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Fundamentals

The Joy of Encountering a Mentor

Photo by Mary D’Elia.

Moreover, it is extremely difficult to meet a person who expounds this sutra exactly as the sutra directs. It is even more difficult than for a one-eyed turtle to find a piece of floating sandalwood, or for someone to hang Mount Sumeru from the sky with the fiber from a lotus stem.” (“Letter to the Brothers,”  The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 495)

Background

How rare is it to encounter someone who can teach us correct faith and practice? Nichiren Daishonin uses two examples to help us understand just how rare: a one-eyed turtle swimming in an open ocean finding the perfect piece of sandalwood to float on and someone hanging a mountain from the sky.

How can we identify a correct teacher, a votary? The sutra teaches that the votary will meet the three powerful enemies.[1] Nichiren, who called forth these enemies yet persevered in his propagation efforts, is certainly “a person who expounds this sutra exactly as the sutra directs.” How fortunate, then, for the two brothers to have met Nichiren and become his disciples! And how wonderful, in modern times, to work for kosen-rufu in the footsteps of the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents! Our good fortune is beyond what we can imagine, something to appreciate each day.

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance

It is something truly extraordinary to have encountered the Daishonin in this saha[2] world during this evil age of the Latter Day, which is defiled by the five impurities.[3]

Likewise, it is equally difficult for those living in the world after the Daishonin’s passing to meet an authentic leader of Buddhism who propagates the Mystic Law, the essence of the Lotus Sutra, exactly as he teaches. For me, there is no greater joy than having been born in this world and becoming the disciple of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, a great teacher of kosen-rufu. When we first met, I instinctively knew I could trust him. He is the reason I decided to practice Nichiren Buddhism. (A Foundation for Your Life, pp. 126–27)

References

  1. 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. They are: arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages. ↩︎
  2. Saha world: Our present world, which is filled with suffering. Often translated as the world of endurance. ↩︎
  3. Five impurities: Impurity of the age, of desire, of living beings, of thought (or view) and of life span. ↩︎

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On the Cover—July 2022