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Ikeda Sensei’s Lectures

Our Powerful Resolve Reverberates Throughout the Universe

Ikeda Sensei’s Lecture Series [80]

Photo by Rob Hendry.

A renowned mountaineer
when asked his reasons for climbing,
said of the mountain:
“Because it is there!”[1]

In December 1981, I visited Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, which had endured storms of obstacles during the first priesthood issue. Greeting me were the beaming smiles of our members, who were full of joy after prevailing over the malicious attacks by hostile priests. Radiant above all were the young Bodhisattvas of the Earth who had fought and grown splendidly, unperturbed by the intrigues and scheming of the priesthood.

Solid Youth Ensure a Solid Future

I was absolutely delighted. 

When youth are solid, the future is solid. While in that trailblazing region of Kyushu, which pulses with the Soka spirit of mentor and disciple, I wished to offer guidelines to our valiant successors throughout Japan and around the world. With that in mind, I composed the poem “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the Twenty-First Century.”[2]

Four decades have passed since then.

Those who were youth at that time, upholding the Buddhism of the Sun, have scaled the magnificent mountain of worldwide kosen-rufu with me. Having entered the new century, they are boldly writing a brilliant history of victory for the people.

Never Let Your Faith Be Destroyed

Over the long course of our lives, there will be sunny days and stormy days. That is why I have called out to my beloved youth: “Don’t lose hope, no matter how painful the situation! Our practice of Nichiren Buddhism is a source of unlimited hope, so don’t let anything destroy your faith! That way, a bright future will open up before you without fail!”

This is also a point I stressed in my poem:

So long as your faith
remains unyielding,
convincing proof of victory
invariably awaits!
That proof will be made evident
to all in society.
For the Buddhism you uphold
embodies the principle that
he three thousand realms
of the phenomenal world
are encompassed in a single life-moment.

Both kosen-rufu and life are an unceasing struggle between the Buddha and devilish functions. By triumphing in each such battle, we climb the summit of eternal victory.

The key to victory lies within us. It requires taking a determined first step on the steep path before us. A great transformation in our inner resolve is the decisive factor.

Now, aiming toward our centennial (in 2030), we are engaged in a new ascent.

In this installment, let us study the significance of our resolve in faith—our determination in a single life-moment—the source of power for joyfully scaling even the steepest peaks while conquering each obstacle and creating value along the way.

All People Possess the Life State of Buddhahood

It is called the Mystic Law because it reveals the principle of the mutually inclusive relationship of a single moment of life and all phenomena. That is why this sutra [the Lotus Sutra] is the wisdom of all Buddhas.

Life at each moment encompasses the body and mind and the self and environment of all sentient beings in the Ten Worlds[3] as well as all insentient beings in the three thousand realms, including plants, sky, earth, and even the minutest particles of dust. Life at each moment permeates the entire realm of phenomena and is revealed in all phenomena. To be awakened to this principle is itself the mutually inclusive relationship of life at each moment and all phenomena. (“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 3)[4]

A Buddha is not a supernatural or distant being.

The Lotus Sutra reveals the truth that all living beings inherently possess the life state of Buddhahood, hence it is the “wisdom of all Buddhas” (WND-1, 3). Nichiren Daishonin called this truth the Mystic Law and taught that by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, all people, just as they are, can attain Buddhahood in this lifetime without fail.

Nichiren’s Daishonin’s writing “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime” outlines the teaching for all people of the Latter Day of the Law to achieve this supreme state of life and reveals the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which makes this possible.

Awakening to the fact that the wonderful life state of Buddhahood is inherent within us is “the direct path to enlightenment” (WND-1, 4). It is the foundation for the teaching of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime. Nichiren explains this from “the principle of the mutually inclusive relationship of a single moment of life and all phenomena.”

All living beings from the world of hell through to the world of Buddhahood, as well as the lands where they dwell, “including plants, sky, earth, and even the minutest particles of dust,” are encompassed within a single moment of life. In other words, we each possess all the elements of the entire universe within a single moment of our lives. At the same time, a single moment of our lives permeates the entire universe.

This is “the principle of the mutually inclusive relationship of a single moment of life and all phenomena,” the doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life”[5] implicit in the Lotus Sutra.

