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Ikeda Sensei

Sincerity Is the Key to Vibrant Growth (Shijo Kingo Part 3)

Shijo Kingo

Photo by Maskot / Getty Images

This essay is from a series of Ikeda Sensei’s encouragement for the members of the junior high and high school divisions. It was translated from the Dec. 1, 2019, issue of the Mirai [Future] Journal, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly newspaper for the junior high and high school divisions. Parts one and two can be found in the April 16, 2021, and May 14, 2021, issues of the World Tribune, respectively.

“Where there is unseen virtue, there will be visible reward” (“Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 907). Nichiren Daishonin repeatedly stressed this message to his disciple, Shijo Kingo, assuring him that unnoticed good deeds are certain to bring tangible reward.

You, my dear future division members, are accumulating unseen virtue, or merit, through your earnest daily efforts—in doing gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and in striving hard in your studies and other areas of your lives. That virtue will come to shine without fail as wonderful reward, or benefit, in the future.

I know that some of you have been challenging yourselves amid difficult circumstances in areas where typhoons and other natural disasters caused serious damage this year.

Many of our youth division members have been helping with recovery activities in stricken areas, some forming volunteer cleanup groups. Rushing to those in need and reaching out to offer support—such selfless efforts are a Soka tradition that shine with the “treasures of the heart” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 851).

In this installment, let’s learn about the most admirable behavior for human beings through studying some of the Daishonin’s writings to Shijo Kingo.

When Shijo Kingo attempted to convert his feudal lord, Ema, to the Daishonin’s teachings, he incurred great displeasure and was threatened with having his landholdings confiscated [which meant that he would lose his very livelihood].

A short time later, however, Ema fell ill and called on Shijo Kingo, who was a skilled physician, to treat him. Shijo Kingo reported this to the Daishonin, who responded with the letter titled “The Three Kinds of Treasure” (WND-1, 848–53).

In it, the Daishonin praises the faith of his disciple, who had accompanied him at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution,[1] ready to die alongside him. He urges Shijo Kingo that now is the time to win the trust of those around him and accumulate the “treasures of the heart” (WND-1, 851).

He closes his letter with the following words: “What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being” (WND-1, 852).

Bodhisattva Never Disparaging is a bodhisattva who appears in the Lotus Sutra. He walked around bowing to everyone he met out of deep respect for their innate Buddha nature, and saying to them: “I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you will all practice the bodhisattva way and will then be able to attain Buddhahood” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 308). These words, incidentally, are known as the “24-character Lotus Sutra.”[2]

But people living in those dark and confusing times could not believe that they possessed such a wonderful inherent nature. As a result, they hurled abuse at Bodhisattva Never Disparaging and attacked him with sticks and stones.

However, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging deftly evaded attempts to harm him, and, true to his name, refused to disparage or belittle others. With an unflinching spirit, he continued to show respect for everyone he met, the noblest behavior as a human being. Eventually, those who were hostile to him realized their mistake. Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s sincere, persevering efforts changed people’s hearts.

Through such committed efforts, not only did Bodhisattva Never Disparaging strengthen his own Buddha nature, but he opened the way to happiness for himself and others and to victory for all.

I have three precious treasures.

The first is the great teaching of the Mystic Law.

The second is the mentor-disciple relationship. By this, I am referring to my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, and my beloved disciples—especially, you, my dear friends of the future division.

And the third is sincerity.

As Mr. Toda’s disciple, I have continued to expand our network for peace around the world. I have done so through sincerity, that wonderful treasure of the heart, no matter what criticism I encountered.

Sincerity is not something special. It is a treasure of the heart that we all possess. It manifests itself in various ways in our everyday behavior—greeting people cheerfully, keeping promises, being honest, listening to others and so forth. This invisible treasure of the heart shines in our visible actions.

Sincerity is also a struggle against our own selfishness.

The key to victory in your youth is to set concrete personal goals, study hard and make steady efforts with the aim of contributing to the lofty objectives of world peace, the betterment of society and the happiness of all people. It’s important to keep pressing forward, without being defeated by any problem or hardship.

If you stay true to yourself and live with unfailing sincerity and integrity, you won’t be swayed by others’ opinions. Your sincere behavior and actions will enable you to open wide a future of happiness for both yourself and others.

Currently on view at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum (in Hachioji, Tokyo) is an exhibition titled “Through the Eyes of René Huyghe: The Splendor of French Paintings.”[3]

René Huyghe (1906–97) was a dear friend whom I will never forget. As an eminent French art historian, he made invaluable contributions to the early development of the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum over many years, and his friendship can only be described as the epitome of sincerity.

During World War II, he courageously risked his life to save many priceless art treasures of the Louvre from the occupying Nazi forces.

What motivated him to do this? He believed that art is sacred and that its depictions of the visible world lead people to a higher, invisible realm of the spirit. He saw this struggle as a battle against the barbarism of war and violence and for the goodness and elevation of humanity—a battle that must be won at all costs.

He remarked to me that human revolution was ultimately what he felt was needed most of all, adding that he would strive as a European volunteer to bring about the dawn of human revolution.

Human revolution means that when we undergo an inner transformation, we can illuminate those around us, the world and the future. Thinking people across the globe have high hopes for this philosophy that shines as brightly as the sun. And being sincere is the first step in achieving this inner transformation.

In the coming Year of Advancement and Capable People (2020), I hope you, my young friends of the future division—the inspiring capable people of the 21st century—will cherish big dreams and advance vibrantly toward them.

Take a courageous step forward!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!


  1. Tatsunokuchi Persecution and Sado Exile: On Sept. 12, 1271, the authorities arrested Nichiren Daishonin and took him to a place called Tatsunokuchi on the outskirts of Kamakura to execute him under cover of darkness. When the execution attempt failed, he was detained at the residence of the deputy constable of Sado, Homma Rokuro Saemon, in Echi (part of present-day Kanagawa Prefecture). The government deliberated his sentence for about a month before deciding to exile him to Sado Island, which was tantamount to a death sentence. However, when his predictions of internal strife and foreign invasion were fulfilled, the government issued a pardon in March 1274, and he returned to Kamakura. ↩︎
  2. The “24-character Lotus Sutra” is a passage comprising 24 Chinese characters in the Kumarajiva translation of the Lotus Sutra. ↩︎
  3. The exhibition ran from Oct. 5, 2019, through Jan. 19, 2020. ↩︎

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