REPLY TO KYO'O (PART 7)
By Reverend Shotsu Nomura
Thank you very much for attending this important August Oko Ceremony in spite of your busy schedule. Today I would like to continue the lecture on "Reply to Kyo'o". This lecture will be the 7th lecture on "Reply to Kyo'o" and the final part of this Gosho.
Today, we will focus on the following part of the Gosho, 'Reply to Kyo'o':
"When I am pardoned from exile to this province, I will hasten to Kamakura where we will meet. If I consider the power of the Lotus Sutra, he will acquire perpetual youth and immortality before his eyes. I am praying with all my might for the gods to protect him. Please imitate the behavior of Lady Jotoku and the Dragon King's daughter Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, Nam-Myoho-Renge aban Kyo, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
The fifteenth day of the eighth month."
Nichiren Daishonin states, "When I am pardoned from exile to this province, I will hasten to Kamakura where we will meet."
Nichiren Daisthonin, wrote this Gosho, "Reply to Kyo'o" on 15 August (the eighth month) of 1273 while hard on Sado Island.
As I mentioned before, in those days, exile to Sado meant certain death. The Daishonin states in 'On the Buddha's Behavior': "As we all know, exile to this island are seldom able to survive. Even if they do, they never return home." (Gosho, p. 1064)
Nichiren Daishonin arrived at Tsukahara-San-mai-do in Sado and spent time there.
'On the Buddha's Behaviour':
"On the first day of the eleventh month, I was life taken to a small hut that stood in a field called Tsukahara behind Homma Rokuro Zaemon's residence in Sado. Only two square metres, it stood on some land where corpses were abandoned, a place like Rendaino in Kyoto. Not a single statue of the Buddha was enshrined there and the roof and walls were full of holes. The snow fell and piled up, never melting away." (Gosho, p.1062)
In April 1272, Nichiren Daishonin was moved to Ichino-sawa from Tsukahara about five months after arriving at Tsukahara. It is said that the condition of his residence in Ichino-sawa was better than Tsukahara San-mai-do, but Nichiren Daishonn still had a hard time since the house owner was a Nembuta believer. Nichiren Daishonin wrote this Gosho, "Reply to Kyo'o", while at His residence in Ichino-sawa in August 1273.
In this Gosho passage, Nichiren Daishonin states: "When l am pardoned from exile to this province, I will hasten to Kamakura where we will meet."
"When you hear this passage, some of you might think that Nichiren Daishonin wanted to seek forgiveness form the Government so that He could be pardoned from the punishment in order to return to Kamakura from Sado Island since it was a harsh life there but his was not true and, in fact, it was the opposite.
We should understand that Nichiren Daishonin to make the Government officials understand that what He taught was true, including the Rissho-ankoku-ron, so that the Government would give Him permission to return from Sado Island as an innocent person by admitting that their views were wrong.
Actually there were a few disciples and believers who tried to negotiate with the Government officials to pardon Nichiren Daishonin, but He admonished them, saying, "These disciples are unfilial disciples." (Shingon Shoshu Imoku, Gosho, p. 602)
Nichiren Daishonin was conducting shakubuku of be the Government officials, but if He. His disciples or believers said the Daishonins shakubuku of the Government was wrong and apologised to the Government, then Nichiren Daishonin would never have been able to conduct shakubuku of the Government officials any more even if it was for the happiness of all people. On the contrary, if the Government gave Him permission to return from Sado Island that meant that the Government already understood their mistake. It was in this context that Nichiren Daishonin said, "When I am pardoned from India exile to this province. I will hasten to Kamakura where China we will meet.
It is said that a person exiled to Sado Island cannot return to his home again, but I believe that this Gosho passage showed that Nichiren Daishonin had the conviction that He would one day return to Kamakura. This also implies that He wished to use this precious opportunity to see Kyo'o Gozen's mother, Nichigennyo, which showed Nichiren Daishonin had great compassion.
When Nichiren Daishonin wrote this Gosho, "Reply to Kyo'o", in August 1273, He did not know he would have been able to leave Sado Island. It is said that in February 1274, since Nichiren Daishonin felt that the moment had arrived, He climbed the mountain near his residence in order to demonstrate to the Shoten Zenjin. At that time, a white head crow that was said to be the omen of pardon appeared. After that, Nitchiren Daishonin actually received the latter of pardon on 8 March from the Government.
Next, Nichiren Daishonin states:
"lf I consider the power of the Lotus Sutra, he will acquire perpetual youth and immortality before his eyes. I only lament his transient life; therefore, I am praying with all my might for the gods to protect him".
