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Letter of Petition from Yorimoto
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Letter of Petition from Yorimoto
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Letter of Petition from Yorimoto


On the twenty-fifth day of the sixth month I respectfully read your

official letter of the twenty-third, which I received through the

intermediaries Shimada no Saemon Nyudo and Yamashiro no Mimbu

Nyudo. In the letter you state: "I am shocked to hear that all those

present on that occasion are unanimous in saying that you behaved

in a disorderly manner at the place where Priest Ryuzo was

preaching. They say you interrupted with a group of your cohorts, all

wearing weapons."


That is a groundless falsehood. I do not know who told you so, but

surely it would be fitting if, out of pity for me, you were to summon

them to confront me in your presence and inquire into the truth or

falsehood of their accusations.


Briefly, the root of this matter is as follows. On the ninth day of the

sixth month, Sammi-ko, who is a disciple of the sage Nichiren, came

to my residence and said: "Recently a priest named Ryuzo-bo has

arrived from Kyoto and settled in Kuwagayatsu, west of the gate of

the Daibutsu-den. He preaches day and night, urging those who

have questions about Buddhism to come and hold discourse with

him in order to settle their doubts about this life and the next. All the

people in Kamakura, high and low, revere him as they would

Shakyamuni Buddha. However, I hear that no one has ever actually

debated with him. I want to go to Kuwagayatsu to debate with him

and clarify whatever doubts the people might have about their next

life. Won't you come and listen?"


At that time I was busy with official matters, so I did not originally

intend to accompany him. However, I had heard that it concerned

the Buddhist teachings, and I often went to hear preaching on that

subject. Being a lay believer, however, I never said a single word.

Therefore, I believe that a strict investigation on your part should be

sufficient to reveal that I was not in any way abusive.


In any event, during his sermon, Ryuzo-bo said, "If anyone among

you has a question about the Buddhist teachings, please do not

hesitate to ask." Thereupon Sammi-ko, the disciple of the priest

Nichiren, raised the following question: "That death is inevitable from

the time of birth is certainly no cause for surprise; in addition,

especially in recent times, countless people in Japan have perished

in calamities. No one can fail to realize this transience, which lies

before our very eyes. Under these circumstances I heard that you, a

respected priest, had come from Kyoto to dispel the doubts of the

people, so I came to listen. I was feeling hesitant, thinking it rude to

ask a question in the middle of your sermon, so I am happy that you

have invited anyone who has doubts to speak freely.


"What puzzles me first of all is this: I am a lowly person, born in the

Latter Day of the Law in a remote land [far from the birthplace of

Buddhism]. Yet fortunately Buddhism, which originated in India, has

already been introduced to this country. One should embrace it by all

means. However, the sutras amount to no less than five or seven

thousand volumes. Since they are the teachings of a single Buddha,

they must essentially be one sutra. But Buddhism is divided into

eight sects, if one includes Kegon and Shingon, or ten sects, if one

includes Jodo and Zen. Although these sects represent different

gates of entry, I would presume that their truth must ultimately be

one.


"However, the Great Teacher Kobo, the founder of the Shingon sect

in Japan, said, 'The Lotus Sutra, when compared to the Kegon and

Dainichi sutras, not only represents a different gate but is a doctrine

of childish theory, and the Buddha who expounded it is still in the

region of darkness.' He also stated, 'The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai of

the Hokke [Lotus] school and others have vied with one another to

steal the ghee [of the Shingon].' The Great Teacher Tz'u-en, the

founder of the Hosso school, said, 'The Lotus Sutra is expedient

while the Jimmitsu Sutra is true; those sentient beings without the

nature of enlightenment can never attain Buddhahood throughout

eternity.'


