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2022年 05月 21日

83. Three braves live eternally in our mind.


The tombstones of the three braves remain at Fuji Taiseki-ji Temple. In the background is the Ho'an Hall. The fundamental Dai-Gohonzon is placed in this hall.

The confrontation between Hoki-bo Nikko and Taira no Yoritsuna began with the magistrate in between.

Yoritsuna tried to settle the matter himself. Yoritsuna was a retainer under the direct control of the regent Tokimune. Behind him sat Gyochi and a group of dignified courtiers. On the peasant side were the disciples of Minbu Nikou and his followers, as well as the followers of Shijo Kingo and his followers. The trend of victory or defeat was tilted toward Ryusen-ji Temple side by all accounts.

Hoki-bo made a statement as if to break the deadlock.

“First of all, what did you mean when you condemned three innocent peasants to death? Are you prepared to lose your advantage by letting the peasants die before the trial is over?”

The Shogunate side was in a state of indignation.

Taira no Yoritsuna replied condescendingly.

“The three peasants were insolent toward Yoritsuna, so he had no choice but to punish them. This is a natural action for a man in charge of the Shogunate and a samurai. Do not misunderstand me.”

Hoki-bo insisted.

“I am surprised at your insolence. It is impossible for a man in prison to have an insolent attitude. In the first place, the peasants are those who support the nation, feed the warriors, and cultivate the countryside to preserve the world. Is it the act of a man who stands above others to take the life of a peasant?”

Yoritsuna's cheeks flushed with spasms and cramps. He had never heard anyone say such a bad thing about him. If anyone had, Nichiren was. But he must not let his emotions get the better of him. He tried to appear calm and composed.

“The peasants would not let go of the Lotus Sutra. In this world, it is the practice to recite the Nembutsu. I, too, have done so. I will not allow anyone to join Nichiren and his followers in any way.”

The samurais raised their spirits.

Hoki-bo calmly countered.

"Are you saying that the sage Nichiren is an enemy? That is a rather foolish statement for a general of Japan.”

The retainers raised their voices and became furious, but Hoki-bo did not back down at all.

"The enemy of Japan today should not be the sage Nichiren, but the approaching Mongolian Empire. For more than twenty years, the sage Nichiren has been teaching the secret method of conquering the enemy, both to you and to lord Kamakura, but you are still in doubt. What more can I say, when you are about to cut to pieces innocent peasants? The destruction of Japan is in sight.”

The vassals stood up, but Yoritsuna stopped them. The angry one loses.

Yoritsuna chuckled.

“Then I will hear you. Who is this Nichiren whom you admire so much? Isn't he a Tendai-obsessed monk of low status, born of a fisherman in Awa?"

Hoki-bo responded quietly.

“The texts of non-Buddhism say, “A saint is one who knows omen’. And the Buddhist texts state, ‘A saint is one who knows the past, present, and future.’ Our Saint Nichiren foresaw that Japan would soon be attacked by other countries because of the disorder within the country caused by the fault of those who slandered the true Buddhism. The saint looked into the past, the present, and the future, and reflected in a mirror what has passed and what is to come. This is called knowing the three times. If this is the case, then Nichiren Shonin is a great saint who is more than a saint.”  

This time, the peasants raise their spirits.

Yoritsuna laughs.

“The Great Saint. What nonsense! Then you call him equal to the Buddha?”

“He is very Buddha."

The place was in an uproar. Some of the peasants were also puzzled.

“You are in front of the magistrate. Are you crazy?”

Hoki-bo tells without reserve.

“The one who possesses the three virtues of the Lord, the Master and the Parent is called the Buddha of fundamental. Nichiren Daishonin is the Lord, the Master, and the Parent. The person who possesses these three virtues is none other than Nichiren Daishonin. Throughout the four continents of the world, there are not two suns. Within the four seas, how can there be two rulers?”

The courtiers laughed, but Hoki-bo continued.

“Lord Shakyamuni knew the near future, correctly predicting his own nirvana three months hence. Therefore, how, then, could there be any doubt regarding his prediction for the distant future that kosen-rufu would be accomplished, two thousand years after the Buddha's nirvana, during the five hundred years. If this is so, by observing the present, which is near, one can know the causes from the remote past and the effects that will appear in the distant future. This is what is meant by the Ten factors as taught in the Lotus Sutra.

