Creating Unity Is the “True Goal of Nichiren’s Propagation”
Greek philosopher Aristotle once said that for a person to be happy, they will need virtuous friends.See Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 9, Chapter 10, translated by Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 205. Today, too, many are earnestly seeking a supportive community in which people of virtue offer mutual support and inspiration to one another.
As Shakyamuni Buddha said, “Having good friends and advancing together with them is not half the Buddha way but all the Buddha way” (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, p. 101).
The fundamental aim of our Nichiren Buddhist practice is to become a good friend who fosters warm and harmonious bonds with everyone around us.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches the importance of creating harmony, stating:
All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind, transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren’s propagation. (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217)
Here, “many in body” indicates each person’s unique individuality, while “one in mind” refers to uniting with others toward a shared goal, which for us is to spread Buddhism widely. And “transcending all differences” means to challenge and overcome our tendencies to discriminate against others so that we can live in harmony, just as fish and the water in which they swim.
Nichiren teaches that “this spiritual bond,” or the harmonious ties we cultivate with others, is the true goal of Buddhism.
At times, discord with fellow members might get in the way of understanding the purpose of our SGI activities, which is to help us develop warm, humanistic relationships with one another despite our differences.
However, when we base our lives on chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and bring out our greatest potential, we can bring about true harmony.
Three Keys for Uniting With Others
Ikeda Sensei affirms Nichiren’s point about unity:
Unity is often thought of as only a means to an end. But the unity the Daishonin speaks of—uniting together with a shared commitment to help all people become happy through the correct teaching of Buddhism—is itself the epitome of human harmony and the true picture of kosen-rufu. It is the goal, not a means. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, pp. 125–26)
He also offers three reasons why Soka Gakkai members are able to create unity amid diversity and contribute to the harmony of all humanity.
First, it is because our profound philosophy is based on the equality and dignity of life. He says:
We can have unity of purpose because we unfailingly believe in the potential of all people to attain Buddhahood. We create supreme harmony when everyone can shine to their fullest through the power of the Mystic Law. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, p. 147)
Second, Soka Gakkai members continuously take action:
Members tirelessly engage in dialogue. They never let up. Whether it comes to organizational unity or harmony among all people, the basic principle is the same. It’s important to keep making efforts again and again to reach out to and talk with others, creating heart-to-heart bonds based not on social position or title but on our shared humanity. It is through such continual, steadfast actions that genuine solidarity is born. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, p. 147)
And third, SGI members possess unwavering courage. When we face a deadlock, we courageously strive even harder in our Buddhist practice, determined to polish our character and strengthen our belief in the Buddha nature of others.
In a recent interview, American Civil Rights leader the Rev. James Lawson referenced scholarly studies that suggest it only takes 3.5% of the population being committed to a nonviolent movement to create change in the world (see Feb. 5 World Tribune, p. 7).
Knowing that it only takes a small group of committed people to be the catalyst for transforming the world, let us persevere in our efforts to develop our Buddhist practice and create trust, harmony and peace with all those around us.
|↑1||See Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 9, Chapter 10, translated by Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 205.|