Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 18: Buddhism Is a Teaching of Dialogue [18.8]
18.8 The Ultimate Expression of Friendship
In The New Human Revolution, the novel’s protagonist Shin’ichi Yamamoto (whose character represents President Ikeda) often talks about the spirit and practice of Buddhist dialogue.
[In a speech at a young women’s division general meeting, held in November 1960]
Some of you may feel you couldn’t possibly introduce others to Nichiren Buddhism and successfully have them start practicing. That’s OK. Even in President Makiguchi’s and President Toda’s day, the Soka Gakkai never once pleaded with its members to introduce Buddhism to others. The Daishonin promises that if we share the correct teaching with others, we can change our karma and attain Buddhahood. We therefore engage in propagation activities to transform our karma and become happy. Such efforts also contribute to our friends’ happiness and a peaceful and prosperous society. No task is more sublime or sacred.
Sometimes, you may earnestly share this Buddhism with others but find it difficult to convince them to start practicing. But you are still young, so there’s absolutely no need to be impatient or worry about results. Spreading the Daishonin’s teachings is the most compassionate practice we can undertake as human beings—a practice that simultaneously enables us to develop ourselves. Moreover, because it guides people to happiness and peace, it is the ultimate expression of friendship.
What is important is to have the feeling “That person is suffering, I want them to be happy” and also to talk about Buddhism with those around you from time to time. Even if the person you’ve been talking with doesn’t take faith right away, as long as you maintain a strong unwavering wish for their happiness and a sincere spirit of friendship, the time will definitely come when they will awaken to Buddhism.
It is also vital that leaders not pressure or rebuke members who worry about not being able to convince someone to start practicing. Instead, I want leaders to embrace such members warmly, praising and encouraging them for their earnest efforts to live as emissaries of the Buddha.
From The New Human Revolution, vol. 2, “Banner of the People” chapter.
[In response to a member who shared during a train ride in Hiroshima in April 1961: “I have a hard time introducing others to this Buddhism . . . .”]
It’s the same for everyone. Propagation is the most difficult Buddhist practice. It’s no simple matter. Teaching people the power of Nichiren Buddhism today is just as challenging as it would have been trying to teach people a thousand years ago about atomic energy or explain to them the wonders of radio and television. You can do your best to explain the teachings of Buddhism, but people still may not understand. However, once they try practicing it, they can appreciate how wonderful it is. Then, more often than not, they’ll ask themselves why they didn’t start practicing sooner. That is probably true of many of you. So the important thing is to treasure your friendships and persevere in your efforts to engage in dialogue.
From The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, “Triumph” chapter.
[In response to a men’s division member who said: “I’m very busy with work and can’t even take a day off. I really want to share Buddhism with others, but I haven’t had much success and am feeling very frustrated.”]
To be troubled about helping others is truly wonderful. It is the noblest and most respectworthy of problems, an expression of genuine compassion. It is the very concern of a Bodhisattva of the Earth and the Buddha.
What is the key to enabling others to practice Nichiren Buddhism? It is determination. As long as you have firm resolve, you can transform any situation.
You can share this practice no matter where you are. President Toda was arrested for his beliefs and placed in prison, where he underwent a profound awakening to the ultimate truth of the Lotus Sutra. Even behind bars, he told the prison guards about the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism.
First, it’s important to pray wholeheartedly to the Gohonzon to share Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings with others. When you do so, people who are seeking Buddhism will appear in your environment. It’s also crucial that you speak with whomever you can about the practice. Of course, there is no guarantee that any of them will take faith right away. But what matters is that you continue to steadily deepen your bonds of friendship with them, praying every day for their happiness while continuing to engage them in dialogue. If you plant seeds and nurture them with care, they will definitely bloom one day and bear fruit. There’s no need to be impatient.
In addition, even if your friends haven’t joined the Soka Gakkai, you can still bring them to meetings and study and chant together with them. It’s important to let things happen naturally.
