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Fundamentals

‘The Courage of a Lion King’

The heart to fight without fear of any difficulty—exists within us all. Photo by Brauns / Getty Images

“Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone. The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs. Slanderers are like barking foxes, but Nichiren’s followers are like roaring lions.” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,vol. 1, p. 997)

Background

“The courage of a lion king”—the heart to fight without fear of any difficulty—exists within us all. That’s why Nichiren uses the phrase “summon up.” The lion is the so-called king of beasts, who can triumph over anything it faces. Just like the lion king, Nichiren overcame numerous persecutions and displayed unshakable courage. In this passage, he urges his disciples— who were facing severe persecution of their own—to do the same, writing, “The lion king fears no other beasts, nor do its cubs.”

When disciples unite in spirit with the mentor, they can bring forth the same life condition of Buddhahood as the mentor and overcome any suffering or difficulty. There is nothing to fear. Even when others oppose us or speak ill of us, they will be like mere “barking foxes”: not true obstacles but minor irritants on the path of kosen-rufu. Like lions, let us continue to roar by doing gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo vigorously and sharing Nichiren Buddhism with confidence.

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

Nichiren declares, “Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone” (WND-1, 997). He says we must “summon up” the heart of a lion king. We can’t bring forth something that doesn’t already exist. In other words, we all possess the heart of a lion king inside us. Faith based on the shared commitment of mentor and disciple is what enables us to summon up that inner strength. (A Foundation for Your Life, pp. 160–61)

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