Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 25: The Unity of “Many in Body, One in Mind” [25.1]

25.1 The Unity of “Many in Body, One in Mind” Is the True Picture of Kosen-rufu

President Ikeda once said:

“Being united in the spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind’ is not just a means for achieving our goal of kosen-rufu; it is the ideal embodiment of kosen-rufu itself. In other words, the realm of Nichiren Buddhism is one dedicated to creating a beautiful solidarity where people encourage one another as they strive to realize happiness for themselves and others. In addition, this philosophy of ‘many in body, one in mind’ can be seen as holding a positive key for overcoming humanity’s karma of division and conflict, and opening the way to lasting peace.”

The unity of “many in body, one in mind” is a central pillar of Nichiren Buddhism, a hope-inspiring philosophy of human harmony. It involves accepting and respecting our mutual differences, and affirming the supremely noble Buddha nature that exists equally within all human beings. In the selections in this chapter, President Ikeda discusses this crucial ingredient for achieving kosen-rufu.

Nichiren Daishonin writes:

“All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind, transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death” (WND-1, 217).

This passage elucidates how “the ultimate Law of life and death” is transmitted from the Buddha to living beings and then manifested in their lives.

The term “differences” in the phrase “transcending all differences among themselves” refers to the tendency to regard oneself as distinct and separate from others, thinking that one’s life has nothing to do with theirs. It is marked, for example, by a selfish concern with one’s own interests, a decided indifference or even hostility toward others, and being ruled by one’s emotions.

The true heritage of Buddhism will not flow in a community of practitioners whose hearts are divided or at cross purposes. That’s why the Daishonin repeatedly warns against such behavior in his writings.

“As inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim” refers to the profound awareness of the deep and inextricable bonds we share with our fellow practitioners. It is a metaphor for those who share the mission of kosen-rufu supporting and respecting one another as precious and irreplaceable comrades.

“Many in body but one in mind,” meanwhile, signifies individuals making the most of their personalities and unique qualities while advancing in unity toward the noble goal of kosen-rufu. The Daishonin clarifies that the heritage of the Law flowing in his own life is transmitted through the unity of “many in body, one in mind.” It pulses vibrantly within the life of each individual dedicated to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu.

The Daishonin further states: “Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren’s propagation” (WND-1, 217). He is saying here that of crucial importance in spreading the Mystic Law is practitioners uniting together in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.” Unity is often thought of as only a means to achieving an end. But the unity the Daishonin speaks of—uniting together with a shared commitment to help all people become happy through the correct teaching of Buddhism—is itself the epitome of human harmony and the true picture of kosen-rufu. It is the goal, not a means. The Daishonin also says that “even the great desire for widespread propagation [the great vow for kosen-rufu] can be fulfilled” (WND-1, 217) if we advance with such solid unity of purpose.

From The New Human Revolution, vol. 17, “Green Fields” chapter.

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