Skip to main content

Ikeda Sensei’s Lectures

Advancing on the Great Path of Kosen-rufu With Unwavering Lifelong Courage

Ikeda Sensei’s Lecture Series [78]

Members celebrate at the Chicago Buddhist Center, May 2022. Photo by Yvonne Ng.

Inheriting my mentor second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s wish to rid the world of suffering and misery, I have always viewed my travels for worldwide kosen-rufu as a challenge to realize a global society where all can live in peace and security.

I departed Japan on my first overseas trip on October 2, 1960, setting out united in spirit with my mentor, whose photograph I had tucked into the breast pocket of my suit. Thus, I began my full-fledged efforts for worldwide kosen-rufu with a 24-day trip to nine cities in the United States, Canada and Brazil. The following year, I visited five countries and one territory in Asia, and nine countries in Europe. Then, from 1962 through 1967, and again from 1972 through 1975, I traveled overseas almost every year, opening the way for kosen-rufu.

Spreading a Philosophy of Respect for the Dignity of Life

In every city and country I visited, I chanted with the resolve to permeate the land with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Speaking with and encouraging one person after another, I sowed the seeds of the Mystic Law, thereby calling forth fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth dedicated to fulfilling their vowed mission for kosen-rufu.

The Cold War dragged on, the threat of nuclear weapons grew, and disputes and armed conflicts arose in many regions. Against this backdrop, I awaited the right time; I created the right time, while building a network of global citizens committed to peace who upheld a philosophy of respect for the dignity of life.

As the wonderful culmination of all those efforts, in early 1975, on the last leg of my three-week visit to the United States, members from 51 countries and territories gathered with me in Guam, and together we established the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) on January 26.

By that time, I had already made proposals calling for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China and the end of the Vietnam War. I had visited China, the Soviet Union and the United States, doing everything I could as an ordinary citizen to help lessen the tensions between China and the Soviet Union and find a way to end the Cold War. I had also engaged in dialogues for peace and the 21st century with noted thinkers such as Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, a pioneering proponent of European unification, and the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee.

In my speech on the occasion of the SGI’s founding, I noted that the continued precedence humanity gave to the logic of military might, political power and economic gain was a hindrance to peace and kept the world in a state of constant tension. And I stressed that it was the essential role of religion to overcome this situation and open an enduring path to peace.

All our members, having had the good fortune to encounter this wonderful Mystic Law, shared that belief and determination.

I concluded by saying: “As courageous, compassionate and dedicated disciples of Nichiren Daishonin who are fully committed to truth and justice, please live out your lives in a positive and uplifting way, striving for the prosperity of your countries, the happiness of the people and the precious existence of humankind.”

Now, more than four decades later, the all-illuminating sun of Nichiren Buddhism has risen high in the sky and its compassionate light is shining everywhere. Our members, with deep pride in their vow as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, are hard at work as our value-creating network for peace, culture and education continues to spread hope around the world.

Nichiren Daishonin Praises Those With Dauntless Courage

The path of worldwide kosen-rufu is by no means easy. We have at times suffered criticism, abuse and even persecution due to people’s prejudice or lack of understanding. But my comrades in this shared struggle have always been united with me in spirit and, undaunted by any hardship or adversity, have courageously dedicated their lives to kosen-rufu with perseverance and fortitude.

My mentor observed: “You cannot succeed in kosen-rufu without dauntless courage,” and “Those who forge ahead with dauntless, courageous resolve will win the highest praises of Nichiren Daishonin and be deserving of boundless benefits.”

In this installment, we will study passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings that highlight unwavering, dauntless courage as the driving force for worldwide kosen-rufu.

Words That Epitomize Nichiren Daishonin’s Great Compassion

Because I have expounded this teaching, I have been exiled and almost killed. As the saying goes, “Good advice grates on the ear.” But still I am not discouraged. The Lotus Sutra [the Mystic Law] is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field. (“The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 748)[1]

“Still I am not discouraged” (WND-1, 748)—these words fill me with emotion whenever I read them. They epitomize Nichiren Daishonin’s great compassion and dauntless courage.

In the portion of the “Expedient Means” chapter of the Lotus Sutra that we recite morning and evening is the phrase “exerting themselves bravely and vigorously (Jpn yumyo shojin)”[2] (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 56). It can also be translated as “proceeding with courage and diligence” and is given as one of the reasons why the Buddha himself has been able to attain enlightenment.

