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The Wealthy Man Sudatta


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this Gosho at Mount Minobu in the winter of 1280 to Nanjo Tokimitsu, the young steward of Ueno Village in Suruga Province who had been his disciple since childhood. From the time that the Daishonin came to live at Minobu, Tokimitsu was especially close to Nikko Shonin and supported his propagation efforts in the Fuji area. During the Atsuhara Persecution, he used his influence to protect other believers, sheltering some in his own home and negotiating for the release of those who had been imprisoned. Nichiren Daishonin honored him for his courage by calling him "Ueno the Wise," though the young man was barely twenty at the time.

This Gosho was written the year following the peak of the Atsuhara Persecution. At that time, the authorities in Kamakura, in retaliation for Tokimitsu's support of the Daishonin's followers, imposed heavy punitive taxes on his estate and demanded that he supply men for unpaid labor. Yet despite his own poverty, Tokimitsu's first concern was for Nichiren Daishonin, and he somehow managed to send him one kan of coins. Deeply touched, the Daishonin wrote him this letter in response. In the first part, he praises the spirit of offering as a cause leading to enlightenment and explains two kinds of almsgiving. In the first case, one gives another what that person needs most. In the second case, one gives another something essential to that person, although he himself may have only one of the item, and cannot sustain life without it. The spirit underlying such an act is that of willingness to offer one's own life, a fundamental posture of faith.

In the next section, citing the examples of King Konjiki and the merchant Sudatta, from whom the Gosho takes its name, the Daishonin reaffirms that the sincere spirit of dedication expressed in Tokimitsu's offering constitutes the direct path to Buddhahood and will bring forth unfathomable blessings.

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