Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 25: The Unity of “Many in Body, One in Mind” [25.2]

25.2 What Is the Meaning of “Many in Body, One in Mind”?

Discussing the significance of the terms “many in body” and “one in mind,” President Ikeda notes that the unity of “many in body, one in mind” is the key to kosen-rufu, and that the Soka Gakkai exemplifies this principle in today’s world.

The term “many in body”—which can also be translated as “different in body”—means that we each have our own unique personalities, talents, roles to play, and so on. In a general sense, “one in mind”—or “one in heart”—means sharing a common goal or common values. More specifically, in Nichiren Buddhism, it means sharing faith in the Mystic Law and the great vow for kosen-rufu.

The unity of “many in body, one in mind” in Buddhism refers to the individual and the group harmonizing based on the Law. It indicates a richly diverse and dynamic community of capable individuals who inspire one another in their efforts to advance kosen-rufu.

In his writings, the Daishonin stresses this unity of purpose, first of all, as the key to achieving success and victory in all endeavors. Second, he stresses it as absolutely vital in achieving kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law, which is a struggle between the Buddha and devilish functions. He also expresses his firm conviction that as long as he and his disciples are solidly united in their commitment for kosen-rufu, they will be able to triumph over even the most formidable obstacles.

The spirit of “many in body, one in mind,” in a sense, represents the ultimate manifestation of the “strategy of the Lotus Sutra” (WND-1, 1001), which is chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon—specifically, chanting with a shared commitment for kosen-rufu.

Kosen-rufu will not advance, even with the best-laid plans or strategies, without such united prayer. Strong prayer based on unity will also give rise to tremendous momentum. So even if individuals who seek to disrupt the unity of our movement should appear, their negative influence will be rebuffed by everyone’s focused resolve.

When we advance in the united spirit of “many in body, one in mind” based on chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the realization of kosen-rufu, we generate a powerful forward impetus and the energy to secure victory. Everyone who shares in this spirit will be able to work together harmoniously and feel joy even in the midst of difficult struggles. Unity of purpose holds the key to creating such a rhythm of victory, a rhythm of dynamic activity.


My dearest wish now is that the youth who are our successors will fully inherit this noble rhythm of victory driven by the unity of “many in body, one in mind.” Toward that end, I would like to affirm the meaning of a number of points regarding the concept of “one in mind,” or unity of purpose, which is the key to victory.

First, “one in mind” refers to the great desire or vow for kosen-rufu.

In the midst of the Atsuhara Persecution,1 the Daishonin wrote to his youthful disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu: “My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow” (WND-1, 1003). This is none other than a passionate call to his followers to dedicate their lives to the cause of kosen-rufu.

The great vow to realize kosen-rufu is also the very heart of the mentor-disciple spirit shared by Mr. Makiguchi, Mr. Toda, and me, who have all inherited this vow directly from the Daishonin. All three of us have given ourselves to its actualization with tireless dedication and ungrudging effort. This is the essence of the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.”

The second point is that this oneness of mind, or unity of purpose, must be built on genuine respect for our fellow practitioners.

The spirit of kosen-rufu taught in the Lotus Sutra rests on the profound belief that all people possess the Buddha nature and thus the potential to attain Buddhahood. A community of practitioners harmoniously united for the sake of kosen-rufu will naturally reflect this philosophy of the Lotus Sutra in spirit and action.

Bodhisattva Never Disparaging2 undertook the practice of bowing in reverence to all those he encountered, based on his belief that everyone has the Buddha nature and can attain enlightenment through faith in the Lotus Sutra. He thus bowed in respect even to those who did not uphold the sutra.

It goes without saying that our fellow members who embrace the Gohonzon and strive for kosen-rufu will all definitely attain Buddhahood. We should therefore accord them the utmost respect. As the “Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy” chapter of the Lotus Sutra says regarding those who accept and uphold the sutra: “You should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (LSOC28, 365).

The unity of “many in body, one in mind” symbolizes a bond based on the Buddhist philosophy of respect for all people. “One in mind,” therefore, implies a spirit of mutual respect among fellow practitioners.

Third, “one in mind” simply means faith grounded in the oneness or shared commitment of mentor and disciple. The essence of “many in body, one in mind” is found in such faith, the ongoing pursuit of aligning our hearts with the great vow for kosen-rufu, which is the heart of the Buddha and the heart of genuine leaders of kosen-rufu.

Nikko Shonin, the Daishonin’s disciple and successor, remained true to his mentor’s spirit throughout his life, and built a harmonious community of practitioners directly connected to the Daishonin. In contrast, the other five senior priests,3 fearing government persecution and forgetting their vow as disciples, strayed from the correct path of kosen-rufu. Turning against one’s mentor is the epitome of disunity—of being of different minds, or at cross purposes.

As long as the fundamental spirit of striving for kosen-rufu demonstrated by the first three presidents pulses throughout the organization and solidly unites it, the Soka Gakkai will forever possess the great life force of the Buddha, who seeks to lead all people to enlightenment.

Endowed with this power of the Buddha, the Soka Gakkai towers as a community of practitioners solidly united in purpose, a great and indestructible bastion of the shared commitment of mentor and disciple that will defeat even the fiercest onslaughts of the three obstacles and four devils.4

Mr. Toda predicted that in the Buddhist scriptures of the future, the Soka Gakkai’s name would be recorded as “Soka Gakkai Buddha.” The Soka Gakkai, the unified gathering directly connected to the Daishonin and working to make kosen-rufu a reality, is itself a Buddha. This was my mentor’s unshakable conviction.

He also often said: “The Soka Gakkai organization is more precious than my own life.” I have sought to protect and nurture this harmonious community of practitioners, which is carrying out the Buddha’s intent, as if it were Mr. Toda’s life itself. Making the unity of “many in body, one in mind” the organization’s guiding credo, I have done my very best to develop the Soka Gakkai and advance kosen-rufu.

Please continue your steady efforts in faith and sincere actions to create unity in diversity—“many in body, one in mind.” In this way, I hope you will further expand our harmonious community of practitioners, which was built by the first three presidents through the shared commitment of mentor and disciple. For this itself is the path of kosen-rufu and is a sure step toward world peace.

From Lecture on “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” published in Japanese in February 2008.

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.
  • *2Bodhisattva Never Disparaging appears in “The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This bodhisattva—Shakyamuni in a previous lifetime—lived at the end of the Middle Day of the Law following the death of the Buddha Awesome Sound King. He would bow to everyone he met and say: “I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you will all practice the bodhisattva way and will then be able to attain Buddhahood” (LSOC20, 308). However, he was attacked by arrogant monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen, who beat him with sticks and staves and threw stones at him. The sutra explains that this practice became the cause for Bodhisattva Never Disparaging to attain Buddhahood.
  • *3Five senior priests: Five of the six senior priests designated by Nichiren Daishonin as his principal disciples, but who betrayed his teachings after his death. Nikko Shonin was the only one among these original six senior disciples to correctly carry on the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
  • *4Three 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.