There is by no means a scarcity of people who have
taken the trouble to become believers of Nichiren Shoshu through some
connection, but have begun to entertain doubts about their faith, either
because of ill health, the heartless, malicious gossip of people in society or
through submission to the opposition of parents or siblings. Because of this, such people have removed themselves
from their faith and let that faith go to sleep. In all likelihood, there are
also those who diligently attend to bedridden family members, anguish over the
disharmony of a gloomy household, or shed tears over financial uncertainty.
should we have to face such hardship when we have embraced the True Law and
True Doctrine? I believe that all of us have experienced these kinds of
skepticism and irritating feelings of uncertainty while living the long path of
the sake of those of you who harbor such doubts, those of you who currently
battle illness or are tortured by the sufferings resulting from your personal
karma, I would like to speak about the causes for those sufferings and ways in
which you can face up to them.
I have also just spent the past three long years under medical treatment, I am
now one who has been truly touched to the depths of my heart as to the
preciousness of good health, and I can feel what happiness is. All the more
because of this, there is no way that I can think of your present doubt and anguish
as just somebody else's problem.
your affliction as my own suffering and using that as fuel for surmounting
those demonic obstacles, I would like to discuss Buddhism and illness, death,
definite karma vis-a-vis indefinite karma, as well as the behavior of true
persons of faith, in order to consider the reasons why we need to have correct
could be no greater joy for me than if this brief account could serve as some
kind of foundation, and give even the least bit of courage to those of you who
are struggling with these kinds of karmic sufferings.
1.Causes for Illness Explained
by the Buddha
According to T'ien-t'ai's Maka Shikan and the Daishonin's Reply
to Ohta Nyudo, six reasons are given as causes for illness, which are
I. Illness Stemming from Disharmony
of the Four Elements.
other words, this is illness which results from an imbalance of the four major
elements which make up the human body, i.e., earth, fire water and wind.
Disharmony of the earth element includes maladies of the muscles, nerves,
skeleton, hair, vascular tract, skin, teeth and the like. Disharmony of the
water element includes disorders of the blood, hormones, secretions of enzymes,
perspiration and digestive organs. Sicknesses involving the fire element
include maladies which derive from fever, blood pressure, the scorching heat of
summer and the like. Illness of the wind element pertains to the respiratory
and circulatory organs, and includes ailments which result from cold weather
and exhaust fumes. In The
Treatment of lllness
, regarding the disorders which result from
disharmony of the four elements, the Daishonin states:
...the first of
which is illness of the body. Physical diseases comprise one hundred and one
disorders of the earth element, one hundred and one imbalances of the water
element, one hundred aJld one disturbances of the fire element and one hundred
and one disharmonies of the wind element, a total of four hundred and four
(MW, 3- 273)
Although the Daishonin explains that there are four
hundred and four possible disorders, it is more than likely that in today's
cities, plagued by photochemical smog and air pollution, that number is going
to continue to increase more and more.
II. Illness Stemming from Immoderate
Eating or Drinking.
next reason for illness is immoderate or reckless eating or drinking habits,
and such maladies include afflictions of the stomach and intestines, liver
ailments, malnutrition, physical debility, etc. More concretely, we can become
ill from the intake of too much ice, alcohol, cola, coffee or medicines, or
from overeating on a daily basis. On the other hand, ailments can also arise
from not enough calorie intake, from malnutrition, contaminated foods, an
unbalanced diet, or from such substances as tobacco or narcotics.
III. Illness Stemming from an Unsettled Mind.
might be said that these maladies arise because of such psycho- emotional
neglect as irregular daily habits, poor spinal posture, a lack of physical
exercise, sleep deprivation, overwork or emotional insecurity. It should
further be said that in our present day and age, there are many other ailments
which come about due to a lax mind or other chinks in our psychological armor,
such as sudden traffic accidents and injuries, which we should always be
careful to avoid.
whatever might be said, the maladies which arise from these three types of
causes still belong individually to mild sorts of illness, and the severity of
such sickness differs radically, merely depending on one's own caution and
diet. Medically speaking, the means of treatment for these afflications are virtually
guaranteed. Through the power of medical science, i.e., with a doctor's
appropriate treatment and skill, the power of medicines and good nursing care,
the above mentioned kinds of illness can eventually be healed.
in order to fight these kinds of ill health, while the patient's own willpower
and courage are also necessary, good nursing care is also extremely vital. It
should be said that out of consideration for each other, we should be very
attentive, because with the slightest inconsiderate word or action by a doctor
or nurse, or by one nursing a sick person, the injury to the patient can be
Shonin, the Twenty-sixth High Priest of Taisekiji, taught that a person who
cares for the infirmed should understand the following five points, which he
called the Five Virtues of the Nurse. (From Yakuo-
bon Lecture on the Eradication of lllness, Research Text 10-582
1. Knowledge of which foods the patient may and may
2. Not being repulsed by feces, urine, expectoration
or vomit, and not revealing emotion.
3. Nursing with compassion, and with no motive of
being compensated with money, clothing or food.
4. Possession of wisdom about correct medicinal
5. Teaching the Law to the patients and giving them
inspiration and courage.
However, among the origins of disease explained in
Buddhism, the next three must be researched with keen interest because they
reach to a level more profound than modern medical science's overall view of
IV. Illness Stemming from Communion
simply refers to maladies which occur when the pathogenic bacteria (germs) that
cause infectious diseases multiply. Viral influenza and other contagious
diseases would fall under this category. Of course antibiotic substances and
the like are effective in treating such illnesses, but the infected person's
life force and power of resistance are more necessary than anything else.
Nichikan Shonin teaches that we should brandish our power of faith and seek the
protection of the Gohonzon.
V. The Acts of Devils.
to Buddhism, these infirmities are said to destroy a practitioner's seeking
spirit and wisdom based on Buddhsim and rob the person of merit and benefit.
When a person who maintains faith falls ill as a result of the acts of these
devils, he begins to entertain doubts about his faith, and in the end, discards
his faith (wisdom based on Buddhism) and loses the desire to chant. Medically
speaking, these are maladies of the mind, such as mental illness and and
emotional disorders. Furthermore, incessant warfare, which springs from
insatiable, foolish greed and anger, and which costs many lives, is also the
work of devils. In The
Treatment of Illness
, the Daishonin states:
The second category is illness of the mind. These
illnesses arise from the three poisons of greed, anger and stupidity and are of
eighty-four thousand kinds. They are beyond the healing powers of the two
Brahman deities, the three ascetics, or the six non- Buddhist teachers.
Medicines prescribed by Shen Nung and Huang Ti are even less effective.
The Daishonin states here that these illnesses
cannot be healed at their root through the power of medical science.
VI. Karmic Illness.
illnesses, resulting from the karma of past existences, cannot be fathomed by
human intelligence. One might to venture to say that they include hereditary
diseases, congenital abnormalities, inborn constitutional weakness, blindness,
dearness and dumbness, as well as senility. Even with today's medical science,
there are no remedies for these afflictions. When all is said and done, there
is no other way for us to resolve them than by taking correct faith in the True
law, through which we can change our past karma and strive to purify our lives.
above Buddhist explanations transcend medical science in their clarification of
the causes of illness, and even though we have been engaged in a Buddhist
examination of just this single facet of human illness, from the viewpoint of
life in general, I believe that the reader can perceive how profound the
insight of Buddhism is.
these multitudes of causes for illness do not work individually to cause the
outbreak of a health problem, but rather intertwine with each other to give
rise to a more complex situation. If there is a problem with the lungs, the
lung disorder simultaneously becomes the cause for a malady of the heart and
mind, as a result of which the whole body is said to be sick.
believe, therefore, that it is not enough to take measures against just one
symptom of an illness. Whatever else one might say, I believe that the patient
must cause a strong now of life energy to emerge through correct faith, and
under the care of a good physician, maintain a correct and regulated diet. I
further believe that both the person looking over the recovery process, as well
as the patient, must concentrate more on the patient’s reformation and
revolution of life, both mental and physical, than merely on the fight against
the disease itself.
for a moment about the life of a human being. From birth until maturity,
parents worry about our physical well being. However, from the time that we
become an adult, the process of growing old begins, and the main thing we have
to worry about for the rest of our lives is our physical security' because we
are always in danger of sudden accidents or illness.
we make telephone calls or write letters, we almost automatically use such
greetings as, How are you and Take care of your health. Yet these are not just
simple stock phrases. It is precisely because we are ordinarily healthy that I
strongly feel that we should think first and foremost about good health,
whether it be in terms of eating, studying or exercising, aim for our
improvement as people, and strictly and seriously regulate our daily lives.
makes me want to cry out, How can a person who is careless with his own life be
an emissary for Kosen-rufu! It also makes me search my own soul.
For You Who Suffer From Illness.
