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日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2022年 05月 21日

91, The Nun Sennichi and Abutsu-bo


芝生の上にいくつかの家中程度の精度で自動的に生成された説明

 The current Abutsu-bo Myosen-ji Temple. From Wikipedia.


The couple, Abutsubo and Kou Nyudo, who became devotees of Nichiren on Sado Island, were strong believers who defended Nichiren to the end. Even after Nichiren was pardoned and left Sado, the couple could not forget the days when they made offerings to Nichiren in exile in secret.

They heard that Nichiren had left Kamakura and retreated to a mountain called Minobu in Kai Province. When Nichiren left Sado, he had just been released from oppression. A year had passed since the sudden separation. Their longing for Nichiren was only getting stronger.

Abutsu-bo and Kou Nyudo decided to go to Kai and began preparations.

They had to ask for their wives’ help. Nun Sen-nichi encouraged Abutsu-bo and the nun Zenichi encouraged Kou Nyudo and sent them to Kai.

Nichiren's emotion was unparalleled.

We do not know what their itinerary looked like because there are so few historical documents. We can only speculate, but there are a few fragments of a letter he wrote to the nun Zenichi. Thanks to her, your husband was able to come to Minobu. Nichiren thanked his wife for her contribution.

“In the past, your husband, Nyudo, came here to Kai from the province of Sado—I thought that was mysterious. And this year now he has come again, picking vegetables, drawing water, gathering firewood, just as King Suzudan did for the prophet Asita, continuing for a whole month—how mysterious! I cannot tell you all I feel in a letter. This is the merit of a nun.

I have written Gohonzon for you. We will absolutely encounter each other in the Pure Land of Spirit Eagle Mountain next life!

Respectfully yours,

Nichiren

The twelfth day of April

To the nun Zenichi”

“Chopping wood,

Harvesting vegetables,

And drawing water,

It is thanks to that I have attained the Lotus Sutra.” ‘The Collected Poems’

Nichiren quotes a waka poem by Gyoki, a high priest of the Nara period (710-794). It is said that Gyoki served and read the Lotus Sutra daily, just as king Dan served the hermit Ashi.

King Dan is a past life form of the Buddha, and the hermit Ashi is a past life form of the Devadatta. In the tenth chapter of the Devadatta in the Lotus Sutra, king Dan served the hermit for a thousand years and became the present-day Buddha Shakyamuni. Nichiren promised that Kou Nyudo was king Dan and that he would visit the Pure Land of Spirit Eagle Mountain. He also praised the aspiration of nun Zenichi, saying that she would also attain Buddhahood through this great merit and virtue.

The story of king Dan's ascetic training under the hermit Ashi in the chapter of Devadatta was also recited in a waka poem by the Heian-period poet Fujiwara Toshinari as follows.

Seeking the fruit in a peak,

 Chopping the firewood,

 Then I have begun to hear the excellent Law, which is difficult to attain.

Like Kou Nyudo, Sado's comrade Abutsufusa also visited Nichiren, determined not to be outdone.

Nichiren's excitement was unparalleled. He was also deeply grateful to his wife, Sennichi-nun.

The age of Senichi-nun is not known. However, from the age of Abutsubo, it is certain that she was quite old.

Nichiren recalled his painful days on Sado Island.

 “IN the first year of the K'oan era (1278), on the sixth day of the seventh month, the lay nun Sennichi sent a letter via her husband, Abutsu-bō, from Sado Province to a mountain recess called Mount Minobu, in Hakiri Village, in Kai Province, of the same country of Japan.

In the letter she says that, though she had been concerned about the faults and impediments that prevent women from gaining enlightenment, since according to my teaching the Lotus Sutra puts the attainment of Buddhahood by women first, she relies upon this sutra in all matters.

 One might ask, Who was the Buddha who preached the sutra known as the Lotus? To the west of this land of Japan, west again from China, far, far west beyond the deserts and the Pamirs, in a land called India, there was a crown prince, the son of a great king named Shuddhodana. When the prince reached the age of nineteen, he cast aside his rank, withdrew to Mount Dandaka, and took up religious life. At the age of thirty he became a Buddha. His body took on a golden color, and his spirit reflected the three existences. The Buddha, who illuminated as though in a mirror all that had happened in the past and would happen in the future, taught all the various sutras of his teaching life over a period of fifty years.

 Even though all these sutras were gradually spread throughout the land of India during the first thousand years after the Buddha’s passing, they had still not been introduced in China or Japan. Even though it is said that Buddhism was first brought to China 1,015 years after the demise of the Buddha, the Lotus Sutra had still not been introduced.

