Becoming Wise to the Workings of Negative Influences
Battling negativity makes us strong.
Nichiren Daishonin sought to eradicate the root of all suffering by refuting erroneous teachings and spreading the empowering message of the Lotus Sutra throughout feudal Japan.
Today, SGI members around the world are striving to embody the same spirit as Nichiren, taking action for our own happiness and that of others, making positive contributions to society and expanding the network of those who uphold the equality and dignity of life. For the SGI-USA, the goal toward 2018 is to dramatically increase the number of youth in America who will ensure that Nichiren’s spirit and our global Soka movement will continue far into the future.
One of the core principles in Nichiren Buddhism teaches that the more we advance in our efforts for kosen-rufu, the greater the ferocity of negative influences that try to hinder our practice and derail our efforts to spread the life-affirming philosophy of Buddhism.
In “Letter to the Brothers,” Nichiren warns that Buddhist practitioners should “fear those who attempt to obstruct their practice more than they fear bandits, burglars, night raiders, tigers, wolves, or lions” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 495).
Obstructions to our Buddhist practice can manifest within our own lives or could manifest in those around us—our friends, family and co-workers, or society itself. Nichiren warns that no matter how far along we are in our Buddhist practice, fundamental darkness—or the inherent disbelief in the Buddha nature that resides in all people—can seep into our hearts and minds, causing us to doubt our own worth and our ability to reveal our Buddhahood. It is the aim of such devilish functions to prevent us from attaining enlightenment (see “The Letter to the Brothers,” WND-1, 496).
SGI President Ikeda writes: “In every age, the demonic aspect of human nature bares its ferocious fangs at the weak, the earnest and the naive . . . That is why people must become strong! They must be wise! They must arise!” (World Tribune, June 10, 1991, p. 5).
The only way to win over such devilish functions is to become strong and wise, and hone our ability to discern the “demonic aspect of human nature,” or the workings of fundamental darkness. And recognizing such evil influences is half the battle.
The Lotus Sutra offers specific signs to watch out for: feelings of jealousy, hatred, arrogance, pride; tendencies toward fawning, deception, falsehood, negligence and laziness; looking down on others; holding others in contempt; doubting that you or others have a Buddha nature (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 244).
In essence, whatever thoughts, tendencies, words or actions that cause you to want to place yourself above or below others, or separate or isolate yourself from others is a negative function.
The key in being victorious is to remain fearless and refuse to succumb to fundamental darkness or negativity. As Nichiren says, we must “be millions of times more careful than ever” (“The Hero of the World,” WND-1, 839) as we continue taking action for kosen-rufu.
The first step in conquering our fundamental darkness is honing our sharp sword of faith by continuing to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and supporting others in deepening their connection to and understanding of Nichiren Buddhism.
Two other vital aspects of winning in this struggle are the mentor-disciple relationship and the unity of fellow members. President Ikeda teaches, “The secret to faith for battling devilish functions is sharing the mentor’s commitment and solidly uniting in purpose with fellow practitioners” (Learning From the Writings: The Teachings for Victory, vol. 1, p. 106).
A mentor in faith is someone who is committed to spreading Buddhism and leading all people to genuine freedom, peace and happiness. When we connect to this grand and noble mission, we tap into the powerful driving force for defeating any form of devilish function.
In addition, “The presence of fellow members who encourage and support one another,” President Ikeda emphasizes, “plays an indispensable role in vanquishing fundamental darkness. An organization of ‘good friends’ who act as positive influences is essential” (April 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 56). To combat negative influences, we must seek out good influences and strengthen our ties with good friends in faith.
As we advance with increasing momentum toward our goal of gathering 50,000 youth in 2018, let us challenge ourselves to sharpen the sword of faith, and deepen our bonds with our mentor and fellow members. As we do so, without doubt we will overcome all negative influences, and firmly establish the foundation for absolute peace and happiness in our society.