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Gosho Study

The Incredible Power of Prayer

Photo by Bob Nardi.

I am praying that, no matter how troubled the times may become, the Lotus Sutra and the ten demon daughters will protect all of you, praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground. 

“On Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins,”
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 444

In Leo Tolstoy’s celebrated novel War and Peace, which depicts the Napoleonic Wars, a character declares while in battle: “Where the issue is undecided it is always the most stubborn who come out victorious.”[1]

For us, being “most stubborn” means having the firm resolve to win and strengthening our conviction through our Buddhist practice. In this letter, “On Rebuking Slander of the Law,” Nichiren Daishonin expresses the resolute prayer needed to experience the immeasurable power of the Mystic Law. 

The exact details of this letter are unknown, but it was most likely written in 1273, during Nichiren’s exile on Sado Island. He addressed it to his devoted follower Shijo Kingo. 

Despite facing incredible hardships in exile, the Daishonin chanted fervently for his disciples’ protection—to make the impossible possible as if to “produce fire from damp wood” or “obtain water from parched ground.”

At the start of the 1956 Osaka Campaign, Ikeda Sensei read this passage with the Kansai members, wishing to impart the conviction that anything is possible with powerful prayer (see Ikeda Sensei’s encouragement, No. 1, below). In the end, they achieved a record-breaking propagation result of 11,111 households joining the Soka Gakkai in a single month. 

We, too, can achieve the impossible through the power of earnest prayer.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. Courageous Practice That Makes the Impossible Possible

Anyone would think that victory is impossible … and that’s probably how you feel right now. But don’t forget this marvelous Gohonzon we have. It has the power to transform what you’d normally think is impossible into something possible. Those who give up before they try don’t really know the power of the Mystic Law.

Nichiren Daishonin is clear on this. … The Daishonin wrote this letter to Shijo Kingo from Sado Island. He himself was in exile, but he was concerned only about the safety of his disciples who were at that time suffering persecution in faraway Kamakura. This passage shows us his profound mercy to pray with all his heart that the heavenly gods would protect his disciples in any way possible.

Their society was in chaos, but the Daishonin could not go to the aid of his disciples. Being on Sado, there was nothing he could do physically. However, as he says in this letter, he continued to pray strongly, as determinedly as if to get fire from waterlogged wood or draw water from dry ground. Here he shows us how to pray to the Gohonzon at a time of trial.

As long as we look at our situation with only ordinary reason, there won’t be the slightest chance for us to win. But the Daishonin tells us plainly that the Gohonzon has infinite power. The only question is whether we believe him. If we think that we are really disciples of the Daishonin, we first have to pray powerfully to carry out the kind of courageous practice that can make the impossible possible. (The Human Revolution, p. 1321)[2]

2. Prayer Is Indispensable for Champions of Kosen-rufu 

In the realm of faith in Nichiren Buddhism, everything starts with prayer to the Gohonzon. Prayer is an indispensable part of Buddhist practice, of becoming happy and of striving as champions of kosen-rufu.

“Nichiren Daishonin says, ‘[Pray] as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground’ (see WND-1, 444). Just as this indicates, it is important for us to advance with unwavering faith, strong prayer and the unshakable conviction that all of our prayers will be answered.”

Faith is a spiritual struggle against doubt, against a wavering mind. It is the struggle to break through delusion and lack of confidence—which make us think we cannot become happy or that we are hopeless. It is to bring the power of the Mystic Law to well forth from within and establish absolute conviction. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 26, p. 169)

Jan.1, 2023, World Tribune, p. 10


  1. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, translated by Rosemary Edmonds (London: Penguin Books, 1978), p. 959. ↩︎
  2. This excerpt can be found in the Feb. 12, 2010, World Tribune, insert, p. D. ↩︎

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