Aspiration for the Buddha Land
It is now the last ten-day period of the eleventh month. While I was living in Kamakura in Sagami Province, I thought that the changing of the four seasons was the same in all provinces, but in the two months that have passed since I arrived in this northern province of Sado, the icy winds have been blowing without pause, and although there are times when the frost and snow stop falling, one never sees the sunlight. I feel the eight cold hells in my present body. The hearts of the people here are like those of birds and beasts; they recognize neither sovereign, teacher nor parent. Even less do they distinguish between truth and error in Buddhism, or between good and evil teachers. But I will say no more of this.
When I sent back from Teradomari the lay priest whom you had dispatched on the tenth day of the tenth month to accompany me, I wrote and entrusted to him certain teachings for you. As you have probably surmised from these, the advent of the Great Law is already before our very eyes. In the two thousand two hundred years and more since the Buddha's passing, in all of India, China, Japan and the entire world, [as the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai states:] "Vasubandhu and Nagarjuna clearly perceived the truth in their hearts, but they did not teach it. Instead, they preached the provisional Mahayana teachings, which were suited to their times." T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo gave a general indication of it but left its propagation for the future. Now this secret Law, the one great reason for which all Buddhas make their advent, will be spread for the first time in this country. And is not Nichiren the very person who propagates it?
The portents of its rise have already appeared. The great earthquake of the past Shoka era was a major omen of a kind never before witnessed in previous ages, one totally unprecedented in the twelve generations of divine rule, the ninety reigns of human emperors, and the two thousand two hundred years and more since the Buddha's passing. The Jinriki chapter [of the Lotus Sutra] states, "Because [there will be those who] faithfully uphold this sutra after the Buddha's passing, all the Buddhas rejoice and display their limitless mystic powers." It also refers to "all the laws of the Buddha." Once this great Law spreads, the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings as well as the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra will no longer provide even the slightest benefit. The Great Teacher Dengyo states, "When the sun rises, the stars go into hiding." And the preface written by the priest Tsun-shih reads, "At the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, [Buddhism rises in the east and] illuminates the west." This great Law has already appeared. The signs heralding its advent far surpass those of previous ages. In pondering the significance of this, I realize it is because the time [for propagation] has arrived. The sutra states: "[Among these bodhisattvas] were four who led the entire multitude. The first was called Jogyo..." It also reads, "One who is able to uphold this sutra in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law...," and "To seize Mount Sumeru and fling it far off..."
I would like you to gather and keep together in one place the five notebooks I mentioned to you, which contain essential passages from the various sutras and from the Daichido Ron. Please make sure that the essential passages from the treatises and commentaries as well do not become scattered and lost. Tell the young priests not to neglect their studies. You must not lament too bitterly over my exile. The Kanji and Fukyo chapters clearly state [that the votary of the Lotus Sutra will meet persecution]. Life is limited, and we must not begrudge it. What we should aspire to, after all, is the Buddha land.
The twenty-third day of the eleventh month in the eighth year of Bun'ei (1271)
I am sending back some of the young priests [who accompanied me here to Sado]. You can ask them what this province is like and about the circumstances under which I live. It is impossible to describe these matters in writing.