Skip to main content

Gosho Study

As a single parent, I worry if my child is missing out on something. What can I do?

Answer: One of the best things we can offer our children is our example of living a strong, victorious life, basing everything on our ever-deepening faith.

Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

This study series focuses on Nichiren Daishonin’s disciples, who faced challenges that we can still relate to today and his enduring encouragement that we can apply to transform our lives dynamically.

Single parents face unique stresses at home, at work, with finances, with time, on the emotional front and more—all while flying solo. In juggling so many things, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. 

Yet that doesn’t mean your children will be at a disadvantage. Our behavior, our character and how we lead our life impact everyone around us, especially our children. So, to raise strong, happy children, we need to be strong and happy ourselves. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and supporting others help us become people who can change any disadvantage into an advantage and remain undefeated by life’s challenges.

Nichiren Daishonin’s disciple Nichimyo was a single mother who faced incredible hardships. Yet because of her strong faith, Nichiren described her as “a woman who surpasses others” (“Supremacy of the Law,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 614). Let’s learn more from her example. 

Nichimyo’s Seeking Spirit and Dedicated Efforts in Faith

Life in 13th-century Japan must have been challenging for Nichimyo. Epidemics and famine beset the country, and the threat of a Mongol invasion loomed. Nichimyo was no longer with her husband and raising their daughter, Oto, on her own.

Yet rather than feel sorry for herself, Nichimyo applied herself to her Buddhist practice and sought out her mentor, Nichiren. 

With her infant daughter, she traveled alone from Kamakura to Sado Island to visit him in exile, making the dangerous 270-mile journey across rugged mountains and choppy seas. This was at a time when the government’s intense persecution of Nichiren caused many of her fellow disciples to abandon their faith. Later she also traveled from Kamakura to Mount Minobu, where he resided after being pardoned. 

Witnessing her outstanding devotion and sincerity over the years, Nichiren at once praises, encourages and assures her, stating:

I know your faith has always been admirable, but now you must strengthen it more than ever. Only then will the ten demon daughters[1] lend you even greater protection. You need not seek far for an example. Everyone in Japan, from the sovereign on down to the common people, without exception has tried to do me harm, but I have survived until this day. You should realize that this is because, although I am alone, I have firm faith. (“The Supremacy of the Law,” WND-1, 614)

While extolling her dedicated Buddhist practice, he urges her to continually deepen her faith and develop her life. A weak, passive attitude in faith will not move the protective forces of the universe. Only with resolute determination, prayer and action can we bravely face and overcome adversity. 

Nichiren affirms that he has survived because of his self-reliant faith, driven by his deep wish for the happiness of all people. He may have encouraged her this way not only for herself but so that she would be a strong mother for Oto.

‘Firm Faith’ Is the Key to Overcoming All Obstacles 

Just like Nichiren, our deep sense of mission for spreading Buddhism—kosen-rufu—will transform our life state. Because as we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and awaken to our vow for kosen-rufu, we connect with our innate Buddhahood.

Nichiren’s aim to lead all people to happiness and his stand-alone spirit enabled him to find the strength and power to overcome all his challenges. The more we seek to learn from his example, as Nichimyo surely did, the more we can tap into our infinite potential. 

Ikeda Sensei explains:

The stand-alone spirit … means for each of us to take full responsibility for the spread of the Mystic Law in our family, in our community and in every part of our environment.

We all have relationships with family members, relatives and friends that are particular to each of us. From the perspective of the Mystic Law, those relationships are the realm of our mission, and they are profound bonds that connect our lives with others. Each of us is alone responsible and qualified to propagate the Mystic Law exactly where we are. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, p. 151)

As a single parent, your self-reliant faith will give you the courage and fortitude to win in life and provide your children with the fundamentals they need to succeed.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


  1. Ten demon daughters: Ten female protective deities who appear in the Lotus Sutra. In the sutra’s 26th chapter, “Dharani,” they vow to guard and protect the sutra’s practitioners. ↩︎

Global Citizenship Through Art

Q: Recently retired on a fixed income, I’m more cautious with finances than I once was. How can I partake in SGI-USA contributions with a youthful, lionlike spirit in this new chapter of my life?