On Persecutions Befalling the Sage - The "Courage of the Lion King" is the Soka Gakkai Spirit

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 beasts, 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 1st day of the 10th month in 1279 to his followers in general. The Daishonin also instructed that this letter be kept by Shijo Kingo.

Around this time, propagation around 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, especially farmer believers.

However, as the number of new believers increased, so did the pressures from the religious and secular authorities as they deemed it a threat. It especially incurred the wrath of Gyochi, the deputy chief priest of Ryusen-ji temple, whose opposition to the Daishonin’s teachings eventually led to the Atsuhara Persecution whereby 20 farmer believers were arrested on false charges, and three of them, Jinshiro, Yagoro and Tarokuro, were later beheaded. In spite of these persecutions, not one of the twenty farmers abandoned their faith.

Seeing that his followers were now ready to give their lives if necessary to protect the Law, the Daishonin realized that the time had come to fulfill the purpose of his life – that is, the inscription of the object of devotion for the sake of all humankind.


This is a passage in which Nichiren Daishonin taught us that the key to surmounting obstacles in life through our practice of faith is none other than “courage” and the “mentor-disciple spirit”.

Simply put, the “heart of the lion king” refers to “courage”, and at the same time, the fundamental life force that wells forth in our lives. It also refers to the latent strength we possess within us.

The Daishonin said we must “summon up” the “courage of the lion king”.

We cannot bring forth something that does not already exist. Qualities such as courage and life force do not belong solely to an exclusive group of individuals. We all inherently possess it inside us. Since it already exists within our lives, all we need to do is to summon forth this courageous spirit to defeat cowardice and delusion clouding our lives.

To reiterate that we must remain absolutely fearless no matter what oppression or adversity may befall us, the Daishonin added, “The lion king fears no other beasts, nor do its cubs.”

The spirit of selfless dedication without begrudging his life, which the Daishonin opened the way for kosen-rufu to lead all people to happiness, is itself “the heart of a lion king”. We, the disciples are the cubs of a lion king. Therefore, when we strive with the same spirit as our mentor in the same commitment of faith, we too cannot fail to bring forth this courage of the lion king that remains undefeated in the face of all kinds of obstacles, no matter how harsh.

Faith based on the shared commitment of mentor and disciple is what enables us to summon up that heart of a lion king. When disciples stand up and chant the daimoku o the Mystic Law in the same mind as the mentor and strive to uphold justice, our lion roar will surely prevail over the devilish functions and powerful enemies, who are like “barking foxes”.

SGI President Ikeda said, “The courage of the lion King is none other than the Gakkai spirit. This courageous spirit is to be summoned forth. There is not a single individual in this world who does not possess courage. It is there in the lives of all but for some, it is in the state of latency. It has yet to be summoned forth… Losers use adversities and words like ‘impossible’ as excuses to limit their own potential without taking any actions. Victors, on the other hand, fearlessly take action with courage and audacity. Herein lies the deciding point between losers and victors.”

Let’s summon forth the Gakkai spirit from within our lives and boldly move forward in order to breakthrough all barriers of obstacles and impossibilities to emerge as shining victors in life.

Translated and adapted from the July 2012 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.