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The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin

The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin - Page 33

3
A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering

W HEN I asked him about what you told me the other day, I found it to be exactly as you said. You should therefore strive in faith more than ever to receive the blessings of the Lotus Sutra. Listen with the ears of Shih K’uang and observe with the eyes of Li Lou.1

In the Latter Day of the Law, the votary of the Lotus Sutra will appear without fail. The greater the hardships befalling him, the greater the delight he feels, because of his strong faith. Doesn’t a fire burn more briskly when logs are added? All rivers flow into the sea, but does the sea turn back their waters? The currents of hardship pour into the sea of the Lotus Sutra and rush against its votary. The river is not rejected by the ocean; nor does the votary reject suffering. Were it not for the flowing rivers, there would be no sea. Likewise, without tribulation there would be no votary of the Lotus Sutra. As T’ien-t’ai stated, “The various rivers flow into the sea, and logs make a fire burn more briskly.”2

You should realize that it is because of a profound karmic relationship from the past that you can teach others even a sentence or phrase of the Lotus Sutra. The sutra reads, “Nor will they hear the correct Law—such people are difficult to save.”3 The “correct Law” means the Lotus Sutra; it is difficult to

save those who are deaf to the teachings of this sutra.

A passage from the “Teacher of the Law” chapter reads: “If one of these good men or good women [in the time after I have passed into extinction is able to secretly expound the Lotus Sutra to one person, even one phrase of it, then you should know that] he or she is the envoy of the Thus Come One.” This means that anyone who teaches others even a single phrase of the Lotus Sutra is the envoy of the Thus Come One, whether that person be priest or layman, nun or laywoman. You are already a lay practitioner and therefore one of the “good men” described in the sutra. One who listens to even a sentence or phrase of the sutra and cherishes it deep in one’s heart may be likened to a ship that crosses the sea of the sufferings of birth and death. The Great Teacher Miao-lo stated, “Even a single phrase cherished deep in one’s heart will without fail help one reach the opposite shore. To ponder one phrase and practice it is to exercise navigation.”4 Only the ship of Myoho-renge-kyo enables one to cross the sea of the sufferings of birth and death.

The Lotus Sutra speaks of “someone finding a ship in which to cross the water.”5 This “ship” might be described as follows: As a shipbuilder of