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Daily Life

‘I am Myoho-renge-kyo!’

Illustration by zzorik / Getty Images.

Every year on February 27, the women of America celebrate SGI-USA Women’s Day and the birthday of SGI Honorary Women’s Leader Kaneko Ikeda. Together, they renew their vow to “become the happiest people in the world” (My Dear Friends in America, fourth edition, p. 95). This month, Living Buddhism carries the following excerpts from SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series: On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime as additional study material for the women’s division.

The Certain Path to Attaining Buddhahood

Those who sincerely chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon and practice and participate in activities with the Soka Gakkai cannot fail to become Buddhas. The purpose of faith is to freely realize our full potential and shine in our own unique way. That’s why it’s important to keep advancing and challenging ourselves, to have the spirit “I will exert myself in my practice! I will deepen my faith! I will do my best as a member of the Soka Gakkai.” This is the certain path to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

With this understanding, let’s concretely and strictly apply to our daily practice Nichiren’s admonition “If you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching” (“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 3). To seek the Mystic Law somewhere outside of us essentially amounts to evading responsibility for our own lives.[1]

Construct a Self Like Towering Mount Fuji

Practicing Nichiren Buddhism means not being swayed this way and that; it means constructing a self that is solid and resolute like towering Mount Fuji. But if we neglect this task and focus our energies somewhere else, before we’re even aware of it, we can end up veering onto the path of externally seeking the Law.

For example, if we chant to the Gohonzon but always blame other people or our environment for our circumstances, we are avoiding the challenge of tackling our inner darkness or ignorance. By doing so, we are seeking enlightenment outside of us. By changing ourselves on a more profound level, we can begin to improve our situation. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the driving force for that change.[2]

Challenge Your Situation

It is also important that we don’t fall into the trap of practicing “dependent faith,” where we pin our hopes on having our prayers answered through the divine or transcendent powers of gods or Buddhas. This is a typical example of viewing the Law as outside oneself. The provisional Buddhas of the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings[3] readily lend themselves to this kind of faith, the essence of which is escapism.

Even when they’re obviously suffering, people of dependent faith avoid looking at their problems. They don’t have the courage or make any actual effort to challenge their situation. In such cases, quite frankly, faith is simply something people hide behind as they avoid dealing with reality. Without a struggle, however, we cannot directly engage the gears of our human revolution.[4]

Have Concrete Prayers

In addition, it is important that we try to rid our lives of ambiguous, elusive doubt and disbelief as well as grumbling and complaining. The erroneous belief that Myoho-renge-kyo (the Mystic Law) exists outside of our lives has at its core an inability to believe that all people—ourselves and others—possess the Buddha nature. And this disbelief stems from fundamental [ignorance].

In terms of attitude in faith, this tendency to skeptically regard the Buddha nature as “a nice ideal but one that doesn’t really change reality” will manifest itself as prayer that is vague and lacking in conviction. If our efforts in faith are halfhearted, we cannot change our attitude or fundamentally transform our lives.

As Nichiren indicates in this writing when he says, “You must summon up deep faith” (WND-1, 3), if we hope to make our inherent Buddha nature the basis of our lives—or as Nichiren terms it, to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime—we must continue striving to deepen our faith, our conviction in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. And as our faith deepens, it will manifest as confident and concrete prayer.[5]

Believe in Yourself and Others

Let’s also strictly guard against slandering our fellow members. Slandering and harboring resentment and jealousy toward others results in denying their Buddha nature. The inability to believe in others’ Buddha nature—just like not believing in our own—causes us to stray off course and seek the Law externally. Our Buddha nature is what fundamentally spurs us to realize happiness for ourselves and others. Not to believe in the Buddha nature is to deny the spirit of the Lotus Sutra, which teaches that all people have the potential for Buddhahood. …

Also, unless we practice together united in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind,” the great desire for kosen-rufu cannot be fulfilled.[6]

Bring Forth Courage

[Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda] used to say, “You should resolve, ‘I am Myoho-renge-kyo!’” The Mystic Law is the “highly effective medicine” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 269) that relieves the sufferings of all people. It is also the great treasure storehouse that brings good fortune and happiness to all. The important thing is to live out our lives based on and completely in sync with the Law; it is to imbue and solidify our lives with the Mystic Law.

Our daily realities are filled with an endless succession of problems. But with the firm belief that our lives are Myoho-renge-kyo, we should strive to boldly challenge everything with the unwavering conviction that we can overcome all hardships and become happy without fail. When we maintain deep faith based on the foundation that “I am Myoho-renge-kyo,” we can take on any problem with courage. The key to victory in life lies in whether we can bring forth courage. Not a shrinking timidity but a challenging courage—this is what we need to have![7]

Become a True Victor

[Nichiren] writes: “Whether you chant the Buddha’s name, recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With this conviction you should strive in faith” (WND-1, 4). All our efforts in faith—including our practice of reciting the Lotus Sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo each morning and evening, as well as all of our various Soka Gakkai activities—are virtuous acts that “implant benefits and roots of goodness” in our lives. Those who advance with this deep awareness will be true victors who travel the direct path to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

Always upholding the great philosophy embodied in Nichiren’s words “It is the heart that is important” (WND-1, 1000), let us lead magnificent, victorious lives![8]

From the February 2024 Living Buddhism


  1. On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 31. ↩︎
  2. Ibid. ↩︎
  3. The provisional teachings that preceded the Lotus Sutra do not teach that the world of Buddhahood exists in all people and instead describe Buddhas as idealized and superior beings. ↩︎
  4. On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, pp. 31–32. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., p. 32. ↩︎
  6. Ibid., pp. 32–33. ↩︎
  7. Ibid., pp. 33–34. ↩︎
  8. Ibid., p. 34. ↩︎

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