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Ikeda Sensei

The Causality for Victory in Life (Part 1)

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This essay was written by Ikeda Sensei as part of his series “The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin and the Mentor-Disciple Relationship.” It was originally published in the Jan. 8, 2009, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun, and in the May 15, 2009, World Tribune.

If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present. (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 279)

The SGI’s Year of Youth and Victory [2009] has got off to a bright start. In this installment, let’s once again study Nichiren Daishonin’s writings so that we can achieve resounding victory in our lives and in kosen-rufu.

In “The Opening of the Eyes,” Nichiren cites the following passage from the Contemplation on the Mind-Ground Sutra: “If you want to understand the causes that existed in the past, look at the results as they are manifested in the present. And if you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present” (WND-1, 279). This quote explains the law of cause and effect that operates throughout the three existences of past, present and future. Looking at our present circumstances, we can perceive the causes we have made in the past, as well as the effects or results that will materialize in our lives in the future.

This passage describes the workings of general causality. In “The Opening of the Eyes,” however, which was written during his exile on Sado Island, the Daishonin elucidates the more profound principle of the causality of the Mystic Law. In other words, we can definitely transform in this existence the karma we have created in past lifetimes. By striving for kosen-rufu and courageously taking on the three powerful enemies,[1] we can break free of the karma that we have accumulated from the past. He assures us that we can overcome any difficulty and create a future endowed with great blessings.

How wonderful it is to encounter Nichiren Buddhism in one’s youth. How fortunate it is to meet the Soka Gakkai, the organization acting in accord with the Buddha’s intent and decree, and practice together with fellow members who share the same mission. To live in accord with the causality of the Mystic Law leads to supreme good fortune and benefit in this lifetime.

A Wondrous Karmic Connection

Viewed in terms of the causality of the Mystic Law, as members of the SGI, each of us, through some wondrous karmic connection, has chosen to be born in this world in order to work for kosen-rufu. We are all valiant Bodhisattvas of the Earth who have been born to struggle and to win.

I first met my mentor, Josei Toda, on Aug. 14, 1947. I was 19 years old. It was a very dark time in Japan, immediately after World War II. I was an ordinary young man suffering from a chronic lung condition, and I’d been told that I wouldn’t live to see the age of 30. The sun began to rise in my life only when I met Mr. Toda, studied the Buddhism of human revolution and was entrusted with the mission of kosen-rufu. I pledged in my heart: “I’ll follow this teacher. For him, I would be willing even to give my life!”

Where does life come from? And where does it go? I had been asking myself. When I looked at society, I saw people struggling endlessly, caught in a vicious cycle of suffering. I myself was also fighting a life-and-death battle against the devil of illness. It was in the midst of this that I came across this passage from the Contemplation on the Mind-Ground Sutra and was profoundly moved. I understood then just how great this philosophy is.

Building a Strong Self

In February of the year that I turned 23 (1951), while I was working my hardest to rescue Mr. Toda’s businesses from the financial crisis they had fallen into, I wrote in my diary: “Bad causes bring bad effects, while good causes bring good effects. No one knows the reasons for my situation better than I do. In the end, no one else is to blame. It is no one’s responsibility but my own.”[2]

From the perspective of the clear and penetrating Buddhist law of cause and effect, there is no reason to lament or bemoan our karma; rather, we should resolutely challenge it head-on. Indeed, we should be determined to rewrite our destiny.

Mr. Toda was a person of incomparable courage. Being his disciple helped me overcome any feelings of sorrow or self-pity. In my heart burned a tremendous joy to be able to strive wholeheartedly for the sake of my mentor in kosen-rufu. With the powerful shared resolve of mentor and disciple serving as the “cause” of my efforts, I fought back against all obstacles in our path.

In Buddhism and in life, having a teacher or mentor can be a wonderful cause for growth. Through encountering a mentor in faith, responding to their call, struggling alongside them and engraving their courage and wisdom in our own lives, we can break through the shell of our small self. This is the driving force for victory, enabling us to build a strong and expansive future self.

A Philosophy of Hope

Faith in Nichiren Buddhism illuminates the path to happiness extending from the past to the present, and from the present to the future. To be bound by the causes of the past and lament their effects in the present makes for an unhappy life. While it is true in a certain respect that the present is the result of past causes, by elevating our life state in the present, our negative past causes are transformed into positive ones. There is no need for us to be prisoners of the past; in fact, we can even change the past.

The moment our mindset changes, we create a cause in the present that can definitely transform the effect manifested in the future. Nichiren Buddhism is the Buddhism of the Sun. It is a philosophy of hope that enables us to transform the present and realize a bright future. Those who embrace this philosophy need never feel despondent or hopeless. They need never give in to complaint. What matters is our inner resolve right now. That is the key to building a deep and solid path to an eternally triumphant life, to putting an end to the sufferings of the cycle of life and death and to creating the causes for victory and honor.

Prayer Is a Burning Inner Flame

The foundation for leading such a life is prayer. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the supreme principle for happiness. Nichiren speaks of “promptly chanting the Mystic Law (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo), uncreated and eternal, of the Buddha of time without beginning” (Gosho zenshu, p. 875).[3] The moment we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the life state of Buddhahood of time without beginning is activated. At that very instant, we have overcome any misfortune or unhappiness caused by past karma. The power of the Mystic Law to “change poison into medicine” is absolute. The purpose of faith is to transform our karma and enjoy a life of unparalleled happiness.

Prayer to the Gohonzon, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, is not abstract or theoretical. It is a burning inner flame to be victorious. If that flame of resolve blazes in our heart, the instant we chant, we have already won. It is, as the Daishonin declares, like “a lantern lighting up a place that has been dark for a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand years” (“The One Essential Phrase,” WND-1, 923). This is the practice of human revolution that is accessible to all.

Setting goals and moving forward with fresh determination—just as I’m sure all of you have done at the start of this new year—are the present causes that will bring splendid future results.

In April 1953, Mr. Toda asked me to take the lead in revitalizing Tokyo’s Bunkyo Chapter, which had been stagnating in terms of growth. At my first meeting with the chapter, we all sat down together and chanted. In the beginning, our voices wouldn’t harmonize, but as we continued to chant, everyone became more serious and our voices eventually merged into one. In this way, we were able to make a fresh, resounding start together. This change in attitude of the members led to a revolution in Bunkyo Chapter that astonished the other chapters throughout Japan.[4]

When we determine to give our all and to win in our goals and endeavors for kosen-rufu, that resolve becomes the cause for expanding our life state and bringing forth the power to achieve the impossible. It is because of such intense determination and drive that I, too, have won in every challenge I have taken on. I hope you will continue chanting through all, following to the letter Nichiren’s words “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” (“Happiness in This World,” WND-1, 681).

To be continued in an upcoming issue.


  1. Three powerful enemies: Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, described in a 20-line verse section of the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China summarizes them as arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages. ↩︎
  2. A Youthful Diary: One Man’s Journey from the Beginning of Faith to Worldwide Leadership for Peace, p. 86. ↩︎
  3. “Honnin-myo Sho” (On the Mystic Principle of the True Cause); not translated in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vols. 1 and 2. ↩︎
  4. In April 1953, Josei Toda dispatched the young Daisaku Ikeda to Bunkyo Chapter as acting chapter leader to spearhead propagation activities there. In a short time, the latter transformed Bunkyo from a chapter with one of the poorest propagation records to one of the best. ↩︎

The Causality for Victory in Life (Part 2)

Together, Let’s Scale a New Mountain of Kosen-rufu!