The Blessings of the Lotus Sutra - Encouragement Enhances the Momentum of Advancement

The more gold is heated in the flames, the brighter will be its colour; the more a sword is whetted, the sharper it will become. And the more one praises the blessings of the Lotus Sutra, the more one’s own blessings will increase.

(Passage from “The Blessings of the Lotus Sutra”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p673)

This letter was written by Nichiren Daishonin at Minobu on the fifth day of the third month of 1276 and addressed to the Honourable Myomitsu.

The Honourable Myomitsu was a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin who lived at Kuwagayatsu in Kamakura. While detailed information about Myomitsu is not available, it appears that he and his wife were earnest and sincere practitioners of faith.

The passage we are studying this month constitutes the concluding portion of this letter. The Daishonin stated here that when gold is heated in the flames, its colour will become brighter and the more a sword is whetted, the sharper it will become. In the same way, the more we praise the blessings of the Lotus Sutra (that is, the Gohonzon), the more our benefits and good fortune will increase.

Similarly, praising and cherishing fellow members who are striving for kosen-rufu in the forefront of our movement is equivalent to praising the Lotus Sutra and the benefits one accrues from doing so will be unimaginable.

In one of his guidance, SGI President Ikeda said, “The more one praises the wonderful power of the Mystic Law, the more one’s benefits will increase. In the same way, leaders of kosen-rufu must sincerely praise, thank and encourage fellow members who are working hard to propagate the Mystic Law.

The benefits and good fortune one receives will be in direct proportion to the efforts one put in for this endeavour. Nichiren Daishonin’s writings are themselves words of encouragement.

Offering continuous encouragement is the key in the realm of human beings – be it in families, schools, organizations and societies, development will stop the moment encouragement cease to exist. The momentum for advancement arises from encouragement. One’s sense of purpose to be born as a human being expands and enhances through encouragement.”


Mrs Kimiko Oyama, a women division district leader living in Kumamoto city lost her beloved husband in a traffic accident 11 years ago. Just as she was wondering how she was going to continue living her life together with her three young children, she received a heartwarming poem from President Ikeda.

It read:
“Live out your life
As a great mother
While cherishing your noble husband
Deep in your heart
And achieve ultimate victory
No matter what.”

Mrs Oyama was so touched and grateful that President Ikeda would go to this extent to encourage one individual member that tears flow uncontrollably down her cheeks. At the same time, boundless courage began surging forth from the depth of her life. Deeply engraving the last phrase of the poem, “Achieve ultimate victory no matter what”, in her life, she stood up courageously with the pledge, “I’m definitely going to foster my three children into capable leaders of kosen-rufu.”

In order to raise her three children, Mrs Oyama decided to continue teaching at a secondary school. In 2003, she was assigned to be the form teacher of a class in which students were facing various problems, including student K who was on a rampage lately due to frequent clashes with his family, while there was another who refused to attend school.

Mrs Oyama decided to write down the names of all her students and sent daimoku to each and every one of them daily. She also resolved to make this class onto one in which everyone can feel the warmth and comfort of being among good friends who cherish both oneself and others.

However, things did not go as smoothly as she thought. There were many challenges as she met one obstacle after another. As she continued chanting for her students, she suddenly thought of an idea – why not ask her students to start writing a diary about good things that happened in their lives. She wanted to give her students an opportunity to look for “good things” – no matter how insignificant – that happens in their otherwise problem-filled lives. On other words, the students will record the “small happiness” they manage to discover into their diaries.

Initially, items recorded were really trivial, such as “today’s lunch was delicious”. However, Mrs Oyama persevered. Everyday, she took home 35 copies of the diaries from her students, read and wrote comments on every diary as she journeyed home on the subway train. She continued this over a period of 100 days till the students graduated. It was through this diary that Mrs Oyama got to know that student K has lost self-confidence and suffered from inferiority complex because his parents kept comparing him with his siblings.

Mrs Oyama tried to restore the self-confidence in student K by looking for different good points about K and wrote them as praises of him in the diary everyday. She also suggested to student K to do a research on his family business as a class project. Through this, student K had more opportunity to communicate with his father and his father was also able to understand K better.

Ultimately, student K even received an award for his class project. This boosted his self-confidence immensely and his relationship with his family members improved trememdously.

Each student began to change their attitude towards life when they could discover joy and appreciation in the small little things in life that others may take fro granted. Through this, Mrs Oyama was able to transform her class into one that was filled with a wonderful sense of joy, confidence and harmony.

This experience deepened Mrs Oyama’s conviction that praising others will never fail to instill hope and confidence in their lives.

She applied this principle to her members in her district. All fellow members who are striving for kosen-rufu are “children of the Buddha” without a single exception. Mrs Oyama wrote down the names of all the “children of the Buddha” in her district and prayed for their happiness each and every day. No matter what others may said, she was never swayed and continued to look for the good points of every individual member and praised them for it. She practiced this through and through.

Just as what President Ikeda wrote 11 years ago, Mrs Oyama achieved ultimate victory. Her three children, who are now in the primary and secondary schools, are growing well as members of the Future Division of the Soka Gakkai.

When one sincerely respects and praises others, one will in turn be able to earn the respect and praise from others and the Buddhist gods, the protective functions of the universe.

Establishing an enriching life state where one is able to rejoice at the happiness of one’s friends is equivalent to savouring supreme happiness ourselves.

Lets continue polishing our lives through faith based on the spirit of oneness of mentor and disciple and become individuals shining with humanism who can offer encouragement and praises to anyone we come into contact with.

Key points of the Gosho passage:
1. Karma is created through thoughts, words and deeds. Firstly, when we praise Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or the Gohonzon, our words are extolling the greatness of the Gohonzon. Secondly, our thoughts are also filled with deep appreciation and reverence for the Gohonzon. Thirdly, praising the Gohonzon is a deed that encourages others who hear our praises to take faith in the Gohonzon. That is why praising the Gohonzon can create such great good fortune.

2. How do we praise the Gohonzon? When we strive to introduce and convince others to practise Nichiren Buddhism, we are praising the Gohonzon. When we relate our testimonies at discussion meetings, we are praising the Gohonzon. When we do our human revolution by overcoming difficulties with our courage and determination, our victories themselves are like raises about the wonderful power of the Gohonzon within our life.

3. President Ikeda further adds that praising, thanking and encouraging fellow members who are striving for kosen-rufu is equivalent to praising the Gohonzon. In short, when we practise this principle of praising the Gohonzon and praising those who strive for kosen-rufu, we will receive the greatest good fortune in our lives.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Kazuko Manabu, Women Division Study Chief for Kumamoto Prefecture, published in the October 2006 issue of The Daibyakurange, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life - Living Out Our Lives on the Lofty Path of Mentor and Disciple Accrues Supreme Good Fortune

It must be ties of karma from the distant past that have destined you to become my disciple at a time like this. Shakyamuni and Many Treasures certainly realized this truth. The sutra’s statement, “Those persons who had heard the Law dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers”, cannot be false in any way.

(Passage from “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p217)

This letter, dated the eleventh day of the second month in 1272, was sent by Nichiren Daishonin from his dwelling in Tsukahara on Sado Island to Sairen-bo Nichijo, a former Tendai priest who, for reasons that are unclear, was also living in exile on Sado Island.

Amidst the storm of harsh persecutions such as the Tatsunokuchi Persecution (where Nichiren Daishonin was nearly beheaded), and his exile to the remote island of Sado, many of Daishonin’s disciples in Kamakura discarded faith as described by the Daishonin in his writings: “… in Kamakura, 999 out of 1,000 people… gave up their faith.” (WND-1, p469)

Exile to Sado during the Daishonin’s time was equivalent to a death sentence. Yet, the Daishonin declared in this Gosho, “Nichiren has been trying to awaken all the people of Japan to faith in the Lotus Sutra so that they too can share the heritage and attain Buddhahood.” (WND-1, p217) Inspired by the profound compassion of the Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day, genuine disciples pledging to uphold the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism in the spirit of un-begrudging faith appeared one after another. Sairen-bo was one of them.