Here, we can understand that the Lotus Sutra contains the power great enough to bring about "perpetual youth and immortality" to all people who believe in it.
From ancient writings of "Epic of Gilgamesh" in Mesopotamia, "Greek Myths" in Greece. "Rigveda" in India and "Shi-chi that is the Historical Records in China, we know that people all over the world tried to obtain "perpetual youth and immortality" from times.
Common people have various kinds of attachments including attachments to money, power, fame, family members, lovers, so people have the desire to live in this world longer.
Even nowadays many people wish to obtain the perfect body with "perpetual youth and immortality" through new science and technology. Many of you who are here today also wish to obtain "perpetual youth and immortality".
The Former Deeds of Bodhisattva Medicine King' of the Lotus Sutra states:
"Constellation King Flower, you must use your transcendental powers to guard and protect this sutra. Why? Because this sutra provides good medicine for the ills of the people of Jambudvipa. If a person who has an illness is able to hear this sutra, then his illness will vanish immediately and he will find perpetual youth and immortality." (Kaiketsu, p, 539)
Here, "to hear this sutra" means "to believe in the Gohonzon". So those who believe in the Gohonzon and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the Gohonzon will gain the great benefits of "perpetual youth and immortality".
Let us think about the significance of 'perpetual youth and immortality' taught in the Lotus Sutra. First, in this Sutra passage, right before the term 'perpetual youth and immortality', it is stated "If a person who has an illness is able to hear this sutra, then his illness will vanish immediately." This means one has to eradicate one's negative karma of illness before one is be able to obtain 'perpetual youth and immortality.' This illness came from the slandering of the Law.
Nichiren Daishonin states in 'Orally Transmitted Teachings':
"Here, his illness means slandering of the Law. There is no doubt that those who uphold this Sutra will obtain 'illness that will vanish immediately'." (Gosho, p. 1787)
People create grave negative karma by slandering the True Law in past lifetimes. It is essential to eradicate negative karma by believing in and chanting abundant Daimoku to the Gohozon.
As you know, Buddhist teachings reveal me four sufferings. Once one is born into this world, one will have the four sufferings. They are the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death. Everyone will suffer from old age, so people wish to obtain "perpetual youth". Everyone will suffer from death, so people wish to obtain "immortality".
This "perpetual youth and immortality" expresses two of the Buddha's four virtues of "eternity, happiness, true self and purity" by overcoming the four sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death through eradicating negative karma from past lifetimes.
Nichren Daishonin, quoting from Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra (Hokke mongu), states in 'Ichidai Goji Keizu':
"Perpetual youth refers to happiness. Immortality refers to eternity." (Gosho, p. 1635)
Therefore, the virtue of "perpetual youth and immortality" will appear upon oneself when one is seriously chanting Daimoku to the Gohonzon and eradicating negative karma.
Nichiren Daishonin states in this part of "Reply to Kyo'o":
"If I consider the power of the Lotus Sutra, he will acquire perpetual youth and immortality before his eyes. I only lament his transient life."
When I think about the heart of Nichiren Daishonin, I believe He wished to say that Kyo'o Gozen already had eradicated a lot of negative karma and that he would have completed this soon. As his life was coming to an end, Nichiren Daishonin lamented his transient life.
Following this Gosho passage, Nichiren Daishonin states:
"Therefore, I am praying with all my might for the gods to protect him."
Those who chant Daimoku to the Gohonzon can receive great benefits from within and without. Right before this Gosho passage, Nichiren Daishonin mentioned the benefits from within. So in this part, the Daishonin roused the Shoten Zenjin to protect Kyo'o Gozen and this corresponds to the benefits from without. This was especially so when Shijo Kingo actually saw the great protection of the Shoten zenjin at the Tatsunohchi Persecution. So I believe that he and his wife could appreciate the Daishonin's strong prayer and benevolence.
Next, Nichiren Daishonin states the following at the end of this Gosho:
"Please imitate the behaviour of Lady Jotoku and the Dragon King's daughter. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, Nam- whe Myoho-Renge-Kyo."
There are two persons in this passage, one is Lady Jotoku and the other is the Dragon King's daughter. Both of them were symbolic women who were revealed in the Lotus Sutra. So this guidance was for the woman of Shijo Kingo's family, namely Shijo Sutra Kingo's wife, Nichigen-nyo.
First, I would like to talk briefly about Lady Jotoku. She was a queen, her husband was King Myosogon and she had two children, Jozo and Jogen.
