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Major Writings - Nichiren Daishounin

Curing Karmic Disease
Home
The True Entity of Life
The One Essential Phrase
The Essence of the Juryo Chapter
The True Object of Worship
The Selection of the Time
The Problem to Be Pondered Night and Day
Reply to the Mother of Lord Ueno
The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings
Teaching, Practice, and Proof
On Omens
On Persecutions Befalling the Buddha
The Votary of the Lotus Sutra Will Meet Persecution
Thus I Heard
The Izu Exile
The Origin of the Urabon
The Royal Palace
The Meaning of Faith
The Third Day of the New Year
Reply to the Followers
The Causal Law of Life
The Swords of Good and Evil
The Teaching for the Latter Day
The Unmatched Fortune of the Law
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Letter to Konichi-bo
Letter to Misawa
An Outline of the Zokurui and Other Chapters
Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha Made by Shijo Kingo
Curing Karmic Disease
Admonitions Against Slander
Bestowal of the Mandala of the Mystic Law
The Receipt of New Fiefs
The Unity of Husband and Wife
Letter to Ko-no-ama Gozen
Winter Always Turns to Spring
On Filial and Unfilial Conduct
A Father Takes Faith
A Warning against Begrudging One's Fief
The Mongol Envoys
Reply to Tokimitsu
Reply to Myoho Bikuni Gozen
Beneficial Medicine for All Ills
A Sage Perceives the Three Existences of Life
The Proof of the Lotus Sutra
Letter to Jakunichi-bo
Aspiration for the Buddha Land
Reply to Lord Shijo Kingo
The Universal Salty Taste
Good Fortune in This Life
The Wealthy Man Sudatta
Letter to Gijo-bo
New Year's Gosho
Persecution at Tatsunokuchi
Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child
Reply to Lord Matsuno's Wife
The Birth of Tsukimaro
Banishment to Sado
Great Evil and Great Good
Happiness In This World
Letter from Echi
Letter to Endo Saemon-no-jo
Letter to Priest Nichiro in Prison
On Flowers and Seeds
On Itai Doshin
Postscript to the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Reply to a Believer
Reply to Ko Nyudo
Reply to Lady Onichi-nyo
Reply to Lord Matsuno
Rissho Ankoku Ron
The Difficulty of Sustaining Faith
The Offering of a Summer Robe
The Property of Rice
The Wonderful Means of Surmounting Obstacles
Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward
Upholding Faith in the Gohonzon
The Drum at the Gate of Thunder

Curing Karmic Disease

I see from your letter that you have been stricken with a painful affliction. Knowing you are in agony grieves me, but, on the other hand, it is cause for delight. The Vimilakirti Sutra states, ‘At that time the wealthy Vimilakirti thought to himself, ‘I am ill, lying on my bed, [yet why does the World-Honored One, man of great compassion, not take pity on me?] ... At that time the Buddha said to Monjushiri, ‘Go visit Vimilakirti and inquire after his illness.’’ The Nirvana Sutra says, "At that time, the Thus Come One ... assumed the appearance of one who is ill in body, and lay on his right side like a sick man.’ The Lotus Sutra states, ‘[The Thus Come One is well and happy,] with few ills and few worries.’ The eight volume of the Maka shikan states, ‘Vimilakirti lay in his sickbed in Vaishali and utilized his illness to expound his teachings . . . The Thus Come One used his death to teach the eternity [of life] and clarified the power [of Buddhism] through sickness. It also says, ‘There are six causes of illness: (1) disharmony of the four elements; (2) improper eating or drinking; (3) inappropriate practice of seated meditation; (4) attack by demons; (5) the work of devils; and (6) the effects of karma."

The Nirvana Sutra reads, "There are three types of people whose illness is extremely difficult to cure. The first are those who slander the great vehicle; the second, those who commit the five cardinal sins; and the third, icchantikas or persons of incorrigible disbelief. These three categories of illness are the gravest in the world."

