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The Treasure of a Filial Child


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this Gosho in the summer of 1280 to his follower Sennichi-ama on Sado Island. Sennichi-ama's husband, Abutsu-bo Nittoku, had passed away the year before, and this letter conveys the Daishonin's profound sympathy for her loss, as well as his conviction in the unfathomable blessings of the Lotus Sutra.

Originally an ardent Nembutsu believer, the late Abutsu-bo had been among the Daishonin's first converts on Sado Island. Tradition has it that soon after the Daishonin's exile there, he went to the Daishonin's dwelling at Tsukahara to challenge him in debate, but was instead converted to the Daishonin's teachings together with his wife, Sennichi-ama. The elderly couple provided food and supplies as well as protection for the Daishonin while he was on Sado, risking the disapproval of the authorities.

After the Daishonin had been pardoned from his sentence of exile and had retired to Mount Minobu, Abutsu-bo, despite his advanced age, made three journeys to see him. He is said to have died on the twenty-first day of the third month, 1279, at the age of ninety-one. Later that year, his son Tokuro Moritsuna made a pilgrimage to Minobu with Abutsu-bo's ashes and laid them to rest there. Sennichi-ama and Tokuro continued to uphold the Daishonin's teachings on Sado.

Sennichi-ama was concerned about the privations of the Daishonin's life at Minobu, and the following year sent Tokuro to take various offerings to him. Tokuro arrived at Minobu on the first day of the seventh month, 1280. On this occasion, Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter to Sennichi-ama in acknowledgment of her sincere offerings, entrusting it to her son on his return journey.

In the beginning portion, the Daishonin declares that to read even one phrase of the Lotus Sutra is equivalent to reading all the teachings expounded by Shakyamuni Buddha during his lifetime. He assures Sennichi-ama that all persons who embrace the Lotus Sutra will, without a single exception, attain Buddhahood, and therefore, in the light of the "bright mirror of the Lotus Sutra," there can be no doubt that her late husband Abutsu-bo has attained Buddhahood as well.

In the remaining portion of the Gosho, the Daishonin encourages Sennichi-ama in the face of her loneliness following her husband's death, and also praises the filial devotion of her son Tokuro. Especially touched by Tokuro's two visits to Minobu for his father's sake, the Daishonin concludes his letter by exclaiming, "Surely, there is no treasure greater than a child, no treasure greater than a child!"

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