depths of the hell of the crimson lotus and the hell of the great crimson lotus.2 The second volume of the Lotus Sutra reads, When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avichi hell, [be confined there for a whole kalpa, and when the kalpa ends, be born there again]. He will keep repeating this cycle for a countless number of kalpas.3
Your late husband has escaped such agonies, for he was a lay supporter of Nichiren, the votary of the Lotus Sutra. The sutra reads, If someone . . . should enter a great fire, the fire could not burn him. . . . If one were washed away by a great flood and called upon his name, one would immediately find oneself in a shallow place.4 It also reads, The good fortune you gain thereby . . . cannot be burned by fire or washed away by water. How reassuring! How encouraging!
After all, even if one looks for hell in some faraway place, the iron rods of the wardens of hell and the accusing cries of the demon guards do not exist apart from one. This teaching is of prime importance, but I will impart it to you just as Bodhisattva Manjushri explained the secret teaching of the attainment of Buddhahood in ones present form to the dragon kings daughter. After hearing it, strive even more earnestly in faith. One who, on hearing the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, makes even greater efforts in faith is a true seeker of the way. Tien-tai states, From the indigo, an even deeper blue.5 This passage means that, if one dyes something repeatedly in indigo, it becomes even bluer than the indigo leaves. The Lotus Sutra is like the indigo, and the strength of ones practice is like the deepening blue.
The two characters for hell can be interpreted to mean digging a hole in the ground. Can anyone avoid having a hole dug for them when they die? This is what is called hell. The flames that
burn ones body are the fires of the hell of incessant suffering. Ones wife, children, and relatives vying for position around ones body as they move toward the grave are the wardens and demon guards of hell. The plaintive cries of ones family are the voices of the guards and wardens of hell. Ones twoandahalffootlong walking stick is the iron rod of torture in hell. The horses and oxen that carry ones body are the horse-headed and ox-headed demons, and the grave is the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering. The eighty-four thousand earthly desires are eighty-four thousand cauldrons in hell. Ones body leaves home for the mountain of death, while the river beside which ones filial children stand in grief is the river of three crossings. It is utterly useless to look for hell anywhere else.
Those who embrace the Lotus Sutra, however, can turn all this around. Hell becomes the Land of Tranquil Light; the burning fires of agony become the torch of the wisdom of a Thus Come One of the reward body; the dead person becomes a Thus Come One of the Dharma body; and the fiery inferno, the room of great pity and compassion6 where a Thus Come One of the manifested body abides. Moreover, the walking stick becomes the walking stick of the true aspect, or the Mystic Law; the river of three crossings becomes the ocean of the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana ; and the mountain of death becomes the towering peak of earthly desires are enlightenment. Please think of it in this way. Both attaining Buddhahood in ones present form and opening the door of Buddha wisdom7 refer to realizing this and to awakening to it. Devadattas changing the Avichi hell into the blissful Land of Tranquil Light, and the dragon kings daughters attaining Buddhahood without changing her form, were nothing other than this. It is be