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Our Mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth

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In the Soka Gakkai, February is traditionally regarded as the month of sharing Buddhism. Let’s learn from Ikeda Sensei about the significance of this most important endeavor: sharing Buddhism with others.

Benefitting Others: Inseparable Lives

When we look after and care for others—that is, help others draw forth the strength to live—our own strength to live increases. When we help people expand their state of life, our lives also expand. This is the marvel of the bodhisattva path; actions to benefit others cannot be separated from actions to benefit oneself.

To merely talk about benefiting others is arrogant. To only say the words saving people is hypocritical. Only when we realize that our efforts on others’ behalf are also for our own sake are we practicing with true humility.

One’s own life and the lives of others are ultimately inseparable. The bodhisattva path, therefore, is the correct path in life. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 4, p. 181)

In the Present: Always One With Eternity

You might say Shakyamuni’s Buddhism is like climbing a mountain, starting at the foot and heading for the summit. During the ascent, we are given explanations of how wonderful the peak is, but we ourselves cannot appreciate or comprehend it. Nor is there any guarantee we will eventually reach the top. We may get lost or meet with an accident on the way.

In contrast, Nichiren Buddhism reveals the way to the direct and immediate attainment of enlightenment, so in an instant we find ourselves standing on the mountain peak. There, we personally savor the marvelous view with our whole beings and, out of our desire to share that joy with others, we descend and go out into society. …

As we practice the Mystic Law, each moment of our lives is linked directly to the Ceremony in the Air,[1] the world of ultimate truth, and we can savor the realm of eternity. Light, breezes, music and the fragrance of benefit and good fortune flow into our lives from the Mystic Law’s infinite universe and gently fold us in their embrace.

When we devote our lives to the propagation of the Mystic Law, the present moment for us is always one with eternity. Eternity and the present moment meet, interact and reverberate in harmonious unity in our daily lives. Our lives are a continuous stream of joy—a manifestation of eternity in the present moment. Therefore, to a person of faith, a single moment is not just a single moment, a day is not just a day. Each moment, each day, has an eternity of value packed into it. The more time passes, the more each moment, each day, shines with golden light. (WLS-1, 97–107)

Lion’s Roar: Reviving the Goodness in People’s Hearts

Shakubuku, an act of supreme compassion, is a lion’s roar directed toward the goal of reviving the goodness in people’s hearts and bringing dynamic vitality and creativity to society for the benefit of all. It is a spiritual struggle of the loftiest dimension, one that seeks to conquer devilish functions, break through darkness and delusion, and actualize true, lasting happiness for humankind. And it is powered by a fighting spirit that resembles that of a fearless lion king. This struggle enables us to forge an indestructible, diamond-like state of life.

Citing the Nirvana Sutra, the Daishonin notes that obtaining a “diamond-like body” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 285) is the benefit of practicing shakubuku.

By embarking on this compassionate struggle, we can rid our own lives of the rust of inertia, carelessness and cowardice—the dull patina that prevents our true brilliance from shining forth. Those who tap the depths of their wisdom and persevere in their efforts to lead even one person to happiness can break through the binding chains of all kinds of preconceived ideas and prejudices, and defeat the alienating ignorance of disbelief and disrespect. Those who battle negativity and delusions can cleanse and polish their lives with a purifying stream that washes away spiritual decay; they can develop an infinitely vast and expansive state of life that desires the happiness of all humanity. Moreover, those who remain committed to this cause can create the most wonderful and everlasting memories of their lives in this human world.

The glory of a life dedicated to kosen-rufu is found in the midst of tireless struggle. The indestructible, diamond-like state of being we attain through winning resolutely in every challenge for kosen-rufu not only adorns our lives in this present existence but will shine on for all eternity. (The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 160)

Sowing Seeds: Weeding the Garden of Your Mind

Faith is just another word for embracing the Gohonzon. It is equal to planting a tree that grows to become a Buddha. It means to sow the seed of Buddhahood in the garden of your mind. This seed is invisible to your eyes, but once it is sown, all of the heavenly deities will faithfully protect you day and night. …

You are still in the stage where the seed has sprouted; perhaps it has not even budded in some of you. If a worm devours the shoot, all of your past efforts will come to nothing. Should the weeds run rampant on the ground, the young tree will fall into decay.

