GUIDANCE
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The Eight Winds

BACKGROUND:

In 1276, Shijo Kingo's lord had ordered him to move from his estate near Kamakura to the distant province of Echigo. Kingo, however, remained in Kamakura, as this Gosho, written in 1277, notes.

The Daishonin saw straight to the heart of the matter and gave Kingo the guidance he needed to change his attitude and reinstate himself in Lord Ema's good graces. First of all, he tells Kingo that Lord Ema actually deserves his gratitude, not his rancor. He points out that Lord Ema protected Kingo at a time when the whole nation was persecuting the Daishonin and his disciples. Then he tells Kingo not to let himself be influenced by life's vicissitudes. Only by putting his faith first and repressing his feelings of resentment against his lord can he expect to resolve his impasse. The Daishonin tells him that courts of law and similar expedients are secondary to faith and that, if he is to win, he must practice exactly as the Daishonin teaches.

The believers in the Shingon sect currently enjoyed government recognition and were widely respected in society. The Daishonin gives Kingo a few historical examples of that doctrine's negative influence to show him that the righteousness of the Lotus Sutra will surely be proven in the long run. He points out that the Kamakura government is repeating its mistake despite an impending Mongol invasion. Finally, Shijo Kingo is told to maintain a confident state of mind, neither hating nor kowtowing to his lord, and to be prudent until the situation turns in his favor.

The Eight Winds

I had been anxious about you because I had not heard from you in so long. I was overjoyed to receive your messenger, who arrived with your many gifts. I am going to bestow the Gohonzon upon you.

About the problem of your transfer to another estate: I have studied Lord Ema's letter to you and your letter to me, and compared them. I anticipated this problem even before your letter arrived. Since your lord regards this as a matter of utmost importance, I would surmise that other retainers have spoken ill of you to him, saying, "Yorimoto shows a lack of respect for you in his unwillingness to move to a new estate. There are many selfish people, but he is more selfish than most. We would advise you to show him no further kindness for the time being." You must be aware of where the real problem lies, and act cautiously.

As vassals, you, your family and your kinsmen are deeply indebted to your lord. Moreover, he showed you great clemency by taking no action against your clan when I was exiled to Sado and the entire nation hated me. Many of my disciples had their land seized by the government, and were then disowned or driven from their lords' estates. Even if he never shows you the slightest further consideration, you should not hold a grudge against your lord. It is too much to expect another favor from him, just because you are reluctant to move to a new estate.

A truly wise man will not be carried away by any of the eight winds: prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering and pleasure. He is neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who does not bend before the eight winds. But if you nurse an unreasonable grudge against your lord, they will not protect you, not for all your prayers.

When a person goes to court he may win his case, but then again he may lose, when he could have obtained satisfaction outside of court. I considered how the night guards might win their case, I felt great pity for them; they were deeply troubled and their houses and lands had been confiscated just because they were Nichiren's disciples. I said, however, that I would pray for them, provided they did not go to court. They agreed, and promised not to go. When they did sue, I feared no action would be taken, because so many people are petitioning the courts and embroiled in bitter lawsuits. So far their case is still pending.

Hiki Yoshimoto and Ikegami Munenaka had their prayers answered because they followed my advice. Hakiri Sanenaga seems to believe my teachings, but he ignored my suggestions about his lawsuit, and so I was concerned about its progress. Some good seems to have come of it, perhaps because I warned him that he would lose unless he followed my advice. But he chose not to, and the outcome has been less fruitful than he expected.

If master and disciple pray with differing minds, their prayers will be as futile as trying to kindle a fire on water. Even if they pray with one mind, their prayers will go unanswered if they have long slandered true Buddhism by adhering to inferior teachings. Eventually, both will be ruined.

Myoun was the fiftieth successor to the high priesthood of the Tendai sect. He was punished by the retired emperor in the fifth month of the second year of Angen (1176) and ordered into exile on Izu. En route, however, he was rescued at Otsu by his monks from Enryaku-ji temple on Mount Hiei. He reassumed his position as high priest, but in the eleventh month of the second year of Juei (1183), he was captured by Minamoto no Yoshinaka and beheaded. In saying that he was banished and executed, I do not mean to imply any fault. Even saints and sages undergo such things.

When civil war broke out between Yoritomo of the Minamoto clan and Kiyomori of the Taira clan, more than twenty of Kiyomori's clansmen signed a pledge and affixed their seals. They vowed: "We will look to Enryaku-ji as our clan's temple. We will revere the three thousand monks as our own parents. The joys and sorrows of the temple will be our joys and sorrows." They donated the twenty-four districts of Omi Province to the temple. Then Myoun and his disciples employed all the esoteric rites of the Shingon sect in their prayers to vanquish the enemy, and even ordered their armed monks to shoot arrows at the Minamoto soldiers. However, Minamoto no Yoshinaka and one of his retainers, Higuchi, accompanied by a mere five or six men, climbed Mount Hiei and burst into the main hall. They dragged Myoun from the altar where he was praying for victory, bound him with a rope, rolled him down the west slope of the mountain like a big stone and then beheaded him. But still the Japanese do not shun the Shingon sect, nor have they ever questioned why their prayers go unanswered.

During the fifth, sixth, and seventh months of the third year of Jokyu (1221), the Kyoto Imperial Court waged war against the Kamakura regime. At that time the temples of Enryaku-ji, To-ji, Onjo-ji and the seven great temples of Nara each performed all the most esoteric rites of Shingon in their prayers to the gods Tensho Daijin, Hachiman and Sanno. Forty-one of the most renowned priests, including the late Archbishop Jien of the Tendai sect, the bishops of To-ji and Ninna-ji, and Jojuin of Onjo-ji temple, prayed repeatedly for Hojo Yoshitoki's defeat. The second son of Emperor Gotoba also began praying in the Hall for State Ceremonies on the eighth of the sixth month. The Imperial Court proclaimed that it would be victorious within seven days. But on the seventh day, the fourteenth day of the sixth month, the battle ended in defeat, and the second son died of extreme grief because his beloved page, Setaka, had been beheaded. Yet despite all this, no one ever wondered what was wrong with the Shingon doctrines. The two religious ceremonies which incorporated all the esoteric rituals of Shingon--the first conducted by Myoun and the second by Jien--resulted in the complete collapse of the Japanese Imperial Court. Now for the third time, a special religious ceremony is being held to ward off the Mongol invasion. The present regime will surely suffer the same fate, but you should keep this strictly to yourself.

As for your own problem, I advise you not to go to court. Do not harbor a grudge against your lord, nor leave your present estate. Stay on in Kamakura. Attend your lord less frequently than before; serve him only from time to time. Then your wish can be fulfilled. Never lose your composure. Do not be swayed by your desires, nor by your concern for status, nor by your temper.

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, page 205.