Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 15: “Faith for Overcoming Obstacles” [15.9]
15.9 The Stronger One’s Faith, the Greater One’s Joy
President Ikeda shares passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings that he has taken to heart since his youth, and calls upon us to have strong faith and rejoice in adversity.
“A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering” is one of the writings of Nichiren Daishonin that I engraved so deeply in my life as a youth that I could recite it by heart.
In it, the Daishonin writes: “In the Latter Day of the Law, the votary of the Lotus Sutra will appear without fail. The greater the hardships befalling him, the greater the delight he feels, because of his strong faith. Doesn’t a fire burn more briskly when logs are added?” (WND-1, 33). Here, he states that the votary of the Lotus Sutra is destined to appear in the Latter Day of the Law, with the implicit message that it is he who is fulfilling this prediction. Hardships will befall the votary, he notes, but that is precisely the time to rouse even stronger faith and relish the challenge of overcoming them.
The votary of the Lotus Sutra welcomes hardships, eagerly awaits them, and then rises joyfully to challenge them. True, courageous Bodhisattvas of the Earth1 do not react to a little criticism by feeling sad, whining, doubting, or complaining.
The Daishonin likens rousing even stronger faith when we encounter hardships to a fire burning more brightly when logs are added. But if a fire is small, it won’t be able to burn the logs; adding them would only extinguish it.
He also writes, describing the votary’s vast and encompassing life state: “All rivers flow into the sea, but does the sea turn back their waters? The currents of hardship pour into the sea of the Lotus Sutra and rush against its votary. The river is not rejected by the ocean; nor does the votary reject suffering” (WND-1, 33).
Those who feel rising joy when they face great hardships are true votaries of the Lotus Sutra who are like the sea. They possess within them the infinitely vast ocean of a fearless, unshakable, and all-embracing state of life.
Next, the Daishonin writes: “Were it not for the flowing rivers, there would be no sea. Likewise, without tribulation there would be no votary of the Lotus Sutra” (WND-1, 33).
Whatever difficulties we may encounter, they are nothing compared to those experienced by the Daishonin. Moreover, the hardships we undergo in the course of our Buddhist practice all contribute to helping us transform our karma. They ultimately have profound meaning for our lives. They are all nourishment for our development, for leading brilliant, worthwhile lives. They are the driving force that propels us toward lives of towering victory.
This is the great privilege that you, my friends who embrace the Mystic Law, enjoy, and a truth that you should devote your lives to demonstrating.
From a speech at a representative leaders meeting commemorating the 40th anniversary of kosen-rufu in Izu, Shizuoka, November 23, 1987.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Bodhisattvas of the Earth: An innumerable host of bodhisattvas who emerge from beneath the earth and to whom Shakyamuni Buddha entrusts the propagation of the Mystic Law, or the essence of the Lotus Sutra, in the Latter Day of the Law.