Yumyo (courage) means bravely grappling with difficulties and summoning all our wisdom and creativity to achieve the impossible. The Great Teacher Miao-lo[3] explains shojin (diligence) as follows: “Sho (pure) means unadulterated and unsullied; and jin (exertion) means ceaseless effort.” It means advancing straight ahead, undistracted by other things. The Lotus Sutra declares that the Buddha himself attained enlightenment through “courage and diligence,” or “exerting himself bravely and vigorously,” over many lifetimes.

Then, in the “Life Span” chapter, revealing his original attainment of enlightenment, Shakyamuni explains that he has in fact ceaselessly continued his compassionate efforts as a Buddha from the infinitely remote past. “This, a Buddha’s work,” he says, “I have never for a moment neglected” (LSOC, 267).

The Soka Gakkai Spirit of “Still I Am Not Discouraged”

While enduring every kind of hardship and persecution, Nichiren lived a life of tireless struggle, exemplifying the spirit of “exerting oneself bravely and vigorously” and “never for a moment neglecting the Buddha’s work”—all so that people everywhere could enjoy peace and happiness. There can be no more encouraging example of great compassion.

In “The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood,” he explains that Bodhisattva Superior Practices[4] [the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth], to whom Shakyamuni entrusted the five characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,[5] will guide people in the Latter Day of the Law to enlightenment, and notes that it is he, the Daishonin himself, who is actually propagating the Mystic Law. At the same time, he points out, the majority of the people, led astray by “evil friends,”[6] or negative influences, followed Buddhist priests who were hostile to the Lotus Sutra.

Nichiren’s response was to sternly rebuke the attitude of the established Buddhist schools that disregarded Shakyamuni and his teachings and had lost sight of the fundamental spirit to help all people attain enlightenment. His was a struggle to reveal the truth out of his great, compassionate wish for people’s happiness. But because “Good advice grates on the ear” (WND-1, 748), the Daishonin was harshly persecuted. As he notes, “I have been exiled and almost killed” (WND-1, 748).

At that time, many of Nichiren’s disciples—including Shijo Kingo, the Ikegami brothers Munenaka and Munenaga and Nanjo Tokimitsu—were facing persecution because of their faith. We can view his statement “Still I am not discouraged” as not only an expression of his own firm determination but also to encourage his disciples never to be defeated.

Mr. Toda lectured on “The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood” in study sessions open to all members held at the Toshima Civic Hall in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.

Regarding the passage we are examining, he passionately stated: “‘Still I am not discouraged’—that’s the key!” Everyone leaned forward, anticipating his next words. He declared:

We are incredibly fortunate to be the disciples of Nichiren Daishonin. We are Bodhisattvas of the Earth. And this is the heart of the Soka Gakkai spirit.

Unworthy though I may be, I, too, am striving for kosen-rufu with the spirit “Still I am not discouraged.” Because we are carrying out the Daishonin’s instructions, we naturally must be prepared for an endless succession of great difficulties. We must have courage and perseverance.

His words still ring clear in my ears to this very day.

The Passion and Commitment to Lead All People to Enlightenment

In this same letter, Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Both teacher and followers will surely fall into the hell of incessant suffering if they see enemies of the Lotus Sutra but disregard them and fail to reproach them” (WND-1, 747). He refused to remain silent when he saw “enemies of the Lotus Sutra,” those who inflicted suffering on the people.

From the time he first proclaimed his teaching (in 1253), Nichiren was fully aware he would face persecution if he took a stand against error and falsehood. His act of publicly chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the happiness of all people was sure to trigger harsh opposition. But he knew that would be the inevitable consequence of propagating the Lotus Sutra in the evil age of the Latter Day, as described by the “six difficult and nine easy acts”[7] and other passages from the Lotus Sutra. He began his tenacious spiritual struggle with the firmest determination.

His starting point was his pledge: “I vowed to summon up a powerful and unconquerable desire for the salvation of all beings and never to falter in my efforts” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” WND-1, 240). Founding Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi placed importance on these words, underlining them in his copy of the Daishonin’s writings.

That unfaltering pledge is the bodhisattva vow to propagate the Lotus Sutra to lead people to enlightenment in the evil latter age after the Buddha’s passing, articulated in the “Emergence of the Treasure Tower,” “Encouraging Devotion,” “Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” and other chapters.