Some two hundred or more years after Buddhism was brought to China, a man known as the Tripitaka Master Kumaraen lived in a country called Kucha, located between India and China. His disciple, Kumarajiva, journeyed from Kucha to India, where he received instruction on the Lotus Sutra from the Tripitaka Master Syuriyasoma. When Kumarajiva received the sutra, the master said to him, “This Lotus Sutra has a deep connection with a country to the northeast.”

 With these words in mind, Kumarajiva set out to carry the sutra to the region east of India, to the land of China. Thus it was more than two hundred years after Buddhism had been introduced to China, during the reign of a ruler of the Later Ch’in dynasty, that the Lotus Sutra was first brought to that country.

 Buddhism was introduced to Japan during the reign of the thirtieth sovereign, Emperor Kinmei, on the thirteenth day of the tenth month in the thirteenth year of his reign, by King Syŏngmyŏng of the kingdom of Paekche to the west of Japan. This occurred four hundred years after the introduction of Buddhism to China, and more than fourteen hundred years after the Buddha’s passing.

 Although the Lotus Sutra was among the texts introduced then, Prince Shotoku, a son of the thirty-second sovereign, Emperor Yomei, sent an envoy to China for a copy of the Lotus and propagated it throughout Japan. Since then, more than seven hundred years have passed.

 Already, over 2,230 years have passed since the demise of the Buddha. Moreover, the lands of India, China, and Japan are separated from each other by mountain after mountain, river after river, and sea after sea. Their inhabitants, their ways of thinking, and the character of their lands all differ from each other, and their languages and customs vary. How, then, can ordinary human beings like ourselves possibly understand the true meaning of the Buddhist teachings?

 The only way to do so is to examine and compare the words of the various sutras. These sutras all differ from each other, but the one known as the Lotus is in eight volumes. In addition to these, there are the Universal Worthy Sutra, which urges the propagation of the Lotus, and the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, which serves as an introduction to the Lotus, each consisting of one volume. When we open the Lotus Sutra and look into it, it is as though we were seeing our own face in a bright mirror, or as though the sun had come out and we were able to discern the colors of the plants and trees.

 In reading the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, which serves as an introduction, we find a passage that says, “In these more than forty years, I, Shakyamuni Buddha] have not yet revealed the truth.” In the first volume of the Lotus Sutra, at the beginning of the “Expedient Means” chapter, we read, “The World-Honored One has long expounded his doctrines and now must reveal the truth.” In the fourth volume, in the “Treasure Tower” chapter, there is a passage that clearly states, “The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law . . . all that you Shakyamuni have expounded is the truth!” And the seventh volume contains the splendid passage that reads, “Their tongues reach to the Brahma heaven.”

 In addition to these passages, we should note that the other sutras that precede or follow the Lotus have been compared to the stars, to streams and rivers, to petty kings, and to small mountains, and that the Lotus has been compared to the moon, to the sun, and to such things as the great ocean, a great mountain, and a great king.

 These statements are not my words. They are all the golden words of the Tathagata, and they are the words that express the judgment of all the Buddhas in the ten directions. All of the bodhisattvas and persons of the two vehicles, Brahma, Teishaku, and the gods of the sun and moon, which hang in the sky now like bright mirrors, watched and heard these statements being made. The words of the deities of the sun and moon also are recorded in this sutra. All the ancient gods of India, China, and Japan were also present in the assembly. The gods of Japan, such as the Sun Goddess, Great Bodhisattva Hachiman, and the deities of Kumano and Suzuka, are unable to dispute these statements.

 This sutra is superior to all other sutras. It is like the lion king, the monarch of all the creatures that run on the ground, and like the eagle, the king of all the creatures that fly in the sky. Sutras such as the Devotion to Amida Buddha Sutra are like pheasants or rabbits. Seized by the eagle, their tears flow; pursued by the lion, fear grips their bowels. And the same is true of people like the Nembutsu adherents, the Precepts priests, the Zen priests, and the Shingon teachers. When they come face to face with the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra, their color drains away and their spirits fail.

 As for what sort of doctrines are taught in this wonderful Lotus Sutra, beginning with the “Expedient Means” chapter in the first volume, it teaches that bodhisattvas, persons of the two vehicles, and ordinary people are all capable of attaining Buddhahood. But as of yet no examples exist to prove this assertion. It is like a guest whom we meet for the first time. His appearance is attractive, his heart is brave, and on hearing him speak, we have no reason to doubt him. Yet because we have never seen him before and have no proof of the things he says, we find it difficult to believe him on the basis of his words alone. But if we repeatedly see evidence to support the major points he makes at this time, we will be able to trust what he says from now on as well.