"Ch'eng-kuan of the Kegon school said, 'The Kegon Sutra

represents the root teaching and the Lotus Sutra, the branch

teachings.' He also said, 'The Kegon Sutra is the teaching of

enlightenment for the people of the sudden teaching, and the Lotus

Sutra, the teaching of enlightenment for the people of the gradual

teaching.' The Great Teacher Chi-hsiang of the Sanron school said,

'Of all the Mahayana sutras, the Hannya sutras are supreme.' Priest

Shan-tao of the Jodo or Pure Land school said, 'Of those who

practice the Nembutsu, ten persons out of ten and a hundred

persons out of a hundred will be reborn in the Pure Land. However,

not one in a thousand can be saved by the Lotus and other sutras.'

Priest Honen urged people to 'discard, close, ignore and abandon'

the Lotus Sutra in favor of the Nembutsu, and also likened the

votaries of the Lotus Sutra to 'a band of robbers.' And the Zen sect

declares itself to represent 'a special transmission outside the

sutras, independent of the written word.'


"Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, said of the Lotus Sutra, 'The

World-Honored One has long expounded his doctrines and now must

reveal the truth.' And Taho Buddha declared of Myoho-renge-kyo, 'All

that you [Shakyamuni] have expounded is the truth.' The sutra also

states that the various Buddhas of the ten directions, who were

emanations of Shakyamuni, extended their tongues to the Brahma

Heaven.


"The Great Teacher Kobo wrote that the Lotus Sutra is a doctrine of

childish theory. Yet Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha and all the

Buddhas of the ten directions unanimously declared that all its

teachings are true. Which of all these statements are we to believe?


"Priests Shan-tao and Honen said of the Lotus Sutra that 'not one in

a thousand can be saved by it,' and that one should 'discard, close,

ignore and abandon' it. However, Shakyamuni Buddha, Taho Buddha

and all the Buddhas of the ten directions, who are emanations of

Shakyamuni, assert that [of those who embrace the Lotus Sutra,]

none shall fail to attain Buddhahood, and that all shall achieve the

Buddha Way. Shakyamuni, Taho and all the other Buddhas, and

Priests Shan-tao and Honen, are in their statements as far apart as

fire and water, or clouds and mud.


"Which of them are we to believe? Which of them are we to reject?


"In particular, of the forty-eight vows of the monk Hozo mentioned in

the Muryogi Sutra, which both Shan-tao and Honen revere, the

eighteenth vow states, 'Should I attain Buddhahood...excepting only

those who commit the five cardinal sins or who slander the True

Law.' Surely this means that even if Amida Buddha's original vow is

true and enables one to attain rebirth in the Pure Land, those who

slander the True Law are excluded from rebirth in the land of Amida

Buddha."


"Now the second volume of the Lotus Sutra reads, 'One who refuses

to take faith in this sutra [and instead slanders it]...After they die,

they will fall into the Avichi Hell.' If these scriptural passages are

true, then how can Shan-tao and Honen, who both regarded the

Nembutsu sect as representing the essence of Buddhism, escape

falling into the great citadel of the Avichi Hell? And if these two

priests fall into hell, there can be no doubt that the scholars,

disciples and lay believers who follow in their footsteps will also as a

matter of course fall into the evil paths. These are the matters >


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Transfer interrupted!
What is your opinion, Priest Ryuzo?" In this manner, Sammi-ko

posed his question.


Priest Ryuzo answered, "How could I doubt the worthies and learned

men of high antiquity? Ordinary priest that I am, I believe them with

profound reverence." Then Sammi-ko retorted, saying, "These words

do not impress me as those of a wise man. Everyone believes in

those Buddhist teachers who were revered in their own time. But the

Buddha enjoins us in the Nirvana Sutra as his final instruction, 'Rely

on the Law and not upon persons.' The Buddha taught us to rely on

the sutras if the Buddhist teachers should be in error. You say those

teachers could not possibly be in error, but between the Buddha's

golden words and your personal opinion, I am committed to the

former."


Then Priest Ryuzo asked, "When you speak of the many errors of

the Buddhist teachers, to which teachers do you refer?" Sammi-ko

answered, "I refer to the doctrines of the Great Teacher Kobo and

Priest Honen, whom I mentioned before." Priest Ryuzo exclaimed,

"That is impossible! I would not dare discuss the teachers of our

nation. The people in this audience all follow in their footsteps. If

they are angered, they will surely create an uproar. That would be a

fearsome thing."


