Beyond the statue of Śākyamuni Buddha given to him at Izu hung the calligraphic mandala that Nichiren had inscribed a couple of years before in the third month of the third year of the Kōan era (1280). He gazed upon it with a sense of anticipation that soon he would be seeing for himself the Ceremony in the Air of the Lotus Sūtra that the mandala depicted in Chinese characters and Sanskrit bīja or “seed syllables.” When he had become too bedridden to travel, upon reaching the residence of Ikegami Munenaka, he had requested that this mandala be enshrined at his bedside along with the statue of the Buddha. Over the years he had inscribed scores of similar mandalas for his disciples and followers to enshrine as the proper focus of devotion in their temples and practice halls, but only to those who had proven their steadfast faith. Unlike statue arrangements or costly portraits, these mandalas were easy to roll up and hide away in times of persecution. Nichiren’s thoughts drifted back to the time when he had finally revealed to his disciples and followers what the true focus of devotion should be and had inscribed the mandala depicting the focus of devotion of the Original Gate of the Lotus Sūtra for the first time in its most complete form.
After the debate and Nichiren’s successful prediction of the insurrection in the second month of the ninth year of the Bun’ei era (1272), his reputation had increased. Many Tendai and even Mantra monks who lived in the area became his disciples. Many people stopped making offerings to practitioners of the nembutsu and upholders of the precepts and began to bring their offerings to the Sammaidō instead. The monks who practiced nembutsu and those who were followers of Ryōkan’s precept revival sent angry reports back to Kamakura claiming that Nichiren must have known about the conspiracy because he had been in on it from the start, that he and his followers were burning statues of Amitābha Buddha or throwing them into the rivers, and that he ranted at the gods and cursed the shōgunate from the mountaintops day and night. The constable of Sado Province, Hōjō Nobutoki was so alarmed by these stories that he ordered his deputy, Homma Shigetsura, to expel from Sado or imprison those who were found to be supporting Nichiren. After the directive was given, the retainers of the local steward with the help of several nembutsu practitioners kept guard over the Sammaidō in order to prevent anyone from coming to see Nichiren. This resulted in people being imprisoned simply for passing in front of Nichiren’s hut, or expelled from the island for giving offerings to him, or having their wives and children taken as hostages to ensure that they stayed away from Tsukahara.
Abutsu-bō, accompanied by his wife, dared to visit under the cloak of night carrying a chest filled with food and other supplies on his back. The faithful couple slipped past the guards on several occasions but their luck eventually ran out. They too were caught, fined, and for a time banished from their home. In spite of all that, they never wavered in their faith, and in the years ahead continued to support Nichiren and visited him as much as they were able. In the meantime, it seemed as though Nichiren and his disciples would starve to death even as the cold receded and spring began to revive the land.
New orders came in the fourth month just after the sowing of the sprouted rice in the nursery beds at the end of spring. Nichiren and his disciples were transferred to Ichinosawa village in the Ishida District of Sado Island. The village heads treated the exile and his disciples harshly. This was not only because of the orders they were bound to follow but because they personally found those who condemned the practice of nemubtsu more hateful than if they had been enemies of their parents or sworn adversaries from a past life. The amount of food supplied by the headman of the village was meager. Nichiren and his disciples ended up with only three mouthfuls of rice each for their meals.
A farmer known as the Lay Monk Ichinosawa, was given the odious duty of providing lodgings for the exiles. The lay monk was especially uneasy about this since he was a devout practitioner of nembutsu, but he was a kindly man and he was relived when his guests refrained from arguing with him about his Pure Land devotions. On the contrary, Nichiren and his disciples were unfailingly courteous and helpful. In time, the Lay Monk Ichinosawa and the rest of his household began to relax around their unwanted guests. Lay Monk Ichinosawa admitted to himself that he enjoyed hearing the sound of Nichiren and his disciples and followers chanting of the Lotus Sūtra and the daimoku. He did not even mind when other members of his family began to attend Nichiren’s talks. Seeing that the exile and his disciples were not being given enough to eat, the lay monk secretly helped them by giving extra rations from his own stores.
