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"Thus I Heard"


This letter, dated November 28, 1277, was written at Mount Minobu in reply to Soya Kyoshin, who had sent Nichiren Daishonin a copy of the Lotus Sutra he had transcribed in small characters. The Daishonin was then fifty-six years old. This writing is sometimes called "Reply to Soya Nyudo," but is also referred to as the "Thus I Heard" Gosho because in it the Daishonin expands upon the meaning of the phrase nyoze gamon, "thus I heard."

Soya Kyoshin lived in Soya Village in Shimosa Province. An officer of the higher court of the Kamakura shogunate, he converted to the Daishonin's teachings around 1260 and became one of the leading believers in the area, together with Toki Jonin and Ota Jomyo. Later he took the tonsure and was given the Buddhist name Horen Nichirai by the Daishonin. He is also called Soya Nyudo, nyudo meaning one who is tonsured like a monk but continues to live in his own residence. He received seven writings (extant) from the Daishonin in which doctrines are outlined; their contents would seem to indicate that he was quite well educated.

In the opening paragraph of this letter, Nichiren Daishonin acknowledges offerings from Soya Kyoshin. Then he discusses the meaning of the phrase "thus I heard," the opening words of many Buddhist sutras. ("I" indicates the person who recites what the Buddha taught so that it could be compiled in sutra form.) He explains that "thus" of "thus I heard" refers to the essence of each sutra, which is set forth in its title. He stresses that "thus" of the Lotus Sutra means the teaching of supreme enlightenment which surpasses all other teachings.

The Daishonin states that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate teaching which has never before been propagated. Far more than a mere name, it is the heart and entity of the Lotus Sutra and encompasses all other teachings. Those who embrace it can attain supreme enlightenment and are most respectworthy.

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