20 Life-Changing Buddhist Concepts

How to Amplify Our Power of Faith

Concept #8: The Four Powers

From time immemorial, people have prayed, appealing to nature and forces thought greater than themselves for safety, sustenance, happiness and more. Religion is said to have emerged from this innate impulse to pray.

As Nichiren Buddhists, we don’t pray for salvation from external forces. Rather, we pray to fuse the microcosm of our individual lives with the greater macrocosm of the universe. By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the fundamental Law that governs all life, we harmonize our lives with the universe.

While it’s natural to seek practical, external solutions to our problems, Nichiren Buddhism teaches that by tapping the “four powers of the Mystic Law,” we can bring about the best results in any situation, reaffirm the limitless power of our own lives and enjoy absolute fulfillment and happiness.

What Are the Four Powers?

The four powers, essential to realizing our prayers, are:

• The power of the Buddha: the Buddha’s compassion and wish for the happiness of all people. This is also the abundant wisdom, courage, compassion and more that exist within us.

• The power of the Law: the Mystic Law—the fundamental Law of the universe that is inherent in our lives and permeates all our surroundings—with its immeasurable capacity to lead all people to enlightenment.

• The power of faith: our conviction in the Gohonzon, the object of devotion that represents the power of the Buddha and the power of the Law.[1]For more on the Gohonzon, see Aug. 6, 2021, World Tribune, pp. 6–7.

• The power of practice: chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for ourselves and others, taking action to share this Buddhism and working for the progress and prosperity of all those around us.

Putting the powers of faith and practice into full gear activates the powers of the Buddha and the Law, resulting in astounding results and benefits. As with anything in life, we get out of our Buddhist practice what we put into it.

Sensei explains:

Just as there are physical laws such as those governing electricity … Buddhism delves into and uncovers the Law of life and the universe. Just as the electric light was invented based on the laws of electricity, Nichiren inscribed the Gohonzon based on the supreme Law that Buddhism reveals. [Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda] used to describe the Gohonzon this way: “This certainly doesn’t do it full justice, but the Gohonzon can be likened to a happiness-manufacturing machine.” The Gohonzon is the ultimate crystallization of human wisdom and the Buddha wisdom. That’s why the power of the Buddha and the Law emerge in exact accord with the power of your faith and practice. If the power of your faith and practice equal a force of 100, then they will bring forth the power of the Buddha and the Law to the degree of 100. And if it is a force of 10,000, then it will elicit that degree of corresponding power.[2]Discussions on Youth, new edition, p. 299.

Keep Chanting, No Matter What

Developing faith doesn’t happen overnight—we deepen it by challenging and transforming our tendencies to give in to defeat, anxiety or fear, and by working to realize our goals and dreams. As we overcome each hurdle, we improve our ability to use our faith and practice to better navigate life’s ups and downs.

Sensei writes:

The important thing is to continue chanting, no matter what. Whether our prayers are answered right away or not, we must keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, without harboring any doubts. Those who maintain such faith will eventually attain the supreme path and highest pinnacle of value and savor the conviction that everything unfolded in the very best and most meaningful way. … Such are the workings of the Mystic Law and the power of faith.[3]The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, p. 65.

Facing problems is natural. So is having doubts and uncertainties. The key is to not “harbor” or hold on to such things. By developing our powers of faith and practice, we will replace doubt with confidence, negativity with optimism.

As we study Nichiren Buddhism, we learn how to live based on the hope-filled perspective of Buddhism. And as we chant and take action for the happiness of those around us, we discover the joy of supporting others, deepening our conviction in our own humanity and power.

The life-changing concept of the four powers teaches that it’s all up to us. The greater the conviction with which we pray and act, the more strongly the Mystic Law and our surroundings respond. By aligning our heartfelt prayers with resolute actions, we can break through any deadlock and attain a state of life of complete freedom and happiness.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


To learn more about how to maximize your inner power, delve into the “What Is the Power of Prayer?” chapter in Discussions on Youth. Buy the hard copy ($9.95) and e-book ($7.99) at bookstore.sgi-usa.org.

Notes   [ + ]

1. For more on the Gohonzon, see Aug. 6, 2021, World Tribune, pp. 6–7.
2. Discussions on Youth, new edition, p. 299.
3. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, p. 65.