Determination, Prayer and Action

When the head swings, the hair sways; when the mind is at work, the body moves; when strong winds blow, trees and grasses do not remain still; when the ground shakes, the great ocean churns. Since this is the case, if one moves Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings*, can any trees or grasses remain unshaken or waters unperturbed?

(Passage from “On Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha Made by Nichigen-nyo”, Gosho Zenshu, p 1,187)

* The lord of teachings: The “lord of teachings” refers to one who expounds the Law. In other words, it refers to the Buddha. Nichiren Daishonin refered Shakyamuni who expounded the Lotus Sutra as the “lord of teachings”, in the context of the Latter Day of the Law, the lord of teachings refer to the fundamental Buddha who expounded Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This refers to the Daishonin himself. In addition, in accord with the principle of the oneness of the person and the Law, it refers to the Gohonzon.

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter in the second day of the second month of 1279 to Nichigen-nyo, the wife of Shingo Kingo. This letter was written in response to Nichigen-nyo’s offerings and reports that she had erected a wooden image of Shakyamuni Buddha.

When she turned 37, traditionally an unlucky age on Japan, Nichigen-nyo, the wife of Shinjo Kingo, made offerings to Nichiren Daishonin and reported to him that she has made a three-inch image of Shakyamuni.

In response, the Daishonin wrote back to her and praised her faith. This is because many people at that time worshipped Amida Buddha of the Pure Land school and Danichi Buddha of the True Word school as the object of devotion, and she did not. The Daishonin therefore saw her acts of sincerity towards Shakyamuni Buddha as one that is directed towards the Lotus Sutra and the true Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

In Nichiren Buddhism, the object of devotion is the Gohonzon. The Daishonin realizing Nichigen-nyo’s undeveloped understanding of his teachings, considered her act of making the statue of Shakyamuni as one that is directed to this true Law. Considering the time and capacity of the people during that period, the Daishonin often acknowledged that a statue of Shakyamuni was a means to lead followers to the Lotus Sutra and eventually to the Gohonzon.

In this passage, the Daishonin used various analogies of human activity and natural phenomena to explain that the changes and movements one observed actually begin with the changes of a source. The swaying of the hair begins with the swing of the head, the body’s movements begin with the workings of the mind and so on. The Daishonin used these analogies to portray the important principle that one’s circumstances can be changed when the fundamental basis upon which one places one’s belief and determination changes.

When the Daishonin referred to Shakyamuni as the “lord of teachings”, he actually meant the fundamental Buddha, which is the Gohonzon in terms of our practice today.

When we have strong faith in the Gohonzon, pray earnestly and take action towards our goals, everything will move in the direction of our prayer by virtue of the Gohonzon’s power. The Gohonzon’s power is of course, reflective of our life’s innate power of wisdom, life force, courage as well as our ability to draw forth the universal protective functions (or functions of Buddhist gods).

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, inscribed down the centre of the Gohonzon, is the fundamental law which forms the very basis of the existence of all things and phenomena in the universe. When we pray based on this Law, our prayers permeate everything. That is why with the Gohonzon, no prayer goes unanswered. Everything changes for the better with our faith and prayer, but the extent of changes will depend on the power of our faith and practice.

To bring for the power of the Gohonzon, we must base our faith and practice on a strong determination. When we pray and practise with the strong resolve to change our circumstances, we can make the impossible possible.

SGI President Ikeda said, “Prayer is the energy of life, permeating the entire universe and becoming the driving force for change. Radioactivity and ultraviolet rays are invisible, but they definitely exist and affect things. The ‘energy’ of your prayers to the Mystic Law, though invisible, has infinite power.”

With a strong prayer and determination, we can change anything and open up new paths for victory for ourselves and for others.