Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 24: The Organization for Kosen-rufu [24.1]

24.1 Advancing with Good Friends Is All of Buddhist Practice

The Soka Gakkai conducts various activities to promote kosen-rufu, including discussion meetings, planning meetings, and Buddhist study sessions centering on local district and chapter organizations. All these activities are ultimately directed toward realizing happiness for self and others.

Why is the organization important? Why does the organization exist? This chapter, titled “The Organization for Kosen-rufu,” features selections in which President Ikeda discusses the significance of the organization, its importance in terms of our practice, and the Soka Gakkai tradition of discussion meetings.

In the first excerpt, citing Shakyamuni’s teaching on the importance of advancing with good friends, President Ikeda explains that Buddhist practice is striving to improve ourselves with our fellow practitioners through mutual support and inspiration—the key to growth for both ourselves and others.

One of Shakyamuni’s disciples was called Ananda.1 One day, Ananda asked Shakyamuni: “It seems to me that by having good friends and advancing together with them, one has already halfway attained the Buddha way. Is this way of thinking correct?”

The suggestion that having good friends is half of Buddhist practice might seem exaggerated, and no doubt Ananda posed this question with some hesitation.

But Shakyamuni replied: “Ananda, this way of thinking is not correct. Having good friends and advancing together with them is not half the Buddha way but all the Buddha way.”2

Advancing and striving together with good friends is not half but all of Buddhist practice. We of the Soka Gakkai have fully embodied this message of Shakyamuni, this spirit of Buddhism.

Sometimes advancing together with others is frustrating and difficult. Acting alone, just as one pleases, is undoubtedly much easier. But that can lead to becoming self-centered, which prevents us from practicing Buddhism properly. Before we know it, we’ll have strayed from the correct path. Ultimately, we’ll find ourselves in a lonely, sad, and miserable state of life.

Mutual development and true Buddhist practice lie in joining together with many different kinds of individuals and sharing various challenges and efforts with them as we encourage one another to advance and grow.

This is the real way to develop ourselves as human beings, and it is also true freedom.

From a speech at a Chugoku Region youth peace general meeting, Tokyo, May 7, 1995.

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

  • *1Ananda: One of Shakyamuni’s 10 major disciples. He was a cousin of Shakyamuni and also the younger brother of Devadatta. For many years he accompanied Shakyamuni as his personal attendant and thus heard more of his teachings than any other disciple. He was known, therefore, as the foremost in hearing the Buddha’s teachings. In addition, he is said to have possessed an excellent memory, which allowed him to play a central role in compiling Shakyamuni’s teachings at the First Buddhist Council after the Buddha’s passing.
  • *2This episode has been creatively paraphrased here. Cf. “Maggasamyutta” [2 (2) Half the Holy Life], in The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000), p. 1524.