Flowering and Bearing Gain - The Commitment of the Disciple Decides Everything

It is said that if a teacher has a good disciple, both will gain the fruit of Buddhahood, but if a teacher fosters a bad disciple, both will fall into hell. If the teacher and disciple are of different minds, they will never accomplish anything.

(Passage from “Flowering and Bearing Gain”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p909)

This letter was written by Nichiren Daishonin at Mount Minobu and was addressed to Joken-bo and Gijo-bo, his former seniors when they were disciples at Seicho-ji.

The Daishonin sent this letter in the fourth month of 1278 for the second memorial service for Dozen-bo, his teacher at Seicho-ji when he entered priesthood at the age of 12.

Although it is accounted that Dozen-bo quietly believed in the Daishonin’s teachings in his heart, unfortunately, he could not bring himself to discard Nembutsu and convert to Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism till the last moment in his life.

Even though the Daishonin strictly admonished the erroneous teachings his teacher practiced, he never forgot his debt of gratitude to his teacher throughout his life.

In this passage, we are studying this month, “teacher” refers to Dozen-bo and the Daishonin placed himself in the position of a disciple, thereby elaborating his mission as a disciple to lead his teacher to enlightenment.

The Daishonin stated here that by having a good disciple such as him, Dozen-bo would surely receive immense benefits from the Daishonin’s Buddhism and eventually attain Buddhahood. On the contrary, if the disciple goes astray and is deluded by erroneous teachings, the teacher will not be able to enjoy the benefits that accrue from the Mystic Law. On top of this, due to the bad causes created, both teacher and disciple will fall into the life-state of hell and experience deep suffering.

In any case, “a good disciple” in this passage refers to a disciple who embrace and upholds the teachings of the Mystic Law (Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Buddhism) while “a bad disciple” refers to one who harbours disbelief in the correct teachings of the Mystic Law.

When we read this passage in light of our context, it is a passage of supreme nobility for it contains the ultimate essence of Buddhism, which is the spirit and principle of the oneness of mentor and disciple.

Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda taught us, “The relationship of mentor and disciple is firmly established when you become a good disciple. The relationship of mentor and disciple depends on the commitment of the disciple.”

In this sense, as disciples, it is extremely important for us to read this statement, “If teacher and disciple are of different minds, they will never accomplish anything” with our lives and firmly resolve to practise in accordance with the guidance of our mentor throughout our lives and score complete victories in all our endeavours.


From the time I was a child, I often wondered why my parents, who were Korean, had come to Japan. When I was in secondary three, I learnt about the tragic history between Japan and Korea and the cruelty the Korean people endured under Japanese annexation. The more I uncovered, the greater anger and hatred I felt towards Japan and the Japanese people. Engulfed by terrible rage and repulsion, my life was in agony.

In the autumn when I turned 16, both my lungs were infected by tuberculosis and I had to be hospitalized. It was in the hospital that I met a Soka Gakkai member and converted to the Daishonin’s Buddhism. As I continued chanting daimoku earnestly, my health improved dramatically and I was discharged one-and-a-half years later even though the doctor told me initially that I had to be hospitalised for at least two years.

Subsequently, I moved on to Tokyo to fulfil my dream to go to college. My dreams were realised when I was accepted by Soka University as a member of the first class of students. Just when I thought my life was starting anew as a Soka University student, the deep fog of hatred and resentment that used to haunt me in the past began to cloud my life again.

I began to ask myself, if I continue assimilating my life into the Japanese society practicing a Japanese religion and attending a Japanese university, will this be an act of betrayal to my fellow Koreans? With this growing concern in my life, I continued to chant abundant daimoku.

Around the time when my daimoku reached 10 million, I had an opportunity to meet our university founder, President Ikeda together with several students through the kind arrangement of one of my professors at the university. Even though I was meeting President Ikeda for the first time, he spoke to us with a warm smile and encouraged us wholeheartedly.

He told us, “From the standpoint of our basic humanity, our nationality or ethnicity doesn’t really matter. It’s a very small thing. As a youth, the important thing is to look into the future and strive to contribute to the happiness of others. Just do your best as a human being, in a way that is true to yourself. I’ll be watching over you.”

Hearing my mentor’s kind and compassionate words, I felt the conflicting emotions that had been weighing heavily on my life evaporated in an instant. Tears of joy flowing from my eyes washed away the delusion in my life completely.

On top of this, President Ikeda wrote the following words on a photograph of one of the bronze statues at the university’s main entrance and presented it to me as a token of encouragement, “Originally, national boundaries did not exist. People created them. Let us not forget to live with the awareness that we are linked together as human beings on a profound level that transcends national boundaries.”

These words shook me to the depth of my being.

I though to myself, “How true! Nations are man-made, and even ethnicity does not separate people on the most fundamental level. Perhaps I’ve been too focused on the past that I’ve closed my eyes to the future.”

I was filled with profound gratitude to have such a wonderful mentor in life. There and then I resolved to respond to my mentor’s encouragement with my whole life. From that point on, I studied with even greater diligence and threw myself into the frontlines of our kosen-rufu movement. I had much to learn and gain through the numerous encounters with people from different walks of life and diverse backgrounds.

I am truly humbled that President Ikeda has even written about this episode of mine in his novel, The New Human Revolution Vol 15, chapter 2 “Soka University”.

Both the validity of the Daishonin’s Buddhism that enables all people to attain happiness and the greatness of our mentor can ultimately be proven only through the commitment and achievements of the disciples. Deeply engraving this in my life, I resolve to continue wagging a united struggle with my mentor.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Chubu WD Study Chief Toshiko Umehara published in the July 2005 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal. Ms Umehara became a licensed tax accountant – the first Soka University graduate to do so after she finished her studies at the university.

Reply to Kyo'o - Transforming Misfortune into Fortune

Kyo's misfortune will change into fortune. Muster your faith, and pray to this Gohonzon. Then what is there that cannot be achieved?

(Passage from “Reply to Kyo'o”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p412)

This letter was written by Nichiren Daishonin at Ichinosawa in Sado Island. It was written in response to news that Kyo'o had become seriously ill which was conveyed to the Daishonin by a messenger sent by Shijo Kingo and his wife.

From the content of the letter, it is believed that Kyo'o is a baby girl. The Daishonin encouraged Shijo Kingo and his wife wholeheartedly by saying, "Since I heard from you about Kyo'o, I have been praying to the gods of the sun and moon for her every moment of the day."

The Daishonin then revealed that he had embodied in his entire being in the Gohonzon he had inscribed for Kingo and assured him that as long as he maintained indomitable faith, he will surely receive protection from the Buddhist gods (protective functions of the universe).