The passage that we are going to study this month is where the Daishonin taught that the karmic bond shared by mentor and disciple who had vowed to live out their lives for kosen-rufu is eternal, transcending the three existences of past, present and future.

The Daishonin taught that the profound pledge that links mentor and disciple is not a coincidental connection that is limited to this lifetime. Instead, it is a karmic relationship from past existences. It is because of the pledge established in our lives that “we will strive together with our mentor for all eternity spanning the three existences of past, present and future” that we have been born together with, encountered and re-established the bond with our mentor. This will be the same in our future existences. No matter which land we are going to dwell in, we will constantly be reborn in the company of our mentor.

What then, is the profound pledge established in the distant past that links the disciples to the mentor? It is none other than the vow “to lead all people to happiness”. From the Buddhist perspective that Buddhahood exists in one’s life, everyone possesses this determination in their lives no matter who they are. It is the mentor that helps one to recall and awaken to this deepest human wish inherent in one’s life.

In the eternal flow of time, one cannot fathom the immense good fortune of being able to forge a strong bond with our mentor, that has enabled us to be born together in the same time as SGI President Ikeda, and strive in unity with him to lay an everlasting foundation for the worldwide propagation of the Mystic Law in the Latter Day of the Law into eternity. When we ponder over the fact that the relationship between mentor and disciple is karmic in nature and that it transcends the three existences, one cannot help but realize the profound mission, which we are born in.


In the spring of 2000, something completely unexpected happened in my family.

My eldest son, who had just started his tertiary education at Soka University after graduating from Soka High School, suddenly decided to quit school. It was totally beyond my means to comprehend what led him to do so. When he was young, President Ikeda told him, “I will be waiting for you at Soka University when you grow up.”

Since then, I had been earnestly praying day and night for him to advance along the path of a successor of Soka as President Ikeda’s genuine disciple. That was my one and only prayer for my son and I thought I had fostered him to become such an individual.

As such, when my son made this decision, my heart was completely shattered. On top of this, other unforeseen problems appeared one after another around the same time.

In autumn that year, the members of Kyushu were able to welcome President and Mrs Ikeda to our prefecture in the midst of great joy. I was pleasantly taken aback when I was given the opportunity to have a dialogue with Mrs Ikeda.

“No matter what happens, you must resolutely maintain courageous faith. If you waiver, the devils will rejoice. As long as you continue offering earnest prayers for your son, your prayers will surely be answered even though your prayer may seem to have taken a long way round before it is answered.”

As I listened to these words of warm encouragement from Mrs Ikeda, I felt immense courage and hope welling forth from the depths of my life.

Shortly after this, I received a waka poem that President Ikeda had specially composed for me. It read:
“Do not fear
Do not feel anguished
If your family uphold justice
Courageously stand strong
To wage a relentless struggle
For the kosen-rufu of Kyushu.”

I felt as if President and Mrs Ikeda had helped meto break free from the shallow life state and weak state of mind I was in, where I felt completely tied down by my own world of problems.

I truly felt how wonderful it is to have such a wonderful mentor in life and I was filled with deep gratitude. When I pondered over the great adversities that President and Mrs Ikeda had to overcome in order to blaze the path of kosen-rufu, I was absolutely convinced that as a disciple, there is no problem that I cannot overcome. When I was able to establish this resolve, I felt that a path had clearly opened before my eyes. I was no longer overwhelmed by fear or a sense of insecurity. Instead, a sense of profound gratitude filled my heart.

As I continued chanting daimoku, a surge of absolute conviction began to well forth from my life – I heard my inner voice saying: “I have been praying for this child to become a capable leader for kosen-rufu since he was in my stomach. There is no doubt that he is born as President Ikeda’s disciple who shares a profound karmic bond with him. He must have a unique mission to fulfill in that capacity.”

Eight years has passed since then and today, my three children are all contributing their part for kosen-rufu. My eldest daughter is a leader of the young married women group in Shizuoka prefecture while my younger daughter is an YWD Ward Chief in Tokyo. As for my eldest son, he eventually enrolled himself with the correspondence division of Soka University, completed the course and passed the national examination to qualify as a primary school teacher. He has fulfilled his long-cherished dream to teach at a primary school in Ota Ward, a land that is imbued with the profound bond of mentor and disciple. He is also fulfilling his mission as an YMD district leader.

President Ikeda always reminds us through citing the Gosho: “It is the heart that is important.” (WND-1, p 1,000)

I have realized that the moment my heart changed from one filled with anguish into one filled with conviction, everything was geared towards a positive direction.

The path of mentor and disciple is a path of gratitude. I pledged to continue living out my life on this path of Soka with this conviction.

Key points to the Gosho passage:
1. The ultimate purpose of our Buddhist practice is to attain enlightenment and achieve absolute happiness. The supreme life condition of Buddhahood can only be developed as we experience and win over various difficulties.

2. Along this difficult journey, we will encounter periods when we feel lost, depressed and defeated. At such times, even though we may have the Gohonzon and the Gosho, we may feel so discouraged that we harbour thoughts of giving up our faith. At such important junctures, it is the strong bond that we have with our mentor and his words of encouragement and concern that can revile our faith and fighting spirit, as we recall the indomitable spirit of our mentor.

3. Therefore, to be able to be born at a time when we can meet a great mentor in life is one’s greatest good fortune. To ensure that we will continue to have this great good fortune to be reborn again and again with our mentor, we must make the pledge that no matter what happens, we will strive un-begrudgingly with our mentor to realize kosen-rufu. This is the only and surest way to ensure that we can attain Buddhahood and enjoy absolute happiness.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Sanae Yamamoto, Women Division Study Chief for Fukuoka Prefecture, published in the May 2008 issue of The Daibyakurange, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

The Objection of Devotion for Observing the Mind - When the Sun Buddhahood Rises in our Hearts, the Darkness of the Fundamental Ignorance Vanishes

When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs.

(Passage from “The Object of Devotion for Obeserving the Mind”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p376)

Nichiren Daishonin completed this work during his exile at Ichinosawa on the island of Sado. It was addressed to Toki Jonin, a leading disciple who lived in Shimosa Province.

At that point of time, Japan suffered from frequent natural disasters including major earthquakes. Each time a calamity struck, the Japanese people suffered and trembled in fear, not knowing what the future held for them.

With regards to this condition, the Daishonin said in the preceding portion of this passage that these calamities including great earthquakes were signs that firetold the widespread propagation of the Mystic Law to save humanity and also the appearance of the Bodhisattva of the Earth (cf WND-1, p376) to fulfill this noble mission of propagation. In this way, the Daishonin displayed his profound wisdom to perceive the truth and essence of worldly matters based on Buddhism. He further taught that one who perceives that essence of Buddhism understands the meaning of all worldly affairs.

We can interpret this passage to mean that as long as one believes in and chant daimoku to the Gohonzon, one will be able to manifest the wisdom to perceive the truth of all worldly affairs in reality and with this, one can achieve victory in life.

In this lecture series on the Gosho, “On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime”, SGI President Ikeda stated, “When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the sun of the world of Buddhahood rises in our hearts. The ignorance and illusion that had shrouded the sun like heavy clouds are swept away. When the sun of Buddhahood comes to shine within us, the darkness of ignorance vanishes.”

Many times in the course of our lives, we find ourselves in a situation where our lives seem to be shrouded by endless darkness and there appears no hope of overcoming our problems or sufferings. However, as long as we continue to chant with doubt-free faith, we will be able to dispel this darkness in our lives and even be able to summon forth the power from within to help the people around us do the same.


