Sermon by Chief Priest Reverend Taishin Takano
There are two types of illness: minor and serious. Early treatment
by a skilled physician can cure even serious illnesses, not to mention minor
ones. Karma also may be divided into two categories: mutable and immutable.
Sincere repentance will eradicate even immutable karma, to say nothing of karma
which is mutable.
（Gosho, p. 760; MW-1, p. 229）
Daishonin was 58 years old when he wrote this Gosho. It was a letter addressed
to Myojo, the wife of Toki Jonin. She had a gentle personality and gave her
husband a lot of support. Together with her husband, she was a woman who
carried through strong faith and practice. In her later years, however, she had
problems with her health. It seemed that she met with a constant challenge from
the obstacles of illness. In this letter the Daishonin teaches the ailing Myojo
the tremendous power of this True Buddhism to change even the immutable karma
of a person. He gives careful, detailed guidance on how to conduct her faith
and practice and gives her encouragement.
this Gosho, the Daishonin states first that illnesses can be divided into
serious and slight; our karma, or life span can also be seen in terms of
immutable or mutable karma, (unchangeable or changeable karma). A serious
illness can be cured through the care of a skilled doctor. In the same way, a
person’s immutable karma, a fixed lifespan can be changed and prolonged through
faith and practice in True Buddhism.
of her illness, Myojo was in the depths of despair, and in her misery she felt
that her life was coming to an end. The Daishonin wrote this letter to encourage
her and to give her the will to live.
persons who are ill, emotions such as sadness, grief, and hopelessness are
their worst enemies. They are often the cause of many illnesses; moreover, they
aggravate and worsen the condition of those who are ill. For any illness, the
condition of a person’s body is deeply related to the condition of his or her
mind and spirit. If the spirit is experiencing grief, the condition of the
illness will worsen. On the other hand, if a flame of hope lights up in a person’s
heart, then he or she will be able to muster up the strong life force to fight
was a doctor’s poll taken by a magazine. The question was: “What is needed to
cure an illness?” the most frequently given answer was: “The patient’s own
recovery strength.” And the second most popular answer was: “ The patient’s
will power to overcome the disease.”
When a patient mentally and
spiritually falls into a condition of hopelessness and despair, the flow of
blood slows down, the body temperature declines, and the oxygen supply in the
body dwindles. This condition reduces the effectiveness of the immune system;
this, in turn, creates favorable conditions for the malignant cells to
the other hand, if a person is severely ill but manages not to be closed in by
hopelessness and despair, and holds on to a sense of bright, cheery
fulfillment, his or her condition will change for the better. The course of an
illness is greatly influenced by the extent to which the patient himself fights
the disease and by the kind of mental attitude he chooses to maintain.
passage from the Seventh Volume of the Lotus Sutra reads:
sutra is beneficial medicine for the illnesses of all mankind.
Daishonin stresses the fact that the Lotus Sutra is, indeed, the great medicine
that cures the various ills of the people; moreover, it especially guarantees
happiness for women.
Daishonin cites the actual proof of such figures as King Ajase, Ch’en Ch’en,
and Bodhisattva Fukyo who were able to prolong their lives by transforming
their immutable karma. In addition, the Daishonin gives his own experience
about the actual proof he manifested by praying for his mother’s recovery from
an illness and prolonging her life by four years. Thus, he encourages Myojo to
muster forth strong faith and practice from within herself.
a person’s life span, determined by his or her immutable karma or fixed
destiny, has come to an end, the severest of illnesses is curable through the
treatment of a good doctor. This is because the will to live and the strength
to fight illness still exist inside the body.
however, the illness stems from the life span set by one’s immutable karma,
then the life force itself weakens and threatens to disappear. Therefore, even the
best doctor will be unable to help.
such a situation, it is most important to first strengthen our life force. In
order to revive our waning life force; there is no other way than to change our
immutable karma, our fixed destiny, through the performance of sange
based on True Buddhism.
means to acknowledge one’s faults, shortcomings or past misdeeds and seek to
correct of make amends for them. Only by changing our immutable karma can our
true life force well up from within our life.
in general refer to the practice of admitting one’s sins in front of a master
or a father and asking forgiveness for them. The practice of sange
that appears on the Lotus Sutra,
however, has a deeper and more fundamental significance than this general
A passage in the Fugen
Sutra, the conclusion to the Lotus Sutra reads:
If you wish to perform sange
, sit up straight ad meditate on
the true entity of life. Like the frost and dewdrops that vanish in the
benevolent rays of the sun, the sins of all mankind will disappear without a
(Kaiketsu, p. 648)
The true entity of life is the Mystic
Law, and the Daishonin manifested it in the form of the Gohonzon of
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Thus, to “meditate on the true entity of life” means to
believe in the Gohonzon and chant Daimoku. By doing this we can eradicate the
various negative karma from the past lifetimes, like the frost and dew that
vanish in the sunlight.