人気ブログランキング | 話題のタグを見る


2022年 05月 19日

71. Nichiren remonstrates with the younger brother Munenaga.

The elder brother Munenaka soaked a hatchet in water and polished it. After that, he filed the saw. Munenaka had lost weight over the past few months due to hard work. He was living only out of sheer willpower.

A child was sleeping behind him. 

Munenaka put the hatchet and saw. Then, he went to the Buddhist altar.

His wife was still turned away from him.

“What's wrong?”

The wife looked at her husband with suspicion.

“It's about your brother. Can you really trust lord Munenaga?

“What are you talking about? My younger brother is one with me.”

“Did you know that the other day, Ryoukan of Gokurakuji Temple sent a gift to younger brother’s house? In return, lord Munenaga visited it at the Gokurakuji temple.” 

Munenaka hid his agitation.

“No way. It can't be true. Even if that were true, he must have his own ideas.”

“No. He intends to take over the Ikegami family as the younger brother.”

“What are you talking about? You insult my brother.”

His wife bit her lip.

“I didn't insult you. I'm so frustrated that my brother is trying to take advantage of your disinheritance to take over the family. Why should we be defeated by a younger brother?”

“Calm down. What are you thinking about? What is the value of the office of magistrate? What was the purpose of our faith until now? Now is the most important time. Now is the time to conquer the demons with strong faith.”


Munenaka gave his wife a prayer bead.

The couple went to the altar together and clasped hands.

His wife wiped her tears many times in vexation.

The next day, the younger brother Munenaga met his father. His mother sat beside his father, Yasumitsu, as if wilting.

Yasumitsu tells him to growl.

“The truth is since I have disowned my elder brother, I must decide who will be my successor. There is no one to take over Ikegami but you, Munenaga. Don't think about my brother. It is your own problem.”

Munenaga pleaded.

“Father, I am sure that in time you will understand your brother's feelings. Please think about it. I do not have what it takes to be the ruler of Ikegami.”

Yasumitsu urged.

“We don't have much time, Munenaga. If you delay, your position as magistrate will be taken away from you.”

Munenaga was astonished.

“Don't underestimate the shogunate. If we quarrel over the issue of succession, lord Kamakura will punish us severely. There are many retainers who want the position of magistrate. Priest Ryoukan will also not stand idly by.”

 His mother joined him.

“Please take over Ikegami to protect our house. My brother followed Nichiren. Only you must believe in Nembutsu and take over Ikegami.”

Munenaga showed an expression of anguish.

His father put the finishing touches on him.

“If you believe in Nembutsu, priest Ryoukan will protect you for the rest of your life. Rest assured. If you become a master builder, you will be at ease. You will no longer have to deal with Nichiren's guys.”

The pros and cons of faith and the rise and fall of the family came at once. Munenaga was in a quandary.

“Father, give me some time to think about it.”

The father looked his brother in the eye.

“Three days from now, we will hold an inheritance ceremony for the heir. Munenaka, there can be no reprieve. I look forward to hearing from you.”

At the construction site, his older brother Munenaka was working among the craftsmen.

 The regent's mansion was nearing completion.

A carpenter approached Munenaka.

He said, "I haven't seen your younger brother around lately.”

Munenaka pretended to be uninterested. Worrying did not help.

Then Yasumitsu appeared.

Everyone bowed their heads with one hand on the ground.

“I have good news," he said.

“The lord Tokimune will be at the reception for the completion of this building.”

The whole group was quietly happy.

"Be on your guard, especially against fire. Don't cut corners. I also have a message for you. I have decided to pass the position of magistrate to my second son, Munenaga.

Everyone was surprised and looked at his brother's face.

Yasumitsu continued.

"Munenaga will surely succeed to our family. If not, Ikegami will be cut off. The succession will be decided in three days at our mansion. The vassals of the shogunate will be there. Do not be sloppy.”

Yasumitsu left.

In his place came a bitter-looking Munenaga. Munenaga had not yet made up his mind.