Juryo Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the
most excellent path to salvation is prescribed, not only for those who are
sick, but for all mankind. I leave this good medicine here for you now. You
should take it and not worry that it will not cure you. (Lectures on the Sutra, The Hoben and Juryo Chapters
p. 105) Further, in the Yakuo
Chapter, there is a passage which explains: This
teaching is good medicine for the ills of the people of this world. If a person
has an affliction and is able to hear this teaching, his illness will be
eradicated, and he will know neither old age nor death. (Kaiketsu, p.606)
Maka Shikan, T’ien-t'ai states:
Because the Lotus Sutra is able to heal, it is also called myo, or mystic. The
Great Teacher Miao-lo further elaborates on the power of the Mystic Law in this
way. Because it can cure that which is thought to be incurable, it is called myo or mystic. (MW, 3-15)
are more people than it would be possible to mention who have, through the
benefit of having maintained faith in the Supreme Law of Myoho Renge Kyo, overcome illness, made miraculous recoveries
beyond the wildest dreams of their doctors, and actually returned to work
joyfully within society.
in The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra,
our Founder the Daishonin instructs: Myo
means to revive, that is, to return to life. (ibid., p. 23)
Then what could the words eradicate illness refer
to? Nichikan Shonin instructs that because of the power of Myoho Renge Kyo:
1. One will come across a good physician through the
providence of the Buddha.
2. The medicine one receives will be well suited to
the illness, and the remedy for the malady will be successful. That is, one
remedy will serve two or three functions.
3. An illness which should have been long-term will
be stimulated to heal immediately. (From Yakuo-bon
Lecture on the Eradication of lllness, Research Text 10-583
In other words, Nichikan Shonin is explaining that
for the person who practices the Mystic Law, the power of one remedy will have
not only an increased, but the optimum effect.
the phrase eternally ageless means that one who believes in the Mystic Law will
not become feeble with age. For example, even as a person's years increase, he
or she will always manifest a youthful, fresh-looking vitality, and achieve a
human life condition that is happy and at ease.
the word undying refers to the fact that one who has faith in the Mystic Law
will accumulate great fortune, and therefore, will not vainly die a tragic
death. Here are some concrete examples of the kinds of sorrowful, wretched,
ill-fated deaths, that we are told will absolutely not occur.
1. Losing one’s life despite
having committed no offense.
2. Dying a miserable death from such causes as
hunger, thirst, cold or heat.
3. Though one has not lived to the end of one's
expected lifetime, losing one's life to such errors in medical treatment as
surgical mishap or incorrect administration of medication.
4. After going to all the trouble to obtain medical
treatment, the medicinal method, rather than being beneficial, instead has
5. Dying a lonely and premature death, without a
single person to watch over one.
of use who practice faith in the Mystic Law must realize that it is truly to
this extent that we are protected. For that reason, we should arouse the most
deliberate and tenacious power of faith possible, and above all, feel certain
of the Dai-Gohonzon's all-surpassing protection. If all we do is moan that we
are tormented, pained and disheartened about our illness, we will resolve
rather due to the fact that we are in pain that we must awaken to a sense of
piety, and take faith. Please, remember this passage from Nichiren Daishonin's Opening of the Eyes
and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts
in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood. Do not have
doubts simply because Heaven does not lend you protection. Do not be
discouraged because you do not enjoy an easy and secure existence in this life.
This is what I have taught my disciples morning and evening, and yet they begin
to harbor doubts and abandon their faith. Foolish men are likely to forget the
promises they have made when the crucial moment comes.
The painful, bitter times are the most important of
all. You should know that when you summon up faith and chant Daimoku, the power
of that faith increases the vitality of one's life. Because of faith, a person
receives divine protection, and in combination with this, the power of medical
science manifests itself effectively and appropriately.
however much one talks about the immensity of the Mystic Law’s power, it is
heretical to hope for the kind of dreamy miracles or occult powers whereby one
will instantly turn around and make an instant recovery, just by taking a dose
of medicine. It would be best to bear in mind that human life is not to be
obtained so cheaply.
Founder the Daishonin explains in Reply
to Shi'jo Kingo: Truly, the only
secret art that can stop attacks by demons on the bodies and minds of all
people is Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. (Zenshu,
p. l 170)Nichikan Shonin further
states: Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is the finest of all varieties of medicine. (From Yakuo-bon Lecture on the
Eradication of Illness, Research Text
10-628) The conviction
that there is no finer medicine than the Mystic Law is vital.
other words, through our faith, each of us can individually exceed the
limitations of modern medical science, which is said to perform only
symptomatic treatment of illness, and through the continuous battle against
illness, we can little by little grow as human beings and strive in body and
mind for a reformation in our personal lives. Herein lies the value of a living
The Hiyu Chapter of the Lotus Sutra explains
[that if a person has slandered the Lotus Sutra in a past existence, even if,
after countless lifetimes of suffering in Hell and agonized wanderings through
the Six Paths he eventually creates the causes through which he becomes a
doctor, he will merely finds that his efforts as a doctor meet in frustration]:
If a person
who has mastered the path of medicine, and through those methods is able to
cure a [patient's] illness, other maladies will increase, or the patient may
even die; or, if the doctor himself becomes ill, he will not be able to save
others; even if he uses good medicines, they will have no benefit, but will act
In order for
a doctor or nurse who spends his or her life curing sickness to be reputed as a
really skilled or fine physician who performs true medical treatment, it is
more than likely that that person must practice Buddhism, and set his sights on
the kind of medical science that cultivates the dignity of human life. Though
one is called a physician, he is not always just a physician, because if he
himself becomes sick, he is no more than another patient. For this reason, I
believe that he must accumulate fortune through the True Law. I further believe
that the path to salvation for both himself and his patients is first and
foremost, the cultivation of his qualities as a human being.
For Those Who Have Doubts About Faith Because They Are Ill Despite Their Faith
are people in this world who sometimes become victims of gross illusions. Those
illusions can include such beliefs as, not only will a person with faith not
get sick, he won't even die. There is no scarcity of such people who say that
if one has faith, an illness will heal, but when it seems that their own
illness shows no signs of getting better, they then say, even though I'm
practicing faith as best I can, I've been assaulted by a 'devil of illness',
and then entertain doubts about faith.
reality, what is known in Buddhism as a Devil of Illness, refers to the unrest
regarding faith caused by this kind of physical and emotional illness, rather
than to the illness itself.
what we call disbelief, or slander of the True Law, which manifests as illness
through the Five Components, i.e., form, perception, conception, volition and
wisdom, is known as either a Devil of Illness or a Devil of the Components. We
must realize that a person who agonizes over the reasons for having become sick
when he has faith and is practicing that faith to the best of his ability, is
coming face to face with that Devil of the Components.
mentioned in the previous chapter, it is true that a person who has correct
faith will shine with fortune and merit, will be able to overcome illness and
achieve a reformation of his humanity, and will have the power to cause a
serene and grand flowering of his life.
it cannot be said with certainty that a person of faith will never face
calamity of any kind. Even if different individuals were said to have arrived
in similar fashion at correct faith in this lifetime, it must also be said that
just as there are differences between each person's physiognomy, wisdom,
possession or lack of talent and degree of material wealth, the degree to which
a person will be tormented by illness will clearly depend on the resulting
effect of that person's good and evil karma from past existences. Nichiren
Daishonin states the following in the Letter
Even more so
are past slanders of the Law, which stain the depth of one's heart. A sutra
states that both the crow's blackness and the heron's whiteness are actually
the deep stains of their past karma.
He teaches us
that everything in existence is summoned due to past karma. But there is no
need for useless grief. A passage from the Yujutsu
Chapter of the Lotus Sutra states: The Buddha is happy and at ease, with few
maladies and few troubles. (Kaiketsu,
p. 478) It is further stated in the Ongi
Kuden: Illness is another name for the three poisons of earthly desire, and
is shared by both Buddhas and bodhisattvas. As the above passage teaches, such
Buddhas as the Daishonin and Shakyamuni have became ill, as have many
bodhisattvas and people of greatness. You are by no means the only one who has
been visited by misfortune.
the Nirvana Sutra speaks about the afflictions of those who [slandered the True
Law in a past existence, but] who practice the True Law during this lifetime.
Even if one suffers a vicious death, is severely condemned, reviled, whipped,
beaten or imprisoned in chains; or even if one starves or suffers privations,
he will not fall into hell. The Hatsunaion
Sutra also states: Even though people suffer various kinds of afflictions, the
fact that they receive them so lightly during this lifetime is a result of the
beneficial power that derives from protecting the Law. As we can see from these
passages, we should all realize that in order to change into medicine the
poison of all our past slanders against the Law, for which we would otherwise
have to undergo great suffering in the future, in order to transform grave
slander and lessen our karmic retribution, we now suffer a few illnesses and a
about time that we really decide whether, through practice of the True Law here
and now, we will sever ourselves from the future unhappiness of falling into
the hell of incessant suffering due to past slanders against the Law, or
accumulate slander because of disbelief, and further amass the causes for grave
important doctrinal principle of lessening one's karmic retribution (Jap., Tenju Kyoju) is c1early explained in
Buddhism. The Daishonin states:
The Nirvana Sutra teaches the principle of lessening
karmic retribution. If one's heavy karma from the past is not expiated within
this lifetime, he must undergo the sufferings of hell in the future, but if he experiences
extreme hardship in this life, the sufferings of hell will vanish instantly.