In this passage that we are studying this month, the Daishonin inscribed the power of the Gohonzon, stating that it can transform misfortune into fortune. In other words, the Daishonin assured us that as long as we remain undefeated and continue challenging the problems based on faith in the Gohonzon, the path will surely open before us. in fact,we will be able to gain more than what we were seeking for at the outset - we will not only overcome all problems and challenges, we will also be able to attain a great life condition imbued in happiness.

For this reason, the Daishonin said, "Muster your faith..." - to set one's mind and summon forth the passion of faith - and pray earnestly to the Gohonzon. "Then what is there that cannot be achieved?" Here, the Daishonin expressed his absolute conviction.

SGI President Ikeda said, "The power of the sincere daimoku offered by our Women Division members is invincible. In light of the great teachings of Buddhism, there is absolutely no doubt that the lives of these members of the Women Division will be illuminated by the 'Buddhism of the Sun' and lead magnificent lives of good health and great victories lifetime after lifetime."

As President Ikeda teaches, when we chant daimoku in great earnestness, the "sun of hope" will rise within our herts and from that moment, a great revolution towards victory commences within our lives.


Tokaido Region WD Study Chief Kumiko Inatomi related her experience:

I myself have been encouraged by this Gosho passage countless times, especially during my struggle against an illness that attacked me out of the blue. The name of the illness was "Hodgkin's disease" (malignant lymphoma). That was the time when I was in the midst of fulfilling my responsibilities as the Women Division Chief of Yokohama Prefecture.

"Why? Why must it be cancer?" "Why? Why must it be me!?" Questions like these coupled with the fear of death kept attacking me mercilessly. I was in complete agony. "Only daimoku can save me now!" I resolved but my prayers were filled with pessimism. I simply could not bring myself to be positive. In the midst of this inner struggle, I received a card from President Ikeda with words of encouragement written on it. It read:

"Boldly live out your life,
Laughing away your illness,
Winning over your illness,
Proving yourself
As th queen of longevity."

"Laugh away your illness!" - What powerful words! How wonderful it is to have such a mentor in life! I Felt as if an electric current just flowed through my entire body, charging me up with courage and gratitude.

From that day onwards, I immersed myself in daimoku, chanting five to six hours a day, as I took on the challenge to confront my illness.

The challenges were immense, especially the torturing side effects of chemotherapy including the horrifying hair loss. But still, I persevere on. "Even though I'm so ill, I've got a mentor who is cheering me on; who believes in me. What's more, I still have this opportunity to chant daimoku like this." When this realisation dawned upon me, I was overwhelmed by profound emotions that surged forth from the depths of my life.

Previously, I was fighting my illness on an equal footing. However, after this realisation, I could look upon my illness from an elevated life condition.

As I continued chanting daimoku, I found myself released from the fear of death. Instead, I could even perceive death positively as something that will knock on everybody's door one day. This was a precious experience for me as I confronted "death" head on without battling an eye and changed my perspective of life and attitude in offering prayers on a fundamental level.

Nichiren Daishonin stated, "Nam-myoho-rengekyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be of an obstacle?" (WND, p412) The Daishonin is encouraging me to roar like a lion by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! Also, in The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, he said, "The word shi of the word shishi, or 'lion' [which means "teacher"], is the Wonderful Law that is passed on by the teacher. The second shi [which means "child"] is the Wonderful Law as it is received by the disciples. The "roar" is the sound of the teacher and the disciples chanting in unison." (OTT, p111)

Our prayers based n the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple will ensure the validity of the words "what is there that cannot be achieved?" I came to this realisation through my struggle against my sickness.

It has been 11 years since I overcame cancer and I am indeed filled with gratitude that I have the opportunity to share my experience with fellow members who are challenging illnesses, to encourage them.

President Ikeda said, "The Soka Gakkai has always triumphed in every arena through the oneness of mentor and disciple. All progress starts with this spirit of unity. It is in this spirit that the key to victory and glory in all endeavours is found."

A life dedicated to the path of mentor and disciple is one of unsurpassed joy. Cherishing this sense of gratitude to be able to wage a united struggle with our mentor, let us continue to strive cheerfully for the realisation of kosen-rufu.

Translated and adapted from the November 2005 and 2006 issues of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

The Gift of Rice - It All Boils Down to the Heart

As for the matter of becoming a Buddha, ordinary people keep in mind the words “earnest resolve” and thereby become Buddhas. When we carefully consider what exactly earnest resolve refers to, … it means that offering one’s only robe to the Lotus Sutra is equivalent to peeling off one’s skin; and that in a time of famine, offering the food that is only meant for sustaining one’s life that day to the Buddha is offering one’s life to the Buddha.

(Passage from “The Gift of Rice”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p1,125-27)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Mount Minobu in response to an offering of a sack of rice from one of his disciples. Unfortunately, only a portion of this letter is extant and the date and recipient of this letter is unknown.

The title, “The Gift of Rice”, derived from the opening passage of the letter which read, “I have received the sack of polished rice, the sack of yams, and the basket of river laver that you took the trouble to send me by messenger.” (WND, p1,125)

In this letter, the Daishonin explained how lofty it is to make offerings to the Lotus Sutra out of one’s sincere heart.

In the first portion of this letter, the Daishonin emphasized this point through the examples of sages of old who attained enlightenment by giving the most precious treasure – their very lives – as offerings to the Buddha. However, such an extreme practice cannot be carried out by and not necessary for ordinary people in the present age. The Daishonin revealed in this Gosho how ordinary people can attain enlightenment just as the sages of old did.

The Daishonin stated here that in this present age, it is the spirit of “earnest resolve” to dedicate oneself to the Lotus Sutra (Nichiren Buddhism) that is important. Such “earnest resolve” can be expressed as acts of sincere offering. Nichiren Daishonin stated that giving whatever sustains or is of value to our lives, such as “food” and “clothing”, as offerings to the Buddha will ultimately lead us to the path of Buddhahood. He said, “… ordinary people keep in mind the words ‘earnest resolve’ and thereby become Buddhas.”

This “earnest resolve” refers to one’s sincerity that arises from one’s faith, the resolve to devote one’s life for the attainment of kosen-rufu and one’s pledge to wage a united struggle of mentor and disciple. In this way, the key to attaining Buddhahood lies in one’s strong and earnest faith.

In his novel, The New Human Revolution Vol. 4, SGI President Ikeda wrote, “The offerings and financial contributions to the organisation were meant exclusively to accomplish Daishonin’s mandate to widely propagate the Mystic Law. Offerings made towards this end were equivalent to offerings made to the original Buddha. There was, then, no greater offering, no greater good. Certainly, nothing could bring greater benefit.” (p115)

President Ikeda explained here that the context of our present age, sincere financial contributions to our organisation of kosen-rufu are equivalent to sincere offerings to Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. Making such offerings is itself creating the cause to accrue great fortune in our lives.


The life of Mitsuko Takada, a Women Division chapter leader in Shiga prefecture, attests to this.