At any rate, all your efforts to share Nichiren Buddhism will come back to you as good fortune. Whether or not the other person starts to practice, you are still creating causes for your own attainment of Buddhahood.
And when someone you’ve been trying to introduce to the practice does decide to become a member, it is truly the most wonderful, joyous feeling.
The act of spreading the Daishonin’s teachings—of striving to help each person change their life on a fundamental level—is an act of supreme good that guarantees a future of eternal happiness. It is an act of compassion millions of times greater than any other act of charity or philanthropy.
From The New Human Revolution, vol. 13, “Guiding Star” chapter.
The distinguishing characteristic of Nichiren Buddhism is its ultimate goal of worldwide kosen-rufu and its emphasis on practicing toward that end. That is why Nichiren Daishonin established “practicing for oneself and practicing for others”—in other words, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo oneself and teaching others to do the same—as the two essential pillars of Buddhist practice.
Why does Nichiren Daishonin place so much importance on propagation? It is because the great path for each practitioner to attain enlightenment in this lifetime lies in actively striving to spread Buddhism with the same vow for kosen-rufu as Nichiren Daishonin himself.
The Daishonin writes: “If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth” (WND-1, 385), and “One who recites even one word or phrase of the Lotus Sutra and who speaks about it to another person is the emissary of Shakyamuni Buddha, lord of the teachings” (WND-1, 331).
These passages are clear declarations that those who take kosen-rufu—Nichiren Daishonin’s cherished wish—as their mission, and who spread the correct teaching, are Bodhisattvas of the Earth1 and emissaries of the Buddha. It is by carrying out our practice toward that end that our lives become attuned with the Daishonin’s and that we manifest the life states of bodhisattva and Buddhahood. Consequently, pure, strong life force and boundless wisdom well forth from within. In this way, we can transform our lives, opening the path toward our human revolution, a fundamental transformation in our inner state of being.
When our lives change on a profound level, we can overcome suffering that comes from illness, financial hardship, family discord, and so on, in accord with the Buddhist principles of the “oneness of body and mind” and the “oneness of life and its environment.” As a result, we can change our karma or destiny.
The Soka Gakkai has always advanced with unwavering commitment to kosen-rufu exactly as the Daishonin teaches. On the day that Josei Toda was inaugurated as the second president of the Soka Gakkai [on May 3, 1951], he boldly declared that he would dedicate the rest of his life to achieving a membership of 750,000 households. His reason for setting such a monumental goal was to lead the way for all Soka Gakkai members to attain a life state of absolute happiness. Shin’ichi responded to this call, standing up alongside Toda with a firm resolve to make his mentor’s vision a reality. Subsequently, other youth, countless comrades in faith, followed his lead.
The flame of courage burned brightly in the members’ hearts, and an unshakable conviction that they would definitely become happy gradually took root.
Though faced with various problems, they refused to be defeated, brimming with joy and pride of spreading the Mystic Law as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and emissaries of the Buddha. They were more troubled by the sufferings of their friends than their own illnesses or financial woes. Concerned about the future of their country and society at large, they prayed wholeheartedly for world peace.
In their innermost hearts, they had already attained a vast state of life that allowed them to take all personal problems and hardships in stride. This fundamental transformation dramatically changed the reality of their daily lives and brought them great benefit and happiness.
To dedicate our lives to the vow for kosen-rufu together with our mentor—this is the direct path for achieving our own human revolution and changing our karma, a path that leads to absolute happiness.
Taking part in this noble endeavor of kosen-rufu could be called our unique privilege and honor as Soka Gakkai members.
From The New Human Revolution, vol. 13,“Guiding Star” chapter.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.
- *1Bodhisattvas of the Earth: An innumerable host of bodhisattvas who emerge from beneath the earth and to whom Shakyamuni Buddha entrusts the propagation of the Mystic Law, or the essence of the Lotus Sutra, in the Latter Day of the Law.