Do not laugh. You all do not yet trust our saint's wisdom, but because the rebellion and invasion that he predicted have occurred, you must trust him. The good fortune of those who believe in him will grow to the heights of Mount Sumeru. On the contrary, those who despise and slander him shall have their skulls broken into seven pieces.”

Yoritsuna laughed and told the magistrate.

“Did you hear that? This is the true identity of Nichiren's sect, that is. This is the end of the trial. Shouldn't we terminate it?”

The magistrate gave Hoki-bo a stern look and asked him to rebut Yoritsuna's argument.

“Do you have any last words?”

Hoki-bo put all his energy into this.

"Lord Yoritusna Taira. You will surely perish.”

The place is momentarily quiet. What is this to say to Yoritsuna, the most powerful man in Kamakura? Everyone was taken aback.

Hoki-bo was in a high state of excitement. Sweaty and breathless, he spat out the following words.

“The crime of having cut the head of an ascetic of the Lotus Sutra is immeasurable. As retribution for this, the demoness and her ten daughters, the guardian deity of the Lotus Sutra, will surely attach herself to thou. Thou head, along with that of your second son, will be struck off."

At this point, Yoritsuna pulled out a large sword and slowly placed it on Hoki-bo's neck.

The whole group gasped again. Even though he had been vilified, he was still going to behead a Buddhist monk.

Yoritsuna's hands shook.

"Hoki-bo Nikko, you are indeed a disciple of Nichiren I. How dare you address me, the commander of Japan? Eight years ago, I tried to behead Nichiren, but was unable to do so. Now, I will present Nichiren with your head.”

Yoritsuna raised his blade high. Hoki-bo closed his eyes and clasped his hands together. For a moment, the image of Nichiren appeared in his mind.

At this moment, however, the magistrate shouted.

“Lord Yoritsuna, you should know your place! This is a place of trial. As the law states, it is forbidden to cut or wound anyone!”

Yoritsuna glared at the magistrate with sharp eyes.

The magistrate, however, was completely unperturbed.

“If you attempt to kill or wound him here, your defeat will be as clear as daylight. If you slay a peasant or strike a monk, it will be a scandal never seen before in history. Do you intend to leave a stain on your name for posterity?”

Yoritsuna finally took down his sword. Sweating and gasping for breath, he excused himself.

“Of course, I will not cut him down. I just wondered what kind of face he would make.”

All the people in the room looked at him with a cold stare.

Yoritsuna, feeling awkward, slowly walked out of the room. He turned around and said to Hoki-bo

"Tell Nichiren. I never perish. Whatever enemies I have, I will destroy them. Remember these words. I will be stalking all of you."

Yoritsuna looked at each of the Hokke-shu as if he were licking his lips.

“I will not leave your side even if you go to hell. I will haunt you like a shadow throughout the ages, tormenting those who chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Sometimes I become demon, sometimes devil..."

Yoritsuna left with a thin smile on his face.

No matter how hard Yoritsuna tried, he could not defeat the power of the Law. His fate was just as Hoki-bo had predicted.

Fourteen years later, Yoritsuna and his second son were slaughtered by the order of Sadatoki, son of Hojo Tokimune.

It was the day of the great earthquake.

An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale, the same as that of Shoka, struck Kamakura. It is said that 20,000 people died. In the midst of the commotion, regent Sadatoki's strike team headed for Yoritsuna's residence.

Yoritsuna, who was at the height of his power, did not foresee the imminent danger. He and his second son were captured and committed suicide on the spot. He was 52 years old. His eldest son, Munetsuna, was exiled to Sado Island.

Hoki-bo Nikko later wrote the margin of the Gohonzon praising Jinshirou and describing Yoritsuna's fate.

“Jinshirou who called himself the organization of the Lotus Sutra, a resident of Atsuhara in the lower part of the province of Suruga in the Land of Fuji.was one of the three to be beheaded for the sake of Taira no Yoritsuna. Fourteen years after Yoritsuna had slain the three men, he was executed for rebellion, and his descendants perished without a trace." ‘Accompanying note to the mandala by Master Nikko, 1308. Volume IX of Fuji's Essentials of Learning.’

