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The Three Kinds of Treasure


This letter is dated September 11, 1277, and was addressed to Shijo Kingo in Kamakura. It is called "The Three Kinds of Treasure" because the Daishonin refers to the treasures in a storehouse, the treasures of the body and the treasures of the heart, and declares the treasures of the heart to be the most valuable. It is also sometimes called "The Story of Emperor Sushun," because in this letter the Daishonin relates the story of an emperor by that name who brought ruin upon himself because of his hot temper.

Around 1274, Shijo Kingo began trying to convert his lord to the Daishonin's Buddhism. Lord Ema did not take kindly to these efforts, and, prompted by false accusations from Kingo's colleagues, reduced the believer's landholdings. The situation worsened in June of that year when Kingo attended a debate between Sammi-bo Nichigyo, a disciple of the Daishonin, and Ryuzo-bo, a follower of the Tendai sect. Kingo's colleagues again slandered him to Lord Ema, claiming he had attempted to disrupt the debate and embarrass Ryuzo-bo.

The Daishonin wrote Shijo Kingo several letters and even drafted a petition to Lord Ema on Kingo's behalf. In these letters, the Daishonin offered much practical advice as well as guidance in faith. He told Kingo that he should carry out his service to his lord with the same dedication that he showed toward Buddhist practice. Later that year, Lord Ema fell ill, and Shijo Kingo used his medical skills to cure him. In 1278, the grateful lord restored and later actually increased Kingo's estate. Shijo Kingo had remained steadfast in his faith throughout the ordeal.

At the beginning of this letter, Nichiren Daishonin tells Shijo Kingo that he should remember his debt of gratitude to his lord, and stresses the Buddhist teaching that fundamental changes within oneself inevitably result in changes in the environment. He also advises Kingo to make an effort to control his temper and not to be swayed by his emotions.

Next, the Daishonin encourages Shijo Kingo warmly by saying, "If you and I should fall into hell together, we would find Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra there." When the Daishonin was about to be executed at Tatsunokuchi, Shijo Kingo vowed to die by his side. Now Kingo was undergoing a severe ordeal and the Daishonin was exerting all his powers to protect him. This spirit to stand by one-another is fundamental to Buddhism. The Daishonin then says that since Kingo was fortunate enough to be born human and encounter the True Law, he should accumulate "the treasures of the heart" and win the respect of others. Finally, by citing the story of Emperor Sushun and other examples of sages such as Confucius, the Daishonin teaches Kingo that he, as a practitioner of true Buddhism, should conduct his daily life admirably and be considerate of others.

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