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The Kalpa of Decrease


Both the date and addressee of this Gosho are unknown, though it is thought to have been written at Mount Minobu sometime after 1276. Judging from the concluding paragraph, Nichiren Daishonin may have sent it via his disciple Daishin Ajari to someone in the clan of the late Takahashi Rokuro Hyoe Nyudo, a believer who had lived in Kajima in Fuji District of Suruga Province. The original of this Gosho is preserved at Taiseki-ji.

Beginning from the opening statement, "The Kalpa of decrease has its origin in the human mind," Nichiren Daishonin explains that the world declines as a result of human delusion. As the greed, anger and stupidity in people's minds intensify, progressively higher teachings become necessary to hold them in check. In the present, the Latter Day of the Law, these three poisons are so pervasive that the provisional teachings not only fail to restrain them but in fact aggravate them all the more. In this age, the Daishonin explains, the worst evils in fact arise, not from secular misdeeds, but from attachment to provisional forms of Buddhism, whose practice no longer serves to accumulate merit leading to salvation.

Citing the passage form the Hoben (second) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, "The true aspect of all phenomena can only be understood and shared between Buddhas," the Daishonin explains that only the Buddha's wisdom can discern the supreme truth that will bring peace to the world. He also explains that a person of true wisdom is not someone who carries out Buddhist discipline in isolation from the world, but who thoroughly comprehends the principles by which the world may be governed. This is in keeping with the Lotus Sutra's teaching that the ultimate reality is manifest in all phenomena. In this sense, even the wise ministers of the past who helped bring peace to their dynasties in the ages before the introduction of Buddhism may be said to have grasped a portion of the Buddhist Law.

Though the ruler of Japan did not heed the Daishonin's admonition that only faith in the Mystic Law could restore the country to peace, the Daishonin nevertheless remained convinced that his teaching would one day flourish. As suggested by the title of this Gosho, "The Kalpa of Decrease," the disasters troubling society in his time, such as the great earthquake of the Shoka era (1257) and the comet of the Bun'ei era (1264), were viewed by the Daishonin in one sense as stemming from human delusion and attachment to inferior teachings. However, in another sense, as indicated by the Gosho's word's "Great evil portends the arrival of great good," the Daishonin also interpreted them as heralding the rise and spread of the supreme Law.

The Gosho concludes with expressions of concern for the welfare of the Daishonin's devoted follower, the late Rokuro Nyudo.

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