One's Karmic Retribution, MW, 1- 17)
In Letter to the Brothers, he further
that we, who now believe in the True Law, once committed the sin of persecuting
its votary in the past, and should therefore be destined to fall into a
terrible hell in the future. However, the blessings gained by practicing the
True Law are so great that we can change our karma to suffer terribly in the
future by meeting relatively minor sufferings in this life.
In reality, during the Daishonin's lifetime, many
people lost their lives to widespread epidemics, famine and severe earthquakes.
Unlike them, very few of the Daishonin's disciples lost their lives to such
things as these epidemics. The Treatment
For some reason, however, there is less affliction
and death among Nichiren's followers. It is indeed mysterious. Is this because
we are few in number, or because our faith is strong?
Even though you are distressed by sickness and human
suffering, my hope is that you would be keenly aware of the truth that compared
to people in the outside world, your ills and troubles are, by far, few in
number, and your afflictions, light.
passage from the Hiyu Chapter of the
Lotus Sutra clarifies what will become of those who slander the Law through disbelief.
Because of a multitude of illnesses, they will waste away with no place to
turn. This passage explains that illness will become worse and worse, and that
there will be nowhere to go for relief. As opposed to that, these slight
afflictions we now face will become the internally fragrant, blossom-producing,
motivational force that will spark the transformation from the dark, pathetic
life condition of past slanders against the Law and their future resulting
agony, into our life's vividly shining world of Buddhahood.
if we grieve over illness, that is not going to cure the illness. There is
nothing more foolish than entertaining doubts about the True Law and amassing
slander while crying, Why, when I have faith, have I become sick? Why don't I
try to somehow arouse deep faith, and without doubting the Mystic Law, continue
to chant Daimoku to the Dai-Gohonzon, single- mindedly yearning to see the
Buddha, not begrudging your life to do so. Then, please also try to pray and
work for world-wide propagation.
of the power of your faith, you can believe without a doubt that the time
eventually will come when you will actually be able to perceive the protection
of the Gohonzon, and experience it for yourself.
The Benefit of Overcoming the Suffering of Illness
who has not experienced the suffering of being visited by a malady can
understand the distress, suffering and pain of that illness. But on the other
hand, the immense joy that one feels when he has overcome that misery and
experienced a revival of life, is a joy that cannot be bought at any price.
There is an old proverb which says, “One illness puts an end to calamity.” The
person who has a chronic illness takes better care of his body than a person
with no malady, and it is also said that in the final analysis, the chronically
ill person lives longer. By the same token, the moment a plant that has been
raised in a greenhouse or a sterile environment is brought outside, it dies.
The power to live and a nourishing of vitality can be nourished more by the
gasps of suffering and battles with hardship than by an uneventful, easy going
on a poplar tree conducted in a biology class at Mie University were recently
aired on television. The first experiment involved severing branches from the
poplar, which were put into a hothouse set at twenty-five degrees centigrade,
in an attempt to make the branches grow.
results are as follows.
A. Branches gathered in July budded.
B. Branches gathered in October did not
C. Branches gathered in December budded.
From this experiment, it was learned that the growth
progress of the plant continues until about the end of September. It was
further clarified that the plant is dormant around the months of October and
November, and during that period, the plant is creating new buds for the
following year. The buds that were produced in December were, in the final
analysis, the new buds which should have sprouted the following spring, but
which came forth prematurely.
From the standpoint of ordinary common sense, we
would imagine that plants are dormant during the severe winter months of
January and February. But in fact, on the contrary, winter is already the
beginning ofa new spring. From this fact, I would hope that you understand that
the challenge presented by hardship is not really suffering, but a departure
towards a new found happiness.
In the second experiment, potted poplars were
prepared, and then the awakening process between winter and spring was
observed. Here are the results.
A. Plants stored in the hothouse during
the winter did not sprout even inApri1.
B. Plants exposed to the cold open air
for ten days then budded at a temperature of twenty-five degrees centigrade.
C. Plants exposed for one month to the
cold open air during the winter put forth buds at twenty degrees centigrade.
D. Plants exposed for two months to the
cold open air during the winter sprouted at sixteen degrees centigrade, and
grew more robustly.
From these facts, it was learned that
plants which are exposed to the cold outdoor air will not bud. It was further
observed that if a plant is exposed to the open air for a longer period of
time, it will sprout at lower temperatures, and the new buds will grow more
quickly and heartily. If these ideas are applied to human life, what might this
would like to say that if one has not encountered storms of human suffering,
one will grow no fresh sprouts of human happiness.Moreover, the longer the period of adversity,
the stronger and heartier the life force that will be fostered. In a Reply to Ueno-dono, Nichiren Daishonin
states.. Even if you suffer for a time, your suffering will in the end turn to
delight. (Zenshu, p. 1564)
are courageous, and at the same time, do battle with the Devil of Illness,
should you not fight bravely, like a resourceful general of the Mystic Law,
In one sense, I do not believe that illness is all
bad. It is because we experience illness that we can be grateful for good
health and realize the preciousness of life. Experiencing illness can further
allow us to sympathize with another's misfortune, feel his tragedy as our own
and be compassionate towards him.
person in good health is apt to take living in tranquility for granted, and
find it difficult to have heartfelt compassion for one who is bedridden.
However, I would like to say that although a person who has experienced a grave
illness may be inferior to a healthy person in terms of robustness, illness
itself molds one's character. It allows one to grow two or three times as much
in humanity, that is, in compassion for life, in not treating life carelessly,
and in sympathy for the misfortunes of others.
In Beneficial Medicine for All Ills
Nichiren Daishonin states: From illness arises the mind that seeks the Way.
it comes to embracing and cultivating faith, it is the distress that comes from
illness that can enable one to adhere to the True Law.
suffering that can stimulate the desire to earnestly chant Daimoku, and enable
one to become absolutely serious without worrying about appearances.
when people are really healthy that they forget to be grateful for that health,
and are apt to spoil their health through neglect. Or it is because they are
mindless of their health that they meet with accidents in the mountains or at
the beach, or meet with unexpected mishaps.
without understanding the significance of good health a person will not realize
the preciousness of life, even though he may be healthy. From the viewpoint of
the fundamental mission in life of a human being, it must be said that the life
condition of a person who accumulates slanders against the Law is far more
sorrowfully wretched than that of the person who suffers from sickness.
Happily, you and I possess the fine medicine of the Mystic Law, which surpasses
the power of medical science. We further have many warm-hearted disciples of
the Mystic Law to encourage and console us. Is this not reassuring?
overcoming the Devil of Illness does not end with merely conquering a malady.
Because we can settle the accounts of our past slanders against the Lotus
Sutra, obtain the means for longevity in this life and receive the fortune for
good circumstances in our next existence, it must be said that the joy which
results from that is truly immense.
In Curing Karmic Illness
Nichiren Daishonin writes to Ohta Nyudo:Knowing you are in agony grieves me, but, on the other hand, it is cause
for delight. (MW, 2-247) I might be told that I am being tedious, but please do
not forget that you and I are not just curing an ailment, but while continuing
to battle illness through faith in the Mystic Law, we are striving for a human
reformation in body and mind. The following two phrases appear in the
Daishonin's Reply to Kyo'o.
Believe in this mandala with all your heart. Nam
Myoho Renge Kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an
misfortunes will change into fortune. Muster your faith and pray to this Gohonzon.
Then what is there that cannot be achieved?
(ibid., p. 120)
May we do our
utmost to arouse deliberate, thriving faith energy, and together, bravely get
back on our feet. Then, aware for the rest of our lives of the benefit and joy
that we have been granted, may we repay that debt of gratitude through our
practice of Shakubuku, because the maintenance of our faith is also vital.
There is a proverb which says: There is strength in continuation.
