A woman who makes offerings to such a Gohonzon invites happiness in this life, and in the next, the Gohonzon will be with her and protect her always. Like a lantern in the dark, like a strong guide and porter on a treacherous mountain path, the Gohonzon will guard and protect you, Nichinyo, wherever you go. Therefore, you should take every care to ward off slanderers of the Law in the same way that you would never wish a courtesan even to come near your home. This is the meaning of “Thrust aside evil friends and associate with good companions.”7
Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The body is the palace of the ninth consciousness,8 the unchanging reality that reigns over all of life’s functions. To be endowed with the Ten Worlds means that all ten, without a single exception, exist in one world. Because of this it is called a mandala. Mandala is a Sanskrit word that is translated as “perfectly endowed” or “a cluster of blessings.” This Gohonzon also is found only in the two characters for faith.9 This is what the sutra means when it states that one can “gain entrance through faith alone.”10
In this reply to Nichinyo, Nichiren Daishonin expresses his gratitude for her offerings to the Gohonzon and explains the significance of the object of devotion. This letter contains a description of the Gohonzon that details the figures represented therein and their significance. The Daishonin also underscores the importance of faith in the Gohonzon. Describing the great benefit of faith in the Gohonzon, the Daishonin declares, “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself,” adding that the Gohonzon is also found only in faith. Sharing two examples from secular tradition, the Daishonin reminds Nichinyo that faith is by far the most important element in manifesting “the Gohonzon” in one’s life. He concludes by stressing that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith is the most complete form of Buddhist practice.
The fundamental Law of life exists within ourselves. Thus there is no essential difference between the Buddha’s life and the life of common mortals. There is, however, a definite difference ‘in terms of life-condition. The Buddha realizes that one’s own life is the Mystic Law, while common mortals, blinded by delusion, do not. As the Buddha of the Latter Day, Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon so that we, common mortals, could awaken to the Mystic Law within ourselves and attain the same life-condition as himself. Because his aim was to awaken us to the entity of our own lives, he admonishes, “Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself.” If we thought of the Gohonzon as some external or supernatural power that we must beseech for help, that would hinder us from discovering the ultimate truth within ourselves. The Daishonin, therefore cautions us against this attitude.
To give an analogy, no matter how perfect our eyesight, we cannot see our own faces. Only when we look into a mirror can we see what we look like. Similarly, being common mortals of limited wisdom, we cannot see our own Buddha nature. However, when we face the mirror of the Gohonzon, we can discover the treasure of Buddhahood (the Gohonzon) within.