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日蓮大聖人『御書』解説

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2022年 05月 19日

75, Indicating Illness

テキスト, 手紙自動的に生成された説明

Letter to Nun Sennichi: Owned by Myosenji Temple, Sado City (Important Cultural Property)

 During the midst of the plague, Abutsubo in Sado came all the way to see Nichiren. It happened in July, 1278, Nichiren was 57 years old. He almost jumped for joy, but the first thing he asked was the plague. Its vividness is depicted in his letter to Abutsubo's wife, the Nun Sen'nichi.

 “In view of the epidemics that raged in the year before last, last year, and this year, I was so concerned how all of you would become, I prayed earnestly to the Lotus Sutra, but still I felt uneasy. Then, on the twenty-seventh day of July, at the hour of the monkey (3:00–5:00 P. M.), I found Abutsu-bo visiting. As if embracing, I asked him first how your wife was, and how the Kou Nyudo was. He told me that neither of them had fallen ill, and that Kou Nyudo had set out along with him, but because the early rice was nearly ripe, and because Ko Nyudo had no sons to help him harvest it, he had had no choice but to turn back. When I heard all this, I felt as if I were a blind man who had recovered a sight, or as if my deceased father and mother had visited me from the palace of King Yama in a dream, I had felt it to be very glad.

 Both here and Kamakura, very few of my believers died of this pestilence. It is fortunate and unbelievable! It is as if all of us were riding in the same boat and, though it would be too much to expect that we should all survive, still, when the boat had broken, are we helped as if we could just meet the rescue boat? Or it is as if the dragon deities help us and make it possible for us to reach the shore safely. We think that it is indeed wondrous.” ‘Letter to the Nun Sennichi’

 Nichiren is relieved to hear the story of Abutsu-bo. Because he is in the mountains, information is transmitted only in fragments.

Although the disease was widespread, few believers died of disease in Kamakura or Kai. He testified that he was rescued by the power of the Lotus Sutra as if he met the rescue boat. Nevertheless, "It would be too much to expect that we should all survive". The plague was so terrible.

 A letter came to Nichiren from a young female believer.

 She was a daughter of Shinbei Ishikawa, who was the manager and lord of the manor of Omosu, Fuji District, and her mother was an older sister of Tokimitsu Nanjo, so it is thought that she was a believer of Nichiren from early on. His daughter, namely Tokimitsu's niece, became seriously ill and she had written to Nichiren several times, but her condition suddenly changed, so she had written her readiness that this was her last letter.

 “One polished rice, the taro of horse load and the five pieces of konnyaku, you took kindly the trouble to send it to me.

 First of all, the young lady, the daughter of the Ishikawa-no-Hyoe Nyudo, often sent me letters, and in one that reached me on the night of the fourteenth or fifteenth day of the third month, she wrote, ‘When I observe the world around me, it seems that even healthy people will be unable to survive this year. I was ill for a long time, but my illness has suddenly worsened, and I imagine that this will be my last letter to you.’ And has she already passed away?" 'Writings of Buddhist Memorial Service'

The letter says, "When I observe the world around me, it seems that even healthy people will be unable to survive th\is year." Everyone in Japan must have felt this way. A desperate crisis was at hand.

 Nichiren, who was informed by Tokimitsu that the daughter chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo at her last, praised the daughter in his reply to Tokimitsu saying that she would surely become a Buddha.

 “Now, in this age of the Latter Day of the Law, neither the Lotus Sutra nor the other sutras have the power to save the people. Only Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can make all people become a Buddha. This is not just my own judgment. It is the judgment of Shakyamuni, Taho, the various Buddhas in the ten directions, and the innumerable Bodhisattvas who appear from the underground as like the dust particles of a thousand worlds. It is a grave mistake to mix this Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with other teachings. After the sun has risen, of what use is a lamp? When rain falls, are dewdrops necessary? Should one need to feed a newborn baby anything other than its mother’s milk? When using good medicines, it is unnecessary to add the other medicine. Although this woman had possessed no special knowledge of these teachings, she had this doctrine naturally and continued to uphold the faiths until the last moment of her life. How precious! How noble-minded!"

 Nichiren attributed this pestilence to slander against the Lotus Sutra. Slander against the correct Law affects the person and the Law. He says that the plague is the recompense of blaming the law and hating the saint.