 For all those who wished to believe the Lotus Sutra and yet could not do so with complete certainty, the fifth volume presents what is the heart and core of the entire sutra, the doctrine of attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form. It is as though, for instance, a black object were to become white, black lacquer to become like snow, an unclean thing to become clean and pure, or a wish-granting jewel to be placed into muddy water [to make it transparent]. Here it is told how the dragon girl became a Buddha in her reptilian form. And at that moment there was no longer anyone who doubted that all men can attain Buddhahood. This is why I say that the enlightenment of women is expounded as a model.

 For this reason, the Great Teacher Dengyo, the founder of Enryaku-ji temple on Mount Hiei, who was the first to spread the true teachings of the Lotus Sutra in Japan, commented on this point as follows: “Neither teacher nor disciples need undergo countless centuries of austere practice in order to attain Buddhahood. Through the power of the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law they can do so in their present form.” And the Great Teacher Tendai of China, who expounded the true meaning of the Lotus Sutra first in that country, stated, “The other sutras only predict Buddhahood . . . for men, but not for women; . . . This sutra predicts Buddhahood for all.”

 Do not these interpretations make clear that, among all the teachings of the Buddha’s lifetime, the Lotus Sutra is first, and that, among the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, that of women attaining Buddhahood is first? For this reason, though the women of Japan may be condemned in all sutras other than the Lotus as incapable of attaining Buddhahood, as long as the Lotus guarantees their enlightenment, what reason have they to be downcast?

 Now I, Nichiren, was born as a human being, something difficult to achieve, and I have encountered the Buddha’s teachings, which are but rarely to be met with. Moreover, among all the teachings of the Buddha, I was able to meet the Lotus Sutra. When I stop to consider my good fortune, I realize that I am indebted to my parents, indebted to the ruler, and indebted to all living beings.

 With regard to the debt of gratitude owed to our parents, our father may be likened to heaven and our mother to the earth, and it would be difficult to say to which parent we are the more indebted. But it is particularly difficult to repay the great kindness of our mother.

 If, in desiring to repay it, we seek to do so by following the non-Buddhist scriptures, such as the Three Records, the Five Canons, or The Classic of Filial Piety, we can provide for our mother in this life, but we cannot hope to do anything for her next life. Although we can provide for her physically, we will be unable to save her spiritually.

 Turning to the Buddhist scriptures, we find that, because the more than five thousand or seven thousand volumes of Hinayana and Mahayana sutras teach that it is impossible for women to attain Buddhahood, it is impossible to repay the debt owed to our mother. The Hinayana teachings flatly deny that a woman can attain Buddhahood. The Mahayana sutras in some cases seem to say that a woman may attain Buddhahood or be reborn in a pure land, but this is simply a possibility mentioned by the Buddha, and no examples of such a thing actually having happened are given.

 Since I have realized that only the Lotus Sutra teaches the attainment of Buddhahood by women, and that only the Lotus is the sutra of true requital for repaying the kindness of our mother, in order to repay my debt to my mother, I have vowed to enable all women to chant the daimoku of this sutra.

 The women of Japan, however, have all been led astray by monks like Zendo of China, or Eshin, Yokan, and Honen of Japan, so that throughout the entire country not one of them chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which should be their foundation. All they do is chant Namu-Amida-butsu once a day, ten times, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, or a million times a day, or thirty thousand, or a hundred thousand times. All their lives, every hour of the day and night, they do nothing else. Both those women who are steadfast in their pursuit of enlightenment and those who are evil make the invocation of Amida’s name their foundation. And the few women who seem to be devoting themselves to the Lotus Sutra do so only as though while waiting for the moon to rise, or as though reluctantly spending time with a man who does not please them until they can meet their lover.

 Thus among all the women of Japan, not one is in accord with the spirit of the Lotus Sutra. They do not chant the title of the Lotus Sutra, which is essential for their loving mothers, but instead devote their hearts to Amida. And because they do not base themselves on the Lotus Sutra, Amida extends no aid. Reciting the name of Amida Buddha is no way for a woman to gain salvation; rather it will invariably plunge her into hell.

