“Dear Mr. Island,
How have you been since the last time I saw you? After I returned from visiting you, I have neither received any message from you, nor have I sent my greetings to you.
... It is certainly true that the physical substance of a country is but one of the ten bodies of the Buddha. There is nothing apart from the marvelous body of the radiant Buddha … Your own substance as an island is the substance of these ten bodies of the Buddha, and since these ten bodies are all fused together, they exist in a state of perfect union … Therefore, in the context of the enlightenment of the ten Buddhas in the Kegon sect, the underlying principles of you as an island can be thought of as the nondifferentiation between the karmic determinations of who we are and where we live, the identical existence of one and the many, Indra’s net that intertwines all things, the inexhaustibility of everything, the universality of the world of truth, the perfect interfusion that cannot be explained, and the complete endowment of the ten bodies of the Buddha in all things. Why do we need to seek anything other than your physical form as an island since it is the body of the radiant Buddha?
And then there is the large cherry tree that I remember so fondly. There are times when I so want to send a letter to the tree to ask how it is doing, but I am afraid that people will say that I am crazy to send a letter to a tree that cannot speak. Though I think of doing it, I refrain in deference to the custom of this irrational world. But really, those who think that a letter to a tree is crazy are not our friends.
Having observed the ways of the world for some time now, I think it suitable that there were those in the past who followed the custom of digging a hole in the ground and speaking into it.
At any rate, I should like to write to you again at a later time. With deepest respect, “
“Letter to the Island”, written by Myôe Shônin (“Holy Man of Clear Wisdom”), born in 1173.
English Translation by George Tanabe, Jr., in: Donald Lopez (ed.): “Buddhism in Practice”, Princeton University Press 1995.
After the letter was written, the messenger asked, “To whom shall I deliver this letter?” Myô replied, “Simply stand in the middle of Karma Island; shout in a loud voice, ‘This is a letter from Myôe of Toganoo!’; leave the letter; and return.”