Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 10:
Joy in Both Life and Death [10.7]
10.7 The Death of Someone Close to Us
Referring to Nichiren Daishonin’s encouragement of his disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu and his mother, President Ikeda offers the wisdom we need to accept the suffering of separation from those we love.
How can we overcome the inherent human sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death? The wisdom of Buddhism provides a sound and illuminating answer to this question.
No one can avoid the suffering of having to part from loved ones. Buddhism offers clear insights on this point.
Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro, Nanjo Tokimitsu’s father, died of illness while still quite young. Tokimitsu was only seven at the time. By embracing the Daishonin’s teachings, unafraid of the persecution this would invite, Hyoe Shichiro had opened the way for transforming the karma of his entire family.
In a letter of encouragement to the lay nun Ueno, Tokimitsu’s mother, the Daishonin writes: “When he [your deceased husband] was alive, he was a Buddha in life, and now he is a Buddha in death. He is a Buddha in both life and death” (WND-1, 456).
Life is eternal. Those who dedicate their lives to the Mystic Law are Buddhas in both life and death. Therefore, they will without fail move ahead serenely and confidently in a boundless state of being in which both life and death are filled with joy.
Carrying on her late husband’s spirit, the lay nun Ueno maintained strong faith. She raised Tokimitsu and her other children to become outstanding successors who followed in their father’s footsteps as sincere practitioners of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
It appears that Tokimitsu must have regretted losing his father at such a young age and thus missing out on receiving instruction and guidance from him.1 Keenly aware of Tokimitsu’s feelings in this regard, the Daishonin encourages and assures him:
“Persons who uphold this sutra [the Lotus Sutra], though they may be strangers to one another, will meet on Eagle Peak.2 And how much more certain is it that you and your late father, because you both have faith in the Lotus Sutra [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo], will be reborn there together!” (WND-2, 500)
Ties based on the Mystic Law are eternal. A family whose members dedicate their lives to the Mystic Law can be born together again in the same place—such is the wondrous power of the Mystic Law.
Among the Daishonin’s followers was a couple who had been moved to embrace his teachings because of the death of their beloved son, the experience contributing to deepening their faith. This husband and wife earnestly practiced the Mystic Law and sincerely supported the Daishonin. In praise of their faith, the Daishonin writes:
“This [the sincerity of your faith] is no ordinary matter. Indeed, Shakyamuni Buddha himself may have taken possession of your body. Or perhaps your deceased son has become a Buddha and, in order to guide his father and mother, has taken possession of your hearts. . . .
“If anything should happen to you, just as the moon emerges to shine in the dark night, so the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo3 will appear as a moon for you. Be convinced that Shakyamuni Buddha, the Buddhas of the ten directions, and the son who preceded you in death will appear in this moon.” (WND-1, 1049–50)
Lives connected by the Mystic Law are always together, transcending the bounds of life and death, encouraging, protecting, and guiding one another as they advance on a course of absolute happiness and victory.
There is no sorrow or gloom in the realm of the Mystic Law. Family members who practice the Mystic Law will always be enveloped in the moonlight of eternity, happiness, true self, and purity—the four noble virtues of Buddhahood. Their lives will impart immeasurable hope and courage to those who follow in their footsteps.
From a speech at a Tokyo No. 2 Area representatives conference, Tokyo, February 20, 2006.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.
- *1The Daishonin writes: “You lost your father at a very early age, and hence were deprived of his instruction and guidance. When I think of what this must have meant for you, I cannot restrain my tears” (WND-2, 500).
- *2Eagle Peak: A term that symbolizes the Buddha land or the state of Buddhahood, as in the expression “the pure land of Eagle Peak.”
- *3Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, being comprised of two characters). The Daishonin often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings.