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Ikeda Sensei’s Lectures

Let’s Make a Triumphant Song of Human Dignity Resound to Change History and the Future

Ikeda Sensei’s Lecture Series [79]

Supporting a new member joining the SGI-USA in Los Angeles, June 2022. Photo by Leticia Williams

This year [2021] marks the 60th anniversary of my first visit to India, the birthplace of Buddhism. Today, true to Nichiren Daishonin’s prophecy of the westward transmission of Buddhism, our precious fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth in India are illuminating people there with the brilliant light of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the Sun.

Dr. N. Radhakrishnan, an Indian scholar and philosopher who has carried on the nonviolent spirit of Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), shared an anecdote about the great leader of Indian independence that I will never forget. In the last year of his life, Gandhi traveled to towns and villages to impart his message of harmony and reconciliation during the bitter conflicts that arose following India’s independence [in 1947]. On those journeys, he would often quietly sing the song “Walk Alone,” based on a poem by Rabindranath Tagore: “If they answer not to thy call walk alone … / With the thunder flame of pain ignite thine own heart / and let it burn alone.”[1]

With this song echoing in his heart, Gandhi reached out to the people, proud of his solitary struggle, unafraid of facing persecution or isolation.

The Path of Soka Mentors and Disciples

When Dr. Radhakrishnan told me this story, I immediately recalled the heroic figure of my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. As Mr. Makiguchi’s faithful disciple, he stood up alone after World War II and raised high the banner of kosen-rufu. Taking action with the stand-alone spirit—this is the brave path of Soka mentors and disciples.

Our founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi often declared: “Give me a single lion over a thousand sheep!” He taught that “a single courageous person committed to great good will be able to accomplish great things.” Just one individual with the spirit to stand alone is absolutely crucial.

A Relentess Solitary Struggle 

Phrases such as “Nichiren alone,” “only Nichiren” and “I, Nichiren, am the only one” appear throughout his writings. They arise from his relentless struggle as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law to relieve the suffering of all people and lead them to enlightenment. But in addition to his willingness to go it alone, they convey his awareness of being the pioneer or forerunner, the starting point for limitless development, as the following passage illustrates:

Nichiren alone took the lead in carrying out the task of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. … At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others. Propagation will unfold this way in the future as well. (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 385)

In other words, it does not stop with “Nichiren alone.” The Daishonin declares that he has paved the way as the forerunner, and that disciples who carry on his work will appear in ever-growing numbers.

When we look up to the Daishonin as our fundamental teacher and model in kosen-rufu and in life, we each will surely and unerringly walk the path of victory. We will forge an invincible stand-alone spirit that nothing can shake. 

In this installment, let’s begin by studying the powerful lion’s roar Nichiren left for us in “The Selection of the Time,” which gives voice to this stand-alone spirit.

Standing Firm With an Indomitable Life State

Even if it seems that, because I was born in the ruler’s domain, I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart. (“The Selection of the Time,” WND-1, 579)[2]

This declaration appears amid a discussion of how the predictions Nichiren made during his three remonstrations to the ruling authorities were all accurate. In this important section of the treatise, he describes how he gained distinction three times (see WND-1, 579).[3]

The first was the prophecy of internal strife and foreign invasion that he made in his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” submitted to the still powerful retired regent Hojo Tokiyori,[4] the de facto ruler of the Kamakura military government, on July 16, 1260. 

The second was the prophecy of internal strife and foreign invasion that he stressed again in remonstrating with Hei no Saemon-no-jo Yori-tsuna,[5] deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs, when the latter came to arrest him with a force of armed soldiers on the evening of September 12, 1271, in the Tatsunokuchi Persecution.[6] “Doing away with me is toppling the pillar of Japan!” (“The Selection of the Time,” WND-1, 579), Nichiren declared to Hei no Saemon-no-jo at that time, before boldly making this prediction.[7]

The third instance was the stern warning of an imminent invasion by the Mongol forces that Nichiren made in his final remonstration with Hei no Saemon-no-jo on April 8, 1274. This took place shortly after he was pardoned from exile on Sado Island and returned to Kamakura.

When Hei no Saemon-no-jo arrested Nichiren two and a half years earlier, at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, he behaved with unbridled arrogance. This time, his attitude was completely different, and he and his retainers welcomed the Daishonin with a show of courtesy. His true intent, however, was to bring the Daishonin under the government’s authority, placing him in the same position as the high-ranking priests of the established Buddhist schools of the day. 

