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Gosho Study

Shining a Light in Troubled Times

Dallas. Photo by Hoss McBain.

A person of wisdom is not one who practices Buddhism apart from worldly affairs but, rather, one who thoroughly understands the principles by which the world is governed.

—“The Kalpa of Decrease,”  The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1121

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “[Religion] provides a moral basis to all other activities which they would otherwise lack, reducing life to a maze of ‘sound and fury signifying nothing.’” 

“For Gandhi,” Ikeda Sensei says, “religion was an integral part of everyday life.”[1]

Nichiren Daishonin, too, asserts that faith and daily life are inseparable. 

In the passage above, the word governed points not simply to policies or regulations but to all human activities in society. Our daily Buddhist practice helps us cultivate the wisdom to understand and apply the principles of Buddhism in the context of daily living and worldly affairs, and effect positive change.

For instance, we learn in Buddhism that a “kalpa of decrease” is a period when people lose physical and spiritual vitality due to the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness intensifying in their lives. Hence, Nichiren starts this letter: “The kalpa of decrease has its origin in the human heart” (WND-1, 1120). As the three poisons take hold, people’s life span and stature decreases.

Many people view society as separate from one’s religious or spiritual path. They may think, for example, that they need to isolate themselves to focus on their spiritual growth or to shield themselves from the world’s troubles to find inner peace. 

Nichiren teaches, however, that by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo we can win over the three poisons and apply Buddhist wisdom in our work, school, relationships and all facets of life, becoming stronger and more capable of finding peace no matter the situation. We can discover clear paths through the “maze of sound and fury” of society and help others do the same. This is how we turn the tide on the kalpa of decrease.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. A Living Religion Is Immersed in People’s Daily Lives 

The affairs of daily life, all without exception, are in themselves Buddhism. The illuminating light of the wisdom of Buddhism shines in the midst of the darkness of our troubled, tortured world, imparting hope, courage and reassurance. …

Buddhism does not exist apart from human society. A truly wise person is one who takes action to contribute to society and guides it in a positive direction through the power of Buddhist wisdom and compassion. Meanwhile, a society imbued with the wisdom of Buddhism will prosper and thrive.

The SGI has striven steadfastly in its endeavors, following the correct path of “faith equals daily life” and “Buddhism manifests itself in society.” Based on the conviction that a religion that is divorced from reality is a dead religion and that a living religion is one that is immersed in the lives of the people, we have consistently emphasized the importance of daily life and society. …

“Unless the human spirit is fundamentally transformed through a religious revolution, the chaos in human affairs will never be remedied,”[2] wrote founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi as he embarked on a grand challenge to transform society. This is the eternal practice of Nichiren Buddhism, guided by the principle of establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, pp. 152–53)

2. ‘Create the Greatest Value Where We Are Right Now’

Buddhist practice takes place in the real world, in society. … We practice Nichiren Buddhism so that we can develop and improve ourselves, and carry out our human revolution in our workplaces, in our families and in our communities. We do so in order to create the greatest value where we are right now. Nichiren Buddhism is not about escaping to some other time or some imagined ideal realm. Doing so does not accord with the teaching of the Mystic Law; it is the shallow thinking of the provisional, pre-Lotus Sutra teachings. It is not reality.

Nichiren Buddhism is a living philosophy for changing reality. That is why one of the titles of the Buddha is “Hero of the World.” The SGI has followed this courageous path. (Youth and the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 24–25)

June 2, 2023, World Tribune, p. 11


  1. Our World to Make, p. 134. ↩︎
  2. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo shingenshu (Selected Quotes of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), ed. by Takehisa Tsuji (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1979), p. 211. ↩︎

‘A Triumphant New Era of SGI-USA Begins’

Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar