Reply to Lord Shijo Kingo
- Shijo Kingo-dono Gohenji -
I have received the rice you sent from Tono-oka. I used it as an offering to the priests for the urabon ceremony in the
seventh month of this year. Those priests who participated, the assembly gathered at Eagle Peak, the Buddha and the gods must
surely have accepted your offering and be rejoicing. Words will not express my appreciation for your unfailing sincerity and
for your frequent visits.
In any event, there can be no doubt about your enlightenment in your next life. Above all, I remember how, in the eighth
year of the Bun'ei era (1271), when I incurred the displeasure of the authorities and was about to be beheaded at Tatsunokuchi
in the province of Sagami, you held on to the reins of my horse, accompanying me barefoot and shedding tears of grief. You
were even prepared to commit hara-kiri if my execution were in fact carried out. In what age could I possibly forget it?
And that is not all. Exiled to the island of Sado, buried as I was beneath the snows from the northern sea and exposed
to the winds from the northern peaks, it hardly seemed I would survive. Cast away by even my fellows of long standing, I thought
that I could no more return to my birthplace than a stone on the bottom of the ocean, requiring the strength of a thousand
men to move it, could float to the surface. Common mortal that I am, naturally I longed for the people of my native village.
For you, a lay person pressed for time with your service to your lord, to believe in the Lotus Sutra is itself very rare.
Moreover, surmounting mountains and rivers and crossing the great blue sea, you came to visit me from afar. How could your
resolve be inferior to that of the one who broke open his bones at the City of Fragrances, or of him who threw away his body
on the Snow Mountains?
Again, on my part, though there was so little chance of rising again in the world, for some reason or other I was pardoned
in the spring of the eleventh year of Bun'ei (1274) and was able to return to Kamakura.
On pondering the meaning of these affairs, I believe I must
now be free from the karma of past errors. Once I was almost deprived of life. In the Kocho era
I was exiled to the province of Izu, and in the Bun'ei era, to the island of Sado. Because I remonstrated repeatedly with
the authorities, I have encountered one persecution after another. Yet, for that very reason, certainly I have already escaped
the charge of "betraying Buddhism."
However, when I desired to leave the world for a mountain forest in order to pursue the Way, people voiced differing opinions.
Yet, for carefully considered reasons, I came to this mountain in this province, where I have already passed seven springs
Setting aside for now the question of my wisdom, in enduring hardship and in suffering injury as an ally of the Lotus Sutra,
I surpass even the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai of China and excel even the Great Teacher Dengyo of Japan. This is because the
time has made it so. If indeed I am a votary of the Lotus Sutra, then the Lord Shakyamuni of Eagle Peak, Taho Buddha of the
Land of Treasure Purity, the Buddhas of the ten directions who are Shakyamuni's emanations, the great bodhisattvas of the
essential teaching, the great bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching, Bonten, Taishaku, the dragon deities and the ten demon
daughters must all be present in this place. Where there is water, fish dwell. Where there are woods, birds gather. The mountain
island of P'eng-lai is filled with jewels, and sandalwood trees grow on Mount Malaya. Gold is to be found in the mountains
from which the river Li-shui issues. This place is just the same. It is the place of the "cluster of blessings" where Buddhas
and bodhisattvas dwell.
The blessings of the Lotus Sutra which I have so long recited must be vaster even than the sky. Thus, by having come here
frequently year after year, it is certain that within this lifetime you will eradicate the karmic hindrances you have accumulated
since the beginningless past. You should exert yourself all the more.
The eighth day of the tenth month