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The Invincible Life of the Lion King

Photo by Yvonne Ng

Nichiren Daishonin was born on Feb. 16, 1222, in a village on the eastern coast of Awa Province in present-day Chiba Prefecture. His family made a living as fishermen during the Kamakura Period.

This was when the nation was fraught with natural disasters and power clashes within the ruling warrior class, and religious leaders sought to serve the interests of the social elite. Harshness, uncertainty and hopelessness characterized Japanese society.

In this setting, Nichiren rigorously studied in Nara, Kyoto and other centers of Buddhist thought, seeking truth beyond the contradictions he found in the teachings of the established schools. He came to understand that all Buddhist sutras were preparatory teachings intended to lead people to the Lotus Sutra, the heart of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings.

In 1253, the Daishonin revealed Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the essence of the Lotus Sutra and the only teaching that can lead the people of the troubled age of the Latter Day of the Law to enlightenment. He made it his lifelong mission to spread this truth for the sake of humanity.

Nichiren made Kamakura, the seat of the military government, the center of his propagation efforts. There he gained followers and remonstrated with the most powerful religious and political figures in Japan. This sparked persecution, which took various forms including lethal attacks on the Daishonin’s followers, his own near-beheading during the Tatsunokuchi Persecution (1271) and banishment first to the Izu Peninsula (1261–63) and then to Sado Island (1271–74). Despite all attempts to suppress him, the Daishonin never wavered, remonstrating with the authorities and spreading his teachings to transform society and lead all people to happiness.

After being pardoned from his exile to Sado, Nichiren retired to Mount Minobu, where he devoted his final years to raising disciples and writing for the sake of posterity. At this time, the target of the authorities’ persecutions shifted to the Daishonin’s followers. When a group of recent converts refused to recant their beliefs when threatened, Nichiren believed that his successors had inherited his spirit, and the future of kosen-rufu was secured.

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

Study Nichiren’s Heart, Inherit His Legacy

Many resources are available to study Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings and inherit his spirit in the 21st century. Click here to access each material online.

Ikeda Sensei’s Newest Lectures in ‘Living Buddhism’
In his many lectures on Nichiren’s writings, Ikeda Sensei offers practical insight into how we can understand the essence of Nichiren’s guidance and apply it in our lives. His current series, “The Buddhism of the Sun—Illuminating the World,” covers a wide range of topics based on Nichiren’s works. Find the most recent installment in your monthly Living Buddhism.

‘A Foundation for Your Life’
One hundred passages from Nichiren’s writings made as a focus of study for young women. The commentary accompanying each passage highlights key points and practical guidance from Ikeda Sensei on how to apply it to one’s life.

‘The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,’ volumes 1 and 2; and ‘The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings’
Nichiren’s treatises, letters and other writings in volumes 1 and 2 of The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin and the transcription of his lectures on the Lotus Sutra in The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings are the blueprint of Nichiren Buddhism and foundation of study in the SGI.

‘The Teachings for Victory,’ volume 7
The final volume of Ikeda Sensei’s lecture series The Teachings for Victory will be available soon. This series contains lectures on key writings from Nichiren that teach how to achieve victory in the face of life’s challenges. Volumes 1–6 are available at SGI-USA bookstores.

Free Online Nichiren Library
The official Soka Gakkai-managed is a free resource that includes all of the English translations of Nichiren’s works, the Lotus Sutra in its entirety and the Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, equipped with a powerful search engine and easily navigable online interface.

‘A Religion of Human Revolution’
This recently published book is a subseries of essays from Ikeda Sensei’s “The Buddhism of the Sun—Illuminating the World” lecture series. Each installment focuses on a key theme about inner transformation based on Nichiren’s teachings.

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