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The Teaching for the Latter Day


This Gosho, dated April 1, 1278, was written to Nanjo Tokimitsu, acknowledging receipt of his offerings and the news of the death of Ishikawa no Hyoe Nyudo's daughter, a devout follower of Nichiren Daishonin. Ishikawa Nyudo was the steward of Omosu in Fuji District in Suruga Province. His son later donated the land for the Omosu Seminary to Nikko Shonin, the second high priest of Nichiren Shoshu. His wife was Nanjo Tokimitsu's elder sister, and he is thought to have been converted to the Daishonin's teachings through this relationship.

Beginning in 1278, a series of threats and acts of violence were directed against the Daishonin's followers in Atsuhara Village of Fuji District over a period of three years. In September Of 1279, twenty farmers, all believers, were arrested on false ,charges of stealing rice from fields belonging to Ryusen-ji, a Tendai temple in the area. Imprisoned, not one of them yielded to threats from the authorities but instead declared their readiness to give their lives in order to protect the Law. Seeing that a number of his followers were now steadfast in faith, Nichiren Daishonin realized that he could at last fulfill the purpose for which he had made his advent in the world. On worship, to enable all the people of the Latter Day of the Law to attain Buddhahood.

Nanjo Tokimitsu, the steward of Ueno in Suruga Province, though only about twenty at this time, was already one of the Daishonin's active and dedicated followers. During the Atsuhara Persecution, he played a crucial role in protecting other believers and sheltering some in his own home even at the risk of losing his position as steward. By 1278, the Daishonin had been living for four years in retirement in the recesses of Mount Minobu. In other letters sent from Minobu to Tokimitsu, he describes the privations of his life there and voices deep appreciation for Tokimitsu's frequent offerings.

In this Gosho the Daishonin praises the daughter of Ishikawa no Hyoe Nyudo, who had become a nun, for maintaining her faith correctly despite her failing health and continuing to chant the daimoku until her last moment. He declares that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo which she embraced is the core of the Lotus Sutra and the only valid teaching in the Latter Day of the Law. Hence the title of this Gosho.

In this letter, Nichiren Daishonin proclaims that the Lotus Sutra is supreme among all Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings. He explains that the people of Japan are suffering many disasters and calamities because of their slanderous acts against the sutra. From the standpoint of his Buddhism, he reveals that "Now in the Latter Day of the Law, neither the Lotus Sutra nor the other sutras lead to enlightenment." In the Latter Day beginning two thousand years after the Buddha's death, the people by definition have never accumulated good fortune through Buddhist practice in the past. Therefore, they can manifest Buddhahood only by receiving the fundamental seed of enlightenment, that is, by embracing the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

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