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Clear Sake Gosho


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu on the thirteenth day of the first month in 1281, the year before his death, to Lady Nanjo, the widowed mother of Nanjo Tokimitsu, who was also known as Ueno-ama Gozen.

In the opening passage, Nichiren Daishonin thanks Lady Nanjo for the many gifts she had sent him as New Year's offerings. The title of this letter, "Clear Sake Gosho," is taken from the first item on the list of Lady Nanjo's offerings. Under the old lunar calendar, New Year's Day fell somewhere between January 21 and February 19 and was celebrated as the start of spring.

This was the first New Year's Day since the death of Nanjo Shichiro Goro, Lady Nanjo's youngest child, who had died about four months earlier at the age of sixteen. The Daishonin sensed that, despite her outward expressions of good cheer, the joy of the new season would still be overshadowed by her grief. Citing the passage of the Shinjikan Sutra (Sutra of the Contemplation on the Ground of the Mind) that speaks of children as a treasure, he expresses his profound sympathy for her loss, a loss made sadder still by its contrast with the emergence of new life at the beginning of spring.

"And yet," he says, "there is a way to meet him readily. With Shakyamuni Buddha as your guide, you can go to meet him in the pure land of Eagle Peak." In this way, the Daishonin explains that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the eternal Mystic Law, transcends birth and death. He encourages Lady Nanjo to strengthen her faith and manifest the state of Buddhahood, so that she can quickly be reunited with her son.

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