The One-Eyed Turtle's Gratitude

By Kia Piao

I am a member from Singapore and I find it always very inspiring to read Nichiren Daishonin's Gosho. He had a wealth of literary allusions and parables from sutras from which he would draw in writing his Gosho to followers. Be it Chinese history or tales from the days of Shakyamuni, his style of writing is rich with such resources.

A Gosho which reflects very much the life I have had is "The One-eyed Turtle and the Floating Sandalwood Log," found in Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume 4.

In this Gosho, Nichiren Daishonin cites the turtle as being unable to tell directions. It would confuse the north with the south and the south with the north, and similarly confuse east and west. Since its upper shell is cold and its lower belly is hot, the turtle needs to look for a sandalwood log with a hollow that fits its size to rest in to warm its shell by sunning and to cool its lower belly with the sandalwood. Nichiren Daishonin wrote in this Gosho that it is extremely difficult to meet the practice of chanting Nam Myoho-renge-kyo. This difficulty is akin to the difficulty of the one-eyed turtle in finding its suitable sandalwood log. Firstly, it confuses directions since it is one-eyed, and even if it meets a piece of sandalwood, it may not have the right-sized hollow.

And most of the time, the one-eyed turtle is tossed amongst the winds and the waves in the sea in its attempt to find its sandalwood log floating in the sea; I was also lost in upheavals in life before I meet the Gohonzon. Not getting into the high school of my choice, not getting into medical school, not meeting the right friends. Efforts were made, but the results obtained were less than desired. "No luck" seems to be the perpetual end result for me.

But I searched for answers and found some in Mahayana Buddhism, and finally met Nam Myoho-renge-kyo through my brother who married an SGI member. I began to read the Gosho, Sensei's guidance, to chant daimoku, and do gongyo. Then I met further challenges, but this time I used the sharp sword of daimoku. Things opened up gradually. I shifted to a better place with better neighbours, got a better job, and to my delight, a SGI culture centre to going to be built just 5 minutes' walk from my residence! I felt as if Nichiren Daishonin had brought Nikko Shonin, Nichimoku Shonin, and Nichikan Shonin with him and were soon about to conduct a ceremony in the air in my neighbourhood!

For those of you who are chanting for better circumstances, I have the following to say: One really cannot fathom the marvels and benefits of chanting to the Gohonzon. As long as we persist in our chanting, positive results will pave the way, sometimes in unexpected ways, much to your delight and happiness. It just like looking at a tree that has not flowered; you will be unable to tell what its flowers will look like. But be confident that while you chant, the tree will flower, and be covered with beautiful blossoms. It takes time of course, but the Gohonzon is very compassionate, and knows how to keep you occupied with blissful events along the way towards your ultimate goal. Each day will see a new development, no matter it how minor. And never forget "No news is good news." Base your prayers on showing a change for better circumstances so that you can show actual proof of the power of the Gohonzon. Then you can help more people realise the benefits of our practice. 

Very soon, you will savour the comfort of the one-eyed turtle in its sandalwood log and will be grateful to have met the Gohonzon in this lifetime.