After one such donation, Nichiren said to Lay Monk Ichinosawa, “I will never forget your kindness. Your generosity has saved our lives. I could not be more grateful to you if you and your wife were my own parents.”
The lay monk replied, “It is no trouble. I could not bear it if I were to allow the Buddha’s disciples to starve in my own home. As you know, I am deeply concerned about the life to come. That is why I have practiced the nembutsu for many years now and have even taken the tonsure and become a lay monk. Some years ago I built that nembutsu practice hall over there and donated some of my farmland to the teachers of nembutsu. All of this merit I have dedicated to rebirth in the Pure Land of Utmost Bliss. Do you really think that it was all for nothing and that I will be unable to attain buddhahood?”
Nichiren sighed. The lay monk was a kind and pious man, but had no deep understanding of Buddhism. He would prefer to use gentle words and reassure him, but that would actually be the crueler act because it would leave him in the grip of the slanderous teachings that caused him to turn away from the Lotus Sūtra. In a soft, but firm tone, Nichiren replied, “For your own sake, I must speak the truth. Buddhahood is not attainable unless you actively put your faith in the Lotus Sūtra. Even though you have built a nembutsu hall, Amitābha Buddha cannot save an enemy of the Lotus Sūtra. In fact, by neglecting the Lotus Sūtra you are going against Amitābha Buddha’s 18th vow that excludes those who slander the True Dharma. You are, in fact, becoming an enemy of Amitābha Buddha by chanting the nembutsu rather than the daimoku.”
The lay monk rubbed his chin. “Ah, well, I certainly have no intention of displeasing Amitābha Buddha. Perhaps I should read the Lotus Sūtra one of these days. But if I become your follower I think the local steward would be very unhappy with me. I may or may not fall into hell in the next life, but he’ll certainly make things hellish for me here and now if he finds out I’ve become your follower.”
Nichiren said, “You worry about the steward, but really all the people in Japan without exception are supposed to be the disciples and subjects of Śākyamuni Buddha. But those who single-mindedly pray to Amitābha Buddha are abandoning Śākyamuni Buddha. Those who cherish Amitābha Buddha, who is not the parent, ruler, or teacher of the people of this world, and conversely abandon Śākyamuni Buddha, who is the parent, ruler, and teacher of this world, are like unfilial children. They are as bad as a young couple who are so in love with each other that they forget about their parents, heating their own bedroom while their parents are out shivering in the cold, or indulging in a banquet while their parents starve. Isn’t this a grave offense?”
“Hmm, yes, I see what you are saying. I will give it some thought. In the meantime, I hope that you are comfortable, for as far as I am concerned you are honored guests for as long as you are to stay here.”
Despite his fears, the Lay Monk of Ichinosawa did not object when his grandmother took up faith in the Lotus Sūtra. He also remained supportive, and relations between Nichiren and himself were always cordial. At one time he even lent money to a nun who had come to visit Nichiren from Kamakura and did not have enough funds to get back home. All he asked in return was that Nichiren have a copy of the Lotus Sūtra inscribed for him so that he could read it for himself, a promise that Nichiren made good on a couple of years later by sending a copy to him in the care of his grandmother.
So it was that Nichiren was able to live more comfortably during the rest of his time on Sado. Back in Kamakura, Nichirō and other disciples were released from prison and together with his more influential lay supporters they began to petition the shōgunate for him to be pardoned. Nichiren did not approve. He wrote to Toki Jōnin telling him, “I believe it is the wish of the gods that I am not released yet, but probably ignorant people will not believe this. It is unfilial of my disciples to go around with anxious faces as though I were wishing to be released. I cannot help such disciples to fare better in the next life. All of you had better keep this in mind.”
