Dec 17, 2009

How does Buddhism View Sickness?

By Ted Morino SGI-USA Study Dept Leader
What does Buddhism have to say when Buddhist practitioners become ill?

First, Buddhism views sickness as something inherent in life and therefore unavoidable. Its is a part of the cycle of birth, old age, sickness and death. Yet Buddhism urges us to awaken to the fact that illness is not something permanent in life- it is a temporary phenomenon- and that is can be a meaningful event in one's eternal life. When we fall ill, we tend to see the current sickness as the only thing that matters and therefore we can become its slave perceiving it as an immovable wall or foreboding obstacle separating us from happiness. Some people who are ill may even lose the will to live out their existence joyfully.

However, when  we realize that becoming ill is only a natural phase of our lives -and that it can be an opportunity to build an even more solid foundation of happiness in ourselves-then, we can tap the courageous spirit to face the illness and battle it, as Nichiren Daishonin states, "From illness arises the mind that seeks the way" (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 5. 280). Therefore, the important thing when it comes to this problem is to have strong will to triumph over the "devil of sickness." This is the faith with which you can say to yourself: "I will defeat my sickness! I will change poison into medicine!" In order words, often times, sickness itself is not the real problem. If we are defeated in our life-condition by sickness, that is the problem.

SGI Pres. Ikeda says: "In life, you may, by rights, become sick from time to time. However, as you practice to the Gohonzon, you will come to realize that you are now sick because being sick now is the most natural thing  for your life at this moment. In other words, you can consider your sickness to be the sickness of hon'nu [a natural illness that accords with the rhythm of the Law]. Put another way, if your life condition remains healthy through the practice of faith, you will never be swayed by your sickness. You will never fall into painful agony due to your illness. Rather, as you go through your current sickness, you will find your true self or absolute happiness solidifying."

Pres. Toda gave the following encouragement to a person struggling with a serious illness, "A human being had a body that has the potential of developing all kinds of disease, including to cure sickness in the body. Curing our own illness is just like the person who has climbed a slope and will surely climb down it. I can say this with conviction based upon the philosophy of Buddhism. Faith is not something we practice out of formality. Chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with all your heart- with a burning desire in you your heart to overcome your sickness. No sickness will remain uncured if you chant with the type of determination to offer your entire life from now on for the cause of the Gohonzon, that is, for kosen-rufu, for the peace and happiness of all humanity."

Source: World Tribune.11/27/98.n.3219.p.2.WT981127p02


Artman2112 said...

i'm sure you've known people in your life that seemed to actually enjoy droning on about all their various ailments and illnesses, as if that were the focus of their energy...being sick! i have thought more than a few times about some people that "they are talking themselves into being sick!"

but like Qui-Gon Jin says in Star Wars, episode One: "Your focus determines your reality"

i'm enjoying your blog very much, keep at it ;)

Christopher Nichols said...

Wonderfully helpful. I think being happy while I have had this head cold has reduced the suffering. Thank you for the chant

Christopher Nichols said...

Thank you wonderful

Frances3Unimet said...

What about a chronic illness?