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Buddhist Study

Taking Action Is the Key to Spiritual Health

Illustration by Malte Mueller / Getty Images.

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]

Nowadays, many of us spend long hours sitting in front of computer screens and devices or leading more desk-bound lives. For that reason, finding ways to be active is increasingly important. Physical movement is essential for a healthy life, and a sedentary lifestyle invites numerous health problems. Experts agree that even light physical exercise can benefit our physical and mental health.[2] Spiritual health, too, requires movement.

Shakyamuni Buddha, the story goes, attained enlightenment seated beneath a bodhi tree. The Lotus Sutra, however, teaches that the Buddha nature had already existed within his life. It simply needed to be tapped. 

He did so by getting up and setting out to share his awakening with others and help them overcome their sufferings.[3]

For us, movement means taking action to nourish our faith in the Mystic Law and help others do so too. This is how we summon and strengthen the life state of Buddhahood—the wisdom and life force we need to break out of any rut. 

Nichiren Daishonin writes: 

Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others. … Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.[4]

To strengthen our faith, we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and study Nichiren’s writings. And by setting out to meet and speak with others about life and Buddhism, “even if it is only a single sentence or phrase,” we can break free from spiritual stagnation.

Creating a Cycle of Good 

Recent research on the health benefits of movement emphasizes, above all, consistency. A report suggests that even a minor increase in physical activity, if routine, can combat the many health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.[5]

In Buddhist practice, too, consistency and repetition help us become victors in life. 

Shakyamuni repeatedly met with and encouraged people, walking so much that it’s believed he had exceptionally large feet.

For instance, he visited the home of a person named Udaya day after day to share Buddhism with him. Frustrated, Udaya called Shakyamuni a nuisance. In response, Shakyamuni emphasized the importance of repetition, saying that a farmer works his fields every day to yield a harvest; rain falls repeatedly to nourish the earth; and a calf grows by constantly drinking its mother’s milk. 

He also explained that repeating the same negative causes can put us in a cycle of suffering. We need supreme wisdom to break free from that cycle and move our lives onto a positive one. 

Through their exchanges, Udaya ultimately decided to take faith in Shakyamuni’s teaching.[6]

Ikeda Sensei says, “In Buddhist practice, those who repeatedly make good causes will attain a magnificent life state filled with good fortune and benefit.” [7] Like Shakyamuni, he says, we should move our feet to meet others, always taking initiative. 

“Running” for kosen-rufu, or moving to support and encourage others, helps us overcome unhealthy habits and enter the cycle of creating the greatest causes—a cycle of abundant physical, mental and spiritual health. Taking such actions clearly benefits us, and it is the surest way to change the world, one person at a time.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

November 18, 2023, World Tribune, p. 9


  1. “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 376. ↩︎
  2. See <accessed on Nov. 8, 2023>. ↩︎
  3. See The Living Buddha, An Interpretive Biography,
    pp. 70–71. ↩︎
  4. “The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 386. ↩︎
  5. See <accessed on Nov. 8, 2023>.  ↩︎
  6. See The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, translated from Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000), pp. 268–69. ↩︎
  7. May 13, 2022, World Tribune, p. 3. ↩︎

Q: I often hear people talking about “kosen-rufu.” But what does it mean?

Awakening to the Value of My Life