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Ikeda Sensei’s Lectures

Expanding Our Gathering of Courageous Individuals Who Treasure the Dignity of Their Own and Others’ Lives

Ikeda Sensei’s Lecture Series [74]

A noble gathering
like fragrant white lilies,
purehearted friends.

Seventy years ago, in June 1951, my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, composed this poem for the women of Soka who had awakened to the greatness of the Mystic Law and joined together to make a fresh start toward kosen-rufu.

Shortly after becoming Soka Gakkai president (on May 3, 1951), Mr. Toda set to work to unite the noble power of women. On June 10, he established the women’s division, and on July 19, the young women’s division.

Advancing as Noble, Pure-Hearted Friends

In conveying his high hopes for Soka Gakkai women, Josei Toda said: “In terms of the Soka Gakkai’s development and activities for kosen-rufu, women are always one step ahead of the men. … I’d like you to be aware that women who uphold the Mystic Law are the most praiseworthy of all. Please continue to strive unceasingly together with me so that in the future we can show others what wonderful results we’ve achieved by practicing the Mystic Law.”

Just as he hoped, the women of Soka have taken the lead in our activities as the driving force for the Soka Gakkai’s development.

With the new women’s division[1] established in Japan, our noble gathering of pure-hearted women, united in the shared struggle of mentor and disciple, is entering a new phase. This signals the full-fledged start of the Century of Women.

We Are Forever Comrades Fulfilling Our Eternal Vow

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 997), and “A woman who embraces the lion king of the Lotus Sutra never fears any of the beasts of hell or of the realms of hungry spirits and animals” (“The Drum at the Gate of Thunder,” WND-1, 949). Practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, regardless of age or gender, are all lion kings. This is a point I would like first to confirm with all our members.

Developing our movement for kosen-rufu and “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” both start with one person taking initiative with the heart of a lion king. One person standing up as a lion king will create positive waves of change in their environment. That one person will steadily build a network of lionhearted champions by drawing forth their own and others’ Buddha nature and enabling each other’s innate dignity to shine.

We are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth,[2] everlasting comrades who have appeared in the world to fulfill our eternal vow of spreading the Mystic Law. Mr. Toda once said that, whether we are in the pure land of Eagle Peak[3] or this strife-filled saha world,[4] we will always reside in “a joyful, pure and sunny realm of friends living together in harmony and peace.”[5]

The dynamism of our supportive and harmonious organization, created by our wondrous karmic bonds, opens the way for kosen-rufu. Key to this is the courage that comes from striving together in the oneness of mentor and disciple and the unity of “many in body, one in mind.”

‘My Disciples, Advance With Confidence and Composure!’

My wish is that my disciples will be cubs of the lion king, never to be laughed at by the pack of foxes. It is hard to encounter a master [teacher] like Nichiren, who since distant kalpas[6] in the past down to the present day has never begrudged his body or life in order to expose the faults of his powerful enemies! (“In the Continent of Jambudvipa,” WND-2, 1062)[7]

“In the Continent of Jambudvipa” is an important writing, in which Nichiren Daishonin conveys his great life state and outlines how his disciples should conduct themselves as practitioners.

Kosen-rufu is an eternal struggle between the Buddha and devilish functions. From the time he publicly proclaimed his teaching (on April 28, 1253), Nichiren continued to teach and spread the Mystic Law throughout the land to free people from suffering, undeterred by the raging storms of persecution that assailed him.

Nichiren is the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law and a true and utterly victorious lion king. “Lion king” is another name for a Buddha.

He declares: “My wish is that my disciples will be cubs of the lion king, never to be laughed at by the pack of foxes” (WND-2, 1-62). These golden words are a powerful call to each of his disciples to stand up with firm determination as a cub of the lion king, to grow into a lion king and to advance with confidence and composure.

