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Gosho Study

Strong Prayer Decides Victory

Photo by Anthony Wallen.

Though one might point at the earth and miss it, though one might bind up the sky, though the tides might cease to ebb and flow and the sun rise in the west, it could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered.

“On Prayer,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 345

We sometimes encounter situations that seem impossible to resolve, that seem beyond the power of our prayers to address. They may involve our family, career, health, finances and so on. Nichiren Daishonin assures us, however, that, as practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, our prayers are sure to be answered. 

The passage above is from a letter titled “On Prayer,” written in 1272 and thought to have been addressed to his disciple Sairen-bo. 

Here, Nichiren teaches that when things go awry or even if unlikely phenomena, like aiming to hit the ground and missing it, were to occur, we can still be confident that we will realize our prayers. This is because prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is infused with a vow to win in our lives without fail and to lead all people to happiness by sharing Buddhism. Based on the law of cause and effect, the moment we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with this vow, it creates a cause for our victory and awakens the protective functions in the universe to aid and protect us. 

Nichiren also suggests in this letter that prayers offered by those who misinterpret the Buddhist teachings and teach reliance on an outside being or power will be ineffective, and even self-defeating.

In Ikeda Sensei’s guidance on this passage and writing, he confirms key aspects of how to carry out powerful and effective prayer based on Nichiren’s teaching.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. First, Decide to Win Without Fail!

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda taught me: “First, decide: ‘This is what I’m going to do.’ ‘I’m going to win without fail!’ Whether you are so resolved will determine victory or defeat. This is the philosophy of winning.” 

Set a clear goal, vow to win no matter what and then pray powerfully. 

Nichiren says, “It could never come about that the prayers of the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra would go unanswered.” Whatever the situation, determined prayer will always set the protective forces into motion. Continue to pray, and continue to fight and in the end you will definitely win! (May 3, 2019, World Tribune, p. 10)

2. Transcending Our Attachments Through Prayer 

Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is free of all arrogance and conceit. The very act of sitting before the Gohonzon and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo pulses with the humble spirit to transcend attachment to one’s own shallow wisdom and limited experience to become one with the Law of life and the fundamental rhythm of nature and the universe, which were revealed through the Buddha’s enlightened wisdom. Without being self-abasing, we concentrate all our actions into a single life moment—into our determined prayer—while recharging our lives to prepare for boundless, vibrant growth. That is the healthiest and most fulfilling state of life. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, p. 120)

3. Strong Faith Is Essential

As the Daishonin citesin a passage that first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi treasured: “The stronger one’s faith, the greater the protection of the gods” (“The Supremacy of the Law,” WND-1, 614).

In another of his writings, Nichiren asserts: “The fact that her [Nichigen-nyo’s] prayers have gone unanswered is like a strong bow with a weak bowstring, or a fine sword in the hands of a coward. It is in no sense the fault of the Lotus Sutra” (“The Royal Palace,” WND-1, 489). He consistently stresses that strong faith is the essential factor in having our prayers answered. (November 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 53)

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