Chanting to Win Over Our Deluded Selves

Our mind, our life at each moment, is an ineffable thing, without color or form and transcending the categories of being and nonbeing, existence and nonexistence. The Buddhist sutras teach that “a single person in the course of a single day has eight million four thousand thoughts” (“On the Attainment of Buddhahood by Women,” WND-2, 307). Our momentary thoughts, or states of mind, arise and fade in constant succession, triggered by various causes and conditions.

The question is whether we elevate these constantly changing life moments and direct them toward good and happiness, or allow them to spiral in a cycle of suffering that leads to a life state of hell.

In this work, Nichiren writes, “The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras, the direct path to enlightenment, for it explains that the entity of our life, which manifests either good or evil at each moment, is in fact the entity of the Mystic Law” (WND-1, 4).

In reality, our ever-changing state of mind is itself an entity of the Mystic Law. And though we may be told that our life is an entity of the Mystic Law, it is “fundamental ignorance”[6] that prevents us from believing this. Such ignorance is the cause of all suffering, which only the “sharp sword” of faith can dispel (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, pp. 119–20).

Nichiren writes, “You must summon up deep faith that Myoho-renge-kyo [the Mystic Law] is your life itself” (WND-1, 3). The life state of Buddhahood reveals itself in a mind of deep faith in the Mystic Law.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo aligns our lives with the Mystic Law. Our prayer, therefore, is an intense struggle between our fundamentally enlightened nature—our Dharma nature[7]—and the fundamental ignorance within us. The Daishonin declares that the “direct path to enlightenment” is winning in that struggle and having absolute conviction that our lives embody the Mystic Law.

It is, in other words, a struggle to awaken to our true self that is originally one with the Mystic Law, of which we were unaware because our minds were clouded by fundamental ignorance. That is why it’s important for us to “regard both suffering and joy as facts of life” (“Happiness in This World,” WND-1, 681) and keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to win over our inner delusion.

We Embody the Mystic Law

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, explained the doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life” in an easily accessible way by relating it to daily life.

“Everything in our lives,” he said, “occurs as a result of the changes unfolding within us. That’s why it is important for us to strive to change for the better and ceaselessly create our own happiness. You therefore have to be true to yourself and take responsibility for your own life. Indeed, it’s vital to recognize that you have no choice but to do so.”[8]

“Being true to yourself and taking responsibility for your own life”—that is how to live at one with the eternal Mystic Law.

Mr. Toda expressed this very clearly, saying, “Decide that your life is none other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo itself!”

A Transformative Teaching for Creating Happiness

Even if faced with the same circumstances, our minds, our momentary thoughts and reactions will differ from one another, and those differences are directly reflected in our life state. As Nichiren Daishonin put it, “The three thousand worlds [or realms], every single one of them, exist [in one’s life]” (OTT, 22). This is the stern reality of life.

In a later passage in “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” he writes, “When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha” (WND-1, 4). Though a Buddha and an ordinary person may differ in terms of their respective enlightenment or delusion, there is no essential difference between them as human beings. Ultimately, the only difference is in their inner state of mind.

The same is true of the lands in which people dwell. The difference between so-called pure and impure lands, Nichiren says, “lies solely in the good or evil of our minds” (WND-1, 4).[9]

Our minds or thoughts are a battleground, determining whether we are happy or unhappy. That is why it is so important to remain constant and steadfast in our faith.

Nichiren Buddhism is a transformative teaching for creating our own solid happiness.

All Activities for Kosen-rufu ‘Implant Benefits and Roots of Goodness’

Nichiren Daishonin transformed adversity into joy, writing: “I feel immeasurable delight even though I am now an exile [on Sado Island]. Joy as well as sorrow moves us to tears” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 386). This exemplifies the towering life state of the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, who regarded difficulties as a springboard to enlightenment.

Demonstrating a similar lofty spirit in modern times, founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi wrote in prison that the hardships he was experiencing for his faith were small and inconsequential compared to those encountered by Nichiren.[10] Mr. Makiguchi died in prison for his beliefs with a serene state of mind, knowing that “Difficulties will arise, and these are to be looked on as ‘peaceful’ practices” (OTT, 115).

It was also while enduring harsh conditions in prison to defend the correct teaching that Mr. Toda awakened to his identity as a Bodhisattva of the Earth.

Today’s magnificent movement of worldwide kosen-rufu began with this struggle of mentor and disciple directly connected to the Daishonin, selflessly dedicating their lives to propagating the Mystic Law.

