Therefore, we know that the prayers offered by a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra will be answered just as an echo answers a sound, as a shadow follows a form, as the reflection of the moon appears in clear water, as a mirror collects dewdrops,14 as a magnet attracts iron, as amber attracts particles of dust, or as a clear mirror reflects the color of an object.WND I: 38, p. 340
Prayers based upon the Lotus Sutra will definitely be answered, writes Nichiren Daishonin. This is the theme of On Prayer, written by Nichiren Daishonin in the ninth year of Bun’ei (1272), when he was in exile on Sado Island. The writing is thought to be a reply to questions raised by Sairen-bō, a disciple of the Daishonin and former priest of the Mountain [Jikaku] branch of the Tendai school, who at the time was also living in exile on Sado Island.
In this passage, the Daishonin states that the prayers of the votary of the Lotus Sutra are always answered. His use of natural principles and phenomena as analogies demonstrates his strong confidence in what he is saying. Wherever practitioners of the Lotus Sutra chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, just as an echo answers a sound and a shadow follows a form, their prayers will unfailingly produce positive results there. Nichiren teaches that our lives are transformed— both spiritually and physically—by prayer, which in turn exerts a positive influence on our environment.
Sensei says that prayer is not something abstract. It is the penetrating insight of Buddhism, which discerns the Law of life in the depths of chaos, and apprehends it as the force that supports and activates all phenomena from within. “Sound,” “form” and “clear water” referred to in this passage correspond to our attitude in prayer, while “echo,” “shadow” and “reflection of the moon” correspond to the natural way in which prayers are answered. Just as these three analogies refer to phenomena that arise in accord with natural principles, the prayers of a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra will also definitely be answered in accord with the inexorable Law of life and in accord with reason. Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is free of all arrogance and conceit. The very act of sitting before the Gohonzon and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo pulses with the humble spirit to transcend attachment to one’s own shallow wisdom and limited experience to become one with the Law of life and the fundamental rhythm of nature and the universe, which were revealed through the Buddha’s enlightened wisdom. Without being self-abasing, we concentrate all our actions into a single life moment—into our determined prayer— while recharging our lives to prepare for boundless, vibrant growth. That is the healthiest and most fulfilling state of life.