Buddhist Bookcast

In this episode, SGI-USA National Women's Leader Naoko Leslie offers insights into the latest sub-series from Daisaku Ikeda's "The Buddhism of the Sun—Illuminating the World." We delve into The Immeasurable Power of Prayer and its message about the power that one person embodies to transform any situation through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It all comes down to developing the confidence that we possess the power of the universe within.

What is Buddhist Bookcast?

A review of books from World Tribune and Middleway Press that serve as a guidepost on the path of life.

The Immeasurable Power of Prayer
[00:00:00] From SGI-USA, I'm David Witkowski, and this is the Buddhist Bookcast, where we review inspirational books from World Tribune and Middle Way Press. Each book serves as a clear guidepost on the journey of life. Today I'm joined by Naoko Leslie, the SGI-USA Women's Leader to discuss the new title, The Immeasurable Power of Prayer by Daisaku Ikeda from his “Buddhism of the Sun” lecture series.
Naoko, thank you so much for joining us on this first episode of the Buddhist Bookcast. Thank you. Thank you for having me. So the Immeasurable Power of Prayer is the eighth mini series from Ikeda Sensei's longest running study series, The Buddhism of the Sun. He began writing it in 2015 until shortly before his passing in November 2023.
The series totals over 100 installments, all of which have run in Living Buddhism. [00:01:00] So before we get into the book itself, Naoko, can you talk about the significance of this study series? Yes, the title of the series, Buddhism of the Sun Illuminating the World, is in itself so empowering. Pre Lotus Sutra teachings taught that one must seek to be saved by the Buddha.
And be illuminated by the Buddha. But Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism is completely different and revolutionary. We don't have to wait to be illuminated by the Buddha. So we just get to chant Nam myoho renge kyo to the Gohonzon and bring out that sunshine or Buddhahood from within and illuminate our own lives.
It's very proactive. And not only that. We can also illuminate the lives of others and give them hope. So truly, this is Buddhism of the sun illuminating the world. Thank you so much. And, um, returning to this, uh, new title, The Immeasurable Power of Prayer, it's fitting that we're having this conversation with you [00:02:00] as the first of the Women's Division Guidelines is everything begins with prayer.
So I'd love to hear a little bit more about that guideline. Yes, well, you know, this is Sensei's way of life. And he has, you know, continued to win, uh, because he started with prayer. And Sensei writes in this book as follows, and I read, um, everything begins with prayer. I myself have begun every great effort for Kosen-rufu with prayer.
Whenever I face difficulties, I challenge them with prayer as my foundation, chanting wholeheartedly and overcoming them one by one, unquote. And he shared about the February Shakubuku campaign of 1952, and he told the members of Kamata chapter back then, let's start with prayer. And so they chanted and chanted and welcomed many new members.
And it's really true from my recent experience. That it is through our [00:03:00] prayer that we can make new bodhisattvas of the earth emerge in our immediate environment. And we can help them chant, receive their gohonzon and embark on their wonderful new journey of kosen-rufu with Sensei That's beautiful.
Thank you so much. And in this book sensei mentions an analogy from Nichiren Daishonin about praying so intensely as if to create fire from damp wood or water from parched ground and, um, to develop that kind of prayer. So what does this analogy of creating fire from damp wood or water from parched ground, what does this mean to you?
Well, to me, it means that we already decide to win. And pray with that intensity and sensei says that prayer in Nichiren Buddhism means making a vow to win without fail. So it's not half hearted. We [00:04:00] already decide to win and you know this phrase, you know, Nichiren Daishonin, he wrote this while he was in Sado. He was exiled and he wrote it to his disciple, uh, in Kamakura, and he prayed to protect his disciple who was very far away while he himself was basically facing death sentence.
And, you know, long story short, the fact that he was pardoned from exile is Nichiren Daishonin's clear actual proof of his power of prayer and encouragement to us. That we can make such an impossible situation possible. And since it also writes in this book. He says daimoku is so powerful that there is nowhere in the universe it does not reach.
What's important is that our prayers brim with conviction and the determination to realize them, come what may. When we earnestly chant Nam myoho renge kyo, our prayers reach every corner of the universe. Through deep prayer, [00:05:00] we transform our fundamental state of mind and that inner transformation changes our own lives as well as our environment.
So there's no distance when we chant Daimoku and we can chant for our families and friends, our loved ones who are so far away. We can instantly reach them and protect them just like Nichiren Daishonin did. Wow, that is, um, really, really, uh, profound prayer that Nichiren Daishonin had, um, in such difficult circumstances.
And I was reading page 17 of this book, The Immeasurable Power of Prayer. And Ikeda Sensei addresses the reality of how we may doubt whether our prayers will be answered, how easy it is as humans to doubt, you know, if our prayers are working. And so based on your reading of this book, what is the best way to develop the confidence that our prayers will be answered?
Definitely to [00:06:00] employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra. And when we pray, we can conquer our doubts. We can conquer our fundamental ignorance that makes us think that we cannot achieve what we want to achieve. So for example, to think that we cannot become happy is in fact an illusion and everyone can become happy with this practice and chanting will erase such fundamental ignorance or misconception from our lives.
And I know we chant and just by chanting together, uh, worries and doubts disappear, and hope and confidence emerge from our lives. Daimoku is amazing. Through reading this book, The Immeasurable Power of Prayer, how has it impacted the way you chant Nam myoho renge kyo? Yes, it really empowered me. And reading this makes me want to chant more and change all poison into medicine and achieve all, all my goals and dreams.
And I think this is a textbook of how to pray and experience the immeasurable power of prayer. Thank you so much [00:07:00] Naoko. Your take on this book and on the power of our prayer, um, you know, really sharing Sensei's encouragement, um, is a very, a very enlightening take, um, on Sensei's latest book, The Immeasurable Power of Prayer, which will be available in SGI-USA bookstores and online at bookstore.sgiusa.org. You can also find the ebook version at your go to online bookseller. So yes, Naoko, thank you again for joining us and look forward to seeing you soon.
I hope you enjoyed this first episode of the Buddhist Bookcast. Thank you for listening and we'll see you next time.