 “It is said that the Yellow River becomes transparent once in a thousand years. A sainthood appears only once in a thousand years. The Buddha appears in the world only once during countless kalpas. Yet even if one could meet the Buddha, it is more difficult to encounter the Lotus Sutra. And even if one could encounter the Lotus Sutra, it is more difficult for an ordinary person of the latter times to meet the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra. The reason is that the practitioner who preaches the Lotus Sutra in the latter times surpasses the twelve hundred virtuous others who preach the sutras of the Kegon, Agon, Hodo, Hannya, and Dainichi and did not preach the Lotus Sutra. The great teacher Myoraku construes and says, “The person who gives alms to this will have a good fortune that surpasses the alms of Buddha holding the ten virtuous titles, and one who troubles this receives a punishment that own skull is destroyed into seven pieces.”

 “The epidemics that the Japanese nation has suffered since last year, as well as those of the past Shoka era (1257–1259), are totally without precedent in the reigns of the more than ninety emperors who have ruled since the beginning of the imperial era. These calamities appear to stem from the fact that the people bear a grudge against the presence of a sainthood in this country. This is exactly what is meant when it is said that a dog that barks at a lion will have its bowels ripped open, and that an Asura who tries to swallow the sun and moon will have his head broken. Two-thirds of all the people in Japan have already fallen ill from the pestilences, and half of these have died. A one-third remains does not sicken, but they are afflicted in mind. Visibly or not visibly, their heads have probably been broken.”

 “There are four kinds of punishment. These are overall, individual, visible and invisible punishment. If the people bear a grudge against a saint, an overall punishment will sweep across the entire country. Besides, it extends to the four heavens, the six heavens of the world of desire, and the four meditation heavens. (Note) When bear a grudge against a wise, merely there will be enemy only. The epidemics now spreading in Japan are overall punishment. Surely the people are bearing a grudge against a saint living in this country. Because a mountain contains life, its plants and trees do not die. Because a country has a sage, that country is protected from ruin. Ignorant people do not know that plants and trees do not die because life is in a mountain. Nor probably ignorant people know that a country will ruin because people bear a grudge against sainthood.” ‘Letter to the Lady Nichinyo’

Although Nichiren did not contract the plague, his life continued to be difficult.

He was in the mountains. The offerings of the landowner, Hakii, could not be counted on. Famine continued. Nichiren could not even eat without the support of his disciples and followers who were far away.

In January, Nanjo Tokimitsu, the head of Fuji-Ueno Township, sent offerings to Nichiren in the mountains. It consisted of 90 pieces of rice cakes and five Japanese yam cakes.

Nichiren sent Tokimitsu a reply of thanks. In the letter, Tokimitsu described the harsh life he was leading. Nichiren was fifty-eight years old.

“In the first place, wood is regarded as a treasure at the seaside, and salt is regarded as a treasure among the mountains. In a drought, water is thought of as a treasure, and in the darkness, a burning light is thought a treasure. Women see their husbands as their treasures, and men look upon their wives as their very lives. A king sees the populace as his parents, and the populace see their food as Heaven. Over these last two or three years a great plague has raged in Japan and perhaps half the population have lost their lives. Moreover, since July of last year, due to a terrible famine, people who have no surviving relatives and live far from human habitation, and priests living in deep mountains, find it hard to sustain their lives.” ‘Reply to lord Ueno’

In December of the same year, Nanjo Tokimitsu sent a load of white rice through the deep snow.

Tokimitsu was a young man of only 21 years old. He inherited the strong faith of his father, who had passed away early. He continued to send his food for survival to the mountains as if possessed.

Nichiren, who was in dire straits, sent him a tearful letter. He may appear stout-hearted to the other disciples, but he reveals his true heart to Tokimitsu, who maintains a strong religious faith.

“I, Nichiren, was born in this country of Japan, have never deceived others, never stolen, or committed any sort of offense.

Though I am a teacher who is not at fault in the Latter Day, in the times of a ruler who favors a culture, the military arts will be neglected. And those who live for sensual pleasures have malice to the persons of strict morals. I was born in an age that puts its faith in the Nembutsu, Zen, Shingon, and Precepts teachings. I propagate the Lotus Sutra among them. So I am hated by the ruler and high ministers and by the common people. And so in the end I live in the mountains. What arranges, I wonder, do the heavenly deities have for me? Snow piles up five feet deep, blocking the mountain trails that are deserted to begin with, and no one comes to visit. My clothes are thin and hardly keep out the cold, my food supplies are exhausted, and it would seem that my life must come to an end. At such a moment, to receive a gift like yours, one that has saved my life, is an occasion for both joy and lamentation. Just when I had resigned myself to the thought of being starved to death, your gift came like oil added to a small lamp. How wonderful, how welcome, how generous the heart of the giver! Surely it must have been the arrangement of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra.