The Daishonin addressed Hei no Saemon-no-jo with dignity and composure: “Even if it seems that, because I was born in the ruler’s domain, I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart” (WND-1, 579). 

This is indeed the lion’s roar of a great champion of the spirit.

A Declaration of Freedom of Thought and Conscience

More than five decades ago [in 1969], UNESCO published a book titled Birthright of Man to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[8] It was a compilation of inspiring quotes on the subject of human rights from great thinkers of East and West over the ages.

A passage from Nichiren’s writings was among those selected—in fact, the very one we are studying: “Even if it seems that, because I was born in the ruler’s domain, I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart” (WND-1, 579).[9] It is included in chapter 3, “Limitations of Power,” in the section subtitled “Conditional Submission, Supremacy of Conscience” under the heading “Limits to Authority.” 

These words that the Daishonin uttered in the 13th century are without doubt an undying declaration of the “supremacy of conscience,” a powerful signal that the freedom of religion, thought and conscience are inviolable. His spiritual struggle reverberates deeply with the ideal of universal human rights.

Hopes for the Emergence of Dauntless Successors

In many of his writings, Nichiren stresses to his disciples the importance of striving with this same indomitable spirit.

“Letter to Shimoyama”[10] is a petition proclaiming the correct teaching of Buddhism. Nichiren wrote it on behalf of a priest disciple who had been driven from his temple because of his faith in the Lotus Sutra, a move instigated by the local steward [who was a Nembutsu believer]. In the petition, the Daishonin voices his disciple’s unwavering determination, with the declaration “Although I might obey in body, in my heart I could never comply” (“Letter to Shimoyama,” WND-2, 711).

These words, which carry the same message as the Daishonin’s lion’s roar to Hei no Saemon-no-jo, express the resolve he hopes his disciple will have, the readiness to endure whatever persecution awaits. 

“Although I might obey in body, in my heart I could never comply”—No one embodied this spirit of not compromising one’s beliefs more than the farmer believers in Atsuhara, who had never even met Nichiren. Arrested unjustly and taken to Kamakura, Jinshiro and the other farmers were tortured to force them to abandon their faith in the Lotus Sutra, but they steadfastly refused to do so, ready to lay down their lives.[11]

Nichiren expressed his reaction to these events: “I learned that when the accused were subjected to the wrath of the officials, they chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This was no ordinary matter!” (“Reply to the Sages,” WND-2, 831).

The three martyrs of Atsuhara[12] gave their lives for their beliefs, showing that coercion by the powerful could not conquer the human spirit. In so doing, they left a golden testament to the triumph of human dignity that will shine forever in the annals of kosen-rufu.[13]

The Soka Gakkai Has Inherited the Spirit of Nichiren Buddhism

Today, the mentors and disciples of the Soka Gakkai are the heirs to this great victory of the human spirit.

During World War II, Japan’s militarist government used State Shinto in its program of thought control, seeking even to rule over people’s innermost thoughts and beliefs. Nichiren Shoshu’s response was to compromise the correct teachings and doctrines of Nichiren Buddhism to appease the government. Mr. Makiguchi, however, rejected the compulsory worship of State Shinto, categorically refusing to enshrine the Shinto talisman as the government ordered. The authorities regarded this as high treason and a violation of the notorious Peace Preservation Law,[14] and harshly persecuted the Soka Gakkai. Both Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda were put in prison. One after another, the Soka Gakkai leaders who had been detained alongside them gave in to pressure to renounce their faith; only Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda remained steadfast. The elderly Mr. Makiguchi died in prison on November 18, 1944, the anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding. 

Mr. Toda emerged from prison inheriting his mentor’s hopes and vision, and he stood up alone to fulfill the great vow to spread the Mystic Law. This was a noble victory cry of the human spirit, a stirring drama of the passing of a spiritual torch from one life to another. 

A seated sculpture of Mr. Makiguchi adorns the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji. It was unveiled on January 2, 1995. Sculptor Ryusei Imazato (1907–99), despite his advanced age, gave his all to the completion of this impressive work. On the back of the sculpture, he inscribed the word futai (unwavering) in large characters. 

“Even if it seems … I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart.” Let us keep this unwavering Soka Gakkai spirit—of not bowing to any form of oppression, of not relying on authority—burning brightly forever. 

Three Decades Since Our Spiritual Independence Day

November 28 this year [2021] marks the 30th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s spiritual independence from the corrupt Nichiren Shoshu priesthood.

