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Q: Why is sharing Buddhism a necessary part of our Buddhist practice?

Photo by Meghna Damani.

A: The bodhisattva practice is the essence of Nichiren Buddhism, which teaches that happiness at the exclusion of others is not genuine happiness. To be sure, the original purpose of Buddhism is to help those who are suffering and to enable as many people as possible to become happy.

Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi explained that someone who chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will without fail experience benefit. But, at the same time, he said: “There is no such thing as a self-centered Buddha who simply accumulates personal benefit and does not work for the well-being of others. Unless we carry out bodhisattva practice, we cannot attain Buddhahood.”[1]

Engaging in both practice for self and for others is the key to defeating the negativity in our own lives as well as those with whom we share the practice. It is the direct means for transforming our karma and infinitely expanding our state of life.

Ikeda Sensei explains:

When we talk with others about Buddhism, we are actually grappling with our own ignorance and earthly desires. That’s why it gives us the strength to surmount our own problems, enabling us to solidly transform our state of life and change our karma.

In that sense, sharing Buddhism comes down to overcoming our own cowardice, laziness and delusion, thus enabling us to dispel the darkness or ignorance in our own lives and in the lives of others.[2]

This “darkness or ignorance” that Sensei refers to is also called “fundamental darkness.” It is ignorance of and disbelief in the Buddha nature, or the enlightened aspect of life that each person without exception possesses.

By earnestly praying for others and engaging in Buddhist dialogue based on a wish for their happiness, we directly confront our doubts, weaknesses and negativity stemming from this fundamental darkness.

At the same time, by taking on the challenge of helping others, our Buddha nature emerges as the courage, compassion and wisdom we need to surmount our problems, transform our state of life and attain genuine happiness.

In this way, shakubuku, or the act of helping people dispel their delusions about the truth and power of their lives, is a tremendous cause toward our own happiness and changing the destiny of humankind.

Today, countless individuals around the world have dynamically transformed their lives because someone made the sincere effort to introduce them to Buddhism and they, in turn, led others to happiness.

By carrying out the basics of faith, practice and study every day and spreading the joy of Buddhist practice to others, we are securing happiness for ourselves, for those around us and all humanity. This is how we change our destiny and attain Buddhahood.


  1. June 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 50 ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 53 ↩︎

Excerpts From Nichiren’s Writings in Volume 8

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