Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 14: “Be Good Citizens!” [14.5]
14.5 Buddhism Manifests Itself in Society
In this scene from The New Human Revolution, the novel’s protagonist Shin’ichi Yamamoto (whose character represents President Ikeda) attends a February 1977 meeting of the Soka Gakkai’s Business Professionals Division, and describes the fundamental approach that practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism should adopt.
Shin’ichi emphasized that kosen-rufu starts with establishing a firm foundation in one’s own life: “Practically speaking, though it may sound very mundane, establishing a firm foundation begins with your own health. As an individual and a member of society, your most precious possession is your life. That’s why I urge you to please take good care of your health. Looking after our health and taking steps to prevent illness reflect the wisdom of our Buddhist practice.”
Maintaining good health is an important requirement for being victorious in society. When we’re filled with vitality and high spirits, we can strive our hardest and play a truly positive and productive role in our workplace.
Buddhism is based on reason. If we overeat, drink too much, don’t get enough sleep, and work too hard, we’ll eventually feel the ill effects of that behavior, become sick, or cause an accident. To prevent that from happening, we need to act wisely and lead a sound, value-creating life. That is the way of genuine practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism.
It’s vital to lead healthy, well-balanced lives, carry out a refreshing and invigorating daily practice of gongyo, and do our best at work and in our communities, brimming with energy and vitality.
Shin’ichi then spoke about the importance of family. When our family life is stable, we can bring forth our fullest potential in the workplace. Happiness is ultimately found close to home, in our relationships with our family and loved ones. What we teach our children at home also plays a very important role in fostering successors in faith. To create strong and happy families is to build bright beacons that light the way for kosen-rufu in the community.
Next, Shin’ichi turned to the correct Buddhist attitude in striving for success at work: “To excel at our jobs, we need to completely discard the idea that everything will just fall into place because we are practicing Nichiren Buddhism. That’s a misguided way of thinking, a form of arrogance that goes against the Daishonin’s teaching that we should regard our work as our Buddhist practice. Always remember that correct faith means having utmost wisdom and common sense.”
Buddhism is a way of life. Winning the trust of those around us and demonstrating proof of victory in our workplaces leads directly to victory in our lives and in Buddhism. That’s why it’s important to play a vibrant and active role in our workplaces and communities.
Warmly encouraging the members present, Shin’ichi continued: “In society, we have to interact with all kinds of people, and sometimes even attend the observances of other religions. We mustn’t be narrow-minded or close ourselves off. Instead, we should be wise and broad-minded, reaching out to form friendly ties with others. Nichiren Buddhism is a religion that exists for people’s happiness.
“We mustn’t wall ourselves off from society or become insular and intolerant because of our faith. Nor is there ever any need to get into arguments at home or at work about our Buddhist faith. That’s completely counterproductive. As practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, it’s more valuable to take a long-term perspective, being warmly supportive of our family members and coworkers and doing what we can to help them become happy.”
Over the centuries, there have been a number of Nichiren Buddhist groups that have been seen as extremist and prone to exclusionary and self-righteous behavior. In fact, before World War II, groups claiming to champion the ideals of Nichiren Buddhism committed acts of violence. This is an intolerable affront to the lofty spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, who regarded all individuals as possessing the Buddha nature and sought happiness for all. It represents a failure to understand that Buddhists should behave as responsible members of their society, as indicated by the principle that “Buddhism manifests itself in society.”
In closing, Shin’ichi emphasized the importance of common sense: “Members who incur the disdain of those around them through their extreme words and actions have one thing in common. They tend to be people who have ‘faith like fire’—exerting themselves in their practice with passion and a great show of enthusiasm for a brief moment, but soon discarding it. The key to faith lies in continuing—as the Daishonin affirms when he says: ‘To accept is easy; to continue is difficult. But Buddhahood lies in continuing faith’ (WND-1, 471).
“Kosen-rufu is realized gradually through our steady, persistent efforts to spread our network of trust in our workplaces and communities. In other words, behavior based on common sense is the essence of faith.”
From The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, “Beacon” chapter.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.