Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 29: A Religion That Exists for People’s Happiness [29.6]

29.6 Responding Wisely to the Times

As practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, President Ikeda says, it’s important that we use our wisdom to freely create value in response to the diversity of society and the changing times.

In one of his letters, Nichiren Daishonin praises his young disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu for admirably inheriting the spirit of faith of his deceased father, saying: “Blue dye is bluer even than indigo itself,1 and ice is colder than water. How wonderful it is, how wonderful!” (WND-2, 809).

All of you, wherever you reside, are following in the footsteps of dedicated pioneer members and freely and spontaneously carrying out activities for kosen-rufu. This is most reassuring.

I feel the Daishonin also teaches us in this passage how important it is in Buddhism that we grow to surpass our predecessors and strive to develop and advance our movement even more than they have.

Children following their parents’ lead and younger members repeating the words of older members may, from one perspective, seem like a fine example of inheriting tradition. And it is, of course, true that the fundamental spirit of Nichiren Buddhism and of faith in the Mystic Law is eternal and unchanging. The times, however, are constantly changing. Society is in a state of rapid transformation. The world is endlessly diverse, and real people are endlessly complex and fragile. Reaching another’s heart is no easy feat.

In response to such human diversity and the rapidly changing times, we need to be able to bring forth abundant wisdom to lead others to enlightenment and realize kosen-rufu. Such wisdom is also an expression of compassion.

You may talk about the most profound theories, but doing so will have little meaning if no one understands them. And insisting on using old language and expressions and old ways of doing things often will give people the wrong impression about Nichiren Buddhism and its true greatness. That not only constitutes a lack of compassion for others, but, quite frankly, violates the spirit of the Daishonin, who sought to lead all people to enlightenment.

Buddhist terminology developed over long centuries of Buddhist history. But you can’t expect people in cultures without that tradition to understand its true meaning. In cases like this, we need to come up with expressions that more accurately and understandably convey the intent and meaning.

This is one of the great challenges of worldwide kosen-rufu. I am confident that this path accords with the spirit of the Daishonin, who taught the principle of progress expressed as “bluer than indigo itself.”


Buddhism teaches the precept of adapting to local customs and the manners of the times as long as they do not violate the fundamental teachings of Buddhism. In addition, among the four ways of preaching,2 we find “to teach Buddhism in secular terms” and “to teach according to people’s respective capacities.”

Because Nichiren Buddhism teaches life’s fundamental truth, we can create value without limit. And because it is grounded in reason, it offers a practice that anyone can understand and accept. That is the essence of the correct teaching.

From a speech at an SGI world youth training course, Tokyo, October 14, 1990.

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

  • *1The simile “blue dye is bluer even than indigo itself” derives from a writing of the Chinese philosopher Hsün Tzu. The liquid extracted from the indigo plant is not a deep blue color, which is only obtained by repeatedly dipping the cloth into the dye until it attains a blue more intense than the color of the juice from the plant itself. The simile expresses the meaning of deepening one’s learning and knowledge through study. It is cited in T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight. Nichiren Daishonin often employs this simile of the indigo plant not only in the context of deepening one’s Buddhist practice, but also growing as successors.
  • *2Four ways of preaching: Also, four ways of teaching. Four ways in which the Buddha expounds his teaching, explained in the Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. They are: (1) to teach Buddhism in secular terms, explaining to people that it will fulfill their desires, thus arousing their willingness to take faith; (2) to teach according to people’s respective capacities, thus enabling them to increase their store of good karma; (3) to help people abandon their illusions and free themselves from the three poisons of greed, anger, and foolishness, by teaching those caught up in greed to recognize the impurity of their attachments, those dominated by anger to practice compassionate acts, and those blinded by stupidity to perceive the causal law; and (4) to reveal the ultimate truth directly, causing the people to awaken to it. Compared to this last way of teaching, the first three are regarded as temporary means.