teachers one will see Buddhas as numerous as Ganges sands.7 A commentary says, Originally one followed this Buddha and for the first time conceived the desire to seek the way. And by following this Buddha again, one will reach the stage where there is no retrogression.8 Another commentary says, In the beginning one followed this Buddha or bodhisattva and formed a bond with him, and so it will be through this Buddha or bodhisattva that one will attain ones goal.9 Above all, be sure to follow your original teacher so that you are able to attain Buddhahood. Shakyamuni Buddha is the original teacher for all people, and moreover, he is endowed with the virtues of sovereign and par
ent. Because I have expounded this teaching, I have been exiled and almost killed. As the saying goes, Good advice grates on the ear. But still I am not discouraged. The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field. If you deviate from these principles, not even I can save you in your next life.
With my deep respect,
The third day of the eighth month in the second year of Kenji (1276), cyclical sign hinoe-ne
This letter is addressed to Soya, a lay follower who lived in Soya Village in Shimosa Province. His full name and title were Soya Jiro Hyoe-no-jo Kyoshin, and he is thought to have been an officer of the high court of the Kamakura shogunate. He had converted to Nichiren Daishonins teachings around 1260 and became one of the leading believers in the area, together with Toki Jonin and Ota Jomyo.
In 1271, Soya became a lay priest and was given the Buddhist name Horen Nichirai by the Daishonin. Horen built two temples and lived at one of them until he died in 1291 at the age of sixtyeight.
In this letter, the Daishonin first quotes the Expedient Means chapter of the Lotus Sutra and states, The way to Buddhahood lies within the two elements of reality and wisdom. Reality indicates the ultimate truth that the Law permeates all phenomena in the universe. Wisdom, on the other hand, means the ability to perceive and un
derstand this truth. When this wisdom exists when the water of wisdom fills the riverbed of reality it is known as the fusion of reality and wisdom. This is enlightenment. In other words, one illuminates and manifests the Law in ones own life.
The Daishonin stresses that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the Law that unites both reality and wisdom; it is the seed of Buddhahood for all people in the Latter Day. This Law is to be propagated by Bodhisattva Superior Practices at the beginning of the Latter Day. The Daishonin states that he is the first one to embark on this great mission, by which he is really indicating that he is the original teacher who will lead all people to enlightenment.
Next, he points out that any teacher or disciple who ignores those who commit slander of the Law will fall into hell. This amounts to a compassionate warning about the responsibility believers have to protect the Buddhas teaching.