On Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins - We Are Unlimited Within

I am praying that, no matter how troubled the times may become, the Lotus Sutra and the ten demon daughters will protect all of you, praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground.

(Passage from “On Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p444)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter on Sado Island, where he was exiled, in the year 1273 to Shijo Kingo, his beloved disciple who lived in Kamakura.

The passage we are studying today appeared in the concluding portion of his letter where the Daishonin declared his profound resolve to protect his disciples even at the cost of his own life. This is also where the Daishonin expressed his indomitable conviction that all prayers, no matter how impossible they may appear to be, will be fulfilled without fail.

The circumstances surrounding the Daishonin when he wrote this letter was truly harsh and even life threatening. The land of Sado, to which he was banished, was a desolate northern island with extremely harsh weather conditions. He was destitute, lacking in basic necessities including food and clothing. The severe living conditions the Daishonin had to endure is certainly far beyond our wildest imagination.

Besides battling against adversities from Mother Nature, the Daishonin’s life was constantly endangered as his enemies were looking for every opportunity to get rid of him.

Prayers Infused with Profound Conviction
Despite these circumstances, the Daishonin’s greatest concern was the well-being of his disciples, who were now separated from him by a long distance. Day and night, the Daishonin earnestly prayed. Not for his own survival or comfort, but the safety and happiness of his beloved disciples. He prayed profusely, calling forth all Buddhist gods (protective functions of the universe) to render their protection to his disciples.

Furthermore, his prayers were infused with such profound conviction – “I’m going to produce a strong, red-hot fire from this wood no matter how damp it is!”

His prayer was infused with invincible resolve – “I’m going to dig a wellspring of unceasing flow of water from this parched ground!”

As we can see, the Daishonin’s prayer for his disciples was imbued with the absolute conviction to make what seemed impossible, possible. The profundity of the Daishonin’s conviction can be said to be beyond normal human intellectual comprehension.

Normal human intellect will mean, “praying for the damp wood to dry faster” (instead of the impossibility of “producing fire from damp wood”) and “praying for water to help wet the parched ground” (instead of “obtaining water from parched ground”). Such prayers that conform to normal human intellect could be answered eventually as long as one prays and works towards it. But the prayers by the Daishonin truly reflect the indomitable spirit to challenge and win against overwhelming odds.

The Key to Making the Impossible Possible
The power of our prayers can go much further beyond such reason. Through our prayers, we can make what seems impossible possible and the key lies within our very own heart.

Whether we choose to decide that it is impossible or possible depends solely on ourselves.

Although Buddhism does not promote beliefs in miracles and we are always reminded that our prayers must be accompanied by resolute action and earnest effort, it is also equally important to remind ourselves that our life and our prayers function in ways that are invisible to our eyes. To give an analogy, radio waves are invisible but they exist and someone who hears the radio for the first time may actually deem it impossible. Similarly medical science has not been able to completely unravel the mysterious working s of human life and body. Doctors who see how patients recover form terminal illnesses may also say the impossible have occurred.

There are many aspects of the Mystic Law that our normal human intellect cannot understand. It would be foolish to limit the immeasurable potential of our prayers simply because we cannot see or understand how the Mystic Law and our Buddha nature work in overcoming seemingly hopeless and impossible situations.

At times, we all hit a wall and cannot help thinking that a breakthrough is utterly impossible given the circumstances. But the greatest obstacle we face often lies not in our circumstances but in our own weakness to succumb even before we try, in our blindness to our innate ability to make a breakthrough where no solution seems possible. The bottom line is whether our faith is strong to dispel the doubts and pessimism that constantly seek to delude our minds.

The Daishonin reminded us through this passage that the power of our earnest prayer would move our environment to create an opportunity for an unthinkable breakthrough.

Powerful prayers arising from our unyielding heart and unflinching faith will never fail to gather the forces of the Buddhist gods or the protective functions of the universe. These forces will in turn move our life and environment towards a positive direction. This is what Nichiren Daishonin teaches.


Victory or Defeat Hinges on One’s Inner Determination
Mr Takeshi Kobayashi (age 57 then), a vice chapter leader in Nakano, Tokyo suddenly lost consciousness in Mid Jun 1998. He was rushed to the hospital immediately but his pupils had already begun to dilate when he was in the ambulance. By the time he arrived at the hospital, his condition was so critical that he was sent directly to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The doctor told his wife, Michiko (vice women division chapter leader), “The central, pivotal portion of his brain has been badly damaged. Please be mentally prepared because his chances of survival are only one percent. Even if he did, he would be a living vegetable.”

Michiko found herself saying, “No, I will not give up hope, I’m going to make sure he’ll recover!” to the doctor. Upon reaching home, she went straight to the Gohonzon and chanted daimoku profusely.

While she was chanting, a fellow WD leader called her on the phone and said, “We must pull your husband back to the garden of kosen-rufu!” With this strong encouragement, Michiko chanted with even greater conviction.

As she prayed, she visualized her husband participating in Gakkai activities in high spirits. Each time she envisioned his victory, her prayers were enhanced with joy and appreciation.

Her husband’s miraculous drama began the following day. As Michiko chanted daimoku by her husband’s ears, she could see his big toe moving in rhythm with her daimoku.

This was something impossible as the doctor had confirmed with her that none of his body muscle could move. He added, “There’s no way that your husband’s brain nerve can be revived.” Everyday, the doctor told Michiko that it was impossible for her husband to recover but everyday, her husband would surprise the doctor and proved him wrong. First his eyelid opened two millimeters, next his fingers began to move, then his knees, then his shoulders and finally, he could even turn around on the bed.

Finally on 3 Jul (the date on which SGI commemorate mentor and disciple day), he was transferred from the ICU to the normal ward. On 17 Jul, he could walk seven steps with support and on 24 Aug, he was allowed to go out of the hospital for the day to attend a meeting where a video on President Ikeda’s guidance at the headquarters leaders meeting was screened.

Then on 31 Aug, he was fully discharged and he walked out of the hospital with his very own legs. Before he left, his doctor told him in amazement, “I must confess your recovery is completely out of my expectation. I’m deeply impressed.”

Strangely enough, Michiko and her family also received great protection financially despite the fact that her husband was the sole breadwinner. Presently, Mr Kobayashi has fully recovered and actively contributing to kosen-rufu with deep gratitude. Till today, he does not suffer from any side effects and is in the pink of his health.

SGI President Ikeda once said, “Whether you are going to lead a life of a victor with a mighty heart or a life of defeat with a weak heart depends on the strength of your faith. Your heart determines your life. Buddhism is win or lose. In this sense, it is your inner determination that ultimately decides whether you actually win or lose in life.”

Through this short passage, Nichiren Daishonin taught us with his own life that we have unlimited potential that is left untapped in our lives. When the Daishonin seemed to have lost everything in his exile, he could still reaffirm what mattered most, that is, the universality of Buddhahood and his mission to teach this truth to all people.

No matter how daunting his circumstances, the Daihonin’s resolve to protect his disciples and his confidence in the future of the widespread propagation of his teaching never wavered.

It is our minds that put limits to the unlimited potential of our lives. The purpose of prayer is to break through the limitations we set upon our lives.

Adapted from an article written by Tokyo WD Study Chief Tamiko Kumada published in Jun 2005 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Sokka Gakkai’s study journal.