ESSENTIAL PASSAGES FOR FAITH
BY HIGH PRIEST NICHINYO SHONIN KOFU-BO,
HEAD TEMPLE TAISEKIJI
“Letter to the Wife of Ichinosawa Nyudo” (“Ichinosawa nyudo nyobo gosho”)
I, Nichiren, am the parent of all the people of Japan. I am their sovereign. I am their enlightened teacher of Japan. Do not turn against someone like me. It is absolutely certain that those who follow Nembutsu will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. You can be sure of it! (Gosho, p.830)
This Gosho, “Letter to the Wife of Ichinosawa Nyudo” (“Ichinosaua nyudo nyobo gosho’) was written in the first year of Kenji (1275). It was addressed to the wife of Ichinosawa Nyudo on Sado Island and sent by the Daishonin from Minobu.
This Gosho explains the reasons why the Daishonin propagated the Law, despite the persecutions he encountered in Izu, Tatsunokuchi, and Sado. He did so in order to repay his debts of gratitude to the entire world. Furthermore, the Daishonin states that he propagated the Law also to repay his debts of gratitude to Shakyamuni Buddha.
Though Ichinosawa Nyudo never discarded his faith in Nembutsu, he clearly helped and supported the Daishonin. While expressing his profound gratitude for Ichinosawa’s protection during the Sado exile, the Daishonin strictly points out to Ichinosawa Nyudo, who was reluctant to give up his faith in Nembutsu, the seriousness of his errors. In this Gosho, he used the example of the Mongol invasion.
Ichinosawa Nyudo was from Ichinosawa on Sado Island. It is believed he was a high-ranking landowner. The Daishonin lived in Nyudo’s house from the ninth year of Bun’ei (1272), when he was moved there from his dismal accommodations at Tsukahara, until he was pardoned from exile in the eleventh year of Bun’ei. Although Ichinosawa Nyudo never discarded his faith in Nembutsu, he nevertheless was deeply impressed with the Daishonin and he saved and
protected him on Sado.
This Gosho passage teaches an extremely important matter. It reveals that the Daishonin is the Buddha who possesses the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent. He warns that the people of Japan, especially those who follow Nembutsu, definitely will fall into the hell of incessant suffering, based on the Law of causality. “The people did not follow the Daishonin’s teachings, and furthermore, the Daishonin falsely was accused of a major offense and was banished.
The beginning of this Gosho passage reads: “I, Nichiren am the parent of all the people of Japan. I am their sovereign. I am their enlightened teacher of Japan.” Before this passage, in the same Gosho, the Daishonin reveals that Shakyamuni is the Buddha who is endowed with the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent. Then, he reveals that he, himself, is the Buddha who possesses these three virtues for the sake of the people in the Latter Day of the Law.
What are the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent? The virtue of a sovereign signifies the power and function of protecting all living beings. The virtue of a teacher represents the power to lead and guide all living beings to the correct path. The virtue of a parent indicates the compassion to cherish and support all living beings.
You may find an individual in the world who possesses more than one of these three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent. Only the Buddha, howeyer, possesses all three. In the Gosho, “On Prayer””Kito-sho”), the Daishonin states:
‘The Buddha is the sovereign of the human and heavenly realms and the parent of all living beings. Moreover, he is the teacher who leads the people to enlightenment. Though a person may be a parent, if he is of humble social position, he cannot at the same time fulfill the function of sovereign. And though one may be a sovereign, if he is not also a parent, he will inspire only awe and fear. And though one may be both a parent and sovereign, he cannot be a teacher as well. The various Buddhas, since they are known as World-Honored Ones, may be regarded as sovereigns. But since they do not make their appearance in this saha world, they are not teachers. Nor do they declare that “…the living beings in it [this three-fold world)] are all my children. “‘ Shakyamuni Buddha alone concurrently possesses the three virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent. (Gosho, p. 628; cf.MW-zp.43)
The Parable (Hiyu; third) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reads:
But now this threefold world is all my domain. (Hokckyo, p.68; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 69)
This represents the virtue of a sovereign.
The living beings in the threefold world are all my children. (ibid.)
This signifies the virtue of a parent.
Now this place is beset by many pains and trials. I am the only person who can rescue and protect
Saving others indicates the virtue of a teacher. The Parable (Hiyu; third) chapter of the Lotus Sutra
teaches the three virtues of the provisional Buddha.
The Life Span of the Tathagata (Nyorai juryo; sixteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra states: …this, my
land, remains safe and tranquil, (Hokelyo, p. 441; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p.230)
This shows the virtue of a sovereign. It further states:
I am always here preaching the Law. (Hokelyo, p. 439; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, P. 229)
Preaching the Law represents the virtue of a teacher.