Then Sammi-ko attacked him, saying, "Because you asked me to

specify which teachers were in error, I mentioned those whose

teachings contradict the sutras and treatises. But now you suddenly

have reservations and refuse to discuss the matter. I think that you

merely perceive your own dilemma. In matters of doctrine, to fear

others or stand in awe of society's opinion, and not expound the true

meaning of the scriptural passages in accordance with the Buddha's

teaching, is the height of foolishness. You do not appear to be a

wise man. As a priest, how can you not speak out when evil

doctrines spread throughout the land, when the people fall into the

evil paths and the country stands on the brink of ruin? That is why

the Lotus Sutra reads, 'We do not hold our own lives dear,' and the

Nirvana Sutra says, '...even though it may cost him his life.' If you

are a true sage, how can you begrudge your life in fear of the world

or of other people?


"Even in non-Buddhist literature we find mention of a man named

Lung-p'eng, who was beheaded, and of the worthy Pi Kan, who had

his chest torn open. But because Lung-p'eng remonstrated with King

Chieh of the Hsia dynasty and Pi Kan admonished King Chou of the

Yin dynasty, their names have been handed down in history as

those of worthy men.


"The Buddhist scriptures tell us that Bodhisattva Fukyo was beaten

with staves, the Venerable Aryasimha was beheaded, the monk Chu

Tao-sheng was banished to a mountain in Suchou, and the Learned

Doctor Fa-tao was branded on the face and exiled to the area south

of the Yangtze River. Yet because they propagated the True Law,

they gained the name of sages."


The Priest Ryuzo replied, "Such people cannot possibly appear in

the latter age. We are the sort who fear society and dread the

opinions of others. Even though you speak so boldly, I doubt that

you actually live up to your words."


Priest Sammi-ko retorted, "How can you possibly know another's

mind? Let me tell you that I am a disciple of the sage Nichiren, who

is now widely known throughout the country. Although the sage, my

master, is a priest in the latter age, unlike the eminent priests of our

day, he neither seeks invitations, nor does he flatter people, nor has

he earned the slightest bad reputation in secular matters.


"He simply declares, in light of the sutras, that because the evil

teachings of such sects as the Shingon, Zen and Jodo as well as

slanderous priests fill this country, and everyone from the ruler on

down to the multitudes of common people has taken faith in them,

the people have all become archenemies of the Lotus Sutra and

Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings. In this life they will be forsaken

by the gods of heaven and earth and suffer invasion by a foreign

country, and in the next life they will fall into the great citadel of the

Avichi Hell.


"He has said that if he declares such a thing, he will incur great

enmity, but that if he does not, he cannot escape the Buddha's

condemnation. The Nirvana Sutra says, 'If even a good priest sees

someone slandering the Law and disregards him, failing to reproach

him, to oust him or to punish him for his offense, then that priest is

betraying Buddhism.' Realizing that if in fear of the world's opinion he

did not speak out, he would fall into the evil paths, my master has

risked his life for more than two decades, from the Kencho era

through this third year of the Kenji era (1277), without slackening in

the least. Therefore he has undergone countless persecutions at the

hands of individuals, and twice he has even incurred the ruler's

displeasure. I myself was one of those who accompanied him when

the wrath of the authorities fell upon him on the twelfth day of the

ninth month in the eighth year of the Bun'ei era (1271), and I was

considered equally guilty and came close to being beheaded myself.

Despite all this, do you still say that I hold my own life dear?"


As Ryuzo-bo closed his mouth and turned pale, Sammi-ko persisted:

"With such paltry wisdom it is unwarranted for you to declare that

you will dispel the people's doubts. The monks Kugan and Shoi

thought they knew the True Law and intended to save the people,

but they fell into the hell of incessant suffering along with their

disciples and lay believers. If you, with your limited knowledge of

Buddhist doctrines, preach in an attempt to save many people, then

surely you and your followers will fall into the hell of incessant

suffering. You had better reconsider such preaching from this day

forth. I had not felt that I should speak in this way; but I, too, cannot

be exempted from the Buddha's warning that if one sees a

misguided priest sending others into hell with his evil teachings and

fails to reproach that priest and expose his errors, then he himself is

an enemy of Buddhism. Moreover, I feel pity that all those, both high

and low, who listen to your preaching will fall into the evil paths.

