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Gosho Study

Our Compassion Can ‘Perfume’ the Lives of Those Around Us

Photo by Mary D’Elia.

You have associated with a friend in the orchid room and have become as straight as mugwort growing among hemp.

“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,”
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 23

On April 28, 1253, Nichiren Daishonin established his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and began his propagation efforts. Japan had been experiencing societal strife and a series of natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods and famines, causing the people untold suffering. Seeking to awaken the ruling authorities to the fundamental reason for these troubles, in July 1260, the Daishonin submitted his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.”

This writing is a dialogue between a host and his guest, who are both concerned about the “calamities of the nation.” The host—representing Nichiren—engages in earnest discussion, encouraging his visitor to discard erroneous teachings that place the source of happiness outside oneself. He urges the guest to embrace the Lotus Sutra, which emphasizes each person’s unlimited potential and power, and to work with him to transform society.

Over the course of the dialogue, the initially skeptical guest realizes the truth of the host’s teachings. 

“Just as the scent of orchids perfumes the room in which they are placed,” Ikeda Sensei says, “the fragrance of the host’s compassion envelops the guest’s heart” (November 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 39). 

We, too, can cultivate our Buddha nature by associating with and being “good friends” who strive together to bring forth one another’s innate Buddhahood. This writing serves as a guide for sharing Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and positively influencing our families, communities and society.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. Spreading the ‘Fragrance of Compassion’

In “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” Nichiren Daishonin calls the “host” who engages the “guest” in dialogue a “friend in the orchid room” (WND-1, 23). When someone spends time in a room filled with orchids, the fragrance of the flowers naturally permeates clothing. Similarly, dialogue should be conducted in such a way that the other person is imbued with the “fragrance of compassion.”

Propagation does not mean trying to force something on someone, nor is it for the sake of the organization. Propagation is an act of venerating the Buddha nature in the lives of others. Therefore, our efforts in shakubuku should be motivated by a spirit of the greatest respect for the other person.

[Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda] said, “The basis for doing shakubuku is a feeling of sympathy for others’ sufferings.” Compassion, in other words, is fundamental. You don’t propagate Buddhism with a confrontational spirit of trying to refute someone’s ideas and win the person over to your own side. …

It can’t be called a dialogue where one person constantly interrupts while the other is trying to express an opinion and then lays down sweeping conclusions.

Even if you think that what someone is saying is a bit odd, rather than constantly raising objections, you should have the broad-mindedness to try to understand his or her point of view. Then the person will feel secure and can listen to what you have to say. (The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 2, pp. 196–97)

2. Friendships Born of Dialogue

Meeting with people and speaking with them—our efforts to create peaceful societies by spreading the humanistic principles of Nichiren Buddhism are in exact accord with Nichiren’s spirit and embody the heart of Buddhist practice. Those who strive toward that end will without fail bring forth the courage, wisdom and compassion of the Buddha.

In “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” Nichiren portrays the key ingredients for genuine dialogue. That is, starting with honestly confronting the issues of our world with our contemporaries and listening sincerely to their thoughts and opinions; exercising tolerance and remaining calm in the face of disagreement; and believing in the inherent Buddha nature of others while presenting our own beliefs in a polite and reasonable manner.

The “friendships of the orchid room” that are born from such dialogues are a powerful force for creating peace and security in our communities and the world at large. (April 12, 2019, World Tribune, p. 3)

Jan.13, 2023, World Tribune, p. 9

A New Departure

Be Triumphant!