It also states, "One who creates evil karma in this life . . . will surely suffer [its retribution] in hell.... By making offerings to the three treasures, one can avoid falling into hell after death, but will instead suffer the retribution in this life in the form of the afflictions of the head, eye or back." The Maka shikan states, "Even if one has committed grave offenses . . . their retribution can be lessened in this life. Thus, illness occurs when evil karma is about to be dissipated." In his Daichido ron, Bodhisattva Nagarjuna says, "Question: [...Answer:] If that is so, then none of sutras from the Kegon to the Hannya haramitsu is a secret teaching, but the Lotus Sutra is secret.... [The Lotus Sutra is] like a great physician who changes poison into medicine." T’ien-t’ai explained the quotation further, saying, "This can be likened to a skilled physician who changes poison into medicine.... That persons of the two vehicles were given the prophecy of their enlightenment in this sutra means that it [the sutra] changes poison into medicine. This is what the Daichido ron means when it says, ‘The various sutras are not secret teachings; only the Lotus Sutra is secret.’ " The Maka shikan says, "The Lotus Sutra can cure them [illnesses], which is why it is called myo or wonderful." Miao-lo says, "Because it can cure that which is thought to be incurable, it is called myo or wonderful."

The Nirvana Sutra states, "King Ajatashatru of Rajagriha was wicked by nature . . . He killed his father, and thereafter, in a fit of remorse, he developed a high fever...

Because of the fever from remorse, boils broke out over his entire body. They were foul and evil-smelling, repelling all who came near. At that time his mother Vaidehi, tried to help by applying various medicines, but this only made the boils worse; there appeared to be no hope of recovery. The king said to his mother, ‘These boils have a spiritual cause and do not arise from a disharmony of the four elements. Even if people say that there is a physician who can cure them, that could not possibly be...’ Then the World-Honored One, the compassionate and merciful teacher, entered into a ‘moon-loving’ meditation for the king’s sake. While he dwelled in the meditation, a brilliant ray of light shone forth from the Buddha. This ray of clear coolness fell upon the body of the king, and in that instant the boils were healed."

The seventh volume of the Lotus Sutra, the sutra of the great wisdom of equality, says, "Because this sutra provides good medicine for the ills of the people of Jambudvipa. If a person who has an illness is able to hear this sutra, then his illness will be wiped out and he will know neither old age nor death."

In light of the above quotations, it would seem that your illness cannot have originated anywhere outside the six causes of disease. I will set aside the first five causes for the moment. Illnesses of the sixth, which result from karma, are the most difficult to cure. They vary in severity and one cannot make any fixed pronouncements, but we know that the gravest illnesses result from the karma created by slandering the Lotus Sutra. Even Shen Nung, Huang Ti, Hua T’o and Pien Ch’ueh threw up their hands, and Jisui, Rusui, Jivaka and Vimalakirti likewise kept silent. Such illnesses can only be cured by the good medicine of Shakyamuni Buddha’s Lotus Sutra, as that sutra itself explains.

The Nirvana Sutra, referring to the Lotus Sutra, states, "Even the offense of slandering this correct teaching [will be eradicated] if one repents and professes faith in the correct teaching.... No teaching other than this correct teaching can save or protect one. For this reason one should take faith in the correct teaching." The Great Teacher Ching-hsi says, "The Nirvana Sutra is itself pointing to the Lotus Sutra and saying that it is the ultimate." He further says, "[Even if one reviles the correct teaching and falls into the evil paths, one can create causes for eventual attainment of the benefit.] It is like the case of a person who falls to the ground, but who then pushes himself up from the ground to rise to his feet again. Therefore, even though one may slander the correct teaching, one will eventually be saved from the evil paths."

Bodhisattva Vasubandhu was originally a scholar of Hinayana Buddhism. In an effort to prevent Mahayana Buddhism from spreading throughout the five regions of India, he wrote five hundred treatises on Hinayana doctrines. He awoke to the error of his views, however, when he talked with Bodhisattva Asanga. Vasubandhu told Asanga that he wanted to cut out his tongue in order to eradicate the error of his former preaching. Asanga restrained him, saying, "Instead, use your tongue to praise Mahayana teachings." Then Vasubandhu immediately wrote five hundred treatises on Mahayana doctrines in order to refute Hinayana doctrines. He also vowed that he would never preach another word of Hinayana teachings for the rest of his life. In this way he eradicated his past offense and was later reborn in the heaven where Bodhisattva Miroku dwells.

Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha, a native of eastern India, was thirteenth among the successors of the Buddha’s teachings. At one time Ashvaghosha had been a leader of Brahmanism. However, when he debated with the Buddhist monk Punyayashas over the validity of their respective teachings, he quickly realized the superiority of Buddhist teachings. Ashvaghosha was prepared to behead himself in order to pay for his past offense, saying, "I have been my own worst enemy, leading myself to hell." But Punyayashas admonished him, saying, "Do not behead yourself! Instead, use your brains and your mouth to praise Mahayana teachings." Ashvaghosha soon thereafter wrote the Daijo kishin ron or "Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana," in which he refuted all Brahman teachings as well as Hinayana teachings. This marked the beginning of the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in India.

