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Roots of Good Fortune


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu in the last month of 1281 to Kubo-no-ama, thanking her for the offerings that she had sent him. Little is known about Kubo-no-ama, a widow who lived with her daughter in Fuji District of Suruga Province. From the contents of the several Gosho addressed to her, she appears to have been a believer of pure faith who frequently sent offerings to the Daishonin. The original letter no longer exists, but a copy made by Nikko Shonin has been preserved.

In response to Kubo-no-ama's gifts, the Daishonin comments in this letter on the traditional practice of making offerings for the sake of Buddhism as a way of planting "good roots" or accumulating merit and good fortune. in the opening passage, he explains that the benefit gained from donations depends upon the time, the place and the person to whom they are offered. Moreover, one's sincerity in making the offerings and the worth of the person or teaching to which they are made are also vital. A large donation may appear admirable, but if it derives from wealth obtained by harming or exploiting others, it will never produce benefit, even though offered for the sake of Buddhism. Furthermore, even if one offers honestly obtained wealth with a pure heart, such donations will not produce merit if they are given to a teacher of erroneous doctrines. Kubo-no-ama's gifts, the Daishonin says, were offered not only with a pure heart but for the sake of the Lotus Sutra. Therefore only the Buddhas themselves can fathom the great merit she deserves.

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