Once settled in at Ichinosawa, Nichiren began work on a new essay called Kanjin Honzon-shō (Treatise on the Contemplation of the Mind and the Focus of Devotion). It was completed on the 25th day of the fourth month of the tenth year of the Bun’ei era (1273). He sent it the very next day to Toki Jōnin and the other leaders among his lay followers in Shimōsa Province.
In a cover letter to the treatise, Nichiren wrote to Toki Jōnin, “I have written a little on the doctrine of contemplating the mind. This is of utmost importance to me. You should keep this a secret unless you find someone with unshakeable faith in the Lotus Sūtra, to whom you may show it. Concerning the ultimate teaching of the Buddha for those in the Latter Age, this writing contains many difficult questions with only short answers. Since this is a doctrine never heard of before, it may startle those who hear it. Should you decide to show it to others, you should not have several people read it together sitting side-by-side.
“In the more than 2,200 years after the final nirvāṇa of Śākyamuni Buddha, nobody has ever explained the doctrine contained in this writing. Since we are now in the fifth 500-year period after the Buddha’s final nirvāṇa, the first 500-year period in the beginning of the Latter Age, when the True Dharma should be spread, I have expounded this in the face of public persecution.
“I pray that all my followers who read this writing may feel the joy of visiting, together with me, the Pure Land of Eagle Peak to look up at the faces of the Eternal Śākyamuni Buddha, Many Treasures Buddha, and the countless emanation buddhas of the ten directions.”
Though it was intended for his most trusted disciples and lay followers, he imagined it as a dialogue with Toki Jōnin. Treatise on the Contemplation of the Mind and the Focus of Devotion was intended as a response to those who felt that he had spoke far too often about doctrinal issues and not said enough about the practice of calming and contemplation. He had spoken of such things before, but not in fully, nor to all of his followers. In a letter written a few months before his exile, he had told a disciple studying on Mt. Hiei the following, “What we should chant all the time as the practice of the perfect teaching is Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō and contemplate the truth of the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment. Lay followers of Japan today should just recite Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō. As the name has the virtue of reaching the body for which it stands, when one chants Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, one will not fail to receive all the merit of the Lotus Sūtra.” The new treatise was meant to further clarify the connection between chanting daimoku and the contemplation of the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment. More than that, it would declare what the true focus of devotion should be for such practice.
Nichiren began the treatise with a review of the doctrine of the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment and its importance. These were things he had learned when had been a student on Mt. Hiei. He stated that the Tiantai teachings were difficult to understand and hard to believe because they not only claimed that all people could attain buddhahood and that Śākyamuni Buddha is actually the Eternal Buddha, but also claimed that, according to the contemplation of the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment, even grasses, trees, and the land itself can manifest buddhahood because even the realm of the environment possesses the ten aspects of causality and thereby can manifest all the ten realms, up to and including buddhahood. This was the reason why statues and portraits could be enshrined and worshipped as the various foci of devotion. “This is acceptable only through Tiantai doctrine. Unless grass and trees possess both matter and spirit and the principle of cause and effect, it does not make sense at all to worship statues and portraits.”
Nichiren imagined the dialogue that followed from that. Toki Jōnin would have asked him, “What is the meaning of contemplating the mind?”
Nichiren answered, “Contemplation of the mind means to observe all ten Dharma-realms, from the hells up to the pure lands of the buddhas, within our own minds. Now just as we cannot see our own faces without a mirror, we cannot see the ten Dharma-reams within our minds without the clear mirrors of the Lotus Sūtra and the Great Calming and Contemplation.”
“I do not dare question the Lotus Sūtra or the Tiantai teachings about the mutual possession of the ten Dharma-realms, but it sounds like calling fire, ‘water,’ and black, ‘white.’ No matter how often we look at each other or gaze upon our reflections, we only see we human beings. We do not see these other realms, so how can we believe this teaching that all ten Dharma-realms are within our minds?”
