Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 18: Buddhism Is a Teaching of Dialogue [18.9]
18.9 Sharing Buddhism Just as You Are
President Ikeda responds to young members’ questions about Buddhist dialogue.
[In response to a question about how to share Nichiren Buddhism with close friends]
Just do what comes naturally. We have to keep in mind, however, that there is an appropriate time for everything. If you were to sit down to a formal dinner, for example, and immediately be served the main course, you might be a little surprised, since it’s usually customary to serve an appetizer or salad first. When you visit someone’s home, you don’t just barge into the house. You wait until the host opens the door and invites you in.
Similarly, if you wish to talk with someone about Buddhism, there is a proper way to go about it. To friends, you might say something like: “I practice Buddhism. It’s a profound philosophy that teaches us many important things, such as the nature of life and the universe. Through Buddhism, you can come to understand things not taught in school, things that are more fundamental and profound. It is a philosophy that has deep value and significance for our lives. Would you like to talk about this life philosophy or Buddhism sometime? Or would you like to read about it?” Even if they say they’re not interested, through you, they have made a connection to Nichiren Buddhism and will surely come across it again. We should use the same natural approach when encouraging our fellow members.
There’s no need to be impatient. Faith is a lifelong process, and indeed a journey continuing eternally throughout the three existences of past, present, and future. What’s important is to make many friends and work at solidifying those relationships. Introducing others to Buddhism and striving for kosen-rufu are extensions of the spirit of friendship, of the wish to see those we care about become happy.
[In response to young members who felt they couldn’t share Buddhism with others until their own present situations or circumstances had improved, because they didn’t want to give a negative impression of the Soka Gakkai]
That’s entirely up to you. As you seem to recognize, it’s important to show actual proof of faith in one’s daily life. But that doesn’t mean that you should pretend to be something that you’re not. It’s perfectly fine for you to speak about Buddhism from the heart, in your own words, in a very natural way, just as you are. The purpose of faith is not to make yourself look good in the eyes of others. To have compassion for others means sincerely praying and working for others’ happiness, no matter how they may regard you. They may not appreciate your sincerity at the time, but if you are genuine in your efforts, at some point they are bound to recall the friend who once encouraged them or helped them through a difficult time. Surely this is a wonderful way to live.
From Discussions on Youth, published in Japanese in March 1999.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.