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Q: What does it mean to have a seeking spirit and why is it a necessary aspect of faith?

Ikeda Wisdom Academy. LA Coastal South.

A: In Mahayana Buddhism, having a seeking spirit is the starting point of Buddhist practice. The mind to seek enlightenment, Buddhahood or Buddha wisdom is called the “aspiration for enlightenment.”

No matter how long we have engaged in our Buddhist practice, our efforts to keep seeking out the correct way to practice and refresh our faith lead to steadily revealing our utmost potential and deepening our awareness of our mission to help others also attain the same state of life.

As we advance in our Buddhist practice, we develop our compassion and strengths as well as our ability to catch ourselves from giving in to our inner weaknesses, negativity, apathy and doubts. Developing a seeking mind means engaging in the moment-to-moment battle to tackle and win over our negativity.

SGI President Ikeda says: “This inner battle takes place in our hearts many times each day . . . We need to defeat our weaknesses and courageously stand up, based on faith, with the resolve to continue growing in our lives, to keep moving forward and to be victorious in the challenges we encounter. When we live with such depth and meaning, we can become true winners in life” (The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lectures Series, p. 83).

Though it might be easier to shy away from asking questions or expressing our doubts, the quickest way to overcome such hindrances is to seek answers and direction by studying Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and President Ikeda’s encouragement, and seeking the guidance of seniors in faith. Such seeking spirit helps us summon forth courage, strength and joy, and grow as human beings.

A key element in developing our lives is the mentor-disciple relationship. A mentor in Buddhism strives to fulfill the Buddha’s vow to awaken all people to their inherent Buddhahood and helps them establish lives of utmost happiness, while also inspiring countless others to live based on that same vow.

Seeking from a mentor is vital in helping us more readily and confidently advance in life.

Similarly, when we study a subject on our own, we may encounter difficult concepts or develop misunderstandings about the subject. But a good teacher helps us correctly comprehend the material and develop a solid grasp of it while also motivating us to keep learning.

As Nichiren Buddhists, having a seeking spirit means moving forward by chanting abundantly, avidly studying Buddhism, striving our utmost in faith, and asking ourselves at each turn, What would my mentor do?

“Fundamentally, a mentor exists to bring forth everyone’s potential,” President Ikeda explains. “Those who walk the path of mentor and disciple of kosen-rufu will never find themselves at an impasse. Through my experience, I have concluded that when you are completely united in spirit with your mentor, unlimited strength wells forth” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 16, p. 44).

Excerpts From Nichiren’s Writings in Volume 3

The Ganges River