He stood in front of his brother.

“I am at a loss. If I disobey my father, my family will be cut off. If I follow my father, my brother will..."

My brother's eyes were kind.

“Munenaga, now that things have come to this, you can decide what you think is best. I will live as an ascetic of the Lotus Sutra no matter what. Even if you abandon me, I will not hold a grudge. Decide for yourself.”

The elder brother left him desolately. The carpenters turned their backs on Munenaga.

The younger brother stood alone.

At the Gokurakuji Temple, monks and apprentices were busily at work.

It was not Buddhist work.

They counted the copper coins brought in, threaded them through a hole in the center, and piled them up. Next to them, silk fabrics were piled up.

Ryoukan and his disciple Irisawa Nyudo watched the scene.

Irusawa reported.

“The monk, the income from the Wakae coast is going well.”

Ryoukan nodded.

“The price of lumber is rising. It is thanks to the fire. Don't forget to stock up. There is a lot of construction work going on in Kamakura. The price of lumber will go up.”

Businessman Ryoukan is shrewd. The Gokurakuji Temple could not be maintained without business. Is there really a Buddha's law here?

Irusawa had something on his mind.

“Master. Regarding the Ikegami matter, there will be an inheritance in three days. The father has disowned the elder brother and is forcing the younger brother to take over as magistrate. Will the younger brother make up his mind?”

Ryoukan looked deep into his disciple's eyes and said.

“A fact has already been established. He can walk the path we have laid out for him. Isn't it easy? He will come to us.

Of course he will. The merit of this life, not the next, is the purpose of human life, isn't it? The paradise in front of us is more important than the Pure Land, which we do not know where it is. My brother will be able to live happily for the rest of his life. What kind of person would throw that away without a second thought? If you refuse, the position of magistrate will be taken away. Where is there another way?”

Irusawa nodded.

If Munenaga did not abandon the Lotus Sutra, Ryoukan would launch a campaign to have the magistrate removed from Ikegami. This was nothing to him, as he had tremendous power in the shogunate.

His bearded elder brother Munenaka was busy packing up the household goods and preparing to move out. Since he could not follow in the footsteps of his parents, he was destined to fall into poverty.

 His wife, who has completely changed, still urged Munenaka.

“How about this, my dear? You should do this. You must apologize to your father. Then your younger brother will not be able to seize your property. You.”

“I can't do that. There is no going back.”

“You are a samurai, aren't you? Do you not resent your brother? Do you stand idly by and watch your younger brother become a magistrate in preference to your elder brother?”

Munenaka silently put things away. His wife said,

“I understand. I would like to divorce you and leave my house if that is the case.”

Munenaka said with his back to me.”

“I don't care. It is what it is.”

His wife sank against Munenaka's back and wept.

On the other hand, his brother Munenaga's house was filled with copper coins and beautiful clothes.

Munenaga came home in the hunting costume, the formal dress of a samurai. He decided that he had no choice but to follow the path set by his parents.

Munenaga thought.

Although he was unwilling to leave, he could not resist the power of fate. He weighed his religious beliefs against the future of his family and thought about it in his own way, but he decided that he had no choice but to follow his father.

The faces of his closest comrades, including Kingo Shijo and Jonin Toki, flashed in his mind. I could see their disappointment in their eyes. Munenaka drowned out such delusions. He then took out Nichiren's Gohonzon, which had been placed in the Buddha room, and rolled it up.

He looked over to see his wife sitting on the floor, still wearing the same crude clothes.

Munenaga was puzzled.

“What's the matter? Didn't you change your clothes?”

His wife, always cheerful, remained silent.

“What's the matter? It makes life easier. Aren't you happy? You can live as luxuriously as you like. What's wrong with you? If I don't listen to my father, my family will cease to exist. This is the only way for us now.”

The wife began to speak with her hands on the floor in a coaxing manner. It was the first time I had ever seen her like this.

