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Letter to Niike


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter in February 1280 to Niike Saemon-no-jo, a samurai of the Kamakura regime. Niike was so called because he lived in an area by the same name. He and his wife maintained their faith even when all the Daishonin's followers were subject to harsh persecutions.

In this Gosho, the Daishonin teaches us from many angles what faith is and how it should be practiced. First he tells us what great fortune it is to have been born in the Latter Day of the Law with the mission to spread true Buddhism throughout the world. Yet it would be foolhardy to profess faith in the Lotus Sutra and still commit slander. The consequences are a low condition of life, no matter who makes the error. Using the example of the foolish bird Kankucho (Bird Suffering from Cold), the Daishonin admonishes his believers never to lapse into negligence or be tempted by fame or fortune. They should analyze their lives from a deeper perspective and adhere to the wisdom of Buddhism.

After mentioning the deplorable state of the country and the degradation of Buddhist priests, he portrays the purpose of the Lotus Sutra by comparing a common mortal to an egg. Enlightenment exists as a potential within human life, like the fluids in an egg that evolve into a bird. Lastly, he says that the key to enlightenment is faith in the Gohonzon.

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