The Soka Gakkai alone has spread Nichiren Buddhism, the great teaching of universal enlightenment, around the world, fulfilling the Daishonin’s words “The ‘great vow’ refers to the propagation of the Lotus Sutra [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 82).

With courage and patience, we have widely spread the message that all people embody the Mystic Law and possess the infinitely noble life state of Buddhahood. Everyone, without exception, can bring their limitless potential to blossom, carry out human revolution and build a life state of solid happiness without fail.

The faith and practice of Soka mentors and disciples is true and correct, directly connected to Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. That is why we have faced the onslaughts of arrogant false sages[15] and the devil king of the sixth heaven.[16] The second priesthood issue is a clear case of this. 

Going against the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, the priests of Nichiren Shoshu tried to enforce outrageous discrimination against lay believers, holding ordinary people in contempt. They rejected religion for the sake of the people and tried to exploit their clerical status, displaying the devilish nature of an authoritarian religion that forces lay believers into slavish submission to the priesthood. This was the height of depravity and corruption. 

The Buddhist law of cause and effect is strict. As you know, in the years since, Nichiren Shoshu has fallen into decline, while the Soka Gakkai has achieved dynamic growth and development, expanding to 192 countries and territories. 

Throughout, the Soka Gakkai has striven with the same spirit as Nichiren Daishonin, when he declared: “I will never follow him in my heart” (WND-1, 579) and “So long as persons of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false, I will never yield! All other troubles are no more to me than dust before the wind” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 280).

As long as we proceed with correct faith, nothing can destroy our movement. Soka Gakkai members know this. That’s why they are strong, never defeated or swayed and always bright and upbeat. It is on these powerful spiritual wings that the Soka Gakkai has soared to become a global religious organization. 

All those who play active roles in opening the way for their own and others’ happiness through faith in Nichiren Buddhism, a solid teaching for human victory, while living bravely in these turbulent times of the Latter Day of the Law, are Bodhisattvas of the Earth. They are you, my beloved fellow members of Soka.

Relieving People’s Sufferings in the Saha World

The difference between the theoretical and the essential teachings [of the Lotus Sutra] is that in the former the Buddha is described as having first attained enlightenment during his life [in India], while in the latter he is the Buddha who attained enlightenment in the remote past. This difference is like that between a one-hundred-year-old man and a one-year-old baby. The disciples of these two Buddhas are also as different as fire is from water, to say nothing of the difference between their lands.[17] … In the final analysis, T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo perceived it [the Law implicit in the essential teaching, namely Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] in their hearts but did not reveal it for three reasons: first, the proper time had not yet come; second, the people had no capacity to accept it; and third, neither had been entrusted with the mission of propagating it. It is today, in the Latter Day of the Law, that the Bodhisattvas of the Earth will appear and propagate it. (“The Treatment of Illness,” WND-1, 1112)[18]

“The Treatment of Illness” shows Nichiren resolutely continuing his solitary struggle as the votary of the Lotus Sutra amid a perilous time of rampant epidemics, when many people were dying.

He begins the letter stating that there are two kinds of illness. One is physical illness, as exemplified by the widespread epidemics of the day, and the other is illness of the mind, caused by erroneous beliefs that lead people astray. In the corrupt age of the Latter Day of the Law, when truth and falsehood are confused and reversed, the Lotus Sutra is the supreme teaching for curing this latter form of illness. 

He then goes on to explain in the passage we are studying that even when it comes to the Lotus Sutra, there is a clear difference between its theoretical teaching (the first 14 chapters) and its essential teaching (the latter 14 chapters). 

Because of this, the status of the lord of teachings (the Buddha), the mission of the disciples, and the interpretation of the land in the essential teaching are as different from those in the theoretical teaching “as fire is from water or heaven from earth” (WND-1, 1112), Nichiren says. 

The Buddha of the theoretical teaching is Shakyamuni who attained enlightenment for the first time under the bodhi tree in India, while the Buddha of the essential teaching is Shakyamuni who attained enlightenment in the remote past. 

The disciples of the theoretical teaching are the disciples of the two vehicles (voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones) and bodhisattvas who are followers of Shakyamuni as a provisional Buddha,[19] while the disciples of the essential teaching are the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, disciples of the Buddha in his true identity. 

The lands of the theoretical teaching and the essential teaching are, as Nichiren again writes, “as different as fire is from water” (WND-1, 1112).

