As I contemplate my own life, I, Nichiren, have studied Buddhism ever since I was a child. Our life is uncertain, as exhaling one’s breath one moment does not guarantee drawing it the next; it is as transient as the dew before the wind and its end occurs suddenly to everyone, the wise and the ignorant, the aged and the young. I thought I should study the matter of the last moment of life first of all, before studying anything else.
Nichiren wrote this passage in his Reply to My Lady, the Nun Myōgō (Myōhō-ama Gozen Gohenji). The Buddha taught that everything that comes together falls apart. Everything that is born must die. Then in the Lotus Sūtra he taught that he sees the world differently. For him living beings have neither birth nor death, they do not appear nor disappear. For each of us, the death of our bodies is certain. As Nichiren instructs, it is beneficial to meditate on this fact and not live in denial of our mortality. At the same time, when we see with the Buddha’s mind, we realize that our lives are not the end of the story. Time and life are abundant, but it it still important to waste neither.
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