Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 6: The Principle of “Cherry, Plum, Peach, and Damson” [6.9]

6.9 Building a Harmonious World of Brilliant Diversity

In a lecture at the East-West Center in Hawaii, President Ikeda discusses the principle of cherry, plum, peach, and damson and Buddhism’s respect for diversity and affirmation of the worth of all people.

In the teachings of Nichiren, we find the passage: “The cherry, the plum, the peach, the damson . . . without undergoing any change . . .” (OTT, 200). These words confirm that there is no need for all to become “cherries” or “plums,” but that each should manifest the unique brilliance of his or her own character.

This simile points to a fundamental principle of appreciation for diversity that applies equally to human beings and to social and natural environments. As the concept of “illuminating and manifesting one’s true nature” (cf. WND-1, 746) indicates, the prime mission of Buddhism is to enable each and all to blossom to the fullest of their potential. The fulfillment of the individual, however, cannot be realized in conflict with, or at the expense of, others, but only through active appreciation of uniqueness and difference, for these are the varied hues that together weave the flower gardens of life.

Nichiren’s teachings also contain the following parable: When you face a mirror and bow respectfully, the image in the mirror likewise bows to you respectfully (cf. OTT, 165).

I think this beautifully expresses the all-encompassing causality that is the heart of Buddhism. The respect we demonstrate for the lives of others returns to us, with mirror-like certainty, ennobling our lives.

The Buddhist principle of dependent origination reflects a cosmology in which all human and natural phenomena come into existence within a matrix of interrelatedness. Thus, we are urged to respect the uniqueness of each existence, which supports and nourishes all within the larger, living whole.

From a lecture at the East-West Center, “Peace and Human Security: A Buddhist Perspective for the Twenty-First Century,” U.S.A., January 26, 1995.

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