Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 19: Making the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Our Foundation [19.1]
19.1 Three Key Reasons Why Buddhist Study Is Important
Human revolution means putting into practice the life-affirming principles and philosophy elucidated in the writings of Nichiren Daishonin.
In the “Launching Out” chapter in volume 30 of his novel The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda explains that our purpose in studying the principles of Nichiren Buddhism is “to deepen our faith, attain Buddhahood in this lifetime, and advance kosen-rufu.” He writes: “Buddhist study in the Soka Gakkai is practice-oriented study, delving into the principles of life for creating happiness for ourselves and others.”
This chapter features excerpts in which President Ikeda stresses the importance of Buddhist study to strengthen our practice and inspire us in our efforts to promote our movement for kosen-rufu.
In the first selection, he clarifies these points for the youth.
Nichiren Buddhism is an unsurpassed philosophy for fostering people of unsurpassed humanity. The passion and power of young people who uphold this priceless philosophy will create a new age.
Why is it important for youth to study the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism? There are numerous reasons, but I think they can be summed up in the following three points.
First, Buddhist study helps us deepen our faith.
I will never forget President Toda speaking with intense regret about the fact that a majority of the Soka Gakkai’s members abandoned their faith when faced with oppression by the Japanese militarist authorities during World War II. “Not having a solid grounding in Buddhist study,” he said, “they failed to grasp the essence of Nichiren Buddhism. They grew fainthearted and were defeated by persecution. It’s truly regrettable. A mistake I won’t let happen again.”
Buddhist study is a beacon illuminating the path of faith. Even the complex workings of negative forces that arise to assail us are clearly revealed for what they are in the bright mirror of the Buddhist teachings.
Indeed, studying the principles of Buddhism enables us to build our own solid foundation of faith and becomes a power source for our human revolution. For that reason, when Mr. Toda set about rebuilding the Soka Gakkai based on Buddhist study, he began by giving a series of lectures on the Lotus Sutra.
Second, Buddhist study serves as a driving force for kosen-rufu.
The Daishonin’s writings present the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism and the path of propagation based on “refuting the erroneous and revealing the true.” They also fully describe the attitude in faith essential to realizing kosen-rufu, as well as the way to conduct oneself as a Buddhist leader and the key elements in fostering capable individuals.
To study the writings of Nichiren Daishonin is to come into contact with his spirit; it is to receive powerful encouragement directly from the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, as well as guidelines for the promotion of kosen-rufu.
We can only be said to have truly studied Nichiren Buddhism when we take action in accord with the Daishonin’s writings. There is no genuine Buddhist study without practice. And when we put the teachings into practice, limitless courage wells forth in our lives and we can display boundless ability and strength.
Third, Buddhist study lays the foundation for establishing a new humanism.
Our times are rife with serious challenges, including the threat of nuclear war, ethnic conflict, environmental problems, failing education systems, and other social issues. Though people long for happiness and world peace, things just grow more chaotic and confused. This results from the lack of a sound life philosophy.
I believe the teachings of Buddhism alone can shine a light on these problems. Only by grounding ourselves in such Buddhist principles as respect and compassion for life, the oneness of body and mind, and the oneness of living beings and their environment can we open the way to a new humanism. Mr. Toda’s Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons was also an expression of the life-affirming principles of Buddhism.
It was Mr. Toda’s conviction that there can be no bright future for humanity unless the youth division members who will shoulder responsibility for the 21st century gain a deep understanding of the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism, the world’s supreme teaching that can enable all humanity to attain happiness. He was confident that young people who embraced this great philosophy would go on to become world leaders in every field of human endeavor.
Mr. Toda always approached the study of Buddhism with the kind of intensity and rigor with which a master swordsman practices his art. On one occasion, he had gone to Osaka to give a lecture. He felt so ill, however, that he instructed a study department leader to get ready to take his place. But when the evening of the lecture arrived, he rose from his bed and announced:
“I’ll give the lecture after all. The ‘Life Span’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra states: ‘This, a Buddha’s work, I have never for a moment neglected’ (LSOC16, 267). The Buddha never rests in his efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the people. I’ve traveled all the way here to give this lecture—I can’t just ask someone to take my place. Even if I die giving it, I’ll have no regrets.”
My mentor’s death-defying determination taught me just how solemn is the responsibility of transmitting the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism.
In my youth, I studied the Daishonin’s writings thoroughly, to the extent that I actually committed many of his major writings to memory. That effort has built a foundation that has stood me well for my entire life.
From an essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, August 19, 1998.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.