Condolences on a Deceased Husband Chapter12

Condolences on a Deceased Husband Chapter12

When I was in the province of Sado, I lived in a graveyard called Tsukahara, at a place between the meadows and the mountains that was far removed from human habitation. I lived in a small hut built with four posts. The roof boards did not shut out the sky, and the walls were crumbling. Rain came in as though there were no roof at all, and the snow piled up inside. There was no image of the Buddha, and no trace of matting or other floor covering. But I set up the figure of Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, that I have carried with me from times past, and held the Lotus Sutra in my hand, and with a straw coat around me and a straw hat on my head, I managed to live there. Four years passed, during which no one came to visit and no one brought me food. I was like Su Wu, held captive for nineteen years in the land of the northern barbarians, wearing a straw coat and eating snow.

And now I have lived for five years in this present mountain home. To the north is Mount Minobu, like a ladder reaching to the heavens. To the south is Takatori, like Mount Kukkutapāda;27 to the west, Shichimen, like Iron Gate Barrier;28 and to the east, Mount Tenshi, which is like the crown prince to Mount Fuji’s emperor. These four mountains are ranged around like tall folding-screens.

To the north is a large river called Haya, swift as an arrow. To the south is a river called Hakiri, which can tumble huge rocks along as though they were tree leaves. To the east the Fuji River flows from north to south with a force like a thousand halberds thrusting forward. Along its course is a waterfall called the Falls of Minobu, like a strip of white cloth dangling from the sky.

In the midst of these mountains and rivers is a narrow plot of land where Nichiren has his dwelling. It is so deep in the mountains that even at noon one cannot see the sun, and at night there is no moon to compose poems to. On the mountain peaks monkeys like those of the Pa Gorges29 in China chatter away, while in the valleys the sound of the river waves is like the pounding of drums. The ground is strewn with countless large stones, and the mountains are made of nothing but rocks and gravel.

I am hated by the rulers of the country, and none of the common people come to visit me. In winter the trails are clogged with snow, and in summer they are overgrown with grass. Far off I hear the sad crying of the deer, and the cicadas make a din in my ears. No one comes to visit me, and it is hard for me to sustain life. I have no robes in which to clothe myself, and therefore you can imagine how welcome was the gift of the robe that you sent.

Even those who have known me or heard of me in the past no longer take pity on me, and the disciples and hired hands that have been with me up to now have all deserted me. How amazing it is, therefore, that someone like you, whom I have never even heard of or seen, should display such kindness! I cannot help wondering if you are not a reincarnation of my departed parents, or perhaps a manifestation of the ten demon daughters!


27. Kukkutapāda is present-day Kurkihar in India, located about thirty kilometers northeast of Bodh Gaya. Mahākāshyapa is said to have transmitted the teachings to Ānanda and to have died on this mountain.

28. The barrier at Kesh in Central Asia, which was as impregnable as iron, surrounded by steep mountains.

29. Gorges in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.


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