The Great Teacher Chi-tsang of Chia-hsiang-ssu temple was among the most outstanding scholars in China. He was the founder of the Sanron school, and lived in Hui in Wu. Believing that none could equal him in knowledge, he raised the banner of his pride to the highest place. He challenged the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai to discuss the meaning of the passage which states: "Among the sutras I have preached, now preach, and will preach, [this Lotus Sutra is the most difficult to believe and the most difficult to understand]." In the debate, Chi-tsang was soundly defeated, and thereupon renounced his misguided beliefs. In order to expiate his serious offense of the slander of the correct teaching and those who upheld it, he gathered more than one hundred eminent scholars and begged the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai Chih-che to lecture to them. Chi-tsang used his body as a bridge for the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai to climb onto [the preaching platform], supporting T’ien-t’ai’s feet with his head. Moreover, he served T’ien-t’ai for seven years, cutting firewood and drawing water for him. He ceased giving lectures of his own, dispersed his followers and, in order to purge himself of his great conceit, refrained from reciting the Lotus Sutra. After the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai’s death, Chi-tsang had an audience with the emperor of the Sui dynasty to pay his respects. As he was leaving, he clutched His Majesty’s knees and tearfully bade him farewell. Sometime later Chi-tsang looked into an old mirror and, seeing his reflection, condemned himself for his past errors. All these many acts of penitence were done to eradicate his evil karma.

The Lotus, the wonderful sutra of the single vehicle, is the golden words of the three groups of Buddhas. Likened to a bright jewel, it ranks highest among all the sutras which "I have preached, now preach, and will preach." There are passages in the Lotus Sutra which say, "Among the sutras, it [the Lotus Sutra] holds the highest place," and "[. . . among those sutras] the Lotus is the foremost!’’ The Great Teacher Dengyo says that [the Hokke (Lotus) sect is] the very one founded by Shakyamuni Buddha himself.

I have made a thorough study of the various Shingon sutras such as the Dainichi, Kongocho and Soshitsuji, but have found nothing written in them to compare with the above passages of the Lotus Sutra. The claim [that these sutras are superior to the Lotus Sutra] appears to be no more than the prejudiced view held by Shan-wu-wei, Chin-kang-chih, Pu-k’ung, Kobo, Jikaku and Chisho. Now, more than ever, we realize that it is the real intent of the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Dainichi to place the Lotus Sutra above all other sutras. When the three great teachers Kobo, Jikaku and Chisho, the founders of the Shingon teachings in Japan, went to China during the T’ang dynasty, they inherited from Hui-kuo and Fa-ch’uan the deceptions and delusions originally held by the three Tripitaka masters Shan-wu-wei, Chin-kang-chih and Pu-k’ung. Returning to Japan, they propagated the Lotus Sutra and the Shingon teachings in such a way as to make it seem that the dim light of fireflies -- the Shingon mandalas of the two realms -- outshone the brilliant moon of the Lotus Sutra, the supreme vehicle which surpasses all other sutras of the past, present and future. Not only that, they slandered the Lotus Sutra, saying that it was a work of "childish theory" and belonged to "the region of darkness." However, these comments were like a dagger turned against those who made them. It is not the Lotus Sutra but the Dainichi Sutra that is filled with childish theory and is in the region of darkness. The founders of the Shingon teachings were warped, to begin with. So how could their disciples and followers be upright! Contamination at the source of a river will pollute its entire length. Because of this, the Land of the Sun has had a long, dark night and the Sun Tree is now about to be blighted by an alien frost.

Although you were not in the mainstream of Shingon, you were still a retainer of a patron of that teaching. You lived for many years in a house whose family was dedicated to an erroneous doctrine, and month after month your mind was infected by the teachers of error. Though huge mountains may crumble and the great seas dry up, this offense of yours will not easily pass away. However, because of the influence of past karmic bonds and the mercy that the Buddha bestows on you in this lifetime, you have met me, a priest of humble learning, although you least expected it, and have determined to reform your ways. Therefore you will be spared worse suffering in the future, though at the moment your offense has brought on these boils from which you suffer.

