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Gosho Study

Winning Over the Devil of Illness

Photo by Andrea Leopardi / Unsplash

Since you now appear certain to attain Buddhahood, perhaps the heavenly devil[1] and evil spirits[2] are using illness to try to intimidate you. Life in this world is limited. Never be even the least bit afraid! (“The Proof of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1109)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

In the case of sickness, having the spirit to fight through to the end against the devil of illness is vital. It is a battle of whether we win over the devil of illness or allow ourselves to be defeated by it. When we encounter painful suffering such as illness, we stand at a crossroads of great spiritual growth and inner development. …

What is crucial is the absolute confidence that you can change poison into medicine, no matter what daunting obstacles you may face. This unshakable belief is the key to overcoming illness and other difficulties in life and to opening wide the path for attaining Buddhahood without fail. In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren clarifies this, saying, “The single word ‘belief ’ is the sharp sword with which one confronts and overcomes fundamental darkness or ignorance” (pp. 119–20) (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, p. 61).

From the November 2023 Living Buddhism


  1. Heavenly devil: Also, devil king of the sixth heaven. The devil king is a personification of the negative tendency to force others to one’s will at any cost. ↩︎
  2. The word for “evil spirits” in the original Japanese passage is gedo, which literally means “outside of the way” and usually indicates heretics and non-Buddhists. Here, the word means someone or something that brings about disasters. ↩︎

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The Conditions for Victory