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On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings
- Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho -


In May, 1273, still suffering the severe privations of exile on Sado Island, Nichiren Daishonin wrote to his disciples and followers. The title, "On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings," means to practice in exact accordance with the Buddha's teachings. There are two meanings to this. One is that Nichiren Daishonin lived in accord with Shakyamuni's teachings and fulfilled all the prophecies of the Lotus Sutra. Another is that the Daishonin's disciples in the Latter Day of the Law are to fulfill his teachings. For the Daishonin, "teachings" meant the Lotus Sutra expounded by Shakyamuni, and to modern man it is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws and the teachings compiled in the Gosho.

Nichikan Shonin, the twenty-sixth High Priest of Nichiren Shoshu, stated that the title indicates the Three Great Secret Laws -- the object of worship, the invocation, and the high sanctuary of true Buddhism. Briefly, the "Buddha's teachings" corresponds to the Dai-Gohonzon, and "practice," to the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, both of which require the place -- the high sanctuary (presently, the Sho-Hondo) -- in which the Dai-Gohonzon is enshrined and worshipped.

In this Gosho the question is raised: Why must believers experience hardships when the sutra promises a peaceful life in this world? Nichiren Daishonin points out that votaries of the Lotus Sutra who practice exactly according to the Buddha's teachings are bound to face the "three powerful enemies." In other words, one only proves himself to be a true votary by facing and overcoming great obstacles for the sake of the Buddha's teachings. The most important thing is to follow and uphold the spirit of those teachings by mercifully transmitting true Buddhism to other people. Real happiness is not the absence of all problems, but the absolute confidence that any problem can be solved.

One month before writing this Gosho, the Daishonin had completed "The True Object of Worship" in which he explained the Dai-Gohonzon. He revealed that enlightenment derives from having firm faith in the Gohonzon and stressed the importance of practice for one's own sake. "On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings" was subsequently written to clarify the importance of the altruistic practice for others.

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