"How immense, then, must be our gratitude toward Shakyamuni Buddha who, in lifetime after lifetime, has championed the cause of the Lotus Sutra! It is beyond the power of reckoning."
"Therefore we owe a great debt of gratitude to this Shakyamuni Buddha, a debt more weighty than the great earth, broader than the sky, and higher than the heavens. When it comes to such a Buddha as this, both sovereigns, ministers, and common people should honor him more highly than they do their own fathers or mothers, should pay him greater reverence than they pay to the gods. And if they do that much, then even if they should commit some grave offense, heaven will protect them and will not cast them aside, and the earth will not display anger toward them."
"Since I have realized that only the Lotus Sutra teaches the attainment of Buddhahood by women, and that only the Lotus is the sutra of true requital for repaying the kindness of our mother, in order to repay my debt to my mother, I have vowed to enable all women to chant the daimoku of this sutra."
"However, because there was no one who understood this situation, it has been impossible to remedy it. I am generally aware of these matters, and therefore try to repay the debt of gratitude owe my country [by speaking the truth], but people only hate me for it."
"It is the same with me. When I attain Buddhahood, how will I be able to forget my obligation to Shō-bō? Much less can I forget the thanks I owe to the scroll of the Lotus Sutra [with which he struck me]. When I think of this, I cannot restrain my tears of gratitude."
“Now let me ask you to close your eyes, still your mind, and apply your thoughts to the logic of the matter. If, knowing the best path, one sees one’s parents or sovereign taking an evil path, can one fail to admonish them? If a fool, crazed with wine, is about to drink poison, can one, knowing this, not try to stop him? In the same way, if one understands the truth of the Buddhist teachings and knows the sufferings of fire, blood, and swords, can one fail to lament at seeing someone to whom one owes a debt of gratitude about to fall into the evil paths? Rather one should cast away one’s body and lay down one’s life in an effort to save such a person. One will never grow weary of admonishing him, nor will there be limits to one’s grief."
"The Flower Garland Sutra says, “Those who do not understand their obligations will in many cases meet with an untimely death.” And the Meditation on the Buddha’s Ocean-like Characteristics Sutra says, “This [failure to repay a debt of gratitude] is the cause that leads to rebirth in the Avīchi hell.” But now you have already manifested a sincere concern for your parents, and the heavenly gods are certain to heed your prayers. (This is the second point I wish to stress to you.)
In your letter you also mention certain things that, on thoroughly considering the heart of the matter, I believe you ought not to do. I, Nichiren, am hated by the people of Japan. This is entirely due to the fact that the lord of Sagami regards me with animosity. I grant that the government has acted quite without reason, but even before I encountered my difficulties, I foresaw that troubles of this kind would occur, and I resolved that, whatever might happen to me in the future, I must not bear any hatred toward others. This determination has perhaps acted as a prayer, for I have been able to come safely through any number of trials. And now I am faced with no such difficulties."
"In this passage from the sutra, the four great voice-hearers, having heard the message of the “Simile and Parable” chapter and learned how they can become Buddhas, are expounding on how difficult it is to repay one’s debt of gratitude to the Buddha and to the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, we can understand that, to persons of the two vehicles, the practitioners of this sutra are more important than a father or a mother, than a beloved child, than their own two eyes or their body and life itself.
"So there can be no doubt that all persons of the two vehicles will protect the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. Even lowly creatures know enough to repay a debt of gratitude. Thus the bird known as the wild goose will invariably carry out its filial duty to the mother bird when she is about to die. And the fox never forgets its old hillock. If even animals will do such things, then how much more so should this be true of human beings?"
"Having heard the Lotus Sutra, the bodhisattvas, persons of the two vehicles, and the other human and heavenly beings were all imbued with a deep sense of gratitude for the Buddha’s compassion, and wanted to show the Buddha how willing they were to sacrifice their bodies and lives for the sake of the Lotus Sutra."
"If one hopes to learn and master Buddhism, then one cannot do so without devoting time to the task. And if one wants to have time to spend on the undertaking, one cannot continue to wait on one’s parents, one’s teachers, and one’s sovereign. Until one attains the road that leads to emancipation, one should not defer to the wishes and feelings of one’s parents and teachers, no matter how reasonable they may be."
"Just when I was thinking that, if at all possible, I must somehow come and see you, you had a robe sent here to me. This was a totally unexpected circumstance. Since the Lotus Sutra is the noblest of all sutras, I may yet gain influence in this lifetime. If so, rest assured that I will look after your children whether you are still living or are watching from under the sod. While I was in the province of Sado and during my stay here [at Minobu], you sent your servant to help me. In what lifetime could I ever forget what you have done for me? I will repay this debt of gratitude by serving you in the next lifetime. Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, Namu-myoho-renge-kyo."
