The True Aspect of All Phenomena - The "Two Ways of Practice and Study" is the Way to Happiness

Believe in the Gohonzon, the supreme object of devotion in all of Jambudvipa. Be sure to strengthen your faith, and receive the protection of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions. Exert yourself in two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach otters. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach otters to the best of our ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin-1, p386)

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter to Sairen-bo Nichijo while at Ichinosawa on Sado Island in the fifth month of the tenth year of Bun’ei (1273). For some reasons, Sairen-bo was also exiled on Sado, where he had been converted by the Daishonin in the second month of 1272.

A former Tendai priest, he was a disciple with a strong seeking mind and passionately asked the Daishonin on the significance and meaning of various important Buddhist doctrines. In response, the Daishonin explained many fundamental and important doctrines in his reply to Sairen-bo, including Budhist doctrinal thesis, such as “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life” (WND-1, p216) and “The Oral Tradition regarding the Enlightenment of Plants” (WND-2, P429).

“The True Aspect of All Phenomena” was also in the Daishonin’s reply to Sairen-bo’s request for the Daishonin to explain the term, “true aspect of all phenomena”.


Right at the outset of this passage, Nichiren Daishonin declared that the Gohonzon, the mandala he inscribed with his life, as “the supreme object of devotion in all Jambudvipa”. In modern terms, it means “the foremost object of devotion in the world”.

The Gohonzon is the manifestation of the great teaching that enables all people, regardless of who they are or how harsh their current circumstances may be, to manifest their Buddhahood, a life state of supreme victory. It is for this reason that the Daishonin stated that the Gohonzon is “the foremost in the world”.

However, there is one important point to remember. No matter how great the power, there is no way of tapping it without strong faith. This is why the Daishonin said, “Be sure to strengthen your faith, and receive the protection of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions.”

The Daishonin is encouraging us that the greater the adversities, the stronger our faith should be. Only by summoning forth such firm faith will we be able to activate the protective forces of Shakyamuni , Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions.

And, in order to cultivate such strong faith, one must exert oneself in “the two ways of practice and study”. Faith is not simply an issue of having a positive mind. Without carrying out the concrete practice of sharing Buddhism with others, chanting daimoku and reciting the gongyo, studying Buddhism, there can be no Buddhism.

On top of this, what is most important in our practice is not only carrying out these Buddhist practice ourselves but to enable others to do the same. With the spirit of compassion and courage, we strive to encourage others to stand up on their feet again and together, we advance towards victory. This is what our Buddhist practice entails.

Faith, practice and study is enhanced and works in mutual synchronisation with faith as its axis. It is faith that motivates one to practice and study while the enhancement of practice and study in turn strengthens one’s faith. Furthermore, contact with the vibrant life states of fellow practitioners will serve as stimulus that accelerates the momentum of one’s practice.

In concluding this passage, the Daishonin stated, “Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.” The Daishonin is urging us to share Buddhism with others to the best of our ability, in whatever way we can. Summoning forth the courage to take this first step will help open up a refreshing life state and a new way forward in kosen-rufu.

SGI President Ikeda said, “Maintaining courageous faith throughout one’s life; striving against the evil forces that obstruct the flow of kosen-rufu; always basing oneself on faith in the Gohonzon and on the writings of Nichiren Daishonin - these are the key requirements that make possible the momentous advancement of kosen-rufu. It is because the Soka Gakkai had advanced along this path of champion that it will continue to grow and prosper for eternity.”

While anchoring our lives on the basic practice of faith, practice and study, let us initiate new challenges with renewed determination and invigorating life force.

(Translated and adapted from the October 2009 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.)