Firm Conviction as Cubs of the Lion King

The “pack of foxes” refers to those who, aiming to obstruct kosen-rufu, make a commotion to slander and discredit the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren tells his disciples never to allow themselves to be laughed at by people of this kind. Elsewhere, he writes, “Slanderers are like barking foxes, but Nichiren’s followers are like roaring lions” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997). When a lion roars, foxes flee in terror.

With our lion’s roar for truth, we can calmly vanquish any attacks or schemes by malicious individuals.

Mr. Toda once said, “Without the conviction that we are indeed the cubs of the lion king, we cannot be called disciples of Nichiren Daishonin. How solemn and magnificent is this conviction!”[8]

The Unassailable Life State of a Champion

In the passage we are studying, Nichiren goes on to say, “It is hard to encounter a master [teacher] like Nichiren, who since distant kalpas in the past down to the present day has never begrudged his body or life in order to expose the faults of his powerful enemies!” (WND-2, 1062). He clearly communicates to his disciples the essence of his own practice as a lion king.

As the words “expose the faults of his powerful enemies” (WND-2, 1062) indicate, Nichiren clarified the correct teaching of Buddhism, refuted the erroneous teachings that distorted or denied that truth and fearlessly fought against the insidious workings of power and authority.

It was a life-or-death struggle. The Daishonin was “attacked with a sword at Matsubara[9] in Tojo and later at Tatsunokuchi”[10] (“Persecution by Sword and Staff,” WND-1, 964). And he was twice sentenced to exile [to Izu and Sado],[11] fulfilling the Lotus Sutra’s prediction of its practitioners being “banished again and again” (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 234). His exile to the remote island of Sado, in particular, was tantamount to a death sentence. Unbowed by these persecutions, the Daishonin fought courageously as a lion king and demonstrated the unassailable life state of a champion. As he declared: “Those with the heart of a lion king are sure to attain Buddhahood” (“Letter from Sado,” WND-1, 302).

Today, we of the Soka Gakkai are energetically advancing kosen-rufu as Nichiren’s disciples. With courage and pride in our noble mission, let’s always follow this path, striving in exact accord with his teachings.

Drawing Forth Supreme Courage From Within

Everything starts with courage. When we do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we engage in a struggle to tap our inner courage. Courage is also essential for conducting dialogue as we work to transform our own and others’ lives.

Wielding the “sharp sword” of faith to vanquish the three obstacles and four devils[12] requires courage. Courage is also vital for defeating the three powerful enemies[13] and advancing vigorously in our movement for kosen-rufu. It is the driving force of great inner transformation, which is key to changing our destiny as individuals and the destiny of all humankind.

Nichiren further writes, “Nichiren … has never begrudged his body or life in order to expose the faults of his powerful enemies” (WND-2, 1062). In our practice, this means having the courage to strive with a selfless spirit and to refute the erroneous and reveal the true.

“The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs” (WND-1, 997), writes Nichiren. Everyone inherently possesses this supreme courage, the heart of a lion king. We draw forth that infinitely noble potential through our faith and practice.

Selfless Devotion and Championing the Truth

Having the courage to strive without begrudging our lives doesn’t mean devaluing our lives. Such selfless devotion means dedicating ourselves wholeheartedly to the Mystic Law—the teaching of life’s supreme dignity—in our daily affairs and life as a whole. It means breaking free from the petty concerns of our lesser self and tirelessly taking action for the happiness of others based on our greater self, which is one with the life state of Buddhahood.

The courage to refute the erroneous and reveal the true means denouncing falsehoods that confuse and mislead people and speaking out boldly for the truth.

Our founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi used to say that we need to “flush out devilish functions and vanquish them.” When Nichiren speaks of what he did to “expose the faults of his powerful enemies,” he is talking about flushing out such unseen negative forces.

In a letter to the lay nun Sennichi, he writes, “When the lion king … roars, the hundred cubs will then feel emboldened, and the heads of those other beasts and birds of prey will be split into seven pieces”[14] (see WND-1, 949).

Let’s continue to dedicate our lives to our mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, each taking action as a noble lion king to protect our treasured members from devilish functions. And, with that firm determination and courageous action, let’s resolutely expand our force for goodness.

‘Could There Ever Be a More Wonderful Story?’

The fact that the two of you [the Ikegami brothers] are one in mind may be likened to the two wheels of a carriage, or the two wings of a bird. Though your wives and children may have their disagreements, there should never be any disharmony between the two of you.

Though I may seem presumptuous in saying so, you should join together in paying honor to Nichiren. If the two of you should fail to act in harmony, then you may be sure that you will cease to enjoy the protection of the Lotus Sutra.

Beware, beware, for there are persons who clearly would like to do harm to you both! Should you fail to act in harmony, you will be like the snipe and the shellfish who, because they were locked in combat with one another, fell prey to the fisherman.[15]

Recite Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and take care how you behave! Take care how you behave! (“Brothers One in Mind,” WND-2, 914)

The Ikegami brothers Munenaka and Munenaga of Musashi Province (present-day Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture and part of Kanagawa Prefecture) are thought to have become followers of Nichiren not long after he established his teaching (in 1253). But their father, Yasumitsu, a follower of Ryokan, the chief priest of Gokuraku-ji temple [who was hostile to Nichiren], demanded that they abandon their faith in the Lotus Sutra. He went so far as to disown the elder brother, Munenaka, twice (in 1276 and 1277).

At that time, disownment in the warrior class was an extremely severe punishment, since the disowned could not inherit the family estate. Munenaga, the younger brother, poised to become the new heir, was forced to make the painful choice between his faith and the prospect of social position and wealth.

Nichiren was concerned that Munenaga would be tempted by the opportunity and offered him stern guidance on the matter. He composed “Letter to the Brothers” and several other writings instructing the Ikegami brothers how to overcome these challenges through their Buddhist faith and practice. He especially stressed to them the importance of maintaining a solidly united front.

The Ikegami brothers and their wives never retreated a single step during this trying period, forging ahead with unshakable unity just as Nichiren instructed. In the end, the brothers’ father not only revoked Munenaka’s disownment but took faith in the Daishonin’s teaching. The family brilliantly overcame all their difficulties, showing actual proof of victory and family harmony.

Now, more than 700 years later, their story continues to inspire—just as Nichiren exclaimed to them, “Could there ever be a more wonderful story than your own?” (“Letter to the Brothers,” WND-1, 499).

‘You Should Join Together’

The letter we are studying, “Brothers One in Mind,” is thought to have been addressed to Munenaga, the younger of the brothers, and written after their father’s death. In it, Nichiren urges the brothers to advance with even greater unity.

He compares their unity to “the two wheels of a carriage” and “the two wings of a bird” (WND-2, 914) and urges them to always strive together in harmony.

A carriage cannot move forward with only one wheel, nor can a bird fly with one wing. The Daishonin repeatedly advises the two brothers to unite in heart and mind to traverse the difficult road ahead and reach their destination.

And by way of clarifying the key to achieving this, he states, “You should join together in paying honor to Nichiren” (WND-2, 914).

The Daishonin taught universal enlightenment and respect for all people, showing how to live these ideals through his own actions and behavior. Here, he is telling the Ikegami brothers that, if they follow his guidance, they will be sure to achieve the strongest and most sublime unity.

Microcosms of World Peace

This principle applies equally to the harmonious community of practitioners that is the Soka Gakkai today as we advance worldwide kosen-rufu.

Of course, organizations are made up of human beings, so conflicts and differences of opinion naturally arise. Everyone has likes and dislikes, and sometimes we just don’t get along with certain people. But that’s precisely why it’s so important to be accepting and tolerant of others, to support and be considerate of one another as we strive for our ultimate goal of kosen-rufu. We need to help one another, make up for each other’s shortcomings and enable each person to make the most of their abilities. The key to achieving that is to advance with a passionate commitment to the shared struggle of mentor and disciple.

That’s how true unity is born and inspiring and triumphant solidarity is built.

