Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 29: A Religion That Exists for People’s Happiness [29.7]

29.7 Embracing Others in Friendship with a Big, Magnanimous Heart

In volume 1 of The New Human Revolution, the novel’s protagonist Shin’ichi Yamamoto (whose character represents President Ikeda) makes his first overseas trip for worldwide kosen-rufu in 1960, traveling to three countries, including the United States. In the excerpts featured below, he answers questions from members at discussion meetings in Hawaii and Washington, D.C., and talks in an easily accessible manner about the meaning of a truly humanistic religion.

[In response to the question: “My son is going to a Christian school, but I’m wondering if this isn’t slandering Buddhism?”]

“It’s perfectly fine. Your son isn’t going to school to practice Christianity; he’s going there to learn and study. Since that’s the case, there is absolutely no problem.

“You may pay money to the school, but that’s simply for tuition; it is not an offering to Christianity. It is natural to pay a fee if your son is being taught there.

“The basis of our faith is to believe in and pray to the Gohonzon, which was revealed by Nichiren Daishonin. As long as we do not veer from this foundation, there is no need to be rigid or intolerant.

“Many aspects of our culture and how we live are connected in one way or another to religion. For instance, most companies are closed on Sundays. This practice comes from Christianity, which views Sunday as a day of rest and worship. Yet, anyone who thinks that taking Sundays off is a slander of Buddhism would be unable to live harmoniously in society.

“Music and art, as well, are often influenced by religion. Yet, there is a difference between appreciating a work of art and believing in the religion that inspired it. Therefore, there is no need to think that you must avoid viewing such artwork or that listening to certain pieces of music constitutes slander. If having faith meant that you could no longer admire fine works of art, then that faith would be denying your humanity.”

Some religions exist for the sake of people’s happiness, and others exist only for the sake of religion. Religion for the sake of religion descends into dogmatism, ultimately binding and enslaving people in the name of faith. As a result, people are deprived of their spiritual freedom. Common sense and humanity are also denied, deepening the chasm between that religion and society.

Nichiren Buddhism is a people-focused religion, aiming to bring about a flowering of humanity in each person. A religious leader in the realm of Nichiren Buddhism who discusses the Daishonin’s teachings but declares such humanistic pursuits as art and culture to be slander of the Law is in fact a dogmatic bigot who tramples upon the Daishonin’s very spirit. The actions of such a person only serve to distort Nichiren Buddhism and block the way toward worldwide kosen-rufu.

From The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, “Sunrise” chapter.


[In response to the question: “One of my friends who lives in the same neighborhood occasionally asks me to mind her children so that she can go to church. It would ruin our friendship if I told her ‘I’m not going to look after your children while you go off to church!’ What should I do?”]

“This is America. Therefore, please have a big, magnanimous heart as vast as this great land itself. What your friend chooses to do while you mind her children is up to her. You are looking after her children out of friendship. In the process, you are also enabling your friend to form a connection to Buddhism. So there’s absolutely no need for you to be anxious or nervous about what you’re doing.

“As disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, it is natural that we take a strict stance in clarifying what is true and what is erroneous in terms of the teaching. But at the same time, our interactions with others must be based on a spirit of tolerance and generosity. This is the correct way of life for a Buddhist.

“To take a strict stance in distinguishing between truth and error and to show generosity toward others—these two things are in no way incompatible and are essentially part of the same whole.”

Shin’ichi then went on to recount how Nichiren Daishonin embarked on a bold campaign of refuting erroneous teachings and clarifying the true ones, out of his profound compassion to enable all humankind to attain happiness.

The Daishonin, Shin’ichi said, realized that if people were to persist in their belief that the partial truth of the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings constituted the highest truth, they would not be able to embrace faith in the Lotus Sutra, the essence of Buddhism, and would thereby destine themselves to unhappiness. Determined to stop this, the Daishonin, citing four dictums,1 waged an unrelenting battle against the corrupt and degenerate priests of his time who, with the support of the ruling authorities, were spreading incorrect and misleading doctrines throughout the land. He knew that if he ignored or failed to challenge such error, he would only be encouraging it and allowing it to run rampant. His struggle, however, took the form of dialogue known as shakubuku2—the spiritual and intellectual struggle to awaken other human beings. From beginning to end, his struggle was based on the power of speech and the written word. And despite being subjected to life-threatening persecutions, he upheld the spirit of nonviolence throughout.

Shin’ichi addressed the woman who had asked the question: “For that reason, there is no contradiction between the spirit of shakubuku—that of ‘refuting the erroneous and revealing the true’—and true friendship. The spirit of com¬passion is fundamental to both. Therefore, the more we exert ourselves in faith, the more warmly and generously we should embrace our friends and deepen our friendships. Because shakubuku is an endeavor to touch the lives of others through dialogue, trust and friendship are essential.

“Please become a person who rises above differences of religion, praying for the happiness of your fellow human beings and forging deep ties of friendship with many people. Your doing so will also testify to the depth and breadth of Buddhism.”

From The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, “Light of Compassion” chapter.

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

  • *1Four dictums: Four statements with which Nichiren Daishonin denounced the four most influential Buddhist schools of his time in Japan—the Pure Land (also known as Nembutsu) school, the Zen school, the True Word school, and the Precepts school.
  • *2Shakubuku: A method of expounding Buddhism by refuting another’s attachment to erroneous teachings and thus leading that person to the correct teaching. The term “shakubuku” is used in contrast to “shoju,” which means to lead another gradually to the correct teaching in accord with that person’s capacity. These two kinds of practice are described in the Shrimala Sutra, T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight, and other works. In Nichiren Buddhism, the term “shakubuku” is also often used synonymously with propagating or sharing the Mystic Law.