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Gosho Study

The Trials of Winter Bring Forth Flowers of Victory

Photo by Ekspansio/GettyImages.

Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turns to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back to autumn. Nor have we ever heard of a believer in the Lotus Sutra who turned into an ordinary [unenlightened] person. The sutra reads, “If there are those who hear the Law, then not a one will fail to attain Buddhahood” [see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 75]. (“Winter Always Turns to Spring,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 536)

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

Winter can function to awaken inherent power and latent potential—this principle applies to both life and Buddhist practice. All living beings possess the seed of Buddhahood, otherwise known as the Buddha nature. This seed contains potential as vast and boundless as the universe itself. It is awakened from dormancy and brought to fruition by faith in the Lotus Sutra, which enables us to surmount the trials of winter. In other words, it is achieved through our struggles against the obstacles that arise in the course of our Buddhist practice. … We can bring brilliant flowers of victory to bloom in our lives when we weather the hardships of winter and emerge triumphant based on our practice of the Mystic Law.

If, however, in the midst of life’s winters, we refrain from the struggle of progressing in faith, if we doubt the power of faith and slacken in our Buddhist practice, we will end up with incomplete results at best. Even for cherry trees, it is said, if the period of winter chill required for breaking dormancy is insufficient, the flowering of the buds will be delayed and the blossoms will be irregular. The key to victory in our lives lies in how hard we struggle when we are in winter, how wisely we use that time, and how meaningfully we live each day confident that spring will definitely come.

Faith in the Lotus Sutra means bravely making our way through the winters of adversity. By taking on the arduous task of changing our karma, we are able to greet the spring and build happiness and good fortune in our lives. Therefore, we must not avoid the trials of winter. If we have the courage to face winter’s challenges, then we can advance boundlessly toward the wonderful springtime of attaining Buddhahood and achieving kosen-rufu. …

Our continuous effort to transform winter into spring is the fundamental path for achieving unsurpassed fulfillment and growth in our lives. By advancing with all our might on this path, we can open the way to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime and enjoy a glorious, springlike state of being that will shine with immeasurable good fortune and benefit across the three existences of past, present and future. (The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 106–08)

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