“I would like to say something. I too was concerned about your concerns. However, I did not think that you would abandon your elder brother for a better life. But even if you were to abandon your faith in the Lotus Sutra, I would still follow you. It is not because I want to be extravagant. The saintly person said so. If a husband is happy, his wife will prosper. If a husband is a thief, his wife will be a thief. If a man becomes a king, a woman becomes a queen. If a man is good, a woman will become a Buddha. Not only in this life, but in every moment of our lives, we will be like a shadow and a body, a flower and a fruit, a root and a leaf. The insects that live in the trees eat the trees. Fish in the water eat the water. When the grass withers, the orchid weeps; when the pine tree flourishes, the oak tree rejoices. Even the plants and trees are like this. I will follow you even if you become a thief. Please rest assured.”

Munenaga was rejoicing as if he had been saved. His wife is the only one who understands him now. She was his only ally.

“You said it well.”

But here, my wife said, as if to push him away.

“However, I have only one favor to ask of you. Please meet with Saint Nichiren and settle the matter. Before you follow your father and abandon your faith in the Lotus Sutra and your brother, it would make sense for you to meet with the saint and speak to him once and for all. What do you think?”

The rain was falling on the mountains of Minobu. The road was dark even though it was noon.

Munenaga on horseback, wearing a hat and a straw raincoat, with offerings on either side of his horse, rode up the mountain.

He hesitated, going back and forth. His wife had asked him to come all the way, but his gait was indeed heavy.

Eventually, he came into sight of Nichiren's residence. Although the building had been restored once in the winter of Kenji 3 (1277) by the hands of the disciples who had trained under Nichiren, it was a much shabbier structure than the one at Gokuraku-ji Temple.

He could see the lights of the pavilion.

Soaked by the rain, Munenaga stood staring at the lights.

Ever since his wife had told him to talk to Nichiren, all he could think about was how he could talk to Nichiren.

Nichiren was bound to object. How should he respond? He thought Nichiren would shake his head with a bitter look on his face. How could I get through this? That was all he could think about.

At this time, Nichiren was writing the doctrine for a lecture to his disciples on the reverse side of an unwritten piece of paper sent to him by Toki Jonin. Incidentally, among the autographs of Nichiren that remain at Nakayama Hokekyo-ji Temple, which was founded by Toki Jonin, is a paper-back document (Note) related to Jonin's lord, the Chiba clan, the protector of Shimousa Province.

Paper is precious. We cannot be as extravagant as Ryoukan. Nichiren used used paper again and again.

His disciple, Nichiro Chikugo-bo, is reading a sutra scroll beside Nichiren. Next to him, Nichimoku was copying sutras at Nichiren's request. Nichimoku, who had been trained by Nikko, had come to Minobu in the second year of Kenji (1276) at the age of 17, and had been serving at Nichiren's side ever since.

Incidentally, the autograph of “Five Precepts Oral Transmitted," which Nichime copied in Minobu in February of Kenji 3, is still extant at Jitsujo-ji Temple in Izu Province.

 The sound of rain could only be heard.

Chikugo-bo spoke happily.

"The success of Hoki-bo in Atsuhara is remarkable. I wish the Lotus Sutra would spread like that in Suruga. It may not be a dream to spread the Lotus Sutra throughout Japan.”

The activities of his disciples had begun, mainly in eastern Japan. Among them, Hoki-bo Nikko was at the forefront of propagation, especially in the Fuji region.

However, Nichiren did not listen to what Chikugo-bo had to say, but kept on writing.

“Chikugo-bo, it seems you have a guest outside. Open the door."

He didn't notice. Why could the saint notice?

Chikugo-bo opened the door and found Munenaga Ikegami standing there. He was drenched in the rain without an umbrella.

Chikugo-bo was surprised by the sudden arrival, but he immediately smiled and led Munenaga inside.

Nichiren, on the contrary, did not smile.

Munenaga stiffened and removed his cloak.

Chikugo-bo was so happy to see Munenaga.

