Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 18: Buddhism Is a Teaching of Dialogue [18.7]

18.7 The Best Way to Benefit Others

President Ikeda recalls a conversation with a student division member who was struggling to introduce others to Buddhism and shares his own youthful memories of teaching friends about faith in the Mystic Law.

When I visited Soka University last autumn [in 1997], I had an opportunity to talk at length with some of our student division members. One of them said to me: “I am having a hard time introducing Buddhism to my friends.” This deeply troubled him, and his seriousness impressed me. Here he was, worrying about how he could teach Buddhism to his friends and thereby plant the seed of happiness in their lives. What a fine, noble thing to be concerned about!

With the greatest respect, I encouraged him with all my heart: “Everything is hard in the beginning. This is only truer of propagating Buddhism, which the Daishonin’s writings describe as the most difficult of all undertakings.

“When I was young, my efforts were just trial and error, but they became the foundation for future success. The important thing is to be determined, positive, and optimistic, and never stop challenging ourselves, no matter the circumstances. Let’s be invincible optimists!”

I will never forget his face as he nodded with a smile.

Five months later, he joyfully reported that he had successfully had a friend take up faith. I was so happy to hear that; I was happy because of his sincerity.

Looking back, the first person to practice Buddhism through my introduction was an elementary school teacher who lived in my hometown, Ota. It happened shortly after I began working at Mr. Toda’s company. Up to then, I had spoken about Buddhism with quite a few of my friends. Mr. Toda had even kindly met and talked with some of them. But so far, none had taken faith and begun to practice.

Feeling incapable, I studied and practiced hard to develop my ability to speak about Buddhism. I chanted with all my heart and continued talking about Buddhism, driven by the wish to reach one more person, to connect with one more person. I can’t begin to measure how much that helped me develop myself.

How delighted I was when I finally convinced someone to embrace Nichiren Buddhism! I could never describe my elation. I decided that I would thoroughly look after them and make sure that they triumphed in life. I invited them to my apartment before work in the morning, and we did gongyo and read the Daishonin’s writings. I also remember how I used to stop by their place after work and teach them gongyo.

The development of kosen-rufu lies in repeating such patient, painstaking efforts to awaken one friend after another to faith. That is true Buddhist practice.

When Mr. Toda became second Soka Gakkai president and made his vow to attain a membership of 750,000 households, I pledged: “Mr. Toda is a great teacher of propagation. As his disciple, I vow to become a champion of propagation!” And having made that pledge, I threw myself wholeheartedly into the challenge, creating a groundswell for unprecedented propagation in Kamata, in Bunkyo, in Osaka, and in Yamaguchi.

I remember one discussion meeting where all of the seven or eight young men attending as guests decided to join the Soka Gakkai. I told them that practicing Nichiren Buddhism was the key to absolute happiness, and I assured them that all I wanted was for each of them to have the best life possible.

Such conviction and sincerity will open our friends’ hearts and make them receptive to our message.

Propagation must always be a process of deepening friendship and earning trust. In today’s world, superficial conversations abound, but genuine dialogue is rare. Sharing Nichiren Buddhism, however, is genuine dialogue—a stimulating exchange based on deep consideration for our friends as we invite them to walk with us on the path of true and complete happiness.

In genuine Buddhist dialogue, we discuss such crucial matters as what is a valuable way to live and what constitutes right and wrong, at times speaking of our daily lives or personal experiences. Pursuing such dialogue is the noble path of humanity. It is the very heart of spreading the Mystic Law. At the same time, sharing Buddhism involves teaching others the fundamental solution to suffering; it is the ultimate act of altruism. And it is the direct path by which we can achieve our human revolution and break out of the shell of our ego.

Those who spread the Mystic Law are true disciples of the Daishonin who carry on his spirit. Nikko Shonin [the Daishonin’s direct disciple and successor] praised all who courageously propagated the Daishonin’s teachings, declaring to the effect that we should revere as respected seniors in faith those teachers of the Law who engage in propagation, regardless of whether they are junior in years of Buddhist practice (cf. GZ, 1618).1 And the benefits those who propagate the Law attain are boundless and immeasurable.

Out of our concern for others’ happiness and our desire for world peace, we have held high the banner of kosen-rufu and continued to shed the compassionate light of Buddhism throughout the world, undeterred by slander or abuse. This is the Soka Gakkai’s proud and noble history.

From an essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, October 7, 1998.

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

  • *1Article 15 of “The Twenty-Six Admonitions of Nikko.” Nichiren Daishonin’s designated successor, Nikko Shonin, wrote the “Twenty-Six Admonitions” in 1333 for the sake of practitioners of future generations to maintain the purity of the Daishonin’s teachings. It outlines the fundamental spirit of faith, practice, and study.