Welcome to Soka Spirit.
Daily Justice Compilation of Soka Spirit Quotes Part 2
Welcome to Soka Spirit.
Daily Justice Compilation of Soka Spirit Quotes Part 2
“The kind of humanism I am convinced our times require is one capable of confronting and halting the slide toward fundamentalism. This is the work of restoring people and humanity to the role of central protagonist, something that ultimately can only be undertaken through a ceaseless spiritual effort to train and to temper ourselves. If we are to halt this slide toward fanaticism, we cannot be content to regard it as passive bystanders. A true humanist cannot avoid or abandon the struggle against evil.”
SGI President Ikeda, 2008 Peace Proposal
“Shakyamuni thoroughly reproached Devadatta's evil. There is no doubt about that. It is by denouncing evil that we can cause such people to open their eyes. That is because hearing voices resounding with the justice of the Mystic Law has the effect of activating the Buddha nature that lies dormant in an evil person's heart. But because such a person's heart is covered with a thick, rocklike crust of ignorance, a weak voice will not reach it. It takes a voice of censure, one that strictly takes evil to task, to break through this hard crust and illuminate the Buddha nature.” SGI President Ikeda, The World of Nichiren Daishonin's Writings
“Though a person may have been fortunate enough to be born as a human being and may have even entered the priesthood, if he fails to study the Buddha's teaching and to refute its slanderers but simply spends his time in idleness and chatter, then he is no better than an animal dressed in priestly robes. He may call himself a priest and earn his livelihood as such, but in no way does he deserve to be regarded as a true priest. He is nothing but a thief who has stolen the title of priest. How shameful and frightening!” Nichiren (WND-1, 760)
“To speak out without fearing others and without flinching before society — this is what the sutra means when it says, ‘We care nothing for our bodies or lives but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way.’” Nichiren, (WND-1, 1017)
“When any organization becomes well established, prosperous and recognized by society, there are always bound to be some within it who begin to succumb to illusions of grandeur. That’s very dangerous. Though the outer forms and organizational structure may be intact, an organization will perish if its original spirit and essence are lost” (Dec. 14, 2007, World Tribune, p. 2).
“Were it not for [all living beings], one would find it impossible to make the vow to save innumerable living beings. [Also, were it not] for the evil people who persecute bodhisattvas, how could those bodhisattvas increase their merit?” Nichiren (WND-1, 43)
Soka Spirit is the spirit to protect and propagate the correct teaching of Nichiren Daishonin. It is the spirit of the disciples to uphold the truth and justice of their teacher and mentor. It is the spirit to recognize tendencies in human nature to distort the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism for personal gain and to confront those who act upon those tendencies. It is the spirit to defeat the fundamental darkness inherent in all life and manifest the Buddha nature.
It was Sakyo Nikkyo (1428-?) who, to quell criticism, provided the doctrinal support for the unconventional practice of elevating children to the position of high priest. He is the source of the idea of an absolute, infallible high priest who embodies the enlightenment of Nichiren Daishonin.
“Even rebellion against the ruler of one’s nation is deemed a grave offense. How much worse then is the offense of betraying the eternal rulers of the three existences, the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin.” 26th High Priest Nichikan (“Commentary ‘On Offering Prayers to the Mandala of the Mystic Law’”)
The Soka Spirit movement is a gold mine of opportunities to learn more about Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. The basics of faith are now cast in new light, revealing their deeper meaning with the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood's views as points of contrast. For this reason, our understanding of the temple issue will naturally translate into a clearer view of our faith, into greater joy and benefit from our practice.
The 59th high priest, Nichiko Hori, an imminent scholar of Nichiren Buddhism, once lamented the widespread corruption within the priesthood, satirically paraphrasing the Lotus Sutra: “It has fallen upon my ears that the wise priests of the Latter Day . . . always keep this thought in mind: ‘How can I cause my purse to quickly acquire money?’ How could this be possibly true?” The Lotus Sutra passage actually reads: “How can I cause living beings to . . . quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?” Nichiko pointed out that within the priesthood there has been always corrupt priests living off Buddhism.
Though he was told by the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood to accept the Shinto talisman, President Makiguchi firmly refused, saying: “What grieves me is not the downfall of our religion, but to stand by and watch the entire nation destroyed before my eyes... I fear the grief it would cause Nichiren Daishonin. Isn’t this the time to remonstrate with the state? What is there to be afraid of?” This was President Makiguchi’s spirit.
President Toda knew of the priests’ attitude of superiority over lay believers, stating: “You can’t allow chief priests to be high-handed. It is natural for us to make offerings to them and render our service to the temple. But they have had a bad habit since olden times. That is, they tend to regard lay believers as their subjects or servants” (at the Gohonzon enshrinement ceremony at Shomyo-ji temple in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture on Dec. 15, 1954).
The SGI is engaged in a religious revolution based on the belief that people have the power to understand and commune with what is universal or sacred within their lives without an intermediary. This is the message of self-empowerment that Buddhism expounds. To make offerings to a religion that undermines the power of the individual and nurtures dependency is what the Daishonin is warning us against when he states: “Though one may perform meritorious deeds, if they are directed toward what is untrue, then those deeds may bring great evil, but they will never result in good” (WND-1, 1134).
“The concept of equality is also at the heart of the differences between the SGI-USA and the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. Nichiren Shoshu has proclaimed that it is arrogant to even speak of equality between the laity and the priesthood. In a more subtle line of reasoning, they refer to the different “roles” played by laity and priests. Likening it to a soccer team, they claim it is the priest’s role “to protect the temple” (“the goalkeeper”) and the laities’ role to “defend the temple through volunteering service and Gokuyo [money]” (Nichiren Shoshu Monthly, Sept. 2001, p.1)
“These passages from the sutras speak of powerful enemies of the correct teaching. Such enemies are to be found not so much among evil rulers and evil ministers, among non-Buddhists and devil kings, or among monks who disobey the precepts. Rather they are those great slanderers of the Law who are to be found among the eminent monks who appear to be upholders of the precepts and men of wisdom.” Nichiren Daishonin (WND-1, 584)
“In particular, these demons will enter into the hearts of those monks and nuns throughout the nation who appear to be wise or seem to be diligent in observing the precepts, and through them will practice deception upon the ruler of the nation and his ministers.” Nichiren Daishonin (WND-1, 606)
The essential issue of Soka Spirit is “how to practice as Nichiren intended.” This means overcoming disbelief in our own and other’s Buddha nature. One of the ways this disbelief manifests is in our behavior is to submit or defer to an external authority or other people. And, for those in authority to use this weakness for their own gain. It is not a battle against the aspect of human nature the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood illustrates so clearly. It is the tendency to defer to others or use others for our own self-interest that is the challenge. Either is a denial of the Buddha nature in others and ourselves.
“Unless you oppose great evil, it is the same as committing great evil yourself. By inaction one becomes an accomplice — this is what President Makiguchi thought. This is also a fundamental principle of Buddhism. Our struggle is certainly not a personal one. Rather, from the standpoint of the universal Law, from the standpoint of reason, and from the standpoint of justice and humanity, it is the correct and inevitable path.
