The One-Eyed Turtle and the Floating Log - All Practitioners of the Mystic Law Possess a Great Mission

I can only marvel that you so frequently send a messenger to me, when we have never met. The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra (1) states that Shakyamuni Buddha will assume the form of an ordinary person in order to make offerings to the votary of the Lotus Sutra (2). Could it be that Shakyamuni Buddha has entered your body, or were your roots of goodness from the past aroused?

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p960)

This letter was written at Minobu to the wife of the late pay priest Matsuno Rokuro Saemon who lived at Matsuno in Suruga Province.

The lay priest and his wife were thought to have been converted to Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism through their relationship with the Nanjo family.

Matduno Rokuro Saemon died in 1278, the year before this letter was written. At that time, disasters were frequent, and in particular, the famine that persisted through the autumn and winter of 1278 created untold misery.

Against such social settings, the Daishonin was living extremely harsh conditions in Minobu. The Daishonin described his livelihood in Minobu in this letter in this manner: "Here I have neither clothing sufficient to cover my body nor provisions enough to survive." (WND-1, p959)

On top of this, the authorities had started taking action to prevent the community of the Daishonin's disciples from expanding by persecuting the Daishonin's disciples from expanding by persecuting the farmer believers in Atsuhara. This letter was written in the peak of what is known today as the "Atsuhara Persecution".

Amidst such tumultuous circumstances both on a personal and social level, Matsuno's wife made frequent offerings to the Daishonin. She appeared to have done so even though she had not met him personally, and she continued to serve and protect him in this way even after her husband's death.

Besides sincerely expressing his profound appreciation to her in this letter, the Daishonin also reveals how difficult it is to be born human and even more rare to encounter the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo by relating the "story of the one-eyed turtle", and hence the title.


In this passage, Nichiren Daishonin offered his heights praise for actions taken underscored by the sincere spirit and commitment to contribute to the advancement of kosen-rufu.

Despite her own hardship, the wife of the late lay priest Matsuno frequently sent her messenger to deliver offerings to Nichiren Daishonin who was living under extremely harsh conditions at Mount Minobu.

The Daishonin offered word of the highest praise for her sincere support she was rendering to the lofty struggle waged by "the votary of the lotus Sutra" even though she had never personally met the Daishonin before.

The Daishoni said, "I can only marvel… Could it be that Shakyamuni Buddha has entered your body, or were your roots of goodness from the past aroused?"

In our practice of faith, it is the depth and strength of the spirit or resolve with which we carry out our practice that is of utmost importance. It is this profound and sincere spirit and resolve that found expression in the actions taken by the wife of the late lay priest Matsuno that the Daishonin cherished and respected.

By the same token, all our contributions for kosen-rufu, including our financial contributions, express our appreciation and our determination to advance kosen-rufu. Each person's contribution, regardless of the dollar amount, should be valued as a beautiful offering of the heart.

As Nichiren Daishonin reminded us in this passage and repeatedly in many other writings, it is the heart of faith and sincerity behind an offering that determine value. This beautiful and sincere spirit with which the offering is made in turn guarantees immeasurable good fortune and benefit.

This is what the Daishonin emphasised next in this passage by quoting from the fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra whereby Shakyaumni Buddha makes a promise to dispatch good men and women who cherish the intent f the Buddha to make offerings to and protect those who teach and spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha's passing ("The Teacher of the Law Chapter of the Lotus Sutra).

Based on this teaching expounded in the Lotus Sutra, the Daishonin stated here that Shakyamuni Buddha would assume the form of an ordinary person in order to make offerings to and protect the votary of the Lotus Sutra. The "votary of the Lotus Sutra" here refers to Nichiren Daishonin while those who protect the votary are none other than the Daishonin's disciples.

In light of this teaching, each and every practitioner of the Daishonin's Buddhism who has appeared to advance the cause of worldwide kosen-rufu possesses a mission that only he or she can fulfil. All fellow members of the SGI, who are striving this lofty cause, possess the joy of fulfilling one's own unique mission. It can be said that it is this joy and pride that constitutes the strength and power of the Soka Gakkai, which have overcome numerous adversities and obstacles over the past 80 years to achieve the victorious development we see today.

SGI President Ikeda confirmed this point in his guidance, "Why is the Soka Gakkai so strong? It is because we have 'truly courageous warriors' who stands up alone to boldly wage a struggle regardless of whether they are noticed by people or not. We have fellow members who have decided that their place of mission is right where they are right now. With this resolve, they pray and strive with all their might in the shared commitment of mentor and disciple. We have such members all over the country. There is no mistake that such individuals will surely receive the protection of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the 10 directions and three existences."

Let's be awakened to our profound mission we all possess and courageously advance with renewed determination towards the centennial of the Soka Gakkai.

Footnotes: 1. The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra: The 28 chapters of the Lotus Sutra are compiled into eight volumes and the Daishonin referred to the fourth volume, It is this volume that the "Teacher of the Law" (both) chapter is contained. Specifically, the Daishonin was referring to the passage from the "Teacher of the Law" chapter which reads: "If after I have entered extinction, there are those who can expound this Sutra. I will send the four kinds of believers magically conjured, monks and nuns, and men and women of pure faith, to offer alms to the teachers of the Law; they will lead and guide the living beings, assemble them and cause them to listen to the Law." (LSOC, p207)

2. "Votary of the Lotus Sutra": Refers to the one who practices in exact accord with the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, propagates the teachings of the Lotus Sutra; reads the Lotus Sutra with his or her life, and continues to uphold and practise the teachings of the Lotus Sutra amidst great persecutions.