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Curing Karmic Disease


This letter is a reply to Ota Jomyo's report that he was suffering from illness. It was written on November 3, 1275, at Mount Minobu, when Nichiren Daishonin was fifty-four years old. In the preceding year he had left Kamakura for the recesses of Mount Minobu. There, after retiring to an out-of-the-way place, he devoted himself to laying an eternal foundation for his Buddhism as a universal religion.

Ota Jomyo was a devout believer living in the province of Shimosa in central Japan. He was an official of the government and his colleague, Toki Jonin, is thought to have introduced him to faith in the Daishonin's Buddhism. Both men worked together in that area to protect the Daishonin and propagate his teachings. Around 1278, Ota was tonsured, though he remained a layman. He assumed the religious name of Myonichi (Mystic Sun), given him by the Daishonin. He is also called Ota Nyudo, "nyudo" meaning one who is tonsured like a monk but lives outside a temple, usually in his own home. Ota Jomyo received many writings, including "On the Three Great Secret Laws," from the Daishonin, a fact which attests to the seriousness with which he regarded his religion. He died on April 26, 1283, the year after the Daishonin passed away, at the age of sixty-two.

In this letter, Nichiren Daishonin clarifies the fundamental cause of Ota's illness. He explains that since Ota Jomyo had renounced his former faith in the Shingon doctrine and professed faith in true Buddhism, the evil effect of his past mistaken faith had appeared as sickness so that he could eradicate it once and for all. In other words, his past karma had become manifest so that he could erase it. The Daishonin then assures him of the essential cure for his disease-faith in the Lotus Sutra, that is, the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren Daishonin explains that his Buddhism is the supreme medicine for suffering people throughout the world.

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