There are two kinds of wisdom, correct and perverse. No matter how wise a person may appear, if his assertions are warped you should not listen to him. Nor should you follow priests merely because they are venerable or of high rank.” (WND, 1028)
"Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra reads, 'There are three kinds of self in common mortals: the deluded self, the arrogant self, and the original self.' Self can be interpreted in many ways, but it is vital to grasp the nature of self. If it is a deluded or arrogant self, then the true spirit of Buddhism cannot enter into one's life. To be exact, ‘I’ of “This I heard” [the beginning of sutras] is Ananda, one of the ten major disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, and the treatise says about him, ‘Ananda is a man of pursuing spirit who, free from his deluded self, firmly subdued his arrogant self. Thus he well deserved to be called a man of the original self.’" (President Ikeda in Selected Lectures on the Gosho p. 272)
“On May 3, 1960, I was inaugurated as the third Soka Gakkai president. From that moment on, I charged ahead without stopping, braving raging winds and storms, embracing in my heart the Daishonin’s vow: ‘This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assail me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law’ (WND-1, 280). Nor did I ever forget the words of my mentor, Mr. Toda: ‘Kosen-rufu can be achieved without fail if there is just one young person willing to give his or her life to this cause.’”—SGI President Ikeda
“Because they appear to be true priests, the people trust them without the slightest doubt about what they preach. Therefore, without realizing it, the people who follow them have become enemies of the Lotus Sutra and foes of Shakyamuni Buddha.” —Nichiren Daishonin (WND-1, 923)
"Although people study Buddhism, it is difficult for them to practice it correctly either because of the ignorance of their minds, or because, even though wise, they fail to realize that they are being misled by their teachers." —Nichiren Daishonin (WND-1, 894)
“As religious convictions evolve into religious movements, organizational demands emerge. … The development of a religion's institutional features ends up shackling and restraining the people whose interests it originally intended to serve. The external coercive powers of ecclesiastical institutions and associated ritual stifle the internal and spontaneous powers of faith, and the original purity of faith is lost.” —SGI President Ikeda, Harvard University speech, 1991
“The Daishonin himself states that from the time he established his teaching he waged an ongoing spiritual struggle against the negative life function known as the devil king of the sixth heaven. The essence of the Daishonin’s practice lay in the struggle against the devilish nature of power and authority that treats the people with contempt. Fundamentally, it is a struggle against the forces that seek to keep people from entering the path to enlightenment.” —SGI President Ikeda (WNDW–1, 50)
“Let me again share some teachings of Mr. Toda. On one occasion, he said: ‘People who are lax toward evil, people who do not fight against wrong, no matter how good-natured they are or how impressive they may appear on the surface, ultimately have no principles, no convictions. They have no real character, either. They are devious, self-serving individuals.’" —President Ikeda
Tolerance, in and of itself, is not a virtue. Tolerance is essentially neutral. Tolerance derives its value from what it is the person tolerates, and the manner in which that tolerance or intolerance is expressed. This involves character. If someone tolerates that which is erroneous (just plain wrong) or criminal, his tolerance is not virtuous.
If you don’t understand that tolerance must be based on a refined character, you’ll think you’re being tolerant when you’re actually only expressing indifference (“whatever”), or apathy (“who cares?”), or even recklessness (“why not”).” Improperly understood, tolerance can lead to disarming you of your rightful and deepest convictions. We have an inalienable right to hold fast to our convictions, especially in matters of conscience. Likewise, we have a responsibility to defend those convictions when they are challenged.
“The Parinirvana Sutra states: ‘Those who enter the monastic order, don clerical garments, and make a show of studying my teachings will exist in ages to come. Being lazy and remiss, they will slander the correct and equal sutras. You should be aware that all these people are followers of the non-Buddhist doctrines of today.’ Those who read this passage should reflect deeply on their own practice.” Nichiren (WND-1, 303)
Mission of the SGI is to reveal the essence of Nichiren Buddhism as a people-centered Buddhism. As a reaction, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood continually tried to reestablish itself as a priest-centered Buddhism in order to control people and confine them within it. This reactionary movement always existed in the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. When Nikken was high priest, it reached its high point.
One common reason for those who find it difficult to accept the corruption of Nichiren Shoshu is the deep respect that most people have for priests in general who they consider as people with great integrity and high moral standards. The common belief seems to be: “Priests are people who have made the commitment to devote their life to the strict practice and study of Buddhism. It is unbelievable that they can be corrupted.” Becoming a priest does not automatically make them stronger in faith, practice or study of Buddhism. This is particularly so when they are allowed to marry, keep a family, own property, etc. In short unlike the clergy in many Buddhist schools, Nichiren Shoshu priests are not required to renounce secular life.
