Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 14: “Be Good Citizens!” [14.3]
14.3 Being Responsible, Good Citizens
Speaking to members in Sweden, President Ikeda outlines the fundamental spirit for practicing Nichiren Buddhism—being considerate of one’s neighbors, respecting the culture and customs of the land in which one lives, and spreading Buddhism at a steady, unhurried pace.
As this is my first visit to Sweden, I would like to offer my thoughts on some basic points.
First, I hope you will show care for your neighbors. We do not live in isolation; we exist as members of a community. We need to be considerate of one another. That is just common sense. If we simply assert our own rights or what suits our convenience, we are not responsible members of society.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Buddhism is reason” (WND-1, 839). As Soka Gakkai members, who uphold the Daishonin’s teachings, it’s important that we be reasonable and show sound judgment.
I hope you will not only be considerate of and courteous to your own neighbors, but also those of this community center where many members gather. When you see the local residents, please offer them a bright and pleasant greeting. I hope you will take utmost care not to bother or inconvenience anyone or make them feel uneasy. Through continuing such sincere efforts, you are sure to eventually spread understanding of Nichiren Buddhism and make this center a true citadel of happiness in the community.
Fostering mutual trust as fellow human beings is important. Never be self-righteous. Remember that the flow of kosen-rufu in the community is secured by reassuring people and winning their praise and admiration through your exemplary behavior as practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.
If, on the other hand, you never greet the residents living near the center and then disturb them by making lots of noise late at night or early in the morning—noise from ringing phones, people entering and leaving the center, or cars and motorcycles arriving and departing—you are breaking the rules of good-neighborliness. I hope you will also take care not to talk loudly on the streets outside or near the center, or thoughtlessly litter the area with cigarette butts and other trash.
No matter how fine your words or meaningful your activities, it is by such very ordinary behavior that people judge you. This is true everywhere. Such failings in the past have seriously hampered the progress of kosen-rufu.
In Buddhism, the term “sutra” [Jpn. kyo] means scripture or teaching. In a broader sense, it means that which expresses the lives of all living beings—that is, all our words and actions. We are each “reciting” our own sutra through our own words and actions.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, in this sense, is the supreme sutra. As those who embrace this highest sutra, we must strive as much as we can to improve and refine our words and actions.
As for the second point, I hope you will respect the culture and customs of the land in which you live.
The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin encompasses the entire universe and equally illuminates the lives of all people. It is not a Japanese religion, but a religion for all humankind. There’s no need for us, therefore, as practitioners of the Mystic Law, to cling to Japanese culture, ways of thinking, or language.
Of course, we must remain strict about the basics of faith and practice, but Sweden has its own culture and traditions, its own customs and practices that have evolved over the course of its history. As long as such traditions and customs do not contradict the essential teachings of Buddhism, it is only natural for you as Swedish members to value that heritage. To quarrel or give the impression of being rigid or narrow-minded about such matters in fact runs counter to the tolerant, broad-minded spirit of Nichiren Buddhism.
I hope that while basing yourselves on the Daishonin’s teachings, you will all be good citizens who abide by the laws and customs of the land in which you live and win the trust and acceptance of everyone around you.
The third point I wish to share is not to be impatient in spreading Buddhism.
The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddhism of sowing1 implicit in the Lotus Sutra. The foundation of our practice is chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo ourselves and reaching out to interact with others to bring them into contact with the Mystic Law. Whether they start practicing or not is a separate issue. There are two ways the seeds of the Law can be planted: “sowing the seeds by letting people hear the teaching,” which means to enable others to hear about Buddhism, and “sowing the seeds by leading people to arouse faith in the teaching,”2 which means enabling them to accept and have faith in the Gohonzon. Both are equally excellent forms of propagation. They both produce the same benefits.
The majority of the world’s people as yet know nothing of the teachings, or even the name, of Nichiren Buddhism. Our mission is to sow the seeds of the Mystic Law—in other words, the seeds for peace and happiness—in their lives. In most cases, by simply interacting with others as true friends and communicating sincerely and openly, we will help them form a connection with Buddhism. It is also important that we continue to pray for the happiness of those individuals. Later, we may have an opportunity to talk to them in a very natural way about our Buddhism of sowing.
But never get into arguments over faith or be persistent to the point where you both end up getting angry and upset. Just continue to cherish your sincere wish that the other person will accept this Buddhism. There is no need to be impatient or feel pressured to get someone to start practicing. Once you have helped someone form a connection with Buddhism, the time will surely come when the seed you have planted will sprout and blossom.
From a speech at the opening of the Swedish Culture Center, Sweden, June 3, 1989.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Buddhism of sowing: Buddhism that plants the seeds of Buddhahood, or the cause for attaining Buddhahood, in people’s lives. In Nichiren’s teachings, the Buddhism of sowing indicates the Buddhism of Nichiren, in contrast with that of Shakyamuni, which is called the Buddhism of the harvest. The Buddhism of the harvest is that which can lead to enlightenment only those who received the seeds of Buddhahood by practicing the Buddha’s teaching in previous lifetimes. In contrast, the Buddhism of sowing implants the seeds of Buddhahood, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, in the lives of those who had no connection with the Buddha’s teaching in their past existences, i.e., the people of the Latter Day of the Law.
- *2There are two ways of sowing the seeds of Buddhahood: “sowing the seeds by letting one hear the teaching” and “sowing the seeds by leading one to arouse faith in the teaching.” In The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” the Great Teacher Miao-lo of China states: “Whether one accepts or rejects the teaching, it enters one’s ears and one thus establishes a bond with it. And then, though one may comply with or go against it, in the end one will be able to achieve liberation because of this bond.” “Sowing the seeds by letting one hear the teaching” thus means that simply by hearing the Law one forms the cause, or seed, for attaining Buddhahood eventually, even if one should reject it initially.