This was exactly how Mrs Miwako Daihachi (WD chief of Okayama Prefecture) and her husband lived out their lives, dedicating their entire beings to the kosen-rufu (peace and happiness for all people) movement in Okayama.

Miwako’s maternal family took up faith in Nichiren Buddhism in 1959. The family first savoured the wonderful power of faith when Miwako’s sickly father, who was suffering from tuberculosis, regained his health to the extent that he could go back to work. With immense joy, Miwako and her family deeply committed themselves to the practice of faith.

However, in the spring of 1967, Miwako lost her mother and five-year old brother in a traffic accident. At that time, Miwako was only a secondary one student and she simply could not accept the death of her two beloved family members. Her father, a man of few words, became increasingly reserved and kept to himself more than ever.

That summer, SGI President Ikeda invited Miwako’s father to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Tokyo and together, President Ikeda offered solemn prayers for Miwako’s mother and brother. As he was doing gongyo by the side of President Ikeda, Miwako’s father could not stop his tears from flowing as he was choked with profound gratitude and emotions for President Ikeda’s kindness. On top of this, President Ikeda also offered prayers for them during the special memorial prayer session held later that day.

From that day onwards, Miwako’s father was a changed man. He made it a point to bring Miwako to the monthly discussion meeting and he also began delivering the Seikyo Shimbun, the daily organ paper of the Soka Gakkai, every morning. Looking at the complete transformation of her father, Miwako thought to herself, “President Ikeda must be a great man.”

President Ikeda’s tremendous life force was like a sun that ignited the faith of her father and helped to dispel the darkness that shrouded his life. With his darkness dispelled, her father’s life shone like the sun and this time, he helped dispel the darkness shrouding Miwako’s life.

In 1975, Miwako got married and pledged to work hand-in-hand with her husband, Mr Saihachi, for the peace and prosperity of their community.

In 1980, the couple set up a painting company. Even during the harshest recession when other businesses went bankrupt one after another, their company somehow managed to survive. Mystically, whenever Mr Daihachi offered determined prayers, “Come forth, work orders!”, work orders would come knocking at their door immediately. This even became a hot topics amongst the people in their community.

In 1998, the Soka Gakkai in Okayama Prefecture held the “First Okayama Sunrise Town and Villages Summit”. Miwako and her husband also attended the event as representatives of their Yoshinaga town. They told themselves that their struggle must touch the heart of their mentor, President Ikeda, and chanted abundant daimoku before attending the event.

Miwako and her husband were captured on the photograph published together with news of the event in the Seikyo Shimbun on the following day. President Ikeda saw the photograph on the paper and presented the couple with a gift to commemorate the occasion. Miwako and her husband were both surprised and overjoyed that their prayers were indeed answered.

Upon returning to their town, they initiated a new wave of kosen-rufu in their community.

They spoke to the people around them about President Ikeda’s struggles for peace, bought 30 copies of the particular issue of The Daibyakurenge (the Soka Gakkai monthly study journal) that carried President Ikeda’s annual peace proposal and presented them to their friends and neighbours. They also screened videos on the SGI’s movement for peace, culture and education to help the people in their neighbourhood understand the SGI better.

On top of this, they were finally able to realize their long-cherished dream to construct a personal building dedicated as a venue for kosen-rufu activities in their community.

In her community, Miwako serves as the vice chairperson for the Women’s Committee for Commerce and Industry, a member of the volunteers group and the in-charge of the local choir group. It seems that one of the favourite songs of this choir group is “Mother”, which has lyrics composed by President Ikeda.

Miwako also succeeded her father’s commitment to deliver the Seikyo Shimbun and till today, she has been making this daily delivery for a period of 32 years (as of 2008). Her three children have all grown up into outstanding individuals and she has successfully established a harmonious family of faith.

President Ikeda wrote in an essay specially dedicated to the members in Okayama: “Those who exert themselves to protect their communities with sincere devotion will never fail to become the beacon of hope for the people around them and the flowers of victory will surely bloom in their lives.”

Let us all develop ourselves to become individuals who can contribute happiness, peace and prosperity to our societies.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Yoshiko Kinto, Women Division Study Chief for Okayama Prefecture, published in the January 2008 issue of The Daibyakurange, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Offerings in the Snow - The Growth of the Future Division will Determine the SGI's Future

It is said that Ueno, your deceased father, was a man of feeling. Since you are his son, perhaps you have inherited the outstanding qualities of his character. Blue dye is bluer than indigo itself, and ice is colder than water. How wonderful. How wonderful.

(Passage from “Offerings in the Snow”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume 2, p809)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu on the third day of the first month in 1279 to Nanjo Tokimitsu. It was a letter f appreciation in which the Daishonin thanked Tokimitsu for the New Year’s offerings and praised his lofty seeking spirit.

During that time, Japan was in the midst of a great plague raging nationwide, which took many lives. Moreover, a famine followed shortly due to abnormal climate and the people in Japan were living in extremely harsh conditions.

Living deep in the mountains of Minobu where heavy snow had piled up and cut off the mountain path, the Daishonin himself was hard pressed to survive. There were no visitors, his clothing was thin and food scarce.

It was amidst such circumstances that Tokimitsu’s offerings reached the Daishonin. The Daishonin described the offerings as “the full moon” and expressed his immense joy saying, “My mind has brightened and the darkness of life and death will lift, I am sure.” (WND-2, p809) The Daishonin then lavished the highest praise on Tokimitsu for his sincere commitment to faith and in protecting the Daishonin.

The portion that we are studying is where the Daishonin expressed his delight in witnessing Tokimitsu inheriting his deceased father’s profound commitment in faith and achieving magnificent growth as a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin. The Daishonin used the phrase, “Blue dye is bluer than indigo itself, and ice is colder than water” to describe this.

This phrase has its origin in China. Here, the “blue dye” and “ice” represented Tokimitsu while “indigo” and “water” represented his father.

The Daishonin had dedicated his entire being in cultivating genuine disciples to ensure that the flow of the Law will never perish. Therefore, the individual development of successors of faith was of key importance in this endeavour. Tokimitsu’s growth thus served as a beacon of hope for the future.

In the Gosho, “On Repaying Debts of Gratitude”, the Daishonin wrote, “If Nichiren’s compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity.” (WND, P736) As the Daishonin taught here, our movement of kosen-rufu is a momentous struggle that spans over “ten thousand years and more in the Latter Day of the Law, for all eternity”. For this reason, capable people of faith become a crucial factor in ensuring the eternal posterity of the Law.

Immediately upon his inauguration as third president of the Soka Gakkai, SGI President Ikeda established the senior and junior high divisions. The spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple is found in the struggle to foster true successors of faith. Herein lies the Gakkai spirit.

President Ikeda said in his guidance, “The growth of the future division will determine the SGI’s future… The only way to build a sound foundation for a peaceful future is to raise each young successor into a person with the capability of a thousand.”

Only when the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple is passed on from one generation to the next – from parent to child, from child to grandchild – can our kosen-rufu (peace and happiness for all people) movement continue to flourish eternally into the future.


Mrs Etsuko Suzuki is a women division zone leader in the city of Higashi Osaka who has been practicing faith for the past 50 years.

Mrs Suzuki learnt the spirit of faith from her parents. She engraved the ever-victorious Kansai spirit through witnessing the earnest struggles waged by her parents, especially her mother.

