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Buddhist Study

Refusing to Be Defeated by Anything


“Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle? (“Reply to Kyo’o,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 412)

Sometimes in life, we fall ill or something else happens that interferes with our happiness. These are the times when we need to recall Nichiren Daishonin’s declaration: “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion.”

He states this in his letter “Reply to Kyo’o,” thought to have been written in August 1273 to a couple whose infant daughter, Kyo’o, had fallen ill.

Nichiren encourages the couple to have faith in the power of their prayer to the Gohonzon. By chanting the lion’s roar of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, he assures them that their daughter will recover.

When a lion roars, even from miles away, it sends the fiercest beasts running. “In the same way,” Ikeda Sensei states, “when faced with chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no ailment can be an obstacle to one’s happiness or to kosen-rufu” (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, Part 2, p. 115).

While chanting powerfully to overcome our obstacles, we must also strive for the sake of kosen-rufu—to spread this wonderful life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. This requires awakening the Buddha nature in others and teaching them about Buddhist practice. The combination of both chanting and sharing Buddhism with others is the key to transforming our karma, or negative tendencies.

Sensei also says: “When we talk with others about Buddhism we are actually grappling with our own ignorance and earthly desires. That’s why it gives us the strength to surmount our own problems, enabling us to solidly transform our state of life and change our karma” (June 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 53).

For that reason, Nichiren states, “What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (“Reply to Kyo’o,” WND-1, 412).

When the Daishonin refers to “sickness,” he is not only addressing physical ailments, but also spiritual maladies. Rather than giving in to illnesses, whether physical or spiritual, we can challenge and overcome them. The key is to lead a life in which we use our hardships and problems to develop an ever-greater sense of fulfillment and inner richness.

As Sensei points out: “True health is found in a positive attitude toward life that refuses to be defeated by anything” (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, Part 2, p. 105).

A firm daily practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and taking action for the sake of our own and others’ happiness prepares us to be undaunted when devilish functions attack. It enables us to cultivate the heart of a lion king, an undefeated and unyielding spirit.

In Buddhism, victory is assured when we unite our hearts with the absolute conviction of the mentor. In explaining the act of chanting being like the roar of a lion—shishi ku in Japanese—Nichiren says:

The first shi of the word shishi, or “lion” [which means “teacher”], is the Wonderful Law that is passed on by the teacher. The second shi [which means “child”] is the Wonderful Law as it is received by the disciples. The “roar” [ku] is the sound of the teacher and the disciples chanting in unison. (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 111)

When we have the same conviction as our mentor and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to win over devilish functions, we can overcome anything without fear.

Sensei says: “Nothing surpasses the ‘lion’s roar’ of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. My young disciples, whose hearts are one with mine, please never allow yourselves to be defeated. Illnesses and problems exist so that we can overcome them, so that we can attain Buddhahood. They are trials so that we can resolutely surmount them and thereby encourage and help many others who are suffering” (A Foundation for Your Life, p. 143).

With the unrivaled power of mentor and disciple chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and uniting to bring forth the highest good, we can win over all adversity and completely transform the challenges in our lives, leading the way for the victory and happiness of all those around us.

“Nurturing the Heart of Peace”

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