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Buddhist Study

The Power Source for Vanquishing Negative Tendencies


“Although Nichiren and his followers are few, because they are different in body, but united in mind, they will definitely accomplish their great mission of widely propagating the Lotus Sutra [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]. Though evils may be numerous, they cannot prevail over a single great truth [or good].” (“Many in Body, One in Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 618)

It’s hard to avoid being reminded of the increasing divisiveness and misery in the world today. As Buddhists, our goal is to bring people together, enable them to live in happiness and fulfillment, and create a peaceful society.

This “single great truth,” or great good, that Nichiren Daishonin mentions in the above passage is the Mystic Law. It is the power source for vanquishing the negative or “evil” tendencies in people’s lives and enriching the connections among human beings and with their environment. Nichiren teaches that the function of evil is to divide, while the function of good is to unite.

Nichiren wrote this letter, titled “Many in Body, One in Mind,” to his disciples in Atsuhara village when they were increasingly enduring harsh abuse from local authorities. Despite this injustice, they remained undaunted, courageously upholding their faith and spreading the Mystic Law.

The unity of “many in body, one in mind” enables us to defeat all forms of evil and achieve our aim of widely spreading the Mystic Law.

The phrase “many in body” indicates diversity—respecting one another’s varied unique qualities, perspectives and roles. And “one in mind” means to be united in heart and mind toward the shared goal of kosen-rufu.

Signs of Disunity

Such harmonious and respectful unity does not arise on its own, as there are many human tendencies that can work to undermine it.

SGI President Ikeda explains: “A mind prone to making distinctions of self and other leads one to self-isolation, to self-attachment and to regarding the self as faultless, which gives rise to evil and misery. Depending on the person and the situation, such negative traits as contempt, hatred, jealousy, resentment, indignation, arrogance, malice, sullenness, gloom, stubbornness, impatience, disloyalty and ingratitude may arise. 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, p. 213).

It’s important to be aware of these negative tendencies when they appear in ourselves or in others, and work to overcome them. Here are some examples of actions that can arise from such devilish functions:

• disparaging fellow members while claiming to practice correctly
• using fellow members for personal profit and gain
• creating cliques or factions within the organization
• using one’s years of experience, leadership or knowledge to try to appear special or above others
• spreading lies, rumors or making false accusations about fellow members
• using one’s position to discredit fellow members
• planting seeds of doubt that separate disciples from their mentor

These destructive patterns often start out as very small seeds of tension, disagreement, mistrust or doubt.

Unless we quickly address such issues, they can grow into bigger problems that take our attention away from advancing kosen-rufu.

How to Combat Devilish Functions

Nichiren urges us in another writing “to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim” (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” WND-1, 217). This means making continuous efforts to build bonds of affinity and respect with our fellow members and everyone we are connected with.

Here are some effective ways of ensuring that we move in the direction of unity with those around us:

• do gongyo every day and abundantly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
• seek out Buddhist study and SGI President Ikeda’s guidance
• participate in SGI activities
• as soon as we detect divisiveness, resolve to become the source of harmony and unity
• if disunity persists, seek guidance about it from a senior in faith
• deepen bonds with fellow members through prayer for each other’s happiness and dialogue
• keep refreshing our vow for kosen-rufu

When we base ourselves on the Mystic Law by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for our own and others’ happiness, we can bring forth our inherent goodness, our innate Buddhahood, and rise above selfishness and egoism.

Each time we win over division and conflict, deepening our bonds of unity, we make a definitive cause to transform our destiny and that of all humankind.

President Ikeda affirms: “Being united in the spirit of ‘many in body, one in mind’ is not just a means for achieving our goal of kosen-rufu; it is the ideal embodiment of kosen-rufu itself . . . This philosophy of ‘many in body, one in mind’ can be seen as holding a positive key for overcoming humanity’s karma of division and conflict, and opening the way to lasting peace” (June 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 56).

SGI President Ikeda’s Guidance

So how is unity among members created? The key is prayer—chanting [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] earnestly. When we encounter someone we find hard to deal with, we need to pray sincerely for that person. When we argue or fight with another person, it means that both of our life conditions are low. Praying for the happiness of the other person will greatly elevate our own state of life.

Emotional conflicts are frequently caused by misunderstandings, so it’s important that we talk to each other with an open mind. We need to have the courage to engage each other in dialogue. There is no reason that two people of faith who share kosen-rufu as their fundamental goal shouldn’t be able to work out their differences.

No matter how capable they are as individuals, if members are unable to get along with one another, the organization as a whole will not be able to reveal its full potential. A harmonious organization, on the other hand, multiplies the strength of each individual many times over. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 9, p. 282)

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