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The Universal Salty Taste
- Doitsu Kanmi Gosho -


The date and recipient of this Gosho are unknown, and the reasons for writing are also uncertain, due to lack of reliable documentation. It would seem that Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at a time when he or his disciples were undergoing persecution, as is indicated by the statements, "A votary of the Lotus Sutra who is subjected to imprisonment" or "one who imprisons a votary of the Lotus Sutra..." There are several views concerning the year of its writing. One is that it was written in 1261 when the Daishonin was exiled to Izu; another, in 1271 when he was exiled to Sado Island; and a third, in 1279 when persecutions befell his followers at Atsuhara. Of these, 1261 seems the most probable.

This Gosho consists of three sections. In the opening section, Nichiren Daishonin says that there are six kinds of flavors, of which salt is the most important. Without salt, any food will be flavorless. In employing this metaphor, the Daishonin indicates that all the various sutras assume their true significance only when based on the truth revealed in the Lotus Sutra. In the second section, he cites the eight mystic qualities of the ocean enumerated in the Nirvana Sutra, in order to illustrate the splendid characteristics of the Lotus Sutra.

In the final section, the Daishonin compares the salt in a jar or a tub of pickled vines to a follower of the Lotus Sutra, and the salt of the ocean, to Shakyamuni Buddha. The salt in a jar or a tub was originally a part of the ocean. Therefore, the salty water in a jar or tub ebbs and flows exactly as the ocean does, and, by analogy, to imprison a votary of the Lotus Sutra is the same as imprisoning Shakyamuni Buddha himself. The Daishonin proclaims that those who persecute the votaries of the Lotus Sutra are destined to undergo punishment at the hands of the heavenly gods. In contrast, those who embrace the Mystic Law can ultimately attain Buddhahood as common mortals, even though they are faced with sufferings.

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