Therefore I am speaking out in this way. A wise man is so called

because he admonishes the ruler when the country is endangered or

because he corrects others' mistaken views. But in your case I can

do nothing, because, no matter what error you may see, you will no

doubt refuse to correct it for fear of society's reaction. Even if I had

Monju's wisdom and Purna's eloquence, they would be wasted on

you." So saying, Sammi-ko rose to leave; but the members of the

audience, rejoicing, joined their palms together and sought to detain

him, imploring him to teach them the Buddhist doctrines for a little

while. However, Sammi-ko left.


I have no further details to add, so you may surmise what really

happened. How could a person who believes in the Lotus Sutra and

aspires to the Buddha Way possibly contemplate misbehavior or

deliberately use foul language when the Buddhist teaching is being

expounded? However, I leave this to your judgment.


Having declared myself to be a follower of the sage Nichiren, I

returned home and reported to you exactly what had happened

during the debate. Moreover, no one was present on that occasion

whom I did not know. What you heard must have been the

fabrication of those who harbor jealousy against me. If you quickly

summon them to face me in your presence, the truth of the matter

will be brought to light.


In your official letter you also state, "I revere the elder of Gokuraku-ji

temple as the World-Honored One reborn," but this I cannot accept.

The reason is: if what the sutra states is true, the sage Nichiren is

the envoy of the Buddha who attained enlightenment in the remote

past, the provisional manifestation of Bodhisattva Jogyo, the votary

of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, and the great leader in

the fifth five-hundred-year period [following the Buddha's passing]. In

an attempt to have this sage executed, Priest Ryokan submitted a

letter of petition to the authorities proposing that he be beheaded;

but for some reason the execution was not carried out, and he was

instead exiled far away to Sado Island. Was this not the doing of

Priest Ryokan? I am sending you a copy of his petition together with

this letter.


Even though Priest Ryokan preaches day and night on each of the

six days of purification against killing even a blade of grass, he

actually proposed that the priest who propagates the true teaching

of the Lotus Sutra be beheaded. Has he not contradicted his own

words? Is Priest Ryokan himself not possessed by the Devil of the

Sixth Heaven?


Let me explain how this situation came about. Whenever Priest

Ryokan preached, he would lament, saying, "I am endeavoring to

help all people in Japan become 'observers of the precepts' and to

have them uphold the eight precepts so that an end can be put to all

the killings in this country and the drunkenness in the realm; but

Nichiren's slander has prevented me from achieving my desire."

Hearing of this, the sage Nichiren declared, "Somehow I must

overthrow the delusion of his great arrogance and save him from the

agonies of the hell of incessant suffering." Hearing this, I, Yorimoto,

and his other disciples all anxiously advised him, saying: "Even

though you speak out of profound compassion as a champion of the

Lotus Sutra, since Priest Ryokan is revered throughout Japan,

especially by the samurai in Kamakura, you should perhaps refrain

from making strong statements."


Then, at the time of the great drought, the government ordered

Priest Ryokan to perform a ceremony for rain on the eighteenth day

of the sixth month in the eighth year of the Bun'ei era (1271),

cyclical sign kanoto-hitsuji, in order to save the people. Hearing this

news, the sage Nichiren said, "Although prayers for rain are a trifling

matter, perhaps I should take this opportunity to demonstrate to

everyone the power of the Law that I embrace." He sent a message

to Priest Ryokan's place, saying: "If Priest Ryokan brings about

rainfall within seven days, I, Nichiren, will stop teaching that the

Nembutsu leads to the hell of incessant suffering and become his

disciple, observing the two hundred and fifty precepts. But if no rain

falls, that will show clearly that Priest Ryokan is deliberately

confusing and misleading others, though he appears to be observing

the precepts. In ancient times there were many instances in which

the supremacy of one teaching over another was determined

through prayers for rain, such as the challenge between Gomyo and

the Great Teacher Dengyo, or between Shubin and Kobo."