When Mitsuko was in primary four, her mother passed away due to illness. Shortly theresfter, her father remarried but she could not get along with her stepmother. Mitsuko dropped out from high school, ran away from home and become a member of a “hell-riders” motorcycle gang, spending al of her time with them.

She got married at the age of 19 but divorced at the age of 27 after delivering her second child.

Mitsuko and her children lived in a shabby hut. She was so poor that having her water and power supplies cut off became a norm in her life. On top of this, her children were extremely weak in health. All that she could think of everyday was to die with her children. She was mentally and physically exhausted and spent her days wandering aimlessly on the brink of an abyss of hopelessness and despair.

It was at this point in her life that a Soka Gakkai Women Division member introduced her to Nichiren Buddhism with the earnest hope, “I want to become happy!”, despite strong opposition from her father.

She started working to raise her two children and exerted herself sincerely in activities for kosen-rufu. One day, she heard a fellow member about becoming a “kofu member” (members who endeavour to consistently make financial contribution to the organisation). The first thing that came to her mind was, “I want to contribute my part for kosen-rufu, too!”

Since that day onwards, she began saving one coin everyday as she struggled to overcome her dire financial straits based on daimoku. After much struggle, she had saved enough to become a “kofu member”. Although it was only a humble amount, Mitsuko was filled with the “earnest resolve” to contribute in whatever way she could.

As she headed towards the centre to make her contribution, she could not help but look back on her life after her conversion. She said, “When I look back, I realized that after taking up faith, my life did change for the better. Although my financial condition was far from ideal, my water and power supplies have never been cu off since my conversion. My children have also regained their health.” As she recollected, Mitsuko was filled with immense appreciation.

After making her contribution, Mitsuko headed back home in high spirits. Upon reaching home, she was shocked to find her father standing at her doorsteps. On the floor by the foot of her father were bags of rice and fresh vegetables he had bought for her. Her father then placed some pocket money in Mitsuko’s hands and squeezed them tightly with both his hands. Overwhelmed by deep emotions, Mitsuko hugged her father and with tears flowing down her cheeks, she said, for the first time, “Thank you father!” For many years, she had lost contact with her father but at that moment, she felt a current of warmth flowing through her life, bridging the gap between herself and her father.

From that day onwards, Mitsuko continued to take on the challenges of life while cherishing a sense of deep gratitude. She was surprised at how much her life has transformed. Before taking up faith, her life used to be filled with complaints, frustrations and resentment. But now, all of these have been replaced by gratitude. Mitsuko grew by leaps and bounds. She became a leader who always has a warm smile on her face and was well-liked by her fellow members. Wherever she went, she never failed to bring hope and courage to others. Her life was a great actual proof of her practice and faith.

Presently, she is married to a kind man who truly loves her. They have just purchased a new home and have established a harmonious and happy family dedicated to kosen-rufu. To date, Mitsuko has personally converted 23 families to receive the Gohonzon and is now enjoying life to the fullest.

President Ikeda said, “Buddhism teaches that the heart is most important. It all boils down to the heart. One who strives earnestly will surely receive benefits accordingly. On the other hand, those who just put on a front will lose out in the end. Buddhism is strict. This is why those who are earnest and sincere will ultimately win.”

Let us all cherish an “earnest resolve” as we continue to advance together with a deep sense of gratitude.

Translated and adapted from the November 2005 and 2006 issues of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

A Comparison of the Lotus and Other Sutras - Creating the Fundamental Cause for Peace through Dialogue

Buddhism is like the body, and society like the shadow. When the body bends, so does the shadow.

(Passage from “A Comparison of the Lotus and Other Sutras”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p1,037-40)

This letter was written in Minobu to Toki Jonin in Shimosa in the fifth month of 1280.

In the sixth month of the previous year (1279), a deegation of Mongolian envoys arrived with a leter for Hojo Tokimune, the regent of the Kamakura regime. However, Tokimune had them beheaded and sent fleet of army to Kyushu to protect Japan from an impending Mongolian invasion. These events threw Japan into turmoil, creating ripples of fear and distress in the lives of the Japanese people throughout the nation. How much it must have pained Nichiren Daishonin to witness such misfortune befalling the people in Japan time and again.

Just before this passage, the Daishonin stated, “Because Buddhism has gradually been turned upside down, the secular world also has been plunged into corruption and chaos.” (WND, p1039) In other words, the Daishonin was saying that because the people in Japan had turned their backs on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, the secular world is in turmoil, plagued by calamities and disasters. The Daishonin was thus teaching us the principles of “Buddhism manifests itself in society” and “Faith equals daily life”.

By saying that “Buddhism is like the body”, the Daishonin revealed that it is Buddhism that determines the condition of the secular world and society.

The statement, “When the body bends, so does the shadow” teaches that if the people base their lives on partial or erroneous teachings, it will not be possible to achieve individual happiness and social prosperity. The Daishonin further explained that true peace and happiness can definitely be achieved based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. In this way, Nichiren Daishonin revealed the profound relationship between Buddhism and the lives of the people and society.

The Chinese character for the word, “bend” also contains the meaning of “distort”. No one “distorts” his or her life intentionally. Such “distortions” in individual lives is a built-up of cumulative evil causes and negative habitual tendencies, which are eventually manifested as a “distorted shadow” in reality as misfortunes in life.

SGI President Ikeda once said that “while all people belong to the world of Humanity, there are some who, in terms of their basic life tendency, act mostly from the world of Hell, for example, and others who act mostly from the world of Bodhisattva” and that “our basic tendency in a sense determines out life.” This means that even though one is born human, it does not automatically mean that one will act with noble human qualities. Thus it is important to consistently polish our lives through the practice of chanting daimoku and mount faith as the central bastion in our lives.

In his “Lecture on the Expedient Means and Life Span Chapters of the Lotus Sutra”, President Ikeda stated, “A body and its shadow are an inseparable entity. If crookedness in the ‘body’ – distortions of philosophy, thought and religion – are not rectified, then all attempts to produce a straight ‘shadow’ are bound to fail. Through our movement to conduct dialogue, we are contributing to society on a fundamental level by helping to straighten out this ‘body’. We are creating the fundamental inherent cause for peace and prosperity.”

What President Ikeda taught here is that although we may not possess any inborn talent, special skills or qualifications, we are in fact contributing to the betterment of society at large through our daily practice of propagation and sharing the humanistic teachings and values of Buddhism with others. With this conviction, let us cherish the society around us – our families, place of work and communities – and cheerfully engage ourselves in heart-to-heart dialogues.


The life of Mrs Aya Kamio, a Women Division leaderin Akita prefecture, attests to this.

