Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 18: Buddhism Is a Teaching of Dialogue [18.3]
18.3 Buddhist Dialogue Shines with the Light of Human Revolution
President Ikeda teaches that talking to others about the Mystic Law means having deep respect for their lives, learning from them, and growing together. Our concern, prayers, and one-to-one dialogues for others’ happiness, he says, are a shining reflection of our own human revolution.
It is through talking and interacting with others that we truly develop as human beings. Dialogue means learning from and respecting others, which makes heartfelt conversation possible. Learning from others enriches us. In such rich discussion, there is joy, happiness, and peace.
Dialogue is itself a sign of human triumph.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Now, . . . we have entered the Latter Day of the Law, and the daimoku that I, Nichiren, chant is different from that of earlier ages. This Nam-myoho-renge-kyo encompasses both practice for oneself and the teaching of others” (WND-2, 986).
This past year, chanting powerful daimoku, our youth division members have exerted themselves tirelessly and engaged in dialogue spurred by a wish for the welfare of their friends and communities.
Every day, I receive exciting reports of their personal victories: dialogues pursued for years finally producing results or someone’s first success in having a friend start to practice Nichiren Buddhism. Such reports from young people who are challenging themselves give me immense hope. Nothing inspires or encourages everyone more than the fresh dynamism of youth. Young people are the ones who create the future.
Of course, sometimes a friend with whom you talk about Buddhism may react negatively or emotionally, or you may find it difficult to help someone gain an understanding of our movement. As the Daishonin writes, to share the Mystic Law is to practice just as the Buddha teaches. It is the most difficult of all undertakings. But we gain the same benefit from enabling someone to hear about the correct teaching whether or not they immediately take faith in it. In either case, we are carrying out the supremely noble work of the Buddha.
There is no need to worry or feel bad if you don’t achieve the results you hoped for. I have experienced the same thing myself. Again and again, I have wondered how best to communicate my message and reach another person. Once a friend sent back all the letters I had written him out of my sincere wish for his welfare. I felt sad and frustrated at the time, but now it is a fond memory of my youth. As you go through life, you will no doubt more keenly appreciate these words of the Daishonin: “Single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and urge others to do the same; that will remain as the only memory of your present life in this human world” (WND-1, 64).
Each day you chant and take action this way is a day of wonderful self-development, enabling you to turn even severe challenges into sources of growth. Such efforts form a shining foundation of faith in the depths of your life.
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging1 bowed respectfully to everyone he met and greeted them to the effect: “I have profound reverence for you, because you will practice the bodhisattva way and be able to attain Buddhahood” (cf. LSOC20, 308). People responded to this with hostility, however. They showered him with curses and abuse and attacked him with sticks and stones.
Respect met with antagonism—this shows how firmly rooted people’s resistance can be to spiritual transformation that awakens the dormant Buddha nature deep in their lives. But even if we at first encounter resistance, sharing the greatness of the Mystic Law with others creates a connection that activates their Buddha nature. We have made a cause for their eventual attainment of Buddhahood. This is the principle of the poison-drum relationship.2
Nothing is ever wasted in our efforts for kosen-rufu. Abandoning our actions to share the Mystic Law because someone’s reaction disheartens us would be the very opposite of compassion. The Daishonin cites the Lotus Sutra passage: “The seeds of Buddhahood sprout through causation, and for this reason they preach the single vehicle [the Mystic Law]” (LSOC2, 75; cf. WND-1, 1117). The more we help others form a connection with Buddhism, the more we expand the scope of our movement for kosen-rufu. The spirit to sincerely care about others’ happiness and well-being is the spirit of the Buddha. This spirit itself is a shining reflection of a great human revolution.
From an essay series “Our Brilliant Path to Victory,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, December 15, 2010.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Bodhisattva Never Disparaging: Described in the “Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” (20th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This bodhisattva—Shakyamuni in a previous lifetime—lived at the end of the Middle Day of the Law, after the death of the Buddha Awesome Sound King. He would bow to everyone he met and say: “I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you will all practice the bodhisattva way and will then be able to attain Buddhahood” (LSOC20, 308). However, he was attacked by arrogant people, who beat him with sticks and staves and threw stones at him. The sutra explains that this practice became the cause for Bodhisattva Never Disparaging to attain Buddhahood.
- *2Poison-drum relationship: Also, a reverse relationship. A bond formed with the Lotus Sutra by opposing or slandering it. One who opposes the Lotus Sutra when it is preached will still form a relationship with it by virtue of opposition and will thereby attain Buddhahood eventually. A “poison drum” is a mythical drum daubed with poison; this is a reference to a statement in the Nirvana Sutra that once the poison drum is beaten, all those who hear it will die, even if they are not of the mind to listen to it. Similarly, when the correct teaching is preached, both those who embrace it and those who oppose it will equally receive the seeds of Buddhahood, and even those who oppose it will attain Buddhahood eventually. In this analogy, the “death” that results from hearing the correct teaching is the death of illusion or earthly desires. This metaphor is used to illustrate the benefit of even a reverse relationship with Buddhism.