In the case of Nichigen-nyo's family members, her husband, Shijo Kingo, was a lord of territories; hence, it can be said that she was a queen and she had two children, Getsumaro Gozen and Kyo'o Gozen. It can also be said that the circumstances of Nichigen-nyo and Lady Jotoku were similar. So I think Nichigen-nyo could well understand the example of Lady Jotoku.
Now I would like to introduce the 27th chapter, "The Former Deeds of King Myosogon", of the Lotus Sutra which contains the story of Lady Jotoku. I hope you will understand the behavior of Lady Jotoku through this story.
"In the midst of this Buddha's Law there was a king named Myosogon. This king's consort was named Jotoku, and he had two sons, one named Jozo and the other named Jogen.
"At that time that Buddha, wishing to attract and guide King Myosogon, and because he thought with compassion of living beings, preached the Lotus Sutra. The king's two sons, Jozo and Jogen, went to where their mother was, pressed their palms and the nails of their ten fingers together, and said to her, 'We beg our mother to go and visit the place where the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is. We too will attend him, drawing near to the Buddha and offering alms and obeisance. Why? Because this Buddha is preaching the Lotus Sutra in the midst of all the multitude of heavenly and human beings and it is right that we should listen and accept it.'
"The mother announced to her sons, 'Your father puts his faith in non-Buddhist doctrines and is deeply attached to the Brahmanical Law. You should go to your faith, tell him about this, and persuade him to go with you.'
"Jozo and Jogen pressed their palms and ten fingernails together and said to their mother, 'We are sons of the Dharma King, and yet we have been born into this family of heretical views!'
"The mother said to her sons, 'You are right to think with concern about your father. You should manifest some supernatural wonder for him. When he sees that, his mind will surely be cleansed and purified and he will permit us to go to where the Buddha is.'
"At that time when the father saw his sons displaying supernatural powers of this kind, his mind was filled with great delight, as he had never known before, and he pressed his palms together, faced his sons and said, 'Who is your teacher? Whose disciples are you?'
"The two sons replied, 'Great king, the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is... This is our teacher and we are his disciples.'
"The father said to his sons, 'I would like to go now ben and see your teacher, you can go with me.'
"With this the two sons descended from the air, proceeded to where their mother was, pressed their palms together and said to their mother, 'Our royal father has now come to believe and understand, he is fully capable of conceiving a desire for anuttara-samyak-sambodi. We have finished doing the Buddha's work for the sake of our father. We beg that our mother will permit us to go to the place where the Buddha is, to leave the household life and to practice the wat.'
"Their mother then said to them, 'I will permit you to leave the household life. Why? Because the Buddha is difficult to encounter.'
"The two sons then addressed their father and mother, saying, Excellent, father and mother! And we beg you in due time to go to the place where the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is, attend him in person and offer alms. Why? Because encountering the Buddha is as difficult as encountering the udumbara flower. Or as difficult as it is for a one-eyed turtle to encounter a floating log with a hole in it.
"Thereupon King Myosogon, accompanied by his ranks of ministers and his attendants; his queen Jotoku and all the ladies-in-waiting and attendants of the women's quarters; and the king's two sons and their forty-two thousand attendants, all at the same time went to where the Buddha was.
At that time Buddha preached the Law for the sake of the king, instructing him and bringing him benefit and joy. The king was exceedingly delighted.
"The king immediately tuned his kingdom to his younger brother and he, along with his queen, his two sons, and all their attendants, in the midst of the Buddha's Law renounced the royal household life to practice the way."
This story was revealed in the 27th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. In this story, Lady Jotoku's children conducted shakubuku of his father and they led their parents to the correct path.
When we consider the behaviour of Lady Jotoku, we can understand that she guided and encouraged her children to do shakubuku to her husband, so her children did shakubuku and her husband could believe in the Lotus Sutra. So Lady Jotoku was the person who supported her husband in this way.
I think the Gosho passage, "Please imitate the behaviour of Lady Jotoku", contains the meaning of "Please support your husband, Shijo Kingo".
Nichiren Daishonin states in "Reply to Nichinyo has Gozen":
"The Myoshogonno (twenty-seventh) chapter is especially applicable to women, for it explains how a wife encouraged her husband [to take Sut faith in the Lotus Sutra]. In the latter age as well, give though her name may differ, a wife who leads "her husband to take faith will enjoy the same benefit as Lady Jotoku." (Gosho, p. 1233)
"In the case of Shijo Kingo, Nichigen-nyo's husband, he already took strong faith in the Lotus Sutra, so "Please imitate the behavior of Lady Jotoku" contains the meaning of "Please support your husband, Shijo Kingo, to accomplish his great mission". Actually Shijo Kingo had protected Nichiren Daishonin in various ways until His last moment. I think he could do this because of his wife's support.
