Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 25: The Unity of “Many in Body, One in Mind” [25.10]

25.10 The Power to Unite Humanity

President Ikeda notes that the unity of “many in body, one in mind” is not only the driving force for the development of kosen-rufu and our victory over all obstacles, but also the philosophy that can lead humanity to peace and harmonious coexistence.

The unity taught by Nichiren Daishonin is strong and noble beyond compare. Because the Daishonin’s disciples had this unity of purpose, they were able to triumph in the midst of the Atsuhara Persecution.1

For many years, the young Nikko Shonin, the Daishonin’s direct disciple who later went on to become his true successor, had spearheaded the propagation efforts in Suruga Province [present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture], where Atsuhara was located. He directly conveyed the Daishonin’s spirit to the believers there, mostly farmers, and instilled in them faith to strive in oneness with the Daishonin.

Moreover, Nikko Shonin forged strong, close-knit unity among the followers, based on a spirit of equality and mutual respect that transcended differences such as rank, status, and other social barriers. That’s why he was able to build an unshakable community of practitioners who refused to give in to any persecution or hardship.

The deaths of the three martyrs of Atsuhara,2 who laid down their lives for their beliefs, signaled the establishment of a true, invincible Buddhism of the people.

Unity of purpose must be forged by genuine disciples who base themselves on the Daishonin’s spirit and boldly take their place on the front lines of the struggle for kosen-rufu, just as Nikko Shonin demonstrated. The Soka Gakkai is an organization of people firmly united in purpose—an organization founded by Presidents Makiguchi and Toda for the sake of promoting kosen-rufu.

The Daishonin declares that the key to victory is “perfect unity” (WND-1, 618)—in other words, the unity of “many in body, one in mind.” At the same time, victory attests to our solid unity of purpose. Everywhere around the globe, Soka Gakkai members are uniting harmoniously and winning widespread trust by contributing to society as good citizens and members of their communities.

Our goal is unity in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind,” not “one in body, one in mind.” Everyone has their own unique and precious individuality. We are all different in a myriad of ways—in our profession, age, gender, personality, and so forth.

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin says that the cherry, plum, peach, and damson each embody the ultimate truth just as they are, without undergoing any change (cf. OTT, 200). Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching that enables each person to fully exhibit their unique characteristics.

Unity in diversity is born when we each work together for the unsurpassed goal of kosen-rufu while shining to the fullest in the place of our own mission. It is not something we create because we are told to. It’s a self-motivated unity, an alliance of people striving to reveal their true brilliant potential.

What matters most is each person’s happiness and victory in life. One person changing their karma, one person growing as a human being, is the basis for everything. The Daishonin writes: “When the pine flourishes, the cypress is overjoyed; when grasses whither, orchids weep. Even insentient plants and trees share as one a friend’s joys and sorrows” (WND-2, 964). To rejoice in our friends’ happiness, to sincerely applaud their achievements, to be by their side and encourage them when they are struggling, to share both good times and hard times and weather life’s difficulties together—true unity is born of such warmhearted and humanistic ties.

Mr. Toda once explained unity very simply: “To say to another member ‘Are you also facing difficulties? Are you struggling to make ends meet, too? Are you also suffering? Then, together let’s strengthen our faith!’—this is what it means to be united in purpose.”

The Daishonin taught his youthful disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu this passage from the Lotus Sutra: “We and other living beings all together [will] attain the Buddha way [LSOC7, 168]” (WND-1, 1003). We attain Buddhahood “all together.” When we make the vow to strive in our Buddhist practice with others and to grow and achieve victory together, we naturally come to be solidly united in purpose.

In his famous writing “Many in Body, One in Mind,” the Daishonin states:

“If the spirit of many in body but one in mind prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals, whereas if one in body but different in mind, they can achieve nothing remarkable. . . . Although Nichiren and his followers are few, because they are different in body, but united in mind [i.e., many in body but one in mind], they will definitely accomplish their great mission of widely propagating the Lotus Sutra” (WND-1, 618).

The Daishonin says here that we cannot achieve victory if our minds are at cross purposes, no matter how large our group is or how great our influence. In contrast, even if our numbers are small, we will be able to accomplish all of our goals if we are united in our shared aspiration to realize kosen-rufu.


[In response to a youth division member who asked: “Why does the kind of unity in diversity we find in the Soka Gakkai have the power to foster human harmony?”]

First, because our members have a profound philosophy. Second, because they take consistent action. Third, because they possess unwavering courage.

Unity in diversity—or “many in body, one in mind”—is founded upon the philosophy of the Lotus Sutra, which teaches the equality of all human beings and the dignity of life.

In Nichiren Buddhism, there is no discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, class, gender, or any other differences. The Daishonin declares: “A single individual has been used as an example, but the same thing applies equally to all living beings” (WND-2, 844). And he states: “There should be no discrimination between men and women” (cf. WND-1, 385).

We are able to have unity of purpose because we unfailingly believe in the potential of all people to attain Buddhahood. Supreme harmony is created when everyone can shine their fullest through the power of the Mystic Law.

Why is the Soka Gakkai so strongly united? Because its members tirelessly engage in dialogue. They never let up. Whether it comes to organizational unity or harmony among all people, the basic principle is the same. It’s important to keep making efforts again and again to reach out and talk with others, creating heart-to-heart bonds based not on social position or title, but on our shared humanity. It is through such continual, steadfast actions that genuine solidarity is born.

In our communities, too, our members have sincerely persisted in dialogue, undeterred by even the most daunting walls of distrust. This is why we have been able to spread the Mystic Law across the globe.

Buddhism requires unremitting effort. The Daishonin writes: “Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. Should you slacken in your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage” (WND-1, 997). Just as the Daishonin states, if we become complacent in our faith, devilish functions will take advantage. Devilish functions also seek to create division.

As we each challenge our individual human revolution and forge indestructible unity based on a shared vow for kosen-rufu, we can overcome all obstacles. We can achieve victories that are the concrete result of the unity of “many in body, one in mind.”

Here, “mind”—also meaning “heart”—refers to the wish for kosen-rufu, the spirit to respect our fellow members, and the heart of a lion king—the ultimate expression of which is the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple.

In times of great challenges, we should chant powerful daimoku. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion king. In times of shared adversity, we should use our voices unsparingly to support and encourage our fellow members.

From Youth and the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, published in Japanese in September 2012.

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

  • *1Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against followers of Nichiren Daishonin in Atsuhara Village in Fuji District, Suruga Province (present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture), starting in around 1275 and continuing until around 1283. In 1279, 20 farmer disciples were arrested on false charges. They were interrogated by Hei no Saemon-no-jo, the deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs, who demanded that they renounce their faith. However, not one of them yielded. Hei no Saemon-no-jo eventually had three of them executed.
  • *2Three martyrs of Atsuhara: Three farmer disciples of Nichiren Daishonin—Jinshiro, Yagoro, and Yarokuro—who were arrested and beheaded during the Atsuhara Persecution.