I myself, since the day I first took faith [in the Lotus Sutra], have recited these passages every day, making a vow and praying to theBuddhas and the gods, and although I have encountered great difficulties of various kinds, because of the profound influence of the benefits bestowed by the Lotus Sutra and the golden words of Shakyamuni Buddha, I have managed to survive until today.
Thus you should understand that so long as a practitioner of theLotus Sutra remains unwavering in faith, free of all false alliances, entrusting himself wholeheartedly to the Lotus Sutra and practicing in accordance with the Buddha’s golden words, he will without fail be able to prevent disaster and prolong his life in this present existence, to say nothing of in the life to come. Splendid recompense will be his, and he will fulfill his great vow to broadly proclaim and propagate the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren Daishonin sent this letter to the priest Sairen-bō with a separate scroll attached on which the Daishonin had written out passages from the Lotus Sutra for Sairen-bō to recite as a prayer. Sairen-bō, a scholarly priest originally of the Tendai school, had been in exile on Sado, where he encountered the Daishonin and became his disciple.
Sairen-bō had been suffering from illness and had asked theDaishonin what prayer would be effective in curing his illness and prolonging his life. The Daishonin responded by sending him a scroll known as “the prayer sutra” containing Lotus Sutra passages describing such benefits. But that document has been lost and it is not known what passages were cited therein. In this letter Nichiren Daishonin points out that the key to having this prayer answered is unwavering devotion to the practice and propagation of the Lotus Sutra; hence he states that only those dedicated to this task should offer this prayer.
In the letter, he affirms that the reason he has survived in spite of undergoing one great hardship after another is that he has recited passages from the Lotus Sutra on a daily basis, prayed to the Buddhas and the gods- the protective functions inherent in the universe- and made a vow.
The Daishonin emphasises the regularity of his practice with the phrase “every day”. He notes three characteristics that define the faith and practice of the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra that lead to absolute victory. These are:
- Remaining unwavering in faith:
This is resolute faith, a great vow to live one’s life solidly based on the Mystic Law. It means not having the slightest doubt, hesitation or fear in one’s heart. As President Toda continuously reminded us- not advancing is retreating. He said, ” The crucial question is whether we are changing for the better or for the worse. When we fail to be aware of this, we give into inertia. Moreover, when we grow apathetic in faith, practicing only out of habit, it’s the same as if we have stopped practicing altogether. Faith in Nichiren Buddhism is an active practice for rapidly changing ourselves for the better.” The important thing is to never allow ourselves to be defeated. Remaining undefeated is being unwavering.
- Striving in faith with integrity and sincerity:
The second characteristic identified by the Daishonin is “remaining free of all false alliances”. This means not being a false friend but embodying sincerity and integrity.in all our actions and behaviour. It is faithfully following the path of our beliefs and convictions.
- Believing in the power of the mystic law and practicing as the Buddha teaches:
The third characteristic cited y the Daishonin is “entrusting… wholeheartedly to the Lotus Sutra and practicing in accordance with the Buddha’s golden words”. This is practicing the Lotus Sutra, the very heart of the Buddha, just as the Buddha teaches. This means persevering in faith, practice, and study, and dedicating our lives to the great vow for kosen-rufu, always based on the gohonzon of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. y making kosen-rufu the guiding purpose of all our prayers and action, we can tap the limitless wisdom, courage and strength of the Buddha that are inherent in our lives. This is what allows to make the impossible possible.