In his 2008 peace proposal, SGI President Ikeda suggests three criteria for holding religions to account for their actual impact on human beings: “Does this religious tradition make people stronger or does it weaken them? Does it encourage what is good or what is evil in them? Are they made more wise—or less? These are the questions we need to ask of all religions, including of course Buddhism, if we are to succeed in fully ‘humanizing’ them.’
“Continuously asking these questions is a good way to immunize religions against the forces of dogmatism and fanaticism that so often take over, especially among the upper echelons of a tradition. Then, tragically, religious leaders end up distorting what’s good in that tradition and using human beings for their own purposes, making them subservient to the aims of the religious organization itself.”
At present, Nichiren Shoshu seems wholly enveloped by faith in the absolute authority of the chief administrator [high priest]. Nichiren Shoshu even went so far as to say that “Even the object of devotion of the essential teaching produces no benefit without faith in the high priest (chief administrator) who alone inherits the heritage of the Law” (Refuting Yumo Matsuoka’s Slanderous “Refutation of Faith in the Absolute Authority of High Priest,” published by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, September 2005, p. 18). The infallibility of the chief administrator is the ultimate Nichiren Shoshu myth.
In “Letter From Sado,” Nichiren calls upon his disciples to be “like Nichiren.” We can imagine him calling out to the depths of their being: “Just as I defeated all devilish forces, you, too, must summon the heart of a lion king and win over all negative forces. Fight with the same spirit as Nichiren!” He was waiting for dedicated disciples to stand up with the same spirit and commitment that he had. During World War II, only Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda carried on Nichiren’s lion-like spirit. The priesthood, in stark contrast, succumbed to cowardly self-interest. Nichiren’s legacy as a selfless lion king lives on today in the Soka Gakkai alone. We have faithfully inherited his courageous and ungrudging spirit, and have thereby opened wide the path to worldwide kosen-rufu.
"The Buddha surely considers anyone in this world who embraces the Lotus Sutra, whether lay man or woman, monk or nun, to be the lord of all living beings, and Brahma and Shakra most certainly hold that person in reverence. When I think in this way, my joy is beyond expression." —Nichiren (WND-1, 463)
On New Year’s Day in 1956, Nichijun, the sixty-fifth high priest, stated: “When I look back over the last seven hundred years and compare them with our circumstances today, it is apparent that we have undergone a great transformation; a new era in history has been created. That is, through the propagation of the Soka Gakkai, the True Law has spread throughout the nation.” (Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun, p. 1620). Nichijun continues: “In this regard, I sense something extraordinary about the Soka Gakkai’s appearance, about its relationship with the Buddha” (ibid., p. 1622).
“Be resolved to summon forth the great power of faith, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the prayer that your faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of death. Never seek any other way to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death, and manifest it in your life. Only then will you realize that earthly desires are enlightenment and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana. Even embracing the Lotus Sutra would be useless without the heritage of faith.” —Nichiren (WND–1, 218)
Over the last 18 years, the conflict between the Soka Gakkai and the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood had been a battle between the positive and negative functions of human nature. It is a conflict initiated by the priesthood led by Nikken in an effort to control the SGI members and their resources. To this end, they have distorted the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and disrupted the unity of the Buddhist Order dedicated to kosen-rufu. Soka Spirit is the spirit to protect and propagate the correct teaching of Nichiren Daishonin. It is the spirit of the disciples to uphold the truth and justice of their teacher and mentor. It is the spirit to recognize tendencies in human nature to distort the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism for personal gain and to confront those who act upon those tendencies. It is the spirit to defeat the fundamental darkness inherent in all life and manifest the Buddha nature.