Aya was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism in July 1954 by her elder brother who rejoined the working force after overcoming tuberculosis and regaining his health completely through his practice of faith. She decided to take up faith with her husband with the earnest wish of regaining her good health as she had congenital gastrasthenia (inborn disorder of the stomach).

Since her conversion, she practiced her faith single-mindedly and was even appointed the first women division chapter leader of Towada chapter. She exerted herself even more traveling far and wide throughout three prefectures of Amori, Akita and Iwate with her husband, carrying bags of rice and can food, to extend their warm care to poor members and to introduce Nichiren Buddhism to relatives and friends. As a result of their tireless efforts, more than 100 families were able to enjoy true happiness after taking faith in Nichiren Buddhism.

Amidst this struggle, her husband, Hsiao, who was a coal miner, was suddenly expelled from the Coal Miners Union. At that time, being expelled from the union is as good as losing one’s job. The Union’s management had unjustly expelled Mr Hsiao due to their lack of understanding and prejudice towards the Soka Gakkai. They saw the growth and development of the Soka Gakkai as a grave threat to the union and this eventually led to the unreasonable expulsion of Hsiao.

Very soon, Aya, Hsiao and their family were ostracized by the entire coal mining district and their source of income was cut off. The only way Hsiao could find a job was to leave town but he felt that he could not do so: “I’ve done nothing wrong. If we leave this town, who is going to look after our fellow comrades of faith? They’ll be left in the lurch. We’re not going to leave this town.”

Having resolved to dedicate their entire being for the happiness of others, Aya and Hsiao did not retreat a single step. Inspired by their passion and strong faith, not a single member discarded their faith during this trying period.

Mr Hsiao decided to seek court action against his unjust expulsion. Half a year later, the Union offered to have an out-of-court settlement, agreeing to withdraw the order of expulsion of Hsiao. With unwavering faith, the couple had won a complete victory, bringing great joy and conviction to fellow members in their region.

Today, Aya is 84 years old and she enjoys complete good health, just as she had wished for. Her home is not only used as a venue for kosen-rufu activities, it is also open for her community’s residents council and women committee to hold their meetings.

President Ikeda once said, “The root of all matters boils down to ‘courage’ based on the Buddha’s wisdom.” Aya’s and Hsiao’s determination to protect their fellow members even at the cost of their lives are certainly the model examples of people of “courage based on the Buddha’s wisdom”.

Let us continue to exert orselves in expanding the circle of happiness through sincere dialogues in this turbulent world filled with spiritual distortion.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Shin Anyoji, Women Division Study Chief for Akita Prefecture, published on September 2006 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land

If you care anything about your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquility throughout the four quarters of the land, should you not?

(Passage from “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p6-32)

“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” was a leter of admonition submitted to Hojo Tokiyuri, the retired regent but the most influential member of the ruling Hojo clan. It was written on the seventh month of 1260. Nichiren Daishonin was 39 when he wrote this treatise in Kamakura, seven years after declaring the establishment of his teaching. The title, “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”, means realising a peaceful world through human revolution – an inner transformation in the very depths of every individual.

Around the time this document was written, the people in Japan were experiencing enormous suffering as the nation was repeatedly plagued by natural disasters such as severe earthquakes, droughts, typhoons and epidemics which resulted in major famines. The Daishonin pointed out that the cause for the nation’s continual calamities lay in the people turning their backs on the correct Buddhist teaching and instead support erroneous doctrines. He urged Hojo Tokiyori to discard his adherence and support for such teachings and be awakened to the teachings of the Mystic Law.

Nichiren Daishonin knew his admonishment of Hojo Tokiyori would incur the wrath of not only the de factor leader of the nation but also numerous powerful people in the government and religious realm. But the Daishonin was fully prepared for the eventuality of being the target of severe persecutions. Just as the Daishonin expected, he encountered one life-threatening persecution after another since his submission of “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”. It has been said that the Daishonin’s lifetime teachings began and end with the “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”. The Daishonin lived true to his words, dedicating his entire life n pursuit of the realization of a powerful society based on this spirit.

The passage we are studying this month describes the social responsibility of a Buddhist practitioner. The host, which represents the Daishonin in this treatise says to his guest that if one is concerned at all for one’s “personal security”, that is, one’s own happiness, one must first “pray for order and tranquility throughout the four quarters of the land”, that is, the realization of a peaceful society.

If the world and society that we are living n is plagued with constant warfare, conflict or disasters, it will be impossible for us to enjoy personal happiness. In this sense, peace is the foundation of everything.

SGI President Ikeda once wrote that one can never enjoy genuine personal happiness selfishly for oneself alone. He asserted that true happiness can only be savoured when one becomes happy together with others and that in order to achieve this, it is important for the lives of each individual to be firmly rooted in the humanistic philosophy of Buddhism.

President Ikeda further asserted, “War is not only cruel, miserable and ugly, it is the manifestation of the most hideous and wretched functions of human life. It is a devilish act that strips people of the nobility and dignity of life that strips them of everything it is to be human.”

The members of Hiroshima, the land where the first atomic bomb exploded some 60 years ago, have savoured these words with their lives. They have courageously stood up to fight against this most hideous and wretched function of human life and to protect the sanctity of life.

Today, we live in a world where the spirit of “altruism” is scarce; where people are indifferent to the sufferings of others and some even pursue happiness at the expense of others, building their happiness on other’s sufferings. This can well be said to be the “one great evil” that destroy peace and create conflicts.

On the other hand, President Ikeda teaches us to always uphold the spirit of cherishing others as fellow human beings and to treasure our social network in our community. This, itself is the path towards lasting global peace.


Many fellow SGI members in Hiroshima cannot agree more with this. Mdm Kwok, a vice women division district leader in Hiroshima was an A-bomb victim. She was 17 when she was exposed to the bome. Although she got married, she suffered tremendously from the severe aftereffects of the A-bomb, spending most of the time being bedridden. In addition, her family had difficulty making ends meet. As if these were not enough, Mdm Kwok was a Korean residing in Japan and since young, she had continuously being discriminated against. Burdened with so many sufferings, she wished she was better off dead, but yet she could not die. On the other hand, life was simply too harsh for her to continue living.

In 1958, a neighbour introduced her to Nichiren Buddhism and she decided to take up faith. As she continued her practice, she began regaining her health and her husband’s career became more stabilised. At the same time, through participating in SGI activities, she could feel that something deep in her life began to change and she found that she could now live with pride as a human being, as a Korean residing in Japan.

In 1987, she was approached to share her experience as a Korean A-bomb victim in Japan with students who are visiting Hiroshima on school trips from all over the country. She courageously took up the challenge in the hope of contributing her part for the betterment of the society. Since then, for the past 20 years, she has been relating her experience and the message of peace to visiting students in Hiroshima. In 1996, Mdm Kwok was conferred the Prime Minister’s Award from Korea in recognition of her tremendous contribution.

