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Ikeda Sensei

Winning Through Daimoku at the Crucial Moment

The Lay Nun Myoshin

Oscar Wong / Getty Images.

The following is from a series of Ikeda Sensei’s encouragement for the members of the junior high and high school divisions. It was translated from the Feb. 1, 2020, issue of the Mirai [Future] Journal, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly newspaper for the junior high and high school divisions.

February 11 is the birthday of my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. This year [2020] marks the 120th anniversary of his birth.[1]

Mr. Toda faced many struggles in his youth. He tried hard to keep studying while working full time. When he was 16—around the age of many of you, my young friends—he fell ill and had to recuperate at home for several months.

Although frustrated by this setback, the young Mr. Toda, who grew up in the cold climate of Hokkaido in northern Japan, wrote this poem:

Never forgetting
the word success;
cherry blossoms.

This short verse expresses his spirit of never being defeated: “The cherry trees endure the long weathering blizzards, to bloom in the spring. I may be sick now, but I will definitely overcome this and make the blossoms of victory flower!”

Some of you may be battling illness, or perhaps one of your parents or a family member is. I know it’s tough, but please don’t become discouraged.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Myo [of myoho, the Mystic Law] means to revive” (“The Daimoku[2] of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Dai-shonin, vol. 1, p. 149). Every day, I am chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo earnestly for each of you.

This time, let’s study how to have dauntless faith that can transform a winter of suffering, such as battling illness, into a springtime of happiness.

The lay nun Myoshin was one of Nichiren Daishonin’s female disciples. Thought to be the wife of the lay priest Takahashi Rokuro Hyoe, she lived in Suruga Province (present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture). She was also the aunt of Nikko Shonin, Nichiren’s direct disciple and successor.

While the lay nun Myoshin was taking care of her husband, who was very sick, the Daishonin sent her a letter of heartfelt encouragement. Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi underlined as important the following passage of this letter in his personal copy of the Daishonin’s writings:

Could not this illness of your husband’s be the Buddha’s design, because the Vimalakirti and Nirvana sutras both teach that sick people will surely attain Buddhahood? Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the way. (“The Good Medicine for All Ills,” WND-1, 937)

Everyone falls ill. It is not a sign of defeat. In fact, Nichiren Buddhism enables us to use the experience of illness to become stronger, deeper and wiser people.

Nichiren calls illness “the Buddha’s design.” What he means by this is that experiencing ill health motivates us to reflect deeply on ourselves and to stand up resolutely in faith. That is why he says, “Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the way.”

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and face our illness head-on, the sun rises in our hearts, dispelling any gloom or sadness we might feel. A surge of life force filled with the determination to overcome our illness will well up within us. Becoming ill gives us the chance to learn and come to understand many things for the first time and to do things we may not have been able to before.

Moreover, our own suffering enables us to empathize with the suffering of others. We can greatly expand our own life state so that we can reach out to and sincerely encourage those who are struggling.

This is what the Daishonin means when he says “sick people will surely attain Buddhahood.” Such is the power of our faith and our way of life dedicated to value creation, which members around the world are demonstrating through their own lives.

Former undersecretary of Austria’s Federal Ministry of Education, the Arts and Sport and renowned soprano Dr. Jutta Unkart-Seifert devoted herself for many years to the education of young people. In the dialogue we published together, she reflected on supporting her husband through his battle with bone cancer. It was her conviction, she said, that everything that happens in life serves to help us grow and develop as human beings. She also remarked that even when we are feeling great emotional pain, if we take heart and try to stay positive, a new chapter in life will open. There is no need to be overcome by sorrow, she concluded. Our hope-filled philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism deeply resonates with Dr. Unkart-Seifert.

All of you, my friends, have, at a young age, embraced the Mystic Law, which enables you to turn poison into medicine and change your karma. From the moment you vibrantly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you transform your karma into mission.

There may be times when you find it hard to chant. But even chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo just once has infinite power. What matters most is having the spirit to sit in front of the Gohonzon and chant, even if it’s just for a little while. When you do, tremendous courage will rise up within you.

If you have a family member or friend who is battling illness, please chant for them and encourage them warmly. A kind word can inspire them to move forward filled with hope.

Nichiren writes: “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (“Reply to Kyo’o,” WND-1, 412).

Our daimoku reaches not only people in our immediate environment but also those who live far away. Through our daimoku, we can infuse our own and others’ lives with the invincible power to overcome hardships.

At the same time, it is important to value and make use of medical treatment when needed and to lead healthy, well-balanced lives. This is the wisdom of Nichiren Buddhism.

Over the course of our lives, we are bound to encounter unexpected challenges, such as illness or accidents. The key is to rouse strong faith and not retreat a single step. It is at those crucial moments that we need to chant earnestly with the determination to win no matter what.

Mr. Toda said, “If you fight based on prayer at a crucial moment, not only will you solve the problem itself, but you will also lay the foundation for a life of victory and accumulate eternal good fortune.”

You have nothing to fear. With the lion’s roar of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, make the cherry blossoms of youthful victory bloom splendidly where you are now!


  1. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda was born on February 11, 1900. ↩︎
  2. Daimoku: 1) The title of a sutra, in particular the title of the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law (Myoho-renge-kyo). The title of a sutra represents the essence of the sutra. 2) The invocation or chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. ↩︎

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