“In the Latter Day of the Law, no treasure tower exists other than the figures of the men and women who embrace the Lotus Sutra. It follows, therefore, that whether eminent or humble, high or low, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are themselves the treasure tower, and, likewise, are themselves the Thus Come One Many Treasures.” —Nichiren (WND-1, 299)
Ananda, one of Shakyamuni Buddha's closest disciples, once asked him: "It seems to me that by having good friends and advancing together with them, one has already halfway attained the Buddha way. Is this way of thinking correct?" Shakyamuni replied, "Ananda, this way of thinking is not correct. Having good friends and advancing together with them is not half the Buddhist way but all the Buddhist way." SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has written, "Having good friends is like being equipped with a powerful auxiliary engine. When we encounter a steep hill or an obstacle, we can encourage each other and find the strength to keep pressing forward." And as Nichiren wrote: "Even a feeble person will not stumble if those supporting him are strong, but a person of considerable strength, when alone, may lose his footing on an uneven path..." (WND-1, 598)
Nichiren states: “A hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times more than mad elephants, vicious horses, fierce bulls, savage dogs, poisonous snakes, poisonous thorns, treacherous bluffs, steep cliffs, floods, evil men, evil countries, evil towns, evil dwellings, bad wives, wicked children and malicious retainers, the people of Japan today should fear those high-ranking priests who keep the precepts and yet hold distorted views!” (WND-1, 621)
“People find satisfaction in combating evil everywhere but in their own souls. In concentrating our gaze on external reforms, we disregard human internal moral reserves. To make society as a whole happy, we must bring happiness and goodness to its individual members.” President Ikeda (Moral Lessons of the Twentieth Century: Gorbachev and Ikeda on Buddhism and Communism, Mikhail Gorbachev & Daisaku Ikeda p. 128)
“Second Soka Gakkai President Toda declared, ‘The evil priests who harassed Nichiren will now likely appear in the various Buddhist schools of the present age, and also within Nichiren Shoshu.’ In view of the insane actions of Nikken and his cohorts in recent years, showing themselves to be enemies of kosen-rufu, Mr. Toda words indeed proved to be prescient.” President Ikeda, (Living Buddhism, Nov/Dec 2009, p. 83)
On Nov. 29, 1991, the Soka Gakkai received a notice of excommunication, dated Nov. 28, from the priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu. The following day, Nov. 30, at a Soka Gakkai leaders meeting, SGI President Ikeda referred to Nov. 28 as the Day of Spiritual Independence for the Soka Gakkai and the SGI. It signaled a fresh era of unprecedented development.
“SGI renders a lot of services to society. I mentioned already their educational system and the instructive exhibitions on human rights and the horror of wars that SGI has organized. But, I could mention also emergency relief that is offered when an earthquake occurs, relief efforts and medical care given in war-torn parts of Africa, and its environmental concern, e.g. the Soka University Center for Environmental Research that in collaboration with Amazon National Researches Institute aims at the restoration of the tropical forest along the Amazon River. SGI also offers scientific books and equipment to schools and universities of poor countries to help them to improve their education. It also gives grants to Japanese university students and sponsors international exchange programs. They are in line with SGI’s aim to improve the life conditions of mankind.” By Karel Dobbelaere, Professor, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
“How great is the difference between the blessings received when a sage chants the daimoku and the blessings received when we chant it?” To reply, one is in no way superior to the other. The gold that a fool possesses is no different from the gold that a wise man possesses; a fire made by a fool is the same as a fire made by a wise man. However, there is a difference if one chants the daimoku while acting against the intent of this sutra.” —Nichiren (WND-1, 756)
Overturning the idea that the heritage of faith is passed down exclusively or secretly, the Daishonin writes, “Nichiren has been trying to awaken all the people of Japan to faith in the Lotus Sutra so that they too can share the heritage and attain Buddhahood” (WND-1, 217).
Nichiren states: “If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime, you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo.” (WND-1, 3). The Daishonin draws our attention to the splendor of our inner realm. This shows that Nichiren Buddhism is a life-philosophy that elucidates the universality of the beauty of each individual life, rather than dogmatism that focuses on the supremacy of one particular individual.