Earlier sutras and the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra reject the saha world.[20] The suffering-filled world where ordinary people dwell is despised as an impure land, while pristine Buddha lands, such as the Pure Land of Perfect Bliss in the west,[21] are believed to exist as realms separate and far distant from this world. 

Yet however magnificent such pure lands may be, they are removed from the reality of this world and ultimately have no relevance to people living now.

A Consistent Focus on the Real World

However, in the “Life Span” chapter, part of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni states: “I have been constantly in this saha world, preaching the Law, teaching, and converting” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 266). Here, he asserts that he has always been preaching the Law to lead people to enlightenment in this trouble-filled saha world, not some other realm.

The focus of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra is that, based on the eternal aspect of life, we forever join with others who are striving in the real world, live our lives amid the harsh realities of society and never divorce ourselves from those realities. 

The most important question, then, is who will actually spread the Mystic Law in the saha world of the Latter Day of the Law? 

In the passage we are studying, the Daishonin writes that while T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo[22] were aware of the Law implicit in the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, they did not propagate it because “the proper time had not yet come” (WND-1, 1112), among other reasons. But noting that it was now the Latter Day of the Law, he identifies who will propagate the Lotus Sutra at this time, saying: “The Bodhisattvas of the Earth will appear and propagate it” (WND-1, 1112). These Bodhisattvas of the Earth are the true disciples of the Buddha of the essential teaching.

However, one who propagates the correct teaching in the Latter Day of the Law is certain to encounter an onslaught of obstacles. As the Daishonin also declares in this writing: “Because what I practice is superior, the difficulties attending it are that much greater” (WND-1, 1115).

Nonetheless, practitioners of the Lotus Sutra stand up alone and patiently continue to share the correct teaching with one person after another, refusing to let anything intimidate, discourage or defeat them. This, in fact, is not the mission of the Buddha of the essential teaching, Shakyamuni, but of his disciples, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. 

Fulfilling Our Great Vow as Bodhisattvas of the Earth

Pursuing this further and more deeply, let us inquire into who these Bodhisattvas of the Earth are in actuality.

Nichiren says that he is carrying out the actual practice of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and enduring persecution as a result. At the same time, his contemporary and future disciples—who are connected to him through “the assembly on Holy Eagle Peak which continues in solemn state and has not yet disbanded”[23] (OTT, 135)—are also Bodhisattvas of the Earth who have appeared in response to their great vow to widely spread the Law, their great vow for kosen-rufu.

In modern times, it is none but the members of the Soka Gakkai, united by the bonds of mentor and disciple, who have spread the Mystic Law around the world, confirming the Daishonin’s declaration “The Bodhisattvas of the Earth will appear and propagate it” (WND-1, 1112). While in prison, Mr. Toda awoke to his identity as a Bodhisattva of the Earth, and he taught that each one of us shares that identity. How noble and honorable is the mission we have! 

As the Daishonin states: “The Law does not spread by itself: because people propagate it, both the people and the Law are respectworthy” (Gosho zenshu, new edition, p. 2200).[24]

The Lotus Sutra describes the Bodhisattvas of the Earth as “clever at difficult questions and answers, / their minds know no fear. / They have firmly cultivated persevering minds” (LSOC, 263). Let us therefore work tirelessly to spread the Mystic Law in this strife-filled saha world, reaching out to and speaking with others. Let us keep challenging ourselves to sow seeds of peace, happiness and trust in the fields of people’s hearts. Let us give them hope for a better, more humane future as we brighten society.

Inspiring Others With Our Lives

In 1975, 30 years after the horror of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I visited Hiroshima and presented a proposal calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, which threaten the very survival of the human race. In it, I declared: “The social role and mission of the Soka Gakkai is to engage in a spiritual struggle, arising from the innermost depths of our beings, against such external forces as violence and political and economic oppression that violate the dignity of human life.”[25]

This spiritual struggle against the devilish nature of authority is a hands-on effort we must wage together with the people. 

My proposal continued: “The task of trying to get our message to each individual is, at a glance, far from glamorous; it requires steadfast, tenacious efforts. Great endeavors always take time. The cultivating work of realizing our highest potential and helping others do the same through one-to-one inspiration cannot be achieved overnight. But that is precisely why those efforts will result in people’s lives shining with indestructible brilliance, undimmed by the harshest trials.” 

