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Gosho Study

‘It Is the Heart That Is Important’

Photo by Joey Liao.

“It is the heart that is important. No matter how earnestly Nichiren prays for you, if you lack faith, it will be like trying to set fire to wet tinder. Spur yourself to muster the power of faith.” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 1000–01)


One’s heart determines everything—this can be said to be the conclusion of Nichiren Buddhism. … When we can defeat the negative thoughts that try to hold us back and come to truly believe “I am a Buddha!” then we can raise our life condition and transform our environment.

But, of course, the human heart is fickle. It changes from one moment to the next. That’s why we do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo twice a day. … It’s also important to pray to unite our hearts with the heart of the mentor, who believes that we can absolutely overcome all our problems and have all our prayers answered. …

As the Daishonin writes in this passage, “No matter how earnestly Nichiren prays for you, if you lack faith, it will be like trying to set fire to wet tinder.” In other words, it is up to each of us to take full responsibility for our lives in our prayers and actions.

Moreover, sharing the mentor’s determination to bring happiness to others and praying toward that end is the path to a life of happiness and victory. Therefore, Nichiren calls out: “Spur yourself to muster the power of faith.” Let’s decide that to fight and win based on faith is the only way to live. When we do, we will help open a new era of hope and respect in the world.

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

As the Daishonin says, “It is the heart that is important” (WND-1, 1000). Someone who just goes through the motions of praying to the Gohonzon will eventually succumb to inertia or doubt; someone who merely complains or tries to avoid difficulties will not receive true benefit. The Daishonin says, “Whether or not your prayer is answered will depend on your faith; [if it is not] I will in no way be to blame” (“Reply to the Lay Nun Nichigon, WND-1, 1079). …

When we practice with … an overflowing sense of joy and conviction, we receive boundless benefit. If, however, we believe there may be a more wonderful place in some other world, or that there may be some method superior to that of faith in the Mystic Law, it will greatly undermine our ability to manifest the world of Buddhahood. (A Foundation for Your Life, pp. 168–69)

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On the Cover—Washington, D.C.