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Daily Life

Why Haven’t My Prayers Been Answered? Part 2 of 2

Photo by Sanya Lu.

Not all prayers are answered right away. And while we may find ourselves momentarily discouraged, Ikeda Sensei reminds us in part 1 of this feature (see Nov. 18, 2022, World Tribune, pp. 6–7) that as long as we persevere, our prayers will be answered in a form greater than we expected. He also tells us that not having our prayers answered immediately is the “Buddha’s wisdom” so that we can continue to pray and, in the process, deepen our prayers, become stronger and live more profoundly. 

In part 2, we introduce what Sensei says about the importance of making continual causes and building enough fortune to manifest the benefit we want to see in our lives and how praying with a sense of mission to advance kosen-rufu enables us to fulfill all our desires.  

1. Developing a cause-based practice—where we focus on making continual efforts for kosen-rufu—is the process to create enough fortune to manifest benefits in our lives

Nothing is ever wasted in Buddhism 

Nichiren Daishonin teaches that all of our efforts for kosen-rufu—chanting daimoku, talking to others about Buddhism and taking action for others’ happiness—create good causes and benefit in our lives (see “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 4). Consequently, there is no need to worry about how things may appear in the short term.

If you are ill, think of yourself as engaged in training for climbing the lofty peak of Buddhahood. Think of yourself as surmounting one slope after another, so that eventually you can stand on the summit and endlessly enjoy the wonderful view. Or think of yourself as swimming through rough seas toward a distant, shimmering island of hope and eternal happiness.

Live out your life with the spirit that everything you do is creating a record of brilliant achievement for your own wonderful eternal victory.

When you practice Nichiren Buddhism, nothing in your life is ever wasted. Please live without hesitation, fear or regret. Never forget that everything is a tailwind propelling you forward to eternal happiness.

All rice shoots ripen within the year they are planted, though some ripen earlier and some later. In the same way, the Daishonin assures us, all people, as long as they persevere seriously in their Buddhist faith and practice, will attain the noble state of Buddhahood within this lifetime (see “The Doctrine of Three Thousand Realms,” WND-2, 88). (Ikeda Sensei, The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, pp. 159–60)

‘Unseen virtue brings about visible reward’

[Nichiren Daishonin] assures us that those who perform unseen good deeds will enjoy clear, positive results without fail. In fact, those who unceasingly carry out such actions have already won. There is absolutely no doubt that they will reap wonderful rewards, as will their families and descendants. This is how we should strive to live our lives. …

Some people seek nothing but visible reward, such as fame, popularity, or material wealth. But these things are all fleeting. We can accumulate eternal, indestructible good fortune only through acts of unseen virtue. I can say this unequivocally, based on reason and experience.

“Unseen virtue brings about visible reward” (“The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream,” WND-1, 940) means that those who work hardest behind the scenes enjoy the greatest reward. It is a strict, impartial, hope-inspiring principle. This is the teaching of Buddhism, and it is why participating in Soka Gakkai activities is so important. …

I hope you will be confident that the good fortune and benefit you accumulate by exerting yourselves in Soka Gakkai activities will also flow to your families and loved ones. (Sensei, The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, revised edition, pp. 197–200)

2. Praying and taking action based on our mission for kosen-rufu enables us to fulfill all our wishes. 

Faith dedicated to kosen-rufu

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Whether or not your prayer is answered will depend on your faith” (“Reply to the Lay Nun Nichigon,” WND-1, 1079). What kind of faith ensures that our prayers are answered? Faith dedicated to kosen-rufu, in which we pray and take action not only for ourselves but for the happiness of others and the welfare of society.

In my case, every one of my prayers has come true, because I was resolved that kosen-rufu could definitely be accomplished—or rather, that I would accomplish it without fail—and because I persevered earnestly based upon this vow. (Sensei, The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, pp. 1–3)

The determination to contribute to kosen-rufu produces immeasurable benefits

“Instead of putting it off into the future, you should have the attitude that you’re going to buy it right now. I think you should purchase a house. To be accepted by French society, it’s important for you to have a house, put down roots in your community and win people’s trust. The thing to do is to firmly decide that you’re going to buy a house and then chant hard to make that a reality.

“That said, if your only motivation is that you simply want a house, it might take a long time for your prayer to be answered.”

Somewhat taken aback, [Shotaro] Hasebe asked, “Is there a special way I should pray?”

“Yes,” Shin’ichi [Yamamoto][1] replied. “You should make a pledge to carry out kosen-rufu for the sake of the happiness and prosperity of the people of France and chant wholeheartedly for that. For example, you can pray, ‘I will dedicate my life to achieving kosen-rufu in France. Therefore, I need a house so that I may gain trust in the community and be able to provide members with a place to meet. Please give me a nice, big house for that purpose.’

“Nam-myoho-renge-kyo based on a vow and wish to achieve kosen-rufu by showing people the way to attain absolute happiness is the same type of prayer shared by all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the Earth. When you pray like this, the Buddha nature within your own life will open up and raise your life condition to such a degree that you can even move the universe. When that happens, you will be able to realize your wish to buy a house without fail.

“On the other hand, if you’re just praying for a big, fancy house because you want one for yourself, your life state won’t expand much, and it may take a long time for you to see your wish fulfilled. For us, the foundation of prayer is always kosen-rufu. And prayer that originates in the determination to contribute to kosen-rufu produces immeasurable and unlimited benefits.”

Making a pledge for kosen-rufu leads to the fulfillment of all one’s wishes. (Sensei, The New Human Revolution, vol. 21, pp. 249–51)

Stand-alone faith infused with a vow

Shin’ichi delved deeper into the true nature of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth: “The essential characteristic of a bodhisattva is their vow. The vow of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is to propagate the Lotus Sutra. That’s why wholeheartedly chanting to realize our vow of bringing happiness to all around us is important. Strictly speaking, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo without that vow is not the prayer of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.” …

We all have various problems and sufferings. Our dedication to kosen-rufu is crucial in surmounting them. For example, if someone suffering from illness vows to overcome that illness in order to gain the strength and life force to freely take action for kosen-rufu, and demonstrate the power of their Buddhist practice to others, that vow will bring forth immense strength to overcome that illness.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of course results in benefit. But when the prayer “I want to overcome my illness” is infused with a deep sense of mission, we experience a fundamental transformation within our lives, within our state of being, and that vow triggers a powerful momentum to change our karma. When we chant in earnest based on a vow to achieve kosen-rufu, the life state of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth manifests itself within us, the life state of Nichiren Daishonin begins to pulse within us, and we are able to manifest our innate Buddhahood. This is a revolution of our state of life, and it makes possible a dramatic transformation of our karma.

In addition, when we chant and strive to promote Buddhism and succeed in our struggles for the sake of kosen-rufu, we are already manifesting the life state of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Through practicing this way, each individual is able to overcome and solve his or her respective personal problems. (Sensei, NHR-24, 149–50)


  1. Ikeda Sensei appears in The New Human Revolution as Shin’ichi Yamamoto. ↩︎

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