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Q: How do I encourage someone going through something I haven’t experienced myself?

A: We should never feel that we need to have all the answers. And if we get caught up in worrying about sounding clever or making a good impression, we can easily lose sight of the purpose of encouragement in Buddhism.

SGI President Ikeda says: “The source of all development in the realm of kosen-rufu lies in sharing the members’ sufferings, answering their questions to relieve them of any doubts and making it possible for them to exert themselves in faith joyously, filled with confidence and hope.”[1]

In encouraging others, it is important to first listen closely to try and understand what the person is going through. A helpful guide may be to listen 80 percent while speaking 20 percent.

President Ikeda says, “Dialogue begins with listening in earnest to the opinions and ideas of the other person.”[2]

The key to encouraging another person lies in our own heart of compassion, which we develop through earnestly chanting for the victory of the person we are encouraging and by racking our brains to find the best way to enable them to deepen their conviction in the power of the Gohonzon and the greatness of their own life.

There are various ways to encourage another person. We can chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together and read President Ikeda’s encouragement from the SGI-USA publications or The New Human Revolution. We can share from the publications inspiring experiences related to their struggles or take them to receive encouragement from a senior in faith. And we can impart our own conviction in faith gained through overcoming various trials in life.

When we strive in earnest to support the growth in faith of others, we are also uncovering, polishing and expanding our own compassion, empathy and humanity. Developing a strong and ever-growing network of mutual encouragement and support is the purpose of Nichiren Buddhism and the SGI.

President Ikeda writes: “Just as a broad interwoven nexus of roots that sink deep into the earth supports a mighty tree, it is the consistent and painstaking actions of members to offer personal guidance at the grassroots level that hold up the Soka Gakkai.”[3]

Ultimately, what’s most important is our desire to see that person become happy and to continually support them until they overcome their situation. When we do so, we can experience as much joy as if we had overcome that problem ourselves. And this becomes part of our own lives as well as fuel for encouraging yet even more people. This is how we become emissaries of the Buddha and true champions of faith!


  1. The New Human Revolution, vol. 2, p. 161. ↩︎
  2. NHR-9, 198. ↩︎
  3. NHR-8, 91. ↩︎

Commentary on Volume 2

A Kindhearted Stranger