An inquiry by Abutsu-bo concerning the Treasure Tower was responsible for one of the most
poignant letters written by Nichiren Daishonin. The Treasure Tower is a metaphorical device
employed in the Lotus Sutra, and it puzzled Abutsu-bo. The Daishonin used the opportunity to
give his aged disciple a concise and striking glimpse into the reality of life.
This Gosho, dated March 13, 1272, explains the meaning of the Treasure Tower in terms of the
Lotus Sutra's most important teachings. Nichiren Daishonin says that the Treasure Tower affirms
the theoretical teaching of shakumon, yet at the same time declares the eternal reality of the
essential teaching of hommon. He says that the important thing to realize is that the Treasure
Tower must be discovered in the heart of each human being. The ceremony of the Lotus Sutra was
not a historical event during which a colossal jewel-encrusted stupa physically emerged from
the ground. The Treasure Tower symbolizes a ceremony of life, an emergence from deep within the
heart, the highest state of life.
The Daishonin writes that the Treasure Tower is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. He also advises that the
entity of the Treasure Tower will never be found outside the lives of the men and women who
embrace this sutra and who chant daimoku. Abutsu-bo is, of course, among the men and women who
embrace this sutra, and he too is the same as the Treasure Tower. Abutsu-bo is a part of the
universe, and so his physical body is composed of the same matter as all other things. Nichiren
Daishonin declares that Abutsu-bo is the microcosm and the entity of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The sutra describes seven kinds of jewels decorating the Treasure Tower, but, as the Daishonin
shows, these jewels are not the symbols of vast material wealth but of seven noble human
aspects. Because the Treasure Tower signifies the people who embrace this sutra, the seven
jewels of faith also exist in those people's lives.
Nichiren Daishonin says that Abutsu-bo himself is a true Buddha. It would be a mistake to
consider this as mere praise. It is a philosophy, for it identifies the nature and identity
which human beings possess at the core of their being. By calling the Gohonzon the Treasure
Tower he reveals that the physical form of the Gohonzon is a precise representation of the
ceremony in the air during which the Buddha who has existed since the eternal past reveals his
supreme truth to all mankind. In closing, the Daishonin asks Abutsu-bo to respond to the trust
placed in him as the leader of believers on Sado.
On the Treasure Tower
I have read your letter with great care. I have also received your offering to the Treasure
Tower of one kan1 of coins, polished rice and other articles. This I have respectfully reported
to the Gohonzon and to the Lotus Sutra. Please rest assured.
In your letter you ask: "What is signified by the Treasure Tower, where Taho Buddha was seated,
appearing from within the earth?" The appearance of this bejeweled stupa [in the eleventh
chapter of the Lotus Sutra] is of great importance. In the eighth volume of his Hokke Mongu,
the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai explained the appearance of the Treasure Tower. He states that it
had two distinct functions: to lend credence to the preceding chapters and to pave the way for
the revelation to come. Thus, the Treasure Tower appeared in order to verify the theoretical
teaching and to introduce the essential teaching. To put it another way, the closed Tower
symbolizes the theoretical teaching and the open Tower, the essential teaching. This represents
the two principles of object (kyo) and subject (chi), or reality and wisdom. However, this is
extremely complex, so I will not go into further detail now. In essence, the appearance of the
Treasure Tower indicates that the three groups of Shak!
yamuni's disciples attained enlightenment only when they heard the Lotus Sutra and perceived
the Treasure Tower within their own lives. Now Nichiren's disciples are doing the same. In the
Latter Day of the Law, there is no Treasure Tower other than the figures of the men and women
who embrace the Lotus Sutra. It follows, therefore, that those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,
irrespective of social status, are themselves the Treasure Tower and likewise they themselves
are Taho Buddha. There is no Treasure Tower other than Myoho-renge-kyo. The daimoku of the
Lotus Sutra is the Treasure Tower, that is to say, the Treasure Tower is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Now the entire body of Abutsu Shonin is composed of the five universal elements2 of earth,
water, fire, wind and ku. These five elements are also the five characters of the daimoku.
Therefore, Abutsu-bo is the Treasure Tower itself, and the Treasure Tower is Abutsu-bo himself.
No other knowledge is purposeful. It is the Treasure Tower adorned with seven kinds of gems -
listening to the true teaching, believing it, keeping the precept, attaining peace of mind,
practicing assiduously, unselfishly devoting oneself, and forever seeking self improvement. You
may think you offered gifts to the Treasure Tower of Taho Buddha, but that is not so. You
offered them to yourself. You, yourself, are a true Buddha who possesses the three enlightened
properties. You should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with this conviction. Then, the place wherein
you dwell and chant daimoku is the place of the Treasure Tower. The sutra reads: "Wherever one
teaches the Lotus Sutra, this Treasure Tower of mine wil!
l rise and appear before him."3 Faith like yours is so extremely rare that I will inscribe the
Treasure Tower especially for you. You should never transfer it to anyone but your son. You
should never show it to others unless they have steadfast faith. This is the reason for my
advent in this world.
Abutsu-bo, you deserve to be called a leader of this northern province. Could it be that
Bodhisattva Jyogyo was reborn into this world as Abutsu-bo and visited me? How marvelous! It is
beyond my power to understand why you have such pure faith. I will leave it to Bodhisattva
Jogyo when he appears, as he has the power to know these things. I am not saying all this
without good reason. You and your wife should worship this Treasure Tower privately. I will
explain more later.
With my deep respect,
The thirteenth day of the third month in the ninth year of Bun'ei (1272)
Kan: An old monetary unit consisting of 1000 coins strung together with a cord. The holes in
some modern Japanese coins are derived from this tradition.
Five universal elements: Ancient Indians believed the universe to be composed of five
components: earth, water, fire, wind and ku. They correspond respectively to the physical
states of solid, liquid, energy, and to gas. Ku indicates a state of potential or latency. By
saying that Abutsu-bo has these components, the Daishonin is defining the human being as a
microcosm of the great universe.
Lotus Sutra, chap. 2.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. I, p. 30.