 In grieving over what is to be done if we wish to assist our mothers, I have realized that the recitation of the name of Amida Buddha creates karma that destines a person to the hell of incessant suffering. Such recitation is not included among the five cardinal sins, and yet it is worse than the five sins. A person who murders his father and mother destroys their physical bodies, but he does not be condemned to fall into the hell of incessant suffering in their next existence.

 The women of Japan today, who could without fail attain Buddhahood through the Lotus Sutra, have been deceived into reciting exclusively the formula Namu-Amida-butsu. Since it does not appear to be evil, they have been misled. Since it is not the seed of Buddhahood, they will never become Buddhas. By clinging to the minor good deed of reciting Amida Buddha’s name, they deprive themselves of the major good of the Lotus Sutra. Thus this minor good of the Nembutsu is worse in its effect than the great evil of the five cardinal sins.

 It is like the case of Masakado, who during the Shohei era (931–938) seized control of eight provinces in the Kanto region, or like Sadato, who during the Tengi era (1053–1058) took possession of the region of Oshu. Because these men caused a division between the people of their By clinging to the minor good deed of reciting Amida Buddha’s name, they deprive themselves of the major good of the Lotus Sutra. Thus this minor good of the Nembutsu is worse in its effect than the great evil of the five cardinal sins.

region and the sovereign, they were declared enemies of the imperial court and in the end were destroyed. Their plots and rebellions were worse than the five cardinal sins.

 Buddhism in Japan today is exactly like this. It is merely plots and rebellions in a different form. The Lotus Sutra represents the supreme ruler, while the Shingon school, Pure Land school, Zen school, and the Precepts priests, by upholding such minor sutras as the Dainichi Sutra and the Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra, have become the deadly enemies of the Lotus Sutra. And yet women throughout Japan, unaware of the ignorance of their own minds, think that Nichiren, who can save them, is their foe, and mistake the Nembutsu, Zen, Precepts, and True Word priests, who are in fact deadly enemies, for good friends and teachers. And because they look upon Nichiren, who is trying to save them, as a deadly enemy, these women all join together to slander him to the ruler of the country, so that, after having been exiled to the province of Izu, he was also exiled to the province of Sado.

 Here I, Nichiren, made a vow and declared: “There is absolutely no fault on my part. And even if I should be mistaken, the fact remains that I have made a vow to save all the women in Japan, and that sincerity cannot be ignored—especially since what I am saying is in complete accord with the Lotus Sutra.

 “If the women of Japan do not choose to put faith in me, then they should let the matter rest there. On the contrary, however, they set about having me attacked. But am I in error?

 “How will Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, the Buddhas of the ten directions, the bodhisattvas, the people of the two vehicles, Brahma, Teishaku, and the four heavenly kings deal with this? If I am in error, show me how! In particular, the gods of the sun and moon are right before me. And since, in addition to listening to the words of Shakyamuni Buddha, you also vowed to punish those who persecute the votary of the Lotus Sutra, saying, ‘Their heads will split into seven pieces,’ what then do you intend to do?” Because Nichiren strongly called them to ask in this manner, the heavenly gods have inflicted punishment on this land, and these epidemics have appeared.

 Nevertheless, when I was exiled to the province of Sado, the constable of the province and the other officials, following the design of the ruler of the nation, treated me with animosity. And the people went along with those orders. In addition, the Nembutsu, Zen, Precepts, and Shingon priests in Kamakura sent word that by no means should I be allowed to return from the island of Sado, and Ryōkan of Gokuraku-ji and others persuaded the former governor of the province of Musashi to issue his selfish letters of instruction, which were carried to Sado by Ryoukan’s disciples, ordering that I be persecuted. Thus it seemed that I would not be saved. Whatever the design of the heavenly gods in the matter may have been, every single land steward and Nembutsu believer worthy of the name kept a strict watch on my hut day and night, determined to prevent anyone from communicating with me. Never in any lifetime will I forget how in those circumstances you, with Abutsu-bō carrying a wooden container of food on his back, came in the night again and again to bring me aid. It was just as if my deceased mother had suddenly been reborn in the province of Sado.

 Once in China there was a man known as the governor of Pui. Because there were signs indicating that he would become a ruler, the First Emperor of the Ch’in dynasty decreed that unparalleled rewards would be bestowed upon anyone who would kill him. The governor thought it would be too dangerous to try to conceal himself in the country villages, and so he entered the mountains, where he remained hidden for seven days, and then for another seven. At that time, he believed that his life was as good as lost. But the governor had a wife of the Lü family who went searching for him in the mountains and from time to time would bring him food to keep him alive.

