Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 21: A Life Dedicated to Kosen-rufu [21.2]

21.2 May Young Successors Follow on the Path of Kosen-rufu in Ever-Growing Numbers

President Ikeda explains that the presence of disciples who carry on the mentor’s work to open the way to happiness and peace for humanity is the lifeblood of the movement for worldwide kosen-rufu.

Worldwide kosen-rufu is the wish and intent of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. The Daishonin entrusted this colossal mission to his disciples who would follow in his footsteps.

In “The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” he calls out: “My disciples, form your ranks and follow me, and surpass even Mahakashyapa or Ananda, T’ien-t’ai or Dengyo!” (WND-1, 765).

The Daishonin addressed these words of encouragement to his disciples at a time of high tension, just before the Tatsunokuchi Persecution.1 From the very beginning, his hopes for his disciples and successors had a global scale. He urged them to surpass the 10 leading disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha in India, the great teachers Nan-yüeh and T’ien-t’ai of China, and the great teacher Dengyo of Japan—all figures whose names shine in the annals of Buddhism and the history of humankind. Though the names of only teachers from India, China, and Japan are mentioned here, there is no doubt that the Daishonin’s vision always encompassed the entire world.

In the passage right before the one I have just cited, the Daishonin points out that, in all the time since Shakyamuni’s passing, no one had propagated the Mystic Law. He then boldly declares: “Now, at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, I, Nichiren, am the first to embark on propagating, throughout Jambudvipa [the entire world], the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo”2 (WND-1, 764–65).

Thus, by “follow me,” he means for his disciples to follow his lead in propagating the Mystic Law around the world. He calls on them to leave behind an achievement that will endure for all time.

It is the Soka Gakkai alone that has done just that—your seniors in faith who have striven together with me. There is no greater honor. I hope that our youth division members around the globe will form their ranks and follow on this path of kosen-rufu in ever-growing numbers.

The “Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King” chapter of the Lotus Sutra states: “You must spread it [the Lotus Sutra] abroad widely [kosen-rufu] throughout Jambudvipa [the entire world] and never allow it to be cut off, nor must you allow evil devils, the devils’ people, heavenly beings [such as the devil king of the sixth heaven3], dragons, yakshas, kumbhanda demons [that sap people’s vitality], or others to seize the advantage!” (LSOC23, 330).

The Lotus Sutra instructs that we must never allow the spread of its teaching to be cut off, nor let devilish functions seize the advantage to obstruct it. Such negative influences are always trying to disrupt, block, or sever the path of mentor and disciple, the path of successors. They also try to exploit any disruption or division that may occur.

When the Daishonin says “form your ranks and follow me,” the emphasis above all is on “follow me”—that is, to carry on his work. That shared commitment, that continuity of spirit and effort, is the life and essence of worldwide kosen-rufu. This is what the Lotus Sutra and the writings of Nichiren Daishonin teach.

After urging his disciples to surpass even the great teachers T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo, he writes: “If you quail before the threats of the ruler of this little island country [and abandon your faith], how will you face the even more terrible anger of Yama, the lord of hell?4 If, while calling yourselves the Buddha’s messengers, you give way to fear, you will be the most despicable of persons!” (WND-1, 765).

He spurred and encouraged his disciples with great compassion. Regarding Japan’s leader as no more than the “ruler of this little island country,” he led the way forward and called on his disciples to press ahead and follow him.

This dauntlessness is an eternal model for all humanity. We of the SGI, with a profound appreciation of the Daishonin’s lofty state of life, are spreading the Mystic Law throughout the world and opening the way for the peace and happiness of humankind.

I hope that you, our SGI youth division members, will walk this path of eternal honor together with me and carry on my work as my successors.

From a speech at an SGI youth division leaders meeting, Tokyo, July 10, 1991.

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

  • *1Tatsunokuchi Persecution: The failed attempt, instigated by powerful government figures, to behead the Daishonin under the cover of darkness on the beach at Tatsunokuchi, on the outskirts of Kamakura, on September 12, 1271.
  • *2Myoho-renge-kyo is written with five Chinese characters, while Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is written with seven (nam, or namu, being comprised of two characters). The Daishonin often uses Myoho-renge-kyo synonymously with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his writings.
  • *3Devil king of the sixth heaven: Also, devil king or heavenly devil. The king of devils, who dwells in the highest or the sixth heaven of the world of desire. He is also named Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, the king who makes free use of the fruits of others’ efforts for his own pleasure. Served by innumerable minions, he obstructs Buddhist practice and delights in sapping the life force of other beings, the manifestation of the fundamental ignorance inherent in life. The devil king is a personification of the negative tendency to force others to one’s will at any cost.
  • *4Yama, the lord of hell: Also known as King Yama. In Buddhist mythology, he is the king of the world of the dead who judges and determines the rewards and punishments of the deceased.