Four hundred years later, Nichikan, the 26th generation of Nichiren Shoshu, commented on Yoritsuna and his son as follows.

“Now I think that Yoritsuna's head was beheaded because he struck Sage Nichiren in the face. The reason why the head of the beloved second son, the provincial governor of Awa, was beheaded was because he had tried to behead Sage Nichiren, who was from Awa Province. His heir, Munetsuna, was exiled to Sado Island because he exiled Sage Nichiren to Sado Island. This fact is already in agreement with the above, so how could he have been exempted from this great crime?” ‘Annotation to the Selection of Era. In 1716.’ 

 In the end, the trial was cut short without a winner.

This incident was originally caused by hatred of Nichiren. The fiery hatred cooled down as the verdict progressed. The wrongdoings of the accused became clear, and no one was interested in the case.

Furthermore, a number of people died on the Ryusenji Temple side, and the momentum of the situation declined even further. One of these deaths was the death of Nichigyo Sanmi-bo.

Nichiren wrote about the end of his former disciple, Sanmi-bo.

“He became so black-hearted that he was dead for a big zuchi.”

Some say that the meaning of a "big zuchi" is "great hardship. It was clear that it was an unforeseen accident and a regrettable death for the man himself. In addition to Sanmi-bo, Daishin-bo also died suddenly. Daishin-bo was also a disciple of Nichiren, but he died shortly after the two had a hostile encounter in Atsuhara. It is said that his death was caused by falling from a horse. The people on the Ryusen-ji side did not show it on their faces, but they were afraid.

Seventeen peasants were released and returned to Atsuhara. They hugged and cried with the villagers. The seventeen were taken in by Nanjo Tokimitsu, a young landowner in Suruga Ueno Township.

Three graves were established in Ueno Township. Since then, the graves have been watched over by Mt. Fuji.

The deaths of the three men deepened Nichiren's conviction to spread the teachings in Japan.

Until then, Nichiren had believed that the core of missionary work would be carried out by his ordained disciples. He wrote to the lay believers that the basic Buddhist practice for non-ordained lay believers is to chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the Gohonzon and make offerings to ordained monks, and that they should propagate if they have the ability.

Nichiren was astonished by the fact that a peasant believer, who had been a believer for only one year, had maintained his faith in the Lotus Sutra even at the cost of his own life. When Nichiren was exiled to Sado, most of his followers abandoned their faith in the Lotus Sutra. Most of them were educated samurai and their dependents.

Nichiren must have felt that these followers in Atsuhara, or the organization of the Lotus Sutra, were an allusion to the future of Nichiren's Buddhism. Nichiren wrote on the side of the Dai-Gohonzon, "Kunishige Yashiro and the organization’s people of the Lotus Sutra and they respectfully state it." The words express Nichiren's unbounded respect for the anonymous peasant lay believers.

Nichiren always emphasized that it is only in times of hardship that one's faith in the Lotus Sutra is put to the test. He said that they should not spare their lives and not think of their wives and children.

He said the following to Hoki-bo Nikko, to whom he entrusted the future of Nichiren's followers.

“The 2nd. Never spare your own body and life.

 Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word 'bodies' refers to the element of form or the body; the word 'lives' refers to the element of the mind. One should never spare one’s body or life either in principle or in fact. When a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra is deprived of his lands and fields, this is a case of not sparing body or life in principle. When he is deprived of his life, this is a case of fact, not sparing body or life. Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they will encounter these persecutions by both principle and fact.” ‘The Thirteen Important Points of the Chapter of Encouragement.’

It is said that those who chant the excellent Law will not only lose their property, but also their lives. Nichiren said so without hesitation. However, he lamented as if it were his own for his disciples who had actually suffered hardships. Nichiro at Tatsunokuchi, Kingo Shijo, the Ikegami brothers, and others.

Furthermore, Jinshirou and the other three devoted their lives to the Lotus Sutra. They had only been believers for less than two years when they passed away. Even though it was a clean death, Nichiren's grief overcame him.

Nichiren thought.

