Showing posts with label Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Buddhism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Buddhism. Show all posts

Also see: What is Total Exertion?

For my text to speech listening. Sharing here with all interested readers.

Update: having read the PDF, I must say it resonates with me and I recommend reading it in full. I am not necessarily promoting Soka Gakkai Buddhism per se, as I am not familiar with it, but just this particular PDF has elements that resonated with my experience. There are certainly those who would staunchly vouch for it and also detractors who have less pleasant things to say or would even tell you it is a cult, but to me, at least the little teachings I have read from the PDF so far, it sounds quite alright.

[29/1/24, 12:39:00 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Last time i thought soka gakkai was controversial or cultic but recently know a friend into it, so i read up.. i think sgi leader daiseku ikeda maybe into nondual but not sure if substantialist 

He was leader of a political party in japan and has over ten million followers in japan and millions of followers worldwide including singapore

Daiseka ikeda:

“Similarly, and on an even grander scale, the Buddha wisdom to discern the true entity of all phenomena is of inestimable importance for people's happiness in life and for the advancement of humanity.

To speak of discovering the true entity "behind" phenomena might give the impression that the Law exists somewhere apart from the phenomena. This is definitely not the case. Phenomena and their true entity are always inseparable. The Buddha observes the true entity as it manifests through phenomena and correctly perceive that the true entity exists only as the phenomena. They certainly do not exist separately.

To illustrate, if phenomena, which are constantly changing, are likened to waves, then the true entity is comparable to the ocean. Waves are produced by the ocean, and wave crests consist of sea water. Conversely, there is no ocean that does not manifest as waves. The two are one in essence.

Again, if the true entity is likened to the surface of a mirror, then phenomena would be comparable to the images appearing therein. The mirror reproduces all kinds of things as images. There is no mirror that does not reflect images as long as there is light. Conversely, there could be no reflected images without the mirror.

From the standpoint of life, "all phenomena" means individual lives, and "true entity" refers to the truth of life-which pervades the universe-that the Buddha perceives. The Buddha perceives the universal life in even the smallest living manifestation.

To put it another way, all living beings are entities of the Mystic Law to which the Buddha is enlightened, and the Buddha perceives that they are inherently endowed with the Buddha nature. This is the wisdom of the true entity of all phenomena.

The vision that enables the Buddha to perceive the true entity that manifests in all phenomena is also the eye of compassion to save all people and enable them to become Buddhas.

The Daishonin says: "Life itself is the most precious of all treasures. Even the treasures of the entire universe cannot equal the value of a single human life" (MW- 1, 267). The life of one person, an individual, he says, is more precious even than all the treasures of the universe. This is the wonderful Buddhist view of life, which is based on the perception of the true entity in all phenomena.

Life is mysterious. It is the wisdom of the Buddha to perfectly and fully understand the truth of life. What a vast and infinitely profound wisdom this is!

As seen with the eye of the Buddha, this world, this universe is a world shining with life, a world resounding with the chorus of all things. The Buddha perceives the irreplaceable uniqueness and value of all things in the world. The Buddha's wisdom is a state of life filled with boundless exhilaration and joy in living.

As I will discuss later, from the standpoint of the Daishonin's Buddhism, the true entity of all phenomena means the Gohonzon. For us who embrace the Gohonzon, the wisdom of the true entity of all phenomena means to view everything with the eye of Buddhism and the eye of faith.”
[29/1/24, 12:42:03 AM] Soh Wei Yu: “The 26th high priest, Nichikan Shonin, says in his exegesis on "The True Object of Worship": "When we single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, our lives in their entirety become the object of worship."

Through carrying out the practice of the Mystic Law for ourselves and others, our lives become the Gohonzon. We can in fact make our lives shine as entities of the Mystic Law.

President Toda said: "By worshiping the Gohonzon and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the Gohonzon thoroughly penetrates our lives. When we open our eyes and look at the universe, there we find the Gohonzon. And when we close our eyes and look deeply within, the Gohonzon clearly appears there, too, all the while increasing in strength and coming to shine still more brightly."

Fundamentally, the entire universe is the true entity of all phenomena and the Gohonzon. Fundamentally, our own lives are also the true entity of all phenomena and the Gohonzon. Therefore, when we worship the Gohonzon, through the dynamic exchange between the universe and our lives, our own true entity, that is, our lives as the entity of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, comes to shine. The wisdom of the Buddha inherent in our lives wells forth. The courage to take compassionate action arises in our hearts. And we enter the golden path of happiness.

How great, indeed, is the Gohonzon! How wondrous is the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra! Let us deeply engrave in our hearts that the Gohonzon itself is the embodiment of inexhaustible happiness and wisdom, and the Lotus Sutra of the Latter Day of the Law.”
[29/1/24, 12:44:43 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Before this i only know soka gakkai performs in singapore national day parade every year haha ‎<This message was edited>
[29/1/24, 12:46:59 AM] Soh Wei Yu: “Refutation of the Tendai School for Their Lack of Practice

Truly epochal significance attaches to the fact that, from the standpoint of the Daishonin's teaching, the true entity of all phenomena is the Gohonzon.

