7. The Rissho Ankoku Ron

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The Life of Nichiren Daishonin
Part Seven – The Rissho Ankoku Ron

From the time Nichiren Daishonin began his propagation of True
Buddhism based in the Matsubagayatsu area of Kamakura city,
natural disasters such as earthquakes, epidemics, massive fires,
famine and other abnormal occurrences continued as had never
before been seen. The feelings of the people turned to that of
desolation as crime abounded, and they were confronted each day
with anxiety.
Nichiren Daishonin described the conditions in his “Rationale for
Submitting the Rissho Ankoku Ron” when he wrote:
In the first year of the Shoka era (1257), when the reverse marker
of Jupiter was in the sector of the sky with the cyclical sign hinotomi,
on the twenty-third day of the eighth month, at the time when the
hour of the dog gives way to the hour of the boar, (9:00 P.M.) there
occurred an earthquake of unprecedented magnitude. In the second
year of the same era (1258), cyclical sign tsuchinoe-uma, on the first
day of the eighth month, there was a great wind. In the third year
(1259), cyclical sign tsuchinoto-hitsuji, a major famine occurred. In
the first year of the Shogen era (1259), cyclical sign tsuchinoto-
hitsuji, disease was rampant, and throughout the four seasons of the
second year (1260), cyclical sign kanoe-saru, the sickness continued
to rage without abating. By this time, more than half the ordinary
citizens of the nation had been laid low by death. (Shinpen, p. 367;
M.W., Vol. 2, p. 61)
From the standpoint of Buddhist reasoning, the root cause of these
disasters was that the established religions did not recognize the
Lotus Sutra as the highest and only suitable teaching for the Latter
Day of the Law.
Nichiren Daishonin entered the sutra storehouse of Jissoji temple at
Iwamoto in the Province of Suruga (present day Shizuoka Prefecture)
and read all the sutras one more time in order to precisely explain
these occurrences using Buddhist principles and literary proof.
Nichiren Daishonin further explained in “Rationale for Submitting the
Rissho Ankoku Ron” when he wrote:
I, Nichiren, observing the state of affairs, proceeded to consult the
various Buddhist scriptures. There I discovered the reason why these
prayers are without effect, and on the contrary, actually make the
situation worse, along with passages of proof to support it.
While at Jissoji Temple, Nichiren Daishonin was served by a thirteen
year old boy named Hokiko who was studying at one of the forty-
nine temples1 near Jissoji temple. Impressed by the reverent
composure of the Daishonin, Hokiko decided to become his disciple.
This young acolyte was later named Nikko Shonin and received the
transmission of the Living Law of True Buddhism directly from
Nichiren Daishonin.
At Jissoji Temple, Nichiren Daishonin, composed such Goshos as “The
Great Importance of All the Teachings of Shakyamuni,” “The Doctrine
of Ichinen Sanzen,” “On the Ten Factors of Life” and others. In 1259,
he authored “Treatise on Protecting the Nation.”
On July 16th, 1260, Nichiren Daishonin, who had returned to
Kamakura, submitted his Rissho Ankoku Ron, (Treatise for Securing
Peace in the Land Through the Establishment of True Buddhism) to
the most powerful authority within the Kamakura Shogunate, Regent
Hojo Tokiyori. This treatise was the first of three remonstrations that
Nichiren Daishonin would make to the national government of Japan.
The Rissho Ankoku Ron first mentions the occurrence at that time of
changes in the climate, natural disasters, famine, and epidemics. This
document then discusses the pitiful situation of how all the Buddhist
and Shinto sects together with all of their religious rituals and
prayers had no effect in alleviating this situation. Nichiren Daishonin
then proposed the importance of considering why these incidents
had come about in the first place.
In the initial passages of the Rissho Ankoku Ron, Nichiren Daishonin
asserted that:
I have pondered the matter carefully with what limited resources I
possess, and have searched rather widely in the scriptures for an
answer. Every one of today’s people turns away from the True Law
and instead follows evil teachings. That is the reason why the
benevolent deities have abandoned the nation, why sages leave and
do not return. That is why instead devils and demons, disasters and
calamities arise one after another. (Shinpen, p. 234; M.W., Vol. 2, p. 5)
Throughout Japan, the people embraced only Honen’s teachings of
the Jodo (Nembutsu) sect of Buddhism. It was for that reason,
Nichiren Daishonin explained to Hojo Tokiyori that:
Rather than offering up ten thousand prayers for remedy, it would
be better simply to outlaw this one evil doctrine that is the source of
all the trouble! (Shinpen, p. 241; M.W., Vol. 2, p. 24)
Nichiren Daishonin underlined the utmost importance to Hojo
Tokiyori of banning the “one evil doctrine” of Honen. The Daishonin
also emphasized in the conclusion,
Therefore you must quickly reform the tenets that you hold in your
heart and embrace the one true vehicle, the single good doctrine of
the Lotus Sutra. If you do so, then the threefold world will all
become the Buddha land.” (Shinpen, p. 250; M.W., Vol. 2, p. 43)
Nichiren Daishonin then continued by predicting to Hojo Tokiyori that
if he did not, “put an end to these slanders of the Law,” the yet
unseen disasters described within the Yakushi and Ninno Sutras of
“internal strife” and “invasion by a foreign nation” would
undoubtedly come about.
Nichiren Daishonin had profoundly clear insight into the causes for
the occurrence of calamities, and their role as omens of the advent of
the True Buddha and the greatness of the Buddhism he preached.

Footnote:
1. One of the forty-nine temples; Denotes Shijoku-in temple, a Tendai
temple closely affiliated to the Tendai temple of Jissoji.

©1995 Nichiren Shoshu Monthly. All rights reserved