“Lord Munenaga. I am so glad you could come. I have heard about your father. Now is the critical time. Let us work together with my brother to overcome this great difficulty. Lord Munenaka..."

At this point, Nichiren stopped him for some reason.

“Wait, Chikugo-bo, stay back for a while.”

Soon Nichiren met Munenaka in the back room.

 Nichiren was silent and closed his eyes.

 Munenaka could no longer bear the silence, and he spoke to Nichiren out of his own will.

“The saint, as a matter of fact..."

 When Nichiren finished listening to Munenaga's story about the succession, he began to speak quietly, as if he knew the whole story.

“I understood what you have said, Lord Munenaga. Since Nichiren has his own thoughts on this matter, I will send you a letter immediately. Until then, please do not take things too hastily.”

 It is a small pavilion. Their conversation was overheard by the disciples in the hall. Everyone, including Chikugo-bo, was listening to Nichiren's every word. What in the world is he trying to say to his precious congregation?

Munenaga was prepared to be reprimanded, but the saint said he would write down his thoughts in his letter. He was disappointed, but he also wondered if the Master had already dismissed me as a pathetic believer, and I thought it would have been better if he had reprimanded me sternly. Munenaga decided that the only thing to do now was to wait for news from the saint, and he left Nichiren's residence in Minobu on his way back home.

It is believed that the message from Nichiren was sent from Minobu on November 20, 1277 (Kenji 3), and that it reached Munenaga on the following two days. It is probably the most severe letter of piety instruction among the letters sent to lay believers.

 The full text is given below. The 16 copies of this letter are in the collection of Myokaku-ji Temple in Kyoto City.



 'Reply to Munenaga Ikegami.' Genuine writing; Myokakuji Temple in Kyoto City possesses page 16. Others possess two lines of fragmentary documents at the end of page 11.

“To become a Buddha is more difficult than one to set a needle on this Mount Sumeru and fly a thread from another Mount Sumeru, and have that thread quickly enter the hole of the needle.In addition, it would be more difficult if a headwind blows.

The Lotus Sutra states: “A million million ten thousand kalpas, an inconceivable time will pass, and at last, one can hear this Lotus Sutra. A million million ten thousand kalpas, an infinite time will pass, before the Buddhas, preach this sutra. Therefore, its practitioners, after the Buddha has entered Nirvana, when they hear a sutra like this, you must not entertain doubts or perplexities.”

 “The two men you sent arrived here and they sent various offerings and I received it. I also read the letter about your sincerity which the monk Nissho had written.

In this letter I want to tell you about what is most important for you. In the Shoho and Zoho, the world did not fall into decline because sages and worthies appeared frequently, and the heavenly gods protected the people. In the Latter Day of the Law, however, people have become so greedy that strife rages incessantly between sovereign and subject, parent and child, elder and younger brother, and all the more so among people who are unrelated. When such conflict occurs, the gods abandon the country, and then the three calamities and seven disasters begin, until one, two, three, four, five, six, or seven suns appear in the sky. Plants and trees wither and die, large and small rivers dry up, the earth smolders like charcoal, and the sea becomes like boiling oil. Eventually the flames fill the atmosphere, arising from the hell of incessant suffering and reaching Bonten's heaven. Such is the devastation that will occur when the world reaches its final dissolution.

 Everyone, regardless of rank or status, considers it natural for children to obey their father, for retainers to be loyal to their sovereign, and for disciples to follow their teacher. Recently, however, it appears that the people of our day, drunk with the wine of greed, anger, and foolishness, make it a rule to betray their host, despise their parents, and scoff at their teachers. However, you should read again and again the previous letter in which I explained that one should of course, obey one’s teacher, sovereign, and parents, but should they commit wrongs, admonishing them is in fact being loyal to them.

