Letter to Ko-no-ama Gozen
I have received three hundred mon of coins from the wife of Abutsu-bo. Since both of you are of the same mind, have someone
read this letter to you and listen to it together.
I have also received the unlined summer robe you sent to me here in the recesses of this mountain in Hakiri Village, Kai
Province, all the way from the province of Sado where you live. The Hosshi chapter in the fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra
states: "If there is one who, in his quest for the Buddha Way, shall throughout one kalpa join his palms and in my presence
praise me with countless verses, because of this praise of the Buddha he will gain immeasurable benefit. But one who praises
the bearers of this sutra will have blessings surpassing even that." This means that the benefit of making offerings to a
votary of the Lotus Sutra in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law surpasses that of serving in all sincerity as noble
a Buddha as Shakyamuni with one's body, mouth and mind for an entire medium kalpa. Although this may seem unbelievable, you
should not doubt it, because such are the Buddha's golden words.
The Great Teacher Miao-lo further clarifies this passage from the sutra by saying, "If there is one who troubles [a preacher of the Dharma], then his head will be split into seven pieces;
if there is one who makes offerings [to the preacher], his good fortune will surpass that of the ten honorable titles." In other words, the benefit of making offerings to a votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law exceeds
that of making offerings to a Buddha endowed with the ten honorable titles. On the other hand, one who persecutes a votary
of the Lotus Sutra in the impure age will have his head broken into seven pieces.
I, Nichiren, am the most extraordinary person in Japan. The reason I say so is this. The seven reigns of heavenly gods
I will set aside, and the five reigns of earthly gods are beyond my knowledge, but throughout the ninety reigns from the time
of the first human emperor Jimmu until the present, or during the more than seven hundred years since the reign of Emperor
Kimmei [when Buddhism was introduced to this country], no one has ever been so universally hated as Nichiren on account of
either secular or Buddhist matters. Mononobe no Moriya burnt down temples and pagodas, and Kiyomori Nyudo had Todai-ji and
Kofuku-ji temples destroyed, but the people of their clans did not harbor hatred toward them. Masakado and Sadato rebelled
against the imperial court, and the Great Teacher Dengyo incurred antagonism from the priests of the seven major temples of
Nara, but these men were not hated by priests, nuns, laymen and laywomen throughout the whole of Japan. In my case, however,
parents, brothers, teachers and fellow priests - every single person from the ruler on down to the common people - treat me
as if I were their parents' enemy, and show me more hostility than if I were a rebel or a robber.
Thus, at times I have been vilified by several hundred people; and at other times, besieged by several thousand, I have
been attacked with swords and staves. I have been driven from my residence and banished from my province. Finally I twice
incurred the regent's displeasure, being exiled once to Izu Province and again to Sado Island. When I was banished to Sado
in the northern sea, I had neither provisions to sustain me nor even clothes as coarse as those made of wisteria vines to
cover my body. The people there, both priests and laity, hated me even more than did the men and women of Sagami Province.
Abandoned in the wilderness and exposed to the snow, I sustained my life by eating grass.
I felt as though I were personally experiencing the sufferings of Su Wu, who survived by eating snow while living in captivity
in the land of the northern barbarians for nineteen years, or of Li Ling, who was imprisoned in a rocky cave on the shore
of the northern sea for six years. I underwent this ordeal not because of any fault of my own but solely because of my desire
to save all the people of Japan.
However, while I was in exile there, you and your husband Ko Nyudo, avoiding the eyes of others, brought me food by night.
You were ready to give your lives for my sake without fearing punishment from the provincial officials. Therefore, although
life in Sado was harsh, I was loath to leave, feeling as if my heart were being left behind, and I seemed to be pulled back
with each step I took.
I wonder what karmic bonds we formed in the past. Just when I was thinking how mysterious it was, you sent your most precious
husband as your messenger to this distant place. I thought it must be a dream or an illusion. Even though I cannot see you,
I am convinced that your heart remains here with me. Whenever you yearn for me, Nichiren, look toward the sun which rises
in the morning and the moon which appears in the evening. I will invariably be reflected in the sun and the moon. In the next life, let us meet in the pure land of Eagle Peak. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The sixteenth day of the sixth month