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About Sharing Buddhism

In this Summer of Shakubuku, let’s clear out the questions and make way for a determination.

Photo by halbergman / Getty Images.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the American writer and humorist best known by his pen name Mark Twain, was credited with saying, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” 

In Buddhism, the second date may be likened to the moment when we decide, of our own free will, to stand up with the same great vow for kosen-rufu as Nichiren Daishonin and the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents.

At the heart of this vow is the Lotus Sutra’s teaching that all people, without exception, have the Buddha nature and can call it forth by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Living this vow means to widely spread this ideal throughout society.

When we do so, we not only revive the goodness in people’s hearts, we also construct an unshakable life state that powers our resolve to surmount every adversity and create great value where we stand. The further we spread this teaching, the more we can elevate the life state of humanity and come that much closer to establishing a society that treasures the dignity of life.

The SGI-USA is now a month into our Summer of Shakubuku, which concludes on Sept. 1. In this feature, the World Tribune compiled some of the most common questions readers have about shakubuku and its real impact on our lives and communities.

A: It’s OK! Practicing Buddhism doesn’t mean we no longer have any problems, and achieving certain goals or dreams is not a prerequisite to sharing Buddhism. Many of our pioneer members grappled with poverty, illness and family disharmony but still encouraged others to start practicing. In fact, sharing Buddhism is the quickest way to break through our own challenges. Ikeda Sensei writes: 

When we pray, it’s important to have a firm conviction that all our prayers will be answered and to pray with intensity. Mentors and disciples, Bodhisattvas of the Earth striving together for kosen-rufu, unite their hearts in prayer, so their prayers are certain to come true. When we truly pledge to achieve kosen-rufu as we chant, then our prayer is a prayer of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. At that moment, our lives open and expand to that of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Such prayers have the power to set the heavenly deities and the Buddhas, the entire universe, into action, and they will protect us and our families, while also answering our personal prayers. As such, praying for kosen-rufu is the direct path to expanding our own life state and realizing our personal prayers.[1]

A: We may think that there’s a disconnect between sharing Buddhism and our challenges in daily life. But Buddhism offers the concrete means for overcoming our suffering, ignorance and delusion. What’s important, then, is bringing forth our Buddha nature and tackling the issue at its roots. Sensei explains:

Sharing Buddhism is not about debating or defeating others in argument. It is encouraging and urging another person to awaken to the fact that we are all supremely respectworthy beings who possess the Buddha nature. This is precisely what Bodhisattva Never Disparaging did. It is also a struggle to break down the icy walls of darkness or ignorance in our own lives, which take the form of apathy, passivity and other negative emotions.

When we talk with others about Buddhism, we are actually grappling with our own ignorance and earthly desires. That’s why it gives us the strength to surmount our own problems, enabling us to solidly transform our state of life and change our karma.[2]

A: It can be discouraging when we share Buddhism with another out of genuine concern for their well-being yet they have no interest in learning more. If we let this stop us, though, everyone loses. Our Buddhist practice involves challenging our “lesser self,” which is dominated by egoism and easily swayed by circumstances and desires, and bringing forth our “greater self,” which is awakened to the interconnectedness of life and is grounded in compassion for others. Sensei elaborates:

Whether a person who has heard about Buddhism chooses to practice it or not is up to them. What matters is how many people we’re able to share Buddhism with, based on our genuine desire for their happiness.

Our goal is for each person to find true happiness through practicing Nichiren Buddhism. Therefore, it goes without saying that it’s very important for you to have a strong desire that they begin practicing this faith for themselves. But even if they don’t practice Buddhism, there’s no need to be disillusioned or disappointed.

Try talking to one person. If it doesn’t go well, try talking to two more people. If that still doesn’t work out, try three, five, 10, and if 10 are unfruitful, then try 20. If 20 doesn’t work out, then try 30 and 40. The point is just to keep sharing this Buddhism, with conviction and in high spirits. All those efforts will be transformed into benefit and good fortune, a force for transforming your karma.

We are all “Bodhisattvas Never Disparaging” of the modern day, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. We’re following the same great path of Buddhist practice as Nichiren Daishonin.[3]

A: When we share Buddhism with others, it involves listening to their struggles, deepening friendship and continuing to chant for and reach out to them regardless of their ups and downs. Sensei writes:

Nichiren Daishonin has entrusted us with the mission of realizing kosen-rufu in each of our communities. It is an endeavor that requires unending hard work and effort. But there is no place that we, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, cannot transform.

In a society where human bonds are growing weaker, our sincere actions to unite people’s hearts shine brightly. Through heartfelt dialogue, we can help others form a connection to Nichiren Buddhism, which will lead them to become happy.

Let’s continue to expand our network of trust, with the deep awareness that everyone in our environment is linked to us by a deep karmic bond. For this network constitutes a safe haven of hope and revitalization.[4]

A: Prayer, courage and determined efforts are key. At the same time, when we win peoples’ respect and trust through our own compassionate behavior, we can demonstrate to the people around us Buddhist principles in actuality. Sensei says:

Becoming people who are trusted, respected and liked by all—indispensable people who are needed at home, at work and in our community—is the way to show the validity of our Buddhist practice and advance our movement for kosen-rufu. …

Even if we are subjected to unfounded criticism or attack, we should remain undisturbed and keep living our lives in the right way. By doing so, we will win the praise and respect of others in the end.

It is in our behavior as human beings that the teachings of Buddhism come alive and actual proof of our Buddhist practice is revealed. Our courteous, humane conduct can be said to be an expression of correct faith.

In addition to being good practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, I hope you will also be good neighbors, good citizens and good members of your local community and society. May you win the praise, respect and trust of others through such behavior. Spreading circles of bright, deep, ever-widening trust and understanding is the key to expanding our movement for kosen-rufu.[5]

July 5, 2024, World Tribune, pp. 6–7


  1. The New Human Revolution, vol. 23, p. 315. ↩︎
  2. June 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 53. ↩︎
  3. NHR-25, 112–13. ↩︎
  4. Nov. 18, 2019, World Tribune, p. 3. ↩︎
  5. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 2, revised edition, pp. 100–01. ↩︎

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