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Letter to Jakunichi-bo


A young priest named Jakunichi-bo Nikke was the recipient of this letter dated September 16, 1279. He was twenty-one and living to the east of present-day Tokyo in what is now Chiba Prefecture. Jakunichi-bo was the son of a local lord, and his family had been converted to true Buddhism in 1265 while the Daishonin made a propagation tour there. Later, he built Tanjo-ji temple in Kominato in honor of Nichiren Daishonin's birthplace.

The Daishonin begins by explaining how rare and wonderful it is to be born as a human being and to be able to practice true Buddhism. This, he explains, is due to one's past relationship to Buddhas throughout the universe. In the next section he reveals how much rarer it is for one to put the words of the Lotus Sutra into actual practice. The Kanji chapter is quoted and describes the persecutions predicted to befall the sutra's votary.

The Daishonin discloses the meaning of his name - it signifies the original Buddha who will bring enlightenment to all mankind in the Latter Day of the Law. Then he declares that his disciples must also exert themselves in the practice to share the supreme teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with mankind.

Next the Daishonin explains that fortune gained by practicing for the sake of the Gohonzon lasts eternally. The demons who, according to legend, strip one of his garments symbolize the fact that death strips us of all pretensions and superficial attainments, whether they be wealth, power or knowledge. The predominant life-condition persists in the state of ku after a person dies and molds his circumstances in future existences. All the causes he makes, of course, contribute to that condition, but Buddhist practice is by far the most influential cause for elevating one's state, both at present and after death.

In his conclusion, the Daishonin encourages Jakunichi-bo by saying, "You have helped Nichiren and saved him from disgrace in this life; in return, he will protect you from disgrace in the next." The master-disciple relationship in Buddhism goes beyond one lifetime. It is an eternal relationship in which the disciple continually dedicates himself to helping his master and the master does everything in his power to lead his disciple to enlightenment.

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