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No Safety in the Threefold World


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter from snowbound Minobu on the thirteenth day of the second month of 1278. It was addressed to Matsuno Rokuro Zaemon Nyudo, a follower who lived in the village of Matsuno in Ikara District of Suruga Province.

Although it is not clear just when Matsuno, took faith in the Daishonin's teachings, his daughter was married to Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro, and it is thought that he was converted to the Daishonin's teachings through this connection with the Nanjo family. Another possibility is that he was converted by Nikka Shonin. Matsuno's grandson Nanjo Tokimitsu was one of the Daishonin's most devoted followers, and his second son, Nichiji, was later designated as one of the six senior disciples. The date of Matsuno's birth is not known, but he is thought to have passed away in 1278, the year in which this letter was written.

Tonsured as a lay priest, Matsuno apparently was diligent in his practice. From the several letters addressed to him, the first of which was written in the second month of 1276, it is clear that he sent frequent gifts to the Daishonin. In these letters, the Daishonin often touched on the subjects of death, the pure land of Eagle Peak and enlightenment. This indicates that Matsuno was probably advanced in years, and reflects the Daishonin's desire to refute any attachment Matsuno may have had to the Nembutsu doctrine of rebirth in a Pure Land, a concept that was prevalent in society at the time.

In this letter, the Daishonin first stresses the transience of life and the futility of pursuing only material wealth. Next he graphically describes the famine and disease that plagued Japan at that time, citing the country's failure to heed his warnings and its persecution of him as the reasons for these sufferings. fie notes that the persecutions to which he has been subjected accord exactly with the predictions of the Lotus Sutra.

Therefore, he asserts, there can be no doubt that he will attain Buddhahood, a statement that may be read as a humble expression of his confidence that he is already enlightened, that he is in fact, the Buddha who appears in the Latter Day of the Law to 'propagate the essence of the Lotus Sutra' - the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, for the sake of all humankind.

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