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Gosho Study

Our Heart Guarantees Our Victory

Photo by Carol Yepes/ Getty Images.

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

The Italian poet Petrarch wrote, “Deep within the soul lies what makes us happy or wretched.”[1] Nichiren Buddhism, too, teaches that it is not our environment that makes us happy or unhappy. Everything is determined by what is in our hearts.

Thus, Nichiren Daishonin expresses the essence of his teaching, stating, “It is the heart that is important.” 

He offered this guidance in 1279 to his disciple Shijo Kingo, a skilled physician and samurai who had been enduring a long, bitter struggle. Some years prior, on account of his faith in the Lotus Sutra, Shijo Kingo had fallen out of favor with his feudal lord and had his land confiscated, while facing slander and attacks by fellow samurai. Yet, through diligent Buddhist practice, Kingo regained his lord’s trust and was awarded an estate three times the size of his previous one. 

He also survived an attack by jealous samurai, escaping unharmed. After hearing this news, Nichiren wrote him this letter, assuring him that when our heart is focused on putting our mentor’s guidance into practice and strengthening our faith, our victory is assured. 

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department 

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. Subtle Changes in Our Heart Can Shift Our Lives 180 Degrees

When we do something, do we approach it with a negative attitude—grumbling, “Oh, not again! I hate this!”—or a positive attitude—telling ourselves brightly, “All right, here’s a fresh opportunity to gain good fortune!”? 

This seemingly small, subtle difference in attitude can make a huge difference in our lives. It can change things 180 degrees. This is what the Lotus Sutra and the doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life” teach us.

The heart is invisible, and Buddhism provides a comprehensive understanding of the principles governing that invisible heart. It represents the highest form of psychology, neuroscience and psychotherapy. 

Appreciation and joy multiply our good fortune. Complaint and negativity erase it. 

In the endeavor to spread Nichiren Buddhism, actions arising from our sincere wish to help others and teach them the greatness of the Mystic Law bring immense benefit and good fortune to fill our lives. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, p. 138)

2. Our Heart of Faith Is an Unsurpassed Treasure 

Heart can be interpreted as “faith.” A heart of true and genuine faith is an unsurpassed treasure; it contains within it all the treasures of the universe. … 

The Daishonin emphasizes one important point regarding our attitude in faith—that we approach our Buddhist prayer and all our efforts with the same spirit as the mentor. We can discern this message in the following passage: “No matter how earnestly Nichiren prays for you, if you lack faith, it will be like trying to set fire to wet tinder” (WND-1, 1000–01). … 

Heart can also be interpreted as “the spirit of sharing the same heart as the mentor.” The Daishonin writes: “Those with the heart of a lion king are sure to attain Buddhahood. Like Nichiren, for example” (“Letter from Sado,” WND-1, 302).

The heart of faith to actively propagate the Mystic Law, the heart of a disciple to actively support the mentor and the heart of a lion to actively speak out for truth and justice—these are the most powerful weapons and strategies we have for achieving peace and securing happiness throughout the three existences of past, present and future. (The Hope-Filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 142–43)

3. Faith Is an Accumulation of Our Thoughts and Actions

Apart from faith, there is no way to attain Buddhahood in this present life; there is no way to experience the “greatest of all joys” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 212). This is something we can savor only when we really exert ourselves for kosen-rufu—regardless of who may be watching. It is important that we constantly keep watch over our own faith.

It is said that a person experiences 8,004,000 thoughts in a single day (see “On the Attainment of Buddhahood by Women,” WND-2, 307). The mind is constantly in a state of flux; 8,004,000 a day is a phenomenal rate of change! During that time, how much are we thinking about kosen-rufu? About the Gohonzon? About the SGI or our fellow members? How much action did we take or not take?

 The net balance of these determines our state of life. Faith is not a matter of formality. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5, p. 239)


  1. Francesco Petrarca, Invectives, edited and translated by David Marsh (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003), p. 149. ↩︎

Becoming a Pillar of Kosen-Rufu

Winning Over Myself Every Day