Fundamentals

“Both Buddhism and Life Are a Struggle to Be Victorious”

From SGI President Ikeda’s “Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace”

Photo: Daigo Otobe


An excerpt from the series “The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace,” featuring key selections from SGI President Ikeda’s collected works, which began in the July 2014 Living Buddhism.

The teaching that “Buddhism is about winning” appears throughout the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. It is expressed in many different ways, but perhaps most clearly and succinctly in “The Hero of the World,” a letter addressed to Shijo Kingo, where the Daishonin writes, “Buddhism primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 835).

Quoting this passage, Soka Gakkai Founding President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi said that achieving actual proof is the very life of religion.[1]Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, “Kachi sozo” (Value Creation), in Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), vol. 10, p. 47.

Both Buddhism and life are a struggle to be victorious. It is no exaggeration to say that Buddhism was taught to enable all people to win in the most fundamental struggle of life—the struggle between the Buddha nature and devilish functions.

Either we vanquish devilish functions and attain Buddhahood or we are defeated by them and lead lives of delusion. Ultimately, the purpose of our Buddhist practice is to realize victory in this crucial struggle.

This ultimate way of living articulated by Nichiren Buddhism views all aspects of life as a series of struggles that must be fought and won. This is the true reality of existence. For those who earnestly take on this challenge, everything that happens in life, even events in society, become part of their Buddhist practice. In other words, for them, the teaching that “Buddhism is about winning” applies to everything.

The Daishonin writes, “A Buddha is looked up to as the Hero of the World”(WND-1,835). A “hero of the world” is a person who is courageously engaged in the realities of life and society. A Buddha is one who intrepidly battles devilish functions and, manifesting the life force of the world of Buddhahood, leads a life of right action in human society.

What the Daishonin was trying to teach Shijo Kingo, one of his leading lay disciples, when he wrote that “Buddhism primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat” is that emulating the Buddha’s way of life as a “hero of the world” marks one as a genuine Buddhist practitioner.

If Buddhism is about winning, then how do we win? It is with our hearts, our minds.

The reason Nichiren emphasizes that “Buddhism is about winning” is to drive home the importance of having the inner strength and fortitude to stand up to every obstacle and difficulty that arises in life. If we are fainthearted and timid, we cannot win over the negative functions in our own lives or in society. He writes, “A coward cannot have any of his prayers answered” (The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1001).

This is the Daishonin’s powerful encouragement to his disciples not to allow themselves to be defeated by life’s ups and downs, nor to be outdone by base negative influences. His teaching that “nothing surpasses the strategy of the Lotus Sutra”[2]The Daishonin writes: “Employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1001). expresses the same idea.

Faith in the Lotus Sutra is not an intellectual or abstract theory. It must enable us to demonstrate practical wisdom for winning in society, in the real world.

With the heart of a lion king, Nichiren fought one momentous battle after another, emerging triumphant each time. Such unwavering determination also activates the protective forces of the universe. (July 2015 Living Buddhism, p. 51)

 

(pp. 5)

Notes   [ + ]

1. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, “Kachi sozo” (Value Creation), in Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), vol. 10, p. 47.
2. The Daishonin writes: “Employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra before any other” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1001).