Awa Province March of 1253
Rikkyo Kaishu-e or Risshu-e
Life and legends of Nichiren


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Rencho {Nichiren} returned to Kominato in March of 1253, where he visited and discussed his plans with family and friends. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Meanwhile, Rencho’s Sensei, Master Do-zen-bo, the Chief Instructor of Seicho-ji, had planned a welcome home banquet, to be held on April 28. I suspect Rencho was expected to deliver a Sermon or Lecture, to explain what he had learned over the last 12 years. During that time he had studied at Enrakuji. Onjoji, and other majore temples of western Japan. He was likely funded by Seichoji and Lady Oama.
It is said that he left home and ascended the nearby Mount Kiyosumi a week early. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOn April; 22, he entered the “hut of solitude,” on the grounds of the Seichoji Temple compound, to spend time in meditation and prayer. Rencho was evidently convinced that the events in Japan coincided with various prophetic allusions from the Lotus Sutra. Specifically, secular leaders had connived with ambitious religious clerics and distorted the Buddha’s Teaching.
There will be many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of us and will attack us with swords and staves … Greedy for profit and support, they will preach the law to white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers. … Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe evil monks of that muddied age, failing to understand the Buddha’s expedient means, how he preaches the Law in accordance with what is appropriate, will confront us with foul language and angry frowns; again and again we will be banished to a place far removed from towers and temples. ” — Lotus Sutra Chapter Thirteen: Admonition to Embrace the Sutra; as translated by Burton Watson.
From this, Rencho knew that he would face hostility from influential quarters. In this connection, he was all too aware of the political situation at his home temple. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingApparently, Seichoji was divided into two camps. One side supported the hereditary proprietor, Oama. who was the widow of Hojo Tomotoki {1193-1245}. This faction, which included Nichiren, Emmitsu-bo{?}, Joken-bo, and Gijo-bo, were evidently aligned with Enryakuji, and advocated a pure Tendai-Hokke practice.
The other, the Nembutsu camp, was aligned behind the Hojo Clan’s appointed estate Steward, Tojo Kagenobu. This faction included the Temple’s Abbot Enchi-bo, Dozen-bo’s elder brother Dogi-bo Gisho, Jitsujo-bo, and Kanchi-bo. They would have supported the various Clerics and Temples patronized by the Hojo Regency, and therefore, advocated a more eclectic practice. My take is that Master Dozen-bo found himself caught in the middle.
At some point, Tojo Kagenobu, Steward of Tojo Village, had tried to take control of Seichoji from Oama. Nichiren {Rencho} evidently helped Oama thwart the machinations and manipulations of Tojo Kagenobu and Enchi-bo. Nichiren mentions this in the Gosho:
The villainous Tojo Saemon Kagenobu once hunted the deer and other animals kept by Seicho-ji and tried to force the priests in the various lodging temples to become Nembutsu believers. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAt that time I pitted myself against Tojo and supported the lord of the manor. I composed a fervent oath which read, ‘If the two temples, Kiyosumi and Futama, should come into Tojo’s possession, I will discard the Lotus Sutra!’ Then I tied it to the hand of the object of worship,23 to which I prayed continuously. Within a year, both temples were freed from Tojo’s grasp.” — Letter to the Priests of Seicho-ji
No one knows when this occurred. I suspect it probably took place, or at least began, soon after Tomotoki’s 1245 death, while Rencho was at Mt. Hiei. Possibly, Rencho had persuaded someone powerful at Enryakuji to intervene; thus angering Tojo. The conflict then came to a head when Rencho returned in 1253.
My thinking is that after Hojo Tomotoki’s death; Kagenobu would have influenced Seicho-ji to take up the eclectic practices advocated by the Hojo Regency. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting As of 1253, these might have included the popular Nembutsu, Daruma Zen, and various forms of Koya-san Shingon {Tomitsu Mikkyo}. A new strain of Ritsu, and two new forms of Zen were also gaining some popular appeal. I shall be discussing some of these in more detail.
Perhaps Oama tried to steer things back to the traditional Tendai-Lotus practices. These would have focused more on the practice of ritual confession and repentance {Zange}, with Shakyamuni, the Lord of Teachings, as the Buddha. Note that this involved purification of the mind and senses in this life time. Traditional Tendai also included Taimitsu Mikkyo and a more complex Amida Meditation.
One can imagine that Oama’s effort may have alienated the so-called “Nembutsu” faction. Also, while Enryakuji was still powerful, their relations with the Hojo Regency were chilly at best. This would have given Tojo a chance to expand his influence with the Kamakura Authorities.
The sermon he was to give his would be his chance to expose the errors of various schools and proclaim the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra. Even though Rencho knew he would face harsh reactions, he also believed that the time was right to propagate the Lotus Sutra; especially its core practive — the chanting of its Title {Daimoku} in the form of the mantra Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. From his readiing of various chapters of The Lotus Sutra, such as the Dharani Chapter, he was convinced that he would receive divine protection.
At that time the heavenly king Vaishravana {Dai Bishamon Tenno}, Photobucket - Video and Image Hostingprotector of the world, said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, I too think compassionately of living beings and shield and guard these teachers of the Law, and therefore I pronounce these dharanis.” Then he pronounced these spells:
atte natte nunatte anada nade kunadi
World-Honored One, with these supernatural spells I shield and guard the teachers of the Law. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAnd I will also shield and guard those who uphold this sutra, making certain that they suffer no decline or harm within the area of a hundred yojanas.
“ — Lotus Sutra Chapter Twenty-six: Dharani
Early on the morning of April 28, 1253, the thirty-two-year-old monk emerged from the Hut of Solitude. He made his way up a path through Asahigamori Forest and arrived at a place called Kasagamori Peak. There he climbed to the top of a hill called Senkôzan or Mount Senko; which commanded a clear view of the Pacific Ocean.