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Gosho Study

The Two Ways of Practice and Study

Photo by Geneva Lewis.

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. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.

“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,”
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 386

Nichiren Daishonin wrote “The True Aspect of All Phenomena” to Sairen-bo Nichijo while in exile on Sado Island. In it, the Daishonin sets forth the key elements of Buddhist practice in the Latter Day of the Law—faith, practice and study. 

In response to Sairen-bo’s inquiry about “the true aspect of all phenomena,” Nichiren clarifies that no phenomenon exists apart from Myoho-renge-kyo—that the Buddha nature exists within everything and everyone, ourselves included. 

In the passage above, Nichiren encourages us to engage in Buddhist practice and study. In our case, practice includes chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, reciting the sutra, participating in SGI activities and sharing Buddhism with others. Study means deepening our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism by reading and ingraining the Daishonin’s writings and Ikeda Sensei’s encouragement. Both elements strengthen our faith and help us tap into the power of the Mystic Law inherent in our lives.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. The Fusion of Practice for Self and for Others

In addition to striving in faith ourselves, [Nichiren Daishonin] says, we must also help others do the same. Basically, it is by working for kosen-rufu out of our desire for the happiness of others that we ourselves become truly happy. This is the fusion of practice for self and practice for others. Our own sufferings become the driving force for the ultimate bodhisattva practice that is kosen-rufu. 

As we do our best for the welfare of others, we break out of our narrow lesser self focused only on personal concerns and gradually expand and elevate our life state. The commitment to others’ well-being propels us to transform our own life condition and carry out our human revolution.

The lives of Soka Gakkai members, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo wholeheartedly for the happiness of their friends and earnestly share Nichiren’s teachings with others, brim with joy, courage and hope. Though we may be struggling with various health, financial or other problems, we can overcome them confidently, like an accomplished surfer riding a big wave.

The true great benefit of faith is this fundamental inner transformation and human revolution. According to the principle of the oneness of life and its environment, when our life state changes, we can change our environment as well and thereby solve all our problems and struggles. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 19, p. 62)

2. Study and Share Even ‘a Single Sentence or Phrase’

Read the Daishonin’s writings, even if only one sentence. Speak to someone about Buddhism, even if only one word or phrase. If you exert yourselves in your Buddhist practice, using your voices and taking action, a fresh and vibrant surge of life force will begin to flow within you in tune with the rhythm of the universe.

I have earnestly persevered in practice and study to spread the Buddhism of my eternal mentor, Nichiren Daishonin, and to fulfill my vow to my mentor in life, Josei Toda. My determination to continue striving remains completely unchanged today, because I know that the shining path of mentor and disciple does not exist apart from the two ways—practice and study. (A Foundation for Your Life, p. 231)

3. Exert Yourself to the Fullest

The Daishonin writes: “Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others.” Practice and study—which we carry out ourselves and encourage others to do as well—are the heart of Buddhism. In Nichiren Buddhism, it isn’t enough that we practice for our own happiness alone. There is no such thing as a selfish Buddha satisfied with attaining personal enlightenment and caring nothing for anyone else. The wisdom of the Buddha exists to lead all people to happiness. … 

The Daishonin continues: “Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.” Faith is expressed as concrete efforts in practice and study. 

“To the best of your ability” means exerting yourself to the fullest. There is no need to feel hesitant about talking to others about Buddhism because you’re not good at Buddhist study. For instance, you could just share some of Nichiren’s words that you find moving or something you learned through your Buddhist practice. Or you can tell someone, even with just a few words, that practicing Nichiren Buddhism is enjoyable, that it will enable them to make their wishes come true. …

Practice and study arise from faith, and faith is deepened by pursuing “the two ways of practice and study.” This is the rhythm of human revolution and kosen-rufu. (Faith, Practice, and Study, pp. 51–53) 

Jan.20, 2023, World Tribune, p. 9

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