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Reply to Lord Matsuno
- Matsuno-dono Gohenji -


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Mount Minobu to Lord Matsuno Rokuro Zaemon, one of his followers, who lived in Matsuno Village in Ihara District, Suruga Province. Lord Matsuno had apparently been introduced to the Daishonin's teaching by his daughter, the wife of Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro and the mother of Nanjo Tokimitsu. His second son, Nichiji, later became one of the six senior priests. Lord Matsuno often sent offerings to Nichiren Daishonin and visited him at Minobu from time to time. In this letter, the Daishonin expresses his appreciation for Matsuno's offerings and encourages him to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with earnest faith throughout his life; in this way, he will be able to attain the state of Buddhahood at the moment of his death.

In the Daishonin's teaching, the moment of death marks both the final reckoning of accounts for this lifetime and the point of departure for the next; it is a moment of great significance. By establishing firm faith in this lifetime, one can awaken to the eternity of life and realize the state of happiness that transcends both birth and death; one can face death with equanimity.

Nichiren Daishonin taught that faith in the Gohonzon enables one to attain Buddhahood in the present world. However, because of the prevalence of teachings emphasizing salvation in the next world, such as those of Honen's Pure Land sect, and because Lord Matsuno was concerned about his next life (he in fact died the following year), the Daishonin here emphasizes the blessings that one who chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will experience at life's final moment. The wording of the major part of this Gosho is very similar to that of the last paragraph of "The Fourteen Slanders" (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 3, pp. 205-17), another letter written to Matsuno the year before.

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