Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 25: The Unity of “Many in Body, One in Mind” [25.3]

25.3 Showing One Another the Same Respect As We Would a Buddha

President Ikeda explains why unity is so important and stresses the need to respect one another as Buddhas and harmoniously work together in the organization dedicated to kosen-rufu, based on our noble shared purpose.

Nichiren Daishonin uses the term “many in body, one in mind” to express unity in which the individuality of each person is valued and given full play. “Many in body, one in mind” is indeed the supreme organizational principle that cherishes each person and enables them to develop their potential to the fullest.

“Many in body” reflects the understanding that each of us has a unique mission, talent, and set of circumstances.

“One in mind” means that, while fully expressing our individuality, we need to be united in spirit.

In contrast, “many in body, different in mind” is a situation of utter disunity.

“One in body, one in mind,” meanwhile, describes a condition in which group thinking prevails, individuality is ignored, and totalitarianism ultimately results. People are unable to express their unique abilities.

Everyone, without exception, has a mission. Each person has enormous potential. How do we enable each person to realize that potential? When one person carries out their human revolution, it gives others courage and hope. It gives them confidence. Inspiration gives rise to inspiration, setting off a chain reaction that generates tremendous energy for change.


The Daishonin always encouraged his followers to be on good terms and to support one another.

Reading the postscript to “The Votary of the Lotus Sutra Will Meet Persecution” (WND-1, 449), it seems that the Daishonin’s followers must have gathered regularly to read his letters. They must have studied his teachings and discussed the meaning of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime and how to advance kosen-rufu. These gatherings were no doubt similar to our Soka Gakkai discussion and planning meetings today.

Buddhist practice is not something we can carry out on our own. For, as the Daishonin says, “The winds of fame and profit blow violently, and the lamp of Buddhist practice is easily extinguished” (WND-1, 1027). It is vital that we encourage and support one another as we make our way forward. We need to be positive influences, or “good friends,” to each other.

Buddhist practice is a constant battle against obstacles and devilish forces. We must continue practicing Buddhism amid a world rife with negative influences.

Today, we are pursuing our Buddhist practice as ordinary people in the midst of our daily lives, making our humanity shine brightly, unperturbed by the negative influences all around us. In doing so, we are like the lotus flower described in the Lotus Sutra, which blooms unsullied by the muddy water in which it grows (cf. LSOC15, 263). There is no other way than this to attain Buddhahood. That’s why being part of a gathering of good friends is invaluable to successfully carrying out our Buddhist practice.

Being united in a lofty shared objective is crucial. The precious organization of kosen-rufu absolutely must not be destroyed. Construction requires tenacious and painstaking effort, while destruction takes but an instant.

A good example of the importance of unity can be seen in the struggles of the Ikegami brothers, Munenaka and Munenaga. It is well known how their father, Yasumitsu, had disowned the elder Munenaka [for practicing the Daishonin’s teachings], and how his actions had been instigated by the priest Ryokan1 of Gokuraku-ji temple.

Having disowned his elder son, Yasumitsu began taking steps to have his younger son Munenaga succeed him as head of the household. Munenaga became troubled over whether he should accept his father’s proposal or choose the way of faith. In the end, after receiving encouragement from the Daishonin, he acted in concert with his elder brother.

The Daishonin clearly discerned that unity was the key to the Ikegami brothers overcoming their challenge. He taught them that they could defeat the devilish functions by joining together, along with their wives, to present a united front. In his writing “Letter to the Brothers,” the Daishonin urges them to forge strong unity.

In any gathering of people, there will always be those we like and get along well with, and those whom we don’t particularly like and aren’t so friendly with. In a sense, it is only natural that we should have such emotions as human beings, so we really need not worry about them. At the same time, however, it is foolish to be swayed by personal likes and dislikes and allow ourselves to slacken in our Buddhist practice as a result. Doing so only provides an opening for devilish functions, causing us to fall prey to those negative forces.