Her parents took up faith when they were suffering in the depths of illness and poverty. Thereafter, her parents poured their heart and mind in their practice of faith, earnestly participating in all struggles, including the renowned Osaka Campaign in 1956 and the Osaka Rally in 1957, which became the prime point of ever-victorious Kansai. Aligning their hearts with the youthful President Ikeda, they braved through harsh verbal abuse and criticism from conservative villagers with a burning determination that “we must never ever be defeated!” As a result of their selfless dedication in carrying out propagation activities, they have to date, successfully introduced a total of 102 families to the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

They have also been contributing their home as a venue for kosen-rufu activities for the past 50 years and her mother has been delivering the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily organ paper over the past 30 years. All these years, one of her mother’s single-minded prayers was to foster her seven children who can contribute to the remarkable movement of peace led by President Ikeda. Her prayer has been realized as all seven children are striving in the forefront of kosen-rufu today.

Having been brought up by parents brimming with the Kansai spirit, Mrs Suzuki had the opportunity to meet President Ikeda in person when she was 18 years old. On that occasion, President Ikeda warmly encouraged her, reminding her to “always do your utmost best” and Mrs Suzuki in turn pledged to strive together with her mentor throughout her life. After fulfilling her responsibilities without any regrets as an YWD zone leader, she got married.

However, one day in the 15th year of her marriage, her husband was killed in a traffic accident. She was in a state of shock. Then, she recalled the scene when she met her mentor. At that moment, she resolved, “Now is the time to transform my karma into mission by striving together with my children. This is what mother had taught me all the while – to uphold undefeated faith.” With this, she courageously stood up to take on the challenge.

She devoted herself for the happiness of her members and friends, without resting for a single day. This time, it was Mrs Suzuki’s children who witnessed the earnest struggle of their mother. Her daughter studied at Soka University after graduating from Soka High School. Upon her graduation last spring, she became a headquarters staff in Kansai and was appointed an YWD chapter leader. She has recently successfully converted her friend to the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

As for her son, although there was a time during his secondary school days when he refused to attend school, she managed to overcome this ordeal through her unrelenting prayers. Last year, he passed the Soka Gakkai Buddhist study examination for the entrance level and this spring, he was accepted to study in a university.

Mrs Suzuki has victoriously established a harmonious family of faith and today, their favourite past time is to share with others their aspirations for kosen-rufu.

As we embark on the second act of worldwide kosen-rufu, let us cherish and foster every successor of kosen-rufu in our homes and districts and build a castle of capable successors of faith who will connect the lifeline of the Mystic Law into the eternal future, together with our mentor in life.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Sachiko Yamamoto, Women Division Study Chief for Osaka Prefecture, published in the February 2006 issue of The Daibyakurange, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

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.

The Person and the Law - It is the Heart that Counts

Shakyamuni Buddha teaches, however, that one who makes offerings to the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the latter age for even a single day will gain benefit a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times greater than one would by offering countless treasures to the Buddha for one million kalpas. How wonderful then is your having wholeheartedly supported the votary of the Lotus Sutra over the years! According to the Buddha’s golden words, in the next life you are certain to be reborn in the pure land of Eagle Peak. What remarkable rewards you will gain!

(Passage from “The Person and the Law”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p1,097)

Nichiren Daishonin sent this letter from Mount Minobu to Nanjo Tokimitsu, the steward of Ueno Village in Suruga, in the ninth month of 1281. It was written in response to the report that Tokimitsu was ill and offerings sent to the Daishonin through a messenger.

The “heart” is infinitely vast and profound. Buddhism teaches, “it is the heart that is important”. (WND, p1,000) If one’s heart is filled with the resolve to strive together with one’s mentor, to dedicate one’s life to the happiness of our fellow members and friends, and to realize the grand version of kosen-rufu, one’s life will surely be filled with boundless benefits and a good fortune.

In this letter, the Daishonin first cited a parable from the sutra relating how the boy Virtue Victorious, who offered a mud pie to the Buddha, was later reborn as King Ashoka because of his sincere spirit of offering.

The Daishonin then elaborated in this passage that we are studying that Shakyamuni Buddha teaches that “one who makes offerings to the votary of the Lotus Sutra in the latter age for even a single day will gain benefit a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times greater than one would by offering countless treasures to the Buddha for one million kalpas”. This statement is based on a passage that appears in the “Teacher of the Law” (10th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

The Latter Day of the Law is an age where it is far more difficult to spread the teachings of Buddhism than during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. The persecutions and hardships that those who spread the Mystic Law in the Latter Day encounter far surpassed those during Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime. And one who courageously dedicates his or her life to realizing their vow for kosen-rufu, to lead all people to happiness in such a difficult and defiled age is a votary of the Lotus Sutra.

Making offerings to support the votary of the Lotus Sutra is an act that connects directly to this great vow of kosen-rufu and is equivalent to supporting and assisting the realization of this great vow. For this reason, the sincere act of making offerings accrue boundless benefit and good fortune in one’s life.

In fact, around the time when this letter was written, the Daishonin’s disciples were struggling intensely against various adversities. Amidst the aftermath of the Atsuhara Persecution (1279), the authorities continued to oppress the community of the Daishonin’s disciples relentlessly. On top of this, epidemics and famines followed one after another and the disciples were facing great financial difficulties.

The recipient of this letter, Nanjo Tokimitsu, who played an extremely role in supporting the Daishonin’s disciples during the Atsuhara Persecution, had his estate taxed heavily by the Kamakura shogunate so that he had difficulty maintaining his family. On top of this, he was suffering from an illness.

Yet, Tokimitsu’s heart was always with the Daishonin, deeply concerned over his mentor’s well-being. Despite his impoverished predicament, he continued to support his mentor in whatever way he could. The Daishonin responded by lauding this sincere “heart” of Tokimitsu, assuring him that he would certainly be reborn in the pure land of Eagle Peak in the next life and enjoy eternal happiness that spans over the three existences of life.

SGI President Ikeda once said in his guidance: “The SGI is the sole organization carrying out worldwide kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law just as the Daishonin instructed. In light of the Gosho, the benefits we gain through sincerely supporting and protecting the SGI are immeasurable. All our efforts are certain to manifest good fortune within our own lives and also become a source of eternal victory and prosperity for our entire families and loved ones.”

Let us embark towards a new departure with the resolve to live our lives based on a great vow and one that is filled with great fortune.


Key points of the Gosho passage
1. Making offerings (whether it be momentary, time or effort) towards kosen-rufu is equivalent to sharing the struggle together with one’s mentor in realizing the great vows for kosen-rufu. In Buddhism, the most important factor in making offerings is “one’s heart”. When one makes offerings with a heart to sincerely and dedicatedly strive together with one’s mentor to realize kosen-rufu, great fortune will accrue from such a heart.

2. The Lotus Sutra teaches that to make offerings in the present times of the Latter Day of the Law is far greater than making offerings during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. This is because the persecutions and obstacles of practicing and propagating Buddhism in the latter day is much more severe than during the time of Shakyamuni. So if one can make offerings to kosen-rufu at this present time, despite facing various hardships and difficulties, one would gain good fortune that is immense beyond one’s imagination.

3. This principle of good fortune arising from a sincere heart of making offerings is proven in the lives of such dedicated disciples as Nanjo Tokimitsu who made offerings to the Daishonin despite the fact that he himself was facing great persecutions and financial difficulties. In the end, the great good fortune Tokimitsu received was clearly many times greater than the offerings her made. Most importantly, the Daishonin assured Tokimitsu that he would certainly attain Buddhahood in this and subsequent lifetimes and enjoy eternal happiness that spans over the three existences of life.

Translated and adapted from the November 2007 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

On Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins - We Are Unlimited Within

I am praying that, no matter how troubled the times may become, the Lotus Sutra and the ten demon daughters will protect all of you, praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground.

(Passage from “On Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p444)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter on Sado Island, where he was exiled, in the year 1273 to Shijo Kingo, his beloved disciple who lived in Kamakura.

