Skip to main content

Buddhist Study

Blast Through Karma With the Basics of Faith

A rocket’s initial liftoff into space uses millions of horsepower and tons of fuel. Right after liftoff, it rises slowly. As it climbs, burning through its fuel, the rocket gets lighter and faster.[2] 

While still in the Earth’s atmosphere, the rocket faces a moment of “maximum dynamic pressure,” or max q for short. Max q is a rocket’s ultimate test. In that moment, the rocket’s structure endures the most intense stress due to a combination of its engine’s internal accelerating force and external resistance from the Earth’s atmosphere. After it survives the pressure cooker of max q (and operators breathe sighs of relief), the rocket reaches the vacuum of space where dynamic pressure becomes undetectable.[3]

Just like a rocket blasting off, initiating an inner transformation in the depths of our lives often requires tremendous energy and effort. Not only that, we are also bound to encounter our own “max q” moments as we move forward. 

Whether getting rid of bad habits, taking on more responsibilities or starting something new, we need a powerful source of energy and resilience to keep us from breaking apart or spinning off course.

Nichiren Daishonin taught that hardships are inevitable in the course of Buddhist practice. How we face them is vital to realizing the ultimate aim of our practice—to reveal our Buddhahood. He writes:

Something uncommon also occurs when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood. At such a time, the three obstacles and four devils[4] will invariably appear, and the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat.[5]

Being counted among “the wise” means chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and perceiving challenges for what they truly are: opportunities to grow. What’s more, the appearance of the three obstacles and four devils—various obstacles and hindrances to the practice of Buddhism—signals that we’re on the right track. 

Knowing this can inspire us to “rejoice” and use each hurdle as an opportunity to improve ourselves, deepen our humanity and better understand how to support one another. 

The moment we hit an obstacle is decisive. Like the incredible power and energy a rocket needs at liftoff, how we initiate our efforts matters, especially in changing something like a deeply rooted tendency that causes us to suffer what we call negative karma. Ikeda Sensei says: 

To launch a rocket into space requires far more energy and thrust than an ordinary airplane needs to take flight. Now, in the evil age called the Latter Day of the Law, people’s minds and society have become polluted. Simply trying to lead a normal life amid the harsh realities of our society will not be enough to break through and change your negative karma. We need the energy and thrust of a rocket blasting into space to break through our karma. The source of this great power is the Mystic Law. In other words, we can tap this power by exerting ourselves in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.[6]

One of the best ways to go beyond leading “a normal life” and blast through karma is to constantly fuel our lives with the basics of Buddhist practice. 

Faith means firmly establishing Buddhahood in our lives by putting our whole heart into chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon.

Practice consists of engaging in Buddhist practice and gaining personal benefits while teaching others about Buddhism. 

Study of Nichiren’s writings and Sensei’s guidance helps us deepen our faith and practice Buddhism correctly. 

Engaging in these essential aspects of Buddhist practice gives us the fortitude and resilience to endure our “max q” moments and to revel in opportunities to tap our Buddhahood and fundamentally change our lives.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

April 19, 2024, World Tribune, p. 10


  1. “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 376. ↩︎
  2. <accessed April 11, 2024>. ↩︎
  3.; and <accessed April 11, 2024>. ↩︎
  4. Three obstacles and four devils: The three obstacles are 1) the obstacle of earthly desires, 2) the obstacle of karma and 3) the obstacle of retribution. The four devils are 1) the hindrance of the five components, 2) the hindrance of earthly desires, 3) the hindrance of death and 4) the hindrance of the devil king. ↩︎
  5. “The Three Obstacles and Four Devils,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 637. ↩︎
  6. February 2024 Living Buddhism, p. 19. ↩︎

How Boone, N.C., Became a Hub for Introducing Youth

Pitons Management Area