The Offering of a Summer Robe
On May 25, 1275, Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu to Sajiki Nyobo, one of his followers, who lived in Kamakura. Sajiki Nyobo is said to have been the wife of Indo Saburo Zaemon Sukenobu, an elder brother of Byakuren Ajari Nissho, one of the Daishonin's six senior disciples. There is very little in the way of reliable data about her.
Around the end of spring, Sajiki Nyobo kindly made a robe for the Daishonin to wear in the summertime. At this time he was living in a hermitage in the wilderness of Mount Minobu, suffering many privations. In this letter, while expressing his gratitude for the robe, Nichiren Daishonin explains the significance and benefit of the offering, and praises Sajiki Nyobo's faith.
The opening paragraph reflects the society of feudal Japan, in which a woman had little independence and her fortunes were largely determined by her husband. Since Sajiki Nyobo's husband is a believer in true Buddhism, the Daishonin says, she has formed a connection with the Lotus Sutra and will be able to attain Buddhahood. What he praises, however, is her own self-motivated faith which prompted her to make and offer him a robe.
Next he explains two kinds of votaries of the Lotus Sutra: saints, such as those depicted in the sutras, and common mortals. Though the expression of their dedication may differ, the benefits they receive will be the same. We find a similar passage in the Gosho "The Gift of Rice," which state, "Therefore, saints consecrated themselves by offering their own bodies, whereas common mortals may consecrate themselves by the sincerity with which they give" (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. I, p. 268).
Finally the Daishonin explains that, since all Buddhas originate from the Lotus Sutra, Sajiki Nyobo's robe has in effect been offered to all of them, and her benefits will be correspondingly great.
Designed by Will Kallander