The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life - Win with Strong Life Force!

Be resolved to summon forth the great power of faith, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the prayer that your faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of death. Never seek any other way to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death, and manifest it in your life. Only then will you realize that earthly desires are enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana. Even embracing the Lotus Sutra would be useless without the heritage of faith.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p218)

This letter, dated the 11th day of the second month in 1272, was sent by Nichiren Daishonin to his disciple, Sairen-bo Nichijo.

Details about Sairen-bo are scarce but it is known that he was a former Tendai priest who, for reasons that are unclear, was also living in exile on Sado Island.
Sairen-bo was a highly educated priest to whom the Daishonin sent several important essays containing essential Buddhist doctrines, including The True Aspect of All Phenomena and The Oral Tradition regarding the Enlightenment of Plants.

“What does the ultimate Buddhist doctrine, ‘heritage of the ultimate law of life’, refer to?” It was in response to this question posed by Sairen-bo that the Daishonin wrote this Gosho, The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life, as he answers to his disciple.

Nichiren Daishonin stated in this Gosho that the ultimate, single most important Law that transcends both life and death is none other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The Daishonin further elaborated that this Law flows only in the depths of the lives of his disciples who arouse faith based on the spirit of “now is the last moment [of my life]…”, chant the daimoku of the Mystic Law with the spirit of many in body, one in mind and live out their lives for the sake of kosen-rufu.


Where can we find true happiness? Where does it exist? People work hard to gain wealth, social status, enhance their capability, all in pursuit of happiness in life.

Of course, there is no doubt that one does savour a sense of happiness when one achieves any one of these goals that one had worked hard for. However, such happiness seldom lasts and with the passage of time, this achievement may even be transformed into a cause for suffering.

To begin with, as a living entity, one can never avoid the manifestation of the fundamental sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death within one’s lifetime.
Buddhism teaches that all lives repeat the cycle of life and death.

And if, the cycle of life and death entails an endless process of suffering, then does it mean that happiness is only an illusion that appears and disappears in the midst of this long and unending stretch of sufferings?

Nichiren Daishonin was enlightened to the wisdom that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate Law that transcends the phases of life and death of all lives. It is the ultimate Law pervading all lives and phenomena in the universe.

Therefore, the key to overcoming the sufferings of life and death and in achieving true lasting happiness lies in embracing and practicing this ultimate Law, which Nichiren Daishonin expound as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

When we arouse the great power of indomitable faith and chant the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the fundamental Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will function to bring forth the Buddha nature within our lives.

When this happens, our lives will brim with magnificent life force, which enables us to surmount all sufferings including that of life and death. We can open a life state of happiness within our lives in which we can savour “joy in both life and death”.

However, once we give up faith, the fundamental Law will cease to function to bring forth our Buddha nature and our lives will recede back to a state of sufferings.

That is why in this passage, the Daishonin said, “Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the prayer that your faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of death.” The Daishonin is teaching us to maintain strong faith throughout our lives, till the moment of death.

In order to do so, the Daishonin taught that we must practise faith with the profound resolve that “now is the last moments of one’s life” (WND, p216), that is, to live our lives victoriously based on faith so that we have absolutely no regrets even if one is to die right now.

When one chants with this profound insight, the delusions stemming from earthly desires and the sufferings of life and death can all be transformed in its entirety into a source of energy that opens a path of absolute happiness within one’s life.

The Daishonin further reminded us in this passage, “Even embracing the Lotus Sutra would be useless without the heritage of faith.” In other words, outwardly embracing the Lotus Sutra only in formality will be completely meaningless if one does not have the “heritage of faith”.

“The heritage of faith” means strong and ceaseless faith that remains undefeatable no matter how difficult the circumstances.

SGI President Ikeda said, “The Lotus Sutra enables us to tap into the life force of the universe, so that no matter what happens, we are never bound by our difficulties. The Daishonin’s Buddhism is the teaching that gives all people the power to experience incredible energy welling forth in their lives. A person who has solid faith in the Mystic Law, therefore, is the strongest and happiest of all.”

Lets victoriously surmount all sufferings in life by manifesting strong life force through offering strong prayers.

1. “Faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of death” – To maintain steadfast and firm faith in the Mystic Law free of all doubts, even at the moment of faith.

2. “Earthly desires are enlightenment” – The manifestation of the Buddha’s wisdom for the attainment of enlightenment within the lives of ordinary beings originally controlled by earthly desires. In Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, this term is often used together with the term, “sufferings of birth and death are nirvana” to describe the beneficial power underlying the principle of “attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form”.

3. “Sufferings of birth and death are nirvana” – Manifesting the state of genuine security and tranquility attained by the Buddha within the life of an ordinary being buffeted about by the sufferings of life and death.

Translated and adapted from the February 2010 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.