A Single Experience
At this juncture, I would like to speak about two
things, i.e., the carelessness with which modern medical science tends to treat
human life, and the tremendous mysteriousness of the Mystic Law's benefit,
using the dramatic example of the existence of a single life, which I would
otherwise have kept concealed. I am referring to the life of my niece, Noriko
was born on June 2, 1970, at the municipal hospital in the city of Kawanishi,
which is located in Hyogo Prefecture. However, the joy of her birth was
short-lived, because she was born with a cleft palate, and did not have the
energy to drink enough milk. On top of that, she was also born with an
abnormally small head, the medical term for which is microcephalia. Two days
after the gir1's birth, Noriko's young parents and grandmother were forced to
share the burden of her suffering with her.
fourth day after her birth, June 6, Noriko's father and grandmother were
summoned to a separate room, where the physician in charge gave them the
prognosis that Noriko was incapable of healthy growth. He told them that no
matter how the situation was viewed, since the child could not be expected to
develop normally, under the circumstances, even though it might seem merciless,
they should consider Noriko as never having been born, and for that reason,
both for Noriko's sake and the welfare of the entire household, euthanasia
(mercy killing) should be performed by means of a lethal medication.
due to the influences of the foods and medications ingested by mothers during
pregnancy, or because of past karma, the birth of such congenitally abnormal
babies has gradually increased in recent years, and dealing with them now by
means of such savage deaths is not rare.
no matter how unfortunate a child one is burdened with, it is hardly possible
that we could calmly hope for the death of our own child. To say the least, as
Nichiren Shoshu believers, Niriko's father and grandmother were unable to give
their tacit approval to such an atrocity.
the physician said that if they were going to raise Noriko at any cost, the
hospital would not be responsible, and he wanted them to discharge the child
and bring her to another hospital.
that day onward, the grandmother made her way to the Nichiren
Genryuji, in the city of Ikeda, in the hope that somehow, Noriko might be saved
by the very doctor who had abandoned her. But if he would not help the child
now, who on earth would save her? In her heart, the grandmother determined that
now was the only time to rescue Noriko, and began to commute to early morning
Gongyo. In an effort to raise even a little bit of money to cover the treatment
expenses, she obtained employment as a housekeeper during the day.
on June 17, she was introduced to the Balmore Hospital in Kobe, where the child
received a medical examination, but in the end, the prognosis was the same. She
then made regular visits to the Pediatric Disease Center in Osaka, clutching
the less than one month old baby in her arms. The anxiety of the daily trip to
Osaka for grandmother and child was excruciating.
around this time, the grandmother began writing Haiku poems.The following are some examples of her work:
the Buddha, my heart longs to unleash its anguished cries.
Into the mouth of an infant who does not eat, I put
my finger to make her drink.
My hungry, beloved child does not know what it is to
eat, but my skin feels her cry for food.
spending a month in this way, Noriko was removed from the Osaka Pediatric
Disease Center, and was admitted to the pediatrics ward of the Momoyama
Municipal Hospital in Osaka. But even though mother and child were admitted
together, Noriko was not even able to drink milk or juice on her own, so she
was fed milk though a tube in her nose.
therefore, the infant could not laugh or talk. She could not even sleep
peacefully. The condition of her illness was not thought to have improved in
whether one calls it the compassion or the providence of the Buddha, in March
of 1971, through the strong recommendation of an itinerant public health nurse
in Kawanishi City, Noriko was released from the Momoyama Hospital in Osaka, and
was admitted to the newly constructed Hyogo Prefectural Children's Hospital in
on Noriko's cleft palate was performed there under the direction of a Dr.
Kimura. Afterwards, the doctor himself said that never in his life had he known
of an operation to have been performed so flawlessly. It was a mystery to him
why it had been such a fine operation. He was even surprised at how
commendatory he himself was.
doctor further said that the family could be relieved because Noriko would
recover little by little from metal retardation and the smallness of her body.
It was the first time that the family had heard joyous words from the doctor.
this way, because of the success of her surgery under the protection of the
Dai-Gohonzon, Noriko became able to drink milk on her own, and was given the
energy to live. A smile finally returned to the faces of her grandmother and
the whole household. But the benefit of the Mystic Law did not end there. While
enduring this long journey to the bitter end, Noriko's young parents were able
to realize, at the very core of their beings, both the tremendous importance of
faith in the Mystic Law and the immense power of the Dai-Gohonzon.
while overcoming numerous obstacles, parallel to Noriko's discharge from the
hospital, her parents were able to purchase property in a new development
called New Town, located in a quiet suburb of Ikeda City, where they built a
new house that would be appropriate for raising their sickly young child.
truth, Noriko's parents realized that one absolutely single-minded desire for
the Mystic Law gives hope in the midst of extreme anguish, which bears the
fruits of both unlimited good faith and effort. They further understood that
that desire not only becomes a mysterious power which transcends human understanding,
and results in the invisible protection of the Gohonzon, but also brilliantly
manifests as good fortune.
the two princes Jozo and Jogen mentioned in the Myoso Gonno Chapter of the
Lotus Sutra, this helpless infant taught her young parents true faith and
proved the benefit of the Mystic Law.
are several more poems written by Noriko's grandmother to mark the progress of
the child's growth:
After a night of rain, the rainbow is magnificent.
season of mowers passed, the child browns in the blazing sun. (August, 1972)
the infant to my breast, I feel her weight increase day by day. (October, 1972)
cough reaches me from the sleeping child. A pang of fear. (November, 1972)
The child peels a mandarin orange. She
is growing, the nape of her neck so lovely. (Winter, 1972)
Naked in the pool, no sign of weight
loss in the summer heat.(Summer, l973)
A child of three, How curious this paper
called money.(Winter, 1973)
The visage of the sleeping child so
innocent - the face of the Buddha. (Spring, 1974)
I watch her stand, I see her kneel -
it's the Children's Festival.(November,
Then in April,
l975, Noriko entered nursery school with her playmates.
The garden in full bloom, a cuckoo comes
to play. (April, 1975)
After a brief rain, I cannot measure the
growth of the young bamboo. (May, 1975)
been five long years since that declaration of Noriko's death sentence, but now
her house is filled with joy each and every day is a day to repay that debt of
words of the following two quotes from the Gosho are proven by Noriko's story.
In The Bow and Arrow
Nichiren Daishonin replies to Toki-ama Gozen: Your illness is surely not due to
karma, but even if it were, you could rely on the power of the Lotus Sutra to
cure it.(MW, 7-125) Again, in Reply to Kyo’o:
“Kyo’o G.ozen’s misfortunes will change into fortune. Muster your faith and
pray to this Gohonzon. Then what is there that cannot be achieved?
story is no more than one small case in point. But this kind of experience,
this kind of magnificent drama of human reformation and a return to life, is
now unfolding one after the other on a global scale within the homes of
Nichiren Shoshu believers. In his Gosho, On Prayer, the Daishonin instructs:
And yet, though one might point at the earth and
miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb
and now and the sun rise up from the west, it could never come about that the
prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered.
When a believer in the Mystic Law offers sincere
prayer, it is hardly possible that any immense jewel of blessing or
irreplaceably supreme good fortune will not shine.
what is most important here is that throughout our lives and even in our
dreams, we must not forget the influence of the Dai-Gohonzon, its power of the
Buddha and the Law, and the benefit, joy and strong sense of gratitude which we
receive due to the power of our faith and practice.
somehow feel that the sad person is the one who is apt to forget the times of
suffering and his indebtedness to the Buddha.
In The Opening of the Eyes (II)
Nichiren Daishonin warns: Whether tempted by good or threatened by evil, if one
casts aside the Lotus Sutra, he destines himself for hell. (MW, 2-200)
life of Noriko's family is just beginning. What kinds of sufferings will the
members of her family face in the future? There is nothing more fearful than
idleness and force of habit. When they have continued their faith in the True
Law for ten or twenty years, as Nichiren Daishonin states in Letter to Niike
Still greater are the benefits arising from ten or
twenty contributions, or from five years, ten years, or a lifetime of
contributions. They are even beyond the measure of the Buddha's wisdom.
In terms of one's life, the immense, infinite
benefits that blossom from the continuation of faith are so great that not even
the Buddha's wisdom can measure them.
do your best to etch the following words of the Daishonin, the Gohonzon of the
Latter Day of Law, deep within your hearts.
Therefore I say to you, my disciples, try practicing
as the Lotus Sutra teaches, exerting yourselves without begrudging your lives
!Test the truth of Buddhism!
Selection of the Time, MW, 3- 181)
You also are a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra and
your faith is like the waxing moon or the rising tide. Be deeply convinced,
then, that your illness cannot possibly persist and that your life cannot fail
to be extended! Take care of yourself and do not burden your mind with grief.
Bow and Arrow, MW, 7- 126)
Please chant Daimoku with your whole heart,
encourage each other, and construct and protect the treasure tower of your
life, which cannot be bought, no matter how much treasure one has in the bank.
Build that tower high, strong and sturdy. Be strong! Conquer your own weakness!
Overcome your illness! Win on the job! Win in life! Polish your humanity! I
would like to say that it is exactly for these purposes that we have Buddhism.
What are you waiting for?
