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The Causal Law of Life


When Shijo Kingo visited Sado Island in April 1272 to see Nichiren Daishonin, the Daishonin entrusted him with this letter for his wife, Nichigennyo. Nichigennyo was a name the Daishonin had given her; it is a combination of nichi (sun), gen (eyes) and nyo (woman). He also named her two daughters, Tsukimaro and Kyo'o. When Kyo'o took ill, he encouraged her parents with the famous passage, "Kyo'o Gozen's misfortunes will change into fortune. Muster your faith and pray to this Gohonzon. Then what is there that cannot be achieved?" Shijo Kingo and his wife received frequent guidance and encouragement from the Daishonin, and devoted themselves wholeheartedly to the practice of his Buddhism throughout their lives.

This writing, "The Causal Law of Life," praises Nichigennyo's faith. At the beginning of the letter, the Daishonin urges her to read it with Toshiro's wife. Little is known about Toshiro; it is believed that he was one of Kingo's colleagues in the Kamakura military government and that his wife was close to Nichigennyo because of their common faith. Toshiro's wife was also related to the family of Nanjo Tokimitsu, the lord of Ueno District. In a letter dated August 1275 and addressed to Nanjo Tokimitsu's mother, the Daishonin made a similar remark, encouraging her to read it again and again with Toshiro's wife. In this way he stressed the unity of believers.

Nichiren Daishonin says, "A woman is like a wisteria, a man like a pine. The wisteria cannot stand for a moment if it is separated from the pine tree that supports it." In a feudalistic society, life was difficult for women since their social status was generally inferior to that of men. Nevertheless, at a time when she had no one else to rely on, Nichigennyo sent her husband to Sado all the way from Kamakura on a journey that was not only difficult but dangerous. For this the Daishonin praised her, saying that her faith was firmer than the earth and loftier than the sky.

Dosho and Domyo are said to be messengers of heaven who accompany a person from the moment of his or her birth and report that person's behavior without omitting the slightest detail. These two beings represent the law of cause and effect, which is central to each person's life. One's every action, whether good or evil, is engraved in the depths of one's life and eventually causes either a good or evil effect. Buddhism asserts that the actions of one's past lives exert an effect on his present life, while his present actions shape the future. Life is eternal, and the law of causality penetrates one's life throughout past, present and future existences.

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