Next about the significant of 'Dragon King's daughter' in the Gosho passage, "Please imitate the behavior of Lady Jotoku and the Dragon King's daughter".
The behaviour of Lady Jotoku refers to supporting her husband, but the behaviour of the Dragon King's daughter refers to Nichigen-nyo attainment of Buddhahood.
The significance of 'Dragon King's daughter' lies in the women's attainment of Buddhahood. Only the Lotus Sutra revealed women's attainment of Buddhahood through the behaviour of Dragon King's daughter.
Nichiren Daishonin states in 'Letter to the "You will follow the path of the Dragon King's daughter and become the model for women attaining enlightenment in the evil Latter Daya of the Law" (Gosho. p. 987)
This means that Nichiren Daishonin encouraged Nichigen-nyo to chant abundant Daimokub to the Gohonzon with strong faith in order to attain Buddhahood. Then after writing Nichiren Daishonin's heart, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, He ended this letter.
The title of this Gosho is "Reply to Kyo'o", but actually, Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter mainly to his mother Nichigen-nyo. I think this is because a mother has virtues towards her children.
I would like to conclude this lecture by introducing a mothers ten virtues, as taught in the 'Shimichi-kan Sutra'. The ten virtues of a mother are "earth", "to give birth", "to correct wrong behavior", "to raise", "wisdom", "solemnity ", "peace and security", "to hand down", "to admonish", and "to give positive karma".
For children, the existence of a mother is like the earth, which can raise all things. A mother's body contains the potential to become the base of a child's life. So the existence of a mother is just like the "earth." Without the earth, everything, including countries, nature, animals, culture and technology, cannot exist in the world. Without mothers, human beings will cease to exist.
2. "To give birth"
A mother has the potential to give birth. So a mother has the virtue to bear children. Children can be born into this world because mothers this potential.
3. "To correct wrong behavior"
A mother has the virtue to correct the wrong behavior of children. Mothers constantly talk to their children whatever the circumstances and correct inappropriate actions so that children can understand correct behavior.
4. "To raise"
A mother has the virtue to raise children. A mother always thinks about the future of her children and tries to educate them with the hope that they will have better futures. Mothers never hoe for a worse situation for her children. In this way, children can grow through the virtue of their mothers.
A mother is a wise existence. Children can benefit though their mother's advice. A mother has enough wisdom to help children. It is true that depending on the year, month or day, a child's capacity or power of understanding differs but mothers appropriately talk to children at all times regardless of the situation. So mother is a person who has wisdom.
Mothers have the virtue to increase the power of solemnity in the children's lives as humans. Children can establish solemn lives through the encouragement of their mothers. In this way, children will become likeable persons who can be loved by people.
7. "Peace and Security"
A mother has the virtue of peace and security. Even a blind baby will ceaselessly look for his or her mother. A child can feel great security when a mother holds the child in her arms. The existence of a mother is very important for children to have peace and security.
8. "To hand down"
A mother has the virtue of passing down appropriate knowledge to her children. Children will study a great deal at school for many years, but it can be said that children will obtain a great deal, including knowledge, manners, and ways of thinking, and sensitivity, from their mothers more so than from their teachers. Since children will learn many things from their mothers, they will be able to understand themselves and make decisions on their own.
9. "To admonish"
A mother has the virtue to admonish her children in order to lead them on the correct path of their lives
10. "To give positive karma"
A mother has the virtue to give positive karma to her children. This means that a mother can encourage her child to embrace Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhisrm and shape them into persons who can make good causes for their happy lives. In this way, a mother's faith is very important in creating a better life to her child. I believe that fathers can also encourage their children to chain Dalmoku' but a mother's encouragement has more impact than that of the father.
These are the ten virtues of a mother: "earth", "to give birth", "to correct wrong behavior", "to raise", "wisdom", "solemnity", "peace and security", "to hand down", "to admonish", and "to give positive karma", as mentioned in the Shinchi-kan Sutra.
If you close your eyes, I believe that each one of you will be able to recall a fond memory of your mother. It is important to understand the efforts made by our power mothers and repay our debts of gratitude to them.
"That's all for today. Thank you very much.
Kaimyo, 85, Oct-Nov 2016, pp 13-19.