Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 26: Leaders Who Guide Others to Happiness [26.12]

26.12 The Foremost Message of the Buddha

President Ikeda declares that the foremost message that Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin wished to convey to us is to respect our fellow Buddhist practitioners and our fellow human beings.

Your selfless, unsparing, and tireless efforts for the sake of your fellow members, sincere practitioners of Buddhism, and for kosen-rufu are incredibly noble. The essence of the Lotus Sutra and the fundamental spirit of Nichiren Buddhism pulse vibrantly in such actions to protect and care for others.

This is the final message that Shakyamuni taught in the 28 chapters of the Lotus Sutra: Treat those who uphold the sutra as if they are Buddhas.

I am referring to the passage from the “Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy” chapter of the Lotus Sutra in which Shakyamuni tells Bodhisattva Universal Worthy: “If you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (LSOC28, 365).

This is the very last teaching Shakyamuni shares in the Lotus Sutra. It is also a passage that we of the Soka Gakkai have been putting into practice in our own lives.

The fundamental attitude of Soka Gakkai leaders must always be to value their fellow members to the highest degree and serve them sincerely. This spirit is what has enabled the Soka Gakkai to grow to the extent it has. Putting the members first is the Soka Gakkai’s eternal and unchanging spirit.


In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin comments on that sutra passage as follows:

“In this chapter Shakyamuni Buddha revealed the foremost point he wished to convey to us. The Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra over a period of eight years, and eight characters sum up the message that he has left behind for living beings in this later age, the Latter Day of the Law. It is in the passage that reads, ‘Therefore, Universal Worthy, if you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha’ (LSOC28, 365), particularly the eight characters that make up the end of the passage, ‘you should rise and greet him,’ etc. With this passage the words of Shakyamuni Buddha in the sutra come to an end, thus in effect ending the sutra.

The word ‘should’ shows that these words refer to the future. The words ‘should rise and greet him from afar’ indicate that the sutra passage is saying that one should without fail show the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra the kind of respect one would show to a Buddha” (OTT, 192–93).

We need to respect and value most highly those who embrace the Mystic Law. That is the “foremost point [the Buddha] wished to convey to us.” The word “should” [in the phrase “you should rise and greet him from afar”] refers to the future, the Latter Day of the Law in which we are living at present. In a specific sense, the “practitioners of the Lotus Sutra” refers to Nichiren Daishonin, but in a general sense, it refers to all his disciples dedicated to kosen-rufu in the Latter Day.


Respect the practitioners of Buddhism, respect all human beings—this is the foremost message the Buddha seeks to convey. We of the Soka Gakkai are inspired by, are grateful for, and fully embrace this humanism, this love of humanity, that pulses vibrantly in the teachings of Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin. Let us vow together to advance forever in perfect accord with this message.

From a speech at a Toshima, Bunkyo, and Taito wards culture and music festival, Tokyo, December 21, 1991.

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