Concerning Tranquility in This Life
explained in the Kanpotsu Chapter of
the Lotus Sutra: A person who embraces and recites this sutra shall not be
attached by greed to clothing, bedding, food and drink, or materials for
living. His desires shall be fulfilled, and he shall obtain good fortune in
this life. (Kaiketsu , p. 670) It is
further explained: A person who embraces and extols this Sutra shall obtain
great fortune in this lifetime. (ibid.,
671) However, the benefit and good fortune that Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism
says we shall receive is not the kind of dubious, feigned benefit spoken of by
the likes of the Nembutsu, the founders of new religions and religious
fraternities, which depend on prayer to an external power, inferior,
happy-go-lucky occult powers, or shamans.
the power of faith in, and practice of the Mystic Law, we can awaken the Buddha
nature of the True Cause existing within the deep recesses of human life, and
cause the life condition of the Buddha to fragrantly blossom within our hearts,
so that no matter what kind of suffering we encounter, through the power of the
Supreme Law, we can even build, with our own determination and conviction, a
self that is immovable and life condition that is impregnably happy.
explains that rather than cursing our anguish, running away from and renouncing
our sufferings, becoming suicidal or abandoning ourselves, we can use our
tribulations as a springboard for a fresh leap toward a stronger, more resolute
and crystallinely golden road to humanity.
say, however, there are people who unjustly resent their sufferings, throw away
the religious tenets of their ancestors, blame their illness, their many
sufferings and their unhappiness on the fact that they joined Nichiren Shoshu,
and then, hysterically frightened, give themselves over to drink, find fault
with their spouses and friends and finally damage the Gohonzon.
following is a thorough explanation given in the Kanji Chapter of the Lotus
Sutra. Demons will take possession of others and through them curse, revile and
heap shame on us. (Rissho Ankoku Ron,
MW, 2-16) The Juryo Chapter further
expounds: This is because the poison has penetrated deeply, causing them to
lose their true minds. (Lectures
on the Sutra
, p. 105) In the Letter
, the Daishonin states: The sage, it seems, has been
possessed by a devil. He is like a basically even-tempered person who, when
drunk, reveals an evil side and causes trouble. (MW, 1-257) As the above
passages indicate, when it comes to this Buddhism, people of position or
reputation, those thought to be Persons Of character or otherwise
mild-mannered, are completely transformed, and in their abuse of others, their
features become diabolical and their language foul.
these kinds of persons, the Daishonin states in, The Selection of the Time
: If a man builds a
road for others and someone loses his way on it, is that the fault of the
road-builder? (MW, 3-82) This passage teaches that it is exactly these kinds of
people who blame the builder of a road, when they have gotten lost on it
through their own fault. They are the kind of people who unjustly resent the
pioneers who bore through mountains and build bridges in order to pave a
Great Master Miao-1o also stated the following in the ninth volume of his Chronicles on the Hokke Mongu
Whether a person advances or retreats in Buddhist practice is up to the
individual. It has nothing to do with the sacred teachings of the Buddha.
person's doubt and error are his own responsibility.” You should strictly
refrain from blaming the sacred teachings of Buddhism for your own ambiguity
and lack of wisdom. If you consider the fact that the illness you suffer from
and the many dismal adversities you cry over, are the results of causes you
yourself have made according to the law of cause and effect, you can realize
that the person you were born as, the life condition you were born with, the
person you married, the children you gave birth to and the severe adversities
you face, are all due to your bonds of karma from the remote past. With that in
mind, your present circumstances are also due to the seeds you have sown in
your present daily life. Therefore, your present circumstances are neither
someone else's fault, nor the fault of society. Things will not be resolved by
cursing your parents.
though it may seem at first glance that your present situation is the fault of
bad government, environ-mental pollution or your spouse, if you search into the
fundamental causes, in the final analysis, you should come to realize that you
yourself have formed those causal connections or karmic relations within your
own life. Of course, the powers of medical science are a natural necessity and
the taking of medication is also important. However, in order to find a true
cure for sickness and victory over the Devil of Illness, what is most
fundamentally important is having an attitude in dealing with disease which
promotes the unity of the members of your family, their joining of energies and
their mutual infusion of strong life force. From there, you must pick up,
elevate, and protect your own human life at its source.
say that you must stand up and effect a monumental human reformation through
the True Law that includes a change in all of your own past karma, I am not
speaking casually— I am appealing and crying out to your soul.
exactly for that purpose that I am trying to glorify the dignity and flowering
of life, as well as its fullness and joy. I have attempted to do this by giving
explanations of Shakyamuni's ultimate purpose as manifested in the Lotus Sutra,
and by presenting examples of documentary proof written by the Great Master of
the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren Daishonin, which I have accompanied by
concrete illustrations of natural law and an account of a person's return to
life. Where are the sutras or philosophical principles whose logic clearly
explains how a person can manifest the life condition of Buddhahood and obtain
fundamental salvation and reform by singing the hymns of the Shingon sect, or
by intoning the name of the Nembutsu sect's Amida Buddha or by sitting in the
lotus position of the Zen sect? Where in this world is there logic or
documentary proof that thoroughly explains that one can reveal the world of
Buddhahood and find an essential solution that spans the Three Existences with
an indestructible human life by praying to the cross, performing the dance of
Tenri-kyo or conducting Shinto rites; or by worshiping a fox, the spirits of
the dead, or statues of Amida or Yakushi Buddha?
should believe in the Buddha's ultimate purpose, his supreme truth, his
absolute documentary evidence and his clear actual proof.There can be no human reformation based on
undocumented, meaningless ideas.
precisely because of the True Law, the True Master and the True Doctrine that
we can build a self that can overcome tribulation and obstacles by demons.
Therefore, the Yakusoyu Chapter of
the Lotus Sutra explains. “Tranquility in this lifetime and good circumstances
in the next.” (Kaiketsu, p. 282)
Tranquility in this lifetime does not mean a honey-sweet kind of existence,
passive quietude or a life free of troubles. Rather, in a more positive, active
and independent vein, this phrase connotes that one stands resolutely against
the forces of a gale, no matter what kind of trials one is assailed by, and
maintains an unwavering determination and conviction. The phrase further
connotes a strength and luminescence of character, as well as a staunch brilliance
this. A flower that blossoms in the serene security of a flower garden or a
green house is so beautiful to look at that it is enchanting. But the life of
such a flower is so short and fleeting that it does not deeply touch a person's
heart. Conversely, a single flower that has survived the wind and snow to
blossom in a forbidding crevice of a boulder high in the mountains possesses a
characteristically strong beauty and impressive drive that is quite moving.
it comes to the peacefulness of waves, lakes and streams are shallower than a
great ocean, so the waves in lakes and streams are also quieter. However, one
cannot launch oneself out into the world from an inland lake or stream.
though there may be huge, raging waves in a great ocean due to flowing of warm
and cold currents, the broad, deep ocean embraces all rivers and many
torrential rains, and buried beneath its depths, it contains limitless
long as one is swept away by billowing waves, sheds tears because of the
tempests of life, and grieves while succumbing to various hardships, one does
not understand the true nature of tribulation and demonic obstacles.
just these great obstacles, illnesses and wild tempests that polish a person,
make her mature and force her to be strong and resolute. You must attain a life
condition from which you w view these problems as the good friend who inspires
you to achieve massive personal reform.In The Three Devils and
, the Daishonin states:
There is something extraordinary in the ebb and now
of the tide, the rising and setting of the moon, and the way in which summer,
autumn, winter and spring give way to each other. Something uncommon also
occurs when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood. At such a time, the three
obstacles and four devils will invariably appear, and the wise will rejoice
while the foolish will retreat.
In Winter Always Turns to Spring
he further states:
Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in
winter, which never fails to turn into spring. Never have I seen or heard of
winter turning into autumn. Nor have I ever heard of any believer in the Lotus
Sutra who remained a common mortal. A passage from the sutra reads, Among those
who hear of this Law, there is not one who shall not attain Buddhahood.
Here are two
proverbs: “Joyous events are followed by many demons,” and, “Adversity makes a
are a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin, I pray that you will read the Daishonin's
Gosho and the quintessence of the Lotus Sutra with your heart, and practice the
same with your body.
