Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 24: The Organization for Kosen-rufu [24.2]

24.2 The Soka Gakkai Is a Gathering of Good Friends

In Buddhism, functions that direct people toward goodness and Buddhist practice are termed “good friends.” President Ikeda says that the organization of the Soka Gakkai is a gathering of just such positive influences, or good friends.

The Soka Gakkai organization exists to advance kosen-rufu. It also exists to support and safeguard the path by which each member can grow in faith and attain Buddhahood. In that respect, the organization for kosen-rufu is a gathering of countless good friends.

In the opening of his letter “Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” Nichiren Daishonin stresses the importance of good friends:

“When a tree has been transplanted, though fierce winds may blow, it will not topple if it has a firm stake to hold it up. But even a tree that has grown up in place may fall over if its roots are weak. Even a feeble person will not stumble if those supporting him are strong, but a person of considerable strength, when alone, may fall down on an uneven path” (WND-1, 598).

This makes perfect sense; surely, no one would deny it. It’s important to remember that the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin are always grounded in logic and reason that everyone can understand and accept.

The message of this passage is that, on the path to attaining Buddhahood, even if a person’s faith is weak at first, with the solid support of others they can forge ahead without stumbling. On the other hand, a person who takes pride in having strong faith may find it difficult to make their way alone when the road is rocky and buffeted by the fierce winds of the three obstacles and four devils.1 That’s why we need fellow members, why we need good friends and the organization, to support us in our faith and practice.

Of course, attaining Buddhahood depends on our own Buddhist practice and efforts. We must be resolved to keep walking the path of faith to the end with a self-reliant, stand-alone spirit. But the organization and our fellow members are important in encouraging and inspiring us in our individual practice. They play a supportive role in our personal attainment of Buddhahood—a role that is absolutely vital.

In the same letter, the Daishonin also writes: “Therefore, the best way to attain Buddhahood is to encounter a good friend. How far can our own wisdom take us? If we have even enough wisdom to distinguish hot from cold, we should seek out a good friend” (WND-1, 598).

The Buddha way is infinitely profound and the Buddha’s wisdom, unfathomable. In comparison, no matter how smart human beings may seem, their wisdom is limited. That’s why, if we wish to attain Buddhahood, we should associate with true and good friends in faith. Their support enables us to advance unerringly along the path to enlightenment.

“How far can our own wisdom take us?” asks the Daishonin. Even the greatest scientists and physicians don’t possess the wisdom to grasp the real nature of their own lives or solve the fundamental problems of human existence. Being a powerful political leader or a billionaire doesn’t mean that one knows the path for attaining absolute happiness.

Nevertheless, we tend to rely on our meager wisdom and lose the humble spirit of seeking the way. This is the cause of unhappiness. Neither knowledge nor wealth guarantees happiness, nor does social status or celebrity. While this seems obvious, very few look seriously and closely at this stern reality. But this simple fact is the crucial reason why we must earnestly turn to Buddhism, which reveals the path for true human happiness.

Seeking Buddhism means, in concrete terms, seeking outstanding good friends. As the Daishonin declares: “The best way to attain Buddhahood is to encounter a good friend.”


A good friend, in Buddhism, is a good influence embodied in a person that leads someone to embark on the Buddha way. People of virtue, honest and true, who guide others in a positive direction and enable them to practice Buddhism act as good friends, be they Buddhas, bodhisattvas, practitioners of the two vehicles [i.e., voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones], heavenly beings, or human beings. Naturally, therefore, we, too, can serve as wonderful good friends to others.

Good friends function in various ways. They support Buddhist practitioners and enable them to practice with security and peace of mind. They strive alongside other practitioners and help one another improve their lives through mutual support and inspiration. And they teach others about the correct doctrines and principles of Buddhism and put them on the path to right action.

All of you, as leaders of our movement, are admirable good friends, people of virtue, who are guiding and leading others toward kosen-rufu, the Gohonzon, the Mystic Law, and the attainment of Buddhahood by encouraging them to do gongyo, attend meetings, and read the Daishonin’s writings.

The Soka Gakkai is a gathering of good friends. It is an organization for promoting Buddhist faith and practice, for expanding and developing kosen-rufu. It has the important mission of leading people all around the world to the correct teaching of Buddhism and guiding them onto the path for attaining Buddhahood.

One important requirement in this regard is to be openhearted and accepting of others.

In “Unseen Virtue and Visible Reward,” the Daishonin writes: “You must be on good terms with those who believe in this teaching, neither seeing, hearing, nor pointing out anything about them that may displease you. Calmly continue to offer prayers” (WND-1, 907). This writing, incidentally, is a fragment of a longer letter, the remaining pages of which have been lost.

It goes without saying that we must properly instruct members in the fundamental principles that are the basics of Nichiren Buddhism, but it is unwise to make unnecessary comments on or criticize their personal lives. We each have our own personality and lifestyle. Our circumstances also differ. The key is to respect one another and work together harmoniously.

We are a gathering of ordinary people. Therefore, we’re bound to encounter things that we don’t like or that annoy us at times.

Though in a slightly different context, the Daishonin expressed similar feelings: “Unlike most people, in the course of spreading these doctrines of mine I, Nichiren, have occasion to meet with a great many persons. But there are fewer than one in a thousand who impress me as truly admirable” (WND-2, 778). He says that he has met many people in his efforts for kosen-rufu. I, too, have met a great many people, and I’m sure all of you are meeting many people as you carry out your activities for kosen-rufu.

“But there are fewer than one in a thousand who impress me as truly admirable.” The Daishonin, of course, had profound compassion for all living beings, but here he is saying that he rarely came across someone of exemplary character.

We can well relate to these words in our own efforts for kosen-rufu. None of us is perfect. Our goal is to strive to improve ourselves, but since we are still in the process of doing so, we all have flaws and shortcomings. And in our human relations, it is inevitable to some extent that there will be people we like and those we don’t.

It would be unbearable if we spent all our time and energy pointing out every little thing we don’t like or finding fault with one another. Such petty frictions can easily escalate into emotional conflicts that even result in destroying people’s faith—the most important thing of all—which would go against our very purpose.

No matter how challenging someone may be to deal with, we need to be tolerant and patient, embracing and encouraging them so that they can strengthen their faith. Rise above the situation and pray for their personal and spiritual growth. That attitude will help them deepen their faith, which will gradually encourage them to become a better person.

There are 5 billion [as of 2023, over 8 billion] members of the human race, and we of the Soka Gakkai are the precursors of a new age. Our role is to spread the Mystic Law and serve as good friends who guide all people toward enlightenment. In that sense, each of us Soka Gakkai members today has an infinitely noble mission. So I ask you to respect and encourage one another and advance together harmoniously.

From a speech at a joint general meeting of Toshima, Taito, Sumida, and Meguro wards, Tokyo, December 12, 1987.

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

  • *1Three obstacles and four devils: Various obstacles and hindrances to the practice of Buddhism. The three obstacles are (1) the obstacle of earthly desires, (2) the obstacle of karma, and (3) the obstacle of retribution. The four devils are (1) the hindrance of the five components, (2) the hindrance of earthly desires, (3) the hindrance of death, and (4) the hindrance of the devil king.