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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Faith That Grows Stronger Is the Key to Eternal Victory

A young women’s division member reads Ikeda Sensei’s lecture, New York, September 2021. Photo by Ken Baxer.

Chapter 9

“The Supremacy of the Law” —Part 3 of 3

Nichiren Daishonin wrote “The Supremacy of the Law” to urge the recipient to strengthen her faith at a time when great confusion prevailed in society due to misguided beliefs and erroneous teachings. In this lecture, Sensei uncovers the “important essentials of faith[1] that Nichiren outlines in this writing.

The mentor-disciple relationship is the foundation of Nichiren Buddhism. When mentor and disciple are united in purpose, they can accomplish anything. In both our own human revolution and in the challenge to establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land, steadfastly adhering to the path of mentor and disciple is the direct path to absolute victory. …

One profoundly encouraging aspect of the path of mentor and disciple as taught in Buddhism is that the mentors themselves manifest and embody the essence of the Buddhist teachings in their own lives as ordinary human beings. By setting a personal example of the dignity and nobility inherent in human life, they inspire others and spur them to walk the same illustrious path. Following the lead of the mentors, these awakened disciples proceed in the same spirit to take action to make a difference in the world.

As long as we carry on the noble cause and struggles of our mentors in faith, Buddhism will continue to spread throughout the world and illuminate people’s hearts as a teaching for the enlightenment of all humankind.[2]

Repeatedly Strengthening Our Resolve Causes Our Benefit to Multiply

No matter whom you may marry, if he is an enemy of the Lotus Sutra, you must not follow him. Strengthen your resolve more than ever. Ice is made of water, but it is colder than water. Blue dye comes from indigo, but when something is repeatedly dyed in it, the color is better than that of the indigo plant. The Lotus Sutra remains the same, but if you repeatedly strengthen your resolve, your color will be better than that of others, and you will receive more blessings than they do. (“The Supremacy of the Law,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 615)

By continually reaffirming our commitment to faith, our lives in this transient existence become adorned with the everlasting and indestructible treasures of eternity, happiness, true self and purity. Constantly fortifying our faith becomes the key to establishing such a state of life.

Repeatedly strengthening one’s resolve, or faith, therefore, means persevering in one’s Buddhist practice. It means being undaunted by obstacles or, rather, using obstacles as an impetus to summon forth even stronger faith and to polish one’s life even more.

While all of us who practice Nichiren Buddhism embrace faith in the same Lotus Sutra (the Mystic Law) and the Gohonzon, it is the strength of our faith that determines the outcome. The stronger the faith we summon, the greater the benefits we will experience, and the more expansive and fulfilled the life state we will achieve. …

Both Nichiren and Shakyamuni exerted themselves with an ever-fresh and unflagging commitment, living with a fighting spirit to the very end. The same can be said of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, the first two Soka Gakkai presidents. And I now want to teach this essential spirit of faith to my disciples.

Life, in one sense, is a constant battle against deadlock. As long as we are alive, as long as we continue challenging ourselves, difficult obstacles will block our way forward. If life were all smooth sailing, if we never encountered setbacks, that itself would be a sign of stagnation. …

All of us at times feel stuck or at an impasse in our lives or undertakings. But it is precisely when we are deadlocked that our faith is put to the test; such a time represents a decisive moment to seize victory. The important thing is to always keep our minds focused on moving forward. The challenge of triumphing over obstacles will itself become the cause for substantially expanding our state of life. If we actively grapple with our problems, we can definitely change inside and transform our karma.