Concerning the Devil of Death
the Three Obstacles and Four Devils mentioned in Buddhism is called the Devil
of Death. This term simply refers to such fatal calamities as premature,
accidental or unforeseen deaths. Or, the term can also connote the doubts about
faith which arise from such an accident or death, and because of which, in the
end, a person foolishly nips the attainment of Buddhahood in the bud.
is no mistake that the loss of life due to a traffic accident or unexpected
disaster is certainly a tragic event. But the loss of faith which can result
from such tragedy is the most lamentable thing of all.The Nirvana Sutra warns that this loss of
faith destroys innumerable good deeds and deprives us of good thoughts, and
further, destroying purity of heart, this loss of faith becomes the cause for
falling into the hell of incessant suffering.
could be the causes for such tragic disasters and unnatural deaths?
first thing that comes to mind is carelessness and negligence. I believe that
living in this danger-filled modern society, all of us have encountered one or
two such near-miss experiences. If we think about such situations as driving in
a car, or children running out into traffic, just being alive today is a thing
to be wondered about. In Encouragement
to a Sick Person
, the Daishonin states: It is amazing that I
should have survived until now. (MW, 6-32)
are there not people who are under the illusion that because they have faith
and embrace the Mystic Law, they can do anything they want, or it will be all
right even if they are a little excessive? If there are such people, they had
better correct such superficial ideas immediately. It is exactly because we are
disciples of the Daishonin and members of Nichiren Shoshu that we must be all
the more careful on a day to day basis, and must eliminate arrogance,
negligence and haughtiness from our hearts.
caution to maintain pure faith and prudence is the greatest safeguard in
preventing unforeseen calamity. In The
Strategy of the Lotus Sutra
, the Daishonin tells Shijo Kingo: It
is a matter of rejoicing that your usual prudence and courage, as well as your
firm faith in the Lotus Sutra, enabled you to survive unharmed. (MW, 1-245)
second cause for tragedy and unnatural death is retribution for slandering the
True Law. There is a passage in the Hosshi Chapter of the Lotus Sutra which
states: If, with a single evil word, someone slanders either a lay person or a
priest who recites the Lotus Sutra, that sin is extremely grave. (Kaiketsu, p. 386) If a person slanders
the True Law, is filled with jealously and resentment for practitioners of
Buddhism and compounds slanderous disbelief within his heart, that person will
unknowingly spoil his own fortune, and will internally sustain invisible sins,
which will, in due course, manifest distinctly in that person's life as
external retribution in the form of illness, injury or unexpected accident. The
intensity of this slander will further become general retribution, devastating
the hearts of a whole nation's people, and resulting in the economic and
territorial aggression of war. In An
Outline of the Zokurui and Other Chapters,
Nichiren Daishonin warns:
Even among those who embrace the Lotus Sutra
according to its words, there are some who resent the votary of the Lotus Sutra
either because of their greed, anger and stupidity, or because of worldly
matters, or because of his various actions.
This passage gives us a warning about the horror of
the sin of the person who might be said to be a believer in the Mystic Law, but
who, because of the direct effects of earthly desire, is filled with jealous
resentment, turns his back on the Buddha and deceives the Master.
third reason for such tragedies, as was stated earlier, is that an unnatural
death may be for the sake of lessening one' s karmic retribution.
I cite once
again this significant passage from the Nirvana Sutra. Even if one suffers a
vicious death, is severely condemned, reviled, whipped, beaten or imprisoned in
chains; or even if one starves or suffers privations, he will not fall into
Hiyu Chapter of the Lotus Sutra
explains, the Buddha sees the true aspect of our world.
He sees living beings seared and consumed by birth,
old age, sickness and death, care and suffering...they undergo the pain of
poverty and want, the pain of parting from loved ones, the pain of encountering
those they detest - all these many different kinds of pain. Yet living beings,
drowned in the midst of all this, delight and amuse themselves, unaware,
unknowing, without alarm or fear. They feel no sense of loathing and make no
attempt to escape.
(The Lotus Sutra,
Translated by Burton Watson, p. 59)
In spite of the existence of the finest, most
priceless jewel with which one can overcome illness, tragic disasters and
unnatural deaths, the present situation is that people revile it and will not
pick it up. Even though they hear the True Law, they entertain misgivings and
doubts, and do not have the courage to understand true reason. Because of this,
people are unable to lighten the most severe calamities. It is explained in
Buddhism that the four sufferings and eight sufferings, which occur in every
person's life, are clearly trivial in comparison to falling into the hell of
incessant suffering as a result of slanderous disbelief. These sufferings are:
1) the suffering of birth; 2) the suffering of sickness; 3) suffering caused by
the aging of the body, and subsequent decrease in vitality and life condition;
4) the suffering of death (although this term refers to the anxiety one
experiences at the last moment of one's life, that suffering is clearly less
severe than the incessant suffering of hell); 5) the suffering of parting from
those whom one loves (the suffering which arises from parting from one's body
at death, from wealth, and from immediate family and other relatives; 6) the
suffering of meeting those one hates (ultimate evil retribution and fear of the
infinite); 7) the suffering of being unable to obtain what one seeks (seeking
freedom from evil teachings, suffering and bad fortune, but being unable to
attain it; also suffering from vainly desiring a hoped for situation, a variety
of beneficial powers, good teachings, comfort, good effects and supporting
conditions, but being unable to obtain them); 8) sufferings arising from the
five components of life, i.e., form (physical aspect of life), perception,
conception, volition to act, and consciousness.
Tragic accidents and calamities are not the
only things to be dreaded. Far more fearful is for these to result in doubts
about faith, loss of the True Law, turning to erroneous ideologies,
philosophies and religions, and the undermining of body, mind and life itself.
The is why the Nirvana Sutra explains:
Do not fear such things as evil elephants. You
should rather fear evil friends. The reason for this is that an evil elephant
can destroy only the body, but not the heart. Evil friends can destroy both
body and heart together.
Looking at it from a different angle, even if a
practitioner of the True Law should happen to encounter an unexpected, tragic
accident, we should realize that through the beneficial power of the True Law,
he will rather..
1. draw the effects he would otherwise
receive in his next life, to receive them in the present.
2. lessen the grave retribution of
3. receive a lesser punishment in this
lifetime instead of falling into hell in the future, and both here and now,
simultaneously transform past slanders against the Law and future karmic
suffering, thereby achieving a supreme reformation in his life.
Furthermore, should a person die because
of an accident or disaster, there is actually no other way to offer true
memorial prayers for their immediate attainment of the supremely enlightened
state of Buddhahood than through the True Supreme Law of Myoho Renge Kyo. The
more tragic and pitiful the individual's demise, the more we must offer
memorial prayers through this True Law to assist their attainment of
is absolutely no other direct path to Buddhahood for a person whose slander of
the Law and heresy are great, than through the Supreme Law of Myoho Renge Kyo.
I hope that you will never forget the following passage that the Daishonin
wrote in Hell and Buddhahood
Even though one may practice the provisional
teachings for uncountable aeons, he will only fall into hell if he turns
against the Lotus Sutra.
There is also
this passage from Repaying
Debts of Gratitude
A hundred years of practice in the land of Perfect
Bliss cannot compare to the benefit gained from one day's practice in this
The Daishonin is giving us instruction that even if
our life in this world is brief, the benefit we can obtain by embracing the
Mystic Law and chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for even one day is greater than
practicing in the land of Perfect Bliss for one hundred years. Moreover, the
following explanation is given in On
the Protection of the Nation.
At the moment
of death, even though a person who believes in the Lotus Sutra neither prays to
the Buddha, recites the Sutra nor enters a place of Buddhist practice, he shall
obtain the benefit of unconsciously illuminating the universe and soundlessly
reciting the entirety of the sutras. Though he does not reach to pick up the
scroll of a single sutra, he shall receive the benefit of having taken hold of
the entire eight volumes of the Lotus Sutra.
(Zenshu, p. 56)
is it that we embrace the Mystic Law? You should know that this immense Mystic
Law exists for the sake of living people, whether they are troubled, sick or
unhappy, who want their lives to blossom with great strength and breadth, both
in this life and the next. But the Mystic Law also exists for the sake of those
who have already died in the past. I hope you will pay particular attention to
this next passage, which is also from On
the Protection of the Nation.
Both priests and lay believers should pray earnestly
to be able to discern between heretical and true paths. After that, you should
embrace the True Law and pray for your next life. Should you lose your life
hereafter and fall into the three evil paths, even if you regret it later, it
will be too late.
At the same time, you should always think that this
is the last moment of your life, and with that sense of mission and resolution,
you should offer your life for the propagation of the Mystic Law. In Heritage of the Ultimate Law of
the Daishonin states:
Be resolved to summon forth the great power of your
faith, and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with the prayer that your faith will be
steadfast and correct at the moment of your death.
states in Reply to Ueno-dono:
You are going to die one way or another. Since this
is so, you should offer you life for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, even if
If you possess the conviction that this is the last
moment of your life and single-mindedly yearn to see the Buddha, not begrudging
your life to do so, if you live for the sake of the Lotus Sutra and offer your
life for the propagation of the Mystic Law, there should be no reason for
doubt, interference or jealous resentment. If you do that, you should be able
to live fully and imperturbably on a daily basis. We are taught in the Gosho, The Gift of Rice:
But what is the meaning of Nam? This word derives
from Sanskrit, is pronounced kuei-ming
in Chinese and kimyo in Japanese, and
means to devote one's life. Ultimately it means to offer our lives to the
Even Confucius states: If you hear about the True
Path one morning, you should not mind dying that same evening. Rather than
doubting that you may die today, or being frightened, you should follow the
Daishonin's golden words from The
Strategy of the Lotus Sutra.