“When you look at others, you will notice that they are sometimes joyful, enraged, calm, greedy, ignorant, or ingratiating. These are the looks of the heavenly beings, hell-dwellers, human beings, hungry ghosts, beasts, and fighting demons respectively. Thus we can see all six paths of samsāra in people’s faces, from the hells to the heavens. We cannot normally see the four realms of voice-hearers, private-buddhas, bodhisattvas, and buddhas, which are hidden. Nevertheless, we might be able to see them as well if we look carefully.”
“It is not entirely clear to me that all six paths exist within us human beings, but I am beginning to think they seem to as I listen to you. Nevertheless, I cannot see the four realms of the holy ones at all. Can you find them?”
“I shall try to explain as much as possible. We see impermanence everywhere before our very eyes. Therefore, we can understand the principle of impermanence by which the voice-hearers and private-buddhas try to attain awakening, so how can we say their realms are not included in ours? A man, no matter how cruel he may seem to be, loves his wife and children. This shows that even such a person has at least a portion of the bodhisattva realm. The realm that is hardest to see is that of the buddhas, but since we can see the other realms within us, the realm of buddhas must be as well. The reason why we, ordinary people, born in the Latter Age, can put faith in the Lotus Sūtra is that the realm of buddhas is included in the realm of human beings.”
“The Buddha’s teaching about the mutual possession of the ten realms may be clear, but it is difficult to believe that the realm of buddhas is contained within our vulgar minds. However, if we do not believe, there is no doubt that we will become icchantika. We beseech you, out of your great compassion, please help us to believe in it and save us from falling into the Hell of Incessant Suffering.”
“If you cannot believe even the words of the Lotus Sūtra, then how can those who are ranked below the Buddha save you from non-belief? Nevertheless, I shall try because there were some who could not attain buddhahood under the guidance of the Buddha, but were awakened later under the guidance of the patriarchs like Ānanda.
“The mutual possession of the ten realms us as difficult to believe as it is to see fire in a rock and flowers in wood. However, it is not totally impossible because rocks spark when struck together and a tree blooms in spring. You have come to believe that each of the eight realms is contained in the realm of human beings so why can you not believe that the realm of buddhas is also contained within?
“Ancient Chinese rulers, sages such as Yao and Shun, treated all people equally with compassion, providing evidence that at least a portion of the realm of buddhahood is within the realm of humankind. Never Despising Bodhisattva pressed his palms together in respect and bowed to everyone he met because he saw buddhas in them. Born as a human being, Prince Siddhārtha became the Buddha. These examples should convince you to believe that the realm of buddhas exist in the realm of human beings.”
At this point in the treatise, Nichiren warned Toki Jōnin and the other readers to keep what was to follow confidential and not reveal it to others.
In the imagined dialogue, Toki Jōnin could still not believe that the Buddha was within the minds of all beings. “How could it be possible that the Buddha, as great as he is, resides in the minds of ordinary people like us? We also come across passages such as in Aśvaghoṣa’s Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna that says, ‘There is nothing but the virtue of purity in the buddha-nature.’ So it would appear that when buddhahood is attained ordinary consciousness is eliminated. It would seem that the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment and the mutual possession of the ten realms is just a biased view of Great Master Tiantai.”
Nichiren responded, “The past sages and patriarchs such as Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu were aware of this essential teaching of the Lotus Sūtra but they did not reveal it because the time was not yet ripe. The other sūtras besides the Lotus Sūtra fail to teach the three causes of buddhahood inherent in all living beings: the buddha-nature, the wisdom to realize it, and the right actions to develop wisdom. So how can those who follow those sūtras know of the seed of buddhahood established on the basis of the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment? Without the seed of buddhahood, the attainment of buddhahood would only be a name without a reality.