Any time we become stuck, then, is actually an opportunity to realize victory. And ever-stronger faith is what gives us the power to break through such deadlocks. This is true both in terms of our individual struggles and the larger struggles of society. …

Everything lies before us. Everything comes down to an inner struggle. It is one’s mind, one’s heart, that is important.[3]

Protecting the Law Means Steadfastly Proclaiming the Truth

The people of Japan, by becoming enemies of the Lotus Sutra, have brought ruin on themselves and their country. And because I proclaim this, I am called arrogant by those of little understanding. But I do not speak out of arrogance. It is simply that if I did not speak out I would not be the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Moreover, when my words prove later to be true, people will be able to believe all the more readily. And because I write this down now, the people of the future will recognize my wisdom. (WND-1, 615)

The Nirvana Sutra states, “Rely on the Law and not upon persons” (“Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man,” WND-1, 102). Nichiren Daishonin always waged his struggle based on the Law. Accordingly, he was very strict about distinguishing between correct and erroneous Buddhist teachings. When considering a particular teaching, he would ask: “Is this a correct teaching that seeks to actualize the Buddhist ideal of universal enlightenment? Or is it an erroneous teaching that distorts this fundamental principle and causes people suffering?” He clarified what was true and what was false, safeguarding the correct teaching and refuting erroneous teachings. This is the way in which Nichiren strove to protect the Law. …

He rejects the criticism that he is arrogant, clarifying his intent. … To broadly proclaim the Lotus Sutra’s greatness and take a firm stand against its enemies are the actions of a genuine votary. Those who lack this fighting spirit and are ruled by fear do not qualify as votaries.

Nichiren also rejects criticism from another perspective, explaining that he is motivated by the desire to chronicle the truth for the future. Leaving a written record of his predictions of internal strife and foreign invasion coming to pass would help people of future times to appreciate his immense foresight and wisdom.

He clarifies, however, that the fulfillment of his predictions is not an indication of his own ability but rather is proof of the accuracy of Buddhism’s correct teaching. …

[We] of the SGI, sharing bonds of mentor and disciple with the first three presidents, have inherited Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit. We have launched a movement of confident, awakened individuals dedicated to the cause of worldwide kosen-rufu, the Buddha’s wish and decree—a movement that is now an unstoppable force around the globe.

No matter what slander or criticism we might encounter, if we continue to speak out and leave a clear record of the truth, our victory will be assured. During the early years of the Soka Gakkai’s history, the number of defamatory articles in the print media about our organization increased in direct proportion to our phenomenal membership growth in Japan. …

Mr. Toda remained unperturbed by these events, remarking calmly: “They write sensational articles about us because they know it will boost their sales. … They can’t possibly surprise us with anything they write, because they haven’t the least clue what they’re writing about.” And he declared: “We of the Soka Gakkai have faith; we have the Gohonzon. Everything we have achieved is a result of the benefit of our faith in the Gohonzon. … Faith is at the heart of everything. Remaining steadfast in our Buddhist practice is what matters.”

With this invincible conviction, the Soka Gakkai has achieved victory after victory. Irrespective of the times or circumstances, we will win in the end as long as we never discard our faith.[4]

Truly Noble Are Those Who Uphold and Propagate the Law With Selfless Dedication

[The Annotations on the Nirvana Sutra states,] “One’s body is insignificant while the Law is supreme. One should give one’s life in order to propagate the Law.” Because my body is insignificant, I am struck and hated, but because the Law is supreme, it will spread without fail. If the Lotus Sutra spreads, my mortal remains will be respected, and if my remains are respected, they will benefit the people. (WND-1, 615)

The Law, the ultimate truth or reality, is eternal and indestructible. Accordingly, if there are individuals willing to give their all to spreading the Law, kosen-rufu can definitely be realized. On the other hand, if there is no one willing to spread the Law with such a selfless, ungrudging spirit, then kosen-rufu will end up an empty dream.

Who was it that strove all out for Buddhism? Nichiren and his followers. If the Mystic Law is great, then those who spread it are also great. The Daishonin says that if, through his selfless efforts, he succeeds in propagating the Law, then his life will be forever adorned with the immeasurable benefit that derives from that action. He also promises that the disciples who have supported him throughout will likewise enjoy everlasting good fortune and benefit. …

Naturally, selfless dedication to propagating the Law in Nichiren Buddhism in no way indicates a feudalistic self-annihilation or self-sacrifice for some greater public good. Buddhism’s purpose is to help all people attain genuine happiness and thereby transform the karma of humankind. On an individual level, by sharing the Mystic Law with others, we can change our own karma and fundamentally transform our state of life. Such efforts represent the surest and most direct path to realizing happiness for ourselves and others.[5]

