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.