Reply to Lord Nanjo - The Benefits of Offerings in Nichiren Buddhism

I have received the taros, river laver and wasabi – all that each of you have sent with sincerity comparable to that of a bird warming its egg or a cow licking its calf. Clothes over one’s body, and food sustains one’s life. Hence providing so well for a person who reads the Lotus Sutra in the mountains is to provide for Shakyamuni Buddha and sustain the life of the Lotus Sutra (1), is it not?

(Passage from “Reply to Lord Nanjo”, Gosho Zenshu, p1,530)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter on the 18th day of the third month of 1276 at Minobu at the age of 55. It was addressed to Nanjo Tokimitsu.

This letter was written in response to offerings from Nanjo Tokimitsu, Tachibana Saburo and Taro Taifu. Not much is known about Tachibana and Taro except that they were followers of the Daishonin who lived near Tokimitsu.

Expressing his appreciation for the offerings from Nanjo Tokimitsu and other disciples, Nichiren Daishonin said in this passage that the three of them are like “a bird warming its egg or a cow licking its calf”. The Daishonin compared the sincere offerings from these followers to the act of parents nurturing their offspring to emphasize the importance of the spirit with which offerings are made.

The year 1276 when this letter was written, was the third year of the Daishonin’s residence at Mount Minobu. The Daishonin penned many letters of encouragement from there and exerted his utmost in training disciples who gathered from around the country by delivering lectures on the Lotus Sutra and Buddhist teachings.

In this sense, Nichiren Daishonin was waging a tremendous struggle to establish the great Buddhism of the Three Great Secret Laws for the sake of the people in the future.

Nanjo Tokimitsu wholeheartedly supported the Daishonin in his struggle for kosen-rufu and in ensuring the eternal posterity of the Law. Tokimitsu’s offerings sustained the Daishonin’s life and therefore they served as a protection for the Daishonin and become the driving force that realized the propagation of the Mystic Law into the future.

For this reason, the Daishonin stated, “Providing so well for a person who reads the Lotus Sutra in the mountains is to provide for Shakyamuni Buddha and sustain the life of the Lotus Sutra, is it not?” In other words, the sincere offerings made to the Daishonin so that he could continue his struggle for kosen-rufu are offerings made to the Mystic Law.

On the other hand, for Tokimitsu, it was a great joy to be able to contribute his part to the Daishonin. It was with such joy that he made his offerings.

Offerings help to protect Buddhism and serve as a driving force to advance kosen-rufu. As a result, when offerings are made out of wholeheartedly sincerity for the Mystic Law, they accrue tremendous benefits to the person making the offerings. Such good fortune will continue to adorn one’s life eternally over the three existences of life.

In fact, it is accounted that Tokimitsu enjoyed a long, happy and prosperous life of fulfillment and victory. His family continued to prosper after his death. The wellspring of such good fortune can be traced to Tokimitsu’s earnest struggle to protect Nichiren Daishonin, the original Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, through his sincere offerings.

Buddhism teaches the Law of Cause and Effect. When one dedicates oneself for the sake of the Law and the people, he or she will enjoy great protection in all aspects.

Let us learn from the spirit of Tokimitsu and devote our lives to our movement for kosen-rufu.

1. Sustain the life of the Lotus Sutra – To ensure that the teachings of the Lotus Sutra will not be lost. To ensure the posterity of the Law.