Battling with Inertia
Excerpt From SGI President Ikeda’s “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace.”
This guidance is from section 16.5 of “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace” series, published in the April 2016 Living Buddhism, pp. 46–47.
In a letter of encouragement to Sage Nichimyo, a female follower who had made the perilous journey to visit him on Sado Island, Nichiren Daishonin writes: “I know your faith has always been admirable, but now you must strengthen it more than ever. Only then will the ten demon daughters [guardian deities of Buddhism] lend you even greater protection” (“The Supremacy of the Law,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 614).
No matter how unsparingly we may have exerted ourselves in faith in the past, if our commitment grows lax or apathetic, the protection of the heavenly deities—the positive forces of the universe—will weaken. Not only that, we run the risk of erasing all the good fortune we have thus far accumulated. That’s why Nichiren urged Sage Nichimyo to keep strengthening her resolve in faith even more.
We will gain benefit in direct proportion to our own determination and efforts in faith.
Throughout his writings, Nichiren often uses the phrase “more than ever” in encouraging his followers in their Buddhist practice. Encouraging Shijo Kingo, who demonstrated his selfless commitment to faith at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, the Daishonin writes: “Strengthen your power of faith more than ever” (“Happiness in This World,” WND- 1, 681), and “You must strengthen your faith more than ever” (“General Stone Tiger,” WND-1, 953). The passage I quoted earlier, “Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997), was also addressed as encouragement to Shijo Kingo and other disciples.
Inertia, however, is often difficult to recognize in ourselves. Being unaware of it is perhaps one of its defining characteristics and causes.
Someone once came up with a list of “symptoms” for stagnation in faith, which included such things as: having only vague goals and determinations; doing gongyo, but having no specific prayers while chanting; doing gongyo and SGI activities passively, out of a sense of obligation; being prone to complain; feeling no joy, enthusiasm or gratitude; having a weak seeking spirit; being lax at one’s job and forgetting the importance of putting one’s faith into practice
in daily life.
I think we can all no doubt identify with these tendencies to some extent. We are only human, after all, and therefore not perfect. But Nichiren warns us, “If your faith weakens and you do not attain Buddhahood in this lifetime, do not reproach me” (“Letter to Niike,” WND-1, 1030).
Our Buddhist practice is not an obligation, but a right that enables us to attain happiness. We will gain benefit in direct proportion to our own determination and efforts in faith.