FROM Kamakura in Sagami Province you have sent two strings of coins1 to me on this mountain peak in Minobu in the province of Kai.
Long ago, the so-called Woman Who Gave a Piece of Gold donated a gold coin to be used to gild a wooden statue [of a Buddha. Because of the benefits she received], for ninety-one long kalpas she was reborn with a golden body. The goldsmith at that time, who became her husband, was reborn as Mahākāshyapa, who in the future, the Buddha predicted, will become a Buddha named Light Bright Thus Come One.2
You, the Dharma Teacher Jōmyō, or Myōnichi,3 and your wife have offered two thousand copper coins to the Lotus Sutra. That woman made an offering to the Buddha, and this couple to the Lotus Sutra. The sutra is the teacher and the Buddha is the disciple.
The Nirvana Sutra says, “What the Buddhas take as their teacher is the Law. Therefore, the Buddhas honor, respect, and make offerings to it.”
The seventh volume of the Lotus Sutra states: “Even if a person were to fill the whole major world system with the seven treasures as an offering to the Buddha and the great bodhisattvas, pratyekabuddhas and arhats, the benefits gained by such a person cannot match those gained by accepting and upholding this Lotus Sutra, even just one four-line verse of it! The latter brings the most numerous blessings of all.”4
If the woman I have mentioned earlier, by making an offering to an inferior Buddha, could still be reborn for ninety-one kalpas with a golden body, then surely you, who have made offerings to a superior sutra, will be able to enter the realm of Buddhahood in your present lifetime, will you not?
But making offerings to those who slander the Law, such as the followers of the True Word or Zen schools or the Nembutsu believers, should be avoided. It is like paying honor to the asuras while putting one’s faith in the god Shakra [whom the asuras constantly war with].
With my deep respect,
The twelfth day of the fourth month
Reply to the Sage Jōmyō
1. Japanese coins of the time had square holes in the center and were usually strung together in hundreds or thousands to form larger monetary units.
2. This story appears in A History of the Buddha’s Successors, but in that account what she donated was a small lump of gold rather than a gold coin.
3. Myōnichi, meaning Wonderful Sun, is the Buddhist name that the Daishonin gave Ōta Jōmyō.
4. Lotus Sutra, chap. 23.