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Ikeda Sensei’s Lectures

Advancing Our Movement by Demonstrating the Principles That “Faith Equals Daily Life” and “Buddhism Is Manifested in Society”

Ikeda Sensei’s Lecture Series [69]

Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching that empowers us to transform our circumstances. It is a sure and unerring way of life. The heart of our Buddhist practice, therefore, is showing actual proof of the principles that “faith equals daily life” and “Buddhism is manifested in society.”

Faith in the Mystic Law is the great path for building happiness, the wellspring of wisdom for achieving victory in life. Nichiren Buddhism is a philosophy of hope for carrying out our human revolution and changing our karma, a spiritual beacon for creating a secure society and a peaceful world.

“Be champions of wisdom and courage who put faith into practice in daily life and apply Buddhism in society”—this is the credo that Soka Gakkai members throughout Japan and the world share and carry out with confidence and pride each day.

Firmly Grounding Ourselves in Our Daily Lives

This year is the 150th anniversary of the birth of founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.[1]

Before World War II, Mr. Makiguchi declared that “the supreme essence of Buddhism is demonstrating a way of life of the highest value,”[2] which he called “the way of life of great good.” He added that the purpose of our organization is to demonstrate, study and guide others to the way for creating this supreme value—unsurpassed happiness—in our daily lives, through how we actually live.[3]

Mr. Makiguchi articulated the motto of Soka education as: “Instead of walking along gazing dreamily at the sky, make sure you keep your feet on the ground and advance one step at a time!”[4]

Firmly grounding ourselves in our daily lives, we move forward steadily, winning day by day. This is a path filled with hope leading to a sound life, a solid treasure in contrast to empty daydreams.

Embodying the Law of Life

In an editorial titled “Religious Revolution” that he contributed to the first issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s study journal [in July 1949], my mentor, Josei Toda, declared: “Religion, originally, is a code of principles for living and ought to be an inseparable part of our daily lives.[5]

During World War II, Presidents Makiguchi and Toda were imprisoned for their refusal to give in to the demands of Japan’s militarist authorities. Mr. Makiguchi died in prison, while Mr. Toda was eventually released. Undefeated by this great persecution, they left us with their powerful conviction that the essence of Nichiren Buddhism “represents an all-encompassing and fundamental law of life.[6] Because this law is universal, Mr. Makiguchi asserted, it is infallible and can be successfully demonstrated by all.

This brings to mind the words of Mahatma Gandhi. He declared that the story of his life of nonviolent struggle consisted solely of his “experiments with truth,”[7] and he stated his belief that “what is possible for one is possible for all.”[8]

Nothing Surpasses the Proof of Actual Fact

Gandhi also said: “My experiments [in nonviolence] have not been conducted in the closet, but in the open.”[9] Similarly, our grassroots Buddhist movement has advanced not behind closed doors but in the real world by members demonstrating the principle of “faith equals daily life.” That is because, as the Daishonin teaches, nothing surpasses the proof of actual fact (see “Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 599).

Faith in the Mystic Law gives us the power to win in life. We chant and take action, and keep chanting through our struggles.

All around the world, Soka Gakkai members, starting with prayers infused with their vow for kosen-rufu, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the happiness of themselves and others. They summon their courage and wisdom to win in their own day-to-day challenges and to compassionately spread the Mystic Law.

As a result, the Soka Gakkai brims with the inspiring experiences of members who are showing solid proof of the benefit of faith and leading winning lives of hope and joy. I am convinced that by doing so, they are giving expression to the spirit of the Lotus Sutra and embodying the true way of practice in Nichiren Buddhism.

Buddhism Encompasses All Worldly Affairs

The Lotus Sutra states, “[The doctrines that they preach …] will never be contrary to the true reality” [see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 304]. T’ien-t’ai[10] commented on this, saying that “no worldly affairs of life or work are ever contrary to the true reality.”[11] A person of wisdom is not one who practices Buddhism apart from worldly affairs but, rather, one who thoroughly understands the principles by which the world is governed. (“The Kalpa of Decrease, WND-1, 1121)[12]

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi underlined the above passage from “The Kalpa of Decrease” in his copy of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, deeply taking it to heart.

Leading up to this section, Nichiren writes that in the corrupt age of a kalpa of decrease, when people’s life force wanes, the good wisdom of Buddhism for leading people to happiness is overpowered and rendered ineffective by the negative impact of the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness.[13] He also warns that these evils will intensify if people make offerings to priests who, though appearing to be people of wisdom high above worldly affairs, actively slander the Lotus Sutra.

