Skip to main content

Gosho Study

‘On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings’

Photo by Yvonne Ng.


This letter was written in May 1273 while Nichiren was in exile on Sado Island. Despite the hardships he faced there, it was on Sado where he wrote some of his most important writings, including “The Opening of the Eyes” and “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind.”

The title “On Practicing the Buddha’s Teaching” suggests two important points. One is that Nichiren himself has practiced in accord with Shakyamuni’s teachings. The other, deeper point is that Nichiren is urging his disciples to practice in accord with his own teachings. Nichiren shows through his own example how a genuine mentor of Buddhism fights through all obstacles for the sake of others, and he calls out to his disciples to join the struggle, willingly devoting their lives. Near the end of the work, he urges his disciples to continue striving in faith with the well-known line “Try practicing as the Lotus Sutra teaches, exerting yourselves without begrudging your lives.”


What is more, once you become a disciple or lay supporter of the votary who practices the true Lotus Sutra in accord with the Buddha’s teachings, you are bound to face the three types of enemies.[1] Therefore, from the very day you listen to [and take faith in] this sutra, you should be fully prepared to face the great persecutions of the three types of enemies that are certain to be more horrible now after the Buddha’s passing. Although my disciples had already heard this, when both great and small persecutions confronted us, some were so astounded and terrified that they even forsook their faith.” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 391)


It’s no easy task to be a force for good in the world. Adversities will try to block our way. But we can break through them all because we have the Gohonzon.

Nichiren begins this letter by stating that those in the Latter Day who believe in and practice the Lotus Sutra as it teaches will meet persecutions even more severe than those faced by Shakyamuni. It’s inevitable to meet the three powerful enemies, he says, and you should be prepared to face them.

The numerous persecutions Nichiren encountered were just as the sutra predicts, thus demonstrating that he practiced the Buddha’s teaching correctly. This is an important point, because without such a “correct teacher,” the spread of the correct teaching will be impossible.

Also crucial is for genuine disciples to emerge, disciples who share the mentor’s desire to help people overcome their sufferings. Therefore, Nichiren, with a parent’s strict love, in this passage offers passionate encouragement to persevere, to never abandon faith, to never be afraid at a crucial moment. With faith based on the oneness of mentor and disciple, we can overcome any obstacle. This conviction is the basis for practicing the Buddha’s teaching.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


When the people all chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the wind will no longer buffet the branches, and the rain will no longer break the clods of soil. The world will become as it was in the ages of Fu Hsi and Shen Nung. In their present existence the people will be freed from misfortune and disasters and learn the art of living long. Realize that the time will come when the truth will be revealed that both the person and the Law are unaging and eternal. There cannot be the slightest doubt about the sutra’s promise of ‘peace and security in their present existence.’” (WND-1, 392)


Just before this passage, Nichiren poetically describes his years-long struggle to spread Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and adds, “So the battle goes on even today.” Thanks to his spiritual battle, he says, all people can chant and establish a society where they can enjoy “peace and security.”

He then shares an image of such a world: “The wind will no longer buffet the branches, and the rain will no longer break the clods of soil.” Moreover, society will be peaceful and just, as it was told in ancient Chinese folk tales.

The “person” being “unaging and eternal” means that we can establish a state of life in which no adversity can defeat us. The “Law” being “unaging and eternal” means that the power of the Mystic Law will never decline but will forever function to create harmony and value.

A world of “peace and security” doesn’t mean a world in which there are no problems or conflicts. Rather, it indicates a world in which people base themselves on the Mystic Law and, through faith, can transform any disaster or suffering into a cause for happiness. Sharing Buddhism with our friends is a noble challenge to realize our own happiness and create a world where we can enjoy “peace and security.”

Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


The most important thing in practicing the Buddhist teachings is to follow and uphold the Buddha’s golden words, not the opinions of others.” (WND-1, 393)


The Latter Day of the Law is defined as a time of confusion and chaos surrounding the Buddhist teachings. Because of this, many scholars in Nichiren’s day put forth their own theories on which teachings were beneficial and which were not. They claimed that since all sutras were preached by Shakyamuni, they were all as good as the Lotus Sutra. This, of course, just caused more confusion and, ultimately, misery.

To break through this confusion, Nichiren warns, we need to base ourselves on the “Buddha’s golden words, not the opinions of others.” Nichiren’s own teachings were not a matter of his opinion. Rather, he cites sutra after sutra—the “Buddha’s golden words”—to demonstrate how the Lotus Sutra was Shakyamuni’s highest teaching, the one that can lead all people to enlightenment.

Those who can establish a faith that mirrors the Buddha’s words without distortion are practitioners of the Buddha’s teachings. For us, this means to have faith that accords with the sutra, Nichiren’s writings and the guidance of the three presidents, who have taken the lead based on Nichiren’s spirit.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


  1. Three types of enemies: Or three powerful enemies. Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death. They are: arrogant lay people, arrogant priests, and arrogant false sages. ↩︎

Read more