Connecting Directly to Nichiren Daishonin


Now at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, I, Nichiren, am the first to embark on propagating, throughout Jambudvipa, the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, which are the heart of the Lotus Sutra and the eye of all Buddhas. During the 2,200 or more years since the Buddha’s passing, not even Mahakashyapa, Ananda, Ashvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Nan-yueh, T’ien-t’ai, Miao-lo, or Dengyo has propagated them. My disciples, form your ranks and follow me, and surpass even Mahakashyapa or Ananda, T’ien-t’ai or Dengyo!

(Passage from “The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p764-5)

Background
This letter was written in 1276 and addressed to the lay nun Konichi, a widow who lives in Awa, the Daishonin’s native province. Lay nun Konichi is also known as Sage Konichi. Her son, Yashiro, had earlier converted to the Daishonin’s teachings, and through him she and her husband became Daishonin’s disciples.

Some time after her conversion, she lost both her beloved son and her husband. But through the Daishonin’s continuous and wholehearted encouragement, she overcame her deep sorrow and remained a sincere believer in the Daishonin’s Buddhism to the end of her life.

This Gosho, The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra, is an autobiographical account covering the events of an important period in Nichiren Daishonin’s life – from the arrival of a delegate from the Mongol empire in 1268 shortly before the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, through his two-and-a-half year exile on Sado Island, to his eventual retirement to Mount Monobu. In this Gosho, the Daishonin penned his struggles and persecutions over this period of nine years in great detail.

Explanation
In this passage, Nichiren Daishonin expressed that the teachings to be spread throughout the entire world (Jambudvipa) in the Latter Day of the Law is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the heart of the Lotus Sutra. The Daishonin revealed that this Mystic Law is a great teaching which has never been propagated before – not even by the great teachers of the Former and Middle Days of the Law.

Mahakashyapa and Anada were direct disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha. They were considered the Buddhist teachers who had correctly propagated Hinayana teachings for the first 500 years of the Former Day of the Law. Ashvaghosha and Nagarjuna were active as teachers who spread the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism in the second half of the Former Day of the Law in India.

Nan-yueh, T’ien-t’ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo are Buddhist teachers who appeared in China and Japan in the Middle Day of the Law and propagated the theoretical teachings of the Lotus Sutra. All these individuals propagated the appropriate teachings in accord with the age and time in which they appeared but did not spread Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the essential teaching hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the fundamental source of Buddhahood that has led and leads all Buddhas to enlightenment. For this reason, the Daishonin referred to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the “eye of all Buddhas”. He also called it the “heart of the Lotus Sutra” because its teaching is found in the depths of the Lotus Sutra.

It was Nichiren Daishonin who first spread the fundamental teachings of the Mystic Law in the Latter Day of the Law, which the Buddhist teachers of the Former and Middle Days did not propagate. For this reason, the Daishonin is revered as the original Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.

The Daishonin opened the way for kosen-rufu in the current age of the Latter Day while enduring life-threatening persecutions. Based on the Buddhist principle of “oneness of mentor and disciple”, we must strive to develop and maintain this direct connection with Nichiren Daishonin and practice faith in exact accordance with the Daishonin’s teachings throughout our lives.

The Daishonin calls to us in this passage, “My disciples, form your ranks and follow me.” The Daishonin is teaching us that the quintessence of faith is to advance on the path of kosen-rufu opened by the Daishonin in the same mind and spirit as him.

The SGI has all along maintained faith that is directly connected to the Daishonin and advanced the movement of worldwide kosen-rufu in accord with the Daishonin’s decree. This basis of the SGI movement is the greatest proof of the validity of the organization.

While exerting ourselves in our practice of faith on the world stage of kosen-rufu, let us also strive to foster new capable leaders who can join us in “forming our ranks” in following the footsteps of the Daishonin. Based on the spirit of harmonious unity, let us together strive to open a new age for worldwide kosen-rufu.

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