You must weed the garden of your mind. You can do this by participating in propagation activities. When you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the morning and evening, you are enriching the field. Some of you are uncertain that you have ever received benefits. That is because you leave the ground overrun with weeds. Since you already have the precious seed planted in the garden of your mind, you must continue to apply fertilizer and pull up the weeds. That is the only way you can become happy. (The Human Revolution, pp. 885–86)

All Heart: By Helping Others We Help Ourselves

By helping other people become happy, we too become happy. This is also a tenet of psychology. How can those suffering in the depths of hell, who have lost the will to live, get back on their feet? Merely thinking about our own problems more often than not causes us to fall even deeper into despair. But, by going to someone who is also suffering and offering them a hand, we can regain the will to live. Taking action out of concern for others enables us to heal our own lives. …

The Daishonin says, “More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 851). To focus only on the “treasures of the storehouse”—the economy—will not improve the economic situation. Things may improve for a while, but this will ultimately not contribute to the welfare of society.

It is people, it is the heart, that matter most. The heart determines everything. Shakyamuni was the great giver of gifts, but propagation of the Mystic Law is to give people the ultimate treasures of the heart. When we possess treasures of the heart, when our lives overflow with good fortune and wisdom, we are naturally endowed with abundant treasures of the body and treasures of the storehouse. (WLS-5, 259–61)

Joyful Response: Sharing Buddhism Is Itself a Great Benefit

The “Benefits of Responding with Joy” chapter explains that just by inviting someone to listen to a discussion of the Lotus Sutra, we accumulate immense benefit. It says that the act itself of making room for a visitor in such a meeting place produces benefit. Accordingly, 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. President Toda once commented humorously about people who had difficulty taking faith no matter how many people talked to them, saying, “These people have given that many more members the opportunity to receive tremendous benefit.” …

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.

Those carrying out the practice of propagation deserve hearty praise from all. They are supremely noble emissaries of the Buddha. When we have this spirit to applaud those carrying out propagation, then everyone experiences profound happiness, and kosen-rufu expands still further.

When we possess the kind of strong faith where we love the Gohonzon, love chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and love SGI activities, our life overflows with the “benefits of responding with joy.” (WLS-5, 51)

For Self and Others: Emissaries of the Buddha

The “Benefits of Responding with Joy” chapter explains then we fully integrate both the practice for ourselves and the practice for others, we get in sync with the rhythm of the universe. These two ways of practice are like the two planetary motions of rotation and revolution. The more we advance in the practice for oneself, the more our practice for others develops. And as our practice for others advances, our practice for oneself deepens.

President Toda often said with regard to propagation: “The key is to pray earnestly to the Gohonzon. There is no other way to spread this Buddhism!” We need to pray that the other person can sense our sincere desire for him or her to become happy. We have to pray: “Please enable me to fulfill my mission in this life as an emissary of the Buddha!” (WLS-5, 257–58)

Allison Rubin
Baltimore, Maryland

From mid-2016 through 2017, I experienced the greatest depression of my life. I felt as though I had nothing and belonged nowhere.

One weekend, I made it out of the house to visit my childhood friend, Lucia. At the time, she shared about SGI Nichiren Buddhism and her experience in faith. It would still be months before I could be present in my life, but a seed was planted that day.

COVID-19 wholly transformed my routine, and Lucia and I started to have many more dialogues, processing our lives together. I then realized I wanted to find and be a part of a faith-based community where I could show up authentically for others.

I attended my first virtual SGI-USA meeting on August 27, 2020. That night after the meeting, I went online to subscribe to the publications and started my daily practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Practicing Buddhism with the SGI has propelled and expanded my life. Finally, I get to practice a faith as I really am. All that I’ve been fighting to transform from within is beginning to manifest in my environment.

This year, I will continue to chant and connect with the SGI through as many opportunities as possible. From a sense of appreciation for being introduced to this practice, I am determined to share this Buddhism with all those in my life.

Justin Holliday
Long Beach, California

I was introduced to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo by my co-worker Margaret. I wasn’t sure what to expect when she showed me how to chant in May 2020, but because of how crazy the year had been, I felt it couldn’t hurt to try.

I started chanting for my family to have peace since we had been through a lot over the years, but I wasn’t expecting a concrete answer to my prayer. In July, for my birthday, my entire family came together to celebrate virtually. They all shared happy memories, and I felt closer to them than I had in years. I realized that chanting was the only new part of the equation and was amazed at the power it had on my life in such a short time.

I’m thankful that I was introduced at this time as it has helped me rethink my approach to life and has been invaluable in making it through 2020.


  1. Ceremony in the Air: One of the three assemblies described in the Lotus Sutra, in which the entire gathering is suspended in space above the saha world. It extends from “Emergence of the Treasure Tower,” the 11th chapter, to “Entrustment,” the 22nd chapter. The heart of this ceremony is the revelation of the Buddha’s original enlightenment in the remote past and the transfer of the essence of the sutra to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who are led by Bodhisattva Superior Practices. ↩︎

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