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The Votary of the Lotus Sutra Will Meet Persecution


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter to all his priest disciples and lay followers, including Toki Jonin, Shijo Kingo, Kawanobe and Yamato Ajari, on the fourteenth day of the first month in the eleventh year of Bun'ei (1274). Though a month later the government would issue him a pardon, at this time the Daishonin was still being treated as a criminal, a fact evident from the orders issued by Hojo Nobutoki quoted in this Gosho. (These are also mentioned in the Gosho "On the Buddha's Behavior."  The hostility of the authorities, added to such difficulties as cold and hunger, made the Daishonin's survival on Sado Island precarious indeed.

In this letter, he urges his disciples and followers to hold fast to their faith, even at the risk of their lives. He also declares that he is the true votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. The Lotus Sutra reads, "Since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing!" The Daishonin points out that only he, in accordance with the Buddha's prediction, has undergone greater persecutions for the sutra's sake than those met by Shakyamuni Buddha or the Great Teachers T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo.

The postscript to this letter, which actually appears at its beginning, contains an early reference to the Three Great Secret Laws -- the object of worship, the high sanctuary and the invocation or daimoku of the essential teaching -- as the doctrine which neither Shakyamuni nor his successors in India, China and Japan ever revealed. These three form the core of the Daishonin's Buddhism, and he seems to have had them in mind for some time. The Gosho "Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment," dated the fifth month of 1273, speaks of "the three important matters contained in the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching" (ibid. vol. 2, p.228), and the "Letter to Gijo-bo," dated the same month, refers to "the Three Great Secret Laws, the embodiment of ichinen sanzen in the Juryo chapter" (ibid., p. 236). "The True Object of Worship," completed in the fourth month of 1273, specifies the daimoku and the object of worship, stating, ". . . they did not put Nam-myoho-renge-kyo into actual practice or establish the true object of worship" (ibid., vol. I, p. 79); another Gosho, "The True Entity of Life," dated the following month, also refers to the daimoku and the object of worship: "Nichiren was nevertheless the first to spread the Mystic Law entrusted to Bodhisattva Jogyo for propagation in the Latter Day of the Law. Nichiren was also the first to inscribe the Gohonzon..." (ibid., p. 91). However, the Daishonin had never specifically mentioned the high sanctuary until he wrote this letter. In this sense, this Gosho is especially important because it is the first extant writing to enumerate all of the Three Great Secret Laws.

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