In the passage we are studying, Nichiren declares that a genuine “person of wisdom” is not one who practices Buddhism apart from worldly affairs. He clarifies a fundamental principle of the Lotus Sutra that “Buddhism encompasses all worldly affairs” and describes the true way of a person of wisdom.

The passage the Daishonin quotes here is from the “Benefits of the Teacher of the Law” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which details the benefit of the purification of the six sense organs[14] that is obtained by the teachers of the Law (bodhisattvas) through practicing the Lotus Sutra. The passage in question specifically refers to the purification of the mind. In other words, when the workings of their hearts and minds are purified through upholding and practicing the Mystic Law, they will naturally teach and speak in accord with the principles of Buddhism and perfectly align with the true reality. This, of course, is the result of purifying their six senses—undergoing a profound inner transformation—through their Buddhist practice. That is why they shine with Buddhist wisdom and can turn all their activities in society into efforts for happiness and victory.

A Teaching of Active Engagement in Society

Nichiren Buddhism is a teaching of active engagement in society; it looks directly at society and seeks to transform it for the better. It is not divorced from reality or “worldly affairs.” Nevertheless, many in Japan, past and present, have held fast to the notion that Buddhism is distinct or removed from worldly affairs, something unrelated to daily life. This is partly because the established Buddhist schools regarded the Buddha as a transcendent, supernatural being and distinguished the religious from the secular in various ways. This led to some Buddhist schools assuming an aura of mysticism and authority that they used to hold themselves above the secular world and exert control over people’s lives.

Nichiren Daishonin, in contrast, declares: “The minds of living beings are and have always been Buddhas” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 208). Nichiren Buddhism teaches that the Buddha does not dwell in some distant realm far from the real world, and that in fact we all inherently possess the noble life state of Buddhahood and can draw forth that power from within to overcome our real-life struggles.

Let us once again keep these words deeply in mind: “A person of wisdom is not one who practices Buddhism apart from worldly affairs” (WND-1, 1121).

This troubled saha world[15] in which we dwell is indeed a realm mired in suffering. But it is by summoning the courage to reach out to those who are suffering, bringing forth the compassion and wisdom of Buddhism, and actually contributing to others’ happiness that we become genuine people of wisdom. That is the proud way of life of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. The living Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin aims to send a steady stream of such individuals into society.

Experiences Are a Driving Force for Spreading the Mystic Law

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi placed great importance on members’ experiences in faith. He cited the experience of a woman who overcame family and work difficulties to triumphantly create a happy, harmonious family applauded by all her neighbors; and also that of a man who, through his Buddhist practice, was able to inject new life into his printing business that had been operating at a loss for over a decade. Mr. Makiguchi described such inspirational dramas of renewal as “the result of all-out effort” and likened them to diamonds or to gold nuggets discovered in sand.[16]

He saw these experiences of members translating faith into daily life as “actual proof of a life of great good” and “evidence of attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.”[17]

Mr. Toda also taught us that through our efforts to put faith into practice in daily life while grappling with all kinds of problems, we can establish a state of absolute happiness in which being alive itself is a joy. Nothing pleased him more than hearing the experiences of fellow members advancing in their human revolution and changing their karma.

Nichiren states: “When one who is able to show clearly visible proof in the present expounds the Lotus Sutra, there also will be persons who will [come to] believe [in the sutra]” (“Letter to Horen,” WND-1, 512). Mr. Makiguchi noted that one of the unique things about the faith experiences of Soka Gakkai members is that members not only strive to accumulate experiences of the benefit of faith themselves, but actively seek to tell as many people as possible about them. The truth is powerful. The experiences of our members around the world are lasting treasures of the Soka Gakkai and a driving force for spreading the Mystic Law.

“Faith equals daily life” also means that daily life equals faith. In other words, that every aspect of our lives constitutes Buddhist practice.

The Daishonin warmly instructs one of his dedicated lay disciples: “If you continue living as you are now [diligently carrying out your duties at work], there can be no doubt that you will be practicing the Lotus Sutra twenty-four hours a day. Regard your service to your lord as the practice of the Lotus Sutra” (“Reply to a Believer,” WND-1, 905).

What proof of happiness do we attain by practicing Nichiren Buddhism—which teaches the essence of the Lotus Sutra—amid the realities of daily existence, with the spirit that every moment of our life is part of our Buddhist practice? Let us delve into that question as we move on to the next passage from the Daishonin’s writings that we will study. It is from a letter of encouragement to Shijo Kingo when he was facing major obstacles. I also copied this passage into my diary[18] as a source of inspiration while striving my hardest alongside Mr. Toda to overcome his business troubles.