Being the governor’s wife, she could not help but feel compassion for him. But in your case, had you not been concerned about the next life to come, would you have shown me such devotion? And that is also the reason why you have remained steadfast throughout, even when you were driven from your land, fined, and had your house taken from you. In the Lotus Sutra, it is said that one who in the past has made offerings to a hundred thousand million Buddhas will, when reborn in a later existence, be unshakable in faith. You, then, must be a woman who has made offerings to a hundred thousand million Buddhas.

In addition, it is easy to sustain our concern for someone who is before our very eyes, but quite a different thing when that person is far away, even though in our heart we may not forget him. Nevertheless, in the five years, from the eleventh year of the Bun’ei era (1274) to this year, the first year of the K’oan era, that have already passed since I came to live here in the mountains, you have sent your husband from the province of Sado to visit me three times. How great is your sincerity! It is firmer than the great earth, deeper than the great sea!

When he was Prince Sattva in a previous existence, the Tathagata Shakyamuni gained merit by feeding his body to a starving tigress, and when he was King Shibi, he gained merit by giving his flesh to a hawk in exchange for the life of a dove. And he declared in the presence of Taho and the Buddhas of the ten directions that he would transfer this merit to those who believe in the Lotus Sutra as you do in the Latter Day of the Law.

You say in your letter that the eleventh day of the eighth month of this year marks the thirteenth anniversary of your father’s passing. You also note that you are enclosing an offering of one thousand pieces coin. It is extremely kind of you to do so. Fortunately, I happen to have a copy of the Lotus Sutra in ten volumes that I would like to send you. When you think longingly of me, have Gakujo-bo read it and please listen to it. And in a future existence, you may use this copy of the sutra as a token of proof with which to search me out.” ‘Reply to the Nun Sennichi’

In this letter, Nichiren called Senichi-nun, "A woman who has made offerings to a hundred thousand million Buddhas.” No other such compliment can be found anywhere.

Her husband, Abutsubo, died on March 21, Koan 2 (1279). She was reportedly 91 years old. Nichiren expressed his deep regret for her death.

Nichiren wrote a letter to his widow nun Sennichi.

“I am saddened to hear about the concerns of the nun of Kou Nyudo. Please let her know that I am eager to hear from her.

I have received your various gifts of fifteen hundred pieces of coin, laver, seaweed, and dried rice, and have respectfully reported this in the presence of the Lotus Sutra.

The Lotus Sutra says, “If there are those who hear the Law, then no one will fail to attain Buddhahood.” Although this passage consists of ten characters, to read even a single phrase of the Lotus Sutra is to read without omission all the sacred teachings preached by the Tathagata Shakyamuni during his lifetime. Therefore, the Great Teacher Myolaku says, “If, in propagating the Lotus Sutra, one is to interpret even one of its doctrines, one must take into consideration all the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings and master them from beginning to end.”

 By “beginning” he means the Kegon Sutra, and by “end” he means the Nirvana Sutra. The Kegon Sutra was preached at the time when the Buddha had first attained the way, according to Ho'e , Kudokurin, Gedatsugatu, and others requested, Buddha preached. I do not know in what form this sutra may exist in India, in the dragon king’s palace, or in the Toshita heaven, but it has been brought to Japan in a sixty-volume version, an eighty-volume version, and a forty-volume version. In the case of the last of the teachings, the Nirvana Sutra, I again do not know in what form it may exist in India or in the dragon king’s palace, but in our country it exists in a forty-volume version, a thirty-six-volume version, a six-volume version, and a two-volume version. 

In addition to these sutras, there are the Agon sutras, the Hodo sutras, and the Hannya sutras, which run to five thousand or seven thousand volumes. But even though we may not see or hear of any of these various sutras, if we read so much as a single word or phrase of the Lotus Sutra, it is just as though we were reading every word of all these various sutras.

It is like the two characters that compose the name for India, country of the moon, or the name for Japan, Nihon. These characters that make up the name India encompass the five regions, the sixteen great states, the five hundred middle-sized states, the ten thousand small states, and the countless smaller states like scattered grains of millet, all with their great land areas, great mountains, their plants and trees, and their people and animals. Or it is like a mirror, which may be only one inch, two inches, three inches, four inches, or five inches in size, but which can reflect the image of a person, whether that person is one foot or five feet tall, or of a mountain, whether it is ten feet, twenty feet, a hundred feet, or a thousand feet high.

Thus when we read the passage from the Lotus Sutra, we know that all people who hear the sutra will, without a single exception, attain Buddhahood.