The sage Nichiren sent this message to the priest Ryokan through

the intermediaries Suo-bo and Irusawa no Nyudo, who are

Nembutsu believers. This priest and lay priest are Ryokan's

disciples, as well as Nembutsu believers, and do not yet believe in

Nichiren's teaching. So the sage Nichiren said to them: "We will

decide whose teachings are correct through this prayer for rain. If it

rains within seven days, you can believe that you will be reborn in

the Pure Land by virtue of the eight precepts and the Nembutsu,

which you already uphold. But if it does not rain, you should place

your faith in the Lotus Sutra alone." Delighted to hear this, the two

delivered the message to the priest Ryokan at Gokuraku-ji temple.


With tears of joy, the priest Ryokan, along with more than 120 of his

disciples, offered prayers, with the sweat of their faces rising up in

steam and their voices resounding to the heavens. They chanted

the Nembutsu, the Shou Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, and Ryokan

preached on the eight precepts in an effort to produce rainfall within

seven days. When no sign of rain appeared after four or five days,

he grew frantic and summoned hundreds of his disciples from Taho-ji

temple to join him, exhausting all his powers of prayer. But within

seven days not a drop of rain fell.


At that time, the sage Nichiren sent a messenger to him on no less

than three occasions, saying: "A wanton woman called Izumi Shikibu

and a priest named Noin who broke the precepts were each able to

cause rain immediately with just a thirty-one-syllable poem that

made little sense and was full of excess flourishes. Why is it, then,

that Priest Ryokan - who observes all the precepts and rules, has

mastered the Hokke and Shingon doctrines and is renowned as the

foremost in compassion - cannot produce rainfall within seven days,

even when assisted by hundreds of his followers? Consider this: if

one cannot cross a moat ten feet wide, can he cross one that is

twenty or thirty feet? If you cannot bring about rainfall, which is

easy, how can you attain rebirth and enlightenment in the Pure

Land, which is difficult?


"Accordingly you should from this point on revise your prejudiced

views which lead you to hate Nichiren. If you fear for your next life,

come to me immediately as you have promised. I will teach you the

Law that causes rain to fall and the path that leads to Buddhahood.

Have you not failed to produce rain within seven days? The drought

intensifies and the eight winds blow all the more violently, while the

people's grief grows deeper and deeper. Stop your prayers

immediately." When the messenger conveyed Nichiren's message

word for word at the Hour of the Monkey (3:00 - 5:00 P.M.) on the

seventh day, Priest Ryokan wept and his disciples and followers

also cried aloud in their chagrin.


When the priest Nichiren incurred the wrath of the Kamakura

government and was asked about this matter, he told the story as it

really happened. So he said: "If Priest Ryokan had had any sense of

shame, he would have disappeared from public view and retired to a

mountain forest. Or, if he had become my disciple as he had

promised, then he would have shown at least a little seeking spirit.

But in actuality, he made endless false accusations against me in an

attempt to have me executed. Is this the conduct of a noble priest?"

I, Yorimoto, also personally observed the situation. Where other

affairs are concerned, I would not dare to address my lord in this

fashion, but in this matter alone, however I may consider it, I find I

cannot remain silent.


You state in your official letter, "After meeting the priest Ryuzo and

the elder of Gokuraku-ji temple, I look up to them as I would to

Shakyamuni or Amida Buddha." Addressing this statement, too, with

the utmost respect, I must point out that while in Kyoto, Priest Ryuzo

was feeding morning and evening on human flesh; and when this

became known, the priests of Enryaku-ji temple of Mount Hiei rose

up against him, saying: "The world has entered the latter age and

evil demons are rampant throughout the country. We must subdue

them with the power of the Mountain King." They burned down his

residence and intended to punish him, but he quickly escaped and

no one knew of his whereabouts. Now he has reappeared in

Kamakura and is again eating human flesh, causing right-minded

people to tremble in fear. Nevertheless, you say you respect him as

a Buddha or a bodhisattva. How can I, as your retainer, refrain from

pointing out my lord's error? I wonder what the level-headed people

in our clan think about this matter.