Shijo Kingo Perseveres Amid Adversity

It is rare to be born a human being. The number of those endowed with human life is as small as the amount of earth one can place on a fingernail. Life as a human being is hard to sustain—as hard as it is for the dew to remain on the grass. But it is better to live a single day with honor than to live to 120 and die in disgrace. Live so that all the people of Kamakura will say in your praise that Nakatsukasa Saburo Saemon-no-jo [Shijo Kingo] is diligent in the service of his lord, in the service of Buddhism, and in his concern for other people. (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 851)[19]

After Nichiren Daishonin was pardoned from exile on Sado Island and returned to Kamakura, Shijo Kingo deepened his resolve and urged his feudal lord, Ema, to embrace the Daishonin’s teachings. But his sincere actions only had the effect of offending and alienating Ema, who was a devoted follower of the priest Ryokan[20] of Gokuraku-ji temple. Jealous fellow retainers of Shijo Kingo saw this as an opportunity to try to discredit him. Amid these ongoing travails, another serious incident occurred.

Shijo Kingo was falsely accused of causing a violent disturbance. In June 1277, a priest disciple of Nichiren Daishonin and a priest of the Tendai school of Buddhism engaged in what is known as the Kuwagayatsu Debate.[21] A number of Shijo Kingo’s fellow retainers spuriously reported to Lord Ema that Kingo burst in violently to disrupt it. Enraged, Ema demanded that Shijo Kingo recant his faith in the Lotus Sutra, or he would confiscate his estates. Shijo Kingo found himself in dire peril.

In addition to writing a petition[22] in Shijo Kingo’s name to be presented to Ema to clarify his innocence, Nichiren also instructs his disciple sternly: “However wretched a beggar you might become, never disgrace the Lotus Sutra” (“A Warning Against Begrudging One’s Fief,” WND-1, 824). Shijo Kingo persevered with unwavering resolve.

Then suddenly one day, Lord Ema fell ill. Shijo Kingo, a skilled physician, treated his illness with great attention and devotion, regaining his lord’s favor as a result. It was at this positive turn of events that the Daishonin sent him the letter titled “The Three Kinds of Treasure,” in which the passage we are studying in this section appears.

“This moment is crucial” is the message that runs through this letter. It expresses the Daishonin’s profound concern and insight into human nature.

The Daishonin states just how rare and precious it is to be born as a human being and sustain human life. The number of those who do, he says, “is as small as the amount of earth one can place on a fingernail,” and human life is “as hard to sustain as it is for the dew to remain on the grass” (see WND-1, 851).

He goes on to say, “It is better to live a single day with honor than to live to 120 and die in disgrace” (WND-1, 851). Happiness and life’s worth are not measured by the length of our time in this world, but by how rich, meaningful and purposeful our days have been.

Living Honorably and Winning Praise

Next, Nichiren writes: “All the people of Kamakura will say in your praise that Nakatsukasa Saburo Saemon-no-jo is diligent in the service of his lord, in the service of Buddhism, and in his concern for other people” (WND-1, 851).

“In the service of one’s lord,” in modern terms, means building a solid relationship of trust with one’s boss or employer. It means becoming an outstanding employee at our workplace or excelling in our profession. It also refers to our behavior as members of society.

“In the service of Buddhism” means to practice steadfastly, always basing ourselves on faith in the Mystic Law.

“In concern for other people” means caring qualities, like a sincere interest in others, that earn the respect and trust of those around us as we live our lives in society.

These three phrases encapsulate the most important spheres for demonstrating “faith equals daily life” and “Buddhism is manifested in society.”

Nichiren urges us to live in such a way that we win the praise of those around us. By doing so, in accord with the principle of “the Buddha nature manifesting itself from within and bringing forth protection from without,”[23] our virtues naturally emanate from our lives and bring the benefit of protection from without.

To have others speak in our praise is a sign of the trust and respect of the people around us and in our communities.

When the people of Kamakura saw Shijo Kingo taking a prominent position in his lord’s entourage, they expressed their admiration and praise: “In imposing stature, in countenance, as well as in his mount and the subordinates attending him, no one can compare to Nakatsukasa Saemon-no-jo. The boys of Kamakura, gathering at the crossroads, all exclaim, ‘Ah, there’s a fine fellow, a fine fellow indeed!’” (“Nine Thoughts to One Word,” WND-2, 730).

