This letter was written in October (intercalary) 1278 when the Daishonin was suffering from
some illness. Shijo
Kingo had evidently called on the Daishonin to treat him. The Daishonin vividly describes the
difficulties of living at
his isolated retreat and expresses his gratitude for various gifts of food, clothing and
In the fall of 1277, a virulent epidemic was sweeping through Japan and, just when things
looked their worst for
Kingo, Lord Ema contracted the disease and was near death. Lord Ema had earlier deprived Kingo
of his estate;
now in critical condition, he had no recourse but to ask Kingo for treatment. Lord Ema quickly
recovered and the
next year, he rewarded Kingo handsomely, returning the lands he had confiscated. He again
displayed deep trust in
Kingo by assigning him three new tracts of land.
However, Kingo's life was still in danger, because his fellow samurai were now intensely
jealous of the favors he was
receiving, and the Daishonin advises him to avoid the dangerous trip to Mount Minobu in the
future. Kingo is warned
to be careful while traveling and to keep faith strong so he can continue to enjoy the
protection of the Buddhist gods.
General Stone Tiger
On the twenty-second of this month I received all that you sent me from Shinano--three kan of
coins, a sack of
polished rice, fifty rice cakes, one large and one small bamboo container of sake, five bundles
of dried persimmons
and ten pomegranates, as well as the list you enclosed with these gifts.
A sovereign is supported by the people, and they in turn live under his protection. Clothes
protect us from cold and
food sustains us, just as oil keeps a fire burning and water supports fish. Birds nest high in
the trees in fear that men
will harm them, but they come down to feed and are caught in snares. Fish living at the bottom
of a pond fear that it
is too shallow and dig holes to hide in, yet lured by bait, they take the hook. No treasure
possessed by man is more
precious than food and drink, clothing and medicine.
I, Nichiren, am not as healthy as others, and in addition, I dwell in this remote mountain
forest. This year was
especially difficult, with widespread epidemics and famine in spring and summer, which worsened
in autumn and
winter. My sickness grew worse again, too, but you prescribed various medicines and sent them
to me along with
quilted silk clothes. Thanks to your remedies, I improved steadily; I have now recovered and
feel much better than
before. The Yuga-ron of Bodhisattva Maitreya and the Dairon of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna both state
that if one's
illness is caused by immutable karma, even the most excellent medicine will turn to poison, but
if he believes in the
Lotus Sutra, poison will change into medicine. Although unworthy, Nichiren propagates the Lotus
devils have competed to deprive him of food. Understanding this, I have no complaint, but I
believe that I survived
this time only because Shakyamuni Buddha sent you to assist me.
So much for that. I was extremely concerned about your journey home last time, and I am
overjoyed to hear that you
arrived safely in Kamakura. Such was my anxiety that I asked everyone who came here from
Kamakura about you.
One said that he had met you at Yumoto, another that he had encountered you further on at Kozu,
and when a third
told me that he had seen you in Kamakura, I felt greatly relieved. From now on, you must not
come to visit me in
person unless absolutely necessary. When you have something urgent to tell me, send a
messenger. Indeed, I was
deeply worried about your last trip. An enemy will try to throw you off guard so that he may
attack. If you should
have to travel, do not spare the cost of a good horse. Bring along your best soldiers to defend
you against a surprise
attack, and ride a horse which can easily carry you in your armor.
In the eighth volume of the Maka Shikan and in the eighth volume of Miao-lo's Guketsu it is
said, "The stronger
one's faith, the greater the gods' protection." This means that the protection of the gods
depends on the strength of
one's faith. The Lotus Sutra is a keen sword, but its might depends upon the one who wields it.
Among those who propagate this sutra in the Latter Day of the Law, who could compare with
Mahakashyapa, Kannon, Myo'on, Monju and Yakuo? Shariputra and Mahakashyapa, who were of the two
had destroyed all illusions of thought and desire, thus freeing themselves from the six paths.
The others, all
bodhisattvas, had eradicated the forty-one illusions and were approaching perfection, like the
harvest moon on the
night before it reaches fullness. Nevertheless Shakyamuni Buddha refused to entrust the mission
of propagation to
any of these people and gave it instead to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Thus these
Bodhisattva of the Earth are the
ones who had thoroughly forged their faith.
The mother of the mighty warrior General Li Kuang was devoured by a ferocious tiger. He spied
the beast and shot
it with an arrow, but then discovered that what he had seen was only a rock. The arrow lodged
itself deep in the
rock. He was surprised and tried to duplicate his feat but could not penetrate the stone a
second time. Later he came
to be known as General Stone Tiger. Your strength of purpose is comparable to his. Though
enemies lurk in wait for
you, your resolute faith in the Lotus Sutra has forestalled persecutions before they could
begin. Realizing this, you
must strengthen your faith more than ever. It is impossible to say all I want to in one letter.
With my deep respect,
The twenty-second day of the tenth month in the first year of Koan (1278)
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, page 225.