In the same letter you also state, "To defer to one's lord or parents,

whether they are right or wrong, is exemplary conduct according

with the will of Buddhas and gods and also with social propriety." As

this matter is of the utmost importance, I will refrain from expressing

my own opinion and instead cite authoritative works [of sages and

worthy men]. The Classic of Filial Piety states, "[In a case of moral

wrong,] a son must admonish his father, and a minister must

admonish his lord." Cheng Hsuan says, "If a lord or a father behaves

unjustly and his minister or son fails to remonstrate with him, then

the state or the family will come to ruin." The Shinjo states, "If one

fails to remonstrate against his ruler's tyranny, he is not a loyal

minister. If one fails to speak out for fear of death, he is not a man

of courage."


The Great Teacher Dengyo states, "In general, where

unrighteousness is concerned, a son must admonish his father and

a minister must admonish his lord. Truly one should know this: as is

the case with lord and minister or with father and son, so it is with

master and disciple. A disciple must speak out when his master

goes astray." The Lotus Sutra states, "We do not hold our own lives

dear. We value only the supreme Way." The Nirvana Sutra reads,

"For example, if an envoy who is skilled in discussion and knows

how to employ clever expedients should be sent to a foreign country

to carry out a mission for his sovereign, it is proper that he should

relate the words of his ruler without holding back any of them, even

though it may cost him his life. And a wise man should do the same

in teaching Buddhism." The Great Teacher Chang-an says, "'[He

should relate the words of his ruler] without holding back any of

them, even though it may cost him his life.' This means that one's

body is insignificant while the Law is supreme. One should give his

life in order to propagate the Law." He also states, "He who

destroys or brings confusion to the Buddhist Law is an enemy of the

Law. If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct

him, he is in fact his enemy. But he who is willing to reprimand and

correct the offender...makes it possible for the offender to rid himself

of evil, and so he acts like a parent to the offender." My fellow

samurai may think that I, Yorimoto, am lacking in propriety [toward

you], but in all other, worldly, affairs, I will resolutely heed the words

of my lord and my parents.


I can only lament when I see my lord, to whom I am so profoundly

indebted, being deceived by those who embrace evil teachings and

in danger of falling into the evil paths. Because King Ajatashatru

took Devadatta and the six non-Buddhist teachers as his mentors

and opposed Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, all the people of the

kingdom of Magadha became enemies of Buddhism, and the

580,000 clansmen of the king also opposed the Buddha's disciples.

Among them, only Minister Jivaka was the Buddha's disciple. The

great king disapproved of his minister's devotion to the Buddha just

as my lord disapproves of me, Yorimoto. But in the end he discarded

the heretical doctrines of the other six ministers and took faith in the

true teaching that Jivaka espoused. Perhaps, in the same way, I will

save you in the end.


When I speak thus, you may wonder how I dare compare you to

Ajatashatru, who committed the five cardinal sins. But it is clear in

the light of the sutra that your offense is a hundred, a thousand, ten

thousand times more grave than his, though I hesitate to say such a

thing.


The Lotus Sutra states, "Now this threefold world is all my domain.

The living beings in it are all my children." If this scriptural statement

is correct, then Lord Shakyamuni is the father and mother, teacher

and sovereign of all the people in Japan. Amida Buddha does not

possess these three virtues. However, you ignore the Buddha of the

three virtues and invoke the name of another Buddha [Amida] day

and night, morning and evening, sixty or eighty thousand times a

day. Is this not an unfilial deed? It was Shakyamuni Buddha himself

who originally taught that Amida had vowed to save all people; but in

the end he regretted it and said, "I alone can save them." After that,

he never again taught that there are two or three Buddhas who can

save the people. No one has two fathers or two mothers. What

sutra says that Amida is the father of this country? What treatise

indicates him as its mother?


