications [Goseibai Shikimoku]. It was signed by all of the authors, including Hojo Yasutoki, as a pledge to absolutely abide by the law as it was written. That is how significant the written oath was. Once a declaration is made, it cannot be reversed.

 His attendant, an old man, looked on anxiously.

 Eventually, Kingo made his way to the Hall of Holding Buddha. There, he found the principal image written by Nichiren, enshrined.

 If he writes a petition, everything will be over. Everything would be at peace. He would have his land in peace, and his family would be able to survive. There will be no friction around you. Everything will be quiet. Now the opportunity has arrived.

 To renounce the Lotus Sutra is to separate from Nichiren. If we leave Nichiren, our days will be different from the past. Perhaps it will be a completely different life. There would be no more conflicts with colleagues, and the days would be filled with amity. He would think only of flattering his lord and toiling away for his daily bread.

 In exchange for a piece of territory, an unimaginable life awaits him. It would probably be a tasteless and empty one. Kingo imagined himself in a state of lifelessness.

 The morning came.

 The old squire was tossing and turning in his sleep.

 Kingo sat upright at his desk. Not a single word had been written on the paper that lay on the desk. At this point, Kingo remembered the words of Nichiren.

 “It is the judgment of Shakyamuni that ‘The shallow is easy and the deep is difficult.’ Leaving the shallow and seeking the deep is the brave’s spirit.”

 Kingo's mind was already made up.

 "Without the saint Nichiren, there is no life for me.”

 Once he had made this decision, he wrote with such force that he could even break his writing brush, "I will not write an oath even if my territory is confiscated.” He then immediately sent an express messenger to Nichiren with the details of the "Kuwagayatsu Inquiry" and the command letter of his lord, Mitsutoki. The express messenger arrived at his hermitage in Minobu at the hour of the rooster (6:00 p.m.) on the following day, the 27th.

 Nichiren saw this letter from Kingo, and wrote a letter of defense to the Inquiry Office in the name of "Shijo Kingo" on his behalf and sent it to Kingo.

 When Kingo finished writing the letter, he turned around and saw Nichigan-nyo with a sunken face sitting a short distance away. In her chest, the daughter Tsukimaro was asleep. She had no way of knowing about her father's predicament, but was sleeping with a face full of contentment.

 Kingo smiled at her as if he had just lost his possession.

 "You've been awake the whole time. Don't worry. As you can see, my decision is ready. Now l will go to the Lord.”

 Nichigen-nyo understood her husband's feelings. She saw Kingo off as usual on his way to the Nagoe residence, but his eyes were not smiling.

Ryoukan Gokurakuji and Ryuzo-bo were at the residence of Mitsuoki Nagoe. Kingo's older brother was also there, dressed in a dignified manner.

Ryoukan was smiling.

“If Kingo Shijo has written an oath, he must hasten to circulate it among your people. Now there will not be a single disciple of Nichiren in Kamakura. We must attack with all our might.”

Ryuzo-bo was satisfied. The bitterness of being humiliated in the midst of a full house had not disappeared.

Kingo's older brother spoke up to Mitsutoki.

“I apologize for my brother's rudeness, my lord. I also ask that you relieve him of his domain. My brother has already changed his mind.”

Mitsutoki was coughing. He seemed to have caught a cold. He was also worried about Kingo.

At first, Mitsutoki had taken Shimada and the others' measures in a light-hearted attempt to dissuade Kingo, but his goal was only to regain Kingo's loyalty. Mitsutoki has always had a soft spot for Kingo. He had not expected such an uproar. Kingo was a loyal retainer who had tried to die for him during the February disturbance. He wondered if it was right to push him to this level.

Shimada came in with a smile, "Kingo Shijo's written oath has arrived.

Amid the tension, Shimada opened the letter and began to read it gravely.

“I respectfully state that you please contact us. I am very grateful that you took the trouble to send a messenger to my house the other day. I also learned that my lord was mildly ill. I wish you a full recovery. By the way, as for your request, I swear to you that I will not write the pledge you have asked me to write.”

Everyone, including Shimada, was astonished. Shimada read on with some trepidation.

“I swear before you that no matter how much you scare me, no matter how much I abandon my domain, I will never stop believing in the Lotus Sutra. There is no change in the fact that the Nembutsu is an incessant hell, Zen is a heavenly demon, Shingon is an evil law of destroying the nation, and the precepts are national pirates.”

Mitsutoki was stunned, and Ryoukan yelled out in anger.

“My Lord, take away the land in Shijo immediately. Litigate further and sue him to the magistrate. Please send Kingo to hell!”

Mitsutoki Nagoe was clearly puzzled. I didn't expect this to turn into a lawsuit. I'm afraid it's become a big deal.

Ryoukan, Ryuzo-bo, and Shimada and Yamashiro's men decided to oust Kingo by a trial. They wanted to inform the world of Kingo's faults and destroy him and the Lotus Sutra at once. Kingo was merely a subordinate of Mitsutoki. They believed that the odds were good enough.

The decision to begin the review was immediately conveyed to Nichiren in Minobu, Kai Province.

Nichiren was an expert in litigation. Kingo alone did not have the strength to make an argument in this trial. Nichiren instructed Kingo, who was cornered by Ryoukan's group, on how to testify at the verdict in its entirety. For once, Kingo obeyed.

In this way, Kingo Shijo unexpectedly stood on the stage to decide whether Buddhism was right or wrong.

To be continued.



Pūrna. One of the ten great disciples of the Buddha. His preaching was regarded as the first among the disciples, and he received the title of the Tathagata Homyo in the eighth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Five Hundred Disciples. His mother was the sister of Kyojinnyo, one of the Five Dharma Masters to whom the Sakyamuni first preached after attaining Buddhahood, and is said to have been the daughter of a great wealth.

by johsei1129 | 2022-05-19 18:54 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)
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