What is the Gosho?

The word “Gosho” means the writings of a respected person. The doctrinal writings and the letters the Daishonin wrote to his disciples are called “Gosho.” In 1994 (sixth year of Heisei), Head Temple Taisekiji published the Heisei Era Nichiren DaishoninGosho, New Edition (Heisei Shinpen Nichiren Daishonin Gosho). Approximately 500 Gosho writings are contained in this collection.

We can divide the Daishonin’s writings into several categories. One type is a collection of official papers for submission to government institutions, such as the present-day city hall. This also includes the letters that the Daishonin sent to his disciples and believers giving doctrinal explanations. Another type is a collection of writings the Daishonin left behind for his disciples that teach difficult doctrines. They can be compared to a teacher’s written instructions on a blackboard. The largest group of writings consists of replies that the Daishonin sent to his followers. These precious letters were sent to express his appreciation for their offerings, to answer their questions, and to encourage them not to give up their faith and practice, no matter what.

The Collection of the Gosho

Among the Gosho writings of the Daishonin, there are those that still exist in the Daishonin’s own hand (Jpn. goshinseki) and copies made by his disciples. More than 700 years have elapsed since the Daishonin passed away. Through the centuries, Japan experienced many earthquakes, fires, and wars. Significantly, however, many of the Daishonin’s Gosho writings are still extant. This is due to the efforts of Second High Priest, Nikko Shonin. The Daishonin’s letters were originally in the possession of the addressees. Thus, his letters were scattered all over Japan. Nikko Shonin organized these letters and copied many of them in order to preserve them for the future.

Among the Daishonin’s disciples, there were some who did not value these precious Gosho writings. Some of the Daishonin’s letters were written in hiragana, (a simple, cursive form of writing) instead of formal Chinese characters. These usually were sent to less educated followers who would not easily be able to read Chinese characters. The Daishonin’s five senior disciples (other than Nikko Shonin) burned some of them, or recycled the paper they were written on, claiming that saving these letters would be shameful, since they were written in hiragana. Second High Priest Nikko Shonin, however, made tremendous efforts to preserve all of the Daishonin’s writings for the future, as Buddha’s living words, regardless of the length or whether they were written in Chinese characters or hiragana. He is the one who used the word “Gosho” to designate the Daishonin’s many writings.

Let’s Read the Gosho

Nikko Shonin states the following in the “Twenty-six admonitions of Nikko”:

The followers of this school are to infuse the Gosho thoroughly into their hearts and learn the essence from their teacher…
(Gosho, p. 1884)

In the practice of Nichiren Shoshu, we must etch the spirit of the Gosho into our life through reading it seriously. Furthermore, we must follow the guidance of the High Priest in order to understand the content of the Gosho correctly.

We can read the letters that the Daishonin sent to the believers of his time as if they also were sent to us today. They are the precious words of the True Buddha.

Let’s study the Gosho, based on the guidance of the High Priest, and strive in our practice for both ourselves and others.

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