To continue to proclaim the truth while enduring difficulties is to have the Daishonin’s spirit to spread the correct teaching of Buddhism while refuting error. This unflinching practice is how we change people’s awareness and transform society.

From his very first step in propagating the Mystic Law, the Daishonin fully understood that all kinds of hardship and persecution would befall him. He states this repeatedly:

I had long expected it to come to this. (“The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 764)

Not once have I thought of retreat. (“The Great Battle,” WND-2, 465)

The battle goes on even today. (“On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” WND-1, 392)

I have known not an hour, not an instant of peace or safety. (“Regarding an Unlined Robe,” WND-2, 599)

This was his lofty spirit.

He also urges his disciples:

You should not be surprised when this [being condemned to exile or execution] happens. … Do not fear those in authority. (“Letter to My Disciples and Lay Supporters,” WND-2, 333)

You are bound to face the three types of enemies.[8] 

…You have no reason at all to be frightened. (“On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” WND-1, 391)

You must raise your voice all the more and admonish [those who slander]. Even if your life should be threatened, you must not falter in the least. (“Katamari Suggests the Fashioning of a Buddha Image,” WND-2, 597)

No matter how many terrible enemies you may encounter, banish all fears and never think of backsliding. (“On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” WND-1, 395)

Of course, genuine selfless dedication does not mean disregarding our lives. As revolutionaries of the Mystic Law, we live as fully and long as we can, dedicating ourselves to kosen-rufu.

The Fearless Resolve to Fight On Amid Adversity

Nichiren Daishonin declares: “But still I am not discouraged” (WND-1, 748). This means that even in the face of great adversity, we determine to fight on resolutely without fear and to never give in to defeat. We keep challenging ourselves in spite of everything, refusing to retreat a single step. This is the Soka Gakkai spirit we learned from Presidents Makiguchi and Toda.

The same spirit is crucial in our efforts to transform our karma. We must recognize that the three obstacles and four devils[9] are at work, confronting them with the lion’s roar of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and not letting them sway or intimidate us. This is the key to “lessening karmic retribution”[10] and leading winning lives by changing poison into medicine. Countless members have demonstrated this since the Soka Gakkai’s earliest days.

There are times when a prudent, flexible response is called for, just as when Bodhisattva Never Disparaging[11] ran to safety when people tried to attack him with sticks and stones. But even after putting some distance between him and his attackers, he would turn toward them and loudly recite the 24-character Lotus Sutra,[12] expressing his respect for all people. As his example illustrates, unshakable conviction and unremitting faith in the universal potential for Buddhahood is the very essence of bodhisattvas who have vowed to lead all people to enlightenment. Genuine bodhisattvas never give up. They keep trying until they succeed. They strive to fulfill their mission, determined to create a world where all people can lead victorious lives.

The Bodhisattvas of the Earth are proud champions who have chosen to be born in this evil age, firmly resolved to carry on their dauntless spiritual struggle. Those who take action for kosen-rufu can definitely awaken to their vow from the remote past. The key to this is the mentor-disciple relationship. When we align our hearts with our mentor’s vow, our innate, original sense of mission will well forth from the depths of our beings.

Carrying on the Daishonin’s indomitable struggle for kosen-rufu, our members have remained undefeated by so many obstacles, including opposition and harassment. They have confronted and triumphed over every challenge through faith grounded in the oneness of mentor and disciple and the unity of “many in body, one in mind.”

After his declaration “Still I am not discouraged,” Nichiren reveals the principle of sowing the seed of enlightenment in people’s lives: “The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field” (WND-1, 748).

Sowing the seed of the Lotus Sutra (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) in people’s lives activates their innate Buddha nature. Our efforts in Buddhist dialogue link directly to the Buddha’s action of sowing the seeds of Buddhahood so that all can attain enlightenment. We are enabling countless people to form a precious connection to Buddhism through our firm resolve, expressed in the words, “Still I am not discouraged.”

“If You Give Your All to Faith, You Will Never Regret It”

Noting that society is complex and full of contradictions, Mr. Toda concluded: “Only the Daishonin’s Buddhism sets forth the means for fundamentally transforming our karma. It teaches the path of eternity, happiness, true self and purity,[13]of lasting fulfillment and satisfaction. There is no higher path in life than this. That is why, if you give your all to faith, you will never regret it.”

