But I would like to mention one thing in particular. When the steward of this district sent me a request to pray for his recovery from illness, I wondered if I should accept it. But since he showed some degree of faith in me, I decided I would appeal to the Lotus Sutra. This time I saw no reason why the ten demon daughters should not join forces to aid me. I therefore addressed the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions, and also the Sun Goddess, Hachiman, and other deities, both major and minor. I was sure that they would consider my request and show some sign. Certainly they would never forsake me, but would respond as attentively as a person rubs a sore or scratches an itch. And as it turned out, the steward recovered. In gratitude he presented me with a statue of the Buddha that had appeared from the sea along with a catch of fish. He did so because his illness had finally ended, an illness that I am certain was inflicted by the ten demon daughters. This benefit too will surely become a benefit for you and your wife.
On the twelfth day of the fifth month, 1261, without any official investigation, the government sentenced the Daishonin to exile in the Izu Peninsula, which was a stronghold of the Pure Land school. The Daishonin was taken to Kawana, a small fishing village on the northeastern coast of the Izu Peninsula. Here he was given shelter and food by Funamori Yasaburō, a fisherman, and his wife, and the couple became his steadfast followers. The steward of Itō District in Izu, Itō Sukemitsu, learning of the Daishonin’s presence a month after his arrival, had the Daishonin summoned in order that he might offer prayers for Sukemitsu’s recovery from a serious illness. Sukemitsu regained his health, and it is said that he, too, became the Daishonin’s follower.
Both Yasaburō and his wife were concerned about the Daishonin’s safety when he went to Itō to pray for the steward’s health. Yasaburō sent a messenger to the Daishonin at Itō with various offerings. The Izu Exile is the Daishonin’s reply.
“How can I help everyone become happy?” “How can I enable everyone to receive great benefits?” This is the Buddha’s constant thought. Nichiren Daishonin says that the benefits he receives will surely become the benefit of Funamori Yasaburo and his wife. The benefit that the votaries of the Lotus Sutra gain through their activities shall be shared by those who support them.
A little more than a month after the Daishonin was exiled to Izu, Ito Hachiro Zaemon, the stewart of this district fell gravely ill. His symptoms were so severe that the Daishonin says he appeared that he would certainly die. All the powers and influence in the world cannot cure illness, or even extend one’s life for an hour. Wealth, status, worldly power, essentially count nothing in the face of the fundamental sufferings in life- birth, aging, sickness and death. To Nichiren Daishonin, the steward was a human being like anyone else; his suffering was no different from the sufferings of all living beings. But if the afflicted person does not believe in the mystic law then even the prayers of the Buddha will not accomplish anything. Buddhism is reason. Because the steward had evinced the degree of faith, the Daishonin with his immense compassion could cure him. The steward, having escaped death, greatly appreciated the Daishonin’s a concern for him and presented him with a wooden statue of Shakyamuni that fishermen had found at sea.
This passage clarifies that a Buddha’s acts are acts of compassion meant to awaken the nature of Buddha in every living thing. Our actions to awaken the nature of Buddha in others are therefore the compassionate actions of a Buddha. Buddhism teaches that the mind encompasses the entire universe. When we change our innermost state of mind, our whole being changes, and this affects the world in which we live. This is the teaching of the oneness of life and its environment, and the principle of a single life-moment possessing three thousand realms. This means that if more and more people start chanting with a determined prayer, even the most difficult of situations will change.
However, we should not think that once one has manifested the nature of Buddhahood that that condition will remain one’s dominant condition of life. The Ten Worlds always exist within life and when one ceases to maintain the environment that sustains the compassionate life of Buddha—chanting with faith, propagation and encouraging others, and study- then any one of the other Ten Worlds can become one’s dominent life conditions. When the Daishonin says in his writings that continuing faith is what leads to Buddhahood, he is saying that we must alaways have the attitude that this is the first and last moment of my life and practice. With this attitude we do not regard external factors such as years of practice, organizational position, or knowledge of buddhist theory as having real value in and of tehmselves. Rather, we view each moment as a fresh beginning. It is from this attitude of action that the external factors gain value.
It also clarifies that the difference between a Buddha and an ordinary person is in their ability to view the truth of the world. The choice of what view we use is ours, but as the Daishonin points out in the last sentences of this selection, it is only the view and action of the Buddha that can bring true happiness to ourselves and those around us.