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The Drum at the Gate of Thunder


This Gosho was written at Minobu on the nineteenth day of the tenth (intercalary) month of 1278, when Nichiren Daishonin was fifty-seven years old. It was addressed to Sennichi-ama, who lived on Sado Island. Sennichi-ama had become his follower together with her husband, Abutsu-bo, while the Daishonin was in exile on Sado. The couple served him devotedly, bringing him food, writing paper, and other necessities for more than two years until he was pardoned and left the island for Kamakura in 1274. After the Daishonin left Kamakura for Mount Minobu, Sennichi-ama sent her husband all the way from Sado to visit him on three separate occasions.

In the opening of this letter, the Daishonin praises Sennichi-ama for her sincerity in sending him offerings from so far away. Through the examples of Tokusho Doji and an old woman who made heartfelt offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha, he explains the benefits resulting from sincere offerings.

The next portion of the letter declares the Lotus Sutra to be the supreme teaching by revealing that all the Buddhas derive their enlightenment from it. The Daishonin explains that because the Lotus Sutra is the source of all Buddhas, the act of making offerings to the Lotus Sutra brings the same benefit as making offerings to all the Buddhas throughout the universe. He also says that the Lotus Sutra, ultimately the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, possesses the power to change poison into medicine and is capable of transforming past offenses into sources of benefit and good fortune. The Daishonin goes on to discuss the moment of death, and encourages Sennichi-ama, a woman advanced in years, to strengthen her faith in the Lotus Sutra even further.

In the last section, the Daishonin expresses admiration for Sennichi-ama's genuine faith and strong seeking mind that helped enable her husband to travel all the way from Sado to Mount Minobu. Although Sennichi-ama herself was unable to visit the Daishonin, he says to her, "Your heart has come to this province." Adding that "what matters is one's heart," he goes on to explain that believers in the Lotus Sutra, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, although dwelling in the mundane world, can still enjoy supreme happiness.

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