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King Rinda


This letter was written at Minobu on the seventeenth day of the eighth month of 1279, when Nichiren Daishonin was fifty-eight years old. It was addressed to Soya Doso, a son of Soya Kyoshin, one of the leading believers in Shim6sa Province. As this letter describes, in the third month of the same year Doso had taken the opportunity of a Buddhist memorial service to make a large donation to the Daishonin. At the time the Daishonin was living in the wilderness of Mount Minobu. Doso's donation allowed over one hundred followers to practice at Minobu; thus it seems likely that Doso's determination to protect the Daishonin was quite strong.

The Daishonin opens his letter by speaking about the two sacks of parched rice he has received from Doso. Parching was a method commonly used during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) to preserve rice and parched rice was frequently taken along as food on journeys. Noting that rice is something that supports life, the Daishonin praises the greatness of lay believers who support the life of the votary of the Lotus Sutra.

Then the Daishonin employs the metaphor of the five flavors, stating that while the various sutras represent the five flavors, the Lotus Sutra is the "lord who rules over the five flavors." While the five flavors are something that nourishes life, he explains, the Lotus Sutra represents life itself The Daishonin further reveals that the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the soul and the eye of all the sutras; through the Buddhist parable of King Rinda and his white horses he teaches that the benevolent deities use the voices of people chanting daimoku as sustenance to increase their power and energy.

He continues by relating that the growing influence of numerous evil Buddhist sects, such as Shingon, Zen and Nembutsu, has caused the various gods and deities to cease their protective functions. Because the people of Japan, by practicing these teachings, slander the correct teaching and Nichiren Daishonin, the votary of the Lotus Sutra, the three disasters of famine, pestilence and war occur. He teaches that those who chant daimoku should be. confident that they will never fail to receive the protection of the benevolent deities.

Next the Daishonin thanks Dasa for his generous contributions, which had made it possible for many of the Daishonin's followers to concentrate on the recitation and study of the Lotus Sutra. Because this form of practice of the Lotus Sutra constitutes the greatest kind of Buddhist practice in the Latter Day of the Law, the Daishonin says that the spirits of Dasa's ancestors must be extremely pleased with his act of benevolence. He suggests that Daso's actions therefore represent the highest form of filial piety. Citing Shakyamuni Buddha's statement that one who practices filial piety must be a World Honored One, the Daishonin praises Doso highly, saying: "Are not you yourself just such a World-Honored One?"

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