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Ikeda Wisdom Academy

Vibrant Chanting Opens the Great Path to Absolute Victory

Chapter 8

“King Rinda”

Ikeda Sensei discusses how to effectively and powerfully chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to relieve suffering, unlock our life force and dynamically invigorate society.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate law of the universe, the fundamental rhythm of life itself. Through the practice of chanting, we can bring forth our inner Buddhahood and increase the splendor and power of our lives.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith, even if just a single recitation, has infinitely vast and immeasurable power to revitalize our lives. Thus, amazing benefit is bound to manifest when we continue chanting day after day, assiduously summoning forth the power of faith and the power of practice. …

In this writing, Nichiren Daishonin emphasizes the tremendous mission and honor he and his followers share in chanting and propagating Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—the source of fundamental life force—at a time when the country is filled with great anxiety and turmoil at the prospect of a second Mongol invasion. … [1]

Our Voices When Chanting Call Forth Our Fundamental Life Force

Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha addressed prayers to the Buddhas of the three existences and the ten directions, whereupon a white swan immediately appeared. When the white horses caught sight of the white swan, they whinnied in a single voice. No sooner had the king heard the single neigh of the horses than he opened his eyes. As two white swans, and then hundreds and thousands of them appeared, the hundreds and thousands of white horses were instantly filled with joy and began neighing. The king’s complexion was restored to its original state, like the sun reemerging from an eclipse, and the strength of his body and the perceptive powers of his mind became many hundreds and thousands of times greater than they had been before. The consort was overjoyed, the great ministers and high officials took courage, the common people pressed their palms together in reverence, and the other countries bowed their heads. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 986)

When Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is chanted powerfully and pervades everything, then all living beings in the Ten Worlds will be invigorated and society will be peaceful and secure. To illustrate this point, the Daishonin relates the Buddhist parable of King Rinda and the white horses, which I would now like to summarize here.

There was once a wise and worthy ruler named King Rinda. When he heard white horses neighing, his life state was invigorated, and he flourished and thrived. As a result, his realm did too. The people were happy and secure, the weather was mild and seasonable and the kingdom enjoyed peace with its neighbors. These white horses, however, only neighed when they saw white swans. So when all the white swans disappeared from the kingdom one day, the white horses ceased to neigh. As a result, the king and his people grew weak and listless, unpredictable weather visited the land, famines and epidemics occurred and neighboring countries began to attack.

First, the king commanded non-Buddhist teachers to offer prayers, but the white swans did not return. Then, Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha came forth and prayed to the Buddhas of the three existences and the ten directions, whereupon the white swans immediately appeared, and the white horses began to neigh joyfully. King Rinda recov-
ered from his feeble state, gaining countless times the physical strength and mental acuity he had before. The people were also revived, and peace
and prosperity were restored to the kingdom.

The Daishonin employs this famous parable to illustrate the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in easily accessible terms. … 

We must remember the words “The voice does the Buddha’s work” (see The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 4). Had the neighing of the white horses been weak and hesitant, King Rinda would probably not have regained his powers to the extent he did. Similarly, when it comes to chanting, it’s important that we constantly strive to strengthen our faith and deepen our practice. Our conviction in faith and persistence in practice are the cornerstones of chanting.

Our invincible prayer—overflowing with the power of faith and the power of practice—can break through the darkness that shrouds our lives and the lives of others and call forth the magnificent dignity and strength of the Buddha nature that is inherent in all living beings. Through chanting, we can expand the realm of happiness and joy and bring forth a world filled ever more with the positive energy and peace of mind that is a reflection of Buddhahood.[2]

Vibrantly Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to Our Heart’s Content

The image of the neighing of the white horses, though just a metaphor, has something deeply significant to say about how we should chant. In other words, our chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo should be light, refreshing, and vibrant, like a noble steed galloping freely across the vast open plains.

It’s also important that we chant honestly and openly, just as we are. All of us face times of worry, anguish, or sadness in our lives. When we do, we can feel free to go straight to the Gohonzon with our suffering and chant about it wholeheartedly, just like a child seeking its mother’s warm embrace. … 

If we’ve done something we regret, we can chant with a determination never to repeat the same mistake, making our prayer the first step toward a new and better future. When we face a decisive challenge, we can chant strongly and courageously with the firm resolve to win. When battling the three obstacles and the four devils, we can chant with the heart of a lion king, filled with confidence that we’ll vanquish those negative functions. When we’re faced with the opportunity to transform our karma, we can infuse our prayer with an unwavering resolve not to be defeated. When we’re happy about something, we can chant with a deep spirit of appreciation and gratitude. … 

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the only way to truly polish our lives at the deepest level. Those who put chanting first can thoroughly polish their lives that have been clouded by darkness and make them shine like a bright mirror, reflecting the Dharma nature. Chanting is a process of polishing and forging our lives, which is why our faith is so important.

Consequently, the benefit of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is absolutely not dependent on the amount we chant. What matters is that we chant to our own heart’s content, the amount that feels right and satisfying for us. … 

At the same time, sincerely resolving to chant a specific amount is also an expression of faith. We can chant the amount we’ve decided on each day, while continually renewing and deepening our resolve. … 

Faith that ignores the importance of self-transformation; faith that lacks clear focus and determination, merely waiting for salvation from some external source; faith that abandons all striving and challenge out of fear and a desire to escape reality; faith that expects benefits to magically appear without making any personal effort—such faith is completely contrary to that which is taught in Nichiren Buddhism. … [3]

The Three Poisons Intensify the Three Calamities

In a country where the three poisons [of greed, anger, and foolishness] prevail to such a degree, how can there be peace and stability?