The passage we are studying today appeared in the concluding portion of his letter where the Daishonin declared his profound resolve to protect his disciples even at the cost of his own life. This is also where the Daishonin expressed his indomitable conviction that all prayers, no matter how impossible they may appear to be, will be fulfilled without fail.

The circumstances surrounding the Daishonin when he wrote this letter was truly harsh and even life threatening. The land of Sado, to which he was banished, was a desolate northern island with extremely harsh weather conditions. He was destitute, lacking in basic necessities including food and clothing. The severe living conditions the Daishonin had to endure is certainly far beyond our wildest imagination.

Besides battling against adversities from Mother Nature, the Daishonin’s life was constantly endangered as his enemies were looking for every opportunity to get rid of him.

Prayers Infused with Profound Conviction
Despite these circumstances, the Daishonin’s greatest concern was the well-being of his disciples, who were now separated from him by a long distance. Day and night, the Daishonin earnestly prayed. Not for his own survival or comfort, but the safety and happiness of his beloved disciples. He prayed profusely, calling forth all Buddhist gods (protective functions of the universe) to render their protection to his disciples.

Furthermore, his prayers were infused with such profound conviction – “I’m going to produce a strong, red-hot fire from this wood no matter how damp it is!”

His prayer was infused with invincible resolve – “I’m going to dig a wellspring of unceasing flow of water from this parched ground!”

As we can see, the Daishonin’s prayer for his disciples was imbued with the absolute conviction to make what seemed impossible, possible. The profundity of the Daishonin’s conviction can be said to be beyond normal human intellectual comprehension.

Normal human intellect will mean, “praying for the damp wood to dry faster” (instead of the impossibility of “producing fire from damp wood”) and “praying for water to help wet the parched ground” (instead of “obtaining water from parched ground”). Such prayers that conform to normal human intellect could be answered eventually as long as one prays and works towards it. But the prayers by the Daishonin truly reflect the indomitable spirit to challenge and win against overwhelming odds.

The Key to Making the Impossible Possible
The power of our prayers can go much further beyond such reason. Through our prayers, we can make what seems impossible possible and the key lies within our very own heart.

Whether we choose to decide that it is impossible or possible depends solely on ourselves.

Although Buddhism does not promote beliefs in miracles and we are always reminded that our prayers must be accompanied by resolute action and earnest effort, it is also equally important to remind ourselves that our life and our prayers function in ways that are invisible to our eyes. To give an analogy, radio waves are invisible but they exist and someone who hears the radio for the first time may actually deem it impossible. Similarly medical science has not been able to completely unravel the mysterious working s of human life and body. Doctors who see how patients recover form terminal illnesses may also say the impossible have occurred.

There are many aspects of the Mystic Law that our normal human intellect cannot understand. It would be foolish to limit the immeasurable potential of our prayers simply because we cannot see or understand how the Mystic Law and our Buddha nature work in overcoming seemingly hopeless and impossible situations.

At times, we all hit a wall and cannot help thinking that a breakthrough is utterly impossible given the circumstances. But the greatest obstacle we face often lies not in our circumstances but in our own weakness to succumb even before we try, in our blindness to our innate ability to make a breakthrough where no solution seems possible. The bottom line is whether our faith is strong to dispel the doubts and pessimism that constantly seek to delude our minds.

The Daishonin reminded us through this passage that the power of our earnest prayer would move our environment to create an opportunity for an unthinkable breakthrough.

Powerful prayers arising from our unyielding heart and unflinching faith will never fail to gather the forces of the Buddhist gods or the protective functions of the universe. These forces will in turn move our life and environment towards a positive direction. This is what Nichiren Daishonin teaches.


Victory or Defeat Hinges on One’s Inner Determination
Mr Takeshi Kobayashi (age 57 then), a vice chapter leader in Nakano, Tokyo suddenly lost consciousness in Mid Jun 1998. He was rushed to the hospital immediately but his pupils had already begun to dilate when he was in the ambulance. By the time he arrived at the hospital, his condition was so critical that he was sent directly to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The doctor told his wife, Michiko (vice women division chapter leader), “The central, pivotal portion of his brain has been badly damaged. Please be mentally prepared because his chances of survival are only one percent. Even if he did, he would be a living vegetable.”

Michiko found herself saying, “No, I will not give up hope, I’m going to make sure he’ll recover!” to the doctor. Upon reaching home, she went straight to the Gohonzon and chanted daimoku profusely.

While she was chanting, a fellow WD leader called her on the phone and said, “We must pull your husband back to the garden of kosen-rufu!” With this strong encouragement, Michiko chanted with even greater conviction.

As she prayed, she visualized her husband participating in Gakkai activities in high spirits. Each time she envisioned his victory, her prayers were enhanced with joy and appreciation.

Her husband’s miraculous drama began the following day. As Michiko chanted daimoku by her husband’s ears, she could see his big toe moving in rhythm with her daimoku.

This was something impossible as the doctor had confirmed with her that none of his body muscle could move. He added, “There’s no way that your husband’s brain nerve can be revived.” Everyday, the doctor told Michiko that it was impossible for her husband to recover but everyday, her husband would surprise the doctor and proved him wrong. First his eyelid opened two millimeters, next his fingers began to move, then his knees, then his shoulders and finally, he could even turn around on the bed.

Finally on 3 Jul (the date on which SGI commemorate mentor and disciple day), he was transferred from the ICU to the normal ward. On 17 Jul, he could walk seven steps with support and on 24 Aug, he was allowed to go out of the hospital for the day to attend a meeting where a video on President Ikeda’s guidance at the headquarters leaders meeting was screened.

Then on 31 Aug, he was fully discharged and he walked out of the hospital with his very own legs. Before he left, his doctor told him in amazement, “I must confess your recovery is completely out of my expectation. I’m deeply impressed.”

Strangely enough, Michiko and her family also received great protection financially despite the fact that her husband was the sole breadwinner. Presently, Mr Kobayashi has fully recovered and actively contributing to kosen-rufu with deep gratitude. Till today, he does not suffer from any side effects and is in the pink of his health.

SGI President Ikeda once said, “Whether you are going to lead a life of a victor with a mighty heart or a life of defeat with a weak heart depends on the strength of your faith. Your heart determines your life. Buddhism is win or lose. In this sense, it is your inner determination that ultimately decides whether you actually win or lose in life.”

Through this short passage, Nichiren Daishonin taught us with his own life that we have unlimited potential that is left untapped in our lives. When the Daishonin seemed to have lost everything in his exile, he could still reaffirm what mattered most, that is, the universality of Buddhahood and his mission to teach this truth to all people.

No matter how daunting his circumstances, the Daihonin’s resolve to protect his disciples and his confidence in the future of the widespread propagation of his teaching never wavered.

It is our minds that put limits to the unlimited potential of our lives. The purpose of prayer is to break through the limitations we set upon our lives.

Adapted from an article written by Tokyo WD Study Chief Tamiko Kumada published in Jun 2005 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Sokka Gakkai’s study journal.

The Eight Winds

Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds: prosperity, decline, disgrace, honour, praise, censure, suffering and pleasure. They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who is unbending before the eight winds. But if you nurse an unreasonable grudge against your lord, they will not protect you, not for all your prayers.

(Passage from “The Eight Winds”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p794)

Around 1277, Nichiren Daishonin wrote a letter to one of his followers, Shijo Kingo, who was upset with his lord when he threatened to move Kingo and his family to a distant province. In this letter, “The Eight Winds,” The Daishonin encouraged Kingo that only by remaining unwavering in faith and letting go of an unreasonable grudge could he receive a satisfactory result.

When most of us begin practicing Buddhism, we are looking for something to make our lives better. Not just to take the stress off the day like a piece of cake or a cold beer, but something that can fundamentally improve our lives. And some of us, myself included, think it will provide an eradication of problems. The hard times will disappear; the good times will go unimpeded.