Kosen-rufu means realizing in our world today the beautiful realm created by the eternal bonds of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, of which I spoke earlier. And as we carry out our human revolution, we are building in our local communities networks of wonderful diversity, microcosms of world peace where everyone shines in their own unique way, just as cherry, plum, peach and damson blossoms each display their unique beauty.

Negative workings that arise from fundamental ignorance[16] seek to destroy this beautiful, harmonious realm. They disrupt solidarity. If people become alienated from each other and cannot unite, they will be like the snipe and the shellfish who fall prey to the fisherman, as the Daishonin describes in this letter (see WND-2, 914). That would only play into the hands of destructive forces.

Faith based on solid unity of purpose is the only way to defeat such negative workings. As Nichiren writes, “If the spirit of many in body but one in mind prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals” (“Many in Body, One in Mind,” WND-1, 618). The “sharp sword” of united faith in the Mystic Law will always defeat the forces of negativity.

Respecting Each Other as Buddhas

The Latter Day of the Law is an age when the five impurities[17] prevail, when people are full of complaint and frustration, and conflict and division reign unchecked. Transforming people’s lives in this troubled world is the heart of our noble efforts for kosen-rufu in the Latter Day. This is the vow and mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who live their lives like the “lotus flower in the water”[18] (LSOC, 263).

From the perspective of the Buddha, all people possess the Buddha nature. The attainment of Buddhahood by all people and the equality of all people are the very essence of Buddhism. We are all Buddhas, and that is precisely why we respect one another.

As the Lotus Sutra states: “If you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (LSOC, 365). Showing such respect to the Buddha nature in others, as Nichiren says, “is like the situation when one faces a mirror and makes a bow of obeisance: the image in the mirror likewise makes a bow of obeisance to oneself” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 165).

Our belief in each person’s inherent Buddha nature spurs us to give our all to encouraging others and engaging in dialogue to promote understanding and fellowship.

The key is first to talk with those around us and chant to find ways to help them. Genuine communication fosters mutual trust and cooperation. Let’s always move forward together in our shared struggle, “transcending all differences among ourselves” (see “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” WND-1, 217). There is no organization like the Soka Gakkai in its dedication to worldwide kosen-rufu.

Transforming Our Own and Others’ Life State

When we strive with united faith, we can transform our own and others’ state of life.

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi said: “When we practice Nichiren Buddhism, before we know it we find we have attained a previously unimaginable life state. It is just as Nichiren writes, ‘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’ (“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” WND-1, 17).”

As Mr. Toda stressed, “The only way to make one’s life shine with supreme strength, brilliance and happiness is to base oneself on Nichiren Buddhism, which teaches the principles of three thousand realms in a single moment of life[19] and the mutual possession[20] of the Ten Worlds.”[21]

Wisdom and Compassion to Bring People Together

Josei Toda is describing the essence of our movement for human revolution based on Buddhism. When we dedicate ourselves to our mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, our innate Buddhahood emerges and we reveal the wisdom and compassion to bring people together.

Because the world is facing so many difficulties today, let’s continue our courageous shared struggle to change the destiny of humankind and build peace and harmony, as we hold high the banner of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land”!

