On Persecutions Befalling the Sage - Courage is found Within

Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone. The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs. Slanderers are like barking foxes, but Nichiren's followers are like roaring lions.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p997

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu on the first day of the tenth month of the year 1279 to his followers in general, amidst the "Atsuhara Persecution". The Daishonin also specifically instructed that this letter be kept by Shijo Kingo.

Around 1275, propagation efforts in the Fuji area began to produce significant results under the leadership of Nikko Shonin. There were a number of converts among both priests and laity, but as the number of new believers increased, so did official pressures.

In Atsuhara, a village in Fuji District of Suruga Province, believers were subjected to a series of threats and harassments known collectively as the Atsuhara Persecution. Twenty believers, all farmers, were arrested on the twenty-first day of the ninth month, on false charges and three of them were later beheaded. In spite of these persecutions, not one go the twenty farmers abandoned their faith.

Amidst such circumstances, the Daishonin encouraged his disciples that each of them must now "summon up the courage of a lion king" and maintain their faith to the end, not bowing to any persecutions.


How do we forge our lives so that we remain undefeated no matter what happens? It is none other than the courageous faith based on he spirit of mentor and disciple. This is what Nichiren Daishonin taught in this passage.

What does "heart of the lion king" refers to? SGI President Ikeda explained as follows:

"In a nutshell, it refers to 'courage'. This courage is not found outside one's life. It is found within. Courage does not belong to an exclusive group of people. It can be found equally in the lives of all people, no matter who you are. However, it is indeed unfortunate that many people have sealed off this immeasurable treasure that can be found within their lives and end up drifting aimlessly amidst waves of cowardice, despair and illusion. There is nothing more wasteful than this. One cannot imagine the vast opportunities and possibilities one would have wasted in lives. It is precisely for this reason that we must 'summon forth' the courage from deep within and breakthrough our cowardice and weaknesses."

Courage is the crucial, decisive factor that leads us to victories in all aspects of our lives. The Daishonin stated here: "The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs." Through this statement, the Daishonin was reminding us that all of us possess the same "courage of the lion king" that enables one to remain undefeated in the face of all adversities as displayed by the Daishonin himself.

Now the question is, how do we "summon up the courage of the lion king"? The Daishonin stated here, "Nichiren's followers are like the roaring lions." It is the lion's roar infused in the spirit of mentor and disciple that would enable us to do so.

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin taught, "The 'roar' [in the term 'lion's roar' (shishi ku) is the sound of the teacher and the disciples chanting in unison." (OTT, P111)

As the Daishonin taught here, only when the disciples stand up and chant the daimoku of the Mystic Law in unison with their mentor, making their mentor's heart their own, upholding and spreading the teachings of the Mystic Law, and continuously take on the share struggle of mentor and disciple, will we be able to conquer all devilish forces.

SGI President Ikeda said, "Those who always have their mentor in their hearts as they face life's struggles are strong. When we make our mentor's spirit of resolute commitment to kosen-rufu our own, we can bring forth the same life-condition and reveal unlimited potential. No unity is ore solid than the spiritual bound of mentor and disciple. And the power of unity is what changes history."

To "roar the lion's roar" does not mean to do something extraordinary. It means to open the hearts of our friends through sincere dialogues. While cherishing these bonds of friendships we have established through these dialogues, let us create a new page in the history of kosen-rufu.

(Translated and adapted from the April 2011 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai's monthly study journal.)