Q:There are some SGI members I just don’t get along with. What can I do?
This Q&A series addresses frequently asked questions about Nichiren Buddhism.
It’s natural to have such feelings. Being Buddhist doesn’t mean we like everyone. Criticizing or trying to change people, however, doesn’t fundamentally change the situation. We mustn’t be controlled by our negative feelings toward others and slacken in our Buddhist practice as a result.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches: “If you seek enlightenment outside yourself, then your performing even ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain” (“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 3); and “Even if they have their faults, if they are only minor ones, just pretend you do not notice them” (“Nine Thoughts to One Word,” WND-2, 731).
Though it’s easy to understand why we should get along with others, in reality, resolving issues with fellow members can be challenging.
The first step is to earnestly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon to find a way to 1) respect their Buddha nature and 2) unite.
Regarding the first point of respecting the Buddha nature in others, you can start by finding one thing that you genuinely respect about the person. In the end, you’ll be the one who benefits from this, because it will lead to transforming your life condition and becoming someone who can get along with anyone. From this perspective, we can appreciate those with whom we struggle for helping us expand our lives and functioning as good friends in faith.
To address the second point of creating unity: It is crucial to discuss things openly with others based on a shared commitment for kosen-rufu and resolve our issues in order to keep devilish functions from disuniting our harmonious community of believers. Seeking guidance together from a senior in faith is also an important step to make a fresh start based on faith.
SGI President Ikeda says: “In any situation, dialogue is a positive endeavor . . . It is only natural that our perspective may at times differ from that of others. But discussion gives rise to trust, even among those who don’t see eye to eye. In society as well, dialogue is the foundation for peace, while rejection of dialogue is the gateway to conflict and war” (June 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 63).
In fact, Nichiren teaches, the ultimate goal of our Buddhist practice is to create unity. He says: “All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind . . . This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren’s propagation” (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” WND-1, 217).
To be able to unite with and respect others, let us each engage in our own inner transformation to create the “spiritual bond” that is the “true goal” of our Buddhist practice. The SGI is a wonderful training ground for honing our abilities to transcend our differences and creating a world where people live in peace and harmony.