I am the father of this world. (Hokcleyo, p. 442; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 231)
This exacrly signifes the virtue of a parent.
The Parable (Hiyu; third) chapter of the Lotus Sutra first shows the three virtues of the Buddha of the
theoretical teaching, Then, the Life Span of the Tathagata (Nyorai juryo; sixteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reveals the three virtues of the Buddha of the essential teaching.
In the “Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden’), the Daishonin states:
The sixteenth item: “I am the father of this world.”
The Master states: “I” signifies Shakyamuni Buddha, and he is the father of all living beings. The three
virtues can be viewed from the perspectives of both the Buddha and the sutra. In terms of the Buddha, the three virtues of the Buddha of the theoretical teaching are indicated in the sentence: “But now this threefold world is all my domain.” Concerning the three virtues [of sovereign, teacher, and parent] of the Buddha of the essential teaching, the virtue of sovereign corresponds to the sentence:”…this, my land, remains sate and tranquil.” The virtue of teacher is demonstrated in the line: “I am always here preaching the Law.” The virtue of parent is indicated in the sentence: “‘I am the father of this world.” The Great Teacher Miaole teaches that those who are ignorant of the passages of the Life Span chapter are those in the world of animality who have no gratitude. In terms of the sutra, “king among all the sutras” signifies the virtue of sovereign. “Will rescue all living beings” indicates the virtue of teacher. “Moreover, like Dai-Bontenno, the father of all living beings” represents the virtue of parent. Those who follow Nichiren and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo are fathers of all living beings. They will save the people from the affliction of the hell of incessant suffering. The Nirvana Sutra stares: “A person who accepts the suffering of all living beings is the Tathagata alone.” Nichiren states: “The person who makes the sufferings of all living beings his own is I, Nichiren alone.” (Gosho, p.1770)
In other words, these passages in the Life Span chapter symbolize the three virtues. “My land remains safe and tranquil,” represents the virtue of sovereign. “I am always here preaching the Law” signifies the virtue of teacher, and “‘I am the father of this world” indicates the virtue of parent. This is from the viewpoint of the Buddha. In terms of the sutra, “king among all the sutras” signifies the virtue of sovereign. “Will rescue all living beings” represents the virtue of teacher. And, “moreover, like Dai-Bontenno, the father of all living beings” indicates the virtue of parent.
These, however, correspond to the three virtues of the Buddha of maturing and harvesting That is, the three virtues of Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni’s teachings are for the people of the Former and Middle Days of the Law—the two thousand-year period after Shakyamunis passing. His teachings cannot save the people in the Latter Day of the Law.
Then, who is the Buddha who possesses the three virtues and saves all living beings in the Latter Day of the Law? The Gosho, “The Transmission of the Heritage of the Law” (“Ubuyu sojo nokoto”) reads:
Nichiren is the sovereign of all living beings in the entire world. He is also their father and mother, and he is the teacher of all the people in Japan….Nichiren, who is always present throughout the three existences, is the sovereign of this threefold world. (Gosho, p.1710)
Furthermore, the Daishonin declares in “The Opening of the Eyes”(“Kaimokusho”):
I, Nichiren, am the sovereign, teacher, father, and mother of all the people in Japan. (Gosho, p.577) This Gosho passage indicates the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent. The Gosho passage
that we presently are studying from “Letter to the Wife of Ichinosawa Nyudo” also declares: “I, Nichiren am the parent of all the people of Japan. I am their sovereign. I am their enlightened teacher of Japan.” This reveals that the Daishonin is the Buddha who possesses these three virtues in the Latter Day of the Law. ‘Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin teaches the following in “The Teaching for the Latter Day” (“Mappo soo sho’):
You must regard the person who possesses the three virtues as the True Buddha. (Six-Volume Writhings p. 136)
By revering the Gohonzon, which was inscribed by the Buddha who possesses the three virtues, those without the seed of Buddhahood can achieve their long-cherished ambition of attaining Buddhahood in their present form. If we revere the Daishonin as the True Buddha in the Latter Day of the Law and worship the Gohonzon, which was inscribed by the Buddha, we can attain Buddhahood in our present form.
Next, the Gosho passage states: “It is absolutely certain that those who follow Nembutsu will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. You can be sure of it!” This explains that slander of the Law truly is frightful.
