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Gosho Study

‘The Supremacy of the Law’

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In August 1275, about a year after the first Mongol invasion of Japan, Nichiren addressed this letter to the infant girl Oto. Though addressed to her, the content was clearly meant for Oto’s mother, Nichimyo. She was an earnest believer living in Kamakura who, even after her husband died, maintained pure faith while raising her infant daughter.

At that time of great turmoil, it was extremely hard for a young widow to raise an infant and persevere in faith. She must have endured one hardship after another. Yet she sought to learn correct faith from Nichiren, even making the dangerous trip to far-off Sado. Nichiren praised her seeking spirit, calling her the Sage Nichimyo.

In this letter, Nichiren reconfirms that the Lotus Sutra is the foremost sutra and encourages her to strive with even stronger faith. He concludes this letter with warm words of encouragement, inviting her to come to Minobu if anything unfortunate should happen.


In battles soldiers regard the general as their soul. If the general were to lose heart, his soldiers would become cowards. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 613)


About a year before this letter was written—just as Nichiren had warned based on his profound understanding of Buddhist sutras (see WND-1, 24)—the southern Japanese islands suffered an invasion from the Mongol forces of Kublai Khan. While the invaders were eventually driven off by a typhoon, the government authorities feared another attack.

The authorities ignored Nichiren’s advice to practice the correct teaching of the Lotus Sutra, and instead, they called on priests at temples and shrines throughout Japan to offer prayers. Unfortunately, these other religious leaders had a very shallow and confused grasp of Buddhism’s true intent. So by relying on them in a misguided attempt to avert a national crisis, the government officials were actually leading their country to ruin.

In this passage, Nichiren chastises such foolish leaders, pointing out the importance of a leader’s determination. No matter the persecution he faced, he continued to speak out, hoping to convince the authorities of how to secure peace. His unbending concern for the people shows him to be a leader of wisdom and courage.

In modern times, the SGI has continued to win various battles for the sake of the people’s happiness under the wise and courageous leadership of its three founding presidents. Each of us who embodies this same spirit can stand up with pride and inspire hope and courage in others.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


The Buddha promised in the Lotus Sutra that, for women, the sutra will serve as a lantern in the darkness, as a ship when they cross the sea, and as a protector when they travel through dangerous places. (WND-1, 614)


Nichiren here reminds Nichimyo that, as woman of strong faith, she will definitely be protected. Expressions such as “a lantern in the darkness” are based on a passage in the “Medicine King” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Though the “Medicine King” chapter was not addressed only to women, Nichiren purposely adds “for women” no doubt to engrave in Nichimyo’s heart the conviction that, according to the sutra, she will surely become happy.

Protection, of course, is based on the strict law of cause and effect. When we make sincere, honest and dedicated efforts for kosen-rufu, even if they seem to go unnoticed, we will see fortune and benefit accumulate in our lives. On the other hand, the cunning, spiteful and self-serving will not be able to achieve true and lasting happiness.

Despite her difficulties, Nichimyo had traveled long distances through dangerous lands to see the Daishonin, single-mindedly seeking his teachings. No matter the challenges we might face, let us maintain a seeking mind and persevere in our efforts for kosen-rufu. We will then gain the protection of finding ourselves at the right place at the right time for a life of true happiness.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


Heaven never punishes those who have committed no error, let alone people of merit.

That is why the Great Teacher Miao-lo stated, “The stronger one’s faith, the greater the protection of the gods.” So long as one maintains firm faith, one is certain to receive the great protection of the gods. I say this for your sake. I know your faith has always been admirable, but now you must strengthen it more than ever. (WND- 1, 614)


Nichiren teaches here the path for us to follow so we can lead lives of victory, even in times of turmoil. “The stronger one’s faith”—this phrase is the key. When we develop strong faith and a passion to advance kosen-rufu, we will receive the “protection of the gods.”

In essence, this protection is not something that we should expect from something or someone outside of us, nor is it the mere absence of problems. It manifests in the powerful life condition we gain from chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. If we chant with a weak or passive attitude, then it will be difficult to see any results. If we chant with a determination to never be defeated by any circumstance, however, then the entire universe will respond. When we earnestly chant with the spirit that “I will absolutely win,” then no matter our daily struggles, worries and karma, the power to move the universe will surge from within our lives.

While praising Nichimyo’s faith, Nichiren also urges her to “strengthen it more than ever.” Such a challenging spirit, an attitude to keep moving forward, will determine whether we can follow a path of happiness throughout our lives.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


Strengthen your resolve more than ever. Ice is made of water, but it is colder than water. Blue dye comes from indigo, but when something is repeatedly dyed in it, the color is better than that of the indigo plant. The Lotus Sutra remains the same, but if you repeatedly strengthen your resolve, your color will be better than that of others, and you will receive more blessings than they do. (WND-1, 615)


Knowing that Nichimyo already has strong faith, Nichiren here urges her to strengthen her resolve “more than ever.” Using various analogies, he teaches that the stronger our faith, the brighter we will shine and the more benefits we will obtain.

Whether we can demonstrate the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, however, will depend on the strength of our faith and practice. “I will overcome whatever the hardship”—true satisfaction in life comes from such a determination, along with the spirit to strengthen our faith “more than ever.”

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

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