Realizing Our Prayers With the Four Powers
Nichiren Daishonin asserts that “it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered."
To excel in any chosen endeavor, you have to put in the effort. The same holds true for our practice of Nichiren Buddhism.
Nichiren Daishonin asserts that “it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered” (“On Prayer,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 345). It is important to understand here that our personal efforts determine the outcome of our prayers.
There are four key components in Nichiren Buddhism that are vital in realizing our prayers, which are called “the four powers”: the power of the Buddha; the power of the Law; the power of faith; and the power of practice.
The power of the Buddha refers to the Buddha’s overwhelming compassion for the happiness of all people. This refers to the wellspring of compassion, courage and wisdom that is innate in all of us.
The power of the Law indicates the boundless capacity of the Mystic Law—the force governing the universe and all its aspects—to lead all people to enlightenment. The Law itself is not tangible, but reveals itself in all things.
The power of practice refers to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo oneself and teaching others to do the same. SGI President Ikeda explains, “The power of practice encompasses the strength of your chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the energy with which you work for kosen-rufu—for the happiness of all people and the prosperity of society” (Discussions on Youth, p. 299).
The power of faith points to our belief in the Gohonzon, the object of devotion that embodies the power of the Buddha and the power of the Law. This power of faith points to the conviction that our prayers will be answered. It is also the key component for realizing our desires and goals. Nichiren clearly states, “Spur yourself to muster the power of faith” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1001).
President Ikeda explains further: “The Gohonzon possesses the immeasurable and boundless power of the Buddha and power of the Law. But it is our own faith—our power of faith and power of practice—that matters. That is what enables us to actually manifest the limitless power of the Mystic Law, the fundamental Law permeating the entire universe; to show actual proof of its benefit; and to embody it in our own lives . . . Everything is determined by our own faith” (April 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 44).
By strengthening the power of faith and the power of practice, we unleash the powers of the Buddha and the Law in our lives. Therefore, everything comes down to continuing to develop the three basics of our Buddhist practice—faith, practice and study. When we continue taking action for kosen-rufu, deepening our study of Buddhism and fortifying our conviction in faith, we will definitely see all our prayers answered.
SGI President Ikeda’s Guidance
The crucial thing is whether we are really practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—whether we are really putting the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism into practice.
Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda used to say: “Obviously, when you strike a bell, you’re going to get a vastly different sound depending on whether you use a toothpick, a chopstick or a bell striker. The bell is the same, but if you hit it powerfully, it rings loudly. If you hit it weakly, it rings softly.”
“The same is true of the Gohonzon,” he said. “The benefit we receive depends entirely on the power of our faith and practice.”
As the expressions the power of faith and the power of practice indicate, belief has power. The greater your conviction that your prayers will be answered—the stronger your faith—the more powerfully the Gohonzon, the Mystic Law, responds to your prayers.
The power of practice encompasses the strength of your chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the energy with which you work for kosen-rufu—for the happiness of all people and the prosperity of society. The stronger the power of your practice for yourself and others, the more you can tap the power of the Buddha and the power of the Law inherent in the Gohonzon and in your life.
Although we say that prayers are answered, in Nichiren Buddhism, the fulfillment of our prayers is nothing supernatural. It’s not about some transcendent being like a Buddha or god in a distant realm taking pity on us to grant our wishes.
Just as there are physical laws such as those governing electricity—laws that human beings in their ingenuity have learned to harness and put to practical use—Buddhism delves into and uncovers the Law of life and the universe. Just as the electric light was invented based on the laws of electricity, Nichiren inscribed the Gohonzon based on the supreme Law that Buddhism reveals.
Mr. Toda used to describe the Gohonzon this way: “This certainly doesn’t do it full justice, but the Gohonzon can be likened to a happiness-manufacturing machine.” The Gohonzon is the ultimate crystallization of human wisdom and the Buddha wisdom. That’s why the power of the Buddha and the Law emerge in exact accord with the power of your faith and practice. If the power of your faith and practice equal a force of one hundred, then they will bring forth the power of the Buddha and the Law to the degree of one hundred. And if it is a force of ten thousand, then it will elicit that degree of corresponding power. (Discussions on Youth, pp. 298–99)