Why do we encounter obstacles when we decide to do this practice?

When you decide to take faith and progress in you practice of true Buddhism, devilish functions will inevitably emerge to block your efforts in ever-more conspicuous ways. If you fear them and give up your practice of true Buddhism, you are disparaging the Daishonin’s teaching. These devils prevent us from the attainment of Buddhahood. The Daishonin teaches, in the Gosho, “Reply to Lord Hyoe-no-Sakan”:

Something uncommon also occurs when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood. At this time, the three obstacles and four devils will invariably appear. The wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat.
(Gosho, p. 1184; MW-2, p. 288)

People who are strong in faith use these obstacles as springboards for attaining new heights. Since they know what it means to enjoy the ultimate happiness of deep faith, they are able to stand up and face the obstacles without being afraid. But some people with weak faith hesitate and abandon the true Law when they encounter obstacles. These people will lose the benefit of attaining Buddhahood.

There are three obstacles and four devils that obstruct Buddhist practice and lead people onto the evil paths. The three obstacles are the obstacle of earthly desires (bonno-sho), the obstacle of karma (go-sho), and the obstacle of retribution (ho-sho). The four devils are the devil of earthly desires (bonno-ma), the devil of the five components (on-ma), the devil of death (shi-ma), and the devil of the Sixth Heaven (tenji-ma).

Nichiren Daishonin teaches in the “Letter to the Brothers”:

The doctrine of ichinen sanzen revealed in the fifth volume of the Great Concentration and Insight (Maka-shikan) is especially profound. If you propagate the teachings, then, without fail, devils will arise. Were it not for these devils arising, there would be no way of knowing that this is the true teaching. A passage from this same volume reads, “As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge. They compete with one another to interfere. Do not be influenced or frightened by them. If they influence you, this will lead you onto the paths of evil. If they frighten you, this will prevent you from practicing true Buddhism.” This quotation not only applies to Nichiren. It is also the guide for his disciples. Reverently make this teaching your own. Transmit it as a standard of faith for future generations.
(Gosho, p. 986)

What should you do when you face obstacles? Ultimately, the answer is to establish powerful faith that will let you recognize devils for what they are. The problem, then, is how to go about establishing such powerful faith. The first step is to genuinely awaken to the fact that obstacles are certain to appear if you practice the true Law. At the same time, you need to be aware that these obstacles summon forth our tendency to be indolent. Nichiren Daishonin teaches, in the Gosho, “On Persecutions Befalling the Buddha”:

Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. If you even slacken a bit, devils will take advantage.
(Gosho, p. 1397; cf. MW-1, pp. 241-242)

These devils sneak into our hearts and minds to dazzle us with social position and fame, or immediate profit and pleasure. Then, our negligent nature moves in to make us lax in our Buddhist practice. The devils that entice us by bringing out our lazy nature from within are more dangerous than obstacles that attack from without. Therefore, it is important for us to prevent these obstacles from emerging within ourselves. We must strive in our Buddhist practice by steadfastly continuing our daily practice of Gongyo and Daimoku and keep constant vigilance.
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