Mdm Kowk never fails to tell the students on each occasion, “The prime point of peace is found in the act of spreading kindness to the people around you. In order to create a world that is filled with kindness, you must first cultivate yourself – both spiritually and physically.”

Mdm Kwok was once a woman who could only weep over her misfortunes and karma. But through her encounter with Buddhism, she is now a woman who not only prays but also acts for the sake of peace. She has found her unique path of mission. All of us, as individuals, may seem insignificant. However, when we are awakened to our mission through faith in the Mystic Law, we can even “move the entire world”. I believe this is what Mdm Kwok has taught us through her life experience.

Let us become individuals who not only pray but take courageous action for “order and tranquility throughout the four quarters of the land”.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Kimiko Tsuji, Women Division Study Chief for Chugoku Prefecture, published on August 2005 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Reply to Yasaburo - Spurring the Protective Forces of the Universe into Action through Powerful Prayers

You should pray intently that Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions will all gather and enter into your body to assist you.

(Passage from “Reply to Yasaburo”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p827-830)

Nichiren Daishonin Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu to believer Yasaburo in the eight month of 1277.

Yasaburo had evidently sought the Daishonin’s advice in preparation for an upcoming debate with a priest from the Pure Land School. This letter is the Daishonin’s reply.

This passage is an important teaching to be engraved in our lives when we take up challenge to wage a struggle for kosen-rufu and the challenges in life. In this letter, the Daishonin told Yasaburo that this crucial debate would determine whether he win honour or disgrace. Subsequently, the Daishonin taught the determination with which Yasaburo should pray in order to achieve victory in a crucial battle in this passage.

The Daishonin teaches here that if we fill our lives with the energy of Buddhahood and manifest the great life force of the Buddha, we will never fail to summon forth the protective forces of the Buddhist gods (protective forces of the universe). With this, we can multiply our strength and power by thousand and million folds. It is our prayers that will enable us to transform our lives positively.

SGI President Ikeda taught us how we should offer our prayers in this manner, “The purpose of faith is to achieve victory. Indeed, faith guarantees that we will do so. When we strive with all our might for kosen-rufu and chant powerful daimoku, we spur the protective functions of the universe – the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and all the heavenly deities into action, causing them to open the way to victory.”


In April 1977, I had the opportunity of meeting Prsident Ikeda during his visit to Chubu and I reported to him that I was getting married. After giving me his well wishes, he encouraged me, “Remember to base your life on faith no matter what may happen in your life.” With this encouragement engraved in my life, I began attending activities as a Women Division member.

After my marriage, I was finally able to give birth to my son after overcoming numerous near-miscarriages. On top of this, I suffered from anaemia and have a difficult labour which lasted two full days before my baby was delivered.

Immediately after my delivery, I sensed that something was very wrong. Besides not hearing my baby’s first cry, doctors and nurses were reacting strangely as if there was an emergency situation in the labour ward. I soon discovered that my newborn son had neonatal asphyxia (born in a state of an apparent death resulting from deprivation of oxygen) but the doctors managed to revive him. He was immediately transferred to a national hospital for treatment.

Since then, everyday was a struggle against despair. Each time I was overwhelmed by a sense of sheer desperation, I recalled President Ikeda’s encouragement to me. I told myself, “You’ve got no other way but to chant” and “You must rise up to this challenge based on faith” and made a profound resolve to emerge victorious through faith in the Gohonzon.

I took up the challenge to offer sincere, earnest daimoku and prayed intently that “Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions will all gather and enter into” my baby’s body to assist him. “Please enable my son to manifest strong life force to overcome this ordeal”, “I will definitely foster him into a great leader of kosen-rufu” – I prayed fervently with my entire being.

Fortunately, the doctors had the wisdom to administer the most appropriate treatment to my son at each critical moment and his condition was stabilized. Although we told by the doctors that if my son had another attack within the next three months, he will suffer from permanent brain damage, we managed to overcome this challenge again based on faith. Our profound, powerful prayers activated the Buddhahood within and this in turn had spurred the Buddhist gods (protective forces of the universe) into action. We were filled with a sense of profound gratitude.

Through this experience, I noticed that the underlying power beneath my prayers began to change – from weak, desperate prayers into specific prayers and then into prayers that are based on a vow.

Another challenge that arose was concerning our business. We unexpectedly lost a major client due to the economic recession and intense competition and we were in deep trouble. However, we told ourselves “there must be a profound significance behind such a development” and continued to chant daimoku wholeheartedly. As a result, there was an unexpected turn of events when we were introduced to another client and this led to the further expansion of our business. In this way, we were able to transform poison into medicine.

The greatest source of happiness and pride is my children – my son is a Soka school graduate and is currently doing research studies as a post-graduate student while my daughter graduated from Soka University and is currently manifesting her full potential on the stage of kosen-rufu.

I will continue to pray that both my children will fulfil their mission as noble successors of kosen-ufu. My family and I are deeply grateful to be able to advance along the lofty path of mentor and disciple together with President and Mrs Ikeda and we shall make it our lifelong pledge to repay our debt of gratitude to our mentor in life through our actions.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Makoto Chikamatsu, Women Division Study Chief for Gifu Prefecture, published on August 2006 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Reply to Lord Nanjo - The Benefits of Offerings in Nichiren Buddhism

I have received the taros, river laver and wasabi – all that each of you have sent with sincerity comparable to that of a bird warming its egg or a cow licking its calf. Clothes over one’s body, and food sustains one’s life. Hence providing so well for a person who reads the Lotus Sutra in the mountains is to provide for Shakyamuni Buddha and sustain the life of the Lotus Sutra (1), is it not?

(Passage from “Reply to Lord Nanjo”, Gosho Zenshu, p1,530)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter on the 18th day of the third month of 1276 at Minobu at the age of 55. It was addressed to Nanjo Tokimitsu.

This letter was written in response to offerings from Nanjo Tokimitsu, Tachibana Saburo and Taro Taifu. Not much is known about Tachibana and Taro except that they were followers of the Daishonin who lived near Tokimitsu.

Expressing his appreciation for the offerings from Nanjo Tokimitsu and other disciples, Nichiren Daishonin said in this passage that the three of them are like “a bird warming its egg or a cow licking its calf”. The Daishonin compared the sincere offerings from these followers to the act of parents nurturing their offspring to emphasize the importance of the spirit with which offerings are made.

The year 1276 when this letter was written, was the third year of the Daishonin’s residence at Mount Minobu. The Daishonin penned many letters of encouragement from there and exerted his utmost in training disciples who gathered from around the country by delivering lectures on the Lotus Sutra and Buddhist teachings.

In this sense, Nichiren Daishonin was waging a tremendous struggle to establish the great Buddhism of the Three Great Secret Laws for the sake of the people in the future.