Following in their footsteps, we have stood up with firm resolve and continued to ascend the mountains of kosen-rufu and life, each of us aiming toward our own highest summit and helping others do the same. This is the result of our deep karmic bonds and a source of boundless good fortune.

In light of Nichiren’s teachings, it is undeniably true that “all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life” (WND-1, 4). Also, having that firm conviction in faith will imbue our lives with great good fortune.

The Daishonin writes: “There is no place among the worlds of the ten directions that the sound of our voices chanting daimoku [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] cannot reach. Our voices may be small, but when we intone the powerful sound of daimoku, there is no place in the universe that they do not penetrate” (Gosho zenshu, new edition, p. 1121).[11] He assures us that all Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions will be our allies. That is why none are a match for those who steadfastly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Nam Means ‘To Dedicate One’s Life’

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings (Ongi kuden) says: Namu or nam is a Sanskrit word.[12] Here it means to dedicate one’s life, that is, to the Person and to the Law. In terms of the Person, one dedicates one’s life to Shakyamuni Buddha; in terms of the Law, one dedicates one’s life to the Lotus Sutra. “Dedication” means dedication to the principle of eternal and unchanging truth of the theoretical teaching, and “life” means that one’s life dedicated to that principle bases itself on the wisdom of the truth of the essential teaching that functions in accordance with changing circumstances. In essence, one dedicates one’s life to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

A commentary [by Dengyo] says, “That which accords with changing circumstances, that which is unchanging, these are tranquil and shining in a single moment of life.” (OTT, 3)[13]

This passage from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings clarifies the principle of “dedicating one’s life,” by which we transform our mind or inner determination and shine as entities of the Mystic Law.

Nichiren Daishonin starts by explaining that the Sanskrit word namas—from which the Japanese phonetic rendering of namu or nam derives—was translated into Chinese using the characters for “devotion” or “to dedicate one’s life,” meaning to follow as one’s fundamental guide and foundation—that is, to believe with one’s whole heart and being.

He goes on to say that we dedicate our lives to the Person and the Law. For us, as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, this means dedicating our lives to Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, and to the Gohonzon of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Next, the Daishonin discusses the two Chinese characters that comprise the Japanese word for “dedicate one’s life” (kimyo), clarifying the practice of our faith.

Aligning Our Lives With the Mystic Law

He begins: “‘Dedication’ [ki of kimyo] means dedication to the principle of eternal and unchanging truth of the theoretical teaching [the first half of the Lotus Sutra]” (OTT, 3). “Dedication to the principle of eternal and unchanging truth” means accepting and committing to the ultimate truth—that is, merging our lives with Myoho-renge-kyo, the fundamental law underlying all life and the universe.

The most basic way we do this is through having faith in the Gohonzon and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is how we “dedicate” our lives to the Mystic Law. In addition, all of our efforts for kosen-rufu based on our vow and seeking spirit constitute the Buddhist practice of dedicating our lives to the Mystic Law.

Next, Nichiren writes: “‘Life’ [myo of kimyo] means that one’s life dedicated to that principle bases itself on the wisdom of the truth of the essential teaching [the second half of the Lotus Sutra] that functions in accordance with changing circumstances” (OTT, 3). This “wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances” is the Buddha wisdom that emerges in response to constantly changing reality. It is a function of the life state of Buddhahood. “[Our life basing] itself on the wisdom of the truth … that functions in accordance with changing circumstances” means to embody the way of life of a Bodhisattva of the Earth that is aligned with the Mystic Law. By doing so, we can bring forth limitless life force and Buddha wisdom, carry out our human revolution and change our lives for the better. We can overcome every challenge and obstacle and transform all our present pain and suffering into hope and victory.

Such value-creating actions and behavior characterize a life based on the “wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances,” enabling us to live with true joy and fulfillment.

The Organization That Accords With the Buddha’s Intent

As we have seen, the abovementioned passage from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings explains that “dedicating one’s life” (kimyo) consists of “dedicating” and “basing” one’s life. Dedicating one’s life to the Law means basing one’s life on the Law. This entails manifesting the eternal life state of Buddhahood and bringing forth limitless power by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The life state that is one with the eternal Law is indestructible; it is free and untrammeled, no matter what happens.

“In essence, one dedicates one’s life to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (OTT, 3). The profound significance of the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is that it causes the world of Buddhahood to emerge and flow vibrantly in the lives of ordinary people.

