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Buddhist Study

Kosen-rufu Begins With One Person

Gerry Hall

“At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others. Propagation will unfold this way in the future as well. Does this not signify ‘emerging from the earth’?” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 385)

Kosen-rufu—the spread and establishment of the ideals of Nichiren Buddhism—begins with one person.

In his quest to understand the essential teaching of Buddhism and lead all people to happiness, Nichiren Daishonin formed a concrete means for applying in our daily lives the Buddhist philosophy espoused in the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha’s highest teaching. He did so by establishing the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon and encouraging practitioners to awaken others to this way of transforming each person’s life and bringing about positive change in society.

He was the first to declare the teaching of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on April 28, 1253, and “then two, three and a hundred” people joined him in “chanting and teaching others” about the Lotus Sutra’s philosophy of respect for the equality and dignity of all people.

Nichiren wrote the above passage in a letter titled “The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” addressed to Sairen-bo in May 1273. And just as he predicted when he said that “propagation will unfold this way in the future as well,” today, millions of people throughout the world are chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and establishing lives of absolute happiness and fulfillment.

Our practice in the SGI involves reaching out to the person in front of us, engaging with them, giving them hope and courage, and empowering them to attain happiness through their own efforts.

While kosen-rufu is often thought of as a faraway destination that we are striving to reach, it is more accurate to say that it is a process that is initiated by individuals. Just as a stone thrown into a pond creates ripples, how we carry out our day-to-day Buddhist practice, how we live each moment of our lives, how we care for and help others greatly impacts those around us.

“Emerging From the Earth” Means Transforming Our Circumstances Based on Faith

Because one person can generate tremendous change, our resolve is essential. We must be firmly determined to show actual proof of the power of chanting to the Gohonzon by winning over our own challenges and achieving our goals. And by doing so, Buddhism teaches, we are opening the way for those around us, and for all of humanity, to move toward the greatest happiness and peace.

Leading transformative and victorious lives amid difficulties could be one way to express Nichiren’s words: “Does this not signify ‘emerging from the earth’?” As we transform our problems and develop lives of happiness, we are able to confidently share the power of our Buddhist practice and help others form connections with Buddhism.

This phrase emerging from the earth is directly taken from the Lotus Sutra’s 15th chapter in which the Bodhisattvas of the Earth emerge from beneath the earth and vow to widely spread the Lotus Sutra in the saha world, this world that is full of suffering.

The sutra states that these innumerable bodhisattvas have the power to carry out propagation in this saha world, because they have: 1) an unshakable vow; 2) the strength to endure hardships; and 3) the ability to effectively share Buddhism with others (see The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 17).

SGI President Ikeda says:

The spirit to stand up alone, to take personal initiative, is the core spirit and essence of the SGI. My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, called out to young people: “Youth, just one of you stand!

A second and then a third will definitely follow!” Our members around the world have indeed demonstrated that when one pioneering individual takes the lead, “two, three, and a hundred will follow” (see WND-1, 385). In many localities and regions, kosen-rufu has started from a single individual, and from there spread to another person and then another. Through such steady, persevering efforts to share Buddhism with others, we have created the great current of kosen-rufu we have today. (February 2014 Living Buddhism, p. 26)

Nichiren Buddhism began with the Daishonin’s resolve to establish a practice that would enable everyone to achieve lasting happiness. Every time we speak with our friends about Buddhism, share our breakthroughs at discussion meetings or visit fellow members’ homes to encourage them, we are fulfilling our mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, as ordinary people awakened to our noble mission to create lasting change, happiness and peace in this world.

SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda Celebrate July 3

A Shared Vow to Awaken Others to Their Greatness