The Difficulty of Sustaining Faith
About the difficulty of sustaining faith in this sutra:
According to Nissho1, you said
to him, "I have been practicing this sutra correctly
since last year, when you told me that those who embrace
this sutra will enjoy peace and security in this life and
good circumstances in the next. But instead I have been
deluged by hardships." Is this true, or did he give
me a false report? In either case, I will take advantage
of this opportunity to resolve any doubts you may have.
A passage from the Lotus Sutra reads, "...difficult
to believe and difficult to understand."2
Many hear about and accept this sutra, but few continue
their faith in the face of great obstacles. To accept is
easy; to continue is difficult. But Buddhahood lies in continuing
faith. Those who embrace this sutra should be prepared to
meet difficulties. It is certain, however, that they will
"quickly obtain the supreme enlightenment."3
To "sustain faith" means to cherish Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,
the teaching by which all Buddhas throughout past, present
and future attain enlightenment. The sutra reads, "We
will uphold what the Buddha has entrusted to us."4
The Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai stated, "One accepts out
of the power of faith and continues because of the power
Another part of the sutra reads, "It is difficult to
sustain faith in this sutra. One who embraces it even for
a short time will delight me and all other Buddhas."6
A fire burns higher when logs are added, and a strong wind
makes the gura7
swell. The boughs of the long-lived pine tree become bent
and twisted as it grows older. The votary of the Lotus Sutra
is like the fire and the gura, while his persecutions
are like the logs and wind. The votary of the Lotus Sutra
is the Buddha of eternal life; no wonder his practice is
hindered, just as the pine tree's branches are bent or broken.
From now on, you should always remember the words, "It
is difficult to sustain faith in this sutra."
With my deep respect,
The sixth day of the third month in the twelfth year of
- Nissho (1221-1323): One of the six close
disciples of Nichiren Daishonin known collectively as
the six elder priests.
Sutra, chap. 10.
Sutra., chap. 11.
Sutra., chap. 13.
- Hokke Mongu, vol. 8.
Sutra, chap. 11.
- Gura: (Skt., kalakula) Imaginary insects
which swell rapidly in strong winds.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, p.