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Gosho Study

‘Uphold the Buddha’s Golden Words’

Photo by Rob Hendry.

The most important thing in practicing the Buddhist teachings is to follow and uphold the Buddha’s golden words, not the opinions of others.

—“On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,”
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 393

In “On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” Nichiren Daishonin outlines how he strove to realize Shakyamuni Buddha’s noble ideals. He wrote the letter in May 1273 while exiled on Sado Island, addressing it to all his disciples.

The letter’s title suggests two key points: 

First, “practicing the Buddha’s teachings” indicates how the Daishonin has spread the Mystic Law in accord with Shakyamuni’s teachings, overcoming all the hardships the Lotus Sutra predicts its genuine practitioners will face. 

Second, it expresses Nichiren’s instructions to his disciples to practice with the same undefeatable resolve that he exemplifies.

In the Daishonin’s day, many leading figures put forth theories about which sutras were beneficial and which were not. Some claimed that the Lotus Sutra was inferior to Shakyamuni’s other teachings and thus created much confusion.

To set the record straight, Nichiren cites sutra after sutra to demonstrate the Lotus Sutra’s superiority over other teachings. He stresses the importance of upholding “the Buddha’s golden words, not the opinions of others.” 

Here, “the opinion of others” means the instructions of those who oppose the Lotus Sutra and revere erroneous doctrines. 

For us today, upholding the Buddha’s golden words means studying and applying the Daishonin’s writings and practicing Buddhism with the Soka Gakkai, the harmonious community of believers striving to fulfill the Buddha’s vow for kosen-rufu. It means taking action by widely sharing Nichiren Buddhism, remaining unshaken by difficulties, standing up for the dignity of life and winning the trust of those around us. 

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. Living With the Mentor’s Spirit Brings Forth Limitless Power

If we faithfully exert ourselves as the Buddha teaches, we can break through any obstacle. Practicing in accord with the Buddha’s teachings means disciples challenging themselves in the same spirit as their teacher or mentor. When we unerringly walk the path of mentor and disciple, we can bring forth unlimited power. The mentor’s lofty and expansive life state can inspire us to win in our own struggles.

I learned from [my mentor, Josei Toda,] the essence of faith and practice based on staunchly adhering to the Buddha’s teachings. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, p. 21)

2. Aspire to Spread the Law Widely

The Daishonin was still in exile on Sado Island while his followers in Kamakura were enduring the smoking embers of persecution. In the eyes of society, they were nothing more than a lowly exile and the remnants of his followers. 

In “On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” however, the Daishonin urges his disciples and followers to summon strong faith, knowing that they will encounter great persecution. He also says that “the battle between the provisional and the true teachings”[1] is only just getting started, and he calls for the spread of the correct teaching and the creation of an ideal society. He urges them to muster strong faith that aspires to spread the Law widely. (The World of Nichiren’s Writings, vol. 1, p. 251)

3. A Teaching for All Humanity

The Soka Gakkai has realized tremendous growth by emulating the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and President Josei Toda. Kosen-rufu has advanced precisely because of this commitment to the oneness of mentor and disciple in our practice. 

From the standpoint of the “path of a disciple,” all Buddhas throughout the universe, having attained enlightenment with the fundamental Law serving as their mentor, are disciples before the Law. Shakyamuni also based all of his actions on the Law to which he had awakened in the depths of his life. And Nichiren Daishonin, too, in terms of his outward conduct, can be said to have carried out the practice of a Bodhisattva of the Earth who was Shakyamuni’s disciple from the remote past. 

Through his own example, the Daishonin taught his followers what it means to “practice in accord with the Buddha’s teaching,” as expounded in the Lotus Sutra. This is something for which we are most fortunate. 

“Practicing in accord with the Buddha’s teaching” constitutes the path of a disciple. This entails steadfastly taking action in accord with the mentor’s teaching. (A Foundation for Your Life, p. 75)

April 7, 2023, World Tribune, p. 10


  1. The battle between the provisional and the true teachings: The struggle between the teachings of all the sutras preceding the Lotus Sutra, which are fragments of the Buddha’s teachings, and the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, which reveals the truth of the Buddha’s enlightenment. ↩︎

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