I have a hard time sharing Buddhism with others. What can I do?
Your desire to share Buddhism with others is admirable. And taking action to help connect others to Buddhism is an essential part of our Buddhist practice.
Many of us practice Buddhism because of the positive impact it has had on our lives, and, naturally, we also want others to experience similar benefits. Wanting to share Buddhism may start from this simple wish, and by taking action based on this desire, we can deepen our compassion, which is the foundation of Buddhist practice.
There are many benefits to sharing Buddhism, especially when it is rooted in our earnest wish for the happiness of those around us.
Opportunities to Develop Friendship and Trust
SGI President Ikeda explains: “Propagation must always take place in the context of deepening friendship and earning the trust of others. Today we live in an age in which there are superficial discussions, but true dialogue is lacking. Propagating Nichiren Buddhism, however, is a true dialogue: a stimulating exchange, based on consideration and concern for our friends, as we invite them to walk with us on the path of true and complete happiness” (August 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 17).
Ultimately, whether people decide to practice or not, our dialogues about Buddhism help us form deeper ties of friendship with those around us. Talking about Buddhism often leads to discussions about profound perspectives on life, how to overcome our suffering and our experiences of personal transformation.
Developing Genuine Concern for Others
“The practice of shakubuku as taught in the Lotus Sutra overflows with the original all-embracing spirit of Buddhism, which is dedicated to helping all people attain enlightenment . . . ” President Ikeda says. “Expressing genuine concern for all people means upholding a philosophy of respect for others and battling negative functions that cause people suffering, while refusing to condone violence or oppression that threatens human dignity or equality” (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, p. 30).
Sincerely sharing Buddhism helps us expand our compassion, and in trying to convey it in ways that resonate with others often entails racking our brains to find ways to communicate in a way that’s easy for people to understand.
Becoming Eternal Optimists
President Ikeda also shares the following insight based on his own experience of sharing Buddhism, stating: “Everything is hard in the beginning. This is only truer of propagating Buddhism, which Nichiren Daishonin describes in his writings as the most difficult of all difficult things. When I was young, my efforts were really just trial and error, but they became the foundation for future success. The important thing is to be determined, positive and optimistic, and to never stop challenging ourselves, no matter what the circumstances. Let’s be invincible optimists!” (August 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 16).
In this sense, sharing Buddhism helps us develop into strong, optimistic individuals who can effectively convey our convictions and beliefs.
While at times it may be challenging, by taking one small step and then another to share Buddhism with those we encounter, we can be sure that we are planting seeds of absolute happiness that will eventually sprout and blossom in the lives of all those around us. In the meantime, let’s continue patiently and joyfully cultivating bonds of friendship and trust as we ourselves grow and develop based on our earnest efforts! WT
SGI President Ikeda’s Guidance
Introducing My Friend to BuddhismI
When I look back, the first person who began to practice Nichiren Buddhism through my introduction was a teacher at an elementary school in Ota Ward. This happened just a short while after I began working at [second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda’s company. Until then, I had spoken about Buddhism with several of my friends. Mr. Toda had even met with one of them and talked to him about Buddhism. But so far none had taken faith and begun to practice.
I was so frustrated that I searched very hard for the best ways to talk about Buddhism to others. I prayed wholeheartedly, and I continued to propagate [Nichiren] Daishonin’s teachings, each time with the firm resolve to bring one more person to this faith. I can’t begin to measure what valuable experience and training this gave me.
And how overjoyed I was when I finally was able to successfully convince someone to embrace Nichiren Buddhism! I could never describe my elation in words. I decided that I would thoroughly look after them and make sure that they triumphed in life. I had the elementary school teacher come to my home every morning, and we did gongyo and read Nichiren’s writings together before going to work. I also remember fondly how I used to stop by after work to teach my friend gongyo.
The advance of kosen-rufu lies in the repetition of such patient, painstaking efforts to awaken one friend after another to faith in Nichiren Buddhism. This is true Buddhist practice. (August 2016 Living Buddhism, pp. 16–17)