Feature

The Boundless Benefit of Sharing Buddhism

Arlene Harrison


Daisaku Ikeda was 19 years old when he attended his first Soka Gakkai discussion meeting on August 14, 1947. His friend invited him to the meeting, explaining that they would discuss life philosophy. It was there that he first encountered his lifelong mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. He was earnestly searching for a sound life philosophy and a mentor to guide him. Moved by Mr. Toda’s straightforward and honest responses, Daisaku Ikeda decided to join the Soka Gakkai on August 24.

Buddhism teaches that one cannot truly become happy if those around them are suffering. Therefore, the bodhisattva practice is an essential part of our own enlightenment. August is a time when we reaffirm that vow to propagate this Buddhism for the peace of the land.

An Eternally Youthful Spirit Through Propagation

In volume 25 of The New Human Revolution, Shin’ichi Yamamoto speaks to pioneering members of the organization and encourages them to continue to actively engage in propagation efforts, saying that “an organization whose pioneering members remain active and energetic will continue to develop” (p. 37).

He further shares with the group: “Having stepped down from your position on the front lines, you’re at a very important point in your life. You mustn’t think ‘I’ve completed my mission, and now I can just relax and enjoy myself.’ If you do, your faith will begin to crumble. Your struggle is just beginning.

“Recently I asked a prefecture guidance leader, ‘In the last seven years, how many people have you introduced to Buddhism?’ He had previously introduced Nichiren Buddhism to several hundred people. ‘These last seven years, I haven’t been able to introduce anyone,’ he said.

“I said to him, ‘Let’s once again strive with the pioneering spirit of the early days. It’s vital to continue advancing and encouraging others as long as you live, whether you’re in your eighties or nineties. Please live your life with an eternally youthful spirit’ ” (NHR-25, 38).

This month, Living Buddhism interviewed members of the Many Treasures Group, composed of members 65 years and older, about the spirit to share this Buddhism with others and the heart to vigorously advance with the shared commitment of mentor and disciple. We asked them:

“What motivates you to introduce others to Buddhism?”

Many Treasures Member Profiles

A Spirit of Challenge
Jim Hill
Boston • Age: 76
Length of practice: 42 years

I encountered Nichiren Buddhism while I was in a drug rehabilitation program. My roommate received the Gohonzon, and I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with him. He would leave his SGI publications lying around, and my first exposure to SGI President Ikeda was through reading the serialized dialogue “Choose Life” in the World Tribune. I resonated with what President Ikeda was saying in his dialogue with Arnold Toynbee.

That was 42 years ago. Today, my spirit of challenge and resolve to win in the morning are crucial to staying vibrant and young in faith. I chant two hours every morning, and that’s what gives me the energy to keep going! I do my best to live by this quote from second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda: “Live your life and forge your faith in such a way that you can meet death with dignity and composure whenever it should come” (January 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 20).

In May of this year, I was on my way to a home visit when I got hit by a car. I later called the young woman who was driving the other car to invite her to an SGI meeting. She responded by saying, “I love Buddhism!” She received the Gohonzon a couple weeks later. I told her that we got into the accident so that I could introduce her to Buddhism. I learned this spirit to share Buddhism with others in the beginning of my practice. Like chanting
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, doing shakubuku was taught as the essence of faith. In 2016, within a two-month period, I helped five people receive the Gohonzon! And last year, toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, I helped one youth receive the Gohonzon.

Sharing Buddhism is natural for me now. I encourage the young people at work to have a vision for their life, and I share President Ikeda’s quotes to uplift their spirits. I share this Buddhism with people because it might save their life.

For those who might be having a hard time sharing this practice, I would say JUST DO IT! To broaden Sensei’s tireless efforts and continue to advance the kosen-rufu movement, we have to help other people become happy. Practically speaking, that means chanting with the spirit, How can I support this person’s happiness? Chanting for people’s happiness allows us to naturally encourage them.

I had a “squad of 10” for the 50K Festival! I received so much benefit including a new house and a harmonious family. Toward the July Youth Discussion Meetings, I made a determination to invite 100 people and pray for them to become absolutely happy. I use every campaign as a way to continually challenge some aspect in my life and see great actual proof. This is how I have remained youthful at heart.