Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 11: What Is Human Revolution? [11.6]
11.6 A Never-ending Effort to Transform Reality
Based on the Buddhist teaching of the true aspect of all phenomena, President Ikeda explains that a change in our own lives always results in a change in our environment. “There can be no happiness exclusively for the self,” he says, “nor unhappiness exclusively for others.”
I am President Toda’s disciple; this is my greatest source of pride. While in prison, Mr. Toda read the Lotus Sutra with his life. Many other learned Buddhist practitioners through the ages have claimed to understand the Lotus Sutra. Some of them even became founders of their own Buddhist schools.
But Mr. Toda was different. When a journalist once asked him, “Are you a Buddha?” he replied, “I’m a proud common mortal!”
Warmly embracing the common people as they enacted dramas of rebirth and renewal from despair, he stood tall and firm in the midst of life’s tempests. His life was the very embodiment of human revolution.
In that single term “human revolution,” he broke free from the trap of self-righteousness and hypocrisy into which religion so easily falls, and magnificently merged Buddhism’s supreme wisdom, the ideal way of human life, and the path to building a better society.
Human revolution is also a social revolution and a revolution of the environment.
In his writing “The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” Nichiren Daishonin cites the Great Teacher Miao-lo’s Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” where it states: “Living beings and their environments always manifest Myoho-renge-kyo”1 (WND-1, 383). The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai also says: “The realm of the environment also has the ten factors”2 (WND-1, 356).
Living beings and their environments are not separate. They are one and indivisible. This is the source of the principle that the transformation of the individual leads to the transformation of the land and society.
From the Buddhist perspective of the true aspect of all phenomena, all the many and varied phenomena of the universe are a single living entity. Happiness for the individual alone is impossible, and peace in terms of the environment alone is impossible. There can be no happiness exclusively for the self, nor unhappiness exclusively for others. The happier we make others, the happier we are, and as long as a single miserable person exists, our own happiness cannot be complete. This is the meaning of the true aspect of all phenomena. Hence, the heart of this teaching is a never-ending effort to transform reality.
Describing his motivation for composing the treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” Nichiren Daishonin writes: “I say all this solely for the sake of the nation, for the sake of the Law, for the sake of others, not for my own sake” (WND-1, 164). The fiercest storms of persecution could not extinguish the flame of the Daishonin’s passionate commitment to relieve all people of suffering.
Founding Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi inherited this spirit and raised high the banner of the Daishonin’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land,” dying in prison for his beliefs. Mr. Toda stood up alone in the devastation of postwar Japan with the same motivation.
The Daishonin states: “The very heart of the Lotus Sutra is the teaching that earthly desires are enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana” (OTT, 173–74); and “It is this doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life3 that is capable of freeing one from suffering and bringing one joy” (OTT, 173).
The aim of Buddhism, and the aim of the Soka Gakkai, is to free all living beings from suffering. The Soka Gakkai strives arduously to enable all people to become happy. There is no other reason for its existence.
How admirable and noble are those who advance together with the Soka Gakkai!
From the perspective of the true aspect of all phenomena, here and now constitute the eternal and original, the true and fundamental, stage of our lives. The Daishonin makes this point clearly when he affirms: “It is not that he [the Buddha] leaves his present place and goes to some other place” (OTT, 192).
Even if the place or sphere of activity where we find ourselves is so challenging that it feels like it is some kind of karmic retribution, it is actually the perfect place for us to fulfill our original mission. In that sense, those who awaken to the wisdom of the true aspect of all phenomena will lead lives in which any negative karma is transformed into brilliant mission.
Once we are certain of this, we are filled with hope. Every person and situation we encounter becomes a precious treasure.
The great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore sang: “Sweet is the world, sweet the dust of it.”4 And describing a mother’s feelings for her child, he wrote:
“When I bring to you coloured toys, my child, I understand why there is such a play of colours on clouds, on water, and why flowers are painted in tints—when I give coloured toys to you, my child.
“When I sing to make you dance I truly know why there is music in leaves, and why waves send their chorus of voices to the heart of the listening earth—when I sing to make you dance.”5
A mother’s love for her child is a colorful realm, a realm in which the vibrant music of life resonates. Love transcends the gap between individuals and opens the heart to the truth that all life is one.
That’s why, as we strive to embrace all humanity with love and compassion, we are filled with the glorious hues and music of life.
When we are fully aware of the true aspect of all phenomena, the place we are now becomes the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light.6
As Mr. Toda said, being alive becomes an absolute delight in itself. The Lotus Sutra teaches us to lead lives dedicated to the challenge of creating and spreading that realm of great joy in the real world.
From The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, published in Japanese in March 1996
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, being comprised of two characters). The Daishonin, however, often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings.
- *2The ten factors of life are ten aspects shared by all living beings of the Ten Worlds—appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, internal cause, relation, latent effect, manifest effect, and their consistency from beginning to end.
- *3Three thousand realms in a single moment of life: A philosophical system established by the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai of China based on the Lotus Sutra. The “three thousand realms” indicates the varying aspects that life assumes at each moment. At each moment, life manifests one of the Ten Worlds. Each of these worlds possesses the potential for all ten within itself, thus making one hundred possible worlds. Each of these hundred worlds possesses the ten factors and operates within each of the three realms of existence, thus making three thousand realms. In other words, all phenomena are contained within a single moment of life, and a single moment of life permeates the three thousand realms of existence, or the entire phenomenal world.
- *4Rabindranath Tagore, Wings of Death: The Last Poems of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Aurobindo Bose (London: John Murray, 1960), p. 69.
- *5Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali (Song Offerings): A Collection of Prose Translations Made by the Author from the Original Bengali (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1915), p. 57.
- *6Land of Eternally Tranquil Light: Also, Land of Tranquil Light. The Buddha land, which is free from impermanence and impurity. In many sutras, the actual saha world in which human beings dwell is described as an impure land filled with delusions and sufferings, while the Buddha land is described as a pure land free from these and far removed from this saha world. In contrast, the Lotus Sutra reveals the saha world to be the Buddha land, or the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light, and explains that the nature of a land is determined by the minds of its inhabitants.