The Reverse Relationship in Buddhism
Sharing Buddhism with others is a natural and essential part of Buddhist practice, because by doing so, we are able to develop compassion for ourselves and for others.
Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, speaking about this practice of compassion, once said:
Compassionate action is “the work of the Buddha.” It is also truly noble because, in the process of such efforts, we are able to realize lasting happiness not only for ourselves, but also to open that possibility for others who may be suffering from poverty and want. There is, therefore, no nobler work than this. (June 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 54)
Understanding how vital it is to share Buddhism, many SGI members strive in earnest to help others learn about it with a sincere wish for their happiness.
Despite such sincere intentions, however, we may be met with negative reactions ranging from disinterest to even anger or ridicule.
Buddhism teaches that there are two ways of forming a connection with the Lotus Sutra, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. A “relationship of acceptance” (Jpn jun-en) is formed when those who, upon hearing about Buddhism, put their faith in it without opposing or slandering it. The “reverse relationship” (Jpn gyaku-en) is formed through rejecting or slandering Buddhism.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches that regardless of people’s reactions to encountering Buddhism, those who are introduced to the correct teaching will eventually attain Buddhahood without fail.
The Poison-Drum Relationship
The reverse relationship is also referred to as the “poison-drum relationship.” In a Buddhist sutra, the beating of a mythical “poison drum” causes all who hear it to die, even if they do not want to listen to it.
While somewhat morbid, this analogy teaches that all those who hear about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—both those who accept and reject it—equally form an eternal bond with the Lotus Sutra and will attain Buddhahood in the future.
Thus, in sharing Nichiren Buddhism, the key is to not be swayed or discouraged by those who resist taking faith. The true challenge lies in continuing to believe in their Buddha nature, to engage in compassionate dialogues with them and to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for their happiness. We can be confident that our efforts to do so plant seeds of Buddhahood in their lives that will one day blossom and bear fruit.
Ikeda Sensei states:
Compassionate actions infused with prayer and conviction are certain to help others form a connection with Nichiren Buddhism. Though the individual may reject what you are saying at the time, you have enabled that person to form a tie with Buddhism deep in their life. …
If we confidently help others form a connection with Nichiren Buddhism, regardless of their capacity to understand the teaching, we will enable them to awaken to their Buddha nature one day. When we chant in earnest for others’ happiness, we affirm both our own Buddha nature and theirs. Not letting ourselves be swayed by others’ immediate reaction, whether negative or positive, we need to continue sharing Buddhism with wisdom and patience. (November 2017 Living Buddhism, pp. 41–42)
Sharing Buddhism With Others Leads to Benefit and Growth
Just as Sensei states, in the process of striving to cultivate the connections people have with Buddhism, we develop our own character and gain tremendous benefit.
Sensei also says:
The benefit we receive by telling someone about Buddhism is truly enormous.
Whether or not the person begins practicing after hearing an explanation of the Mystic Law, our benefit is the same. …
We receive benefit as a result of our efforts to enable others to hear about the Mystic Law, regardless of whether they practice or how many others talk to them. When we realize this, we know even greater joy. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 5, p. 51)
The incredibly hope-filled philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism teaches that all our efforts to share Buddhism with others bring eternal benefit, joy and happiness to everyone involved.
This month of August—one of the traditional months of propagation in the SGI—is a great time to share Buddhism with conviction in this fact. As we strive to expand our Soka network and transform our lives, we will definitely affect change all around us.
—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department
Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance: The Power of One Person
Connections forged through the Mystic Law are eternal. By fulfill- ing our role in this existence, we will definitely … create a happy and harmonious family. …
All it takes is one person in the family shining with the sunlike brilliance of the Mystic Law to illuminate their entire family. The good fortune and benefit that person gains through faith will flow on to encompass the family’s descendants in generation after generation, so there is nothing to worry about if other family members don’t practice.
Just focus on being the one who brings happiness and harmony in your family. When you expand your own state of life, you will … realize a happy and harmonious environment. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 4, p. 141)