Yet the problems do not evaporate. They rarely do. And the good times we seek do not manifest the way we expected.

A dictionary’s definition of the eight winds reads: “Eight conditions that prevent people from advancing along the right path to enlightenment… People are often swayed either by their attachment to prosperity, honour, praise and pleasure (collectively known as ‘four favourites’), or by their aversion to decline, disgrace, censure and siffering (‘four dislikes’ or ‘four adverse winds’).” (The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, p151).

The eight winds are not things we can ignore. These winds, or conditions, are in our faces every day. We cannot avoid them. But we can learn how to navigate them, how to not let them take us off course.

It is human nature to gravitate towards the pursuit of prosperity or pleasure and shun decline and pain. It makes perfect sense. Prosperity means we get more stuff, decline means we do not. Pleasure feels good; pain does not.

But if we centre our lives on such an outlook, we are led away from true happiness. Happiness is not simply the abundance of pleasure in the absence of pain. Rather, it is to remain confident and optimistic in the face of everyday reality.

Second SGI President Josei Toda once wrote: “Absolute happiness is a state such that, whatever your situation, you feel an immense sense of worth and satisfaction; and whenever you are, to be alive is itself a joy… Even when we encounter situations that make us angry, we become angry joyfully. When we establish such a state of life, our life is one of boundless joy.” (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol IV, p80)

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was trying to make it as an actor, getting very little work, even less money. At one point I got a national commercial eating hamburgers.

Got to the set, treated really well, my own trailer, etc. Got home after that first day, feeling pretty good about myself, and found an eviction notice waiting on my door. While the wind of pleasure had me in the morning, the wind of decline got me that evening. All I could do was continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and continue with my work.

Fortunately, the commercial went well, a bit of income arrived in time and I did not get evicted. I was given a wake-up call. Change can happen in a heartbeat – just keep your head on straight.

So how do we provide ourselves with the best opportunities for happiness and success? By always basing ourselves on our practice to the Gohonzon and forging ahead through each struggle.

In another letter to Shijo Kingo, the Daishonin wrote: “Muster your faith and pray to this Gohonzon. Then what is there that cannot be achieved?” (WND, p412)

No matter what we have gone through or what we have accomplished, another obstacle may be right around the corner. The important thing is to persevere with the knowledge that this practice is the means to progress. It is the key to make us all that we wish, and more.

SGI President Ikeda once stated: “Taking faith in the Daishonin’s Buddhism does not mean that all difficulties will disappear. Being alive means that we will have problems of one kind or another. But no matter what happens, it is important that we remain firm in our hearts.” (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol V, p9)

This persistence, even in the face of defeat, makes us stronger, and therefore assures us of victory.

The goal of Buddhism is not to avoid problems, but to reach a state of life where problems do not define or defeat us. To become so strong that no matter how hard the eight winds blow, they cannot take us off course.

Adapted from an article written by Craig Green from World Tribune, SGI-USA weekly paper.

Persecutions by Sword and Staff - The Irrepressible Spirit of Propagation

From the time I was born until today, I have never known a moment’s ease; I have thought only of propagating the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra.

(Passage from “Persecutions by Sword and Staff”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p965)

This portion is taken from the conclusion portion of a letter Nichiren Daishonin wrote to the young Nanjo Tokimitsu (Lord Ueno).

In this passage, not only does the Daishonin encourage Tokimitsu to carry out the practice for oneself and for others, he also described his own resolve with which he had initiated and continued waging the struggle to propagate the Mystic Law throughout his life.

Nichiren Daishonin’s entire life was solely dedicated to the propagation of the Mystic Law for the sake of the happiness of the people. Through his persistent efforts in realising this endeavour, the Daishonin encountered one persecution after another. In this way, there was never a moment’s ease for the Daishonin.

Despite being subjected to consecutive harsh persecutions, the Daishonin did not retreat – not even a single step – in his commitment to lead all people to happiness, dauntlessly waging his struggle to propagate the Law throughout his life.

In our context today, the three successive presidents of the Soka Gakkai have inherited this unrelenting spirit of propagation manifested by the Daishonin. After assuming office as the third president of the Soka Gakkai, SGI President Ikeda has courageously blazed the path for our movement of worldwide propagation. Through his utterly selfless devoted efforts, the solidarity of SGI members today has extended to close to 200 countries and territories and our movement of peace, culture and education based on the humanistic teachings of Nichiren Buddhism now spans throughout the globe.

In his novel, The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda related, “Every day was a continuing, uninterrupted struggle for Shin’ichi. He could not afford to ease off on his efforts for a single day, not even a single moment.”


The Earnest Struggle of One Single Individual Brings Happiness to the Family and Community

In terms of our practice today, we can say that harmony and happiness in a family as well as peace in the community and society can only be realized through the earnest struggle of one single individual.

Setsuko Murai, vice chapter women division leader living in Kawakami village in Nara Prefecture experienced the cruelty of war when she spent her childhood in old Manchuria, China during the war.

“What is peace?” “What is true happiness?” Setsuko found herself constantly asking those questions as she grew up. Eventually she got married and time passed but still, she could not find the answer to these questions. As she searched for the purpose of her life, her younger sister and her husband, who were Soka Gakkai members, introduced her to the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

As she listened to the humanistic teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and the pacifist stand of the Soka Gakkai, Setsuko was convinced that this Buddhism is the answer to what she had been looking for all these years. She decided to take up faith in May 1982.

Since her conversion, Setsuko joyfully immersed herself in Gakkai activities based on her sincere resolve to spread the Daishonin’s teachings in her community. However, as old and conservative local customs were deeply rooted in Setsuko’s village, from the day she became a Soka Gakkai member, the villagers stopped patronizing her grocery store. For the following six months, not a single customer stepped into Setsuko’s store.

But she was not in the least affected. No matter how harsh the criticism and verbal abuse she was subjected to and no matter how her villagers despised her, Setsuko felt that they were nothing compared to the hellish conditions she experienced during the war. Despite the harsh adversities, Setsuko’s life was always filled with joy. She had finally found her mission – to devote her life to the lofty cause of kosen-rufu.

At the age of 52, Setsuko successfully obtained a driving license as she felt that moving around the village without a car to propagate the Daishonin’s teachings posed a grave hindrance. She also volunteered to help deliver the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai daily paper. Till today, she wakes up at 4am to deliver the Seikyo Shimbun to members and friends in her beloved community.

Through her tireless dedication to her practice, not only has she been able to establish a harmonious family of faith, every one of her family member is now cheerfully contribution to the happiness of others as leaders of kosen-rufu. Setsuko’s greatest joy is that her grandson has been accepted by Soka University in Tokyo and is presently studying there. Since her conversion, Setsuko’s propagation efforts never failed to bear fruits every year and today, she is a well-respected and trusted individual in her village. The fact that some 70 to 80 friends form the village gather happily for the annual Women Division District General Meeting at Setsuko’s invitation bears testament to this.

The harsh prejudice against Setsuko and her practice has been completely transformed through her and her husband’s humanistic, warm and caring behaviour. Business at her store prospered and through this benefit, she was able to build a three-storey concrete building. The first and second levels are used as their shop while the third level is a venue for kosen-rufu activities with a capacity of 100. President Ikeda named this venue “Magnificent Cherry Blossoms Centre”.

Setsuko even built an annex building which she used top open a food mart. With the completion of this annex, Setsuko’s store has become the “department store of the village” – the most popular place among the villagers for “one can get anything he or she needs all at one single stop”. In addition, Setsuko has reserved a cosy corner on the first level of her annex building to be used as a “mini parlour” where dialogues on Buddhism can be held over a cup of tea any time of the day. The villagers can also watch videotapes on the activities of the Soka Gakkai at the parlour.