Regard your survival as wondrous. Moreover, you should be grateful that you have
been able to live until today, and should deeply consider the significance of
the joy of your having been able to encounter the supremely profound secret of
the Mystic Law sooner than other people in this world.
words, “...let us live longer”, from the Juryo
Chapter of the Lotus Sutra indicate, we should consider each morning's
awakening as a new life bestowed on us by the Buddha. In other words, we are
reborn each and every day. We should further live each day with a feeling of
dignity and a desire to make that day significant.
will never come again. It is only because we think in terms of a seventy or
eighty year life span that we are careless about today. Instead of that, it is
important to discover how to live today without the slightest regret.
live for your mission with this kind of resolution, then no matter how
painfully sad the realities that befall you may be, True Buddhism will cause
the potential of Buddhahood within your life to blossom forth, and give you the
wisdom and power to overcome those difficulties.
most important thing in life is not how to succeed, but how to overcome
painfully sorrowful tribulations, obstacles, and devils. I want to tell you
that True Buddhism will foster that power deep within your heart.
Concerning Definite (Immutable) and Indefinite (Mutable) Karma
often say such things as, No matter what I do, I just don't have any luck. Then
again, there are those who do not seem to work very hard, but who ride the
waves of success to become stars and celebrities.
may not be so bad as long as a person actually feels more blessed than others,
but when such a person lapses into adverse circumstances, in many cases he will
try to sidestep his own neglect and lack of faith and self-righteousness to
blame others, or curse himself, and finally judge things emotionally and become
embroiled in unfounded rumors or popular opinion.
as I mentioned earlier in reference to the lessening of karmic retribution,
you committed countless offenses and accumulated much evil karma in the past,
you must expect to suffer retribution for everything you have done. You may be
reviled, cursed with an ugly appearance, be poorly clad and poorly fed, seek
wealth in vain, be born to an impoverished or heretical family, or be
persecuted by your sovereign. It is due to the blessings obtained by protecting
the Law that one can diminish in this lifetime his suffering and retribution.
The Letter to the Brothers
blessings gained by practicing the True Law are so great that we can change our
karma to suffer terribly in the future by meeting relatively minor sufferings
in this life.
We are told that we should realize that we can
actually transmute our future incessant sufferings in hell by receiving a
lesser retribution during this lifetime.
there may be people who wonder how Buddhism can make such statements, or who
are perplexed by them, the Shinchikan
Sutra nevertheless states:
If you want to understand the causes that existed in
the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you
want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the
causes that exist in the present.
passage indicates, if we look at the karmic seeds planted within a person's
life, the fortuitous wisdom he or she possesses and the law which he or she
practices, all of which are illuminated by the law of cause and effect
transcending the Three Existences of past, present and future, we will probably
see why Buddhism can make such claims.
fifth volume of the Maka Shikan, the
Great Master T'ien-t'ai states: “Due to karmic actions in the past, a person
entrusts his life to his mother and father to [reside in the mother's womb] and
be born in his present body.”
in The Opening of the Eyes
the Daishonin states: “And the mirror of' the Buddha's Law makes clear the
causal actions committed in the past.” (MW, 2-200) Moreover, in the following passages,
the Daishonin clarifies the smiling life condition of his inner heart as the
votary of the Lotus Sutra, the True Buddha Able to Endure, who overcame such
great persecutions as the exiles to Izu and Sado, and the Tatsunokuchi and
As seen from the enlightened eye of wisdom of the
Juryo Chapter of the Essential Teachings, the original possession of illness
and suffering are clarified. Accordingly, this is the wisdom of the Buddha of
Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom.
(Ongi Kuden, Zenshu, p.773)
this, I rejoiced, saying that I had long expected it to come to this.
the Buddha's Behavior, MW, 1-175)
Therefore, with the knowledge that our present
sufferings from illness are due to past karma, we should now practice of the
True Doctrine of the True Law and the True Master, and know that the fortune of
that practice will shine both now and in our future lives.
are the causes of definite and indefinite karma? What causes our karma to be
heavy or light? Here is an explanation of definite karma given in the Yuga Shichi Ron.
Karma due to Desire
This is karma which derives from desires
for fame, riches, and honor, or from earthly desire or slander.
Karma due to Repetitive Action
This is heavy karma sustained from continuous
slander repeated incessantly over a long period of time, or from accumulated
slander committed through the encouragment of others.
Karma due to slander of a beneficial
[object of veneration that enables one to cultivate
fortune] (Jap., Den):
Through slander of people to whom one owes a debt of
gratitude, such as one's parents, or through slander of the Three Treasures
(the Buddha, the Law and the Priesthood), one will lose good fortune and earn
A person whose life possesses even one such offense
will sustain heavy, definite (immutable) karma. Other, lighter, karma is
The fifteenth volume of the Kusha Ron gives the following explanation of definite karma.
Definite karma sustained through strong
In other words, this refers to people who,
motivated by strong earthly desire, commit slander. However, this may also
result from profound reflection with a pure heart. If a person who has not yet
encountered the True Law takes faith in a heretical religion, even though the
person may reflect deeply based on a pure, but minor goodness, the result is
that the person increasingly commits slander. No matter how well intentioned a
person is, if he practices an evil path, minor goodness will be transformed
into great evil.
Karma sustained through habitual conduct.
This refers to people who accumulate
slander through habits that are passed on by his forebears.
Karma arising from a conduct relating to
that which possesses merit.
This refers to the offenses of people
who slander the merit of the Buddha, the Law and the Priesthood. In other
words, it refers to people who slander the True Law.
Definite karma arising from conduct
towards one’s mother and father.
In other words, this is retribution that results
from causing suffering, anguish, or injury to people to whom one owes a
profound debt of gratitude, such as one's parents. However, if a person is
fettered by the bonds of affection and thereby clings to the heretical religion
of his mother, father or master, this will result in the sustaining of definite
karma, even if it was done in the name of filial piety.
The aforementioned represent heavy, immutable karma
sustained because of evil conduct. Karma not contained within the
aforementioned categories is indefinite or mutable.
The above classifications discuss the severity of
karma. The fourth chapter of the Daibibasha
Ron, meanwhile, explains three periods in which karmic retribution (whether
definite or indefinite) is received.
Karma (Present-life retribution):
This refers to people who have made bad karmic
causes in the present life, and who also receive that retribution during this
life. This is explained in the Kanpotsu
Chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
sees a person who accepts and upholds this sutra and tries to expose the faults
or evils of that person, whether what he speaks is true or not, he will in his
present existence be afflicted with white leprosy.
(The Lotus Sutra, Translated by Burton Watson,
The Great Master T'ien-t'ai explains: The Lotus
Sutra is the core of all the sutras.... if out of arrogance one does not
refrain from slighting it, the tongue in one's mouth will break out in sores.
Next-life Karma (Next life retribution)
This refers to people who have made bad karmic
causes in their present existence, but who, instead of receiving retribution
for their slander against the Law in this lifetime, will receive that
punishment in their next existence. The Hiyu
Chapter of the Lotus Sutra explains:If
a person fails to have faith, but instead slanders this sutra, immediately he
will destroy all the seeds for becoming a Buddha in this world...When his life
comes to an end, he will enter the Avichi hell... (The Lotus Sutra, Translated by Burton Watson,
p.74) The Daishonin
explains the reason for this in The
Opening of the Eyes.
various similes illustrate the fact that icchantika of the most evil type will
invariably fall into the hell of incessant suffering at the time of their
successive rebirths. Therefore they do not suffer any immediate punishment in
glance, people who accumulate slander seem to enjoy a happy life. The reason
they do not seem to suffer any kind of retribution in the present is because
they will be punished either in their next or, as explained below, in a later
2. Later Karma (Retribution received later than the next rebirth)
refers to people who make negative karmic causes in their present lives, and
who will receive the effects after two or more rebirths. In his Shakusen, volume Ill, the Great Master
Miao-1o chronicles: “Retribution for slander against the Law will continue for
many aeons.” In The Opening of the Eyes, the Daishonin states:
But not a single person who adheres to these
ninety-five types of higher or lower [non-Buddhist] teachings ever escapes from
the cycle of birth and death. Those who follow teachers of the better sort
will, after two or three rebirths, fall into the lowest states of existence,
while those who follow evil teachers will fall into the lowest states in their
very next rebirth.
He makes it clear that if we do not base our lives
on the Mystic Law, setting aside the good or evil of other matters, we will one
day have to receive retribution for our slander against the Law.
you should know that in cases where the sufferings of daily life, the devil of
illness, and other human afflictions are the result of light, indefinite
(mutable) karma, such problems can probably be resolved either through one's
own efforts or the powers of medical science. But you should also know that if
the same sufferings are the result of heavy, definite (immutable) karma, no
matter how hard one tries, there will be no relief. Even if one consults a
doctor, it will be fruitless, and the suffering will penetrate more and more
Whatever one says, there is no way to change
immutable karma and find true relief, except through the Mystic Law. I would
like you to read and engrave in your heart these words that the Daishonin wrote
to Shijo Kingo in the Gosho, General
The Yuga Ron
of Bodhisattva Maitreya and the Dai Ron
of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna both state that if one's illness is caused by
immutable karma, even the most excellent medicine will turn I to poison, but if
he believes in the Lotus Sutra, poison will change into medicine.