In the kalpa of decline, the three major calamities will occur, namely, the calamities of fire, water, and wind. And in the kalpa of decrease, the three minor calamities will occur, namely, famine, pestilence, and warfare. Famine occurs as a result of greed, pestilence as a result of foolishness, and warfare as a result of anger.

At present the people of Japan number 4,994,828 men and women, all of them different persons but all alike infected by the three poisons. And these three poisons occur because of their relationship with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. So all of these people at the same moment set out to curse, attack, banish, and do away with Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions. This is what leads to the appearance of the three minor calamities. (WND-1, 989)

In a kalpa of decrease, when people’s life force wanes the three calamities of famine, pestilence, and warfare occur, and Nichiren Daishonin notes that there is a close connection between such calamities and the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness, which pollute people’s lives. … 

T’ien-t’ai says to the same effect in his Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra: “Because anger increases in intensity, strife of arms occurs. Because greed increases in intensity, famine arises. Because foolishness increases in intensity, pestilence breaks out” (OTT, 33). He also refers to how the three calamities arise owing to the prevalence of the three poisons and how these calamities then go on to intensify the three poisons in people’s lives, thereby creating a vicious, never-ending cycle that leads to the age itself becoming polluted and degenerate. …

If we’ve done something we regret, we can chant with a determination never to repeat the same mistake, making our prayer the first step toward a new and better future. 

In the Great Collection Sutra, the calamity of famine is expressed as “high grain prices” (“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” WND-1, 10). This calamity is particularly caused by intensified greed in people’s hearts, which eventually comes to dominate society as a whole.

Unfortunately, even today in the twenty-first century—so far removed in time from the age when Shakyamuni expounded his teachings—this phenomenon of disaster caused by human greed remains. … 

Epidemics, meanwhile, are said to be caused by the poison of foolishness. It’s certainly true that even today, in spite of remarkable advances in scientific knowledge, many illnesses still spread because of our ignorance of their causes. … 

Warfare, lastly, is ascribed to the poison of anger. Anger, here, refers to the deep and intense feeling of rage and burning resentment that can arise from thwarted desires. There is a terrible destructive force in the fiery magma of anger that wells up at frustration, discrimination, betrayal, insult or exploitation by others. When that suppressed negative energy explodes, it can manifest as violence or aggression and even escalate into warfare. These eruptions of hatred and malice in the forms of nationalism or of economic, ideological or religious conflict are often the cause of war and armed conflict in our present age. …

In the age Nichiren lived the three calamities were constantly occurring in various forms. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the source of the life force of the universe and the seed for attaining Buddhahood. The Daishonin declares that the increased confusion of the times was being caused by slander of the Mystic Law, which was polluting the lives of the Japanese people with the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness.[4]

The Driving Force for Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land

And now I wonder what karma from past existences has caused Nichiren and his associates to become the proponents of the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra? It seems to me that at present Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, the four heavenly kings, the Sun Goddess, Great Bodhisattva Hachiman, and all the major and minor gods of the 3,132 shrines throughout Japan are like King Rinda of past times, that the white horses are Nichiren, and the white swans are my followers. The neighing of the white horses is the sound of our voices chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. When Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, the four heavenly kings, and the others hear this sound, how could they fail to take on a healthy color and shine with a brilliant light? How could they fail to guard and protect us? We should be firmly convinced of this! (WND-1, 989–90)

Nichiren Daishonin notes that the country and the people have fallen into a negative cycle of the three poisons fueling the three calamities that threatens their very existence—a cycle set in motion through the error of misguidedly upholding erroneous teachings while slandering the correct teaching. To save Japan from this destructive course, the Daishonin called on people to chant and propagate Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—the Mystic Law that is the fundamental source of life force and the heart of the Lotus Sutra, the “lord of the five flavors.”

Nichiren returns to the story of King Rinda, mentioned earlier. He asserts that just as the neighing of the white horses, sustained by the white swans, revived King Rinda and restored vigor and prosperity to his kingdom and its people, the sound of Nichiren and his followers chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will increase the strength and brilliance of the benevolent forces of the universe and definitely activate their protective functions.

Even when the very survival of the country and its people is in question, those who confidently chant and propagate the Mystic Law can tap the fundamental life force of the universe in their own lives and stand up as agents of positive change in such a time of peril.

In this passage, the followers who are likened to white swans are none other than a gathering of disciples who are just such agents of change. Following the lead of their teacher, the Daishonin, who embodied the fundamental transformative power of the Mystic Law and stood up to open the way to enlightenment for all people, they chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the same strong conviction as he and taught others to do the same.

Our mission as practitioners of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is to employ this great beneficial medicine of the Mystic Law to win a decisive victory in the battle against the ever-intensifying maladies caused by the three poisons. …

The more troubled and confused the times, the more powerful the unity of the oneness of mentor and disciple becomes. When mentor and disciple are united in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, it becomes the most powerful means for overcoming negative karma, dispelling the dark clouds looming over society and achieving the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.” Chanting is the fundamental force for transforming karma. No matter how heavy the chains of karma, we can break free of them through the mystic function of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which brings forth the inherent power of our life. …

We who chant based on the shared vow of mentor and disciple and dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu have absolutely nothing to fear.[5]

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 2, by Ikeda Sensei.


  1. The Teachings for Victory,
    vol. 2, p. 127. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., 132–34. ↩︎
  3. Ibid., 134–35. ↩︎
  4. Ibid., 136–37. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., 138–39. ↩︎

Knowing Our Worth

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