All living beings in the nine worlds and the six paths differ from one another in their minds. For example, two persons, three persons, a hundred, or a thousand people all may have faces about a foot in length, but no two look exactly alike. Their minds differ, and therefore so do their faces. How much greater still is the difference between the minds of two persons, of ten persons, and of all the living beings in the six paths and the nine worlds! So it is that some love the cherry blossoms and some love the moon, some prefer sour things and some prefer bitter, some like little things and some favor big. People have varied tastes. Some prefer good and some prefer evil. There are many kinds of people.

But though they differ from one another in such ways, once they enter into the Lotus Sutra, they all become like a single person in body and a single person in mind. This is just like the myriad different rivers that, when they flow into the ocean, all take on a uniformly salty flavor, or like the many kinds of birds that, when they approach Mount Sumeru all assume the same golden hue. Thus Devadatta, who had committed three cardinal sins, and Rāhula, who observed all of the two hundred and fifty precepts, both alike became Buddhas. And both King Myoshogon, who held erroneous views, and Shariputra, who held correct views, equally received predictions that they would attain Buddhahood. This is because, in the words of the passage quoted earlier, “not one will fail to attain Buddhahood.”

In the Amida and other sutras expounded during the first forty and more years of the Buddha’s preaching life, Shariputra is said to have achieved great merit by reciting the name of Amida Buddha a million times in the space of seven days. But since these sutras were repudiated as teachings belonging to the period when the Buddha had “not yet revealed the truth,” such recitation is in fact as meaningless as if one were to boil water for seven days and then throw it into the ocean.

The lady Idaike, by reading the Meditation Sutra, was able to reach the stage known as the realization of the non-birth and non-extinction of all phenomena. But since the Buddha cast this sutra aside when he said that he would now “honestly discard expedient means,” unless lady Idaike was to believe in the Lotus Sutra, she must revert to her former status as an ordinary woman.

One’s acts of great good are nothing to rely on. If one fails to encounter the Lotus Sutra, of what avail can they be? Nor should one lament having committed acts of great evil. For if only one practices the one vehicle, then one can follow in the footsteps of Devadatta in attaining Buddhahood. All this is because the sutra passage that declares, “not a one will fail to attain Buddhahood,” was not spoken in false.

Then some may wonder where the spirit of the late Abutsu-bō may be at this moment. But by using the clear mirror of the Lotus Sutra to reflect his image, I, Nichiren, can see him among the assembly on Spirit Eagle mountain, seated within the treasure tower of Many Treasures Buddha and facing toward the east.

If what I say is not true, then it is no error of mine. Rather the tongue of the Tathagata Shakyamuni, who said, “The World-Honored One has long expounded his doctrines and now must reveal the truth”; along with the tongue of Taho Buddha, who declared, “The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law . . . all that you Shakyamuni have expounded is the truth”; as well as the tongues of all the various Buddhas, the Tathagatas, in four hundred ten thousand million nayutas of lands, who are as numerous as hemp or rice plants, as stars or stalks of bamboo, lined up side by side with never a gap between them, and who, without a single exception, extended their long broad tongues up to the palace of the great heavenly king Brahma—all these tongues, I say, will in one moment rot away like a whale that has died and decayed, or like a heap of sardines that have rotted. All the Buddhas, the Tathagata, in the worlds of the ten directions will be guilty of the offense of speaking great falsehoods; the earth of the pure land of Tranquil Light, which is made of gold and emeralds, will suddenly split open, and all these Buddhas will, like Devadatta, plunge headlong into the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering. Or, as happened to the nun Horenkou (note), fierce flames will shoot out of their bodies because of the great lies they have told, and the flower garden of the Lotus Treasury World, a Land of King Actual Reward (note), will in one instant be reduced to a place of ashes. But how could such things be possible?

If the late Abutsu-bo alone were not admitted to the pure land of Tranquil Light, then all these Buddhas would fall into a realm of great suffering. Leaving all else aside, you should consider things in this light. Consider it. Think calmly. On this basis, you may judge the truth or falsehood of the Buddha’s words.” ‘Reply to nun Sennichi’

Nichiren's conviction that Abutsu-bo will surely attain Buddhahood is evident throughout the text.

 For Nun Sen-nichi, who had closely observed how much Abutsu-bo adored Nichiren, Nichiren's letter praising Abutsu-bo to this extent must have felt as if she was also praising her own life of supporting her husband.

Nun Sennichi never ceased to keep the light of faith to live up to Nichiren's praise.