“The Lotus Sūtra is equipped with the merit of the Buddha accumulated before and after his attainment of buddhahood. Therefore, Śākyamuni Buddha’s attainment of buddhahood is altogether contained in the five characters of the title of the sūtra: myō, hō, ren, ge, and kyō. Consequently, when we uphold these five characters, the merits that he accumulated before and after his attainment of buddhahood are naturally transferred to us. In the second chapter of the Lotus Sūtra the Buddha said, ‘I once vowed that I would cause all living beings to become exactly as I am. That old vow of mine has now been fulfilled. I lead all living beings into the way to buddhahood.’ Does this not mean, that Śākyamuni Buddha, who has attained perfect and complete awakening, is our flesh and blood, and all the merits he has accumulated before and after attaining buddhahood are our bones? Śakyamuni Buddha, Many Treasures Buddha, and the emanation buddhas of the ten directions are in our minds, and we, upholders of the Lotus Sūtra, will follow in their footsteps and inherit all the merits of those buddhas. Śākyamuni Buddha who is within our minds is an ancient buddha without beginning, who manifests himself in the three bodies, and attained buddhahood in the remote past of 500 million dust-particle kalpas ago.
“During the time of his teaching the Dharma, the Buddha revealed many provisional and impermanent pure lands presided over by buddhas who are actually his transformations. Therefore, if Śākyamuni Buddha were to die, then all of these buddhas would also die and their lands would disappear. Now, however, when the Eternal Buddha was revealed in the Original Gate of the Lotus Sūtra, this Sahā world became the Eternal Pure Land, indestructible even by the three calamities of fires, floods, and hurricanes, which are said to destroy the world. It transcends the four periods of cosmic change: the kalpas of formation, continuance, dissolution, and reduction to nothingness. Śākyamuni Buddha, the lord and teacher of this pure land, has never died in the past, nor will he be born in the future. All those who receive his guidance are one with this Eternal Buddha. It is because each of our minds is equipped with the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment, including the three categories of the five aggregates, living beings, and the environment.
“The heart of the Original Gate of the Lotus Sūtra, Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, was not transmitted even to the most trusted disciples such as Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva or Medicine King Bodhisattva, and certainly not to lower ranking bodhisattvas. Instead the Buddha called out numerous bodhisattvas from underground, for whom he expounded it during the teaching of the eight chapters, beginning with the 15th and ending with the 22nd, and entrusted them with the task of spreading it in the Latter Age of Degeneration.
“The focus of devotion of this transmission of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō from the Eternal Buddha to his original disciples is this: Suspended in the sky above the Eternal Śākyamuni Buddha’s Sahā world is a stūpa of treasures, in which Śākyamuni Buddha and Many Treasures Buddha sit to the right and left of Myōhō Renge Kyō. The four bodhisattvas such as Superior Practice, who represent the original disciples of the Eternal Buddha called out from underground, wait upon them. Four more bodhisattvas, including Mañjuśrī and Maitreya, take the lower seats as followers. Other bodhisattvas, great and minor, who had been taught by the Buddha in the Trace Gate or who came from other lands, resemble numerous people sitting on the ground and looking up at the court nobles. Also lined up on the ground are the emanation buddhas who gathered together from the ten directions to praise the Buddha’s teaching and who represent provisional buddhas and their respective lands.
“The focus of devotion such as this was not revealed anywhere else by Śākyamuni Buddha during the more than fifty years that he taught. Though he spent eight years teaching the Lotus Sūtra, this scene was limited to when he taught in the sky above Eagle Peak as recounted in the eight chapters. During the more than two millennia of the Ages of the True Dharma and the Age of the Semblance of the Dharma, statues and portraits were made of Śākyamuni Buddha as he taught the Hīnayāna or provisional Mahāyāna sūtras, but statues and portraits of the Eternal Śākyamuni Buddha of the ‘The Duration of the Life of the Tathāgata’ chapter of the Lotus Sūtra were never made. Now in the beginning of the Latter Age of Degeneration, is it not time that such statues and portraits were made for the first time?”
