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8 Lessons on Life From Nichiren to Shijo Kingo

Nichiren Daishonin’s close disciple Shijo Kingo, a skilled samurai and physician, engages in dialogue with fellow practitioners in 13th century Japan. Illustration by Brandon Hill.

Shijo Kingo was a skilled samurai and physician, and Nichiren Daishonin’s close disciple. Although a sincere practitioner, Kingo was known for his hot temper. But by following the guidance of his mentor, Nichiren, with dedication and discipline, he transformed his negative tendencies and overcame all adversity.

Ikeda Sensei writes: “Just as Shijo Kingo was encouraged to do by the Daishonin, each of us needs to become a wise person who wins the trust of others in our community and society. That is the practical means for making worldwide kosen-rufu a reality.

“The key lies with one person—with the individual.” (Sept. 2014 Living Buddhism, p. 32)

1) Win Over Our Weaknesses

“Your face bears definite signs of a hot temper. But you should know that the heavenly gods will not protect a short-tempered person, however important they may think he or she is.” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 849)

2) Become a Worthy Person

“Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds: prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure. They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who is unbending before the eight winds.” (“The Eight Winds,” WND-1, 794)

3) Our Behavior as a Human Being

“The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the “Never Disparaging” chapter. What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being.” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 852)

4) Polish Our Character

“For the time being stay calm, and observe how things develop. And do not go around lamenting to others how hard it is for you to live in this world. To do so is an act utterly unbecoming to a worthy man.” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 850)

5) Cultivate Treasures of the Heart

“Live so that all the people of Kamakura will say in your praise that Nakatsukasa Saburo Saemon-no-jo [Shijo Kingo] is diligent in the service of his lord, in the service of Buddhism, and in his concern for other people. More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. From the time you read this letter on, strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart!” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 851)

6) The Boundless Joy of the Law

“Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever.” (“Happiness in This World,” WND-1, 681)

7) Be Considerate

“Confucius thought nine times before saying one word. Tan, the Duke of Chou, would bind up his hair three times in the course of washing it and spit out his food three times in the course of a meal [in order not to keep callers waiting]. These were worthy men of ancient times, a model for the people of today. Therefore you should in future be even more careful of your conduct.” (“Nine Thoughts to One Word,” WND-2, 730)

8) Employ the Strategy of the Lotus Sutra

No matter how earnestly Nichiren prays for you, if you lack faith, it will be like trying to set fire to wet tinder. Spur yourself to muster the power of faith. Regard your survival as wondrous. Employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other. … The heart of strategy and swordsmanship derives from the Mystic Law. Have profound faith. A coward cannot have any of his prayers answered. (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1000–01)

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