The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】20. The vow of Nichiren —- I will be the pillar of Japan

20. The vow of Nichiren — I will be the pillar of Japan

 

Hiroto Ema

 

Simply put, what Nichiren requested Hōjō Tokimune, the regent then, was to halt the prayer by other sects, introduce the one by Nichiren, and host public debate with various sects. Nichiren was certain that if only the shogunate held such public debate, he should win over other various sects. And after that he would become a Master of State to help the shogunate and pray for the peace of the country.

 

So, in letters to important people, Nichiren wrote that to debate with the high priests of other sects was his “longstanding goals”, and implored them to “help me realize my longstanding goals”. On the other hand, he urged the high priests of other sects to “put your faith in the priest Nichiren” and was prepared, thinking “I look forward to meeting with you in public debate”. The aim of Nichiren was to be a Master of State.

 

Though such public debate wasn’t held then, Nichiren continued to request public debate hosted by the shogunate. And when a disciple of him won in a private debate, he cautioned him not to participate any debate other than those held by the shogunate. Furthermore, Nichiren seemed to decline the request of prayer from an official of the shogunate. He insisted that he would pray as a Master of State and said as follows.

 

“ The Great Teacher Dengyo founded a temple (Enryaku temple) on Mt. Hiei and became the eyes of all living beings. In the end, the priests of the seven major temples acknowledged their fault and became his disciples, and the people of the various provinces throughout the country became his lay supporters” (The Selection of the Time)

 

Like the Great Teacher Dengyo (Saityo), Nichiren tried to lift the Lotus Sutra on the top of Buddhism circles, aimed at reorganizing various sects and monks, and regarded it ideal for the whole nation to devote to him.

 

By the way, when did Nichiren begin to have his goal to be a Master of State?

 

When transported to Sado Island, Nichiren wondered why Gods and Buddhas, who should have pledged to protect the followers of the Lotus Sutra, didn’t protect him even though he had practiced the doctrine of the Lotus Sutra to the letter. In such anguish, Nichiren declared a famous sentence.

 

“I will be the pillar of Japan. I will be the eyes of Japan. I will be the great ship of Japan. This is my vow, and I will never forsake it!” (The Opening of the Eyes)

 

After declaring a determination that he need not be protected by Gods and Buddhas, would endure any persecution no matter how hard it would be, and never discard the belief in the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren repeated his oath that he would never violate the pledge that he become the pillar of Japan, and inspired himself. So it is obvious that Nichiren determined to be a Masrer of State from early on. We will discuss it further in the next section.

February 1st 2020

 

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20.日蓮の誓い — われ日本の柱とならむ!

 

江間浩人

 

 日蓮が執権・北条時宗に求めているのは、端的に諸宗による祈祷の停止と日蓮による祈祷です。そのための幕府主宰による諸宗との討論・法論です。日蓮は、幕府が法論さえ実現してくれれば、必ず諸宗に勝利すると確信しています。そして勝利の暁には国師となって幕府を助け、国を安穏にするために祈祷ができる、と認識しているのです。

 

 だから日蓮は、要人への書状において、諸宗の高僧と召し合わせられることを「本望」と述べ、「日蓮が本望を遂げしめ給え」と懇願します。一方、諸宗の高僧に対しては「日蓮に帰依すべし」と迫り、「対決の時を期す」と手ぐすねを引きます。日蓮の目標、それは国師だったのです。

 

 この時、法論は実現しません。しかし日蓮は、その後も幕府による法論を求め続けます。門下が私的な法論で勝利した際も、今後は幕府による法論以外は相手にするな、と注意を与えていますし、幕府要人から祈祷の要請があった際も、それを断ったようです。日蓮は、あくまでも国師としての祈祷を求めます。日蓮は次のように述べます。

 

 「伝教大師は叡山を立て、一切衆生の眼目となる。結局、七大寺は落ちて弟子となり、諸国は檀那となる」(撰時抄)

 

 伝教大師(最澄)のように、仏教界の頂点に法華経を掲げ、諸宗と僧尼の序列、再編を図り、国をあげて日蓮に帰依する姿を理想としているのです。

 

 ところで日蓮は、国師になろうとの目標をいつごろから抱いていたのでしょう。

 

 日蓮は、佐渡に流罪となった際、法華経の経文通り実践しているのに、法華経の行者を守ると誓ったはずの神々や諸仏が、なぜ自分を守らないのか、と悩みます。その煩悶の中で、次の有名な一節が宣言されます。

 

 「われ日本の柱とならむ、われ日本の眼目とならむ、われ日本の大船とならむ等と誓いし願い破るべからず」

 

 神々や諸仏が自分を守らなくてもいい、どんな厳しい迫害にあってもいい、ただ命をかけて法華経信仰を貫くだけだ、とかたい決意を披歴した後で、「必ず日本の柱になると誓った願いだけは絶対に破らない」と当初からの誓願を反芻して、自らを鼓舞しているのです。日蓮が国師になると決意したのは、かなり早い時期だったことが伺えます。続きは次回に。

 

—ご感想はお問い合わせメールまで(次回は2020・3・1予定)—

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