I See Buddhism as a Tranquil Religion, but in the SGI
I Hear Terms Like “Victory or Defeat.” Why is This?

The Buddhist concept of striving internally against the negative forces in our lives.


This Q&A series addresses frequently asked questions about Nichiren Buddhism.

Q: I see Buddhism as a tranquil religion, but in the SGI I hear terms like “fight,” “battle” or “victory and defeat.” Why is this?

A: The purpose of our Buddhist practice is for each individual to become happy. Many assume happiness means to “go with the flow,” being content and meeting little resistance. Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching, however, is different. Through Nichiren’s example, we see that the journey to become happy and help others do the same is no easy task.

In his writing “The Dragon Gate,” Nichiren compares attaining enlightenment to the difficulty of a carp climbing to the top of a treacherous waterfall to become a dragon. Only the carp that are able to struggle against the strong force of the current can become a dragon with the power to control the rain and thunderclouds.

Just as Nichiren indicated through his example of the carp, why do we have to struggle to attain enlightenment? SGI President Ikeda says: “Persevering in faith in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law is like swimming upstream against a powerful current. It is hard enough just to resist the insidious forces exerted by our own earthly desires and fundamental darkness. Shakyamuni compared these forces to a strong current or flood. Nichiren explains that this is even more true in the Latter Day, when even seemingly remarkable human wisdom and ingenuity can be inundated by an inexorable tide of deluded impulses fueled by the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness—an ever-growing tide that wreaks havoc as a force of evil” (The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 120).

In other words, to break through the darkness and delusion that exists within our own hearts as well as in society, we must wage a battle against the negativity that holds us back. In this way, terms such as “battle,” “fight” and “victory or defeat” are used in our practice to refer to an internal struggle against the negativity of our lives and the lives of others. It rouses our inner fortitude and spirit to blaze a path for peace and justice. These same sentiments are reflected in the words of French philosopher and author Albert Camus who said, “Peace is the only battle worth waging,” and Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. who stated, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

Further, when we observe Nichiren Daishonin and the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents, it is clear that they fought with all their might against the forces that sought to undermine the inherent dignity of human life. As practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, we have inherited the same mission. Our Buddhist practice enables us to manifest our inherent courage, compassion and wisdom as we strive to awaken the greatness in others.


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