Nanjo Tokimitsu wholeheartedly supported the Daishonin in his struggle for kosen-rufu and in ensuring the eternal posterity of the Law. Tokimitsu’s offerings sustained the Daishonin’s life and therefore they served as a protection for the Daishonin and become the driving force that realized the propagation of the Mystic Law into the future.

For this reason, the Daishonin stated, “Providing so well for a person who reads the Lotus Sutra in the mountains is to provide for Shakyamuni Buddha and sustain the life of the Lotus Sutra, is it not?” In other words, the sincere offerings made to the Daishonin so that he could continue his struggle for kosen-rufu are offerings made to the Mystic Law.

On the other hand, for Tokimitsu, it was a great joy to be able to contribute his part to the Daishonin. It was with such joy that he made his offerings.

Offerings help to protect Buddhism and serve as a driving force to advance kosen-rufu. As a result, when offerings are made out of wholeheartedly sincerity for the Mystic Law, they accrue tremendous benefits to the person making the offerings. Such good fortune will continue to adorn one’s life eternally over the three existences of life.

In fact, it is accounted that Tokimitsu enjoyed a long, happy and prosperous life of fulfillment and victory. His family continued to prosper after his death. The wellspring of such good fortune can be traced to Tokimitsu’s earnest struggle to protect Nichiren Daishonin, the original Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, through his sincere offerings.

Buddhism teaches the Law of Cause and Effect. When one dedicates oneself for the sake of the Law and the people, he or she will enjoy great protection in all aspects.

Let us learn from the spirit of Tokimitsu and devote our lives to our movement for kosen-rufu.

1. Sustain the life of the Lotus Sutra – To ensure that the teachings of the Lotus Sutra will not be lost. To ensure the posterity of the Law.

Sowing the Seed of the Law - The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood

Shakyamuni Buddha is the original teacher for all people, and moreover, he is endowed with the virtues of sovereign and parent (1). Because I have expounded this teaching, I have been exiled and almost killed. As the saying goes, “Good advice grates on the ear.” (2) But still I am not discouraged. The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field.

(Passage from “The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p746-749)

This letter was written in the eighth month of 1276 at Minobu. It is addressed to Soya, a lay follower who lived in Soya Village in Shimosa Province. His full name and title were Soya Jiro Hyoe-no-jo Kyoshin, and he was thought to have been a samurai who governed this province.

He was converted to Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching around 1260 and became one of the leading believers in the area, together with Akimoto Taro and Ota Jomya. Soya had social standing and was comparatively more affluent. The fact that most letters addressed to Soya by Nichiren Daishonin were written in classical Chinese indicates that he was also well-educated.

In this passage, Nichiren Daishonin made the point that people should understand who their fundamental teacher is. The word “Shakyamuni” here indicates that people should revere Shakyamuni Buddha as their teacher, as opposed to other Buddhas like Amida. The Japanese people during Daishonin’s time had to an extent “lost sight” of Shakyamuni Buddha and his most important teaching, the Lotus Sutra. Here, the Daishonin tried to establish he importance of the original teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha in the hope of leading people to the Lotus Sutra and ultimately to his teachings of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

From the view point of Nichiren Buddhism however, the Daishonin himself is the fundamental teacher who taught that the source of enlightenment is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, he faced a series of life-threatening persecutions. He was exiled to Izu and Sado, he was attacked with a sword at Komatsubara, and he was nearly beheaded at Tatsunokuchi.

In the face of all this, the Daishonin said, “Still I am not discouraged.” He courageously expressed the determination to never stop – to always propagate the great Law and lead people to happiness – no matter how great the difficulty.

As SGI members, it is our challenge to maintain the determination to practice faith and strive for kosen-rufu no matter what obstacles we may face. However if we become stagnant or backslide in faith, we will be going against the teachings of the Daishonin.

An important part of the determination to practice as the Daishonin intended involves telling others about the Law. The Daishonin taught in this passage, “The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field.” Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the fundamental seed of Buddhahood that allows people to attain limitless happiness and joy. Naturally, we should direct the lives of our friends and family towards enlightenment by “sowing the seed” of Buddhahood. Simply sharing with others, regardless of whether they choose to practice or not, implants benefit in their lives.

Because we are calling forth the Buddha nature of others when we share the Mystic Law with them, it is important to talk about Buddhism with sincerity.

President Ikeda said, “Nichiren Buddhism is the Buddhism of sowing. By sharing the teachings of the Daishonin we are advancing kosen-rufu. For this reason, such actions accrue boundless benefits and good fortune. Such actions constitute upholding justice and the eternal posterity of the true Law.”

Strengthening our Buddhist practice and sharing it with others promotes the advancement of our kosen-rufu movement. Good fortune and virtue lie in our efforts to spread Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is the correct way to sow the seed of happiness in people’s lives.

1. Virtues of sovereign and parent - The virtue of sovereign is the power to protect all living beings and the virtue of parent is the compassion to nature and support them.

2. “Good advice grates on the ear” - A saying of Confucius. It means that good advice given out of sincerity usually points to one’s mistakes or weakness and therefore, is not easy to accept.

On the Buddha’s Prophecy

If, however, in the time after the Buddha’s passing, a person renounces his attachments to the four flavours and three teachings (1), and converts to faith in the Lotus Sutra that is true Mahayana, the heavenly gods and benevolent deities, as well as the bodhisattvas numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds (2) who emerged from the ground, will protect him as the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Under their protection, he will [establish and] spread abroad widely throughout Jambudvipa (3) the object of devotion of the essential teaching, or the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo.

(Passage from “On the Buddha’s Prophecy”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p398-404)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter on the eleventh day of the fifth month in the year 1273 during his exile at Ichinosawa on the island of Sado. It is addressed to this disciples and lay supporters in general. The title, “On the Buddha’s Prophecy”, points to two prophecies: One is Shakyamuni Buddha’s prediction that the votary of the Lotus Sutra will appear at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law and spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra despite great prosecutions. The other is the Daishonin’s own prophecy that in the future his teachings will spread throughout the world to benefit humankind. This letter made clear that the Daishonin himself was the votary of the Lotus Sutra who fulfilled Shakyamuni Buddha’s prophecy.

This passage constitutes the second prophecy made by the Daishonin, that the supreme Buddhist teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which he revealed, will spread throughout the entire world in the future.

Firstly, the Daishonin stressed that those who discard theprovisional teachings (referred to here as “the four flavours and three teachings”), which are inappropriate for the times, and devote themselves to the correct teaching for the times, the true Law of the Lotus Sutra, will be protected by the benevolent deities, as well as by the various Bodhisattvas, including the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

By “a person” in this passage, the Daishonin was specifically referring to himself. More broadly, however, this includes anyone who spreads the Mystic Law in the same spirit as he did.