Great Benefits Derive From Opening the Eyes of People Throughout the World

The benefits that come from opening the eyes of even one blind person are beyond description. How then is it possible to describe the benefits that derive from opening the blind eyes of all the Japanese people, and from giving the gift of sight to all human beings throughout Jambudvipa and the other three continents? (WND-1, 615)

Today, just as 700 years ago, humankind is in need of a fundamental guiding philosophy that can serve to awaken or “open the eyes” of the people. Such a philosophy is found in the Lotus Sutra’s teachings of universal enlightenment and respect for all people. This philosophy holds that when we rise above differences of ethnicity and culture and discard all barriers, we come to see that all people inherently possess the same noble Buddha nature and have been born in this world to fulfill their highest potential. Every person is worthy of supreme respect. And when each person brings his or her innate Buddhahood to shine to the fullest, the world will change. A great human revolution in the life of just one person can change the world’s destiny.[6]

‘In Matters of Buddhism, the Words of the Sutras are What Must Come First’

I may be a foolish man, but I am surely not inferior to a fox or a demon. The noblest people in the present age are in no way superior to Shakra or the boy Snow Mountains, yet because of my low social position, they have rejected my wise words. That is why the country is now on the brink of ruin. How lamentable! (WND-1, 616)

The malicious words of those who spoke ill of Nichiren only exposed their own ugly snobbery and prejudice.

In “The Supremacy of the Law,” Nichiren dismisses their jeers by citing the examples of Shakra who respectfully learned Buddhism from a fox, and the boy Snow Mountains who took a demon as his teacher to discover the Buddha way (see WND-1, 616). He rebukes his critics by saying that to devalue a teaching based on the teacher’s outward status is to reject the conduct of such admirable models of seeking spirit as Shakra and Snow Mountains. …

In Buddhism, the standard is always the superiority and depth of the teaching and not the social status of the person who teaches or spreads it. …

Social position, titles, academic degrees and the like are irrelevant in the realm of the Soka Gakkai. Truly respectworthy are those who have a seeking spirit in faith. Furthermore, it is vital that we treasure those who take action for kosen-rufu. These must forever remain our guiding principles.[7]

Citadels of the People Built Through the Bonds of Mentor and Disciple

If anything at all happens, please come over here. I will welcome you. Let us die of starvation together among the mountains. And I would imagine that your daughter, Oto, has become a fine, intelligent girl. I will write you again. (WND-1, 616)

Buddhism is not sentimentalism, self-pity or shallow sympathy. Nichiren spoke of “giving the gift of sight to all human beings throughout Jambudvipa and the other three continents” (WND-1, 615). As these words indicate, he dedicated his life to widely propagating the Mystic Law and expounding the correct teaching with the world as his stage, and he steadfastly refused to be defeated by the life-threatening persecutions that assailed him. He possessed the resolute strength to uphold the truth without wavering and the warmth to embrace all people.

The vigorous spirit to refute falsehood and the compassion to embrace others, in other words, are two sides of the same coin. Genuine humanism lies in having both qualities.

The Daishonin and Nichimyo shared a pure and solid bond of mentor and disciple. Nichiren had forged such spiritual bonds with many followers. No devilish power or authority could sever these bonds, which had survived countless hardships and persecutions. …

In closing, I present to you these words of indomitable conviction by Mr. Toda, which remain forever engraved in my heart: “The Soka Gakkai will transform this troubled world we live in. Let’s rouse our courage, unite and forge ahead on the great path of kosen-rufu!”[8]

The Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA youth leaders advanced study movement. While this material is for this youth leaders study program, all SGI-USA members can read the following excerpts as part of their personal study of The Teachings for Victory, volume 1, by Ikeda Sensei.


  1. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 1, p. 116. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 145. ↩︎
  3. Ibid., pp. 147–48. ↩︎
  4. Ibid., pp. 149–50. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., pp. 151–52. ↩︎
  6. Ibid., p. 152. ↩︎
  7. Ibid., p. 154. ↩︎
  8. Ibid., pp. 155–56. ↩︎

Living as Learning

Commentary on Volume 30, Part 2