Persecution by Sword and Staff - Achieve a Life of Happiness and Victory through Faith Based on the Spirit of Ungrudging Devotion

Be that as it may, commit yourself to the Lotus Sutra and have faith in its teaching. You must not only believe in them yourself, but also encourage others to do the same, so that you may save those who were your parents in all your past existences. From the time I was born until today, I have never known a moment’s ease; I have only thought of propagating the daimoku of Lotus Sutra.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin-1, p964-965)

Nichiren Daishonin composed this writing, “Persecution by Sword and Staff”, while in residence on Mount Minobu in April 1279. It was addressed to his youthful disciple, Nanjo Tokimitsu, the steward of Ueno Village in Fuji District, Suruga Province (present day central Shizuka Prefecture). This was just around the time when the Atsuhara Persecution began to intensify in earnest.

After citing the numerous harsh persecutions that the Daishonin had personally gone through and prevailed over, he encouraged Tokimitsu who was courageously confronting the persecutions in Atskhara to commit himself wholeheartedly to the Lotus Sutra.


This is a passage in which Nichiren Daishonin taught us that those who persevere in faith till the very end will not only be able to prevail over all hardships but can ultimately lead all people towards happiness.

When the 21-year old Nanjo Tokimitsu received this letter from the Daishonin, he was waging an all-out struggle with youthful passion against the increasingly tense situation on Atukhara. In this letter, the Daishonin encouraged Tokimitsu to commit himself “to the Lotus Sutra and have faith in its teachings”. This statement can well be called the ultimate message of this letter.

By calling forth to Tokimitsu to “commit yourself to the Lotus Sutra and have faith in its teachings”, the Daishonin was urging him to live and strive alongside the mentor who had read the Lotus Sutra with his life and emerged victorious against all persecutions, remained steadfast in faith and dedicate his life to the great struggle for kosen-rufu.

The Daishonin also stated in this passage, “You must not only believe in them yourself, but also encourage others to do the same…” The Daishonin was teaching here that by deepening our faith and sharing Buddhism with the people around us, we will not only be able to attain enlightenment ourselves, but we will be able to lead those “who were our parents in all past existences” to enlightenment as well. This means, in other words, that we can help guide all those we encounter or have connections with in this lifetime to the path of Buddhahood.

Next, the Daishonin reflected on his life of unending struggles and expressed his sentiment by stating, “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”. The Daishonin waged an intense struggle against numerous harsh persecutions without begrudging his own life and dedicated his life to the compassionate vow to realise the happiness of all people.

It was the three successive presidents of the Soka Gakkai who inherited the same spirit of selfless dedication as the Daishonin to realise the happiness for oneself and for others and tirelessly dedicated themselves to the propagation of the teachings of the Mystic Law throughout Japan and the world. And this includes all of us, SGI members, who are engaging ourselves in the great shared struggle as mentor and disciple.

SGI President Ikea said, “Those who wish to transform their karma, who pray for the realisation of kosen-rufu, and who strive for that cause with ungrudging devotion are guaranteed to achieve a life of happiness and victory. Those who sincerely persevere in their Buddhist practice will be victors; they will win in the end. This is the ultimate purpose of faith in Nichiren Buddhism.”

Let us forge ahead with courage and joy to create a new era of worldwide kosen-rufu.

(Translated and adapted from the February 2014 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.)