Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 11: What Is Human Revolution? [11.4]

11.4 Indicators of Human Revolution

A solemn gongyo service marking the 17th memorial (16th anniversary) of the death of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda was held in the United States on April 2, 1974. In The New Human Revolution, Shin’ichi Yamamoto (whose character represents President Ikeda) addresses the members present at that gathering, mainly youth division representatives. After touching on the life philosophy of Mr. Toda, he discusses the significance of human revolution and suggests several concrete indicators for measuring our progress in this inner transformation.

One of Josei Toda’s great achievements was to explain the complex teachings of Buddhism in easily comprehensible, contemporary terms.

The British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote: “[Religion’s] principles may be eternal, but the expression of those principles requires continual development.”1

For example, while in prison, Mr. Toda realized that “Buddha” means life itself. He went on to articulate an understanding of Buddhism in terms of life, with the result that Buddhism was reborn as a living philosophy that could illuminate the present.

He also used the term “human revolution” as a modern expression for attaining the life state of Buddhahood, the ultimate aim of Buddhist practice.

In Japanese society, the attainment of Buddhahood had long been viewed as a state realized only after death. By introducing this new concept of human revolution, Mr. Toda clarified and deepened people’s understanding of Buddhahood as the goal for perfecting oneself as a human being in this present life.

Our aim in exerting ourselves in Buddhist practice is human revolution.

Shin’ichi wanted the young people present to realize that Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching of human revolution. He also wanted to outline for them some concrete indicators of human revolution.

Gazing intently at the participants, he continued: “Our lives, our physical bodies, are entities of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Human revolution is to manifest the life state of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

“What does human revolution actually mean or look like? I would like to outline some indicators or measures for you today.

“First is health. Let’s strive to clearly demonstrate actual proof of faith by leading a healthy life. Naturally, we all have our own karma, but generally speaking, we can’t work our hardest if our health is compromised. Of course, we are physical beings, and there are times when we are bound to fall ill. But we should always chant earnestly for health and strive to profoundly align our lives with the fundamental rhythm of the universe. Without such prayer and efforts to lead a healthy, well-balanced life, we cannot be said to be practicing properly.”

The young people gazed at Shin’ichi intently as he spoke.

The second indicator he named is youthfulness. Maintaining a youthful spirit throughout life is a sign of human revolution. Striving energetically in our Buddhist practice and continuing tirelessly to polish and develop ourselves will keep us from losing our spiritual youthfulness.

As the third, Shin’ichi specified good fortune. By continuing to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, dedicating ourselves to kosen-rufu, and triumphing as Buddhists in our daily lives, we adorn ourselves and our families with good fortune. In our turbulent society, such good fortune protects us and brings vibrant prosperity.

Fourth, Shin’ichi cited wisdom. To strive to perfect ourselves as human beings and grow into effective leaders of society, we must polish our wisdom and intellect. Neglecting that will consign us to defeat in society.

Fifth, Shin’ichi listed passion. Genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism burn with a passionate commitment for kosen-rufu that invigorates their lives. We can possess all the intelligence in the world, but without passion we are like the living dead. Passion is also a requirement for happiness. Whether we are happy or unhappy in life is for the most part determined by our degree of passion.

Sixth, Shin’ichi mentioned conviction. Human revolution is a brilliant reflection of our firm belief. Without a philosophy for living and firm convictions, we are like a ship without a compass. With no idea of the direction we should be taking, we can be blown about by the winds of karma and end up like a ship wrecked on the reefs.

The seventh and final indicator of human revolution, Shin’ichi explained, is victory. Buddhism is a struggle to be victorious. Human revolution is achieved by accomplishing one victory after another. A winning life is a life of human revolution. Everything in both life and kosen-rufu is a struggle. Being victorious is the way to demonstrate proof of justice and truth.

After presenting these seven indicators of human revolution—health, youthfulness, good fortune, wisdom, passion, conviction, and victory—Shin’ichi stressed the development of compassion as an essential foundation for all practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism that encompasses all seven elements.

Shin’ichi shared Mr. Toda’s guidance on compassion with his listeners, stressing that, for us ordinary mortals, acting with courage is the best way to manifest compassion. He also emphasized the importance and nobility of devoting our lives to kosen-rufu as the practice of compassion and courage.

He said: “In short, awakening to our mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth2 is crucial for human revolution, and joyous and courageous dedication to kosen-rufu is a manifestation of human revolution.

“Those who uphold the correct teaching of Buddhism and dedicate themselves to the welfare of others and the betterment of society are truly noble. They express the state of life of bodhisattvas, regardless of their financial means or social status.

“The Soka Gakkai extends its hand to those who are suffering most and strives to help them revitalize their spirits. The first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai have dedicated their lives to that purpose.”

From The New Human Revolution, vol. 19, “Sunlight” chapter.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: The Free Press, 1967), p. 189.
  • *2Bodhisattvas of the Earth: An innumerable host of bodhisattvas who emerge from beneath the earth and to whom Shakyamuni Buddha entrusts the propagation of the Mystic Law, or the essence of the Lotus Sutra, in the Latter Day of the Law.