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Letter to Myomitsu Shonin
- Myomitsu Shonin Goshosoku -


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu on the fifth day of the intercalary third month of 1276, when he was fifty-five years old. It was addressed to Myomitsu Shonin, a believer who lived at Kuwagayatsu in Kamakura. While detailed information about Myomitsu is not available, it appears that he and his wife frequently made offerings to the Daishonin at his small hermitage in the wilderness at Mount Minobu.

Around the time this letter was written, the number of converts was growing due to the propagation efforts being conducted under the leadership of Nikko Shonin, the Daishonin's closest disciple, in Suruga and other provinces. In Kamakura as well, lay believers had become more active in propagation. However, as the number of new believers increased, so did government repression. But Myomitsu and his wife, with other followers centering around Shijo Kingo, maintained their faith and persevered through numerous trials in their effort to uphold and spread the Daishonin's teachings.

In the beginning of this Gosho, Nichiren Daishonin stresses the Buddhist spirit of absolute reverence for life; and also the Buddhist practice of almsgiving, which sustains life. In response to Myomitsu Shonin's sincere offering of five kan of coins, he explains that by providing another with sustenance one obtains three kinds of benefit. To "sustain one's life," "bring color to one's face" and "gain strength" might ordinarily be thought of as the benefits enjoyed by the recipient of such offerings. We should note that here, however, the Daishonin interprets them, in accordance with the law of cause and effect, as the blessings that accrue to the donor. He also correlates these blessings with the three bodies or three properties of the Buddha.

Next, the Daishonin briefly recounts the history of Buddhism in Japan. He explains that in the seven hundred years since Buddhism's introduction to Japan, many sects have spread their teachings and encouraged their followers to chant the names of Amida, Kannon, Shakyamuni, Dainichi, or other Buddhas and bodhisattvas, but as yet no one has ever chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, which is the heart of the Buddha's lifetime of teachings. He gives two reasons for this: The first is that the time was not yet ripe, and the second is that Bodhisattva Jogyo, who was specifically entrusted by the Buddha with the mission of propagating the daimoku, had not yet appeared in the world. Now, however, the Latter Day of the Law has begun, and the time has arrived for Bodhisattva Jogyo to make his advent and for the daimoku to spread among the peoples of the world.

Although Nichiren Daishonin does not in this case explicitly identify himself with Bodhisattva Jogyo, the Gosho suggests, in that the Daishonin has begun to chant and propagate Nam-myoho-renge-kyo before anyone else, that he is in fact fulfilling the bodhisattva's mission. He explains that while the founders of the various sects have all read the Lotus Sutra in light of the sutras and treatises on which their own teachings are based, he alone reads it in a way that accords with the Buddha's spirit and intention as expressed in the sutra itself. The Daishonin then voices his conviction that the difficulties he has endured serve to verify the truth of the Lotus Sutra and also confirm that he is the true sage whose appearance in the Latter Day of the Law was prophesied in the sutra.

Although he alone chants the daimoku, says the Daishonin, this is like the single speck of dust that gives rise to Mount Sumeru or the single drop of water that grows to form the sea. Eventually, he declares, the entire nation will chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. He concludes by expressing his admiration for Myomitsu Shonin's sincerity and also stresses the importance of praising the True Law.

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