 Recently your elder brother, Munenaka, was again disowned by your father. I had told you that he was certain to be disowned again, that I was apprehensive about how it would affect you, younger brother lord Munenaga, and that your wife should be prepared for the worst. Now I am sure that you will give up your faith. If you do, I have not the slightest intention of reproaching you for it. Briefly, you should not blame Nichiren when you have fallen into hell. It is in no way my responsibility. It is the natural law that a fire can at once reduce even a thousand-year-old field of pampas grass to ashes, and that an honor one has formed over a hundred years destroys with a single word.

 Your father, Yasumitsu, now seems to have become an enemy of the Lotus Sutra, yet your elder brother, Munenaka, will probably become the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. You, who think only of immediate affairs, will obey your father, and mad people will therefore praise you for your act. Taira Munemori obeyed his father’s tyrannous commands and was finally beheaded at Shinohara. Shigemori disobeyed his father and died before. Which do you think was really the filial son? If you obey your father who is an enemy of the Lotus Sutra and abandon your elder brother who is a votary of the sole teaching, are you a good son? In the final analysis, what you should do is resolve to seek the Buddha way single-mindedly just as your elder brother is doing. Your father is like King Myoshogon, and your brothers are like the prince Jozo and Jogen. The age is different, but the principle of the Lotus Sutra remains the same. Recently Musashi Nyudo abandoned his vast territory and his many subjects in order to retire from all worldly affairs. If you flatter with your father for the sake of a small private estate, neglect your faith, and fall into the evil paths, you should not blame Nichiren. Yet despite my warnings, I am feeling that this time you will discard your belief.

 I state this out of pity because, though you have been sincere as this until now, you may fall into the evil paths. If you are willing to follow Nichiren's righteousness in one chance in a hundred, one chance in a thousand, you should decide to follow my teaching, then confront your father and declare: “Since you are my father, I should by rights obey the father, but since you have become an enemy of the Lotus Sutra, I would be unfilial if I were to obey you in this matter. Therefore, I have resolved to break with you and follow my elder brother. If you should disown him, be aware that you are disowning me too.” You must not have the slightest fear in your heart. This is the reason why one could not attain Buddhahood even though one has professed faith in the Lotus Sutra for the countless past.

 There is definitely a difference in the ebb and flow of the tide, the rising and setting of the moon, and between summer and autumn, winter and spring. It is the same case when a mediocre person attains Buddhahood. At such a time, the three obstacles and four demons will invariably appear, and the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat. I have long been waiting to tell you this, either through my own messenger or by some other means. So, I greatly appreciate your sending these messengers to me. I am sure that, if you were about to abandon your faith, you would not have sent them. Thinking it may still not be too late, I am writing this letter.

 To become a Buddha is more difficult than one to set a needle on Mount Sumeru and fly a thread from another Mount Sumeru, and have that thread quickly enter the hole of the needle. In addition, it would be more difficult if a headwind blows.

 The Lotus Sutra states: “A million ten thousand kalpas, an inconceivable time will pass, and at last, one can hear this Lotus Sutra. A million ten thousand kalpas, an infinite time will pass, before the Buddhas, preach this sutra. Therefore, its practitioners, after the Buddha has entered Nirvana, when they hear a sutra like this, you must not entertain doubts or perplexities.” This passage is extremely unusual, even among the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. From the “Introduction” to the “Teacher of the Law” chapters, human and heavenly beings, the four kinds of believers, and the eight kinds of nonhuman beings—those at the stage of near-perfect enlightenment or below—were many in number, but there was only one Buddha, the Tathagata Shakyamuni. Thus, these chapters are of great import, but may appear insignificant.

 The twelve chapters from “Treasure Tower” to “Entrustment” are the most important of all. This is because it is in these chapters that, in the presence of Shakyamuni Buddha, there appeared the treasure tower of Taho. It was as if the sun had emerged in front of the moon. The Buddhas of the ten directions were seated under the trees, and it was as if the grasses and trees of the worlds in the ten directions had been set afire. It was in this setting that the above passage was expounded.

