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You should understand, therefore, that it is the power of the Buddhist Law that enables the deities of the sun and moon to make their rounds of the four continents. The Golden Light and Sovereign Kings sutras are mere expedient teachings leading to the Lotus Sutra. When compared with the Lotus Sutra, they are like milk compared with ghee, or metal compared with precious gems. And yet, inferior as these sutras are, they enable the heavenly deities to circle the four continents. How much more power can these deities gain, then, by tasting the sweet ghee of the Lotus Sutra.


 

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu to Shijō Kingo in 1276, when he was fifty-five. Evidently Shijō Kingo had made a wooden image of Shakyamuni Buddha for the benefit of his deceased parents and asked the Daishonin to perform the eye-opening ceremony to consecrate it. This letter is the Daishonin’s reply.

In the opening section, the Daishonin says that only when the Lotus Sutra is used at the eye-opening ceremony to consecrate a Buddha image will that image become endowed with the five types of vision and the Buddha’s three bodies. He states that while the sun and the moon deities gained vitality from hearing the Golden Light Sutra, which is inferior to the Lotus Sutra, the benefits would be manifold even to deities if the heard the Lotus Sutra.

Making Buddha images was a widespread practice, and, in an age when most people revered the Buddha Amida, the Daishonin was tolerant of the making of images of Shakyamuni as an act leading toward correct understanding. Emphasising on the superiority of the Lotus Sutra, he says that it can infuse such paintings and statues with a “soul” or spiritual property.

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