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Q: We face many challenges in a multicultural nation. What is the best way to live in such a diverse society?


During a question-and-answer session at the Nagano Training Center in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, on Aug. 7, 1992—the summer following the 1992 Los Angeles riots— SGI President Ikeda responded to this question from SGI-USA Culture Department members. This is from a report published in the Aug. 31, 1992, World Tribune, p.4.

Your question is very important. It sounds simple, but it is a very difficult question. This issue confronts not only the United States but all of us, especially in thinking about the future of the world.

To begin with, I would like to point out that this diversity is a correct and realistic picture of the world. Life is diverse, human beings are diverse—that is the natural way of things. The opposite of diversity is standardization, totalitarianism, dictatorship or despotism.

For instance, the eyes, nose, mouth, hands, legs—all have their own diverse functions, yet each plays an important role. One is not superior or inferior to the other. When this diversity is harnessed into a harmonious whole, the different parts function as part of an organic entity, allowing the whole to become a wonderful, functioning, creative organism. The same applies to society.

Buddhism expounds that all kinds of people exist in the realm of living beings (in Japanese shujo seken), or society. [The term] seken indicates differences, which implies diversity. There are all kinds of people—that is good. It would be boring if people were all the same . . .

The United States is the epitome of such diversity. It has the potential to become an ideal nation . . . There is diversity within the course of our day, too. When you wake up in the morning, for instance; you may be in a bad mood, but it may improve somewhat after you do gongyo . . .

Another example of diversity is the changing colors of a mountain as the shadows subtly shift in hue and range depending on the season and time of day. Talented artists can capture the supreme beauty of the mountain’s fleeting changes of expression in their mind’s eye and create masterpieces. Those who can enjoy differences and discover the greatest beauty and value in them are masters in life. This is a life of wisdom based upon Nichiren Buddhism.

Knowledge alone is not enough. Only when knowledge is coupled with wisdom can one attain victory in life . . . Ultimately, it all depends on how you develop the eyes of wisdom. You have to polish your view of the world, of society and life . . . I hope that in this way you will fight wisely and win.

I hope you will skillfully utilize diversity, transcend differences, harmonizing the various aspects of diversity, and move everything in the direction of happiness and security. In this way, you can create the values of beauty, benefit and goodness. Faith is essential to navigating the journey of life correctly.

This is in keeping with Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching of securing the peace of the land through the propagation of Buddhism.

Nichiren Buddhism teaches a free and flexible way of living in which you can use diversity most effectively. It is the antithesis of standardization, coercion, dictatorship and exclusivity.

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