The Daishonin explains the following in his Gosho, “On Discerning Cause and Effect in the Ten worlds” (“Jippokaimyo inga-sho'”): Due to the offense of greed and theft, one will fall into the world of hunger. Even ordinary people clearly can understand this. However, even good people who are not greedy and do not commit other sins will fall into the world of hunger if they commit slander, or if they unknowingly come to believe in slanderous teachings by closely associating with slanderers. Only a man of wisdom will understand this. We certainly should beware. (Gosho, p.208)
It is common knowledge that greed and stealing will lead one to fall into the evil path of hunger. Even good people who do not commit such sins can fall into the evil path of hunger, if they slander or seek out evil friends and come to believe in evil principles.
Therefore, if you have relatives or neighbors who commit slander, you must shakubuku them, If you associate with them superficially in order to maintain a beneficial relationship, you will be influenced by their slander without noticing it, and everything will go wrong. The slander of the Law is truly horrifying. The Daishonin teaches:
Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase. (Gosho, p.668; MW-1,p.9S)
As this Gosho passage teaches, it is extremely important to conduct shakubuku. We always must sow the seed and conduct shakubuku, aiming toward the achievement of kosen-rufu. If one neglects this, all may be lost, as this Gosho passage teaches. Therefore, you must be truly fearful of slander.
In “Reply to the Lay Nun Abutsubo” (“Abutsubo ama gozen-gohenji”), the Daishonin states:
Now you should cherish the great desire to attain enlightenment for happiness in your next life. If you doubt or slander even in the slightest, you will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. Suppose there is a ship which sails on the open sea. Even if the ship is stoutly built, should it leak even a bit, the passengers are certain to drown together. Even though the embankment between rice fields is firm, if there is only one tiny crack in it, the water will never be contained. You mast bail the seawater of doubt and slander out of the ship of your life and solidify the embankments of your faith. (Gusho.p9o6; MW-1, P.159)
In this Gosho, the Daishonin teaches that one strictly must admonish slander of the Law. Here, the Daishonin is emphasizing how fearful slander can be. By showing these examples. If you doubt a little bit or slander even in the slightest, you will fall into the hell of incessant suffering.
One must not only avoid slander. But also must remonstrate with others who commit slander. If one passively observes a person committing slander, it is just as if one committed the same slander oneself. Thus, we must never fail to refute slanders of the law. The Daishonin clearly teaches the following in “The Crucial Elements for Attaining Enlightenment (“Syat dono gohemys”):
Trying to attain enlightenment without admonishing slander of the Law is like seeking water in fire or fire in water. How deplorable! No matter how sincerely one believes in the Lotus Sutra, any violation of its teachings will surely cause him to fall into hell, just as one crab leg will ruin a thousand pots of lacquer. This is the meanings of the passage in the Lotus Sutra. “The poison has penetrated deeply, causing them to lose their true minds.” (Gosho, p.1040; MW-1. p.165)
lf you see someone who is slandering the Law, you immediately must reproach him. As long as you admonish this person for his offense, you will escape committing the same slander. If you do not refute the slanders of others, you will encounter various obstacles in your daily life. For this reason, you always must try to admonish against slander. The Gosho, “Remonstrating Against Slander of the Law and Expiating One’s Kama” (“Kashaku hobo metsuzai-sho”) teaches:
Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, the country is filled with slanders of the Law. The sovereign of the country is the foremost slanderer. If this grave offense is not eradicated now, when will it be done? (Gosho,
In this present age, when the world is filled with slander, we must conduct shakubuku in order to
eliminate the offenses of the people’s slanders. The Rissho ankoku-ron reads: How deplorable it is that people go against the Buddha’s admonitions that are based on his true intentions! Indeed, how pitiful it is that they follow the fallacious words of this deceptive and irrational monk [Honen]! If one desires peace to reign
throughout the entire nation without delay, he should first and foremost put an end on to the slanders that prevail throughout the country. (Gosho, p. 247: GND-2, p.35)
Unless we eliminate all the slanders throughout the entire country, we cannot obtain true happiness. “Reply to Myoho bikuni” (“Myoho bikuni-gohenji”) reads:
The Buddha strictly warns: If one sees an enemy of the Lotus Sutra but fails to reproach him, because one is afraid of damaging his reputation, then this person is an enemy of Shakyamuni Buddha. If one does not admonish against slander, any intellectual or any good man will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. (Gosho, p.1262)
These also are the Daishonin’s golden words. I do not believe that any of you fit into this category. But some of you may worry about your reputation, become weak in spirit, and end up not doing shakubuku. If this is the case, then, as this Gosho passage teaches, you will become an enemy of the Buddha and you will not receive benefits. One strictly must admonish against slander of the Law and do shakubuku. You must be aware that this practice is fundamental, and will lead one to achieve the attainment of Buddhahood in this lifetime. The Daishonin teaches the importance of refuting slander of the Law in numerous parts of his Goshos.
Applying this to our faith and practice, each of us must conduct shakubuku.