In the remainder of the treatise, Nichiren explained what the Buddha intended for the people of the Latter Age. He began by showing that the Buddha’s teaching as a whole can be divided into a preface, main discourse, and epilogue, wherein all the sūtras preceding the Lotus Sūtra are just a preface, the threefold Lotus Sūtra is the main discourse, and the Nirvāṇa Sūtra is the epilogue. The threefold Lotus Sūtra itself can be divided into a preface, main discourse, and epilogue, with everything from the second chapter of the Lotus Sūtra up to and including the nineteen-line verse in chapter seventeen comprising the main discourse. The Trace Gate and the Original Gate can also be divided into three parts each, with the main discourse of the former being chapters two through nine, and the main discourse of the latter being the one chapter and two-halves, consisting of the latter half of chapter fifteen, all of chapter sixteen, and the former half of chapter seventeen. Finally, all the Buddha’s teachings can be seen as a preface to the great Dharma of the five characters of myō, hō, ren, ge, and kyō, hidden in the lines of the sixteenth chapter. Nichiren asserted, “The teaching of the Original Gate during the lifetime of Śākyamuni Buddha and that which should be spread during the beginning of the Latter Age are both absolutely perfect. However, the former is for attaining awakening, whereas the latter is for sowing the seed of buddhahood. While the former is crystallized in the sixteenth chapter, with half a chapter each preceding and following it, the latter is solely embodied in the five characters of myō, hō, ren, ge, and kyō, the title of the Lotus Sūtra.”
Nichiren insisted that it was time for the bodhisattvas who emerged from underground and their four leaders to appear in order to spread the daimoku, the seed of buddhahood and the expressive actualization of the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment, the mutual possession of the ten worlds wherein the Eternal Śākyamuni Buddha always and forever embraces all beings and all beings contain within themselves the realm of the Buddha. Nichiren further stated that the earthquakes and comets and other disturbances could not be anything other than omens of the appearance of these bodhisattvas.
He ended the treatise with the following words, “When the sky is clear blue, the land is illuminated, so those who know the Lotus Sūtra can see the reasons for the occurrences in the world. For those who are incapable of understanding the truth of the three thousand realms in a single thought-moment, Śākyamuni Buddha, out of great compassion, wraps this jewel with the five characters of myō, hō, ren, ge, and kyō and hangs it around the necks of the ignorant in the Latter age of Degeneration. The four great bodhisattvas will protect such people just as the sage rulers of ancient China were protected by their loyal subjects.”
On Sado there lived a Tendai monk named Sairen-bō. He had also been exiled to the island some time before Nichiren had arrived. He had been very impressed by Nichiren after hearing him successfully debate the other monks at Tsukahara. From that time on he visited Nichiren when he could and the two of them held long discussions about the teaching and practice of the Lotus Sūtra and Tiantai doctrines. When they could not see each other face to face, they would correspond by letters. One day Nichiren, not long after writing Treatise on the Contemplation of the Mind and the Focus of Devotion wrote to Sairen-bō, “Whatever happens to you, have a firm faith and maintain yourself as a practitioner of the Lotus Sūtra and join the ranks of my followers. As long as you are in accord with me, you will be one of the bodhisattvas who emerged from the earth. And if you are determined to be a bodhisattva of the earth, there is no doubt that you have been a disciple of the Eternal Śākyamuni Buddha since the remotest past. In ‘The Appearance of the Bodhisattvas from Underground’ chapter, the Buddha states, ‘I have been teaching them since the remotest past.’ Those who spread the five characters of myō, hō, ren, ge, and kyō in the Latter Age of Degeneration should not make a distinction between men and women, for it would be difficult to chant the daimoku unless they were all bodhisattvas of the earth.
“At first only I started chanting the daimoku, Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, but then two, three, then one hundred people, gradually began chanting it. This will continue in the future. Isn’t this what emerging from the earth means? When an innumerable number of people emerge from the earth and this Wonderful Dharma spreads extensively, there will be no mistake, just as a shooting star never misses the earth, Japan will be filled with people chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō. You should therefore establish your reputation as a practitioner of the Lotus Sūtra, and devote your life to it.
