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Gosho Study

‘Many in Body, One in Mind’

Photo by Sanya Lu.


The date and the recipient of this letter are unknown, and there is a possibility that the first and second halves are from two different letters. At the start of the letter, both Nikko Shonin (Hoki-bo) and the “believers in Atsuhara” are mentioned, leading to the belief that the letter was written to the major disciples in Suruga Province around 1275.

At that time, Nikko was leading quite successful propagation efforts in Suruga. Alarmed by this progress, the authorities started to threaten and abuse Nichiren’s followers, the first in a series of events called the Atsuhara Persecution. Anticipating that the persecutions would only intensify, Nichiren emphasized the importance of unity based on the spirit of many in body but one in mind as the key to surmount such great trials.


“If the spirit of many in body but one in mind prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals, whereas if one in body but different in mind, they can achieve nothing remarkable.” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 618)


Here Nichiren teaches an eternal principle for any group to achieve its goals no matter the adversity. The expression many in body crystalizes an essential teaching of Nichiren’s that we should treasure each individual for the unique person that they are. Everyone’s personality, background and circumstances are different. When we come together, respect one another’s contributions, and work for the same goal, nothing can stop us. On the other hand, even though we may all look and act the same outwardly, if our minds are not united, we can “achieve nothing remarkable.”

As SGI members, our common desire is to spread the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism, a noble endeavor to empower people and bring hope and peace to the world. When we put our unique qualities to work for this grand goal, we can reach our full potential. The spirit of many in body but one in mind is the key to any victory, and it starts with each one of us uniting with our mentor.

Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


“Though numerous, the Japanese will find it difficult to accomplish anything, because they are divided in spirit. In contrast, although Nichiren and his followers are few, because they are different in body, but united in mind, they will definitely accomplish their great mission of widely propagating the Lotus Sutra. Though evils may be numerous, they cannot prevail over a single great truth.” (WND-1, 618)


Because our members have been practicing in the spirit of many in body but one in mind, the SGI has been able to spread a network of good throughout the world. We may think that to accomplish something remarkable requires lots of people or a large organization. But the number of people involved doesn’t really matter. More important is the strength of the unity among them, no matter how few in number.

The purpose of Nichiren Buddhism is to widely spread our philosophy of hope. We are all devoted to accomplishing this “great mission” of enabling all people to find peace and security. When we are so united, we each can display our unique abilities to the fullest, in our own way, in whatever circumstance we are in. Each one of us doing so advances our cause.

Many things will try to get in our way, of course. So Nichiren assures us, “Though evils may be numerous, they cannot prevail over a single great truth.” This “single great truth,” or good, is our harmonious unity, with which we can overcome any obstacle. In our divisive world, people are seeking an example such as ours of bringing people together. Let’s keep reaching out to others to expand our network for peace and happiness.

Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department


“People can definitely achieve their goal, if they are one in mind.” (WND-1, 618)


Ikeda Sensei: Numbers are not the key to achieving goals, nor are titles or organizational positions. It all comes down to whether everyone can unite in purpose. Such unity provides a solid core for building a sound future.

Inability to achieve goals reflects an absence of the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.” This can be seen in leaders who think they’re all-important, that everything hinges on them and who self-centeredly push ahead without conferring with and winning the agreement of others. Such an attitude can lead them to exploit the organization for self-aggrandizement—a behavior that is completely unacceptable in the realm of the Mystic Law.

It is crucial for men, women and youth to strive together in a spirit of mutual respect and trust. …

Please remember that unity and solidarity arising from beautiful mutual encouragement—“Let’s do this together” “Let’s move forward together!”—are the keys to a life filled with good fortune and benefit and the continued development of kosen-rufu. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, pp. 138–39)

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