In this way, a person with immutable karma, who is
unaware of the Mystic Law, will, in any event, have to suffer retribution one
day, whether it be in this life, in successive rebirths or in the life
following his next one. But in the case of mutable karma, the thirty-first
chapter of the Nirvana Sutra states the following.
Retribution for mutable karma will be received
immediately upon encountering the [appropriate] influence. Without the
influence, there will be no retribution.
passage indicates, it is most important that we do not form relationships with
evil masters, evil paths or evil doctrines. In The Entity of the Mystic Law
, the Daishonin
The mystic principle of the true aspect of reality
is one, but if it encounters evil influences it will manifest delusion, while
if it encounters good influences it will manifest enlightenment.
This passage teaches that it is most important that
we avoid evil influences and evil friends, that we form connections with good
friends, the True Law and the True Doctrine, and walk unswervingly on the great
path of life.
Nirvana Sutra explains the following about people who do not listen to the
Lotus Sutra, and who lack faith and commit slander against the Law.
1. Their mutable karma will become
2. Retribution for karma created in this
life, that should have been received in this life, will be postponed until the
3. Mild retribution will become severe
4. Retribution that should have been
received while the person was alive, will be received with ore severity after
the person has fallen into hell.
In other words, slanderers of the Law
may not seem to have anything untoward happen to them, and may seem to enjoy
lives of ease. But in fact, they do not encounter suffering in this life
because these kinds of people will receive in their next life the retribution
that they were supposed receive in this one, and because retribution that they
should have received while alive will be received more severely while they are
living in hell. They live their lives like crazed or abortive mowers, whose
fruit does not come to fruition in this lifetime. The Daishonin gives
instruction concerning this matter in
Letter to Horen
They are like men who have already been sentenced to
execution and are awaiting their turn in prison. While they are in prison,
regardless of what evil acts they may commit, they will receive no further
punishment other than the death sentence already passed upon them.
The Daishonin compares a slanderer of the Law to a
prisoner facing the death penalty. Even if he commits a number of unpardonable
actions while in prison, if he has only a short while to live before his death
sentence is carried out, it is not likely that he will be reprimanded for those
Buddhism expounds the Five Signs of Decay of a Heavenly Being. No matter how
prosperous or opulent a person becomes, no matter whether one becomes royalty,
nobility, a person with imperial authority, or a celebrity, the influence of
that status lasts at most five or ten years, and is no more than a fleeting
dream, like a castle built on the sand.
to the Nirvana Sutra, the Five Signs of Decay of a Heavenly Being are:
1. His Clothing Will Become Dirty.
matter how beautiful one's clothes are now, they will become soiled, and will
one day become stained. It is impossible to maintain their original beauty
forever. Moreover, however many clothes one may have, one actually wears only a
few items at a time. One cannot wear all one's clothing all at once; having
wealth and finery does not instantly bring happiness.
2. The Flowers Crowning His Head Will Wither.
matter how splendid a mower garland may be, before long it will fade and wilt.
In the same way, no matter how one boasts of youthfulness or intelligence, the
mind grows old, and before one is aware of it, both mind and body are assaulted
by illness. Of course, the only way to remain eternally youthful and maintain
vigorously powerful vitality is to embrace and practice the True Law.
His Body Will Smell and Become Defiled.
refers to the thriving of the three poisons of greed, anger and stupidity
within one's life. One will also eventually be afflicted with karmic illness
and suffer from a dirty, foul-smelling body.
4. His Armpits Will Sweat.
by the affairs of the world and terrified by calamity, one's armpits will break
out into a cold sweat. In other words, the joy derived from being royalty or
nobility will, in an instant, make a complete turnabout, and before one
realizes it, one's happiness and conviction will disappear and be lost.
He Will Feel No Value in Living.
That is, in one's heart, one will not be able to
find any intrinsic joy in life's activities. Nor will one's life be vibrant. It
could be said that this is a life condition is such that one can neither
continue to enjoy one’s own position, nor freely or tranquilly accomplish one's
mission, either at home, at the work place, or within society. When going off
to work, one worries about one's superiors and colleagues, and when at home,
one worries about work. One feels no inner composure, nor can one find enough
contentment for enthusiasm to well up from the depths of one's heart. Neither
can one find delight or joy in living. Such a situation could be called the
inability to feel any value in being alive.
this way, when our lives are not based on the True Doctrine of the True Law and
the True Master, when they are not founded on the world of Buddhahood, which is
as indestructible as a diamond and causes a fragrant blossoming within our
hearts, in the end, the meeting joy and pleasure we experience is like a
momentary, crazed mower or an empty image that crumbles in an instant. That
cannot be called true happiness or glory.
contrast, a person of the True Law can transform his life and environment into
the land of eternally tranquil light, and carve for himself a life condition
that allows him to take full pleasure in his own mission.
no matter how one might be assailed by the sufferings of past karma, one can..
transform immutable karma into mutable karma;
2. turn around karmic retribution for
present causes that should have been received in one's next life, so that it is
received in this life, and attain the strong life condition written about in Letter to the Brothers:
The doctrine of ichinen
sanzen revealed in the fifth volume of the Maka Shikan is especially profound. If you propagate it, devils
will arise without fail. Were it not for these, there would be no way of
knowing that this is the true teaching.
make severe karmic retribution light;
4. receive light karmic retribution in
this lifetime (instead of falling into hell in one's next life.)
Again, it is
stated in Letter lo the Brothers:
This means that we, who now believe in the True Law,
once committed the sin of persecuting its votary in the past, and should
therefore be destined to fall into a terrible hell in the future.However, the blessings gained by practicing
the True Law are so great that we can change our karma to suffer terribly in
the future by meeting relatively minor sufferings in this life.
As this passage indicates, it is because of the
power of the Mystic Law, because of the power Of its benefit, that we can both
lessen and escape our karmic retribution, and in due course, bear the fruit of
true, indestructible happiness. In the Gosho, On Prolonging Life
, the Daishonin states:
Sincere repentance will eradicate even immutable
karma, to say nothing of karma which is mutable.
(ibid., p. 229)
When I, Nichiren, prayed for my mother, not only was
her illness cured, but her life was prolonged by four years.
(ibid., p. 230)
As these passages indicate, the Daishonin proved
that his mother was cured through the beneficial power of the Mystic Law, and
instructed Toki Jonin's wife that she should also be healed through the Mystic
Law's beneficial power. You will not resolve immutable karma by being bitter
about it or cursing it. The following instruction is found in Conversation between a Sage and an
If only you chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, then what
offense could fail to be eradicated? What blessing could fail to come?This is the truth, and it is of great
profundity. You should believe and accept it.
As this passage instructs, if we embrace the
Dai-Gohonzon, chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and attain the life condition of
Buddhahood, which is as indestructible as a diamond, there is no need to fear
anything, whether our karma is immutable or mutable.
I believe that karmic suffering polishes human life
and polishes faith, and increases the brilliance of one's happiness. The Great
Master Miao- lo clarifies four forces that change immutable karma in the eighth
volume of his Guketsu.
Changing immutable karma entails four forces. The
first is the power of the path, the second is the protection of the Buddha, the
third is the method of treatment and the fourth is not begrudging one's life.
The Twenty-sixth High Priest of Taisekiji, Nichikan
Shonin, further stated in the Yakuo-bon
Lecture on the Eradication of Illness (Research Text 10-608)
First, the power of the path is the power of faith,
that is, faith in the golden words of the Master of the Juryo Chapter of the Essential Teachings. As for the second, the
protection of the Buddha, if faith is already strong, one will obtain the
protection of all the Buddhas. Obtaining the protection of the Buddha also
depends on the aforementioned power of faith. Third, the method of treatment refers
to the fact that we should chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, not doubting the Mystic
Law of the Juryo Chapter of the
Essential Teachings. Chanting the Mystic Law is the same as using fine
medicine. And fourth, not begrudging one's life means that without begrudging
our lives for even a split second, we should sweat day and night, morning and
evening, to attain Buddhahood. With possession of these four forces, one can
transform immutable karma without fail.
First, with the power of faith, second,
with the protection of the Buddha, third, with Daimoku, and fourth, without
begrudging our lives, we should strive to teach all mankind the path to
Buddhahood. In other words, the one supreme path to eradicating the immutable
retribution of grave karma entails praying for Kosen-rufu and persevering in
Shakubuku and teaching activities.
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