This “one-to-one inspiration” and “the cultivating work of realizing our full potential and helping others do the same” could be called the very essence of our practice as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

Mr. Toda taught that the only way to change society is to change people. Society will only improve if people improve, he said. The global spread of our groundbreaking movement for human revolution will elevate the life state of all humanity.

A Religion for the Happiness of the People

Nichiren Buddhism is a religion for the happiness of the people. It is a religion that enables us to discover the supreme value that resides within us, the infinite vastness of our being that encompasses the universe and the strength not to give in to authoritarianism. It is a religion of human revolution that makes people strong, good and wise.

The Buddhist humanism we espouse is grounded in a sound philosophy of inner transformation. Nur Yalman, the Harvard professor emeritus of social anthropology and Middle Eastern studies, with whom I published a dialogue, referred to our humane philosophy as “a higher humanism.”[26]

Bringing Hope to All Humankind

Thirty years have passed since the Soka Gakkai achieved its spiritual independence [from the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, on November 28, 1991].

More than ever, humanity longs for an age of Buddhist humanism, respect for the dignity of life and the triumph of humane values. Let us make a powerful song of respect for all people resound throughout the world! Our progress as champions of Soka, united by the bonds of mentor and disciple, is certain to change the undercurrent of human history and open the way to a future of hope.

My fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth! Our dear youth, shining treasures of humanity! Courageously stand alone in the place of your mission! Once again, with your comrades from the timeless past, set forth powerfully and cheerfully!

