April 2010 Oko

 

I would like to thank you for attending todayfs Oko ceremony despite your busy schedule. I have offered your sincere Gokuyo to the Gohonzon, and sincerely prayed to the Gohonzon for the further development in faith; eradication of your negative karma from this and infinite past lifetimes; to enjoy a safe and long life; for peace and harmony to reign in your home; for all matters to proceed forth smoothly; and for the successful achievement of all your great objectives in this and future existences.

 

For those who have requested Toba, I have offered my sincere prayers to the Gohonzon for the peace and happiness of your late relatives, friends, and ancestors.

The Proof of the Lotus Sutra

"As your fatherfs heir, you have, of your own volition, wholeheartedly embraced the Lotus Sutra. Despite threats and intimidation from the eminent to the lowborn, you remain uncowed and have not forsaken your faith. Because you look as if you will soon become a Buddha, the Heavenly Devil and his delusive forces are attempting to disrupt your faith with illness. Either way, life must end sometime. Do not be swayed in the least. As for you demons, if you persist in tormenting this believer, you are swallowing a great sword, embracing an inferno and choosing to become the archenemies of all Buddhas of the three existences and ten directions. Heed my warning! You should immediately cure this person of his illness and protect him and in so doing, free yourselves from the grave sufferings of the demonfs world. If you disregard my words, your heads will be broken into seven pieces in this life and after your deaths, you will fall into the Great Hell of Incessant Suffering. Once and for all cease your threatening and afflicting of the believers! If you ignore my warning, you will regret it. You will profoundly regret it."

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ (The Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin - 1, p. 109)

 

This month's Oko focuses on the above Gosho gThe Proof of the Lotus Sutra.h This Gosho was written on the February 28, 1282, to Nanjo Tokimitsu when Nichiren Daishonin was 61 years old, residing at Mt. Minobu. This Gosho, from Volume I of the Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin, are replies Nichiren Daishonin wrote to Nanjo Tokimitsu, or Lord Ueno, a lay believer who helped found the Head Temple Taisekiji. Unlike Shijo Kingo, who served under a landowner, Nanjo Tokimitsufs family were landowners. He sided with the peasants of Atsuhara during the Atsuhara Persecution, resulting in various hardships from the government. At the age of 24, he fell ill, perhaps from the stress and worries of struggling against the Shogunate government.@ Nichiren Daishonin wrote this Gosho to Nanjo Tokimitsu, as encouragement to overcome the difficulties he was being confronted with at the time.

 

gThe Proof of the Lotus Sutrah was delivered to Nanjo Tokimitsu by Nikko Shonin, written eight months before Nichiren Daishonin's passing on October 13, 1282.@ Nichiren Daishonin's own health at this time was deteriorating from the toll his body had taken from facing persecutions, and the very cold climate at Mt. Minobu which had further weakened his health. Despite all of this, Nichiren Daishonin didnft think about His own health when He wrote this Gosho. He knew that it would be a tremendous loss for the continuing propagation of True Buddhism if Nanjo Tokimitsu didnft survive his illness. The Daishonin thought so highly of Nanjo Tokimitsu that he addressed him as gLord Ueno the wiseh in one of his replies. Because of the great compassion from Nichiren Daishonin, this Gosho encouraged Nanjo Tokimitsu, and he was able to live another fifty years until his passing on May 1, 1332.

 

We all want a life free of sickness, though this is impossible of course. Nichiren Daishonin states in the Gosho, "The Treatment of Illness",

 

"The illnesses of human beings may be divided into two general categories, the first of which is illness of the body. Physical diseases comprise one hundred and one disorders of the earth element, one hundred and one imbalances of the water element, one hundred and one disturbances of the fire element and one hundred and one disharmonies of the wind element, a total of four hundred and four maladies. These illnesses do not require a Buddha to cure them.@ Skilled physicians such as Jisui, Rusui, Jivaka and Pien Ch'ueh prescribed medicines which never failed to heal physical sickness. The second category is illness of the mind. These illnesses arise from the three poisons of greed, anger and stupidity and are of eighty-four thousand kinds. They are beyond the healing power of the two Brahman deities, the three ascetics, or the six non-Buddhist teachers."

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ (MW- 3, pgs. 273-74)

 

In addition to what is described in this quote, included are at least an additional 130 types of diseases that are designated as specified diseases, without a known cause or cure. Furthermore, it creates tremendous physical and financial burden not just on those who acquire the disease, but also for the families who have to care for them. It is therefore important that we understand the causes of these illnesses.

 

Nichiren Daishonin recites a quote from the Maka Shikan in the Gosho gCuring Karmic Diseaseh,

There are six causes of illness:

1) disharmony of the four elements;

2) immoderate eating or drinking;@

3) poor posture;

4) an attack by demons from without;

5) the work of devils from within;

6) the effects of karma.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ (MW- 2, pgs.247-48)

 

I would like to further explain this quote and the causes of these illnesses.

·        The first cause, disharmony of the 4 elements, is from a sudden change in weather or environment. It also points to the declining function of our body as well.

·        The second cause, immoderate eating or drinking, is created from an unbalanced diet, or unbalanced meal. Many of the lifestyle-related illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome, are caused by this.

·        The third cause, poor posture, is from mental disharmony, the collapse of onefs mentality. Mental illness is also said to be the civilized illness. Once civilization advances forward and we are filled with material wealth, we lose focus on the joy and objective of living, and become ill.

·        The fourth cause, an attack by demons from without, is literally an attack from a demon, which we canft realize. This illness creates an epidemic or calamities such as H1N1 or tuberculosis.

·        The fifth cause, the work of devils from within, is caused by devils that create neurosis and mental illness, which drain your life force, such as depression, impedes mental function, and destroys the functions of the mind and nerves.

·        The sixth cause, the effects of karma, is the most difficult of them all, because it comes from the causes we created from our past lives as well as causes we create in this lifetime. Karmic illnesses such as AIDS or Alzheimers are so serious that there is neither a cause nor a cure available.

 

Nichiren Daishonin states in the Gosho gCuring Karmic Diseaseh,

"They vary in severity and one cannot make any fixed pronouncements, but we know that the gravest illnesses result from slandering the Lotus Sutrac. Such illnesses can only be cured by the beneficial medicine of Shakyamuni Buddha's Lotus Sutra, as that sutra itself explains."

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ (MW- 2,pgs 249-50)

 

He states the most severe case of illness is created through the slandering of the True Law, and the only way this illness can be cured is through the great medicine of the Lotus Sutra, or the Three Great Secret Laws.

 

Of course, the more types of illnesses there are, the more types of causes there are that create them. Regardless of the cause, if we do fall ill, we should keep the following Gosho from Nichiren Daishonin in mind :

 

gBeneficial Medicine for All Illsh:

"c.this illness of your husband's may be due to the Buddha's design, for the Vimalakirti and Nirvana sutras both speak of sick people attaining Buddhahood. From illness arises the mind that seeks the Way."

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ (MW-5, p.280)

As the Daishonin teaches us, let us view illness from the standpoint of faith as the perfect chance to accumulate the merit for our enlightenment, to strengthen our faith, and the opportunity to strive in our practice of Jigyo-keta.

 

In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.