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Buddhist Study

Conviction Is Gained From Thoroughly Forging Our Resolve


“Shakyamuni Buddha refused to entrust the mission of propagation to any of these people and gave it instead to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Thus these bodhisattvas are the ones who had thoroughly forged their resolve.” (“General Stone Tiger,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 953)

The passage above from Nichiren Daishonin’s writing “General Stone Tiger” explains that Shakyamuni Buddha refused to entrust the challenging work of propagating the Lotus Sutra to those assembled to hear him preach, including his closest followers, despite the fact that they exhibited extraordinary powers. Instead, he entrusted this great mission to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, “the ones who had thoroughly forged their resolve.”

Just who were these Bodhisattvas of the Earth?

SGI President Ikeda explains that in the phrase Bodhisattvas of the Earth, the word Earth symbolizes the universal state of life innate in all people—Buddhahood. This life state is free of all discrimination. Thus, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth are ordinary people firmly grounded in the reality of their daily lives, joyously revealing their innate potential as they strive to fundamentally transform their troubled and deadlocked society (see July 2018 Living Buddhism, pp. 41–43).

President Ikeda also explains: “To emerge as a Bodhisattva of the Earth is to carry out a revolution in our state of life. Spreading this revolution of life state from one person to another is the effort to transform the life state of society and to elevate the life state of humanity as a whole” (October 2016 Living Buddhism, pp. 57–58).

Why Did Shakyamuni Choose the Bodhisattvas of the Earth?

The Lotus Sutra describes the difficulty of spreading the Mystic Law in this present age, a chaotic time when many arrogant priests slander the correct teaching of Buddhism, when natural disasters occur and war breaks out, and when the people suffer in misery. It is a time when those who propagate this correct teaching will be harshly persecuted.

Given this point, Shakyamuni did not entrust propagation of the Lotus Sutra to the assembled Buddhas and bodhisattvas, because they had “only recently begun to hear the Lotus Sutra, their understanding is still limited. Thus they would not be able to endure the great difficulties of the latter age” (“Letter to Niiama,” WND-1, 467).

Instead, Shakyamuni calls forth the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and says, “Ever since the long distant past I have been teaching and converting this multitude” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 261). He entrusts “the ones who had thoroughly forged their resolve” to spread this Buddhism in this most difficult time.

How Can We Forge Our Resolve Amid Obstacles?

This is all to say that, to fully reveal our greatest potential and carry out correct Buddhist practice of propagating and protecting the Law, we must bring forth a strong determination.

In his lecture on “General Stone Tiger,” President Ikeda writes:

As the Lotus Sutra teaches, persecution and difficulties are unavoidable in propagating the sutra in the Latter Day of the Law: “Since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound even when the Thus Come One is in the world, how much more will this be so after his passing?” (LSOC, 203). Nichiren repeated this passage often and applied it to his own life. What is the quality needed to be able to carry out this most difficult of undertakings? A thoroughly forged resolve.

The root meaning of “to forge” is to repeatedly heat and fashion metal until it is strengthened. In another letter to Shijo Kingo illustrating this point, Nichiren writes: “Untempered iron quickly melts in a blazing fire . . . But a sword, even when exposed to a great fire, withstands the heat for a while, because it has been well forged.” (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 4, pp. 76–77)

This process of forging a strong sword symbolizes the importance of developing conviction by repeatedly facing, grappling with and overcoming hardships.

The story of General Stone Tiger illustrates the power of a person filled with conviction. In the story, after Li Kuang’s mother was eaten alive by a tiger, he vowed to avenge her death by killing the tiger. One day, he spotted the tiger and quickly shot it with his arrow. When he rushed up to it, instead of a tiger, he found a large boulder, which his arrow had deeply pierced all the way up to its feathers. From then on, he was referred to as General Stone Tiger.

Nichiren teaches through this story that when we are filled with absolute conviction, we can make the impossible possible.

We forge our inner resolve and develop unshakable conviction in our Buddha nature by standing up to each challenge life has to offer by chanting with power resolve. Vital to taking on each challenge is the determination to not be defeated by anything.

“Whether or not your prayer is answered,” Nichiren states, “will depend on your faith” (“Reply to the Lay Nun Nichigon,” WND-1, 1079).

As President Ikeda has said: “Nothing is a match for strong faith. If we truly have faith, we can win over any situation” (March 11, 2005, World Tribune, p. 2). Our faith, our innermost resolve, as we practice and engage in SGI activities, determines the degree of result, benefit and happiness we bring about through our Buddhist practice.

SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda Visit the World Seikyo Center

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