Letter to Gijo-bo
I have carefully reviewed your question about the Buddhist doctrines. The blessing of the Lotus Sutra can only be understood
between Buddhas. It is the kind of enlightenment that even the wisdom of Shakyamuni Buddha’s emanations throughout the
ten directions can barely fathom, if at all. This is why, as
you well know, the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai construed the character myo [of Myoho-renge-kyo] to mean that which
is beyond ordinary comprehension. The Lotus Sutra proclaims a great diversity of practices, but
only T’ien-t’ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo were able to understand the heart of the sutra. Among these men, the Great
Teacher Dengyo was the reincarnation of T’ien-t’ai [and therefore well versed in the T’ien-t’ai doctrine].
Nevertheless, he sent envoys to T’ang China on many occasions in an effort to resolve the common doubts of others concerning
the sutra. The essence of the sutra is the mutual possession
of the Ten Worlds, one hundred worlds and one thousand factors, and the three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
This is a doctrine of great importance which was revealed in the work entitled Maka shikan.
The teaching of the Juryo chapter bears special significance for me, Nichiren. T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo understood
it in a general way but did not reveal it in words, and the same was true of Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu. The Jigage section
of the chapter states, ‘...single-mindedly desiring to
see the Buddha, not hesitating even if it costs them their lives...’ I, Nichiren, have called
forth Buddhahood from within my life by living this sentence. This means that I myself embodied the Three Great Secret Laws,
or the reality of the three thousand realms in a single moment of life, implied in the Juryo chapter. But let us keep this
Dengyo, the Great Teacher of Mount Hiei, journeyed to China to receive instruction in the profound meaning of this sentence
from the sutra. ‘Single’ of ‘single-mindedly’ means the one pure way, and ‘mind’ indicates
all phenomena and existences. The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai explained the Chinese character for ‘mind’
by saying that it consists of four brush strokes representing the moon and three stars and implies that the mind that resides
in the effect [of Buddhahood] is pure and clean. My interpretation of the passage is that ‘single’ stands for
myo (mystic), ‘mind’ for ho (law), ‘desiring’ for ren (lotus), ‘see’ for ge (flower),
and ‘Buddha’ for kyo (sutra). In propagating these five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, one should ‘not hesitate
even if it costs them their lives.’
‘Single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha’ also means to see the Buddha in one’s own mind, to concentrate
one’s mind on seeing the Buddha, and that to see one’s own mind is to see the Buddha.
I have attained the fruit of Buddhahood, the eternally inherent three bodies, [by living this sentence]. In achieving this
I am sure I surpass T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo, Nagarjuna and Mahakashyapa. The Buddha admonishes that one should by all means become the master of one’s mind rather than
let one’s mind master oneself. This is why I have emphatically urged you not to hesitate
to give up your body and your life for the sake of the Lotus Sutra. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The twenty-eighth day of the fifth month in the tenth year of Bun’ei (1273)