This is the reason we strive to actualize the Daishonin’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.” Buddhism teaches us how, in this corrupt age of the Latter Day, to elevate our life state, build solid happiness and help realize a safe and prosperous society. As we persevere unswervingly in our Buddhist practice and expand our network of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, we move closer, step by step, to creating a realm of peace and happiness for all.

Let us forge ahead on the great path of kosen-rufu with unwavering faith throughout our lives, ever firm in the resolve “Still I am not discouraged”—golden words that are the essence of the Soka Gakkai spirit.

Proudly Upholding the Lotus Sutra, the King of Scriptures

Though I may be a person of little ability, I have reverently given myself to the study of the Mahayana.[14] A blue fly, if it clings to the tail of a thoroughbred horse, can travel ten thousand miles, and the green ivy that twines around the tall pine can grow to a thousand feet. I was born as the son of the one Buddha, Shakyamuni, and I serve the king of scriptures, the Lotus Sutra. How could I observe the decline of the Buddhist Law and not be filled with emotions of pity and distress? (“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” WND-1, 17) [15]

Next, let us study a famous passage from “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” a treatise that takes the form of a dialogue between a guest and a host.

When the guest, offended at one point, rises in anger to leave, the host smiles, urges him to stay and then continues calmly explaining the correct teaching. However, the guest is still annoyed with him, saying: “You … a person of humble position, think nothing of spewing out offensive accusations” (WND-1, 17). These words reveal the guest’s innate arrogance that causes him to look down on the wise host. The passage we are studying is the host’s compassionate response. 

He begins by saying, “Though I may be a person of little ability, I have reverently given myself to the study of the Mahayana” (WND-1, 17). This suggests that even the humblest individuals can improve themselves without limit and lead magnificent lives by embracing a great teaching and dedicating themselves to a great mission. He then employs the similes of a blue fly and an ivy plant. In this way, he affirms that the criterion for judging others’ worth is not their social status but the philosophy or teaching they uphold.  

Upholding the Lotus Sutra, “the king of scriptures,” is a source of the greatest honor and pride. As Nichiren writes elsewhere, “Since the Law is wonderful, the person is worthy of respect”[16] (“The Person and the Law,” WND-1, 1097), and “If the Law that one embraces is supreme, then the person who embraces it must accordingly be foremost among all others” (“Questions and Answers about Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 61).

To practice the great teaching of Buddhism, we also need both a mentor to instruct and guide us along the correct path to Buddhahood and “good friends”—fellow practitioners who support and encourage us on that path of faith and practice. Polishing and developing ourselves within the Soka Gakkai—the most wonderful organization of “good friends”—is crucial for elevating our life state, carrying out our human revolution and transforming our karma. 

The Joy of Living Our Lives With the Soka Gakkai

Many Soka Gakkai members deeply recognize the truth of this passage from “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.” Though at first mired in their own problems and suffering, they have gone on to enjoy a life state of unimagined happiness by embracing the great teaching of the Mystic Law and living their lives together with the Soka Gakkai and their fellow members. 

This passage resonates with the lived experience of our members who strive to fulfill the great vow for kosen-rufu together with the Soka Gakkai, the organization carrying out the Buddha’s intent. I also feel that it expresses the great joy of attaining happiness oneself and helping others do the same. 

The Spirit to Protect Buddhism

In this passage, the host says he is engaged in the study of Mahayana Buddhism. One of the characteristics of Mahayana Buddhism is the bodhisattva practice to relieve the sufferings of all living beings. The essence of this practice is found in the Lotus Sutra, which expounds the principles of universal enlightenment and the emergence of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. 

The host declares that as “the son of the one Buddha, Shakyamuni”—that is, as a disciple of the Buddha—he embraces faith in “the king of scriptures, the Lotus Sutra” (WND-1, 17). It is very significant that he speaks from the standpoint of being a student of Buddhism. 

In his opening words in “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” the host says to the guest: “Now that you have come, we can lament together. Let us discuss the question at length” (WND-1, 7). Throughout the work, he speaks with the guest as an equal, employing sutra passages and reasoning to correct the guest’s misunderstandings about Buddhism and ultimately encouraging him to embrace the correct practice for his own and others’ happiness. This is the beautiful essence of Buddhist dialogue.

