by Rev. Fujieda Koju, Ryokyoji Shinshu Izumoji-ha, Takefu, Japan
There follows a very touching story of a wartime incident and its religious message.
If I ever have to go down
to the ceaseless Hell,
my wish to save all the sinful
will never be retracted.
— Nyoraie Sutra
On April 7, 1945, the invincible warship Yamato sank into the sea off Kyushu after the heaviest attacks by the American Air Forces. Second lieutenant Mitsuru Yoshida, who miraculously survived the destruction, writes in his publication, “The End of Warship Yamato”:
“While drifting in the ocean, I happened to grasp a rope ladder and was saved up. … Here’s a scene in the overcrowded lifeboat; ‘Hands and hands from the ocean are grasping the side of the boat with desperate force…the commander and officers unsheathe their swords and cut the wrists off the arms…overturned helplessly, pale faces and faces and the pitiful eyes and eyes that sink down into the black water…this sight will never leave my eyelids for my life.’”
What a dreadful situation! It is nothing but a sight of the Hell, the extreme condition of humans — the inmost nature of man — nay, the very fact of myself — all deserve going to the Hell.
Amida Buddha vows to save such sinful beings even accompanying them to the Hell, the sutra says.