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Gosho Study

Our ‘Belief’ Makes Us Stronger, More Resilient

Photo by Jonathan Wilson.

The single word “belief” is the sharp sword with which one confronts and overcomes fundamental darkness or ignorance. 

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, pp. 119–20

Buddhism is about winning,”[1] Ikeda Sensei repeatedly affirms. 

Winning in Nichiren Buddhism means triumphing over the negativity and ignorance in our own and others’ lives. Each time we use our Buddhist practice to win over our resentment, doubts, fears, lack of confidence and more, we become stronger and more resilient. And our victories become even more worthwhile when we help others apply Buddhism to win in their lives, too.

Of course, we may not always believe that we can win. But that’s why we chant. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the source of limitless wisdom and courage for triumphing over what Buddhism terms fundamental darkness or ignorance. 

We can describe fundamental ignorance in many ways. In brief, it is disbelief in our Buddha nature and the supreme dignity of all life. This root of suffering often manifests as greed, anger and foolishness, leading to things like discrimination, antagonism and even war. 

When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the Mystic Law, we bring forth the power to transform fundamental ignorance into the fuel for strengthening our lives.

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda urges: “You have to decide that your life itself is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!”[2] Chanting with this attitude is the “sharp sword” of faith needed to win resounding victories over any beliefs that hold us back. 

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. Cut Through Doubt With ‘Fighting Daimoku’ 

Based on the Lotus Sutra, which reveals the Buddha’s enlightenment, [Nichiren] Daishonin discovered the workings of the fundamental Law of Myoho-renge-kyo in his own life; he then went on to confirm and prove its power through his own life struggles. For us to freely manifest the workings of the Law in our own lives, we need to chant with the same mind and attitude as the Daishonin. In other words, our chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—the daimoku—must be based on faith, the spirit to battle fundamental ignorance. The daimoku that the Daishonin spread could be described as “fighting daimoku.”

Fundamental ignorance manifests in various forms—as doubt, anxiety, earthly desires and so on. The power to break through fundamental ignorance is none other than faith or belief. The Daishonin says, “Belief means to be without doubt” (OTT, 54). He also states, “The single word belief is the sharp sword with which one confronts and overcomes fundamental darkness or ignorance” (OTT, 119–20). Battling devilish functions and confronting the various difficulties of life must essentially be an intense struggle against our illusion. We use the sharp sword of belief against the devilish forces that obstruct kosen-rufu.

If we should lose our faith or belief in the Mystic Law—that is to say, if we lose the conviction that we can definitely become happy and attain Buddhahood, and if we lose the desire to accomplish kosen-rufu without fail—then we will also be defeated by hardships, obstacles and devilish functions on the path to kosen-rufu. (The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 147)

2. The Secret to a Victorious Life 

The sharp sword of faith allows us to defeat fundamental ignorance. This means persevering and challenging ourselves in faith throughout our lives. It means seeing devils for what they are and constantly bringing forth the fundamental nature of enlightenment from within. Through faith that grows stronger day by day and month after month (see “On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 997), we can, at a fundamental level, win over the workings of our darkness or ignorance.

This is also why it is important to have a mentor in faith to give us correct direction. [Second Soka Gakkai] President Toda often told me: “If you are a true disciple of mine, then you must carry on in my footsteps to the end without fearing hardship. You must never be defeated.” Day after day, I have fought on, just as my mentor instructed, and I have overcome all devilish functions.

The mentor-disciple spirit is a powerful driving force for defeating any form of devilish function. By contrast, those who lose sight of this spirit and forget their debt of gratitude to their mentor will become increasingly consumed by fundamental ignorance until they eventually turn into subjects or followers of the devil king.

To remain fearless no matter what happens, to refuse to succumb to darkness or negativity—this is the spirit of faith needed to battle devilish functions. With this spirit, we can definitely prevail. This is the secret to a victorious life. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 1, pp. 71–72)

March 17, 2023, World Tribune, p. 9


  1. February 2022 Living Buddhism, p. 60. ↩︎
  2. Champions of Hope, p. 25. ↩︎

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