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Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward


This letter is though to have been written to Shijo Kingo in the fourth month of the first year of Koan (1278), while the Daishonin was living at Mount Minobu. It suggests that Kingo's situation had begun to improve. In the tenth month of the same year his lands were increased. By following the Daishonin's advice, the samurai was able to regain the trust and favor of his lord, healing the rift that had divided them since 1274.

Since only a fragment of this Gosho remains, the content of the preceding portion is unknown. However, it appears here that Kingo's brothers had renounced their faith in the Lotus Sutra and also abandoned their domestic obligations; and the Daishonin urges Kingo to provide for their wives. Such conduct is not only honorable and proper in itself but will win the respect of others, he says.

Next, quoting a well-known saying, "Unseen virtue brings about visible reward," the Daishonin declares that the benefits Kingo has received are the effect of his steadfast faith, and that the supreme benefit of enlightenment is also forthcoming. He concludes by encouraging Shijo Kingo to overlook the shortcomings of other believers and maintain good relations with them.

The original manuscript of this Gosho is thought to have been written on twelve sheets of paper, the first nine of which have been lost. Of the remaining three, the tenth page was preserved at one temple and the eleventh and twelfth at another. Only pages eleven and twelve were included in the Japanese Gosho Zenshu under the title "Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward." Page ten was at first regarded as an independent fragment, called the "Fuko Gosho" (On Disloyalty), and was not included in the Gosho Zenshu. However more recent scholarship indicates that page ten is in fact the portion which immediately precedes "Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward." All three pages have been translated here.

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