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Buddhist Study

Great Evil Portends Great Good

Rob Hendry

Great evil portends the arrival of great good. If all of Jambudvipa [the entire world] were to be thrown into chaos, there could be no doubt that [this sutra would] “be widely propagated throughout Jambudvipa.” (“The Kalpa of Decrease,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1122)

People’s ideals and philosophies determine a society’s development and progress.

Buddhism explains that a “kalpa of decrease” refers to a period when people’s vitality wanes both spiritually and physically, and they easily succumb to the negative impulses of greed, anger and foolishness within themselves. Simply said, it is a time when people lack respect for the dignity of their own and others’ lives, and society is plagued with frequent conflict, corruption and confusion. This aptly describes the present era.

However, Nichiren Daishonin teaches that such an era of turmoil represents the perfect time to spread the empowering teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Why? Because when people suffer, they seek new ways to take control of and improve their lives.

It was with this spirit that the Soka Gakkai was established in 1930, in response to the sufferings of the people in war-torn Japan.

Obstacles Are Opportunities for Great Change

The Daishonin teaches that by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and sharing this practice with others, people can transform negativity and hardship into the fuel for growth and empowerment.

Thus, he declares: “Great evil portends the arrival of great good. If all of Jambudvipa [the entire world] were to be thrown into chaos, there could be no doubt that [this Lotus Sutra would] ‘be widely propagated throughout Jambudvipa’” (WND-1, 1122).

By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can bring forth the greatest wisdom to identify and root out the evil and negativity that cause us to suffer. The key is to make a strong determination to transform great evil into great good.

SGI President Ikeda explains:

Precisely because the Latter Day of the Law is a time of seemingly insoluble challenges, we can take action to transform things, overturning evil practices of the past, carrying out radical reevaluations and starting at the source to find solutions for change. Such thoroughgoing transformation will, quite naturally, meet with resistance, but it is the only way to open a new path forward. Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching of unwavering commitment to the positive transformation of reality—a teaching that makes it possible for us to change this troubled saha world into a realm of peace and happiness without fail. (Learning From Nichiren’s Writings: Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, pp. 154–55)

Our Human Revolution Is a Great Light of Hope

Carrying out such an unwavering commitment is no easy task. Nichiren—who endured intense persecutions for spreading his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo based on the Lotus Sutra—exemplified the perseverance and relentlessness required to create lasting and positive change.

Resolved to establish a teaching of equality and respect that would endure throughout the ages, he focused on awakening one person after another to the potential and dignity of their life. He taught that each person has the power to transform from being a passive bystander to becoming a force for change. It is for this reason that his legacy endures more than 700 years later.

Carrying on Nichiren’s spirit to spread the Lotus Sutra in this modern age and bring about an era of peace, the SGI has advanced with the creed: “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind” (The Human Revolution, p. viii).

When we base our lives on the practice of Nichiren Buddhism and strive to share it with others, we can deepen our conviction that our personal human revolution is directly linked to transforming our society and the world.

While the activities of SGI members may seem ordinary or mundane, we learn through our Buddhist practice that when we use our hardships as a means to connect with and encourage others, everything moves in the best direction for all involved. Amid the challenges of our own daily lives, we unlock a deeper sense of purpose, compassion and meaning in our own lives as we reach out to those who are suffering and engage in dialogues with them about life and Buddhism.

As practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, let’s respond to the Daishonin’s call and determination to overcome great evil and open the way for great good to flourish, and transform this age into one of peace and happiness.

To further study SGI President Ikeda’s lecture on “The Kalpa of Decrease,” see Learning From Nichiren’s Writings: Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, pp. 141–57.

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