White Horses and White Swans - Praying with the Resolve to Remain Undefeated No Matter What Happens

Just as poisonous compounds are changed into medicine, so these five characters of Myo-ho-renge-kyo change evil into good. The Spring of Jewels is so called because, in this spring, stones are changed into jewels. In the same way, these five characters can change ordinary human beings into Buddhas.

(Passage from “White Horses and White Swans”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p1,064)

This letter was sent from Minobu in 1280 to a follower known as “the lady of Utsubusa” who lived in Utsubusa in Ihara District of Suruga Province. Nichiren Daishonin’s letter is a reply to the offerings and declarations that the lady of Utsubusa sent in commemoration of the 100th-day anniversary of her father’s passing.

Judging from the fact that she sent the Daishonin 10,000 coins (a fairly large amount) and from the contents of her personal vow, it is quite likely that she was a refined woman of some means.

In this letter, the Daishonin taught that the Lotus Sutra is the king of all sutras. Through this, the Daishonin revealed the magnificent benefits of chanting daimoku.

The Daishonin further assured his follower that, because her father chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo while he was alive, he had certainly attained Buddhahood in his present form. The Daishonin also praised the lady of Utsubusa that her actions to lead her father to the Mystic Law are the very height of filial piety (cf WND, p1,064).

The passage we are studying this month is the portion where Nichiren Daishonin elucidated the remarkable beneficial power of Myoho-renge-kyo. The Daishonin used the example of poison being transformed into medicine to illustrate the point that Myoho-renge-kyo can change evil into good.

The Daishonin also used the illustration of the Spring of Jewels that transformed stones into jewels to portray the point that these five characters have the beneficial power to change ordinary human beings into Buddhas.

The Daishonin taught, through these illustrations, that no matter what happens in life, as long as we continue maintaining faith in Myoho-renge-kyo, pray thoroughly to the end without giving up and exert our utmost for kosen-rufu, we will surely be able to manifest our Buddhahood, activate the protective functions of the universe and blaze a path of happiness for ourselves and others.


Mrs Masayo Honma, a women division zone leader in Sado Island, a land that is closely related to Nichiren Daishonin, came to Sado from Kansai when she married her husband, a craft potter, in 1973. In 1980, her husband’s entire workshop and kiln (stove for producing ceramic pottery) were burnt down in a fire caused by an oversight.

To a craft potter, the kiln is said to be as precious as his own life. Both husband and wife were totally disheartened for no work can be done without a kiln. It was then that they received a message from SGI President Ikeda encouraging the couple to forge on despite the setback.

The couple resolved, “President Ikeda has taught us to remain undefeated no matter what happens in life. This is the time to put this into practice!” With this determination, they stood up again based on daimoku.

Mr Honma recalled, “I was tremendously encouraged by my wife who remained unwavered as she continued chanting daimoku resolutely during the most trying times.”

Today, Mr Honma has become a renowned ceramic potter who had held many personal exhibitions at prestigious galleries in the Ginza area in Japan. Through faith, the couple was able to transform poison into medicine.

The area of Hatano in Sado, where Mrs Honma lives, was filled with people who have prejudice against the Soka Gakkai due to prevailing conservative thoughts when it came to religion. Despite such circumstances, Mrs Honma tenaciously visited her members one by one to encourage them to courageously live out their lives in the Soka Gakkai together with President Ikeda and not be swayed by unfounded rumours.

As a result, her members strengthened their faith and her districts are growing vibrantly today. The circle of understanding towards the activities of the Soka Gakkai is expanding. The public and grassroot leaders have extended their utmost support in various activities organized by the Soka Gakkai in Sado, including President Ikeda’s “Dialogue with Nature” photographic exhibition. Moreover, 70% of the residents in Mrs Honma’s village are subscribers of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily paper.

Mrs Honma has served as women division district leader over a period of 20 years and as a chapter leader for 10 years. Over the past three decades, she had exerted her utmost without retreating a single step. She has been contributing her home for kosen-rufu activities throughout these years and now she has been able to purchase a land for a carpark huge enough to accommodate several dozens of cars.

Mr Honma, presently a vice zone leader is also the prefectural chief of the Soka Gakkai Arts Division. Their elder daughter is now married after fulfilling her responsibilities as a vice YWD prefectural leader while their younger daughter is a chapter leader in the Kansai area.

The women disciples of Sado, such as lay nun Sennichi and lay nun Kofu, who single-mindedly strove to protect Nichiren Daishonin are great models for the women division to follow.

Let us continue to advance joyfully on the path of mentor and disciple with faith that transforms poison into medicine.


Key points of the Gosho passage
1. What is the greatest beneficial power of the Gohonzon? It is to change our lives and our circumstances, even from the worst possible state to one of great happiness.

2. But this change of our lives and circumstances is not due to some magical or supernatural power of the Gohozon. This change comes about because when we chant with faith, our life manifest the state of Buddhahood which then gives us wisdom, courage, lifeforce and also attracts the Buddhist gods (protective functions in one’s life and environment) to assist us. All the wonderful benefits we experience, such as overcoming sickness, financial difficulties, family or work problems and achieving human revolution, etc, are all derived from our Buddha nature.

3. In other words, benefits come after we manifest the state of Buddhahood when we chant daimoku with faith to the Gohonzon. This is what the Daishonin meant when he said that the power of daimoku could change “poison into medicine”, “evil into good”, “stones into jewels” and “human beings into Buddha”. But we must remember that Buddhahood will not stay manifested permanently in our life, and that is why we need to practice our daimoku and gongyo consistently and strive for kosen-rufu.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Fumiko Shimpo, Women Division Study Chief for Niigata Prefecture, published on the June 2008 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.