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Gosho Study

Ties of Karma From the Distant Past

Photo by R A Kearton / Getty Images

“It must be ties of karma from the distant past that have destined you to become my disciple at a time like this. Shakyamuni and Many Treasures certainly realized this truth. The sutra’s statement, ‘Those persons who had heard the Law dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers,’ cannot be false in any way.” (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217)


Our connection to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the SGI is not a matter of this lifetime alone. Here Nichiren Daishonin reminds Sairen-bo that it is “ties of karma from the distant past” that brought the two of them together.

The passage he quotes, from the Lotus Sutra’s “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter, emphasizes the deep bonds between mentor and disciple. In that chapter, Shakyamuni tells his disciples that he and they had been born repeatedly together in various places and had practiced the bodhisattva way since the remote past. Hearing this, his disciples recall their original vow and awaken to their mission to save all people in the present and future.

Because we have deep bonds from the past, we can form the relationship of mentor and disciple in the present, and we can continue to work for the happiness of all people into the eternal future. Sairen-bo must have felt Nichiren’s deep concern for him, his hope that his disciple would awaken to his mission. And with deep appreciation, Sairen-bo must have made a new determination to fight together with Nichiren for the sake of the Law. Nothing is better than having a mentor who reminds us of our mission to fulfill “the great vow of kosen-rufu,” so we can lead a deeply fulfilling life.

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

Mentor and disciple share karmic ties that extend over past, present and future. When we strive with all our might for kosen-rufu, we can sense this profound connection.

It is the first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai who have revived in the present age an active and engaged mentor-disciple spirit—the essence of Nichiren Buddhism. It would be no exaggeration to say that were it not for the appearance of the Soka Gakkai, the spirit of mentor and disciple of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Buddhism would have all but disappeared.” (A Foundation for Your Life, pp. 216–17)

On the Perfectionist Bent

The Journey of Mentor and Disciple for Worldwide Kosen-rufu—Creating a Global Network for Peace