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Winter Always Turns to Spring

If the sun and the moon were not in the heavens, how could plants grow? Children usually have both father and mother, and it is difficult for them when one parent is dead. Your husband had to leave behind a daughter, a son who is ill, and you, his wife, who suffer from a poor constitution. To whom could he entrust his family before leaving this world?

At the end of his life, the Lord Buddha lamented, "Now I am about to enter nirvana. The only thing troubling my heart is King Ajatashatru." Bodhisattva Kashyapa then asked him, "Since the Buddha's mercy is impartial, your regret in dying should stem from compassion for all mankind. Why do you single out King Ajatashatru?" The Buddha replied, "Suppose that a couple has seven children, one of whom falls ill. Although the parents love all their children equally, they worry most about the sick child." T'ien-t'ai cited this passage in his Maka Shikan. To the Buddha, all people are his children. Just like parents who worry most about their sick child, among all people, the Buddha is most concerned about a man evil enough to slay his own parents and become an enemy of the Buddha's teachings. King Ajatashatru was the ruler of Magadha. He murdered his father, King Bimbisara, a powerful patron of Shakyamuni, and became an enemy of the Buddha. In consequence, the heavens forsook him, the sun and the moon rose out of rhythm, and the earth shook violently as if to cast him off. All his subjects came to oppose Buddhism, and the neighboring kingdoms started to attack Magadha. All this happened because King Ajatashatru took the wicked Devadatta for his teacher. Finally, on the fifteenth day of the second month, leprous sores broke out all over his body, and it was foretold that he would die and fall into the hell of incessant suffering on the seventh day of the third month. Saddened by this, the Buddha was reluctant to enter nirvana. He lamented, "If I can but save King Ajatashatru, all other wicked people can also be saved."

Your late husband had to leave behind his daughter and ailing son. It must have troubled him deeply that his aged wife, as feeble as a withered tree, would be left alone to worry about her children. The persecutions which befell Nichiren must also have weighed heavily on his heart. Since the Buddha's words are in no way false, the Lotus Sutra is certain to spread. Knowing this, your husband must have felt that something wonderful would happen and this priest would one day be highly respected. When I was exiled, he must have wondered how the Lotus Sutra and the Jurasetsu could possibly have allowed it to happen. Were he still living, how joyful he would be to see Nichiren pardoned! How glad he would be to see my predictions fulfilled, now that the Mongol Empire has attacked Japan and the country is in crisis. Such are the feelings of common mortals.

Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, which never fails to turn into spring. Never have I seen or heard of winter turning into autumn. Nor have I ever heard of any believer in the Lotus Sutra who remained a common mortal. A passage from the sutra reads, "Among those who hear of this Law, there is not one who shall not attain Buddhahood."

Your husband gave his life for the Lotus Sutra. His entire livelihood depended on a small fief, and that was confiscated because of his faith. Surely that equalled giving his life for the Lotus Sutra. Sessen Doji offered his life for but half a stanza of a Buddhist teaching, and Bodhisattva Yakuo burned his elbows in offering to the Buddha. They were both saints, so they could endure these austerities as easily as water pours on fire. But your husband was a common mortal, so he was at the mercy of his sufferings, like paper placed in a fire. Therefore, he will certainly receive blessing as great as theirs. He may be watching his wife and children in the mirrors of the sun and the moon every moment of the day and night. Since you and your children are common mortals, you cannot see or hear him, but neither can the deaf hear thunder nor the blind see the sun. But do not doubt that he is close at hand protecting you.

Just when I was thinking that if at all possible I must somehow go and see you, you had a robe sent here to me. Your thoughtfulness was totally unexpected. Since the Lotus Sutra is the noblest of all sutras, I may yet gain influence in this lifetime. If so, rest assured that I will watch over your children whether you are living then or not. While I was in Sado and during my stay here, you sent your servant to help me. Neither in this nor future lifetimes shall I ever forget what you have done for me. I will not fail to repay my debt of gratitude to you. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

With my deep respect,

The fifth day in the first month of Kenji (1275)

Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, page 149.

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