1. Buddhist

Gosho Study #16: On Persecutions Befalling the Sage

 

The “Courage of the Lion King” Is the Buddhist Spirit

Nichiren wrote this letter at Minobu on the first day of the tenth month of the year, 1279, to his followers in general. Nichiren also instructed that this letter be kept by Shijo Kingo.

Around this time, propagation efforts around the Fuji area began to produce significant results under the leadership of Nikko Shonin. There were a number of converts among both priests and laity, especially farmer believers. However as the number of new believers increased, so did pressures from the religious and secular authorities as they deemed it as a threat. It especially incurred the wrath of Gyochi, the deputy chief priest of Ryusen-ji temple, whose opposition to Nichiren’s teachings eventually led to the Atsuhara Persecution whereby 20 farmer believers were arrested on false charges, and three of them, Jinshiro, Yagoro and Yarokuro, were later beheaded. In spite of these persecutions, not one of the twenty farmers abandoned their faith.

Seeing that his followers were now ready to give their lives if necessary to protect the Law, Nichiren realized that the time had come to fulfil the purpose of his life – that is, the inscription of the object of devotion for the sake of all humankind.

This is a passage in which Nichiren teaches us that the key to surmounting obstacles in life through our practice of faith is none other than “courage” and the “mentor-disciple spirit”. Simply put, the “heart of the lion king” refers to “courage”, and, at the same time, the fundamental life force that wells forth in our lives. It also refers to the latent strength we possess within us.

Nichiren says we must “summon up” the “courage of a lion king”. We cannot bring forth something that doesn’t already exist. Qualities such as courage and life force do not belong solely to an exclusive group of individuals. We all inherently possess it inside us. Since it already exists within our lives, all we need to do is to summon forth this courageous spirit to defeat the cowardice and delusion clouding our lives.

To reiterate that we must remain absolutely fearless no matter what oppression or adversity may befall us, Nichiren adds on, “The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs.” The spirit of selfless dedication without begrudging his life with which Nichiren opened the way for kosen-rufu to lead all people to happiness is itself “the heart of a lion king”. We, the disciples are the cubs of the lion king. Therefore, when we strive with the commitment of faith, we, too, cannot fail to bring forth this courage of the lion king that remain undefeated in the face of all kinds of obstacles, no matter how harsh.

Faith based on the shared commitment of mentor and disciple is what enables us to summon up that heart of the lion king. When disciples stand up and chant the daimoku of the Mystic Law in the same mind as the mentor and strive to uphold justice, our lion roar will surely prevail over the devilish functions and powerful enemies, who are like “barking foxes”.

 

Key points of the Gosho passage:

1. This is a passage in which Nichiren teaches us that the key to surmounting obstacles in life through our practice of faith is none other than “courage” and the “mentor-disciple spirit”.

2. Simply put, the “heart of the lion king” refers to “courage”, and, at the same time, the fundamental life force that wells forth in our lives. It also refers to the latent strength we possess within us.

3. Nichiren says we must “summon up” the “courage of a lion king”. We cannot bring forth something that doesn’t already exist. Qualities such as courage and life force do not belong solely to an exclusive group of individuals. We all inherently possess it inside us. Since it already exists within our lives, all we need to do is to summon forth this courageous spirit to defeat the cowardice and delusion clouding our lives.

4. Faith based on the shared commitment of mentor and disciple is what enables us to summon up that heart of the lion king. When disciples stand up and chant the daimoku of the Mystic Law in the same mind as the mentor and strive to uphold justice, our lion roar will surely prevail over the devilish functions and powerful enemies, who are like “barking foxes”.

 

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