Sincerely yours,

Nichiren

The twenty-seventh day of December in the second year of Koan [1279]. 

The reply to Lord Ueno.”

“I had resigned myself to the thought of being starved to death." If a modern disciple or believer were to read this sentence, he or she would probably feel crushed.

Nichiren finally became ill. He suffered from severe diarrhea.

His illness was caused by fatigue of mind and body.

From his 32nd year to the present, he has never rested. In addition, a series of great hardships had taken their toll on his mind and body. The burning of Matsubagaya, the exile to Izu, the serious wounding at Komatsubara, the desperate situation at the mouth of the dragon, the wind and snow on Sado Island, and his present poverty.

He wandered between life and death many times. No ordinary person can even imagine what it must have been like for him. All of this was for the purpose of manifesting and bequeathing the Buddha law to the world.

This illness occurred in the midst of the great hardship of Kingo Shijo and the Ikegami brothers. He had been encouraging his beloved disciples and sending them the letters while risking his own lives.

The believers knew this and worked hard to bring medicine and food to Kai. Among them, Kingo Shijo, who was skilled in medical science, temporarily restored his health with medicinal herbs. A letter of thanks is still on file.

 

“The epidemics that have plagued Japan since last year cannot be classified within the four hundred and four diseases of the body. They are therefore beyond the healing powers of Kada and Henzyaku. Nor do they correspond to any of the eighty-four thousand diseases that can be treated by the Hinayana or provisional Mahayana teachings. For this reason, the prayers offered by the priests of the schools based on those teachings not only fail to end epidemics, but aggravate them even more. Even if the epidemics subside this year, they will surely break out again in years to come. They will probably end only after something dreadful happens.”

“The Lotus Sutra says, "Even if I were to practice the art of medicine and by its methods cure someone's disease, the person would become more ill with some other malady and perhaps in the end die . . . only worsen his condition." The Nirvana Sutra states, "At that time King Ajase of Rajagriha . . . got boils all over his body. . . . The king said to his mother : 'These boils have their origin in the mind; they do not arise from the four elements. Even if people say that there is a physician who can cure them, it cannot possibly be so.'" Myolaku said, "Wise men can perceive the portent of things, snakes know the way of snakes."

The present epidemics are like the virulent boils of King Ajase, which could not be cured by anyone but the Buddha. They can only be eliminated by the Lotus Sutra.

I developed diarrhea on the thirtieth day of the twelfth month of last year, and until the third or fourth day of the sixth month of this year, it became more frequent each day and more severe each month. Just when I thought it must be my immutable fate, you sent me a good medicine. Since I took it, my ailment has steadily diminished and is now barely a hundredth part of its former intensity. I wonder if Shakyamuni Buddha has changed for you to help me, or perhaps the Bodhisattvas emerging from the earth have bestowed upon me the good medicine of Myoho-renge-kyo. Chikugo-bo will explain all this to you in more detail.” ‘Illness of Two Kinds’

In addition, Munenaga Ikegami sent miso. Miso is ideal for restoring physical strength.

Nichiren wrote a letter of thanks, expressing his concern for his brothers who had overcome great hardship.

“I received the tub of miso that you sent me. The symptom of my diarrhea has recovered thanks to Lord Shijo Kingo's medicines. And now, tasting his miso, my mind is more and more healed.

Thank you, thank you. I pray to the Lotus Sutra for health to accompany you during this year.

Respectfully yours,

Nichiren

June 26th

To lord Munenaga Ikegami”


To be continued.


Note

The six desires.

The six kinds of desires possessed by ordinary beings. They are described in the Profound Doctrine of the Lotus Sutra.

(1) Color desire (which causes greed for blue, yellow, red, white, long and short, male and female, and other color boundaries)

(2) Greedy desire to look good (one who is greedy because of one's fine appearance).

(A desire to be loved by observing the lovely attitude of a person, including his or her bearing, behavior, and smiling face.)

(4) desire for words and speech (attachment to words and beautifully composed elegant poems).

(5) The desire for fine bones (the desire for the delicate, soft, smooth skin of both men and women).

(6) Desire for physiognomy (the desire to see the lovely physiognomy of men and women)

The four meditation heavens.

The four types of meditation, namely, first, second, third, and fourth meditation, which arise in the four meditation heavens of the color world, leaving behind the deceptions of the world of greed. They are described in the Daichidoron and other texts.




by johsei1129 | 2022-05-19 19:45 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)
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