President Ikeda once said in his guidance, “The widespread propagation of the Mystic Law cannot be achieved automatically, just by letting nature takes its course. Without making an effort to share Buddhism with others, the teachings of the Mystic Law will never be conveyed. Without taking action to convey and to share, there is no way that the Mystic Law will spread.”

One’s wish to transform one’s personal or family karma is expressed in the act of offering prayers and taking actions for kosen-rufu. Nothing will go to waste in our efforts for kosen-rufu. In this sense, there is no life loftier than one dedicated to kosen-rufu.

With our goals set on 2010, the 80th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai, let us take courageous action to share Buddhism with others and advance the kosen-rufu movement in our respective community.

Adapted from an article written by Nara Prefecture WD Study Chief Kiyoko Kida published in the June 2006 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

On Persecutions Befalling the Sage - Growing by the Day

Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. Should you slacken in your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage.

(Passage from “On Persecutions Befalling the Sage”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p997)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter at Minobu on 1 October 1279 to his followers in general, instructing that the letter be kept by Shijo Kingo.

In this writing, the Daishonin stated that the year 1279 was the 27th year since he first proclaimed his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on 28 April 1253 and that the time had come for him to fulfill the purpose of his life. The reason of his appearance in the world is none other than the inscription of the object of devotion for the sake of all humankind.

The Daishonin realised that the time was right to do so after observing the indomitable faith of his lay disciples during the Atsuhara Persecution. In this writing, the Daishonin encouraged his disciples, especially those who were struggling in the midst of the Atsuhara Persecution, not to fear the oppression and that they must now "summon up the courage of a lion king" and strive till the very end.

The passage we are studying is the portion where the Daishonin taught us the importance of maintaining "non-regressing faith".

As the Daishonin said, "Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month", it is important that we costantly cherish a challenging spirit, seeking and striving to grow and develop ourselves day by day, month after month.

"Not advancing is regressing." Therefore, the moment we say, "This is enough" or "I can't go on any further" - this is the moment we are defeated by our own weaknesses - and this is when we begin to "regress".

The Daishonin said, "Should you slacken in your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage." Thus, even if we slacken a little bit, negative forces will take advantage to seep into our lives to destroy the seeds of happiness.

Faith is a constant struggle against our own inertia and self-imposed limitations. It is a battle between the forces of the devilish function and Buddhahood.

The key that motivates one to tirelessly to grow in faith continuously is to cherish the earnest spirit to constantly seek one's mentor and to dedicate our lives to the cause of kosen-rufu, always working hand-in-hand, with fellow members of the SGI. Only by doing so can we destroy the workings of the devils that seek to destroy our faith and establish a life of indestructible happiness.


Gakkai activities creates the momentum of happiness and victory in our lives

It was in 1985 that I relocated to Tochigi Prefecture due to my husband's work. On the eighth year of my marriage, my beloved husband passed away suddenly due to a terminal illness. Looking at the sorrowful sight of my five-year old son and a one-year old daughter standing right before my eyes, I was so devastated that I could feel all my energy draining away from my life.

At that darkest moment of my life, SGI President and Mrs Ikeda happened to be visiting Tochigi Prefecture to attend a leaders meeting in this area, and they warmly embraced me with their wholehearted encouragement.

President Ikeda even wrote a poem for me, which read:
"Remain undefeated
The Mystic Law
Is right there in your life."

Mrs Ikeda also spurred me on with these words, "Even though we may be practising faith, there will be times when we encounter hardships that are way beyond our expectations. But remember, everything that happens has a profound meaning. There is absolutely no hardship or suffering that we, who have embraced the Mystic Law, cannot overcome. Never be daunted or defeated and strive for kosen-rufu based on faith in the Gohonzon and you will be able to blaze a magnificent path of life. Rather than concentrate on winning, strive to remain undefeated. I'll be waiting for your two children at Soka University."

The heartwarming encouragement from President and Mrs Ikeda touched my heart to the core and I felt as if a ray of hope had brightened up my life. "Yes! I shall never be defeated by my karma. I'm going to triumph over this devilish function." I resolved and felt a surge of courage welling forth from the depths of my life.

From that day, I pledged to "eternally live my life together with my mentor", "transform my karma into a mission" and "dedicate my entire being for the sake of kosen-rufu".

I went back to my hometown in Nagasaki and threw my entire life into the movement of kosen-rufu there. Through my strong faith, I was fortunate to be financially stable which allowed me to concentrate fully on Gakkai activities without any reservations.

Thereafter many trials continued to test my faith. I was inflicted by various illnesses, including Meniere's disease (a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance), a dermatological disease where the doctor could not detect the cause and Graves disease (also known as Basedow's disease - a thyroid disorder).

I challenged each illness with all my might based on a solid determination and pressed myself forward to continue striving for kosen-rufu. I overcame each disease and emerged the winner.

Twenty years has passed by since that fateful day. With the great support from fellow members, my children have grown up healthily into fine adults in the garden of kosen-rufu. My son is a fourth year student at Soka University and will be graduating next year while my daughter is in her third year at the same university.

It is my greatest joy that both my children and I are able to live our lives with the same heart and mind as our mentor to fulfill our mission for kosen-rufu in this lifetime. My life is overflowing with deep gratitude that I am able to dedicate my life for the sake of kosen-rufu.

President Ikeda said in his guidance, "Today will never come again. Let us live each precious day with vigour by summoning up 'the courage of a lion king' and win. Whatever our past, let leave them behind us. What is important is the actions we take right now in order to blaze a path of continuous achievement and development towards the future. This will mark the beginning of a magnificent drama of human revolution... Advancing together with the activities of the SGI daily with renewed determination constitutes the very action that will put us in sync with the Law of the universe and create the momentum of happiness and victory in our lives."

As we advance, let us continue to polish ourselves by growing by the day and by the month and become the brilliant sun of our community, bringing great hope to the people around us as we expand the circle of friendship and happiness in the society.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Nagasaki Prefecture WD Study Chief Kayoko Nakashima published in the March 2006 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Prayer - The Courage to Never Give Up

Though one might point at the earth and miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and flow and the sun rises in the west, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra Sutra would go unanswered.

(Passage from “On Prayer”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p345)

This letter was written by Nichiren Daishonin in 1272, when he was in exile on Sado Island. The writing is thought to be a repley to questions raised by Sairen-bo, a disciple of the Daishonin and a former priest of the Tendai school, who at the time was also living in exile on Sado Island. Deeply impressed by the Daishonin’s dignified personality displayed at the Tsukahara Debate, Sairen-bo was converted to the Daishonin’s teachings in the second of 1272, shortly after the debate.

In this passage, the Daishonin emphasized that prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra will definitely be answered by using various analogues.

It is impossible to miss the earth when one points to it nor is it possible for anyone to bind up the sky. Also, it is utterly not possible for the tides to cease ebb and flow, nor is it possible for the sun to rise from the west. The Daishonin declared with the conviction and courage of a “lion’s roar” that even though all these impossible events were to take place, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered.

Why is it that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutr will surely be answered?

SGI President Ikeda explained by elaborating what it means to offer prayers in the following manner:

“Prayer – It is the courage not to give up. It is a struggle to banish cowardice within your life that keeps haunting you, ‘I can’t do it.’ ‘My present circumstances can be changed. Surely it can!’ Prayer is an endeavour to engrave this conviction in the depths of your life.”

“Prayer – It is to destroy fear. T is to banish sorrow. It is to ignite hope. It is a revolution to re-write destiny. Believe in yourself! Never look down upon yourself! Because despising yourself is equivalent to going against Buddhism. It is a degradation of the Buddhahood in your own life.”

President Ikeda concluded:

“Prayer – It is a challenge to fit the gear in your own life with the motion of the universe. It is an exciting drama to embrace the universe, turn the entire cosmos into your ally, reverse the situation and begin directing your life towards happiness.”