That is why the Daishonin strictly warned his followers against speaking ill of one another. He writes: “However disagreeable it may be to you, you should associate with them amicably” (WND-1, 850); “Even if they have their faults, if they are only minor ones, just pretend you do not notice them” (WND-2, 731); and “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” (WND-1, 907).

We are all Buddhas. Therefore, to criticize another is to do the same to a Buddha. Because we are all Buddhas, we should respect one another. It is important that the Soka Gakkai brim with the spirit described in the passage “You should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (LSOC28, 365).

The Daishonin goes so far as to say that when people get into the habit of criticizing others, “they never rid themselves of this wrong attitude, so they seem to be destined for the evil paths” (WND-1, 757). Therefore, he says: “You should respect one another [as Buddhas]” (Ibid.). He also asserts that we should be on good terms with one another, just like Shakyamuni and Many Treasures, who in the “Treasure Tower” chapter of the Lotus Sutra share a seat.

The important thing is faith directed toward realizing kosen-rufu. If we are striving wholeheartedly for kosen-rufu, we will have no time to quarrel. The Daishonin repeatedly admonishes against the folly of fellow practitioners squabbling with each other in front of the enemy. He compared such behavior to the “snipe and the shellfish,” who were both caught by the fisherman because they were preoccupied with arguing among themselves (cf. WND-2, 914). We should talk and discuss things openly with one another based on a shared commitment for kosen-rufu.

In any situation, dialogue is positive. It builds solidarity and creates unity. To reject dialogue is wrong; it can be divisive and destructive. The point is to meet and to talk. It is only natural that our perspectives may differ from others. But discussion gives rise to trust, even among those who don’t see eye to eye. In society as well, dialogue is the foundation for peace, while rejection of dialogue is the gateway to conflict and war.

The Daishonin always urged his followers to engage in dialogue and develop the unity of “many in body, one in mind.” He writes: “Even a stranger, if you open up your heart to him, may be willing to lay down his life for you” (WND-1, 444); and “Be sure to urge all those in Suruga [home to the Atsuhara area] to remain united in their faith!” (WND-2, 572). There are indeed many such statements in the Daishonin’s writings.

He also said: “You should always talk with each other to free yourselves from the sufferings of birth and death and attain the pure land of Eagle Peak, where you will nod to each other and speak in one mind” (WND-1, 909).

After all, the bonds between comrades in faith who have worked together to advance kosen-rufu are eternal. There may be times when you think: “One lifetime with that person is enough for me!” But the important thing is that we work with such people toward fundamentally transforming our state of life. As the Daishonin says: “You have associated with a friend in the orchid room and have become as straight as mugwort growing among hemp”2 (WND-1, 23). People can change. And if we didn’t change for the better, what would be the point of our Buddhist practice? The Daishonin also writes: “The dove has changed into a hawk, the sparrow into a clam”3 (Ibid.).

As fellow members who uphold the Mystic Law, it’s essential that we respect one another. We need to encourage one another as we advance together on the long and difficult road of kosen-rufu. We need to advance with the unity of “many in body, one in mind,” always acting as good friends to one another.

From The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings, vol. 1, published in Japanese in June 2003.

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

  • *1Ryokan: Also known as Ninsho. A priest of the True Word Precepts school in Japan. With the patronage of the Hojo clan, Ryokan became chief priest of Gokuraku-ji temple in Kamakura. He ingratiated himself with government officials, gaining important and lucrative positions. He was hostile to the Daishonin and actively conspired with the authorities to have the Daishonin and his followers persecuted.
  • *2“A friend in the orchid room” indicates a person of virtue. The implication is that the company of a virtuous person works as a good influence, just as one is imbued with fragrance on entering a room filled with orchids. It is said that mugwort supported by hemp plants grows upright.
  • *3Expressions taken from early Chinese literature that indicate dramatic change.