Forging Our Faith - The Hero of the World

Untempered iron quickly melts in a blazing fire, like ice put in hot water. But a sword, even when exposed to a great fire, withstands the heat for a while, because it has been well forged. In admonishing you this way, I am trying to forge your faith. Buddhism is reason. Reason will win over your lord.

(Passage from “The Hero of the World”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p835-841)

This letter was written to Shinjo Kingo in 1277. When this was written, he was confronting a great challenge, having incurred the wrath of his lord, Ema. Lord Ema’s antagonism towards Shijo Kingo dated back to the Kuwagayatsu Debate when Sammi-bo, the Daishonin’s disciple, refuted Ryuzo-bo, a Tendai priest in the debate, which took place in the sixth month of 1277. Lord Ema then ordered Shinjo Kingo to renounce faith in the Lotus Sutra. However, Shinjo Kingo had expressed his resolve to Nichiren Daishonin to uphold his faith even if he were to be banished from Lord Ema’s residence.

In response to Kingo’s report, Nichiren Daishonin wrote a petition to Lord Ema on Kingo’s behalf (The Letter of Petition from Yorimoto, WND, p 803). The Daishonin also wrote this letter to Kingo, giving him heartfelt encouragement and detailed advice on how to take care to avoid being attacked by his enemies.

As explained earlier, at the time Shinjo Kingo received this letter from Nichiren Daishonin, he was pressured by his lord (his employer), to sign a pledge renouncing his faith in the Lotus Sutra.

The Daishonin, in explaining why he was giving strict guidance to Kingo, used the analogies of ice and sword to explain the importance of training in life.

To overcome obstacles, we need to strengthen our life and spirit. This is the meaning of training in Buddhism. To strengthen our life, we need to first strengthen our faith. Strong faith is developed when we practice faith steadily, every day with a challenging spirit. This is the meaning when Daishonin wrote, “I am trying to forge your faith.”

As we exert ourselves in our daily practice of chanting daimoku and reciting the sutra, as well as participating in SGI activities, we will build a profound life condition with which to overcome any obstacle in life.

In this passage, the Daishonin wrote, “Buddhism is reason.” Buddhism is based upon a universal principle that applies to all people. There is nothing magical in how we overcome difficulties and receive benefits; everything is based on the power of the Buddha and the Law that is manifested through the power of our faith and practice. For this reason, when we challenge ourselves with strong faith, we can win over any situation.

Kingo, a respected samurai and skilled physician, was told that if he did not give up his faith, he would be evicted from his land and expelled from service to his lord. Despite this onstacle, Kingo continued to challenge himself based on faith and the guidance given by the Daishonin. Manifesting wisdom and strong life force, Kingo’s perseverance and deep faith finally caused a dramatic change in his circumstances.

At the time, an epidemic was spreading across Japan, and Kingo’s lord fell ill. However, he recovered because of Kingo’s medical treatment. As a result, he was able to win back the trust and appreciation of his lord. He was rewarded with a new property that was three times larger than his previous one. Kingo proved the validity of Daishonin’s teachings, having never given in to demands to renounce his faith.

“Reason will win over your lord”, the Daishonin wrote. Shinjo Kingo won a splendid victory based on his faith and never-give-up spirit. As proven by Kingo, Buddhism is the driving force to all victories in life for it enables us to tap our inner power to win in everything. In this sense, Buddhism can be called the “supreme strategy” for success in life.

SGI President Ikeda said, “Buddhism is win or lose. Life is a struggle. Because you will either win or lose in life, you have no choice but to win. Life is not mere ideology. Each day we must win in the way that befits us most. As we continue in this way, we will be able to build the path of happiness and victory that will last for eternity spanning throughout the three existences of life.”

Forging ourselves in the “fire” of our daily obstacles, let’s resolve to win a new victory each day.