The Daishonin also quotes a commentary by the Great Teacher Dengyo that states: “That which accords with changing circumstances, that which is unchanging, these are tranquil and shining in a single moment of life” (OTT, 3). “Tranquil” means that all phenomena are encompassed in a single moment of life, while “shining” means that a single moment of life illuminates all phenomena. “That which accords with changing circumstances” and “that which is unchanging” are the “tranquility” and “shining” of a single moment of life, both of which are functions inherent in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

When we persevere in our faith, practice and study and dedicate our lives to the vow for kosen-rufu together with the Soka Gakkai—the organization that accords with the Buddha’s intent—we will display our unique, rich potential to the fullest and everything about us will shine. We will be able to freely exercise our inherent abilities and fulfill our mission.

A Constant Wish to Help Others Attain Enlightenment

“The Life Span of the Thus Come One,” the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, closes with the lines: “At all times I think to myself: / How can I cause living beings / to gain entry into the unsurpassed way / and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?”[14] (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 273). The Buddha is constantly thinking about how to enable living beings to enter the unsurpassed way and attain enlightenment.

The Daishonin writes: “‘This thought’ of  ‘at all times I have this thought in mind’[15] is one instant of thought or a single moment of life comprising three thousand realms that is originally inherent in Buddhas and all living beings” (“On the Eighteen Perfections,” WND-2, 909).

All Buddhas and all living beings share the innate wish for themselves and all others to lead happy lives. It is the thought that pulses in the innermost depths of life. Dedicating one’s life to the Mystic Law means awakening to this thought and committing one’s life to it.

Being one with the Mystic Law is a way of life filled with the Buddha’s compassionate wish to enable all people to attain happiness.

Bringing Forth Limitless Power and Potential

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings states: “If in a single moment of life we exhaust the pains and trials of millions of kalpas [in our practice for ourselves and others], then instant after instant there will arise in us the three Buddha bodies[16] with which we are eternally endowed” (OTT, 214). Engraving this passage in my heart, I fought my hardest and won in every struggle as Mr. Toda’s faithful disciple from the time of my youth.

“In a single moment of life exhausting the pains and trials of millions of kalpas” means dedicating one’s life, moment after moment, to realizing the Buddha’s wish. To exert oneself with such earnest resolve is to “dedicate one’s life” to the Mystic Law.

When we “base our lives” on the Mystic Law, we can bring forth our Buddha wisdom and embody the behavior of the Buddha in our actions. We can manifest in our lives “the three Buddha bodies with which we are eternally endowed.” That is the teaching of Nichiren Buddhism.

The Quest of the Human Spirit

Next year (2022) will mark the 50th anniversary of the start of my dialogue with the eminent British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975).

The key to resolving the many global problems we face—such as war, poverty, discrimination and environmental destruction—is for each of us to overcome our self-centeredness and egotism. That was the conclusion of that great scholar, who devoted his life to examining the history of human civilization.

In our dialogue, we discussed the importance of conquering egotism and the need in today’s world for a religion that enables people to merge with the “ultimate spiritual reality” of the universe. And we agreed that the true role of religion is to help us control our selfish desires and expand our focus from our petty, lesser self to a great, all-embracing self.

Professor Toynbee expressed sympathy with the fundamental viewpoint of Buddhism as a “universal system of laws of life” suited to representing the “ultimate spiritual reality.”[17]

The Mystic Law is the fundamental principle underlying the universe and life—precisely what Professor Toynbee referred to as the “ultimate spiritual reality.”

By dedicating our lives to the Mystic Law, we break through the shell of the lesser self ruled by desire and oppressed by suffering. Taking the sufferings of others as our own, we return to the greater self that wishes for the happiness of self and others alike. This fundamental idea, the philosophy of human revolution, is urgently needed in our world today.

‘Make Yourself an Eternal Victor!’

In my poem “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the Twenty-First Century,” I wrote:

Faith means to fear nothing,
to make yourself an eternal victor!
It is found in actions that give rise
to individuals of outstanding humanity
who connect people, society and the
Buddhist Law.

“To make yourself an eternal victor” is to build a strong, invincible, resilient self that is one with the eternal law, the Mystic Law.

We bring together “people, society and the Buddhist Law” by freely exercising the “wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances” in accord with “the principle of eternal and unchanging truth,” showing brilliant actual proof in society.