Earnest and strong prayers will never fail to strengthen ourselves and enable us to align our lives with the rhythm of the magnificent cosmic life.


Prayer is the key to unleash human potential to the fullest

Ms Kumi Noguchi (vice chapter Women Division leader) residing in Toyama City used to be a healthy and vibrant teenager who even participated in a gymnastic competition during her secondary school days.

After her graduation in 1958, Ms Noguchi becomes a primary school teacher but one month later, she was diagnosed to have contracted an incurable disease – Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints. It is a disabling and painful inflammatory condition, which can lead to substantial loss of mobility due to pain and joint destruction. She was constantly overwhelmed by the fear of dying, and the intense physical pain that attacked her entire body.

In November 1965, Ms Noguchi was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism by her aunt. Six months after taking up faith, Ms Noguchi could sit on the floor with her legs folded and could even ride a bicycle. As she savoured the wondrous beneficial power of the Mystic Law, she renewed her determination to overcome her illness fully. She prayed single-mindedly and exerted herself in propagation activities. In spring 1969, when seven of her friends joyfully received their Gohonzon, the excruciating rheumatic pain that had plagued her for the past seven years stopped abruptly.

However, that did not mark the end of her suffering. Her life continued to be mercilessly attacked by her “storms of karma”. Her RA relapsed and her condition deteriorated so much she was bedridden at home. The only thing that she could move in her body was her eyeballs. In June 1970, her doctor told her, “Your bones have become so fragile that it is impossible to operate on them. Consider yourself lucky that you have been able to work till recently. I’m sorry but you have to spend the rest of your life quietly in bed.”

Over the following one year and three months where she spent her days in the hospital, Ms Noguchi continued to chant daimoku on her hospital bed with an unwavering resolve, “I’m going to transform this karma no matter what, through my prayers to the Gohonzon I will make the impossible possible!”

After her discharge, she continued to be attacked by various illnesss, including severe side effects from her medication, acute hepatitis (liver inflammation), gastric ulcer and the throes of death. Amidst such circumstances, she continued chanting daimoku single-mindedly every moment of her life except when she was having her meals.

When she completed her first million times of daimoku in October 1971 (since she began keeping count from May 1971), she was able to work, something that was deemed impossible by medical science. From that day onwards, she continued to work for the next 30 years till her retirement in 2003.

Filled with profound gratitude for the good health she now enjoys, she continues to exert herself in kosen-rufu activities for the happiness of others.

No matter who we are, as long as we are human, during moments of life’s great adversities such as death or illness, it is only natural that we are overwhelmed by negative tendencies in our lives such as fear, cowardice, lament, insecurity, doubt, anger or resentment. During such moments, it is most critical that we continue offering sincere prayers to the Gohonzon with persevering faith. By tenaciously offering prayers without giving up till the end, we will surely be able to surmount all obstacles, no matter how harsh they may be, by summoning forth immense courage, wisdom and life force from the depths of our lives.

President Ikeda said in his guidance, “Prayer is the key to opening the multiple doors to innate human potential.” With this words deeply engraved in our lives, let us achieve great victories in our lives and for the kosen-rufu movement.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Hokuriku WD Study Chief Momoko Baba published in the January 2006 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

Happiness in This World - Remaining Undefeated No Matter What Happens

Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens.

(Passage from “Happiness in This World”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p681)

This letter was written by Nichiren Daishonin in the sixth month of 1276 to Shijo Kingo and was titled, “Happiness in This World”.

Shijo Kingo was a samurai who served the Ema family, a branch of the ruling Hojo clan. Besides being well versed in martial arts, Kingo was also a skilled physician.

An early converter of Nichiren Buddhism, Kingo received many important letters from the Daishonin. He was also a leader of the community of believers practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

When this letter was written, Kingo was in the midst of a great challenge. He had incurred the wrath of his lord, Ema for trying to convert him to the Daishonin’s Buddhism and the situation was further fanned by malicious rumours spread by his jealous colleagues to Ema. Kingo was literally cornered.

This letter was one of the many encouragements the Daishonin sent to his loyal disciple amidst his most trying adversity.

How encouraged Kingo must have been after reading this letter. The Daishonin’s love and concern for his disciple is certainly heartwarming.

In our journey of life, there will be many unexpected and trying challenges awaiting us. Nevertheless, we must always remember that there is no obstacles, no matter how huge, that cannot be resolved through faith.

It is in times of adversities, the toughest of time in life, that actually serves an opportunity for us to grow and develop our lives. For this reason, in times of difficulties, it is all the more vital that we base our lives on daimoku, summon forth a surge of immense life force and resolve that we are going to triumph over every single difficulty, no matter how harsh it may seem to be.

On the other hand, in times of joy, let us savour the happiness while never neglecting to chant daimoku and offer our gratitude to the Gohonzon, exert ourselves in kosen-rufu (peace and happiness for all people) activities and share our joy of practice with our friends. By doing so, we can expand our life state and cultivate ourselves further.

The Daishonin’s Buddhism teaches that whether in times of suffering or joy, we must maintain the resolve to score victories in life, transform karma into mission based on earnest prayers, show actual proofs of the validity of Buddhism and bring joy and confidence to the people around us.

In his speech at the headquarters leaders meeting commenmorating May 3, “SGI Mother’s Day” in 2005, President Ikeda said:

“Life at times might seem like an endless succession of pain and suffering. But just as good times never last forever, neither do the bad. Life is a combination of both the good and bad, suffering and joy. Sometimes we win, other times we lose. Both suffering and joy are a part of life; this is life’s reality.

That is why we should keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo through both suffering and joy, without denying what we are feeling, the Daishonin said. If we do that, we will be able to attain a state of supreme happiness through the wisdom and power of the Mystic Law and lead a life in which nothing can defeat us.”


Mrs Masako Sugi, a Women Division vice zone leader, related an inspiring testimony on how her eldest son overcame an incurable disease at the Women Peace Forum held in July 2005.

At nine, Masako’s eldest son was suddenly attacked by a bout of high fever, had difficulties walking and began to complain about chest pains. The doctors disgnosed him to be suffering from “generalized juvenile rheumatoid arthritis” (JRA) and said, “If the pain extends to his heart, his life will be in danger.”

After repeating a few fluctuating cycles of improving and deteriorating conditions, the illness eventually reached his heart. For the following 21 days, her son lingered on the brink of death.

During this crucial moment, Masako resolved, “I must totally stem off my son’s karma once and for all no matter what!” With this indomitable spirit, she continued chanting daimoku whenever she could. As a result, her son achieved the impossible – he was discharged two months later and could even start attending school. Today, he has fully recovered and is studying hard at a faculty of medical science in a national university.

As for Masako, she has set up educational classes within various hospitals for the benefit of children who have been hospitalized for incurable diseases and her exteaordinary contribution were reported at the Japan Pediatric Society. On top of this, she has also been appointed the vice chairperson of the parent-teacher association committee in Kagawa prefecture. As a member of the parenting support group, Masako has shared her personal experience of overcoming her son’s incurable disease at various seminars, with medical and educational officials and mothers who have children diagnosed with such illnesses. As such, she has become a well-respected and trusted person in her community.

I also have encountered many obstacles in my journey of faith. However, each time, I summoned forth courage through reading the Gosho and President Ikeda’s guidance to challenge the obstacle squarely and overcame them all.

I am determined to always base myself on daimoku, synchronize my life with the life of my mentor and win in every challenge I undertake both in times of suffering and joy.

I will continue to create new history of kosen-rufu by sharing the joy of practice with my friends and people around me and score successive victories in my life and for SGI.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Shikoku WD Study Chief Michiko Takagi published in the October 2005 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.