The primary orientation of Nichiren Shoshu teaching is dominated by emphasis on the high priest’s sole possession of the “Living Essence of the Buddha,” as indicated in the following statement: “The direct inheritance of the essence of the Lotus Sutra, the personal transmission of the Living Essence of the Buddha and the Law to a sole heir, is the source of the perpetual true master within the context of Buddhism” (Nichiren Shoshu Monthly, November 2005).
While the provisional teachings expounded by the Buddha before the Lotus Sutra were tailored for specific groups of people and their specific capacities, the Lotus Sutra directly expresses the Buddha's will to save all living beings equally and without distinction. People of any capacity, any inclination, any race, culture, rank or status can attain enlightenment through the Lotus Sutra. It deeply respects the precious potential for Buddhahood innate in all human life. The priests of Nichiren Shoshu hold that they alone are party to an exclusive transmission. They divide and distinguish themselves from ordinary mortals by insisting that only they can understand the Daishonin.
Because people seek answers to the meaning of life and solutions to suffering, they seek religion. But if they become dependent on the religious infrastructure, priests, monks, etc. attached to religious teachings, then they have diminished their internal power to solve the dilemma that drove them to religion in the first place. It goes to the human tendency to defer to authority and for those in authority to abuse that tendency for their own agenda. The resultant misery begs the question of the need for a clergy at all. The SGI is engaged in a religious revolution based on the belief that people have the power to understand and commune with the universal within their lives without an intermediary.
The Soka Gakkai issued a clear response to the priesthood's unilateral actions against it, and called for a solution through dialogue. In attempting to communicate with the priesthood, the Soka Gakkai expressed its desire that the priesthood reform itself in the following ways, requesting:
1. That the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood become open to the world in a manner that befits the age of democracy;
2. That the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, in accord with the original spirit of the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, correct its authoritarian manner and condescending attitude toward lay believers; and
3. That the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood admonish and correct self-indulgence among priests and establish a tradition of moderation and wisdom.
The priesthood, however, ignored these requests and rejected the Soka Gakkai's proposal for dialogue. Instead, it issued an order refusing the bestowal of the Gohonzon upon Soka Gakkai members.
SGI President Ikeda writes: “The Gohonzon manifests in its entirety the great state of life of the Buddha who is our eternal mentor. When we worship the Gohonzon, which is the embodiment of the life of Nichiren Daishonin, a real person,and cultivate strong conviction that this Gohonzon also exists in our own lives, we can dispel fundamental ignorance and manifest within us the life of the world of Buddhahood.” (The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings, Vol. 2, p. 135) Nichiren states: “If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth; (WND-1, 385) “Those who call themselves my disciples and practice the Lotus Sutra should all practice as I do” (WND-1, 978).
“In a letter dated January 11, 1276, the Daishonin writes: ‘This year the question of which Buddhist teachings are right and which are wrong will definitely be resolved’ (WND-1, 650). In accord with this spirit, it is crucial to leave clear and indisputable proof of the victory of the correct teaching of the Daishonin's Buddhism. The spirit of refuting the erroneous and revealing the true and of winning based on Buddhism is the essence of the Soka Gakkai spirit.
“The best and surest way to convey the supreme Law to others is through faith. The Law cannot be transmitted by such transitory and illusory phenomena as priestly authority or religious rituals and ceremonies. Faith is of foremost importance in transmitting the true, supreme Law. Only faith can break through the darkness of ignorance shrouding our lives and enable us totap the infinite power of the Mystic Law we inherently possess. To share in the heritage of the Law means to bring forth within us this boundless power of the Law.” —SGI President Ikeda, (Lectures on the Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life and Death)
“That ordinary people born in the latter age can believe in the Lotus Sutra is due to the fact that the world of Buddhahood is present in the human world.” —Nichiren (WND-1, 358)
“If the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.” (WND-1, p. 4)