Beneficial Medicine for All Ills
I have received your gift of two baskets of leached persimmons and a basket of
eggplants. About the lay priest your husband's illness: in China there were
physicians called Huang Ti and Pien Ch'ueh, and in India there were the doctors
Jisui and Jivaka. These men were each the treasures of their age and teachers to
the physicians of later times. Yet they could not even begin to compare to the
person called the Buddha, a physician without peer. This Buddha revealed the
medicine of immortality: the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. Moreover, he
taught that these five characters are "beneficial medicine for the illnesses of all
the people of Jambudvipa."
Your husband is a person of Japan, which is included within Jambudvipa, and
now he suffers from bodily illness. Yet the sutra passage clearly refers to
beneficial medicine for all ills. In addition, this sutra of the Lotus is the greatest of
all medicines. A wicked ruler called King Virudhaka killed more than five hundred
women of the Buddha's clan, whereupon the Buddha sent his disciple Ananda to
Eagle Peak to obtain the blue lotus flower. When he touched it to the bodies of
the women, they returned to life and after a week were reborn in the
Trayastrimsha Heaven. Because the flower called the lotus is endowed with such
splendid virtue, the Buddha likened it to the Mystic Law.
A person's death does not necessarily come about through illness. In our own
times, the people of Iki and Tsushima, though not suffering from illness, were all
slaughtered by the Mongols in a single stroke. Likewise, illness does not
necessarily result in death. Now, this illness of your husband's may be due to the
Buddha's design, for the Vimalakirti and Nirvana sutras both speak of sick people
attaining Buddhahood. From illness arises the mind that seeks the Way.
Among all diseases, the five cardinal sins, the incorrigible disbelief of the
icchantika and slander of the Law are the grave ailments that especially pained
the Buddha. The people of Japan today, without a single exception, are afflicted
with the most serious of all diseases, the grave illness of major slander. I refer to
the followers of the Zen, Nembutsu and Ritsu sects, and to the Shingon teachers.
Precisely because their ailment is so serious, they neither recognize it
themselves nor are others aware of it. And because this illness grows worse,
warriors from throughout the four seas will attack at any moment, and the ruler,
his ministers and the common people will all be destroyed. To behold this with
one's very eyes is indeed a painful thing.
In his present life, the lay priest, your husband has not appeared to have had
especially strong faith in the Lotus Sutra. But now that the forces of karma
accumulated in the past have caused him to suffer this long illness, he seeks the
Way day and night without cease. Whatever minor offenses he may have
committed in this lifetime must surely have already been eradicated, and by virtue
of his dedication to the Lotus Sutra, the great evil of [his past] slander will also be
dispelled. Were he to go right now to Eagle Peak, he would feel as delighted as if
the sun had come out and illuminated all the ten directions; and he would find
himself rejoicing, wondering how an early death could be so happy a thing. No
matter what might befall him on the road between this life and the next, he should
declare himself to be a disciple of Nichiren. To give an analogy: though Japan is a
small country, if one should but announce that he is a vassal of the lord of
Sagami, he will command unquestioning awe. I, Nichiren, am the most
recalcitrant priest in Japan, but with respect to my faith in the Lotus Sutra, I am
the foremost sage in the entire world. My name has reached the pure lands of the
ten directions, and heaven and earth surely know of it. If your husband declares
that he is Nichiren's disciple, no evil demon can possibly claim ignorance of the
I have no words to express my thanks to you for your sincerity in sending
offerings on many occasions.
With my deep respect.
Monkeys rely on trees, and fish depend on water. You, a woman, rely upon your
husband. Being loath to part from him, you have shaved off your hair and dyed
the sleeves of your robe black. How could the Buddhas of the ten directions not
have pity upon you? Nor could the Lotus Sutra ever abandon you. Believing this,
you must entrust yourself to it.
The sixteenth day of the eighth month