SGI-USA Men's Division Monthly Meetings
Suggested study material for April 2004
Opening a Powerful Path to Peace from Within:
Changing Karma into Mission
The suggested material for the men’s meetings in April is the following excerpt from The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings (from the October 2003 issue of Living Buddhism). In this section, SGI President Ikeda, Mr. Saito, and Mr. Morinaka discuss the subject of the spirit and practice of propagation of Buddhism.
In saying that the method of propagation depends on the time, the Daishonin is acknowledging that particular practices of the provisional teachings were valid during the Former and Middle Days of the Law, when devilish forces were not so strong in seeking to hinder people from manifesting their Buddha nature through the Law. At such a time, the method of shoju was appropriate.
In short, the Daishonin endorses shoju as long as people have not lost sight of the purpose of Buddhism, which is to reveal the Buddha nature of oneself and others taught in the true teachings of the Lotus Sutra. That is the major premise.
By the dawn of the Latter Day of the Law, however, Buddhism’s fundamental objective had been completely forgotten. Therefore, in addition to emphatically affirming the true teaching, actively refuting the devilish nature lurking in the provisional teaching expounded by various Buddhist schools was an indispensable part of propagation for the Daishonin.
Certainly, the Buddhist schools of the Daishonin’s day could not be described as religious organizations dedicated to helping people achieve genuine happiness. On the contrary, they all went against the original intent of Buddhism, which was to help people awaken to and reveal the Buddha nature in their own lives and thus achieve happiness in the present and future. Their teachings in fact had the opposite effect [that is, preventing people from revealing their Buddha nature and realizing happiness].
Fundamentally, shakubuku may be thought of as a battle between the inclination to respect human beings and the tendency to diminish them. Buddhism enables people to develop a solid character and self-identity. Both Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin ultimately taught that a single individual can save the world. Buddhism strongly proclaims that there is nothing greater than the human being. It sets forth the "behavior as a human being" (WND, 852) indispensable for pursuing the highest and most humane way of life, a life filled with compassion and courage. Buddhism enables people to develop their capacity for good actions and to defeat the fundamental ignorance that scorns the sanctity and dignity of human life. That is the substance of Buddhist practice in the Latter Day.
We could say that shakubuku is the specific action necessary to achieve these ends.
Nichiren Daishonin urged all his followers to pursue this lofty course, just as he had. He knew, however, that if they did so, they were also likely to encounter persecution, as he had. Nevertheless, the Daishonin boldly called on them to practice shakubuku, for only by following this noble path could true happiness be found. Another key reason was that he wanted to foster disciples who would actively champion the cause of kosen-rufu, an undertaking to enable each person to bring forth his or her inherent Buddha nature.
Only when there are disciples ready to take action with the same spirit as their mentor can kosen-rufu be accomplished. Each practitioner has to become a courageous "lion king." To elevate the life-state of humankind, it is vital that such genuine disciples emerge.
The Daishonin wrote many important treaties and letters, including " The Opening of the Eyes" and "Letter from Sado," at a time when he and his followers were experiencing harsh persecution. Even while oppressed by the ruling powers, he proclaimed that this was precisely the time to undertake shakubuku.
The realization of kosen-rufu is not possible without the passing of the torch of the Mystic Law from mentor to disciples. In any age, the polluted current of the Latter Day of the Law cannot be stemmed unless the Daishonin's disciples stand up with the "same mind as Nichiren" (WND, 385).
This is as the Daishonin indicates in "The True Aspect of All Phenomena" when he says; "At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others. Propagation will unfold this way in the future as well. Does this not signify ‘emerging from the earth’?"(WND, 385)
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Suggested questions for discussion:
1. The dialog participants discuss the true intent of Buddhism in this excerpt. What is this intent, and how is the practice of shakubuku related to this ultimate purpose?
2. President Ikeda states, "Both Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin ultimately taught that a single individual can save the world." Do you believe this to be true about your own life? How does the practice of shakubuku relate to your understanding of and conviction in this statement?
3. It remains rare for SGI members in the U.S. to experience anything like the kinds of persecutions the Daishonin and his immediate followers had to endure. What kinds of obstacles have you encountered in doing shakubuku? In your own circumstances, how do you "take action with the same sprit as your mentor" and "become a courageous lion king?"