She entrusted her son, Endo Toukuro Moritsuna, with her husband's remains on Mount Kai-Minobu in the distance. And again the following year, she has Moritsuna mourn his grave. It is likely that Abutsubo had left a will that his remains should be placed not on Sado, but far away with Nichiren. That is how strongly Abutsu-bo was devoted to Nichiren. The faith of nun Sennichi, who supported him, was also extraordinary.

 Moritsuna grew up to be a strong follower of Nichiren, thanks in part to Senichi-nun's encouragement. He worked to propagate Buddhism in Sado and Hokuriku regions, and later became an ordained priest and called himself Go-Abutsu-bo. He is said to have renamed his own residence Abutsu-bo Myosenji Temple.

Nichiren paid tribute to Sennichi Nun and her son Tokuro Moritsuna, who continued to be a strong believer even after the death of her husband.

“A man is like a pillar, a woman like the crossbeam. A man is like the legs of a person, a woman is like a body. A man is like the wings of a bird, a woman is like its body. If the wings and the body become separated, then how can the bird fly? And if the pillar topples, then the crossbeam will surely fall to the ground.

A home without a man is like a person without a soul. With whom can you discuss matters of business, and though you may have good things to eat, with whom can you share them? Merely to be separated from your husband for a day or two is cause for uneasiness. Yet you parted from your husband on the twenty-first day of the third month of last year, and passed the remainder of the year without seeing his return. Now it is already the seventh month of this year. Why does he not send you some words?

The cherry blossoms, once scattered, have again come into bloom, and the fruit, once fallen, has formed again on the trees. The spring breezes are unchanged, and the scenes of autumn are just as they were last year. How is it that, in this one matter alone, things should be so different from what they were, never to be the same again?

The moon sets and rises again; the clouds disperse and then gather once more. Even heaven must regret and earth lament that this man has gone away and will never come again. You yourself must feel the same. Rely upon the Lotus Sutra as nourishment for your journey, and quickly, quickly set out for the pure land of Spirit Eagle Mountain so that you can meet him there!

There is a sutra passage that says that children are one’s enemies. “People in this world commit many sins because of their children,” it states. Although the birds known as the crested hawk and the eagle raise their young with compassion, the young turn around and eat their parents. And the bird known as the owl, after it is hatched, invariably devours its mother. Such is the case among the lowly creatures.

Even among human beings, King Virūdhaka seized the throne from his father, whom he resented, and King Ajātashatru murdered his father. An Lu-shan killed his foster mother, and An Ch’ing-hsü killed his father, An Lu-shan. An Ch’ing-hsü was killed by Shih Shih-ming [who was like a son to him], and Shih Shih-ming was in turn killed by his son, Shih Ch’ao-i. Thus there is a good reason why children are spoken of as enemies. The monk named Sunakshatra was a son of Shakyamuni Buddha. But he conspired with a follower of the non-Buddhist teaching who was called Kutoku, and attempted time and again to kill his father, the Buddha.

There is also a sutra passage that says that children are a treasure. It states: “Because of the blessings their sons and daughters accumulate through practice, a great bright light appears, illuminating the realm of hell, and the parents suffering in hell are thereby able to awaken a believing mind.” But even if the Buddha had not taught [that children are a treasure], you could tell as much simply from the evidence before our eyes.

In India there was once a great ruler, the king of the country called Parthia. This king was inordinately fond of horses and horse-raising. In time, he became so expert in raising them that he could not only turn a worthless horse into an outstanding one, but could also transform an ox into a horse. Eventually, he even turned people into horses and rode them. The citizens of his own state were so grieved at this that he began to turn only people from other lands into horses. Thus, when a traveling merchant came to his kingdom from another country, he gave the merchant a potion to drink, transformed him into a horse, and tied him up in the royal stables.

Even under ordinary circumstances the merchant yearned for his homeland and in particular thought longingly of his wife and child. Thus he found his present lot very difficult to bear. But since the king would not allow him to go home, he could not do so. Indeed, even had it been possible, what could he have done there in his present form? So all he could do was bewail his fate morning and evening.

This man had a son who, when his father failed to return at the expected time, began to wonder if he had been killed or had perhaps fallen ill. Feeling that, as a son, he must find out what had happened to his father, he set out on a journey to do so. His mother lamented, protesting that her husband had already gone off to another land and failed to return, and that, if she were now to be abandoned by her only son as well, she did not know how she could carry on. But the son was so deeply concerned about his father that he nevertheless set off for the country of Parthia in search of him.

