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Letter to Jakunichi-bo

I deeply appreciate your sending a letter to this distant place. It is extremely rare to be born as a human being. Not only are you endowed with human life, but you have had the rare fortune to encounter Buddhism. Moreover, out of the Buddha's many teachings, you have found the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra and become its votary. Truly you have served tens of billions of Buddhas in your past existences!

Nichiren is the supreme votary of the Lotus Sutra in Japan. In this land only he has lived the twenty-line verse of the Kanji chapter. Eight hundred billion myriad bodhisattvas pledged with this verse to propagate the Lotus Sutra but not one of them fulfilled it. The parents who gave life to this extraordinary person, Nichiren, are the most blessed of all people in Japan. It is destiny that they should have been my parents, and I, their child. Since Nichiren propagates the Lotus Sutra as the envoy of Shakyamuni, then his parents must also share this relationship. They are like King Myoshogon and Lady Jotoku who followed their sons, Jozo and Jogen, in the practice of Buddhism. Could the two Buddhas Shakyamuni and Taho have been reborn as Nichiren's parents? Or if not, could his parents have been among the eight hundred billion myriad bodhisattvas or the Four Bodhisattvas led by Jogyo? It is beyond comprehension.

Names are important for all things. That is why the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai placed "designation" first among the five major principles. Giving myself the name Nichiren signifies that I attained enlightenment by myself. This may sound boastful, but there are specific reasons for what I say. The sutra reads, "Just as the light of the sun and moon illuminates all obscurity, this person will practice among the people and dispel the darkness of all mankind." Consider exactly what this passage reveals. "This person will practice among the people..." means that the first five hundred years of the Latter Day of the Law will witness the advent of Bodhisattva Jogyo, who will illuminate the darkness of human ignorance and earthly desires with the torch of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren's endeavors to have all the Japanese embrace the Lotus Sutra are the work of Bodhisattva Jogyo. His unremitting efforts never slacken, even here on this mountain.

The passage continues, "After my death, you must embrace this sutra. Those who do so shall travel the straight road to Buddhahood." Therefore, those who become Nichiren's disciples and followers should realize the profound karmic relationship they share with him and spread the Lotus Sutra in the same spirit. Being a votary of the Lotus Sutra is a bitter and yet unavoidable destiny.

Fan K'uai, Chang Liang, Taira no Masakado and Fujiwara no Sumitomo never acted cowardly because they cared so deeply about their honor and abhorred disgrace. But disgrace in this life is nothing. What counts is disgrace which appears in the next life. Advance on the Lotus Sutra's path to enlightenment, bearing in mind the time when devils, demons and the guards of hell will strip you of your garments on the bank of the river of three crossings. The Lotus Sutra is the robe which will keep you from disgrace after this life. The Lotus Sutra reads, "...the naked have obtained clothing."

Believe in the Gohonzon with all your heart, for it is the robe to protect you in the next life. No wife would ever leave her husband unclothed, nor could any parents fail to feel compassion for their child shivering in the cold. Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra are like one's wife and parents. You have helped Nichiren and saved him from disgrace in this life; in return, he will protect you from disgrace in the next. Death came to someone yesterday, it may come to us today. Blossoms turn into fruit and brides become mothers-in-law. Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and deepen your faith.

I cannot thank you enough for your frequent letters. Jakunichi-bo, please convey all these teachings in detail to the other disciples.


The sixteenth day of the ninth month

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, page 235.

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