No Effort for Kosen-rufu Is Ever Wasted
Chapter New Members Meeting
Even though you have been forced to relinquish your fief time and again, in your letter you said that he [your lord] has now conferred an estate upon you. This is indeed wondrous. This is precisely what is meant by the statement that unseen virtue brings about visible reward. It must have happened because of your profound sincerity in trying to lead your lord to faith in the Lotus Sutra. (“The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 940)
Nichiren Daishonin wrote this passage to his stalwart disciple Shijo Kingo in September 1278 or 1279. For several years Kingo’s lord, Ema Mitsutoki, had disapproved of Kingo’s belief, after Kingo had tried to convert him to Nichiren’s teaching. In addition, prompted by false accusations made against Kingo by jealous colleagues, Ema eventually ordered him to abandon his faith in the Daishonin’s teaching. If he didn’t, he would be transferred to a remote province.
In 1277, however, Ema fell ill, and the treatment offered by Kingo, a skilled physician, seemed to have cured Ema’s illness. With a renewed trust in Kingo, the following year Ema bestowed upon Kingo a far larger fief than the one he already had.
Delighted with Kingo’s victory, Nichiren says, “Unseen virtue brings about visible reward,” meaning that his disciple’s sincere faith and effort to lead his lord to the Lotus Sutra were rewarded in a manner beyond any expectations.
How does this inform the efforts SGI members are making today for the sake of Buddhism?
SGI activities are offered as opportunities to deepen our faith, compassion and appreciation for others, to forge a fighting spirit, and to nurture our desire to contribute to the happiness of those around us. By participating in these activities, we can cultivate the kind of sincerity and virtue the Daishonin is praising in Shijo Kingo.
In addition, based on the law of the simultaneity of cause and effect, every effort we make is indelibly recorded in our lives.
Through our Buddhist practice, as we increasingly hone our ability to act based on compassion, sincerity and a sense of mission, we are also enhancing our ability to make the most of each moment, and in so doing, experience a growing richness in heart and spirit.
All our efforts in the realm of the SGI are helping us establish this diamondlike state of life and planting seeds of good fortune in our lives.
SGI President Ikeda explains: “Our spirit changes our being. It changes our lives. Why does the Buddha have an indestructible, diamondlike life? Shakyamuni explains it is because he has steadfastly and thoroughly protected the Law. Having a strong spirit for kosen-rufu enables us to develop diamondlike lives . . . In activities for kosen-rufu, absolutely no effort is wasted. Everything is engraved in our lives and enables us to establish a diamondlike and totally free state of life. In overcoming our weaknesses and exerting ourselves daily for our friends, we have already achieved victory as human beings” (Learning From the Gosho: The Eternal Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 135).
Whether planning a discussion meeting, telling our friends about Buddhism, helping members study Buddhism or learn gongyo, sharing experiences in faith, supporting activities behind the scenes or encouraging the youth—all our efforts in the realm of the SGI are helping us establish this diamondlike state of life and planting seeds of good fortune in our lives. This also applies to our sincere efforts to support our family members, friends, co-workers and those in our communities. And these seeds are sure to sprout in our lives as flowers of fortune, benefit and happiness.
At times, we may wonder, Why am I experiencing such suffering even though I’m practicing Buddhism? However, it is exactly at such times that we can forge our fighting spirit by determining to use each struggle as an opportunity to persevere with courageous faith.
In a letter to another dedicated disciple, Nichiren writes, “I know your faith has always been admirable, but now you must strengthen it more than ever” (“The Supremacy of the Law,” WND-1, 614). In the same way, we must never slacken in our efforts to deepen our faith and strengthen our conviction.
By repeatedly challenging ourselves to live with such fortitude each day, when we look back on our long journey of faith, we will find that we have attained an immense, diamond like state of life beyond anything we could have conceived. This is the true and lasting benefit that we can gain from all our dedicated efforts for kosen-rufu.
SGI PRESIDENT IKEDA’S GUIDANCE
In The New Human Revolution, SGI President Ikeda, who appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto, praises the efforts of the SGI members in Hong Kong, conveying the following guidance.
All your struggles, all of the tears and sweat that you have shed for Buddhism and kosen-rufu, will manifest as your own good fortune. They will become an everlasting treasure of your lives.
In fact, having absolute confidence in this is the key to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime. If you don’t believe this, it means you don’t believe in the law of cause and effect that governs all life, or that your actions, though unseen by others, are being observed by the Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the universe. It means you are seeking the Law outside yourselves, and that is not the way of life of a Buddhist. People who live like that tend to work hard when their efforts are praised or recognized but take shortcuts and slack off when they think no one’s looking.
No matter how much we may talk about Buddhism, if we lapse into non-Buddhist thinking, we will regress in our faith. Consequently, we will cease to gain benefit from our practice and be unable to transform our state of life or attain genuine happiness. That’s why it’s vital to carry out faith with a pure and sincere heart. A person who does so is a true victor. (vol. 18, p. 290)