If Buddha Law is true, the three men will go to the land of tranquil light. No, they must definitely go there. Nichiren made it his duty to send them to the Buddhist land. Nichiren experienced the near beheading at the mouth of the dragon, and he learned the joy of reading the Lotus Sutra with his own body. This sublime experience should have been the same for the three of them. Nichiren, in his grief, appealed for faith to overcome the great hardship.

As if he had foreseen this great persecution, he wrote the following in May of the 10th year of Bun'ei (1273), six years earlier.

“Our fundamental teacher, Shakyamuni, practiced shakubuku during the last eight years of his lifetime, the Great Teacher Tendai for more than thirty years, and the Great Teacher Dengyo for more than twenty. I have been refuting the provisional doctrines for more than twenty years, and the great persecutions I have suffered during this period are beyond number. I do not know whether they are equal to the great nine persecutions suffered by the Buddha, but surely neither Tendai nor Dengyo ever faced persecutions as great as mine for the sake of the Lotus Sutra. They encountered only hatred, envy, and slander, whereas I twice incurred the wrath of the rulers and was exiled to remote provinces. Furthermore, I was nearly beheaded at Tatsunokuchi, wounded on the forehead at Matsubara in Tōjō, and slandered time and again. My disciples have also been exiled and thrown into prison, and my lay supporters have been evicted and had their fiefs confiscated. How can the persecutions faced by Ryuju, Tendai, or Dengyo possibly compare with these? Know then that there will without fail be the powerful enemies of three kinds in front of the one who practices the Lotus Sutra exactly as the Buddha teaches.

In the more than two thousand years that have passed since the Buddha’s advent, Shakyamuni, Tendai, and Dengyo were the only three who perfectly carried out the Buddha’s teachings. Now in the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren and his disciples and lay believers are just such practitioners.

If we cannot be called practitioners faithful to the Buddha’s teachings, then neither can Shakyamuni, Tendai, or Dengyo. Could Devadatta, Kugyari, Zensho, Kobo, Jikaku, Chisho, Zendo, Hōnen, Ryōkan, and others like them be called votaries of the Lotus Sutra? Could Shakyamuni Buddha, Tendai, Dengyo, or Nichiren and his disciples and lay believers be the practitioners of the Nembutsu, Shingon, Zen, Precepts, or other schools? Could the Lotus Sutra be called an expedient and provisional teaching, and the sutras of the Nembutsu and other schools be the Lotus Sutra? None of this could ever be possible, even if east were to become west and west become east; even if the earth and all its trees and plants were to fly up and become the heavens, and the sun, the moon, and the stars were to tumble down and become the earth.

What a great pity it is that all people of Japan are delighted to see Nichiren and his disciples and lay believers suffer at the hands of the powerful enemies of three kinds. What befell others yesterday befalls oneself today. Nichiren and his followers have but a short time to endure—merely the time it takes for frost or dew to vanish in the morning sun.

When our prayers for Buddhahood are answered and we are dwelling in the true land of Tranquil Light where we will experience the boundless joy of the Law, what a pity we will feel for all of you who sink to the bottom of the great citadel of the Avīchi hell and meet extreme suffering there! How all of you will envy us then!

Life flashes by in but a moment. No matter how many terrible enemies you may encounter, banish all fears and never think of backsliding. Even if someone were to cut off our heads with a saw, impale our bodies with lances, or shackle our feet and bore them through with a gimlet, as long as we are alive, let keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. If we chant so until the very moment of death, Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions will come to us instantly, exactly as they promised during the ceremony at the Spirit Eagle Mountain. Taking our hands and bearing us on their shoulders, they will carry us to the Spirit Eagle Mountain. The two sages, the two heavenly kings, and the ten demon daughters will guard us, while all the heavenly gods and benevolent deities will raise a canopy over our heads and unfurl banners high. They will escort us under their protection to the treasure land of Tranquil Light. Oh joy! Oh, I am pleased!


The fifth month of the tenth year of Bun’ei (1273)

To all my believers

Keep this letter with you at all times and read it over and over.” ‘On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings as Is.’

The three braves of Atsuhara did not deviate from Nichiren's teachings word for word and continued to chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo as they left for the Pure Land of Spirit Eagle Mountain.

by johsei1129 | 2022-05-21 10:49 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)
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