June 6, 2022

Writings of Nichiren Shonin Volume 4, New Second Edition

By Rev. Shinkyo Warner

On June 5th we released the second edition of volume four of the Writings of Nichiren Shonin (WONS). The volume is titled “Faith and Practice” to match that of olume four of the Nichiren Shonin Zenshu, Complete Writings of Nichiren Shonin, from which it is taken. While this volume does not include any of Nichiren Shonin’s major writings, it does contain several of his more well-known writings such as the Emperor Sushun Letter, Sushun Tenno Gosho (ST 262), the Treatise on All Phenomena as Ultimate Reality, Shoho-jisso Sho (ST 122), and a detailed explanation of why we do eye-opening ceremonies, Opening the Eyes of Buddhist Images, Wooden Statues or Portraits, Mokue Nizo Kaigen no Koto (ST 138).

This volume also contains several letters either directly addressed to women, or that discuss how the Lotus Sutra is the only sutra to assure the attainment of Buddhahood by women. One of these, the Treatise on Prayers, Kito-Sho (ST 113) is known to have been addressed to Sairen-bo, a Tendai monk. However in the introductions to the four documents for which the addressee is not known, each of the translators brings out the assumption that because they discuss the attainment of Buddhahood by women, they must have been addressed to women.

I question this assumption. As Nichiren writes in the Treatise on Subhakarasimha, Zemmui-sho (ST 46), “Truthfully speaking, even men cannot become Buddhas through those other sutras.” I could argue that Nichiren believed that it was important for men to realize that women did not need to become men to become Buddhas, that we all carry the potential for enlightenment within us. He could have addressed letters about women becoming Buddhas both to women and also to men. In fact, we have an example of this in the Treatise on Prayers addressed to Sairen-bo.

We are continuing work on the remaining volumes in the series, and hope to have them available by the end of this year. We hope that this and other volumes in the series will help all of us who practice the Wonderful Dharma learn more about Nichiren’s wisdom.

Writings of Nichiren Shonin Volume 4 2nd Edition is available on Amazon