Prayer - The Courage to Never Give Up

Though one might point at the earth and miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and flow and the sun rises in the west, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra Sutra would go unanswered.

(Passage from “On Prayer”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p345)

This letter was written by Nichiren Daishonin in 1272, when he was in exile on Sado Island. The writing is thought to be a repley to questions raised by Sairen-bo, a disciple of the Daishonin and a former priest of the Tendai school, who at the time was also living in exile on Sado Island. Deeply impressed by the Daishonin’s dignified personality displayed at the Tsukahara Debate, Sairen-bo was converted to the Daishonin’s teachings in the second of 1272, shortly after the debate.

In this passage, the Daishonin emphasized that prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra will definitely be answered by using various analogues.

It is impossible to miss the earth when one points to it nor is it possible for anyone to bind up the sky. Also, it is utterly not possible for the tides to cease ebb and flow, nor is it possible for the sun to rise from the west. The Daishonin declared with the conviction and courage of a “lion’s roar” that even though all these impossible events were to take place, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered.

Why is it that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutr will surely be answered?

SGI President Ikeda explained by elaborating what it means to offer prayers in the following manner:

“Prayer – It is the courage not to give up. It is a struggle to banish cowardice within your life that keeps haunting you, ‘I can’t do it.’ ‘My present circumstances can be changed. Surely it can!’ Prayer is an endeavour to engrave this conviction in the depths of your life.”

“Prayer – It is to destroy fear. T is to banish sorrow. It is to ignite hope. It is a revolution to re-write destiny. Believe in yourself! Never look down upon yourself! Because despising yourself is equivalent to going against Buddhism. It is a degradation of the Buddhahood in your own life.”

President Ikeda concluded:

“Prayer – It is a challenge to fit the gear in your own life with the motion of the universe. It is an exciting drama to embrace the universe, turn the entire cosmos into your ally, reverse the situation and begin directing your life towards happiness.”

Earnest and strong prayers will never fail to strengthen ourselves and enable us to align our lives with the rhythm of the magnificent cosmic life.


Prayer is the key to unleash human potential to the fullest

Ms Kumi Noguchi (vice chapter Women Division leader) residing in Toyama City used to be a healthy and vibrant teenager who even participated in a gymnastic competition during her secondary school days.

After her graduation in 1958, Ms Noguchi becomes a primary school teacher but one month later, she was diagnosed to have contracted an incurable disease – Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints. It is a disabling and painful inflammatory condition, which can lead to substantial loss of mobility due to pain and joint destruction. She was constantly overwhelmed by the fear of dying, and the intense physical pain that attacked her entire body.

In November 1965, Ms Noguchi was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism by her aunt. Six months after taking up faith, Ms Noguchi could sit on the floor with her legs folded and could even ride a bicycle. As she savoured the wondrous beneficial power of the Mystic Law, she renewed her determination to overcome her illness fully. She prayed single-mindedly and exerted herself in propagation activities. In spring 1969, when seven of her friends joyfully received their Gohonzon, the excruciating rheumatic pain that had plagued her for the past seven years stopped abruptly.

However, that did not mark the end of her suffering. Her life continued to be mercilessly attacked by her “storms of karma”. Her RA relapsed and her condition deteriorated so much she was bedridden at home. The only thing that she could move in her body was her eyeballs. In June 1970, her doctor told her, “Your bones have become so fragile that it is impossible to operate on them. Consider yourself lucky that you have been able to work till recently. I’m sorry but you have to spend the rest of your life quietly in bed.”

Over the following one year and three months where she spent her days in the hospital, Ms Noguchi continued to chant daimoku on her hospital bed with an unwavering resolve, “I’m going to transform this karma no matter what, through my prayers to the Gohonzon I will make the impossible possible!”

After her discharge, she continued to be attacked by various illnesss, including severe side effects from her medication, acute hepatitis (liver inflammation), gastric ulcer and the throes of death. Amidst such circumstances, she continued chanting daimoku single-mindedly every moment of her life except when she was having her meals.

When she completed her first million times of daimoku in October 1971 (since she began keeping count from May 1971), she was able to work, something that was deemed impossible by medical science. From that day onwards, she continued to work for the next 30 years till her retirement in 2003.

Filled with profound gratitude for the good health she now enjoys, she continues to exert herself in kosen-rufu activities for the happiness of others.

No matter who we are, as long as we are human, during moments of life’s great adversities such as death or illness, it is only natural that we are overwhelmed by negative tendencies in our lives such as fear, cowardice, lament, insecurity, doubt, anger or resentment. During such moments, it is most critical that we continue offering sincere prayers to the Gohonzon with persevering faith. By tenaciously offering prayers without giving up till the end, we will surely be able to surmount all obstacles, no matter how harsh they may be, by summoning forth immense courage, wisdom and life force from the depths of our lives.

President Ikeda said in his guidance, “Prayer is the key to opening the multiple doors to innate human potential.” With this words deeply engraved in our lives, let us achieve great victories in our lives and for the kosen-rufu movement.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Hokuriku WD Study Chief Momoko Baba published in the January 2006 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.