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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

The Ultimate Key to Victory in Life Is Accumulating the Treasures of the Heart

Enjoying the Ikeda Wisdom Academy study material, Bronx, New York, January 2022. Photo by Pamela Hicks.

Chapter 12

“The Three Kinds of Treasure”—Part 3 of 3

In the closing section of “The Three Kinds of Treasure,” Nichiren Daishonin emphasizes that vital to winning in life is accumulating treasures of the heart, which we can gain by respecting others and striving in our Buddhist faith and practice.

The heart is our unsurpassed treasure in life. It is endowed with tremendous potential and supreme nobility. Its depth and breadth can be expanded infinitely, and its strength can be developed without bounds. The French author Victor Hugo wrote, “There is a spectacle greater than the sea, and that is the sky; there is a spectacle greater than the sky, and that is the human soul.”

How can we expand the inner realm of our lives, develop inner strength and accumulate treasures of the heart so that we can lead better lives? The answer is found in practicing the Mystic Law. …

In “The Three Kinds of Treasure,” Nichiren praises his disciple’s faith, explaining that [Shijo] Kingo could take the first step toward victory based on the principle of “manifesting the Buddha nature from within and bringing forth protection from without” (see “The Three Kinds of Treasure,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 848). …

To achieve unshakable victory, we need to challenge ourselves in earnest to change our karma. This is also the practice of human revolution, in which we strive to break through our inner darkness or ignorance. Carelessness is the greatest enemy. If we allow ourselves to grow complacent and lose our fighting spirit, then the shortcomings or negative tendencies that arise from our fundamental darkness will resurface. For that reason, the Daishonin consistently emphasizes the point that faith is life’s ultimate treasure.

In this installment, let us once more study Nichiren’s teaching that the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all.[1]

Always Return to the Prime Point of the Oneness of Mentor and Disciple

Over and over I recall the moment, unforgettable even now, when I was about to be beheaded and you accompanied me, holding the reins of my horse and weeping tears of grief. Nor could I ever forget it in any lifetime to come. If you should fall into hell for some grave offense, no matter how Shakyamuni Buddha might urge me to become a Buddha, I would refuse; I would rather go to hell with you. For if you and I should fall into hell together, we would find Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra there … But if you depart from my advice even slightly, do not blame me for what may happen. (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 850)

The Lotus Sutra is based on the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple. Nichiren Buddhism, too, is a teaching of mentor and disciple. Our prime point as practitioners, therefore, is our vow to struggle together with our mentor. If we constantly return to this prime point of mentor and disciple, we will never become deadlocked.

In this passage, Nichiren Daishonin reaffirms the incident that became the prime point in his relationship with Shijo Kingo as mentor and disciple. It took place during the Tatsunokuchi Persecution. As Nichiren was being taken to the execution grounds, Kingo gripped the reins of his mentor’s horse and declared that he was prepared to die at his side. …

If the Daishonin and Kingo—mentor and disciple upholding steadfast faith in the Mystic Law—were to fall into hell, then Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra would also definitely be found there. In that case, Nichiren explains, it would no longer be hell but rather the realm of Buddhahood. …

As long as Kingo doesn’t lose sight of this spirit to struggle together with Nichiren, he can triumph in any place and situation, based on the principle that “hell itself can instantly be transformed into the Land of Tranquil Light.” But if he is defeated by his own weakness, losing his temper and lacking consideration for those around him, he will veer from the path of oneness with his mentor. This is why Nichiren repeatedly warns him to be careful. …

The key to victory lies in aligning our hearts with the heart of our mentor who faithfully embodies and propagates the Law. If we ignore our mentor’s guidance and simply base ourselves on our own vacillating minds, we cannot complete the arduous path of Buddhist practice.[2]

Lamenting Over Our Problems Slows Our Spiritual Development

Do not go around lamenting to others how hard it is for you to live in this world. To do so is an act utterly unbecoming to a worthy man. (WND-1, 850)

Here, Nichiren Daishonin especially admonishes against lamentation and self-pity. This passage gets at the heart of people’s readiness to bewail matters that are beyond their control. Everyone is susceptible to doing this. Even Kingo, who was prepared to lay down his life alongside Nichiren at a crucial moment, had trouble with human relations because of his rigidity and singlemindedness. He may have given in to complaining in spite of himself. In advising Kingo not to lament to others, the Daishonin underscores that complaining about one’s troubles or misfortunes is the way of life of the foolish, not the wise. …

Complaining nurtures one’s inner weakness and negativity and becomes a cause for stagnation. Here, Nichiren teaches Kingo that doing away with complaint and instead pursuing his own human revolution head-on is the sure path to victory in life.[3]

Become a True Winner in Life

It is rare to be born a human being. The number of those endowed with human life is as small as the amount of earth one can place on a fingernail. Life as a human being is hard to sustain—as hard as it is for the dew to remain on the grass. But it is better to live a single day with honor than to live to 120 and die in disgrace. Live so that all the people of Kamakura will say in your praise that Nakatsukasa Saburo Saemon-no-jo [Shijo Kingo] is diligent in the service of his lord, in the service of Buddhism, and in his concern for other people.(WND-1, 851)

Nichiren offers this specific guidance to his disciple out of a wish for him to succeed on a fundamental level: “Live so that all the people of Kamakura will say in your praise that Nakatsukasa Saburo Saemon-no-jo is diligent in the service of his lord, in the service of Buddhism, and in his concern for other people.” It implies three particular areas in which Kingo needs to be victorious: rebuilding a relationship of mutual trust with his lord, continuing to make unwavering efforts as a practitioner of the Mystic Law and winning the trust of those around him. The treasures of the heart will shine in all these endeavors. In other words, we are truly victorious when we bring forth the brilliance of our Buddha nature in all aspects of our lives. …

In short, fundamental victory derives from the inner brilliance of our humanity that naturally draws others’ admiration. It could also be said that an important part of our struggle for kosen-rufu is for each of us to win such trust and respect in society. …

Shijo Kingo’s relations with those around him—with Lord Ema and the members of his lord’s family, and with his own colleagues, brothers and fellow practitioners—were far from smooth. There were probably instances when his doggedness created problems. Without resolving such issues, he could not become a winner in faith.

