Skip to main content

Buddhist Study

Inspiring Friends Helps Us Achieve Our Dreams

Photo courtesy of Netflix.

This series highlights how Buddhism can enhance daily living. As Nichiren Daishonin says: “When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs.” [1]

One Piece, a new live-action Netflix series, is based on a Japanese comic and anime of the same name well loved for over 20 years around the world. The story centers on Monkey D. Luffy, a goofy teenager with the remarkable ability to stretch like rubber. He is determined to sail the world as a pirate, find the legendary treasure known as the One Piece and become the Pirate King. 

Luffy assembles a dedicated crew—the Straw Hat Pirates—each with their own dreams. On their journey to accomplish their goals, they unwittingly become the center of a battle for justice among rival pirates and the corrupt World Government. This lighthearted saga also explores complex themes like discrimination, war and hopelessness. 

While Luffy’s elastic punches thwart many of his opponents, his real superpower is an ability to make friends and build trust with all around him. His dogged resolve to achieve his impossible dreams becomes a light of hope in a world order built on division and discrimination. He inspires his crewmates, allies and even rivals to strive toward their dreams. 

What Is True Friendship?

Like Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates, forging genuine friendships is key for us to achieve our treasured dream of creating a peaceful world. When we strive for a shared vision to improve our world and help friends win in life, our enthusiasm can be infectious. 

In response to a teenaged member’s question about how to make lasting friendships, Ikeda Sensei says:

It is important to have some ambition. … Friendships among people who lack a clear positive purpose or direction in life tend to be complacent and dependent in nature. Friendships among people who cheerfully encourage one another while striving to realize their dreams are the kind that deepen and endure.

What is friendship? It is not simply a matter of being favorably disposed toward someone because he or she spends a lot of time with you, or lends you money, or is nice to you, or because you get along well and have a lot in common. True friendship implies a relationship where you empathize with your friends when they’re suffering and encourage them not to lose heart, and where they, in turn, empathize with you when you’re in the same boat and try to cheer you up. …

The key lies in creating a beautiful stream of friendship in your own life as you strive together with your friends toward your respective dreams.[2]

In extending compassion to the person in front of us and cultivating trust and friendship, we find the starting point of kosen-rufu—our efforts to spread and establish the Nichiren Buddhist principle of respect for the dignity of life in society. 

Sensei says: 

If each of you can cultivate 10 genuine friendships, then kosen-rufu will surely advance! … 

My fellow members, stand up and launch fresh initiatives for kosen-rufu! Don’t remain silent but confidently engage others in conversation. Leave a record of a brilliant unfolding of friendship and dialogue, every single day.[3]

Just as Luffy naturally inspires others to join his cause through his sincere fighting spirit, we can also make many genuine friends, grow our Soka network and create a better world by initiating conversations and sharing the ideals of Nichiren Buddhism with one person after another. 

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

October 13, 2023, World Tribune, p. 9


  1. “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 376. ↩︎
  2. Discussions on Youth, p. 47. ↩︎
  3. Feb. 18, 2022, World Tribune, p. 8. ↩︎

Each District One Precious Youth

‘I Am Not Afraid of Anything!’