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


  1. Rabindranath Tagore, The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, vol. 1 (Poems), edited by Sisir Kumar Das (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1994), pp. 341–42. ↩︎
  2. Nichiren composed “The Selection of the Time,” one of the Daishonin’s five major writings, in 1275. In it, he explains that in the Latter Day of the Law—an age when “the pure Law will become obscured and lost”—the great pure Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will spread throughout Japan and the world (see WND-1, 550). ↩︎
  3. This is also known as the “three-time gaining of distinction” or the “three-time distinction.” The Buddhist and non-Buddhist texts say that a sage is one who knows the future. By this account, the Daishonin is a great sage, because, as he says, “Three times now I have gained distinction by having such knowledge” (WND-1, 579). The predictions he made on the three occasions he remonstrated with the authorities all came true. ↩︎
  4. Hojo Tokiyori (1227–63): The retired fifth regent of the Kamakura military government. Though retired, Tokiyori was still the most powerful figure in Japan’s ruling clan at the time when the Daishonin submitted his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” in July 1260. ↩︎
  5. Hei no Saemon-no-jo Yoritsuna (d. 1293): A leading official in the Hojo regency, the de facto ruling body of Japan during the Kamakura period. He served two successive regents, Hojo Tokimune and Hojo Sadatoki, and wielded tremendous influence as deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs (the chief being the regent himself). He persecuted the Daishonin and his disciples. ↩︎
  6. Tatsunokuchi Persecution: The failed attempt, instigated by powerful government figures, to behead the Daishonin under the cover of darkness on the beach at Tatsunokuchi, on the outskirts of Kamakura, on September 12, 1271. ↩︎
  7. In “The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” Nichiren writes: “The destiny of Japan depends solely upon Nichiren. A house without pillars collapses, and a person without a soul is dead. Nichiren is the soul of the people of this country. Hei no Saemon has already toppled the pillar of Japan, and the country grows turbulent as unfounded rumors and speculation rise up like phantoms to cause dissension in the ruling clan. Further, Japan is about to be attacked by a foreign country, as I described in my On Establishing the Correct Teaching” (WND-1, 772). ↩︎
  8. Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A document comprising 30 articles, adopted at the third United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948, as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” ↩︎
  9. See Birthright of Man: A Selection of Texts, edited by Jeanne Hersch (Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1969), p. 127. The book contains an older translation of the quote that reads: “Having the honor to be born in your kingdom, I find my body obeying your Excellency, but my soul will never.” ↩︎
  10. One of Nichiren’s ten major writings, “Letter to Shimoyama” is a petition to Shimoyama Hyogo Goro Mitsumoto, the steward of Shimoyama near Mount Minobu. Nichiren wrote it on behalf of the priest Inaba-bo Nichiei in June 1277. A priest of the Shimoyama family temple Heisen-ji, he had converted to the Daishonin’s teachings. This angered Shimoyama, the temple’s patron and an ardent Nembutsu (Pure Land) believer, who expelled Inaba-bo from Heisen-ji. ↩︎
  11. Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against Nichiren’s followers in Atsuhara Village in Fuji District, Suruga Province, from around 1275 until around 1283. In 1279, 20 farmer disciples were arrested on false charges and interrogated by Hei no Saemon-no-jo, who demanded that they renounce their faith. However, not one of them yielded. Eventually three of them were executed. ↩︎
  12. The three martyrs of Atsuhara: Three farmer disciples of Nichiren Daishonin—Jinshiro, Yagoro and Yarokuro—who were arrested and beheaded during the Atsuhara Persecution. ↩︎
  13. In contrast, 15 years after the Atsuhara Persecution, Hei no Saemon-no-jo, who had risen to the pinnacle of power, was implicated in a conspiracy against the government and condemned to death with his son, Sukemune, while his oldest son, Munetsuna, was exiled to Sado. In the “Deshibun Honzon Mokuroku” (Record of the Gohonzon Bestowed upon the Disciples of Nikko), Nikko Shonin attributed their fate to the negative consequence of enmity toward the Lotus Sutra. ↩︎
  14. Peace Preservation Law: Enacted in 1925 and revised in 1941, this law was used to suppress thought in the name of protecting the Japanese “national polity” and preserving peace. Those found violating this law faced harsh punishment, including death. ↩︎
  15. Arrogant false sages: One of the three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra, described in “Encouraging Devotion,” the sutra’s 13th chapter. It refers to high-ranking Buddhist priests who act as sages and use their status to persecute Lotus Sutra practitioners. ↩︎
  16. Devil king of the sixth heaven: Also, devil king, heavenly devil, the heavenly devil Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others. Said to dwell in the highest or the sixth heaven of the world of desire, he makes free use of the fruits of others’ efforts for his own pleasure. He obstructs Buddhist practice and delights in sapping the life force of other beings, the manifestation of life’s fundamental ignorance. He is a personification of the negative tendency to force others to one’s will at any cost. ↩︎
  17. Both the Buddha of the theoretical teaching and the Buddha of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra refer to Shakyamuni but express the two different positions he assumes in the theoretical and essential teachings. In the theoretical teaching, the land of the Buddha is somewhere apart from this saha world, with the Buddha appearing there temporarily to expound the Law and save people. But in the essential teaching, the saha world itself is the land where the Buddha has always dwelled since his original enlightenment. ↩︎
  18. “The Treatment of Illness,” thought to be dated 1278, was a reply to Toki Jonin, who had anxiously written about ongoing epidemics. In it, Nichiren states that only the Lotus Sutra can cure the serious illnesses caused by slander of the correct Buddhist teaching and end the calamities and natural disasters racking the land. ↩︎
  19. Provisional Buddha: A Buddha who assumes a transient identity that accords with the people’s capacity, without revealing his true identity. In the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and in the Lotus Sutra’s theoretical teaching (first 14 chapters), Shakyamuni did not reveal himself as a Buddha who had attained enlightenment in the remote past, but assumed the provisional status of a Buddha who had first attained enlightenment in that lifetime in India. ↩︎
  20. Saha world: This world, which is full of suffering. Often translated as the world of endurance. ↩︎
  21. Pure Land of Perfect Bliss: The name of the land of Amida Buddha, said to be located in a western region of the universe. ↩︎
  22. T’ien-t’ai (538–97), also known as Chih-i, spread the Lotus Sutra in China and established the doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.” Dengyo (767–822), also known as Saicho, was the founder of the Tendai (T’ien-t’ai) school in Japan. He traveled to China where he mastered the T’ien-t’ai teachings. ↩︎
  23. This passage from T’ien-t’ai asserts that the assembly on Eagle Peak where Shakyamuni preaches the Lotus Sutra is eternal and never ending. ↩︎
  24. From “Hyaku Rokka Sho” (The One Hundred and Six Comparisons); not included in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vols. 1 and 2. ↩︎
  25. At the November 9, 1975, Soka Gakkai Headquarters General Meeting in Hiroshima, Ikeda Sensei urged members to spread the message of Josei Toda’s declaration to abolish of nuclear weapons as a fundamental guide for the eliminating weapons of mass destruction and proposed holding meetings of international leaders on this issue. ↩︎
  26. Nur Yalman, “On Civil Society and the Dialogue of Civilizations: Humanism and Human Rights,” Soka University of America Commencement Address, May 25, 2012, <> (accessed June 17, 2022). ↩︎

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism—No More Nukes

Standing Up for Your Dignity