Feature

‘Discard the Shallow and Seek the Profound’

Courage is the way to lead a more profound and meaningful existence.

Photo by Sanjeri / Getty Images


In July 2021, which marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the young men’s and young women’s divisions, Ikeda Sensei noted what remarkable strides the youth have made this year, forging a solid network of friendship and trust, their voices ringing out brightly in these troubled times.

To celebrate this significant milestone, Sensei presented them with a pair of calligraphies, which were unveiled at the Fourth Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial. They read:

“Discarding the Shallow and Seeking the Profound” and “The Heart of a Person of Courage.”

During his exile on Sado Island, Nichiren Daishonin wrote “On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” which proclaims his vision for worldwide kosen-rufu. In it, he cites this phrase from the Great Teacher Dengyo: “To discard the shallow and seek the profound is the way of a person of courage.”[1]“On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 402.

In his message to the headquarters leaders meeting, Sensei reminds us that contained in this passage is the essence of the Soka Gakkai spirit, a spirit that he wishes to pass on to the youth:

What is the common trait of all great people who have lived truly noble and meaningful lives, whether celebrated or unheralded? It is the quality of courage, of the spirit that dares to take on difficulties, that seeks, chooses and is committed to leading a more profound life. Faith is the ultimate form of courage.[2]Aug. 6, 2021, World Tribune, p. 3.

Let’s learn from Sensei what it means to “discard the shallow” and “seek the profound” and become people of courage.

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

1. Spreading the Mystic Law is the path to happiness. 

The most distinguishing characteristic of Nichiren Buddhism is its emphasis on kosen-rufu—the widespread propagation of the Mystic Law.

It is a teaching that urges us to dedicate ourselves to spreading the Mystic Law, the universal Law of life, throughout the world and realizing happiness and peace for all humanity, because this is the mission for which we were born into this world and the path to our own happiness as well.

In Nichiren Buddhism, therefore, we practice for both ourselves and others. We strive in our Buddhist practice not just to gain the benefits of the Law ourselves, but to share the teachings with others and introduce them to the practice so that they, too, can gain the same benefits. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, pp. 3–4)

2. The inner battle to seek the profound takes place in our hearts many times each day.  

“To seek the profound” refers to our challenge in bravely standing as protagonists of kosen-rufu. We of the SGI have steadfastly taken on this most difficult challenge in the present age. … In these compassionless and self-centered times, where people are only concerned about themselves and give little thought to others, we of the SGI have chanted for the happiness of our friends, prayed for the prosperity of our local communities and society, and wholeheartedly exerted ourselves for kosen-rufu. …

Viewed in terms of human life, “shallow” means inertia, idleness and cowardice. Bravely defeating such inner weakness and seeking deep conviction and profound human greatness is “the way of a person of courage.” To seek the shallow or the profound—this inner battle takes place in our hearts many times each day.

Life, too, is a struggle. We need to defeat our weaknesses and courageously stand up, based on faith, with the resolve to continue growing in our lives, to keep moving forward and to be victorious in the challenges we encounter. When we live with such depth and meaning, we can become true winners in life. That is the purpose of our daily practice of faith and our SGI activities. (The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 83)

3. A person of courage stands up with faith dedicated to kosen-rufu.

By emphasizing how difficult it will be to advance kosen-rufu in the Latter Day, [Shakyamuni] sought to drive home to the bodhisattvas at the assembly depicted in the Lotus Sutra the fact that they will need to make a powerful vow to guide all people to enlightenment. …

By maintaining a strong and deep resolve to devote our lives to the vow for kosen-rufu and fulfill our mission despite all obstacles, we can forge and develop within ourselves the life state of Buddhahood. Nichiren makes this point by citing the words of the Great Teacher Dengyo: “To discard the shallow and seek the profound is the way of a person of courage.” Here, “a person of courage” means a person of intrepid spirit who stands up confidently with faith that is dedicated to kosen-rufu, in accord with the “heart of the Buddha” described in the Lotus Sutra.

When we devote ourselves courageously and tirelessly to the struggle for kosen-rufu, the “heart of the Buddha” must well forth in our lives. (Learning from the Writings: The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 90–91)

4. A call to reject a shallow life swayed by circumstances.

In the latter part of “On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” Nichiren Daishonin quotes the words of the Great Teacher Dengyo: “To discard the shallow and seek the profound is the way of a person of courage” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 402). …

These words call on us to reject a shallow life swayed by circumstances and solely concerned with pursuing pleasure and instead choose a noble, profound life dedicated to the lofty goal of kosen-rufu and world peace. That is the “way of a person of courage.” In addition to being a practitioner who remains unwavering on the correct path, a person of courage possesses outstanding character. Their heart is filled with the courageous, challenging, lionhearted spirit to devote one’s life to fulfilling the great vow for kosen-rufu. (May 2021 Living Buddhism, pp. 60–61)

5. Courage is the belief that we are entities of the Mystic Law.

Cowardice prevents us from seeing the truth, from seeing things as they are. It can cause even a minor hardship to seem like a huge, immovable obstacle and make even the door to a solution appear instead like a thick wall. Courage is, therefore, crucial. …

In terms of Buddhism, courage indicates the soundest and most robust spirit that derives from our inherent Buddha nature, which could be described as our most “healthy state”; it means the fighting spirit to vanquish our fundamental darkness and instantly reveal our enlightened Dharma nature.

For us, courage means challenging the real-life issues confronting us right where we are with the belief that we ourselves are entities of the Mystic Law. This is the way to employ the strategy of the Lotus Sutra and construct an indestructible history of victory and glory.

As a young man working under Josei Toda, I battled various hardships. Whenever I reached an impasse, I would chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to break through. I would chant and challenge myself afresh. Determined to win victory for my mentor and for kosen-rufu, I fiercely pitted myself each day against one obstacle after another. And in the end, I triumphed over all adversity.

“For my mentor!” “For kosen-rufu!”—when youth strive with this strong resolve to reply to their mentor and contribute to kosen-rufu, they can bring forth their true full potential and ability. (Learning from the Writings: The Hope-filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 144)

6. Have the spirit to fight with fearless bravery.

In spite of numerous threats to his life and being exiled twice, Nichiren Daishonin never wavered, declaring “But still I am not discouraged” (“The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood,” WND- 1, 748). He refused to retreat a single step. Those words embody a burning torch of conviction powerful enough to scorch the heavens. That’s the kind of strength that will determine the success of kosen-rufu.

Conviction is the perseverance and forbearance to keep pressing forward without giving up. It’s the courage to maintain a fighting spirit to the very end. It’s fearless bravery.

Let’s fight together! Join me and we’ll create history. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, p. 258)

Notes   [ + ]

1. “On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 402.
2. Aug. 6, 2021, World Tribune, p. 3.