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Reply to Nichigon-ama


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu in 1280, when he was fifty-nine, in reply to his follower Nichigon-ama, who had sent him a written prayer along with offerings. Nichigon-ama is thought to have been a relative of Takahashi Nyudo, a leading figure among the lay believers in Fuji District of Suruga Province. She is also thought to have been the mother of Nichigen, originally a priest of Jisso-ji temple of the Tendai sect in Suruga, who later converted to the Daishonin's teachings. However, little detailed information about her is available.

Though the content of her petition is not known, this letter suggests that it probably concerned something she was most anxious about. The Daishonin instructs her in the basic attitude of faith, saying, "Whether or not your prayer is answered depends upon your faith; [if it is not,] the fault in no way lies with me, Nichiren." Nichigon-ama may have thought that simply by asking the Daishonin to pray for her, her wishes would automatically be fulfilled. The Daishonin, however, teaches that this attitude of dependence on another represents a misunderstanding about the nature of faith; it is one's own faith in the Gohonzon that determines whether or not one's prayers will be fulfilled. He concludes by explaining that one's individual faith and practice will bring about positive change in one's circumstances.

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