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On the Treasure Tower


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.