The teachings of Nembutsu such as the Kammuryoju Sutra were

expounded provisionally, in preparation for the Lotus Sutra. They

are like the scaffolding used when building a pagoda. Some think

that because [the Nembutsu teachings and the Lotus Sutra] are both

a part of Buddhism, they differ only in that one was expounded

earlier and one later; but these people are laboring under a profound

misconception. They are like someone foolish enough to value the

scaffolding even after the pagoda has been completed, or like

someone who says that the stars appear brighter than the sun.

Concerning such people, the sutra states, "Even though I teach and

command, they neither believe nor accept," and "After they die, they

will fall into the Avichi Hell."


All the inhabitants of Japan at present are people who reject

Shakyamuni Buddha while invoking the name of Amida Buddha, who

discard the Lotus Sutra and believe in the Kammuryoju and other

sutras. Or they are lay men and women who make offerings to these

slanderers, or renowned priests and even the ruler of the country

who revere as wise men those who in fact commit the five or seven

cardinal sins or the eight offenses. Of such people as all these, the

sutra states, "In this way they will be reborn again and again [in the

hell of incessant suffering] for kalpas without number."


Being aware to some small degree of these errors, I have ventured

to bring them to your attention. Among those in service, despite their

differences in rank, there are none who do not honor their lords,

each according to his station. If, while personally knowing that my

lord will fare badly in both this life and the next, I were to remain

silent in fear of my fellow samurai or of the world at large, then would

I not be guilty of complicity in your offense?


No one can deny that the Nakatsukasas of two generations, my

father and myself, have dedicated our lives for the sake of our lord.

When your father incurred the wrath of the authorities, his hundreds

of retainers all shifted their allegiance; among them, my late father

Yorikazu alone remained faithful to the end, accompanying him [into

exile] to the province of Izu. Shortly before the battle that took place

in Kamakura on the twelfth day of the second month in the eleventh

year of the Bun'ei era (1274), I, Yorimoto, was in the province of

Izu, but no sooner had I received word at the Hour of the Monkey on

the tenth day than I hastened alone over the Hakone pass and

joined with seven others who vowed before you to put an end to

their lives. But the world at length grew calm again, and my lord now

lives in peace. Since that time, you have included me among those

who enjoy your trust in all matters, whether trifling or significant.

How, then, could I estrange myself from you? I would obediently

follow you even into the next life. If I should attain Buddhahood, I

would save my lord as well, and if you were to attain Buddhahood, I

expect you would do the same for me.


So I listened to the sermons of various priests and inquired into

which teaching leads to Buddhahood. And I came to believe that,

according to the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, the sage Nichiren is

the sovereign of the threefold world, the father and mother of all

people, and the emissary of Shakyamuni Buddha - Bodhisattva

Jogyo.


More than four hundred years have now passed since the evil

teaching called the Shingon school was introduced to Japan. The

Great Teacher Dengyo brought it from China in the twenty-fourth

year of the Enryaku era (805), but he considered it undesirable for

this country, and therefore did not allow it to be designated as a sect

in its own right, defining it merely as an expedient teaching of the

Tendai-Hokke sect. Later when the Great Teacher Dengyo had

passed away, the Great Teacher Kobo, not to be outdone by him,

took advantage of the opportunity to establish the Shingon teaching

as an independent sect; but Enryaku-ji temple on Mount Hiei would

not accept it. However, Jikaku and Chisho were of limited insight,

and although they lived on Mount Hiei, their hearts inclined toward

Kobo of To-ji temple. Perhaps for this reason, they turned against

their teacher Dengyo and for the first time established the Shingon

sect at Enryaku-ji temple. This marked the beginning of our country's

ruin.


For the more than three hundred years that followed, some insisted

on the superiority of the Shingon teaching over the Lotus Sutra;

others, on the superiority of the Lotus Sutra over the Shingon

teaching; and still others, on the equality of both teachings. As the

dispute continued unresolved, the imperial rule remained unaffected

and did not come to an end. However, in the time of the Retired

Emperor Goshirakawa, the seventy-seventh sovereign, the chief

priest of the Tendai sect, Myoun, became exclusively committed to

the Shingon teaching and was killed by Minamoto no Yoshinaka.

