Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 23: Valuing Each Individual [23.8]

23.8 Nichiren Buddhism Is a Teaching of Unparalleled Humanism

Citing a passage from a profoundly moving letter of encouragement that Nichiren Daishonin sent to a disciple, who had lost a beloved son at a young age, President Ikeda speaks of the humanism of Nichiren Buddhism, which teaches us to value each individual.

On September 5, 1280, Nanjo Tokimitsu’s younger brother Nanjo Shichiro Goro died. The cause is unclear, but it was apparently a sudden death. He was only 16.1

When the Daishonin learned the news, he immediately sent a letter conveying his heartfelt sympathy and encouragement to Tokimitsu and his mother, the lay nun Ueno. The letter is dated a day after the young man’s death. He writes:

With regard to the news of the demise of Nanjo Shichiro Goro: Once a person is born that person must die—wise men and foolish, eminent and lowly alike all know this to be a fact. Therefore one should not be grieved and alarmed by a person’s death; I know it to be so and teach others to do likewise. And yet when something like this actually happens, I wonder if it is not a dream or an illusion.

And how much greater must be the grief of the mother! She had lost her parents, her siblings, and even her beloved husband had preceded her in death, but still she had her many children to comfort her heart. Yet now her youngest child, her darling, a son, surpassing others in features and form, devoted in heart, in whom his associates took such delight—now all at once he has been taken away, like a budding flower that withers in the wind or a full moon that is suddenly lost from sight.

I can scarcely believe that such a thing has happened, and cannot even think of what words to write, though there is much more that I would say. . . .

Postscript: When I met him on the fifteenth day of the sixth month, I thought what a fine and spirited lad he was. How it grieves me to think I will never see him again! Nevertheless, he had devoted himself to Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra, and he died in a fitting manner. I know that in heart he has gone to join his [departed] father in the pure land of Eagle Peak, where they will clasp hands and face one another in joy. How splendid, how splendid (WND-2, 887)!

As the postscript notes, less than three months earlier, Shichiro Goro had visited Nichiren with his older brother Tokimitsu. The Daishonin had delighted in the sight of these two vigorous young men and cherished great hopes for their futures. Hearing that Shichiro Goro had died, he could not properly grasp what had happened, feeling it must be a dream or an illusion. His death left everyone shocked and saddened.

The lay nun Ueno was still pregnant with Shichiro Goro when her husband died. Her grief at losing her beloved son, who had been such a great comfort to her, must have been overwhelming. She was just like the mothers in our women’s division, who have raised their children into fine successors for kosen-rufu.

The Daishonin sends words of profound empathy that reach deep into the bereaved mother’s heart. He embraces her indescribable sadness as his own and weeps in his heart together with her.

This is not just superficial sympathy. It is a genuine sharing of suffering based on identifying deeply with the other person. It is sharing the innermost heart, the pain, and the sadness of the suffering individual. This was the behavior of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. Surely no one can fail to be moved by his incomparable humanity. We of the Soka Gakkai are carrying on this profoundly humane spirit of the Daishonin.

Offering heartfelt encouragement is what defines a genuine practitioner of Buddhism. Losing no time in encouraging those who are struggling or suffering; helping people transform their sadness into courage, and suffering into hope—this is the spirit of the Daishonin.

From a speech at a nationwide youth division leaders meeting, Tokyo, April 12, 1992.

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

  • *1According to the traditional Japanese way of counting, in which a person is counted as one year old on the day of their birth.