As a disciple of the Buddha, the host calls on the guest to join him in learning, discussing and practicing Buddhism. For the host, the dialogue was a search for truth, an attempt to strike a chord in the guest’s life through his attitude and respectful behavior. At its heart was a compassionate wish to communicate the truth to the person in front of him and enable that person to become happy. Such compassion engenders courage and wisdom. The host’s tenacious efforts at dialogue brim with an unshakable commitment to leading the guest to the correct teaching.

Especially in the section we are studying, we find this important passage where the host expresses his heartfelt feelings: “How could I observe the decline of the Buddhist Law and not be filled with emotions of pity and distress?” (WND-1, 17). The Daishonin asks how a disciple of the Buddha and student of Mahayana Buddhism could fail to be distressed and saddened when the correct teaching is slandered, false teachings predominate and Buddhism is disregarded. 

The spirit to protect Buddhism lies at the heart of the host’s unceasing efforts in dialogue. For us, it is our unwavering commitment to spreading the Mystic Law that underlies all our activities. 

In any sphere, great achievements and accomplishments are only possible through steadfast commitment. The key is to what we are most deeply committed. As we strive to achieve the unprecedented undertaking of kosen-rufu, let us advance boldly, with the dignified life states of bodhisattva and Buddhahood, unperturbed by the praise and censure of those dominated by the six paths.[17]

Consistently engaging in compassionate dialogue is the heart of bodhisattva practice to help all people attain enlightenment. It is a sure way to elevate our own and others’ fundamental state of life. 

Mr. Toda said: “The Soka Gakkai must strive just as the Daishonin teaches. With the determination that we will accomplish the Daishonin’s wish for kosen-rufu, we must triumph in each great struggle.” 

The Soka Gakkai, directly connected to the Daishonin and basing itself firmly on his writings, has won in all its challenges and endeavors with faith and the conviction that “no prayer will go unanswered” (see “On Prayer,” WND-1, 345).

Noble Lives Dedicated to Sowing the Seeds of Peace

In closing, I would like to share with you the vow that I made with dedicated fellow members, Bodhisattvas of the Earth, at the time of the SGI’s founding: “The sun of Nichiren Buddhism has begun to rise above the distant horizon. Rather than seeking after your own praise or glory, I hope that you will dedicate your noble lives to sowing the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law throughout the entire world. I shall do the same.” 

From the grand perspective of the ten thousand years and more of the Latter Day of the Law, we are just at the beginning of our movement. As we strive to fulfill our vow as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, let us each, with awareness as a disciple of the Buddha, make tenacious efforts in dialogue to realize a peaceful and prosperous world for all through the humanistic teaching of the Mystic Law. By doing so, we will sow the seeds, nurture the saplings and foster the growth of magnificent trees of peace throughout the world.

Today Is Precious

“Have the courage to sow the seeds for tomorrow today!”[18]—this was the Argentine human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel’s message to young people. 

Burning with invincible fighting spirit, let us continue our efforts to spread the Mystic Law again today!

Our eyes fixed on the distant summit of worldwide kosen-rufu, let us joyfully pave the way to victory with the Soka Gakkai and our fellow members, ever embracing the spirit “Still I am not discouraged”!