“Under their protection” means that a person who spreads the essence of the Lotus Sutra will cause the powers of the benevolent deities, as well as the worlds of Buddhahood and Bodhisattva, to well forth from within his or her life. This power in turn affords one’s protection. Though Buddhism speaks of the power of benevolent deities, Buddhas, bodhisattvas and the like, such power does not exist outside our own lives. It emerges from within us. As a result of our faith and practice, the life state of Buddhahood is manifested, which then elicits a positive response from other people and from our environment. In this way, these functions act as a protective force.

“The object of devotion of the essential teaching, or the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo” is the fundamental Law or teaching to be spread throughout the world during the Latter Day of the Law. This fundamental Law is none other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws. This is called the implicit Lotus Sutra, the in-depth teaching implicit in the Lotus Sutra, which the Daishonin revealed.
With the emergence and development of the SGI, the Mystic Law that the Daishonin revealed more than 750 years ago has spread to 185 countries and territories around the world. From this fact, it is clear that the SGI alone has been concretely realising the Daishonin’s prediction that his teaching will “spread abroad widely throughout Jambudvipa”.

SGI President Ikeda said in his guidance, “The SGI has widely declared and spread the Mystic Law throughout the world. It has advanced straight ahead in accord with the Daishonin’s teachings. Those who spend their lives with the SGI will bring forth limitless power, limitless hope and limitless courage from within their lives.”

Those who devote themselves to spreading the Mystic Law together with the SGI will lead superlative lives grounded in happiness that emerges from the innermost depths of life and lasts eternally. With this conviction and pride, let’s strive together in our practice to spread the teachings of Buddhism.

Footnotes :
1. Four flavours and three teachings – Refer to those teachings the Buddha expounded prior to the Lotus Sutra, which are provisional, preparatory and expedients in nature. The “four flavours” refers to the first four flavour of the five flavours, namely fresh milk, cream, curdled milk and butter. The ‘three teachings” are the first three of the four teaching of doctrine – the Tripitaka, connecting and specific teachings,

2. The bodhisattvas numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds – Refer to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

3. Jambudvipa – One of the four continents situated in the four directions around Mount Sumeru, according to the ancient Indian worldview. Jambudvipa is located to the south and is the place where the Buddhas appear. It is often used to refer to the entire world.

The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra

Now at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, I, Nichiren, am the first to embark on propagating, throughout Jambudvipa (1), the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, which are the heart of the Lotus Sutra and the eye of all Buddhas (2). During the 2,200 or more years since the Buddha’s passing (3), not even Mahakashyapa, Ananda (4), Ashvaghosha, Nagarjuna (5), Nan-yueh, T’ien-t’ai (6), Miao-lo or Dengyo (7) has propagated them. My disciples, form your ranks and follow me, and surpass even Mahakashyapa or Ananda, T’ien-t’ai or Dengyo!

(Passage from “The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p763-782)

This letter was written in 1276 and addressed to lay nun Konichi, a wido who lived in Awa, the Daishonin’s native province. Lay nun was also known as Sage Konichi. Her son, Yashiro, had earlier converted to Daishonin’s teachings, and through him she and her husband became Daishonin’s disciples.

Some time after her conversion, she lost both her beloved son and husband. But through the Daishonin’s continuous and wholehearted encouragement, she overcame her deep sorrow and remained a sincere believer in the Daishonin’s Buddhism to the end of her life.

This Gosho, The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra, is an autobiographical account covering the events of an important period in Nichiren Daishonin’s life – from the arrival of the delegate from the Mongol empire in 1268 shortly before the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, through his two-and-a-half year exile on Sado Island, to his eventual retirement to Mount Minobu. In this Gosho, the Daishonin penned his struggles and persecutions over this period of nine years in great detail.

In this passage, Nichiren Daishonin expressed that the teaching to be spread throughout the entire world (Jambudvipa) in the Latter Day of the Law is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the heart of the Lotus Sutra. The Daishonin revealed that this Mystic Law is a great teaching which has never been propagated before – not even by the great teachers of the Former and Middle Days of the Law.

Mahakashayapa and Ananda were direct disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha. They were considered the Buddhist teachers who had correctly propagated Hinayana teachings for the first 500 years of the Former Day of the Law. Ashvaghosha and Nagarjuna were active as teachers who spread the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism in the second half of the Former Day of the Law in India.

Nan-yueh, T’ien-t’ai, Miao-lo and Dengyo were Buddhist teachers who appeared in China and Japan in the Middle Day of the Law and propagated the theoretical teachings of the Lotus Sutra. All these individuals propagated the appropriate teaching in accord with the age and time in which they appeared but did not spread Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the essential teaching hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the fundamental or original source of Buddhahood that has led and leads all Buddhas to enlightenment. For this reason, the Daishonin referred to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the “eyes of all Buddhas”. He also called it the “heart of the Lotus Sutra” because its teaching is found in the depths of the Lotus Sutra.

It was Nichiren Daishonin who first spread the fundamental teaching of the Mystic Law in the Latter Day of the Law, which the Buddhist teachers of the Former and Middle Days did not propagate. For this reason, the Daishonin is revered as the original Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.

The Daishonin opened the way for kosen-rufu in the current age of the Latter Day while enduring life-threatening persecutions. Based on the Buddhist principle of “oneness of mentor and disciple”, we must strive to develop and maintain this direct connection with Nichiren Daishonin and practice faith in exact accordance with the Daishonin’s teachings throughout our lives.

The Daishonin called to us in this passage, “My disciples, form your ranks and follow me.”

The Daishonin is teaching us that the quintessence of faith is to advance on the path of kosen-rufu opened by him in the same mind and spirit as his.

The SGI has all along maintained faith that is directly connected to the Daishonin and advanced the movement of worldwide kosen-rufu in accord with the Daishonin’s decree. This basis of the SGI movement is the greatest proof of the validity of the organisation.

While exerting ourselves in our practice of faith on the stage of kosen-rufu, let us also strive to foster new capable leaders who can join us in “forming our ranks” in following the footsteps of the Daishonin. Based on the spirit of harmonious unity, let us together strive to open a new age for worldwide kosen-rufu.

1. Jambudvipa – In today’s context, it refers to the entire world.

2. The eye of all Buddhas – The essential teaching that led all Buddhas in the 10 directions and three existences to enlightenment.

3. During the 2,200 or more years since the Buddha’s passing – According to theories prevalent during the Daishonin’s time, the passing of Shakyamuni was believed to be in 949BC. Based on this theory, the year 1276 when this letter was written corresponds to the 2,225th year.

4. Mahakashyapa and Ananda – Two major disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha who correctly taught Hinayana Buddhism in the first half of the Former Day of the Law.

