Neither Birth nor Death in This World

There is neither birth nor death in this world

In the threefold world,

there is neither

birth nor death,

or going away nor coming forth,

and there is no existing in this world

and later entering extinction.

Chapter 16 of The Lotus Sutra, The Life Span of the Buddha

It is natural to fear that which we have never experienced before. Especially when it comes to “death.” One of the primary reasons for this stems from the fact that we cannot truly know what death is like until it actually occurs. Of course, you can ask others who have had a near-death experience. You can read about it. But until it is your time, all we can truly rely upon are the words of the Buddha. The aforementioned text of the Lotus Sutra explains death quite well, and from this, we know that the end of life is simply a natural transition. Our souls are everlasting. Death is simply the demise of the flesh. And after we die, our souls continue on, dwelling in another body; another life. It is much like checking out of one lodge and checking into another.

When our physical condition starts to deteriorate as we become older, it will be harder for us to live with the same vitality and strength that we once had. The body eventually gets weak, and begins to decline. There are some who are so energetic (even though they are in their eighties or nineties), but nevertheless, their bodies too will gradually enter this period of decline. In order to rejuvenate our bodies and keep living our “real life” (as souls now and forever), there is “death” (rebirth) of a body. Understanding death in this way, we recognize death as the start of a new life, not necessarily the end. Death is not a horrible thing. It is simply the way of things. We continue on after this Earthly life, which should give us hope and add to the beauty of the movie that is our lives. Viewing death as something to be feared is of no use. For if we choose to live in fear of death, how can we truly enjoy life now and, prepare for our transition after this life is over? It is how we live our lives now that matters the most.

Since the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra (HBS members) accumulate a wealth of merit during their lifetime by dedicating themselves to saving people in the Saha world, they are supposed to visit the Pure Land of Tranquil Light (Jakkōjōdo) where Buddhas and Nichiren Shonin are waiting for us. After taking a rest for a while in the Pure Land, they start to prepare for their next trip to the Saha world where they will select the timing to be reborn as human beings (bodhisattvas) in order to save people again with the teachings of the Lotus Sutra (Odaimoku—Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō).

Written by
Ryosetsu Ikemoto

Edited by
Brandon Colbert

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