The Buddhist concept of changing poison into medicine (“hendoku iyaku” in Japanese) refers to attaining Buddhahood as a common mortal in one’s present form without eradicating one’s illusions and desires. During our Introduction to Buddhism meeting on the Buddhist concept of the Ten Worlds, our Chief Priest explains why changing poison into medicine is a fundamental concept in Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism.
The pre-Lotus Sutra and provisional teachings indicate that in order to attain enlightenment, one must carry out Buddhist austerities over a period of countless kalpas to eliminate one’s earthly desires. However, the Lotus Sutra elucidates the doctrines of the mutual possession of the ten worlds and ichinen sanzen. According to the sutra, we, common mortals will be able to attain Buddhahood without eliminating our earthly desires.
Nichiren Daishonin states in the “Reply to Shijo Kingo,” that the Lotus Sutra is the teaching that enables us to attain enlightenment without eradicating our earthly desires.
If you’d like to learn more about “hendoku iyaku,” attend our next Introduction to Buddhism meeting.
Source: Basic Terminology of Nichiren Shoshu