 The Nirvana Sutra states: “People have been suffering since countless years ago. The bones one leaves behind there pile up as high as Mount Vipula near Rājagriha, and the milk one sucks is equal to the water of the four seas. The quantity shedding blood from the body surpasses the four seas, and the quantity of shedding tears of grief over the death of parents, brothers and sisters, wives, children, and relatives, surpasses the four seas. And though one used all the plants and trees growing on the earth to make counting rods to count them, one cannot count all the parents one has had in the past existences of life.”

 These are the words the Buddha uttered lying in the grove of sal trees on the final day of his life. You should pay the strictest attention to them. They mean that the number of parents who gave birth to you in the past could not be counted even with tallies made by cutting all the plants and trees growing on all the worlds of the ten directions into four-inch pieces.

 Thus, you have had a countless number of parents in your past existences, yet during that time you have never encountered the Lotus Sutra. From this we see that it is easy to have parents, but very difficult to encounter the Lotus Sutra. Now if you disobey the words of a parent, one who is easy to come by, and follow a friend of the Lotus Sutra, one who can rarely be encountered, you will not only be able to attain Buddhahood, but will also be able to lead to enlightenment the parent whom you disobeyed. For example, Prince Siddhārtha was the eldest son of King Shuddhodana. His father wanted him to succeed to the throne and rule the nation, and actually made him crown prince, but the prince went against his father’s wishes and escaped from the palace at night. The king was angry at him for being unfilial, but after Siddhārtha had attained Buddhahood, he first of all led his parents, King Shuddhodana and Lady Maya.

 No parent ever urges his son to renounce the world in order to attain Buddhahood. But however, that may be, in your case, the observers of the precepts and the monks of the Nembutsu sect have egged your father to join with them so that they may make both you and your elder brother abandon this faith. I am told that Gokuraku-ji Ryoukan is persuading others to chant one million Nembutsu in an attempt to cause discord among people and destroy the seeds of the Lotus Sutra. Lord Hojo Shigetoki, seemed to be an admirable person. But deluded by the Nembutsu priests, he treated me with enmity, and as a result, he and his entire clan have been all but ruined. Now only lord Echigo has survived. Do you think that those who believe in Ryoukan are superior? Have you seen what has become of the Nagoe clan, who paid for the building of Zenko-ji temple, Choraku-ji temple, and Daibutsu-den? Also, the lord of Sagami is the ruler of Japan, but by his conduct he has invited an enemy almost as great as the land of the whole world.

 Even if you abandon your elder brother and take his place in your father’s favor, you will never prosper in a thousand or ten thousand years. Do you think you can prosper all in your lifetime? Also, even if they prosper, it would be a short time. Therefore, you should resolve to give all your thought to your happiness in the next life. So, I say to you, but it occurs to me that this letter may be futile, and I am melancholy. But I write this for the sake of later memories.

Respectfully yours,


The twentieth day of the eleventh month

Reply to the lord Munenaga.”

 Nichiren wrote twice in this letter that he would abandon his faith.

 Although the inheritance was described as "a small amount," after Nichiren Daishonin's death, his elder brother Munenaka donated the square meter of land equivalent to the 69,348 letters of the Lotus Sutra, which forms the foundation of the current Ikegami Honmonji Temple.

 From the eyes of an ordinary person, the domain of his father Yasumitsu, who was a magistrate of the Kamakura shogunate, is presumed to have been enormous, but in the eyes of Nichiren, it was only a "short time," and he strictly instructed his younger brother Munenaga that abandoning the Lotus Sutra to receive this small domain would inevitably lead to hell in his later life.

To be continued.


 The paper-back document

 Shihai Monjo in Japanese. When another document (an ancient document) is written using the used reverse side of Japanese paper, it refers to the document that was written first.

by johsei1129 | 2022-05-19 19:28 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)
トラックバックURL : https://nichirengs.exblog.jp/tb/32676783
トラックバックする(会員専用) [ヘルプ]
※このブログはトラックバック承認制を適用しています。 ブログの持ち主が承認するまでトラックバックは表示されません。

<< 72, Ikegami Bro...      70. The elder b... >>