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Buddhist Study

Our Inner Transformation Leads to the “Peace of the Land”

Nichiren Daishonin teaches that true peace comes from helping others become happy while striving to develop our own lives. (Above) “Believe in Yourself” mural by Alice Mizrachi, Queens, New York. Ms. Mizrachi seeks to spread compassion through projects that are positive responses to social issues. Photo by EDDIEC3/FLICKR.

“If you care anything about your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquillity throughout the four quarters of the land, should you not?” (“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 24).

In the above passage, Nichiren Daishonin clarifies the attitude Buddhists should adopt, saying that our own safety is only guaranteed when we pray for the stability and peace of society. In other words, a true sense of security and peace cannot be obtained simply with personal gain and satisfaction. Rather, only by developing our capacity to care for others while striving to develop our own lives can we begin to find genuine fulfillment and happiness.

This requires a fundamental shift in our mindset, or as Nichiren says, a transformation in the “tenets that we hold in our heart” (see “On Establishing the Correct Teaching,” WND-1, 25).

Ikeda Sensei explains: “Are we driven by egoism that seeks personal happiness at the exclusion and expense of others, or by compassion that is concerned with both our own and others’ welfare, refusing to build our happiness on the misfortune of others? The focus is on the transformation of our minds, our hearts, our values. It is the human revolution in a single individual. Without that, ‘establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land’ cannot be achieved” (January 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 39).

Our resolute prayer for peace must be coupled with our concrete actions to share Buddhism and awaken people to their inherent potential while helping them transcend their egoism, lack of respect for themselves and others, and various destructive tendencies.

And we can be most effective in these efforts when we ourselves are joyfully challenging our own human revolution with the resolve that “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).

Leading All People to Happiness

The above passage of study appears in Nichiren’s landmark treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” which he wrote in 1260 and submitted to Hojo Tokiyori, the most powerful political figure in Japan.

Three years before, in August 1257, a devastating earthquake had struck Kamakura, followed by a series of strong gales, floods, epidemics and famine. These events took a dismal toll on the population, and, by 1259, “more than half the people of the nation had been laid low by death” (“The Rationale for ‘On Establishing the Correct Teaching,’ ” WND-1, 161).

Nichiren sought to understand the reason for these calamities and widespread suffering. After extensively studying Buddhist texts, he found that the fundamental cause of the country’s turmoil rested in the rejection of the Lotus Sutra, which teaches respect for all life, and the popular regard for the teachings of the Nembutsu school, which teaches that only by expressing devotion to Amida Buddha can people attain rebirth in the Pure Land of Perfect Bliss after death.

In his treatise, Nichiren urged the authorities to discard this “one evil” of Nembutsu that left people feeling powerless to change their lives and to embrace the Lotus Sutra, the correct teaching that reveals that all people can attain happiness in this lifetime, just as they are.

Though he knew that submitting this writing would put him in direct opposition to those in power, what outweighed his personal risk was his sincere desire to put an end to people’s misery and prevent the calamities of internal strife and foreign invasion from causing greater turmoil.

Despite a barrage of intense obstacles, Nichiren upheld his beliefs and set his sights far into the future, inscribing the Gohonzon and establishing an accessible practice that would enable future generations to attain enlightenment.

Keep Pressing Forward With Optimism

With the vast array of complex problems that ail our society, sometimes we may feel that our efforts are futile or that the problems in our world are only getting worse.

Sensei encourages us, saying:

“The path of this endeavor [of establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land] is never easy. There are many challenges along the way. We are bound to face great hardships and be buffeted by adversities. That is why we need to keep pressing forward with optimism, never giving up or becoming discouraged, no matter what happens. As long as we continue to uphold faith based on the shared commitment of mentor and disciple directly connected to the Daishonin, we will absolutely realize the lofty ideal of establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” (Youth and the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 72).

For SGI members, this means ensuring that the Lotus Sutra’s teaching of respect for the dignity of life takes root in society. To do so, we must persevere in our efforts to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for self and others, study and share Buddhism, and encourage others based on our desire for their happiness. Let’s continue advancing with the conviction that all our actions are opening the way for “order and tranquillity throughout the four quarters of the land.”

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