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Beneficial Medicine for All Ills


Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter from Mount Minobu to Myoshin-ama, encouraging her in the face of her husband's critical illness; it is generally thought to have been written in 1278. Details about Myoshin-ama are uncertain. One explanation identifies her as the wife of Takahashi Rokuro Hyoe Nyudo, which would make her an aunt of Nikko Shonin. Other theories have also been suggested. In any event, she lived in Fuji District of Suruga Province and had become a follower of Nichiren Daishonin. Her husband's prolonged illness prompted her to take vows as a Buddhist nun. Her husband eventually died of his sickness, leaving his wife with a young child. Myoshin-ama maintained her faith after her husband's death and often visited the Daishonin at Mount Minobu to bring him offerings.

In this letter, responding to a report from Myoshin-ama of her husband's illness, the Daishonin refers to a passage from the Yakuo (twenty-third) chapter of the Lotus Sutra: "This sutra is beneficial medicine for the illnesses of all the people of Jambudvipa," and declares that no medicine surpasses the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. Not only can it cure physical disease, but also the much more serious illness of slander against the True Law. He also encourages Myoshin-ama to view her husband's sickness as a manifestation of the Buddha's compassion, for it has enabled him to arouse a determination to seek enlightenment - a determination that he previously lacked. The Daishonin explains that because of the sincerity of her husband's recently awakened faith, he will certainly be able to eradicate the bad karma of his misdeeds; and even if he were to die now, he would experience the boundless joy of the Law that transcends both life and death. Next, the Daishonin continues, if he should be challenged by anything threatening or fearful on his journey between death and rebirth, he should simply declare that he is Nichiren's disciple, and he will surely be protected. The Daishonin concludes by warmly praising Myoshin-ama for her faith and reassuring her of the Lotus Sutra's protection.

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