“Individuals of outstanding humanity” are those who fulfill the “compassionate vow of the Buddha [whose constant thought is the enlightenment of all people]” (“Questions and Answers about Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 62), determined to realize happiness for themselves and all others.

Striving with the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple gives youth the wings to soar toward limitless dynamic development.

You and I are always connected as we chant the lion’s roar of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with our vow for kosen-rufu.

One Step After Another to a New Summit of Kosen-rufu

Upholding the banner of the truth of the Mystic Law and aiming toward the eternal future of the Latter Day, let us set our sights on a new summit of kosen-rufu, peace and the happiness of all humanity. I call on you to make that ascent step by step, with ever more strength and good cheer, along with our members around the world and with me!

Let us make the victory song of our firm resolve and the joyous ode to life of Soka resound throughout the universe!

Translated from the December 2021 Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.


  1. Lines from “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the Twenty-First Century.” ↩︎
  2. “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the Twenty-First Century” is a poem that Ikeda Sensei presented to the youth at an Oita Prefecture youth division leaders meeting in Kyushu, on December 10, 1981. That year marked the 30th anniversary of Josei Toda’s “Guidelines for Youth,” prompting Sensei to compose this poem to impart new guidelines for the youth in Japan and around the world toward the 21st century. He later revised the poem. This updated version was published in the Seikyo Shimbun in March 1999. ↩︎
  3. Ten Worlds: A classification of ten distinct states of life that forms the foundation for the Buddhist view of life. They are the realms of hell, hungry spirits, animals, asuras, human beings, heavenly beings, voice-hearers, cause-awakened ones, bodhisattvas and Buddhas. ↩︎
  4. Written in 1255, “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime” teaches that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the direct path to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime. ↩︎
  5. Three thousand realms in a single moment of life (Jpn ichinen-sanzen): A philosophical system established by the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai of China based on the Lotus Sutra. At each moment, life manifests one of the Ten Worlds—from hell to Buddhahood. Each of these worlds possesses the potential for all ten within itself, thus making one hundred possible worlds. Each of these hundred worlds possesses the ten factors and operates within each of the three realms of existence, thus making three thousand realms. In other words, all phenomena are contained within a single moment of life. ↩︎
  6. Fundamental ignorance: Also, fundamental darkness. The most deeply rooted illusion inherent in life, said to give rise to all other illusions. The inability to see or recognize the ultimate truth of the Mystic Law; also, the negative impulses that arise from such ignorance. ↩︎
  7. Dharma nature: Also, the fundamental nature of enlightenment. The unchanging nature inherent in all things and phenomena. It is identified with the fundamental Law itself, the essence of the Buddha’s enlightenment, or ultimate truth and the Buddha nature inherent in life. ↩︎
  8. See Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (The Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 1 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1981), p. 184. ↩︎
  9. A pure land is a land where a Buddha dwells, a Buddha land. The term is contrasted with impure land, meaning the saha world, this world that is tainted with suffering and desire. The essential teaching (the latter 14 chapters) of the Lotus Sutra expounds the principle that the saha world is itself the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light where the Buddha resides. ↩︎
  10. See Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 10 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), p. 278. ↩︎
  11. “Oko kikigaki” (The Recorded Lectures); not included in WND, vols. 1 or 2. ↩︎
  12. Namu or its phonetic change nam derives from the Sanskrit namas. ↩︎
  13. The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings: A collection of Nichiren Daishonin’s oral teachings on the Lotus Sutra delivered while he lived on Mount Minobu. They were recorded and compiled in two volumes by his disciple and successor, Nikko Shonin. ↩︎
  14. In gongyo, the passage reads: “Mai ji sa ze nen. I ga ryo shujo. Toku nyu mu-jodo. Soku joju busshin.↩︎
  15. The translation of the last passage of the “Life Span” chapter is changed here to express the meaning of the Daishonin’s teaching on it. The original translation reads, “At all times I think to myself.” ↩︎
  16. The three bodies of the Buddha refer to the Dharma body, the reward body and the manifested body. The Dharma body is the fundamental truth, or Law, to which a Buddha is enlightened. The reward body is the wisdom to perceive the Law. And the manifested body is the compassionate actions the Buddha carries out to lead people to happiness. ↩︎
  17. See Arnold Toynbee and Daisaku Ikeda, Choose Life: A Dialogue, edited by Richard L. Gage (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007), p. 301. ↩︎

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