"I learned that the scholar Nichigen of Jissō-ji temple, upon becoming my disciple, was driven out by his own disciples and lay supporters, and had to give up his lands, so that he now has no place of his own. Nonetheless, he still visits me and takes care of my disciples. What devotion to the way! Nichigen is a sage. He is already unrivaled as a scholar of Buddhism. Yet he has discarded all desire for fame and fortune and become my disciple. He has lived the words in the sutra, “We care nothing for our bodies or lives.” To repay his debts of gratitude to the Buddha, he has taught you and your fellow believers and inspired you, Matsuno, to make these sincere offerings. All this is truly amazing."
"From a mundane view, I am the poorest person in Japan, but in the light of Buddhism, I am the wealthiest person in all Jambudvīpa. When I consider that this is all because the time is right, I am overwhelmed with joy and cannot restrain my tears. It is impossible to repay my debt of gratitude to Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings. Perhaps even the rewards of the Buddha’s twenty-four successors are inferior to mine, and even those of the great teachers such as T’ien-t’ai Chih-che and Dengyō cannot approach mine. That is because now is the time to establish the object of devotion of the four bodhisattvas."
"Even if we should gather all the water of the four great oceans to wet inkstones, burn all the trees and plants to make ink sticks, collect the hairs of all beasts for writing brushes, employ all the surfaces of the worlds in the ten directions for paper, and, with these, set down expressions of gratitude, how could we possibly repay our debt to the Buddha?
Concerning the debt owed to the Law, the Law is the teacher of all Buddhas. It is because of the Law that the Buddhas are worthy of respect. Therefore, those who wish to repay their debt to the Buddha must first repay the debt they owe to the Law.
As for the debt owed to the Buddhist Order, both the treasure of the Buddha and the treasure of the Law are invariably perpetuated by the Order. To illustrate, without firewood, there can be no fire, and if there is no earth, trees and plants cannot grow. Likewise, even though Buddhism existed, without the members of the Order who studied it and passed it on, it would never have been transmitted throughout the two thousand years of the Former and Middle Days into the Latter Day of the Law. Accordingly, the Great Collection Sutra states: “Suppose that, in the last of the five five-hundred-year periods, there should be someone who harasses unlearned monks without precepts by accusing them of some offense. You should know that this person is extinguishing the great torch of Buddhism.” Therefore, the debt we owe to the Order is difficult to recompense.
Thus it is imperative that one repay one’s debt of gratitude to the three treasures.
"All these different species of beings brought flowers, incense, clothing, and food as their last offerings to the Buddha. Their voices resounded, crying out that the jeweled bridge for all living beings was about to collapse, that the eye of all living beings was about to be put out, that the parent, sovereign, and teacher of all living beings was about to pass away. Not only did their hair stand on end, but their tears flowed. Not only did their tears flow, but they beat their heads, pressed their hands to their chests, and cried aloud, not sparing their voices. The blood of their tears and the blood of their sweat fell upon Kushinagara more heavily than a torrential rain and flowed more abundantly than a mighty river. All this they did solely because the Lotus Sutra had opened for them the way to Buddhahood, and they could never repay the debt of gratitude they owed the Buddha."
"This passage means that to us living beings the Thus Come One Shakyamuni is our parent, our teacher, and our sovereign. Although Amida, Medicine Master, and other Buddhas are sovereigns to us living beings, they are neither parents nor teachers. Shakyamuni is the only Buddha endowed with all three virtues and to whom we owe a profound debt of gratitude. There are parents and parents, yet none of them can equal Shakyamuni Buddha. There are all manner of teachers and sovereigns, but none as admirable as he is. Could those who disobey the teaching of this parent, teacher, and sovereign possibly not be abandoned by the heavenly gods and the earthly deities? They are the most unfilial of all children. It is for this reason that the Buddha said, “Though I teach and instruct them, they do not believe or accept my teachings.” Even if they follow the sutras preached before the Lotus and practice them for a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, or a million kalpas, if they do not believe in the Lotus Sutra and chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo even once, they will be unfilial. They will therefore be abandoned by the sacred ones of the three existences and the ten directions, and hated by both the heavenly gods and the earthly deities. (This is the first of the five guides for propagation.)"
"Shakyamuni, the World-Honored One, who is our father and mother and is endowed with the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent, is the very one who encourages us, the people driven out by all other Buddhas, saying, “I am the only person who can rescue and protect others.” The debt of gratitude we owe him is deeper than the ocean, weightier than the earth, vaster than the sky. Though we were to pluck out our two eyes and place them before him as an offering until there were more eyes there than stars in the sky; though we were to strip off our skins and spread them out by the hundreds of thousands of ten thousands until they blanketed the ceiling of heaven; though we were to give him our tears as offerings of water and present him with flowers for the space of thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas; though we were to offer him our flesh and blood for innumerable kalpas until our flesh piled up like mountains and our blood overflowed like vast seas, we could never repay a fraction of the debt we owe to this Buddha." There are all manner of teachers and sovereigns, but none as admirable as he [Shakyamuni Buddha]." -- Nichiren