“Tears roll down when I think of the great hardship that I have to endure today, but I cannot stop the tears of joy when I think of attaining buddhahood in the future. Birds and insects cry without shedding tears. Nichiren does not cry but tears keep falling. These tears are shed not for worldly matters. They are solely for the sake of the Lotus Sūtra. Therefore, they could be said to be tears of nectar.
“Have faith in the most honored focus of devotion, the most venerable one in the entire world. Earnestly endeavor to strengthen your faith, so that you may be blessed with the protective powers of Śākyamuni Buddha, Many Treasure Buddha, and the emanation buddhas of the ten directions. Strive to carry out the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, Buddhism will cease to exist. Endeavor yourself and cause others to practice these two ways of practice and study, which stem from faith. If possible, please spread even a word or phrase of the sūtra to others.”
Nichiren still expected that any day a messenger might arrive with new orders for his execution. At the same time, he felt hopeful that eventually slander would be defeated and all would be converted to faith in the Lotus Sūtra. He wrote to his disciples and lay followers, “When all the people under the heavens and various schools of Buddhism are all converted to the one true vehicle, and when only the Lotus Sūtra flourishes and all the people recite Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō in unison, the howling wind will not blow on the branches, falling rain will not erode the soil, and the world will become as good as during the reigns of the sage emperors in China’s golden age. You will see that such times will come when calamities will cease to exist, people will live long, and the people and their faith will become eternal. There should be no doubt about this proof of tranquility in this life.”
On the eighth day of the seventh month of that year he inscribed the great mandala just as he had described it in the Treatise on the Contemplation of the Mind and the Focus of Devotion. He used a piece of silk two and a half feet wide by five and a half feet long. With his brush in large characters he wrote the seven characters of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō down the center to represent the stūpa of treasures. Immediately flanking the daimoku he wrote the names of Śākyamuni Buddha, Many Treasures Buddha, and the four leaders of the bodhisattvas who emerged from underground: Superior Practice, Limitless Practice, Pure Practice, and Steadily Established Practice. At the four corners of the mandala he inscribed the names of the four heavenly kings who guarded the cardinal directions. On either side of the mandala he inscribed the bīja of the two kings of esoteric knowledge, Fudō Myō-ō and Aizen Myō-ō. They were not in the Lotus Sūtra, but Nichiren had received visions of them in the first month of the sixth year of the Kenchō era (1254) when he was still living at Seichōji and he felt assured that they were guardians of the Lotus Sūtra and its practitioners, just as the two fierce kings guarded the gates of the temples. Beneath the two buddhas and the four bodhisattvas he wrote in the names of the bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī, Universal Sage, Medicine King, and Maitreya. On either side of the bodhisattvas were the voice-hearers Śāriputra and Mahākāśyapa. Flanking them, he wrote in the names of Brahmā, Māra, Indra, and the gods of the sun, moon, and stars. Below the gods of the realms of desire and form could be found the ideal ruler known as a wheel turning king, a king of the fighting demons, a dragon king, the Mother-of-Devils and her ten daughters, King Ajātaśatru, and even Devadatta. Below them were the gods of Japan, Amaterasu Ōmikami and the Great Bodhisattva Hachiman, and also the past teachers of the Lotus Sūtra: the patriarch Nāgārjuna, and the great masters Tiantai, Miaole, and Dengyō. Nichiren inscribed his own name at the very bottom right below the seven characters of the daimoku. With such a mandala one could see and consider the ten Dharma-realms mutually embracing and embraced. Chanting before it, the practitioner could enter into the true Pure Land of Eagle Peak and meet the Eternal Śākyamuni Buddha, the true focus of devotion, the Buddha who always and everywhere transmits the Wonderful Dharma to all beings who receive it with faith and joy and thereby realize that the purity, bliss, eternity, and authenticity of buddhahood is within. At the bottom right of the mandala was written, “This great mandala was revealed for the first time in the world of Jambudvīpa 2,220 odd years after the final nirvāṇa of the Buddha.”