Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 16: Buddhism Is about Winning [16.11]

16.11 “Summon Up the Courage of a Lion King”

In “On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” Nichiren Daishonin declares: “Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone” (WND-1, 997). Based on this famous passage, President Ikeda discusses the essence of practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

Nichiren Daishonin urges his disciples: “Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king” (WND-1, 997).

This is the essence of Nichiren Buddhism. As the passage indicates when it says “each of you,” we each possess within the courage of a lion king. The basis for summoning forth that courage is faith grounded in a spirit of oneness with our mentor.

The courage of a lion king is the spirit of the mentor who has fearlessly opened the way for kosen-rufu. When we share that spirit as our own, we cannot fail to bring forth the courage of a lion king in our lives.

When I was working my hardest to support Mr. Toda, I made a deep determination. To protect my mentor, a lion king, I resolved as his disciple to summon up the courage of a lion king and overcome every obstacle.

When we strive with the same spirit as our mentor, we will never be deadlocked. Asking ourselves what our mentor would do, mustering all our wisdom and strength to respond to our mentor’s hopes—that spirit awakens the state of a lion king within us. It gives rise to the courage to triumph over every difficulty and challenge.

Mr. Toda often said that those who continue to strive courageously for kosen-rufu, the wish of Nichiren Daishonin, are bodhisattvas and Buddhas.

The spirit of a lion king is one of unwavering commitment. It is an invincible spirit, the Soka Gakkai spirit. It is by struggling with and winning over difficulties that we attain Buddhahood. That’s why we have to summon the courage of a lion king. Faith is another name for the courage to always move forward.

From the early days of the Soka Gakkai, our members fought on tirelessly, refusing to allow unfounded criticism and abuse to defeat them. They did so in accord with the Daishonin’s admonition to “never succumb to threats from anyone” (WND-1, 997). They gritted their teeth and did not retreat a single step. Those who advance, even if just a step, or just a millimeter, are victors. Not giving in to defeat is the way to accumulate imperishable treasures of the heart and, in so doing, to accomplish one’s human revolution and transform one’s karma. In the realm of faith, those who sincerely persevere in their Buddhist practice are certain to be crowned with brilliant victory in the end.

Continuing, the Daishonin writes: “The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs. Slanderers are like barking foxes, but Nichiren’s followers are like roaring lions” (WND-1, 997). His writings contain numerous references to the lion king. He compares his enlightened state of life to that of a lion king to make it more easily understandable to his disciples. The Buddhist scriptures employ the lion king as a symbol for the Buddha.

The Daishonin also likens the Lotus Sutra, the king of sutras, to a lion king. Those who embrace this sutra will attain the life state of a lion king, fearless and confident, as he indicates with his assurance that one “will move about without fear like the lion king” (WND-1, 412). Hence, he writes, when we chant the lion’s roar of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, “What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?” (WND-1, 412).

In “On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” the Daishonin stresses that, just like the lion king, its cubs must not fear any other beasts (cf. WND-1, 997). It is the “barking foxes” that run away in fear when they hear the lion’s roar.

The key to battling obstacles or negative forces exists within our own hearts. Thus, no matter how formidable an obstacle or devilish function may be, there is no reason to fear it. Instead, what we should fear is giving in to the tendency in our hearts to let it sway or intimidate us (cf. WND-1, 501).1

The key to victory is to remain undefeated in spirit. “It is the heart that is important” (WND-1, 1000). Victors in spirit are victors in life.

In this passage, the Daishonin refers to “Nichiren’s followers” (WND-1, 997). In the 27 years since establishing his teaching [in 1253], he had fought against and triumphed over all kinds of powerful enemies and harsh persecutions. “Nichiren’s followers” implies those who have forged a profound mentor-disciple bond with him.

I read his use of “Nichiren’s followers” as powerful encouragement that proclaims: “You are all my disciples! As such, if you strive in the same way I have, you will definitely win!”

Disciples who embrace the great aim of kosen-rufu and follow the example of a great teacher full of compassion, courage, and wisdom will never be defeated. The lion king is always victorious. The lion cubs must resolve to become lion kings, too. Now is the time for them to do so. The Daishonin’s disciples should all encourage one another that the time to stand up resolutely as lion kings has arrived.

From a lecture series “Buddhism of the Sun: Illuminating the World,” published in Japanese in the Daibyakurenge, November 2015.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1In “Letter to the Brothers,” the Daishonin cites a passage from T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight that states: “As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere. . . . One should neither be influenced nor frightened by them. If one falls under their influence one will be led into the paths of evil. If one is frightened by them, one will be prevented from practicing the correct teaching” (WND-1, 501).