Upon his arrival, he put up for the night at a small lodging. The master of the house said: “How sad! You are still so young, and I can see from your face and bearing that you are a person of distinction. I had a son once, but he went off to another country and perhaps has died there. At least I do not know what has become of him. When I think of the fate of my own son, I can scarcely bear to look at you. I say this because here in this country we have a cause for great sorrow. The king of this country is so inordinately fond of horses that he ventures to make use of a strange kind of plant. If he feeds one of the narrow leaves of this plant to a person, the person turns into a horse. And if he feeds one of the broad leaves of the plant to a horse, the horse turns into a person. Not long ago a merchant came here from another country. The king fed him some of this plant, turned him into a horse, and is secretly keeping him confined in the first of the royal stables.”

When the son heard this, he thought that his father must have been transformed into a horse, and he asked, “What color is the horse’s coat?”

The master of the house replied, “The horse is chestnut, with white dappling on the shoulders.”

After the son had learned all these things, he contrived to approach the royal palace, where he was able to steal some of the broad leaves of the strange plant. When he fed these to the horse that his father had become, his father changed back into his original human form.

The king of the country, marveling at what had happened, handed the father over to the son, since the latter had shown himself to be such a model of filial concern. After that he never again turned people into horses.

Who but a son would have gone to such lengths to search for his father? The Venerable Mokuren saved his mother from the sufferings of the world of hungry spirits, and the brothers Jozo and Jogen persuaded their father to give up his erroneous views. This is why it is said that a good child is a parent’s treasure.

Now the late Abutsu-bo was an inhabitant of a wild and distant island in the northern sea of Japan. Nevertheless, he was anxious about his future existence, so he took religious vows and aspired to happiness in the next life. Then, when he encountered the exile Nichiren, he embraced the Lotus Sutra, and in the spring of last year he became a Buddha. When the fox of Mount Shida (note) encountered the Buddha’s teaching, he grew dissatisfied with life, longed for death, and was reborn as the god Teishaku. In the same way, the Honorable Abutsu-bo grew weary of his existence in this impure world, and so he became a Buddha.

His son, Tōkurō Moritsuna, has followed in his footsteps and become a wholehearted votary of the Lotus Sutra. Last year, on the second day of the seventh month, he appeared here at Mount Minobu in Hakiri in the province of Kai, having journeyed a thousand ri over mountains and seas with his father’s ashes hung around his neck, and deposited them at the place dedicated to the practice of the Lotus Sutra. And this year, on the first day of the seventh month, he came again to Mount Minobu to pay respects at his father’s grave. There is no greater treasure than a child, no greater treasure than a child! Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Nichiren

The second day of the seventh month

Reply to the wife of the late Abutsu-bo.

Postscript: I am sending a priestly robe of dyed silk. Please inform Bungo-bo. The teachings of the Lotus Sutra are already spreading throughout the country of Japan. Bungo-bo should undertake to propagate them in the Hokuriku region, but he cannot do so unless he becomes well learned. Tell him to make haste and come here no later than the fifteenth day of the ninth month.

Please send me the Buddhist texts as soon as possible by way of Tamba-bo, as you did with the daily records. Please send Yamabushi-bo here to me as I instructed the other day. I am glad to hear that Yamabushi was criticized for his faith.”

Incidentally, Myosenji Temple in present-day Sado City holds three scrolls of Nichiren's letters (to nun Kou, to nun Sennichi, and to Sennichi Nun: National Important Cultural Property) and two scrolls of the Gohonzon in the hand of Nichiren given to Sennichi Nun and Abutsu-bo, respectively.



To be continued.



Note


The nun Hourenkou.

Horenkou means the nun with the fragrance of lotus flowers. A nun mentioned in the Great Buddha's Summit Shurangama Sutra, Vol. 8. She is said to have been so guilty of delusional speech that she was condemned to hell while still alive, with fire emitting from every joint and joint of her body.


The flower garden of the Lotus Treasury World, a Land of Actual Reward King.

A Land of Actual Reward King refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, the teacher of the Kegon Sutra.


 The fox of Mt. Shida

Mount Shida was a mountain in the great Indian kingdom of Bhima. According to the Mizo’u Sutra, a fox who lived on this mountain was chased by a lion king and fell into a dry well. After three days, just before he starved to death, he lamented the impermanence of all things and preached a verse in which he wished to return to Buddha and have his sins and defects extinguished. Hearing this, the Teishaku led all the heavenly beings to ask him to preach.




by johsei1129 | 2022-05-21 11:18 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)
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