King Ajatashatru suffered from severe boils because he committed the five cardinal sins and slandered the correct teaching. But his boils disappeared instantly when the light produced by the Buddha’s "moon-loving" meditation illuminated his body. And, though it had been predicted that the king had only twenty-one days left to live, his life span was extended forty years. In deep appreciation, he earnestly requested one thousand arhats to record the golden words of the Buddha’s lifetime, thus spreading the Buddha’s teachings into the ages of the Former, Middle and Latter Days of the Law.

Your boils have resulted from only one offense -- slandering the correct teaching. The beneficent power of the Mystic Law you now embrace is superior to that of the "moon-loving" meditation. There is no reason why your boils cannot be healed and your life span extended. If these words of mine do not prove to be true, you should shout, "The Buddha, the eye of the entire world, is a great liar, and the Lotus, the wonderful sutra of the single vehicle, is a scripture full of untrue flourishes! The World-Honored One should give me proof if he cares about his good name! All the sages and worthies should come to protect me if they do not want to be untrue to their vows!"

A letter cannot convey all that one would like to say, and words cannot fully express what is in the heart. The rest will have to wait until the next time we meet.

With my deep respect,
Nichiren

The third day of the eleventh month

Reply to Ota Nyudo
 

  

Home
A Comparison of the Lotus Sutra and Other Sutras
A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering
Earthly Desires Are Enlightenment
Clear Sake Gosho
Letter to Niike
Letter to Domyo Zemmon
Letter to Akimoto
Letter from Sado
Reply to Nichigon-ama
Roots of Good Fortune
Reply to Jibu-bo
No Safety in the Threefold World - Nichiren Daishounin
Letter to Horen - Nichiren Daishounin
King Rinda - Nichiren Daishounin
Jozo and Jogen - Nichiren Daishounin
Bodhisattva Hachiman - Nichiren Daishounin
On Prayer - Nichiren Daishounin
The Opening of the Eyes Part I
The Opening of the Eyes Part II
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man
Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man Part II
Establishment of the Legitimate Teaching for the Protection of the Country
How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood Through the Lotus Sutra
The Learned Doctor Shan-wu-wei
The Entity of the Mystic Law
The Pure and Far-reaching Voice
Reply to Takahashi Nyudo
The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country
The Doctrine of Attaining Buddhahood in One's Present Form
Encouragement to a Sick Person
The Essence of the Yakuo Chapter
The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra
The Supreme Leader of the World
The Treasure of a Filial Child
The Supremacy of the Law
Reply to Nii-ama
The Workings of Bonten and Taishaku
The Story of Ohashi no Taro
The Teaching in Accordance with the Buddha's Own Mind
The Treatment of Illness and the Points of Difference between Mahayana and Hinayana and Provisional
Repaying Debts of Gratitude
On Practicing the Buddha's Teachings
On the Urabon
Letter to the Priests of Seicho-ji
Letter to Nichimyo Shonin
Letter to Shomitsu-bo
Questions and Answers on Embracing the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Sairen-bo
Rationale for Submitting the Rissho Ankoku Ron
Persecution by Sword and Staff
Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins
Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters
Reply to Lord Hakiri Saburo
Reply to Yasaburo
Letter to Ichinosawa Nyudo
Letter to Myomitsu Shonin
Reply to Hoshina Goro Taro
Wu-lung and I-lung
White Horses and White Swans
The Sutra of True Requital
The Kalpa of Decrease
The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream
The Third Doctrine
The One-eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log
Letter to Nakaoki Nyudo
General Stone Tiger
The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life
Lessening the Karmic Retribution
Letter to the Brothers
Hell is the Land of Tranquil Delight
On Prolonging Life
On the Buddha's Behavior
On the Buddha's Prophecy
On the Treasure Tower
Propagation by the Wise
The Embankments of Faith
The Dragon Gate
Strategy of the Lotus Sutra
Reply to Kyo-o
The Person and the Law
The One Essential Phrase
The Gift of Rice
The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon
Letter of Petition from Yorimoto
Introduction and Preface to the Ongi Kuden: Namu Myoho Renge Kyo [Devotion to the Lotus Sutra]
Muryogi Sutra [Sutra of Innumerable Meanings]
Chapter 3: Simile and Parable [Hiyu]
Chapter 4: Faith and Understanding [Shinge]
Chapter 6: Prediction [Juki]
Chapter 7: Phantom City [Kejoyu]
Chapter 8: Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples [Gohyaku Deshi Juki]

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