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Unity: “The True Goal of Nichiren’s Propagation”

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All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind, transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. 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. When you are so united, even the great desire for widespread propagation can be fulfilled. (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217)

Many leading thinkers as well as friends of SGI members often observe that one of the remarkable features of the SGI is the diversity of its membership. In the SGI, people from different races, nationalities and backgrounds come together for the common purpose of practicing and spreading the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism in order to create a more respectful, peaceful and just world.

A key tenet of Nichiren Buddhism that forms the foundation for this diverse yet harmonious gathering is the concept of “many in body, one in mind,” which Nichiren Daishonin explains in the above passage. Here, Nichiren offers three key points for creating unity.

First, he says, practitioners must “transcend all differences among themselves.” This means not holding on to feelings of antagonism, prejudice and selfishness that attempt to separate us from others. If we remain attached only to our personal concerns or our self-centered needs and goals—in short, our egos—we will have difficulty working with others. And we will only end up criticizing and complaining about others, which can lead to bemoaning our own lives or the SGI organization.

So how do we transcend our differences? SGI President Ikeda says: “At times, our personalities may not mesh with those of other individuals. That is why unless we each ground ourselves within our own human revolution, we cannot create genuine unity . . . People who transcend attachment to the self and bring forth the power of the Mystic Law free themselves from a negative life tendency that confines one to evil and suffering” (The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 212–13).

The second point for creating unity is to “become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim.” Fish cannot survive without water. And without fish, water is only water—its value isn’t fully utilized. To be inseparable like fish and water means respecting, understanding and treasuring one another despite having different roles and responsibilities. President Ikeda says, “Simply put, it means getting along together” (The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life Lecture Series, p. 73) Ultimately, joy and benefit over-
flow in places where people get along.

And the third, most essential point is striving to create the unity of many in body, one in mind. “Many in body” refers to the individuality and various responsibilities of each person. The guiding principle in Buddhism is that every person has unlimited potential to lead the most amazing life, and it is up to each person to determine to bring forth their unique potential in all aspects of their life. “One in mind” means sharing the same faith in the Mystic Law and the same great wish for kosen-rufu.

Many in body, one in mind means working for the same purpose while preserving and utilizing our own unique qualities to advance kosen-rufu. This is not a unity gained by external restrictions or through conformity, President Ikeda explains, “rather, it is an expression of the wisdom of our Buddha nature arising from a fundamental liberation occurring in the depths of each person’s life. It is a unity based on aligning our own hearts with the heart of the Buddha” (The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 206).

Based on “this spiritual bond” of aligning our hearts with the Buddha’s heart, “the true goal of Nichiren’s propagation” (WND-1, 217) is to create and establish in our lives and in society this same harmonious unity among fellow human beings.

Further, the oneness of mentor and disciple is a vital element for being “one in mind.” A true mentor in Buddhism inspires practitioners to live as bodhisattvas, which means revealing their own Buddhahood while liberating all those around them from suffering. At the same time, true disciples take action with the same heart as the mentor based on the shared vow to lead all people to Buddhahood.

For many SGI members, President Ikeda is their mentor because he inherited the vision and will of Nichiren Daishonin and the first
and second Soka Gakkai presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, and has advanced kosen-rufu on a global scale.

The continued development of our kosen-rufu movement will depend on solidifying the unity of many in body, one in mind, and the oneness of mentor and disciple, and passing it on to future generations.

SGI PRESIDENT IKEDA’S GUIDANCE

The oneness of mentor and disciple and the spirit of many in body, one in mind are essentially inseparable principles; they are like the two wheels of a cart. If we do not share our mentor’s heart or spirit to realize kosen-rufu, there will be no genuine unity of purpose among our diverse membership. Nor can we be called disciples who truly embody our mentor’s spirit if we fail to cherish our harmonious community of practitioners and to make continuous efforts to forge and maintain unity.

Nichiren [Daishonin] teaches his followers that if they persevere in faith with the same spirit as his and unite in heart and mind, the goal of kosen-rufu will definitely be realized. (The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 203)

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