That’s why Nichiren urges him to constantly work on polishing his character and show actual proof by realizing a great human revolution. It was his wish that Kingo, as the central figure among his followers in Kamakura, would develop into an admirable leader in society and lead a life of profound significance and meaning. This compassionate spirit was no doubt behind the Daishonin’s guidance encouraging him to win the praise of the people in Kamakura.[4]

A Thoroughly Polished Character Is Priceless

More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. From the time you read this letter on, strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart! (WND-1, 851)

The above passage is the most well-known in this writing. “Treasures in a storehouse” indicates material assets. “Treasures of the body” means such things as health or acquired skills. “Treasures of the heart,” on one level, means an inner richness, wealth or abundance. On a more fundamental level, it means faith and the brilliance of the Buddha nature polished through faith. …

Kingo faced the possibility of losing his estate, which, of course, represented an extremely important source of income for him and his family. But the Daishonin insists that far more valuable than the treasures of the storehouse and the body are the treasures of the heart. The accumulation of these inner treasures, he says, is the basis for all victory.

The fact that Kingo had been challenging his situation based on faith in the Mystic Law corresponds to placing the highest value on the treasures of the heart. As a result, he had been victorious so far. That is probably why Nichiren clarifies this point as a universal and unchanging guideline for victory in all areas of life.

And actually, when we base ourselves on the treasures of the heart, the true value and worth of treasures of the storehouse and the body also become apparent in our lives. In short, we need to make accumulating the treasures of the heart our fundamental purpose in life. If we lose sight of this elemental objective, seeking merely to accumulate treasures of the storehouse and the body, it will only give rise to attachment. Fear of losing such material or physical treasures can then become a cause of suffering. Therefore, what is important above all, what is the correct sense of purpose in life, is to accumulate treasures of the heart.[5]

Our Behavior as Human Beings

The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the “Never Disparaging” chapter. 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.


The wise may be called human, but the thoughtless are no more than animals. (WND-1, 851–52)

Deeply apprehending the truth that—when viewed from the fundamental perspective of life—everyone is a Buddha, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging bowed in reverence to all he met, no matter how he was persecuted and attacked. This is the behavior of one who truly embodies the spirit of the Lotus Sutra. …

The treasures of the heart may be invisible to the eye. But when these inner treasures are given concrete expression as respectful actions toward others, they demonstrate and prove to others the power of the Mystic Law and the Buddha nature.

Viewing treasures of the heart as the most valuable of all reflects a sense of values concerned with what is most important and precious in life. Showing respect to others in our actions, meanwhile, constitutes the standard for our behavior as Buddhists based on this sense of values. …

In short, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s actions of respect for others constitute the fundamental cause for manifesting our Buddhahood. Such actions are crucial if we hope to gain enlightenment. The aspiration of leading all people to enlightenment would just be a pipe dream unless the Buddha taught the importance of our behavior as human beings. That is why Nichiren asserts that this is “the purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings.”

Nichiren also always demonstrated respect for others through his actions. The Buddha nature will manifest in the lives of those who arouse and maintain faith in the Mystic Law, no matter how evil the times. Their behavior will definitely pulse with the fundamental wisdom of the practical philosophy of respect for others.

Nichiren’s practice of shakubuku, of rigorously refuting error, is also grounded in compassion for the individual in error and concern for the happiness of the people. It is also an expression of his fervent wish for the peace and security of the land. Shakubuku is a struggle to refute the erroneous and reveal the true out of respect for everyone’s Buddha nature.

Because shakubuku in Nichiren Buddhism is based on respect for others, it aims to refute the error of those who disrespect others. Premised on this understanding, Nichiren indicates that, even in the evil and slanderous age of the Latter Day, we need to act prudently and respectfully rather than simply rushing in to refute error.

Fully and unequivocally stating the truth is also shakubuku. The Latter Day of the Law is an age rife with distrust and fear stemming from a society in which people are not respected, and life is held in low regard. In such an age, shakubuku means standing up alone and resolutely holding high the banner of respect for human beings and the sanctity of life. This, too, is the courageous practice of shakubuku. …

The SGI is taking action to pioneer a magnificent path of intercultural and interfaith dialogue toward finding answers to those very questions. Transcending all differences, surmounting barriers of ethnicity and nationality, we are constructing a realm of broad and open exchange among human beings. The philosophy of the SGI is based on the Lotus Sutra’s teaching of showing respect for others through our actions, as well as the principle that all change begins from within ourselves and from accumulating treasures of the heart.[6]

The Ikeda Wisdom Academy is an SGI-USA youth leaders advanced study movement. While the following material is for this study program, all SGI-USA members can read the following excerpts as part of their personal study of The Teachings for Victory, volume 1, by Ikeda Sensei.


  1. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 1, pp. 191–92. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., 192–93. ↩︎
  3. Ibid., 193–94. ↩︎
  4. Ibid., 194–95. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., 195–96. ↩︎
  6. Ibid., 197–200. ↩︎

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