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Buddhist Study

Battle Cowardice, Conquer Arrogance!

Part 2 of 2

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In another writing, Nichiren Daishonin condemns former followers who betray and attack his teachings: “Among these are some who oppose me more furiously than those who slandered from the beginning” (“Letter to the Brothers,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 502).

In other words, to justify their about-face to the world, they launched even fiercer attacks against Nichiren and his followers than they had once received themselves as the Daishonin’s disciples.

We see base people just like this today. We have all witnessed the sad spectacle of their irrational assaults on the Soka Gakkai, and it is readily apparent that they are following the pattern Nichiren points to above.

After the Daishonin’s death, the five senior priests betrayed their mentor in exactly the same way. The priests I am referring to are Nissho, Nichiro, Niko, Nitcho and Nichiji.

As Nikko Shonin’s “On Refuting the Five Priests” and other writings clearly show, these treacherous priests called themselves Tendai shramana (Tendai seekers of the way)—in other words, disciples of Tendai, as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai of China is known in Japanese. This was in spite of the fact that they were supposed to be Nichiren’s loyal disciples.

Why did they do this? Because they wanted to find favor in the secular world, and they feared persecution. We can discern in them no trace of pride as disciples of the Daishonin, who had declared that the hallmark of his disciples—proof that they were votaries of the Lotus Sutra—was their encountering great persecution (see “A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering,” WND-1, 33).

Further, the five senior priests disrupted the unity that should have prevailed among Nichiren’s disciples by refusing to follow Nikko Shonin, the Daishonin’s true successor, instead declaring themselves to be his “direct disciples.”

Here we see another pitiful example of people consumed by self-interest, arrogance and envy—people ruled by the world of animality—who turned against Nichiren Buddhism.

It is crucial that we be wise to this pattern and keep our eyes wide open so as to clearly see through the activities and schemes of treacherous individuals, always maintaining a strict attitude toward them. We must be eternally committed to remonstrating against such evil based on the correctness of Nichiren’s teachings.

Looking back at the Soka Gakkai’s history, when the military government moved to suppress the organization’s activities and imprisoned our founding president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, there were members who immediately turned on him and started cursing and berating him. “That damn Makiguchi!” “It’s all his fault!” “He deceived us!” they said. They blamed him for what had happened, claiming that he duped them. Some of these people even went to Mr. Makiguchi’s house and verbally abused his family members.

No matter what kind of devious attacks may be directed against us, no matter what vile plots and intrigues, nothing can halt our advance for kosen-rufu.

When second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, our great mentor, was released from prison, he directly confronted these traitorous disciples. In his treatise “The History and Conviction of the Soka Gakkai,” he left a clear account of their panic and shallow ingratitude in the face of persecution. “The Soka Gakkai organization had disappeared without a trace,” he wrote, “and everywhere I looked, I saw people who doubted the Gohonzon, resented Mr. Makiguchi and hated me.”

Among them was a certain Mr. Nojima, whom the Soka Gakkai’s executives had unofficially decided to appoint general director in the autumn of 1943. Not only did he abandon his faith after he was imprisoned in the wave of persecution that beset the Soka Gakkai, but he heaped vile abuse on both Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda.

Even today, across the span of many decades, I am struck powerfully by Mr. Toda’s passionate guidance, based on the oneness of mentor and disciple—on Buddhist teachings.

Mr. Toda declared that those members who tried to give the impression that they were exerting themselves diligently in their Buddhist practice—but were actually just cleverly floating along in the organization while others did the hard work—would quit practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

In any event, low-minded people, those who live only for selfish interests and those who use the world of faith to gain personal prestige, may at first appear to be practicing Nichiren Buddhism. Unless they make ceaseless efforts to develop and grow in their Buddhist practice, however, they often end up betraying and attacking the Soka Gakkai.

We have seen many such sorry individuals. Often, they have the mentality of persons of the two vehicles—people of the worlds of learning and realization (voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones) who seek only their own enlightenment without helping others. These people tend to think that they know more than anyone else and, in their arrogance, lose faith. We have also seen many who have achieved high positions thanks to the support of Soka Gakkai members but have then grown arrogant and fallen into the abysmal path of ingratitude.

The so-called Dharma sword of Buddhism—the workings of the causal law of life—will no doubt pass strict judgment on the likes of such people.

The Daishonin writes in “Letter from Sado”: “There are also those who appeared to believe in me, but began doubting when they saw me persecuted. They not only have forsaken the Lotus Sutra, but also actually think themselves wise enough to instruct me. The pitiful thing is that these perverse people must suffer in the Avichi hell even longer than the Nembutsu believers” (WND-1, 306).

The fate of such traitors is always misery. Their end is truly wretched. No matter how cleverly they may speak and manipulate the mass media in order to justify themselves, all that is left to them, having betrayed their fellow members and their mentor, is a life of failure and defeat.

Weathering the storms
Of countless harsh attacks,
The citadel of Soka
Flourishes more than ever.

No matter what kind of devious attacks may be directed against us, no matter what vile plots and intrigues, nothing can halt our advance for kosen-rufu. This is the beautiful Soka spirit shared by mentor and disciple who are bound by strong faith. It is our honor and glory. It is our supreme pride.

This essay from Ikeda Sensei was originally published in the “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution” series in the April 11, 2000, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun. It was also previously published in the June 16, 2000, World Tribune. Part 1 was republished in the June 18, 2021, World Tribune.

New Human Revolution Study Guide

Q: I admire the courage in others but am not quite sure how to bring it out in myself.