Letter to the Brothers - Powerfully Forging Ahead Based on Faith

Whatever trouble occurs, regard it as no more than a dream, and think only of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren’s teaching was especially difficult to believe at first, but now that my prophecies have been fulfilled (1), those who slandered without reason have come to repent. Even if in the future other men and women become my believers, they will not replace you in my heart.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p940)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter to the Ikegami brothers (older brother was Munenaka, younger brother was Munenaga) and their wives who lived in Ikegami in Musashi Province (present day Ota Ward). In this letter, the Daishonin taught the key to establishing “faith for surmounting obstacles”.

The exact date of conversion of the brothers to the Daishonin’s teachings is not certain but it is thought that they started practicing faith around 1256. The Ikegami family held an important post in Kamakura in the government’s Office of Construction and Repairs.

Their father, Yasumitsu was a loyal follower of Ryokan, chief priest of Gokurarku-ji temple or the True Word Precepts School. Through Ryokan’s instigation, Yasumitsu vehemently opposed the beliefs of his two sons.

Shortly after the Daishonin moved to Mount Minobu, Yamumitsu demanded that his sons renounced their faith in the Daishonin’s Buddhism. When they refused, he disowned his elder son.

This letter of encouragement was written in response to the Ikegami brothers’ report to the Daishonin about the recent happening. Although the letter is dated 1275, recent studies suggest that it is most likely to have been written in 1276.

Primogeniture, the right of the eldest son to succeed to the wealth and social prestige of the family, was a vitally important aspect of Japanese society during the Daishonin’s time.

Virtually insurmountable social and economic sanctions existed against persons who were disowned by their parents. By disowning Munenaka, their father was in effect provoking rivalry between the two sons by tempting the younger Munenaga to trade his beliefs for the right to his father’s estate.

In this sense, the Daishonin was particularly concerned about the faith of the younger brother and offered meticulous encouragement to him.

After this letter was written, Munenaka was forgiven but he was disowned again shortly thereafter. The Daishonin continued to guide and encouraged the brothers and their wives during the most trying times, urging them all to unite and maintain their faith.

They persisted in faith in exact accordance with the Daishonin’s guidance and several years later, the brothers finally succeeded in converting their father to the Daishonin’s teachings.


In this passage, the Daishonin taught that “whatever trouble occurs” in the course of our life, we must confront and surmount them all based on faith in the Gohonzon.

It can be said that as a human being, our life is filled with a series of “troubles”. There are times when these “troubles” cannot be resolved in accord with our wishes and there are times when we seemed to be overwhelmed by these troubles.

It is exactly at such times that one should go back to the prime point of faith and stand up again to challenge the problem based on faith – this is what the Daishonin is teaching here in this passage.

On the surface, the “troubles” may look complex and seem so huge that they are insurmountable. However, it is important that we never become overwhelmed by such superficial distress.

Instead, it is necessary for us to take on the challenge to resolve these “troubles” at the fundamental level by engendering a fundamental transformation in one’s life.

In order to do so, one must align one’s life back in rhythm with the Mystic Law, which is the fundamental Law of the universe and life, and forge ahead courageously with faith as one’s basis of life.

SGI President Ikeda said in his guidance: “No matter what trouble occurs in life, it is important to maintain strong and profound faith. In specific terms, it means to devote one’s entire being for kosen-rufu and exert oneself in faith and practice with single-minded resolve.”

President Ikeda also wrote in his novel, The New Human Revolution:“When we truly pledge to achieve kosen-rufu as we chant daimoku, then our prayer is a prayer of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. At that moment, our lives open and expand to that of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Such prayers have the power to set the heavenly deities and the Buddhas, the entire universe, into action, and they will protect us and our families, while also answering our personal prayers.”

In the second half of this passage, the Daishonin praised the faith of the wives of the Ikegami brothers who had been supporting the brothers from behind an never wavering on the path of kosen-rufu for all these years.

The two prophecies of internal strife and foreign invasion made by the Daishonin came true eventually. With the fulfillment of the Daishonin’s prophecy, the attitude of the people towards the Daishonin began to change.

The Daishonin stated here that even though there might be many others who decide to become his disciples in the future, they could never replace the Ikegami brothers in the Daishonin’s heart.

These words arose out of the Daishonin’s profound compassion for his disciples to whom he expressed his appreciation for their dedicated efforts in blazing a new path on untrodden grounds together in the same resolve and spirit of non-regression as their mentor.

The mentors and disciples of Soka (2) too, have overcome and prevailed over numerous obstacles and hardships based on the same vow for kosen-rufu as Nichiren Daishonin himself. Let us expand this wonderful solidarity of camaraderie as we advance towards the 100th anniversary of the Soka Gakkaiin 2030 with hope and courage.

1. “… now that my prophecies have been fulfilled”: In the treatise titled, “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”, that Nichiren Daishonin submitted to Hojo Tokiyori (the retired regent but still the most powerful figure in the shogunate) in the year 1260, the Daishonin predicted the occurrence of the two disasters of internal strife and foreign invasion if the rulers continue to support erroneous teachings. Later, these prophecies were fulfilled when Hojo Tokisuke revolted against his younger half brother, Regent Hojo Tokimune, in the second month of 1272 (known as the February Disturbance), and when the Mongol forces attacked Japan twice, in 1274 and 1278.

2. “Soka mentors” refer to the three founding presidents, namely Mr Makiguchi, Mr Toda and Mr Ikeda who serve as eternal examples of selfless dedication to the propagation of the Mystic Law and “Soka disciples” refer to their disciples, including all SGI members who respect the three founding presidents as mentors.

Translated and adapted from the October 2010 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.