I HAVE just carefully read your letter. To reply, the ultimate Law of life and death as transmitted from the Buddha to all living beings is Myoho-renge-kyo. The five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo were transferred from Shakyamuni and Many Treasures, the two Buddhas inside the treasure tower, to Bodhisattva Superior Practices, carrying on a heritage unbroken since the infinite past. Myo represents death, and ho, life. Living beings that pass through the two phases of life and death are the entities of the Ten Worlds, or the entities of Myoho-renge-kyo.
Tien-tai says that one should understand that living beings and their environments, and the causes and effects at work within them, are all the Law of renge (the lotus).1 Here living beings and their environments means the phenomena of life and death. Thus, it is clear that, where life and death exist, cause and effect, or the Law of the lotus, is at work.
The Great Teacher Dengyo states, The two phases of life and death are the wonderful workings of one mind. The two ways of existence and nonexistence are the true functions of an inherently enlightened mind.2 No phenomenaeither heaven or earth, yin or yang,3 the sun or the moon, the five planets,4 or any of the worlds from
hell to Buddhahoodare free from the two phases of life and death. Life and death are simply the two functions of Myoho-renge-kyo. In his Great Concentration and Insight, Tien-tai says, Arising is the arising of the essential nature of the Law, and extinction is the extinction of that nature. Shakyamuni and Many Treasures, the two Buddhas, are also the two phases of life and death.
Shakyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment countless kalpas ago, the Lotus Sutra that leads all people to Buddhahood, and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from one another. To chant Myoho-renge-kyo with this realization is to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death. This is a matter of the utmost importance for Nichirens disciples and lay supporters, and this is what it means to embrace the Lotus Sutra.
For one who summons up ones faith and chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the profound insight that now is the last moment of ones life, the sutra proclaims: When the lives of these persons come to an end, they will be received into the hands of a thousand Buddhas, who will free them from all fear and keep them from falling into the evil paths of existence.5 How can we possibly hold back our tears at the inexpressible joy of know-