This was exactly the kind of praise that the Daishonin wished him to earn.

The Daishonin taught Shijo Kingo that a Buddha is a “Hero of the World”[24] and that “Buddhism primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat” (“The Hero of the World,” WND-1, 835). We must win in both our lives and our struggles in society.

As members of the Soka Gakkai, we embrace the Mystic Law, putting the teachings of Buddhism into practice in society, and uphold faith for absolute victory, always employing “the strategy of the Lotus Sutra” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1001). Let us proudly continue our struggle as indomitable champions and invincible people of wisdom and win without fail.

Win in the Struggles of Daily Life

The Lotus Sutra describes the characteristics of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, whom Shakyamuni entrusted with spreading the sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. Speaking of their leader, Bodhisattva Superior Practices,[25] it says:

As the light of the sun and moon
can banish all obscurity and gloom,
so this person as he advances through the world
can wipe out the darkness of living beings. (LSOC, 318)

The Bodhisattvas of the Earth “advance through the world,” meaning they are active in the secular world, in society, in the reality of this saha realm.

It goes without saying that the place we are now is where we attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. Buddhist practice means engaging in society based on faith in the Mystic Law.

The French author Victor Hugo (1802–85), describing the valiant and persevering efforts of young Marius amid great hardships in Les Misérables, wrote, “For many great deeds are performed in the small struggles of life.”[26]

He continued, writing that there are “Noble and mysterious triumphs that no other eyes see, that no renown rewards, that no fanfare salutes. Life, adversity, loneliness, abandonment, poverty are battlefields that have their heroes; obscure heroes, sometimes greater than the illustrious ones.”[27]

Hugo’s stirring words call to mind all our members bravely battling against unimagined challenges in these turbulent times.

In my youth, I experienced a struggle of the kind described by Hugo. When Josei Toda’s businesses were in crisis, people heaped scorn on me, asking why our Buddhist faith didn’t solve our problems. But for me, there was no other mentor in kosen-rufu than Mr. Toda. My heart remained serene and free of doubt. I was determined to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and fight with all my youthful energy and commitment to protect my mentor, never retreating a single step.

In my diary, I wrote at the time: “Struggles and hardships! / In their midst, you will develop true humanity”[28]; and “Because I have faith, / I can experience value, major good and vital life force, / and the happiness of human revolution.”[29] That was my firm conviction.

I fully believed in the truth of the words “When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs” (“The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” WND-1, 376).

Filled with gratitude at being able to learn from and fight alongside such a great mentor, I pressed on through the maelstrom and ushered in the resounding victory of Mr. Toda becoming second Soka Gakkai president. May 3 this year marks the 70th anniversary of that joyous occasion.

Those days of unremitting struggle are the golden history of my youth and the true Buddhist practice for human revolution. The Daishonin writes, “Iron, when heated in the flames and pounded, becomes a fine sword” (“Letter from Sado,” WND-1, 303). Just as he says, I forged an indestructible diamondlike state of life during that time and accumulated untold “treasures of the heart” (WND-1, 851).

Since my youth, I have striven tirelessly for kosen-rufu as Mr. Toda’s disciple. I have realized everything he envisioned. It is precisely because of this struggle based on the oneness of mentor and disciple that the foundations of the Soka Gakkai as a global organization were laid. Now, young “Shin’ichi Yamamotos” around the world have inherited that legacy and are carrying it forward.

The Great Path of Hope and Victory Through Human Revolution

True victories are the victories we achieve each day. Without accumulating those daily triumphs, there can be no great victory in life.

The surest path to human revolution and changing society is for each of us to bring to blossom flowers of happiness and victory in our lives and broaden the circle of those we encourage in the places where we carry out our daily lives. This is the way to realize Nichiren Daishonin’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land”—that is, world peace.

Toward that end, you—noble champions of humane ideals and values who practice the Mystic Law—must not be defeated. Win with genuine faith! Win in your daily lives! Win in society! Win in life! Win forever!

Let’s set forth! Let’s keep advancing boldly, in harmony and good cheer, along this great path of hope and victory!

Translated from the January 2021 Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.