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


  1. In Japan, the Soka Gakkai women’s division and young women’s division made a fresh start by joining together in a new women’s division (Jpn josei-bu). As the first step, from May 3, 2021, the Japanese name for the women’s division changed from fujin-bu to josei-bu [with the English translation remaining unchanged]. As the second step, from November 18, 2021, the young women’s division officially joined with the new women’s division. ↩︎
  2. 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. ↩︎
  3. Eagle Peak is the place where Shakyamuni preached the Lotus Sutra. Viewed as an eternally pure realm, it is also called the pure land of Eagle Peak. ↩︎
  4. 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. ↩︎
  5. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (The Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 1 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1992), p. 342. ↩︎
  6. Kalpa: In ancient Indian cosmology, an extremely long period of time. There are various views on the length of a kalpa. ↩︎
  7. The opening portion of this letter is missing, and its date and recipient are unknown. ↩︎
  8. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (The Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 3 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1983), p. 275. ↩︎
  9. This is a reference to the Komatsubara Persecution. On November 11, 1264, Nichiren Daishonin was on his way to visit a follower named Kudo in Awa Province. At dusk, he and a group of his followers were ambushed by the local steward and ardent Pure Land (Nembutsu) believer, Tojo Kagenobu, and his men at a place in Tojo Village called Matsubara. The Daishonin suffered a sword cut on his forehead, and his left hand was broken; one of his followers was killed during the incident and another died of his injuries later. ↩︎
  10. This is a reference to the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, the failed attempt, instigated by powerful government figures, to behead Nichiren under the cover of darkness on the beach at Tatsunokuchi, on the outskirts of Kamakura, on September 12, 1271. ↩︎
  11. Nichiren Daishonin was exiled to Ito in Izu Province (part of present-day Shizuoka Prefecture), from May 1261 through February 1263. He was also later exiled to Sado Island off the western coast of Japan from October 1271, immediately following the Tatsunokuchi Persecution on September 12, 1271, through March 1274. ↩︎
  12. 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. ↩︎
  13. 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. ↩︎
  14. This refers to a verse in “Dharani,” the 26th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, that reads, “If there are those who … trouble and disrupt the preachers of the Law, their heads will split into seven pieces like the branches of the arjaka tree” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 351). ↩︎
  15. A maxim from ancient Chinese history that highlights how easy it is for a third party to take advantage of two parties that are in conflict. ↩︎
  16. Fundamental ignorance: Also, fundamental darkness. The most deeply rooted illusion inherent in life, said to give rise to all other illusions. The inability to see or recognize the ultimate truth of the Mystic Law or the negative impulses that arise from such ignorance. ↩︎
  17. Five impurities: Also, five defilements. Impurity of the age, of desire, of living beings, of thought (or view) and of life span. This term appears in “Expedient Means,” the 2nd chapter of the Lotus Sutra. 1) Impurity of the age includes repeated disruptions of the social or natural environment. 2) Impurity of desire is the tendency to be ruled by the five delusive inclinations, i.e., greed, anger, foolishness, arrogance and doubt. 3) Impurity of living beings is the physical and spiritual decline of human beings. 4) Impurity of thought, or impurity of view, is the prevalence of wrong views such as the five false views. 5) Impurity of life span is the shortening of the life spans of living beings. ↩︎
  18. A passage from “Emerging from the Earth,” the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The image of the lotus producing pure flowers in a muddy swamp is used to illustrate how the Bodhisattvas of the Earth are unsoiled by earthly desires, karma and suffering. ↩︎
  19. Three thousand realms in a single moment of life (Jpn ichinen-sanzen): A philosophical system established by the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai of China based on the Lotus Sutra. The “three thousand realms” indicates the varying aspects and phases that life assumes at each moment. At each moment, life manifests one of the Ten Worlds—from hell to Buddhahood. Each of these worlds possesses the potential for all ten within itself, thus making one hundred possible worlds. Each of these hundred worlds possesses the ten factors and operates within each of the three realms of existence, thus making three thousand realms. In other words, all phenomena are contained within a single moment of life, and a single moment of life permeates the three thousand realms of existence, or the entire phenomenal world. ↩︎
  20. Mutual possession of the Ten Worlds: The principle that each of the Ten Worlds possesses the potential for all ten within itself. “Mutual possession” means that life is not fixed in one or another of the Ten Worlds, but can manifest any of the ten—from hell to Buddhahood—at any given moment. The important point of this principle is that all beings in any of the nine worlds possess the Buddha nature. This means that every person has the potential to manifest Buddhahood, while a Buddha also possesses the nine worlds and, in this sense, is not separate or different from ordinary people. ↩︎
  21. Translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 1 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1992), p. 184. ↩︎

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