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An Outline of the Zokurui and Other Chapters


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter from Mount Minobu in the sixth month Of 1278 to his follower Lady Nichinyo. Lady Nichinyo is thought to have been either the wife of Emon-no-tayu Munenaka, the elder of the Ikegami brothers, or the daughter of Lady Matsuno, though the evidence is uncertain. As indicated by the passage, "It is no ordinary thing for a woman in the latter age to have resolved to make an offering to each of the twenty-eight chapters of this wonderful Lotus Sutra," the Daishonin wrote this letter in response to her sincere offerings. In it, he outlines each of the last seven chapters of the Lotus Sutra, from the twenty-second or Zokurui chapter through the twenty-eighth or Kambotsu chapter, and describes the benefit of each chapter. Hence the title of this Gosho.

First, the Daishonin discusses the Zokurui chapter, identifying the heart of this chapter as the ceremony of the transfer of the Lotus Sutra. In the preceding Jinriki (twenty-first) chapter, Shakyamuni Buddha transfers the Lotus Sutra specifically to Bodhisattva Jogyo and the other Bodhisattvas of the Earth. In the Zokurui chapter, he makes a general transfer of the Lotus Sutra to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, the other bodhisattvas led by Monju, the Buddhist gods including Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon and the Four Heavenly Kings, and the ten demon daughters, while stroking them all on the head three times.

Next the Daishonin summarizes the Yakuo (twenty-third), Myoon (twenty-fourth) and Kannon (twenty-fifth) chapters, describing the benefit and protection conferred by Bodhisattvas Yakuo, Myoon, and Kannon. These three chapters explain how these bodhisattvas, who have been entrusted with the Lotus Sutra in the preceding Zokurui chapter, will propagate the Buddha's teachings while manifesting their own powers to the fullest and thereby saving all people.

Nichiren Daishonin then turns to the twenty-sixth or Dharani chapter in which Bodhisattvas Yakuo and Yuze, the two heavenly kings Bishamon and Jikoku, and the ten demon daughters pledge to protect the votaries of the Lotus Sutra who will propagate the Buddha's teachings in an evil age to come. Here, the Daishonin clarifies the workings of two kinds of demons, good and evil. As he explains, good demons feed on enemies of the Lotus Sutra, while evil demons eat the sutra's votaries. He also interprets the epidemics then sweeping Japan in this light, and points out how terrible a thing it is to persecute the votary of the Lotus Sutra, who desires to lead all people to enlightenment.

The last portion of the Gosho addresses the twenty-seventh or Myoshogonno chapter and the final chapter, Kambotsu. The Myoshogonno chapter tells how Lady Jotoku led her husband, King Myoshogon, to take faith in the True Law. Because Lady Nichinyo and her husband were both his followers, the Daishonin emphasizes how great are the benefits that a husband and wife can receive by devoting themselves together to faith. The Kambotsu chapter describes the protection of Bodhisattva

Fugen, who vowed to safeguard the Lotus Sutra and its votary after the Buddha's death.

After having outlined the last seven chapters of the sutra, from the Zokurui through the Kambotsu, Nichiren Daishonin praises Lady Nichinyo's faith in making an offering to each of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. He declares that the Ceremony in the Air, which begins in the middle of the Hoto (eleventh) chapter, is to be found in Lady Nichinyo's heart. The Daishonin depicted this Ceremony in the Air when he inscribed the Gohonzon. This passage corresponds to one in "The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon," written to Lady Nichinyo a year earlier, which states, "Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 213).

In conclusion, the Daishonin praises Lady Nichinyo as someone who, though living in turbulent times in a country whose leaders oppose the Lotus Sutra, has nonetheless preserved the heritage of the sutra and will receive immeasurably great benefit.

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