  1. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi was born on June 6, 1871. ↩︎
  2. See Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 10 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), p. 5. ↩︎
  3. Ibid. ↩︎
  4. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value Creating Education), in Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 5 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmeisha, 1982), p. 27. ↩︎
  5. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 1 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1981), p. 7. ↩︎
  6. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 8 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1984), p. 411. ↩︎
  7. Mahatma Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections, compiled and edited by Krishna Kripalani (New York: Continuum, 2000), p. 3. ↩︎
  8. Ibid., p. 4. ↩︎
  9. Ibid. ↩︎
  10. T’ien-t’ai (538–97): Also known as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai or Chih-i. The founder of the T’ien-t’ai school in China. His lectures were compiled in such works as The Profound Meaning of the Lotus SutraThe Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra and Great Concentration and Insight. In the latter work, a record of lectures he delivered, he presents the doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.” ↩︎
  11. The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra. ↩︎
  12. Neither the date nor recipient is known. Judging from the content, however, the letter is thought to have been sent to a family member of the lay priest Takahashi Rokuro Hyoe following his death around 1276 after the Mongol Invasion. ↩︎
  13. Greed, anger and foolishness are regarded in Buddhism as the fundamental evils inherent in life that give rise to human suffering. They are known as the three poisons. ↩︎
  14. Purification of the six sense organs: Also, purification of the six senses or faculties. This refers to the six sense organs of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind becoming pure, making it possible to apprehend all things correctly. The “Benefits of the Teacher of the Law” chapter of the Lotus Sutra explains that those who uphold and practice the sutra acquire various benefits, and that through these benefits the six sense organs become refined and pure. ↩︎
  15. Saha world: This world, which is full of suffering. Often translated as the world of endurance. In Sanskrit, saha means the earth; it derives from a root meaning “to bear” or “to endure.” For this reason, in the Chinese versions of Buddhist scriptures, saha is rendered as endurance. In this context, the saha world indicates a world in which people must endure suffering. ↩︎
  16. Translated from Japanese. See Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), vol. 10 (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), p. 144. ↩︎
  17. Ibid., p. 143. ↩︎
  18. See Daisaku Ikeda, A Youthful Diary: One Man’s Journey from the Beginning of Faith to Worldwide Leadership for Peace (Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 2000), p. 66 (December 2, 1950). ↩︎
  19. “The Three Kinds of Treasure,” dated September 11, 1277, was written to Shijo Kingo. In this letter, Nichiren Daishonin writes of the treasures of the heart and our behavior as human beings, teaching his disciple the key to victory in life. ↩︎
  20. Ryokan (1217–1303): A priest of the True Word Precepts school and chief priest of Gokuraku-ji temple in Kamakura from 1267. For many years, Ryokan harassed Nichiren Daishonin and his disciples, both openly and covertly. ↩︎
  21. Kuwagayatsu Debate: A debate held in Kuwagayatsu, Kamakura, in 1277, between the Daishonin’s disciple Sammi-bo and a priest named Ryuzo-bo, who was under the patronage of Ryokan of Gokuraku-ji temple. Ryuzo-bo was thoroughly defeated by Sammi-bo. Shijo Kingo merely attended the debate as an observer, and did not utter a word. However, it was alleged to Lord Ema that Shijo Kingo had burst into the debate with a number of confederates with weapons drawn and disrupted the proceedings. ↩︎
  22. The petition known as “The Letter of Petition from Yorimoto [Shijo Kingo]” that the Daishonin wrote to Lord Ema on Shijo Kingo’s behalf in June 1277. The petition was apparently never submitted to Lord Ema. ↩︎
  23. “The Buddha nature manifesting itself from within and bringing forth protection from without” is a phrase from the Great Teacher Miao-lo’s Annotations on Great Concentration and Insight. ↩︎
  24. Hero of the World: Another name or honorific title of a Buddha. A reference to a Buddha’s heroism in conquering all people’s earthly desires and sufferings and leading them to enlightenment with supreme wisdom and deep compassion. ↩︎
  25. Bodhisattvas of the Earth: The innumerable bodhisattvas who appear in “Emerging from the Earth,” the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, and are entrusted by Shakyamuni with the task of propagating the Law after his passing. In the “Supernatural Powers” chapter, Shakyamuni entrusts Bodhisattva Superior Practices, the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, with spreading the Law in the saha world in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law. ↩︎
  26. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, translated by Julie Rose (London: Random House, 2008), p. 560. ↩︎
  27. Ibid. ↩︎
  28. Daisaku Ikeda, A Youthful Diary: One Man’s Journey from the Beginning of Faith to Worldwide Leadership for Peace (Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 2000), p. 67 (December 5, 1950). ↩︎
  29. Ibid., p. 76 (January 11, 1951). ↩︎

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