The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream - Winning Each Day

Lord Ema has now softened probably as a result of your admonishment. This is solely because of your deep faith in the Lotus Sutra. The deeper the roots, the more luxuriant the branches. The farther the source, the longer the stream. All sutras other than the Lotus Sutra have shallow roots and short streams, while the Lotus Sutra has deep roots and a distant source (1). That is why the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai (2) stated that the Lotus Sutra would survive and spread even in the evil latter age (3).

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p940)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter to Shinjo Kingo, who was one of his leading followers in Kamakura. Previously, it had been accounted that it was written in the ninth month of 1278 but recent studies suggested that it might possibly had been written in the ninth month of 1279.

Sometime after the Daishonin moved to Mount Minobu in 1274, Kingo courageously attempted to convert his lord, Ema. However, Kingo’s good intentions incurred Ema’s wrath and began to alienate him.

Lord Ema was a staunch follower of the priest Ryokan of Gokuraku-ji temple then. Ryokan plotted against Kingo by instigating Lord Ema while Kingo’s jealous colleagues also took this opportunity to make false accusations against Kingo before their lord.

This prompted Lord Ema to order Kingo to abandon his faith or face the consequence of having his land confiscated. Even though Kingo was facing the greatest crisis in his life, he maintained firm faith and practiced exactly according to the Daishonin’s guidance.

As a result, Kingo managed to show great actual proof of gaining victory with his faithwhen Ema renewed his trust in Kingo and bestowed upon him a fief three times larger than the ones he already had.

This letter was written in response to Kingo’s report to the Daishonin about the new fiefs.

Delighted with Kingo’s victory, Nichiren Daishonin said in this letter that Kingo’s sincere faith and effort to lead his lord to faith in the Lotus Sutra were rewarded in this manner as a profound good fortune.

The Daishonin also quoted the words, “The farther the source, the longer the stream” and taught that with profound faith, one will surely enjoy a life of glory eternally.


No matter how difficult times are, as long as one persevere tenaciously and live one’s life based on profound faith, a way to eternal prosperity will surely open forth – this is what Nichiren Daishonin taught with absolute conviction in this Gosho passage.

Misled by libelous allegations made by Kingo’s fellow samurais against him, his lord ordered Kingo to abandon faith in the Lotus Sutra.

No matter how critical the situation became, Kingo maintained firm faith and took sincere and prudent action in exact accordance with the Daishonin’s encouragement and advice.

Although criticisms from his jealous peers became increasingly intense, Kingo persevered tenaciously through the entire ordeal and eventually regained the trust of his lord.

He was rewarded with fiefs larger than the ones he already had and even had opportunities to deliver lectures on Buddhism to his lord.

Having received reports on Kingo’s victory, the Daishonin praised his indomitable faith and quoted the words of the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai which read, “The farther the source, the longer the stream.”

In other words, the Lotus Sutra reveals the ultimate wisdom of the Buddha that penetrates deeply into the very essence of life, enabling one to attain enlightenment and achieved great actual proof of victory and happiness.

Just as a tree with deep roots would produce luxuriant branches, or a river with a faraway source would flow longer and nourish the great earth far and wide, the merits of the Lotus Sutra would spread far and wide in the evil age of the Latter Day, leading all people to happiness.

Through citing this principle, the Daishonin taught that with deep faith in the Mystic Law, both Kingo and Lord Ema who trusted Kingo with his heart, would prosper for many long years to come.

Likewise, if we have strong and profound faith, then no matter what hardships we may encounter in our journey of life, we will surely be able to enter the orbit of victory.

In addition, all our efforts and hard work for the sake of kosen-rufu will surely contribute to the great development of the kosen-rufu movement into the eternal future and ensure the prosperity of the SGI.

It is for this reason that it is extremely important that we live out each day with profound faith.

SGI President Ikeda said in his guidance: “It is my hope that you will savour a remarkable life of fulfillment and happiness with ever-youthful spirit and courage. I hope that with a heart of true and genuine faith, you will win each and everyday for the sake of the great endeavour of kosen-rufu and the eternal victory of your life.”

While setting our gaze on achieving eternal victories in our lives, lets renew our determination each day and devote our lives in fulfilling our mission.

1. “The deeper the roots, the more luxuriant the branches. The farther the source, the longer the stream”: Appears in the third volume three of Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, one of the major works of the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai. It is used to describe the infinitely profound wisdom of all Buddhas. The “roots” and “source” refer to the wisdom of all Buddhas while “branches” and “stream” express to the magnificent function of the Buddha’s wisdom.

2. Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai (538-597): The founder of the Chinese T’ien-t’ai school. Also called Chih-i.

3. Evil latter age: Latter Day of the Law. It is known to be an evil age that is filled with erroneous teachings and defiled by the five impurities of the age, of desire, of the people, of thought and of life itself.

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