This is an example of the passage that states, "May his head be

split in seven pieces."


Then, in the time of the Retired Emperor Gotoba, the eighty-second

sovereign, the Zen and Nembutsu sects appeared and spread

throughout the land, as had the great evil teaching of Shingon. So

the vows made by the Sun Goddess and the god Hachiman to

protect one hundred sovereigns throughout one hundred reigns were

broken, and the imperial authority came to an end. Through the

workings of the Sun Goddess and the god Hachiman, affairs of state

then came to be entrusted to the Gon no Tayu, Hojo Yoshitoki of the

Kanto region.


These three evil teachings spread to Kanto, where they gained

support within the ruling clan to a surprising degree. Therefore the

two heavenly gods Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon,

and the Four Heavenly Kings were enraged and admonished the

rulers by means of unprecedented disturbances in the heavens and

calamities on earth. When their admonitions went unheeded, they

commanded a neighboring country to punish those who slandered

the Lotus Sutra. The Sun Goddess and the god Hachiman were

powerless to help. The sage Nichiren alone was aware of all this.


Such being the strictness of the Lotus Sutra, I have set aside all

trivial concerns and served you devotedly until this day in my desire

to lead my lord to enlightenment. Are not those who accuse me

falsely thereby disloyal to you? If I leave the clan and abandon you

now, you will immediately fall into the hell of incessant suffering.

Then, even if I myself were to attain Buddhahood, I could only

grieve, feeling that I had done so in vain.


As for the Hinayana precepts, the two hundred and fifty precepts

were expounded for the heavenly gods by the great arhat Purna; but

Vimalakirti reprimanded him, saying, "You should not place impure

food in a jeweled vessel." Angulimala reproached Monju, saying,

"You will never realize the truth of Emptiness expounded in the

Mahayana teachings through [Hinayana] practices, which are as

insignificant as mosquitoes and gadflies." Monju later set forth

seventeen flaws in the Hinayana precepts, and the Buddha likewise

repudiated them with the eight analogies. The Great Teacher

Dengyo denounced them as donkey's milk and likened them to a

toad. The later disciples of Ganjin accused the Great Teacher

Dengyo of calumny and appealed directly to Emperor Saga; but

because what Dengyo had said is clearly indicated in the sutras,

their efforts were to no avail. The petition submitted to the emperor

by the sects of Nara proved futile, and the great ordination platform

[for conferring the Mahayana precepts] was erected at Enryaku-ji

temple on Mount Hiei; so the Hinayana precepts have already long

since been discarded. Even if I, Yorimoto, should compare Priest

Ryokan to a mosquito, a gadfly or a toad, because such assertions

are clearly based on the sutras, you would have no reason to find

fault with me.


Now it is unimaginably grievous to me that you would order me to

submit a written oath [discarding my faith in the Lotus Sutra]. If I,

Yorimoto, were to follow the trend of the times, which goes against

the Buddhist Law, and write such an oath, you would immediately

incur the punishment of the Lotus Sutra. When the sage Nichiren,

the envoy of Shakyamuni Buddha, was exiled because of the false

charges leveled against him by the priest Ryokan, fighting broke out

within one hundred days, just as he had predicted - and a great

number of warriors perished. Among them were the scions of the

Nagoe clan. Is not the priest Ryokan solely to blame for their

deaths? And if you now pay heed to the views of the priests Ryuzo

and Ryokan and force me to write this oath, will you not be equally

guilty?


I am not sure whether those who slander me are simply ignorant of

this causal principle or whether they are intentionally trying to do you

harm. In any event, I urge you to summon those who are plotting to

use me in order to provoke some major incident, and have them

confront me in your presence.


With my deep respect,


The twenty-fifth day of the sixth month in the third year of Kenji

(1277), cyclical sign hinoto-ushi


Submitted by Shijo Nakatsukasa-no-jo Yorimoto

 

  

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