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


  1. Dated 1276 and addressed to a lay disciple called Soya, thought likely to be either Soya Kyoshin or another member of the Soya family. In this letter, Nichiren Daishonin teaches that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the seed for attaining Buddhahood and that the essence of practice is choosing the correct teacher and striving to attain Buddhahood. ↩︎
  2. The term “exerting themselves bravely and vigorously” is found in “Expedient Means,” the 2nd chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in the passage: “The Buddhas have personally attended a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million, a countless number of Buddhas and have fully carried out an immeasurable number of Buddhas’ ways and doctrines. ↩︎
  3. Miao-lo (711–82): Also known as the Great Teacher Ching-hsi, after his birthplace. A patriarch of the T’ien-t’ai school in China. He is revered as the school’s restorer. His commentaries on T’ien-t’ai’s three major works are titled The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra,” The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” and The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight.”  ↩︎
  4. Bodhisattva Superior Practices: Leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, the innumerable bodhisattvas whom Shakyamuni calls forth in “Emerging from the Earth” the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, and entrusts with the mission of propagating the Mystic Law in the Latter Day of the Law. Also, one of the four great bodhisattvas along with Boundless Practices, Pure Practices and Firmly Established Practices. ↩︎
  5. The Daishonin writes: “Shakyamuni Buddha called forth the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and entrusted to them these five characters [of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] that constitute the essence of the sutra. This is the teaching that was transferred to the bodhisattvas who had been the disciples of the Buddha since the remote past” (WND-1, 746). ↩︎
  6. “Evil friends” here refers to those who lead people astray and obstruct Buddhist practice, specifically by expounding false teachings, thereby causing misery and misfortune. Used in contrast to “good friends.” ↩︎
  7. Six difficult and nine easy acts: Comparisons expounded in “Emergence of the Treasure Tower,” the 11th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, to teach people how difficult it would be to embrace and propagate the sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. The six difficult acts are 1) to propagate the Lotus Sutra widely, 2) to copy it or cause someone else to copy it, 3) to recite it even for a short while, 4) to teach it even to one person, 5) to hear of and accept the Lotus Sutra and inquire about its meaning and 6) to maintain faith in it. The nine easy acts include such feats as teaching innumerable sutras other than the Lotus Sutra, walking across a burning prairie carrying a bundle of hay on one’s back without being burned and kicking a major world system into a different quarter.  ↩︎
  8. The three powerful enemies: Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, described in the concluding verse section of “Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China summarizes them as arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages. ↩︎
  9. 9. Three obstacles and four devils: Various obstacles and hindrances to the practice of Buddhism. The three obstacles are 1) the obstacle of earthly desires, 2) the obstacle of karma and 3) the obstacle of retribution. The four devils are 1) the hindrance of the five components, 2) the hindrance of earthly desires, 3) the hindrance of death and 4) the hindrance of the devil king. ↩︎
  10. Lessening karmic retribution: This term, which literally means, “transforming the heavy and receiving it lightly,” appears in the Nirvana Sutra. “Heavy” indicates negative karma accumulated over countless lifetimes in the past. As a benefit of protecting the correct teaching of Buddhism, we can experience relatively light karmic retribution in this lifetime, thereby expiating heavy karma that ordinarily would adversely affect us not only in this lifetime, but over many lifetimes to come.  ↩︎
  11. Bodhisattva Never Disparaging appears in “Bodhisattva Never Disparaging,” the 20th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. This bodhisattva—Shakyamuni in a previous lifetime—lived at the end of the Middle Day of the Law following the death of the Buddha Awesome Sound King. He would bow in reverence to everyone he met. However, he was attacked by arrogant monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, who beat him with sticks and staves and threw stones at him. The sutra explains that his practice of respect for others became the cause for his future attainment of Buddhahood.  ↩︎
  12. The 24-character Lotus Sutra: Words with which Bodhisattva Never Disparaging praised the people he encountered: “I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you will all practice the bodhisattva way and will then be able to attain Buddhahood” (LSOC, 308). His words, which in Kumarajiva’s Chinese translation consist of 24 characters, sum up the teaching of the Lotus Sutra that all people can attain Buddhahood, and are therefore known as the “24-character Lotus Sutra.”  ↩︎
  13. Eternity, happiness, true self and purity are known as the four virtues. Describing the noble qualities of the Buddha’s life, they are explained as follows: “eternity” means unchanging and eternal; “happiness” means tranquility that transcends all suffering; “true self” means true and intrinsic nature; and “purity” means free of illusion or mistaken conduct.  ↩︎
  14. Mahayana: The great vehicle teaching, or the teaching that expounds the enlightenment of all and aims at freeing all living beings from suffering. It expounds the bodhisattva practice as the means toward the enlightenment of both oneself and others. ↩︎
  15. “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”: A treatise of remonstration that the Daishonin submitted to Hojo Tokiyori, the retired regent but still the most powerful figure in Japan’s ruling clan, on July 16, 1260. In it, he predicts that, unless the correct teaching of the Lotus Sutra was followed, the country would in the near future suffer the calamities of internal strife and foreign invasion—the only two calamities among the “three calamities and seven disasters” that had not yet assailed Japan. ↩︎
  16. From T’ien-t’ai’s Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra. ↩︎
  17. The six paths: This refers to the first six of the Ten Worlds—the worlds or life states of hell, hungry spirits, animals, asuras, human beings and heavenly beings. ↩︎
  18. See Translated from Japanese. Article in the Seikyo Shimbun, June 25, 1994. ↩︎

The Wisdom of Buddhist Humanism—No More Nukes

Having a Mentor in One’s Heart