December 24, 2022

Writings of Nichiren Shonin Volume 6: Followers 1 Second Edition

By Rev. Shinkyo Warner

As part of the Nichiren Overseas Propagation and Promotion Association (NOPPA) project to revise the Writings of Nichiren Shonin (WONS), Volume 6 was released in December of 2022. It is now available on Amazon.

This is the first of the two “Followers” volumes and contains 56 writings to many people to whom we have already been introduced in the previous five volumes. These include Toki Jonin, Shijo Kingo, and the Ikegami brothers: Munenaga and Munenaka.

Toki Jonin was one of Nichiren Shonin’s earliest and most devoted followers. We have him to thank not only for preserving all the letters he received from Nichiren, but also for gathering as many other letters as he could so that we can benefit from them even today. There is one letter in particular, Bojikyo Ji (ST 212) in which Nichiren playfully chides Jonin for leaving behind his personal copy of the Lotus Sutra after making the long and dangerous trip to Minobusan to hold a memorial service for his late mother. It shows us that even though Nichiren was strict in his practice, he was tender with his followers.

Shijo Kingo was both a skilled physician and a hot-tempered samurai. We see this both in the letters Nichiren wrote thanking Kingo for the medicine and other donations he received and letters guiding him through conflicts with his lord and fellow samurai. 

It is especially interesting to read events unfolding over time, such as when the elder Ikegami brother, Munenaka, was disowned by his father, Yasumitsu, because he would not renounce faith in the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren expresses his encouragement to both brothers to hold fast to their faith, comparing them to the brothers Pure-Store and Pure-Eyes in Chapter 27 of the Lotus Sutra and telling them stories from ancient China of brothers who faced similar difficulties. In the end, the brothers hold true to their faith. Munenaka reconciles with his father, and Yasumitsu finds his own faith in the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren’s joy can hardly be contained, and he expresses it generously in his letters.

We hope these new editions will help more people to see the life of Nichiren Shonin as a gift for us and the entire world.