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Gosho Study

Changing Hell Into a Buddha Land

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“Neither the pure land nor hell exists outside oneself; both lie only within one’s own heart. Awakened to this, one is called a Buddha; deluded about it, one is called an ordinary person. The Lotus Sutra reveals this truth, and one who embraces the Lotus Sutra will realize that hell is itself the Land of Tranquil Light.” (“Hell is the Land of Tranquil Light,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 456)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

Both the pure land and hell exist within us. To suppose that they exist somewhere else is an illusion. That is Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching.

Here, he goes on to encourage the lay nun Ueno by shifting his focus from her late husband’s attainment of Buddhahood to her own.

Those who uphold the Lotus Sutra can actualize in their own lives the principle that “hell is itself the Land of Tranquil Light.” In another writing, Nichiren tells Shijo Kingo that if it were necessary in order to protect him, he would accompany him even to hell, writing, “For if you and I should fall into hell together, we would find Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra there” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 850). The implication here is that if Nichiren Daishonin and Shakyamuni Buddha were both present, hell would no longer be hell; it would become a Buddha land. And if that were so, then the wardens of hell would not attack the followers of the Buddha, nor would King Yama, the king of hell, have any choice but to become a protector of the Lotus Sutra.

The Lotus Sutra is a teaching of changing the place we are right now into a Buddha land. Faith in the Lotus Sutra means undertaking the challenge to do just that. Consequently, Nichiren’s followers who persevere in the practice of the Lotus Sutra will not possibly suffer in the world of hell. They are guaranteed to enjoy a state of life of complete freedom. (Learning From the Writings: The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 64)

From the September 2023 Living Buddhism

SGI-USA New England Buddhist Center

Based On a Vow