5. Ashvaghosha and Nagarjuna – Buddhist scholars of the Mahayana school in the second half of the Former Day of the Law.

6. Nan-yueh and T’ien-t’ai – Buddhist teachers in the first half of the Middle Day of the Law who correctly expounded Buddhism based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.

7. Miao-lo and Dengyo – Buddhist teachers in the second half of the Middle Day of the Law who correctly spread the teachings of Nan-yueh and T’ien-t’ai.

The Supremacy of the Law

That is why the Great Teacher Miao-lo (1) stated, “The strong one’s faith, the greater the protection of the gods.” (2) So long as one maintains firm faith, one is certain to receive the great protection of the gods. I say this for your sake. I know your faith has always been admirable, but now you must strengthen it more than ever. Only then will the ten demon daughters lend you even greater protection.

(Passage from “The Supremacy of the Law”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p612-617)

This letter was written to the mother of Oto Gozen on 4 August 1275. The mother of Oto was Nichiren Daishonin’s female disciple living in Kamakura. During the Daishonin’s exile to Sado island, she traveled all the way there to visit the Daishonin with her infant daughter, Oto. The journey to Sado was a dangerous one, and the Daishonin was greatly impressed by the strength of faith she had demonstrated. In praise of her oure faith, he called her Sage Nichimyo.

The Mongol forces swept across the southern part of Japan in October of the previous year, terrorizing the whole nation. In this passage, the Daishonin reassured Nichimyo that as long as she continued strengthening her faith, she will be protected by the Buddhist gods, a metaphorical expression for the compassionate protective functions of the universe.

Sage Nichimyo, the recipient of this letter, was a woman of resolute faith who had traveled to the distant island of Sado to seek Buddhism from her exiled teacher, Nichiren Daishonin. Touching on the invasion of the Mongol forces in Japan the previous year, Nichiren Daishonin emphasized in this letter that as long as one upholds strong and unwavering faith, one will never fail to be protected by the Buddhist gods.

In this passage, the Daishonin quoted the words of Miao-lo, who stated, “So long as one maintains firm faith, one is certain to receive the great protection of the gods.” This statement explained that it is one’s firm faith that will manifest the protective functions of the Buddhist gods. In other words, whether the functions of the Buddhist gods will be activated depends on the strength of one’s faith.

The term “faith” here means to believe in the Mystic Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. In a broader sense, faith also refers to our life-affirming approach to living based on the Mystic Law, including our care and respect for life. This means that taking precautions to ensure our health and safety is an important aspect of faith. The attitude that “I’ll be protected by the Buddhist gods because I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, so there is no need for me to be careful of what I do,” is not Nichiren Buddhism.

Such attitude of taking things for granted does not constitute “firm faith”. The Buddhist gods are not external forces independent of our lives that we beseech for protection. Only with firm faith and prudence will the protective functions of the Buddhist gods be manifested.

Also in this passage, the Daishonin praised Nichimyo that her faith “has always been admirable”. At the same time, he encouraged her to “strengthen it more than ever”. The Daishonin taught her the importance of further deepening her faith and continuing to strive in her practice.

In other words, the Daishonin is saying that we should not complacently dwell on our past accomplishments and let our faith stagnate. This is because no matter how diligently we had practiced in the past, if we stop challenging ourselves, our innate delusion will grow and our Buddhahood will be overwhelmed by the negative forces of the devilish functions.

This is why it is important to continue striving for kosen-rufu with “ever-advancing faith”. Only then will the protective functions of the Buddhist gods be strengthened and manifested explicitly. On the other hand, if one’s faith stagnates, the functions of the Buddhist gods will be obscured.

SGI President Ikeda has said, “We talk about the ‘Buddhist gods’, but what moves them is ultimately ourselves. It is up to us to open a new path in life, it is up to us to discover our inner treasure house and wisdom, and it is up to us to blaze the trail of victory for all people. To lead such a dynamic existence is the way of life taught by Mahayana Buddhism and, especially, Nichiren Buddhism.”

Let us continue to forge ahead with courage and ever-advancing faith so that we can score great victories in life.

1. The Great Teacher Miao-lo (711-782) – He is revered as the restorer of the T’ien-t’ai school and wrote commentaries on T’ien-t’ai’s major works, contributing to a classification of the school’s teachings.

2. “The stronger one’s faith, the greater the protection of the gods.” – Passage taken from the eighth volume of The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight” by Miao-lo.

New Year's Gosho

It is clear that those who now believe in the Lotus Sutra will gather fortune from ten thousand miles away….. The believers in the Lotus Sutra are like the sandalwood with its fragrance.

(Passage from “New Year’s Gosho”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p1,137)

This letter was written to the wife of Lord Omosu whose estate was located on Omosu Village in Fuji District of Suruga Province. The precise year of this letter is unclear.

Lady Omosu is the elder sister of Nanjo Tokimitsu, one of the Daishonin’s foremost disciples. It is accounted that she was converted to the Daishonin’s Buddhism by Nikko Shonin.

This letter is Nichiren Daishonin’s response to the offerings of rice cakes and fruits made by the wife of Lord Omosu at the beginning of the year.

He praised the pure faith of believers who make sincere offerings to the Mystic Law and stated that those who believe in the Lotus Sutra (Gohonzon) will gather fortune from ten thousand miles away. The Daishonin taught that the good causes created and implanted in one’s life will surely be manifested as actual proofs of benefits in one’s daily life.

Just as a shadow follows the form of the object, one’s life will depend on how much good fortune one creates and accumulates in one’s life. One who upholds faith in the Gohonzon and exerts oneself for kosen-rufu will engrave great good causes and benefits in one’s life. These good fortunes created in one’s life will definitely be actualized in a life filled with good fortune. On the contrary, when one slanders the Mystic Law, obstructing the flow of kosen-rufu, one will erase one’s good fortune and will be inviting various misfortunes onto oneself.

Buddhism is not just ideology. It exists in a very practical and realistic level. The results of the way we live will without fail become clear, manifesting in our lives as either happiness or unhappiness. The Daishonin explained that those who practise faith in the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will lead lives of boundless happiness.

The metaphor of sandalwood endowed with wonderful fragrance is used to explain that life is inherently endowed with the Buddha nature. Those who strive to practice with pure faith and dedicate their lives for the sake of the Law will manifest the strong and pure life of the Buddha, just as the sandalwood can emit wonderful fragrance. SGI President Ikeda said, “Any action taken for the sake of faith will become the source of your good fortune and benefit. Relations of cause and effect based on the Mystic Law are absolute. All of you working hard for the sake of kosen-rufu and the Law, as well as exerting yourselves for the happiness of your fellow members. Please be convinced that all such efforts will serve to change your karma and return to you as benefit.”

With deep conviction that all our action for kosen-rufu will never fail to become the source of your good fortune and benefit, let us continue to advance with great cheer to achieve total victory for kosen-rufu.