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Gosho Study

‘On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land’

Key highlights from the Gosho

Young men at the Philadelphia Buddhist Center, March 2022. Photo by Jonathan Wilson.


Nichiren Daishonin wrote “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” on July 16, 1260. He submitted it to Hojo Tokiyori, the most influential government official of Japan at that time. Written in the form of a dialogue between a host (Nichiren) and a guest (thought to represent Tokiyori), Nichiren uses Buddhist scriptures to explain that people’s misguided beliefs are the fundamental reason for the many troubles and disasters causing widespread suffering.

“Establishing the correct teaching” means clarifying what the correct teachings are and helping people understand and practice them, while “peace of the land” means a world of peace, justice and prosperity. Only by spreading and solidifying in society the Lotus Sutra’s teaching that all people have unlimited potential and power, he says, can people’s sufferings be alleviated, and peace and security be realized.


“Rather than offering up ten thousand prayers for remedy, it would be better simply to outlaw this one evil.” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 15)


When Nichiren Daishonin wrote “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” people in Japan were suffering from a series of disasters, famines and epidemics. Nichiren had sought to understand the fundamental cause of these disasters by studying all the Buddhist sutras. In them, he found lots of support for his argument that a major cause of the disasters and suffering was the people’s rejection of the correct teaching, that is, the Lotus Sutra, which teaches that all people have the Buddha nature.

Instead, many people had taken faith in the Pure Land teachings of the priest Honen, who urged them to seek happiness after death in the so-called Pure Land, a mythical paradise far removed from this world. Honen also taught people to reject the Lotus Sutra and its teaching that people can transform the world in which they live. The Pure Land’s teaching that happiness comes only after death weakened people’s will to live in the here and now. As a result, the Japanese people had come to the point where they simply resigned themselves to their fate.

Nichiren did everything he could to lead the people to the correct teaching. He strove to awaken them to the many errors in Honen’s teaching, calling it “this one evil” and urging them to abandon it. Without casting out “this one evil,” he said, it would not be possible to bring peace to the land.

In essence, Honen’s teaching is “this one evil” because it closes people’s eyes to their own greatness, their own Buddha nature. Such a teaching stems from the “fundamental ignorance” that exists within the lives of all people.

In that sense, “this one evil” affects us too. It appears in our lives in various ways, such as when we belittle ourselves, think selfishly, or believe we can’t do something no matter how hard we try.

No matter the age we live in, establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land means everyone awakening to their unlimited potential and overcoming “this one evil” within. Our movement to give courage and hope to our friends by sharing the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism is based on this teaching.


“If you care anything about your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquillity throughout the four quarters of the land, should you not?” (WND-1, 24)


In an unhappy world, is it enough to seek happiness only for ourselves? Isn’t our individual happiness profoundly linked not only to those around us but also to the peace and prosperity of society?

In this passage, Nichiren cautions against ignoring the sufferings of others or the state of the world. Rather, he teaches that the purpose of Buddhism is to contribute to peace “throughout the four quarters of the land.” It is, in fact, through taking such actions that we create genuine happiness for ourselves.

In Buddhism, we overcome our sufferings by establishing an indestructible life state of happiness within ourselves. And we realize this inner transformation by interacting with the people around us and with those in society.

Therefore, to achieve “personal security,” we must pray for “tranquillity throughout the four quarters of the land.” With this prayer, when we reach out to, support, and encourage others, we also build unshakable happiness in ourselves.


“Therefore, you must quickly reform the tenets that you hold in your heart and embrace the one true vehicle, the single good doctrine [of the Lotus Sutra]. If you do so, then the threefold world will become the Buddha land, and how could a Buddha land ever decline?” (WND-1, 25)


Every revolution starts from the human revolution of a single individual. In Nichiren’s time Japan suffered one disaster after another. More and more people yearned for happiness somewhere far away from the real world. But we can’t find real happiness and security by running away from where we are now. The only solution is to find a philosophy that can help us become strong and secure in our hearts and minds.

Nichiren, therefore, urges us to quickly “reform the tenets,” or beliefs, we hold in our hearts that keep us from valuing ourselves or seeing the dignity and inherent potential that exist in all people. The Lotus Sutra teaches that everyone has a Buddha nature. To embrace the “single good doctrine [of the Lotus Sutra],” therefore, is to believe that we have the Buddha nature.

And with that belief, we take full responsibility for our lives, transforming our environment and making it the stage of our own happiness.

When we awaken to the Buddha nature in our lives, our immediate environment—“the threefold world”—shines as a Buddha land. By working to realize peace and security in our society, every one of us can lead a meaningful and happy life. Our prayers and actions toward this end create ripple effects that impact our friends and help us expand our network of happiness.

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