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Buddhist Study

Gathering Fortune From Ten Thousand Miles Away

Photo by Muravin / Getty Images.

The sincerity of making offerings to the Lotus Sutra at the beginning of the New Year is like cherry blossoms blooming from trees, a lotus unfolding in a pond, sandalwood leaves unfurling on the Snow Mountains, or the moon beginning to rise. Now Japan, in becoming an enemy of the Lotus Sutra, has invited misfortune from a thousand miles away. In light of this, it is clear that those who now believe in the Lotus Sutra will gather fortune from ten thousand miles away. (“New Year’s Gosho,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1137)

The New Year signals a new beginning, a time when we are inspired to make fresh determinations. In this passage, Nichiren Daishonin teaches the key to starting a fulfilling year with happiness and hope.

It is generally believed that he composed “New Year’s Gosho” in 1281 for the wife of Omosu, who sent him 100 steamed rice cakes and delicacies in celebration of New Year’s Day. She was Nanjo Tokimitsu’s elder sister and married to Lord Omosu, the steward of Omosu Village in Fuji District of Suruga Province.

Nichiren thanked her for the offerings, stating, “A person who celebrates this day will accumulate virtue and be loved by all” (WND-1, 1137). 

The wife of Omosu had lost her beloved daughter to illness in the spring of 1278. Her New Year’s offerings were likely an expression of her determination to remain steadfast in her Buddhist practice despite suffering such personal loss. 

Conveying his admiration for her resolve, Nichiren likened her sincerity to the opening up of cherry blossoms, lotus flowers and sandalwood leaves, and the rising of the moon. He teaches that, no matter the difficulties we encounter, as long as we continue to earnestly strive in our Buddhist practice, the flowers of happiness will beautifully blossom in our lives.

Earlier in this letter, the Daishonin explains that all people are inherently Buddhas worthy of the highest respect. He decries the fact that Japan has abandoned this idea, making the country “an enemy of the Lotus Sutra.” 

In contemporary terms, we could say this means that when people lose sight of and disregard the respect for the dignity of life, the fabric of society erodes and devolves. This is what Nichiren means by “inviting misfortune from a thousand miles away.” 

In contrast, as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, we are striving to spread the principles of Buddhism so that the dignity of life and respect for all human beings takes root in society. 

Nichiren writes, “The believers of the Lotus Sutra … are like the sandalwood with its fragrance” (WND-1, 1137). In other words, when we believe in the Lotus Sutra, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, transform our lives by overcoming all obstacles and establish an indomitable life condition, we establish a groundswell of inexhaustible happiness that permeates our lives and the lives of those around us. SGI President Ikeda describes this happiness as “the wonderful fragrance of good fortune and benefit, which enfolds not only [ourselves] but others as well” (November 2014 Living Buddhism, p. 31). 

He goes on to state: “ ‘Believers in the Lotus Sutra’ will never be swept away by the swirling tide of misfortune, no matter how bleak the times or the situation in society may be. The network of good formed by people who embrace the Lotus Sutra can break the cycle of misery afflicting a nation and redirect it toward peace and security” (November 2014 Living Buddhism, p. 33). 

The Year of Soka Victory is upon us. Let’s not only make New Year’s resolutions at the start of this year. In 2019, let’s also begin each day of our lives as if it is New Year’s Day by abundantly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, amplifying our life force, refreshing our determination and taking resolute action. This is the way to lead society to peace, the way to lead lives of complete fulfillment and the way to “gather fortune from ten thousand miles away.”

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

It is an immense source of pride for me that so many of my beloved members in Japan and around the world say that, through practicing Nichiren Buddhism, they have become happier than they could ever have imagined possible. Cherishing Nichiren Daishonin’s words, “Those who now believe in the Lotus Sutra will gather fortune from ten thousand miles away” (“New Year’s Gosho,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1137), there are now countless “experts in the art of happiness” in the SGI, who have triumphed over the darkness of karma and sufferings such as financial hardship, illness, trouble with relationships and personal weaknesses. 

The Mystic Law is the great teaching that enables us to transform any hardship into happiness, as Nichiren assures us when he says, “Misfortune will change into fortune” (“Reply to Kyo’o,” WND-1, 412). Nichiren Buddhism enables those who have suffered the most to attain the greatest happiness. 

[Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda] solemnly observed that people’s lives can move in one of two directions: toward decline and ruin, or toward improvement and growth. 

During the early days of our movement, there were many women whose lives before joining the Soka Gakkai were so filled with suffering that they had forgotten the very word “happiness.” Others, hearing at a discussion meeting that practicing Nichiren Buddhism would enable them to become happy without fail, felt a flame of hope ignite in their lives for the first time in a very long time. 

None became happy overnight. They all made incredible efforts. They all struggled. They all strove wholeheartedly. Some nights they chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo through tears. But these were by no means tears of despair. Rousing courage, they pledged not to be defeated and to definitely become happy. They transformed the darkness of misfortune and made the sun of hope and happiness rise in their lives. 

Nor was their experience limited to themselves. Throughout Japan and around the world, members have been enacting dramas of transforming karma, and thereby illuminating the lives of all around them. These are the victorious dramas of Soka. (November 2014 Living Buddhism, pp. 31–33)

Studying The New Human Revolution on the Front lines