On Prayer

Even if one missed while pointing at the earth, even if one tied up the sky, even if the ebb and flow of the tide ceased, and even if the sun rose in the west, the prayers of the votary of the Lotus Sutra would never be unanswered.

(Gosho, p. 630)

Paraphrasing of the Monthly Gosho Passage:

Even if a person aims at the earth and misses, even if they tie up the sky, even if the rise and fall of the tide should stop, and even if the sun should rise from the west, the prayers of the votary of the Lotus Sutra will never go unanswered.

Background of “On Prayer”:

Nichiren Daishonin wrote this Gosho in the ninth year of Bunei (1272), when he was 51 years old, during his time on Sado Island. It is considered to be addressed to Sairen-bo.

In this Gosho, Nichiren Daishonin first reveals that true benefits will not be realized from the prayers of all other sects and religions. Then, he states that all of the bodhisattvas, those in the realms of the two vehicles, all the heavenly deities, the dragon king’s daughter, and Devadatta had all attained enlightenment through the Lotus Sutra and, in order to repay their debts of gratitude, they all work to protect the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra. Furthermore, he firmly declares that the prayers of the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra will come true without fail.

Next, Nichiren Daishonin provides an actual example of how prayers based on heretical teachings will invite negative effects. During the Jokyu Rebellion (1221), Retired Emperor Gotoba ordered the head priest and high-ranking priests of the Tendai and Shingon sects to pray and place a curse on [the Hojo clan]; however, in spite of their utmost efforts in prayer, Gotoba suffered a tremendous defeat against the Kamakura feudal government. The Daishonin strongly denounces the heretical doctrines of the other sects that turned their backs on the Buddha’s final and most superior teaching of the Lotus Sutra.