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The Supremacy of the Law


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter from Mount Minobu on August 4, 1275, when he was fifty-four. It is addressed to Oto, the daughter of Nichimyo, an earnest believer living in Kamakura. judging from its contents, however, and from Oto's young age, it was most likely intended for Nichimy6 herself

In March 1274, Nichiren Daishonin had returned to Kamakura from his exile on Sado Island and in April had once again remonstrated with Hei no Saemon, deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs, stating that he feared a foreign invasion within the year. In October, six months later, the Mongols launched an attack which aroused great alarm throughout Japan. Though they failed in this first invasion attempt, the Mongols continued to send envoys demanding that Japan submit to their sovereignty.

Little is known about Nichimyo, other than the fact that she once traveled all the way from Kamakura with her infant daughter Oto to visit Nichiren Daishonin when he was in exile on Sado Island. In view of the poor transportation and widespread social disorder of the day, her long journey was extraordinary. The Daishonin was so moved that he gave her the Buddhist name Nichimyo Shonin (Saint Nichimyo). She continued her sincere practice under the guidance of Nikko Shonin long after Nichiren Daishonin passed away.

In the beginning of this letter, the Daishonin cites the example of the introduction of Buddhism to China to illustrate the superiority of Buddhism over other teachings, and proclaims that the Lotus Sutra is the supreme Buddhist sutra. He then declares that the votary of the Lotus Sutra far surpasses other Buddhist scholars and teachers, especially the Shingon priests. He praises Nichimyo for the faith which impelled her to visit him on Sado and at Minobu, and encourages her to strengthen her faith even more, so that the Buddhist gods will protect her and her daughter.

He then quotes a passage from Chang-an's commentary on the Nirvana Sutra which reads, "The body is insignificant while the Law is supreme. One should give his life in order to propagate the Law," and teaches that one can gain boundless benefit by devoting one's life to the spread of the Mystic Law.

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