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Waking the Lion

Waking the Lion

Waking the Lion is the first volume of a study guide for the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin. It contains study material for the following goshos:

On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime (Japanese: Issho jobutsu sho)

On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land (Japanese: Rissho ankoku ron)

A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering (Japanese: Shiiji Shiro dono gosho)

The Izu Exile (Japanese: Funamori Yasaburo moto gosho)

The Universal Salty Taste (Japanese: Doitsu kammi gosho)

The Four Debts of Gratitude (Japanese: Shion sho)

The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country (Japanese: Kyo ki ji koku sho)

Questions and Answers about Embracing the Lotus Sutra (Japanese: Ji Myo-hokke mondo sho)

The Recitation of the "Expedient Means" and "Life Span" Chapters (Japanese: Gassui gosho)

Encouragement to a Sick Person (Japanese: Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro dono gosho)

Opening the Eyes of Wooden and Painted Images (Japanese: Mokue nizo kaigen no koto)

The Essence of the "Medicine King" Chapter (Japanese: Yakuo-bon tokui sho)


Read other works by Marge Kirkpatrick on this site:

Shakubuku: In the Footsteps of Nichiren


Into the Gohonzon

In the Arms of Myoho

Thread of Truth



Order Waking the Lion Volume 1
112 pages
Covers 12 writings of Nichiren


As important as Nichiren's writings are, understanding the words of a medieval Japanese priest and incorporating them into twenty-first century life can be a daunting task. Let's face it -- you can't apply what you can't understand.

Enter -- Waking the Lion: A Study Guide to the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin -- written with the lay believer in mind. Each chapter of this book covers one gosho, or letter of Nichiren's. Each includes a brief introduction, an overview of what Nichiren says in that gosho (including explanations of difficult terms) and -- most importantly -- how to apply Nichiren's words to your practice and your life.

Like Nichiren's teachings, Waking the Lion is not meant to be simply read, but lived. Be forewarned: reading it may awaken the lion within. So take a healthy stretch, dear reader, and get ready to roar....

"I purchased a copy of your book, Waking the Lion: Volume 1, from, and absolutely loved it. The 'Putting it into Practice' sections are priceless, and I found your writing style to be both accessible and engaging. I am now immersing myself in the Gosho with fresh enthusiasm, thanks to having read your excellent book." -- Ernesto Torres, Los Angeles, CA

Marge Kirkpatrick's Waking the Lion: a Study Guide to The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,is refreshing, intriguing, and profoundly encouraging. Here are some sample quotes from the book:

"Words speak to us on many levels. Nichiren - even in translation - is no exception, if we will but listen. Admittedly, when I first read Nichiren, I wasn't listening very well. Indeed, his writings greatly troubled me. I was confused by his talk of gods and devils, confounded by his attribution of natural disasters to man, unnerved by his self-assurance, and offended by his insistence about the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and the Buddhism based thereon. (Arrgh! I'd been shakubukued!)" p.78

"Make no mistake - Nichiren is intolerant. Intolerant of personal opinion in the guise of documentation, of false respect as an excuse for not questioning hypotheses, of blind faith as a substitute for proof.

"Yes, Nichiren, too, talks of 'faith.' But not the blind faith necessary to accept other religions. The only faith you really need is faith enough in yourself to try chanting and see what happens. And as you slowly prove to yourself that this chanting stuff really works, faith to take the next step. And when that proves true, the next.

"Is everything Nichiren says true? Darned if I know. But I intend to find out. I was challenged to live this life as a Grand Experiment - as a test of Nichiren Buddhism - and I accepted that challenge. So far I haven't been disappointed. And - if you choose to do the same - neither will you." p.60

"The path to enlightenment is a becoming, an uncovering of inner wisdom, an unfolding of who you truly are. It is your life's journey. And it is ongoing. Just as even a virtuoso of the guitar continually learns new techniques and hones his/her skills, so, too, does a Buddha continuously blossom, becoming more and more enlightened. Buddhahood is not an end. It is a beginning." p.35

"Know this: the closer you come to following Nichiren's path, the more opposition you will face. The more successful you are at propagating Nichiren Buddhism, the more wrath you will have to confront. Nichiren Buddhism is not about making others comfortable. Indeed, it's about making people uncomfortable: uncomfortable with their anchored boats which never dare leave the harbor; with their quiet despair lapping, lapping, at the hulls; with cargo-holds brim full, but lives still empty.

"Which life will you choose, my friend? One full of things? Or one full of meaning? One of ease and contentment? Or one of purpose and positive action? Which life will bring peace when it comes your time to say good-bye?" p.66

"We are hurting ourselves and our society and our natural world by not living in accord with the Law of Life. That's what Nichiren is telling us in this gosho. Look at the world. Take a good, hard look. Nichiren is saying it doesn't have to be this way. He's telling us we can change it by practicing Buddhism correctly, by refusing to betray the teachings of the Buddha with our silence." p.21

"Nichiren was a 'sore' to priests of other sects, as well. And yes, he's a sore to us, too. Just when we get comfortable, he kicks us over in our easy chair, spilling our bowl of buttered complacency. What is there to do then, but get up and face the world?" p.30

"Yes, Nichiren is enumerating common errors made by Buddhists in his day, errors that kept them from attaining Buddhahood. Yet to think his advice has no applicability today is dangerously wrong, for we repeat these same mistakes, and worse." p.58

"Nichiren tells us it all starts with faith - faith in our own Buddha nature and in the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. It starts with a personal commitment based on that faith: a commitment to be a true votary of the Lotus Sutra - one who practices in strict accordance with the sutra and teaches it to others. First you have the faith to make the commitment. Then your journey truly begins.…" p.31






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