This paper compares how Nichiren 日蓮 (1222–1282) explained sūtras using the idea of shindoku 身読 (spreading the teachings as described in the sūtras and experiencing the sūtras for oneself), before and after his exile to Sado Island.
Methodologically, I focus on Nichiren’s representative work from his time on Sado, Kaimokushō開目抄,extracting references to his having performed shindoku and comparing these to explanations from documents produced before his exile.
I conclude that Nichiren did not cite from the Lotus Sūtra the expressions rokunan kui 六難九易 (six difficult and nine easy acts) or sanrui no gouteki 三類の強敵 (three powerful enemies) before his banishment to Sado. There were no changes in the way he cited from the same text the expressions kyōmetsu dogo 況滅度後 (‘how much more will this be after his passing’) or issai seken ta’on nanshin 一切世間多怨難信 (‘meeting much hostility and disbelief in the entire world’). However, I observed changes in his explanations of jōmoku gashaku 杖木瓦石 (staves, trees, tiles and stones), fukyō bosatsu 不軽菩薩 (the bodhisattva Never Disparaging), and sakusaku ken hinzui 数々見擯出 (banished again and again).