A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering
When I asked him about what you told me the other day, I found it to be exactly as you said. You should therefore strive in faith more than ever to receive the blessings of the Lotus Sutra. Listen with the ears of Shih K'uang and observe with the eyes of Li Lou'.
In the Latter Day of the Law,
the votary of the Lotus Sutra will appear without fail. The greater the
hardships befalling him, the greater the delight he feels, because of his strong
faith. Doesn't a fire burn more briskly when logs are added? All rivers flow
into the sea, but does the sea turn back their waters? The currents of hardship
pour into the sea of the Lotus Sutra and rush against its votary. The river is
not rejected by the ocean; nor does the votary reject
suffering. Were it not for
the flowing rivers, there would be no sea. Likewise, without tribulation there
would be no votary of the Lotus Sutra. As T'ien-t'ai stated, "The various
rivers flow into the sea, and logs make a fire burn more briskly"'
You should realize that it is because of a profound karmic relationship from the past that you can teach others even a sentence or phrase of the Lotus Sutra. The sutra reads, "Nor will they hear the correct Law---such people are difficult to save." The "correct Law" means the Lotus Sutra; it is difficult to save those who are deaf to the teachings of this sutra.
A passage from the "Teacher of the Law" chapter reads: "If one of these good men or good women [in the time after I have passed into extinction is able to secretly expound the Lotus Sutra to one person, even one phrase of it, then you should know that] he or she is the envoy of the Thus Come One." This means that anyone who teaches others even a single phrase of the Lotus Sutra is the envoy of the Thus Come One, whether that person be priest or layman, nun or laywoman. You are already a lay practitioner and therefore one of the "good men" described in the sutra.
One who listens to even a sentence or phrase of the sutra and cherishes it deep in one's heart may be likened to a ship that crosses the sea of the sufferings of birth and death. The Great Teacher Miao-lo stated, "Even a single phrase cherished deep in one's heart will without fail help one reach the opposite shore. To ponder one phrase and practise it is to exercise navigation."' Only the ship of Myoho-renge-kyo enables one to cross the sea of the sufferings of birth and death.
The Lotus Sutra speaks of
"someone finding a ship in which to cross the water." This
"ship" might be described as follows: As a shipbuilder of infinitely
the World-Honoured One of Great
Enlightenment, the lord of
teachings, gathered the lumber of the
four flavours and
eight teachings, planed
it by honestly discarding the provisional
teachings, cut and assembled the
planks, forming a perfect unity of both right and wrong,' and completed the
craft by driving home the spikes of the one true teaching that is comparable to
the flavour of ghee. Thus he launched the ship upon the sea of the sufferings of
birth and death. unfurling its sails of the three thousand realms on the mast of
the one true teaching of the Middle
Way; driven by the fair wind of "the
true aspect of all phenomena,"' the vessel surges ahead, carrying aboard
all people who can "gain entrance through faith
alone."" The Thus
Come One Shakyamuni is at the helm,
the Thus Come One Many Treasures
the mooring rope, and the four bodhisattvas led by
Superior Practices row
quickly, matching one another as perfectly as a box and its lid. This is the
ship in "a ship in which to cross the water."
Those who are able to board it are the disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren. Believe this wholeheartedly. When you visit Shijo Kingo, please have an earnest talk with him. I will write you again in more detail.
四月二十八日 日 蓮 花押