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Writings of Nichiren Shonin Volume 7 2nd Edition

Writings of Nichiren Shonin Volume 7 2nd Edition

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This volume, the 15th project of the English Translation Committee of the Nichiren Shū Overseas Propagation Promotion Association (NOPPA), concludes the English translation project of Nichiren Shōnin's writings sponsored by NOPPA. It constitutes all 86 writings of Buddhist reformer Nichiren Shōnin (1222-1282) included in the Nichiren Shonin Zenshū, Complete Writings of Nichiren Shonin, Volume 7: Followers II, compiled by Genshō Imanari, Professor Emeritus of Risshō University, and published in Tokyo in 1992.

The Nichiren Shonin Zenshu is a modern Japanese version of Nichiren's original writings, translated and edited with annotations by modern scholars of Nichiren Buddhism. Despite its all-inclusive title, the Zenshu is highly selective in that it takes into account only writings considered bibliographically authentic: attested to by original manuscripts. Among such texts, those included in the Showa Teihon Nichiren Shonin Ibun, Writings of Nichiren Shonin Standardized in the Showa Period, complied by the Rissho Daigaku Nichiren Kyogaku Kenkyu-jo, Center for the Study of Nichiren Buddhism, published by Minobusan Kuonji Temple between 1951 and 1959, are considered the most authoritative, and they provide the basic texts for this volume.

This is the second of the two "Followers" volumes and presents a vivid picture of life at Mt. Minobu during the last years of Nichiren's life. Those who visit Mt. Minobu today are used to arriving in comfort, seated in cars and buses, staying in welcoming accommodations with delicious food and drink, and visiting beautiful temples and shrines to pay our respects to the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Shonin. In the days Nichiren lived there, the journey to Mt. Minobu was difficult. In good weather roads were steep, narrow and filled with hazards. In winter they were even worse.

It was impossible for the community gathered around Nichiren to support itself, so they were entirely dependent on donations brought to Mt. Minobu. While Nichiren was always grateful for any donations he received, his thank-you letters describe how tenuous their survival was in that harsh environment.

In one of his replies to Lord Ueno, Nichiren told Ueno how "The two meter deep snow covered mountain path, which normally has no traffic, makes it impossible for anyone to visit me here." His "clothing [was] not thick enough to protect me against the freezing weather," his food supply was gone and he felt like he was at the end of his life. When he received Ueno's donation he "had just made up my mind to die of hunger once and for all," but Ueno's gift "was like adding oil to a light that was about to burn out."

Had it not been for those who supported Nichiren's life on Minobu we would not have our practice of the Wonderful Dharma today. We should be inspired by these letters to continue to support Mt. Minobu and everywhere else where people work to spread Nichiren's faith and insight throughout the world.

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