The purpose of Buddhism was to perceive the true entity of all phenomena in one's own heart through the practice of observing one's mind and perceiving the Law therein. The ultimate target was to awaken to the true entity that is at one with all phenomena.

However, this spirit was distorted by later Tendai scholars. The Tendai school in the Daishonin's day had declined even to the point of repudiating the value of Buddhist practice. Their view, simply put, was that since the true entity was at one with all phenomena, then it was fine for things to be just as they were; one was a Buddha even if he or she carried out no practice. They had become completely degenerate; they had killed the spirit of the founder, T'ien-t'ai.

Simply saying that reality, mired in pollution and suffering, is itself the true entity cannot possibly lead to any improvement in people's lives or in society. To this day, the tendency to readily view present conditions with rose-colored glasses and neglect action needed to bring about positive change remains deeply ingrained in Japanese people's outlook on religion and on life.

Nichiren Daishonin fought against this decadent Tendai school. It could even be said that the priests of the Tendai school used the teaching of the true entity of all phenomena to justify their own decadence. In this respect they resemble the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood today.

Nichiren Daishonin revived the wisdom of the Buddha who perceived the true entity of all phenomena as a guideline for people to strive toward in their Buddhist practice and use to attain Buddhahood. That is, he inscribed the Gohonzon that embodies the enlightened life of the Thus Come One of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (Nichiren Daishonin) for all people throughout the world during the Latter Day of the Law.

The Daishonin's Buddhism teaches not that we should merely observe the true entity of all phenomena within our lives but that we should strive to make the reality of our lives and our environment shine as the true entity of all phenomena. It is a philosophy of change and improvement for causing all phenomena - our lives and society - to shine as the entity of the Mystic Law.

With the light of the wisdom of the true entity of all phenomena we can dispel the darkness of illusion arising from ignorance of this wisdom. In that sense, our existence itself is light. Ours is a struggle to brighten and illuminate the place where we are. When we become light, then, no matter where we are, there can be no darkness in that realm.

The Daishonin initiated a great struggle of religious reformation to refute the decadence and degeneration of the Buddhist world. And we, who have a direct connection in faith with the Daishonin, are carrying on this struggle.

The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood today - similar to the Tendai school in the Daishonin's time but incomparably more reprehensible - has trampled upon the spirit of the founder, Nichiren Daishonin. Neglecting practice and whiling away their lives in dissipation, they have thoroughly defiled the spirit of Buddhism. Therefore, we have struggled dauntlessly against them. Fighting against evil is the proof of a true disciple of the Daishonin.

The Benefit of Reading the Passage Three Times

What significance attaches to our reading this passage explaining the true entity of the ten factors three times when we recite the sutra during our practice of gongyo each morning and evening?

This is based on a statement the Daishonin makes in the Gosho "The Doctrine of Ichinen Sanzen." He explains that reading the ten factors three times signifies the manifestation of the three truths of non-substantiality, temporary existence and the Middle Way in our lives. This means that our lives manifest the three enlightened properties of the Law, wisdom and action. It also means that our lives manifest the three virtues of the property of the Law, wisdom and emancipation.

Our lives shine as Buddhas embodying enlightenment (the property of Law) endowed with wisdom (the property of wisdom) and compassion (the property of action and emancipation). The Daishonin teaches, "There is increased benefit in reading [this passage] three times" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 412). In short, we read it three times to proclaim that our lives are noble Buddhas and increase our benefit of faith.

In general, every time we do gongyo and chant daimoku, we praise the Buddha nature in our own lives. We also praise the Buddha nature in the lives of all others, and we commune with the Buddha nature of the universe. What a solemn ceremony this is! How fortunate we are to live according to the principle of faith manifesting itself in daily life!”
[29/1/24, 12:47:14 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Soka gakkai teaching sounds like dogen practice-enlightenment in some ways
[29/1/24, 12:47:37 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Practice not to attain enlightenment but as actualization of enlightenment and buddha nature
[29/1/24, 12:47:59 AM] Soh Wei Yu: My that friend chants everyday i think morning and night.. i heard some soka followers chant hours everyday
[29/1/24, 12:49:07 AM] Soh Wei Yu: I wonder what they translate as “true entity” i think its a mistranslation. I think they mean 理事
[29/1/24, 12:53:36 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Their teaching emphasize buddha nature and the ninth consciousness as pure consciousness amala consciousness.. the categorizing of pure consciousness as a separate category sounded like atman view so i went to research but found out daiseku ikeda clarified that buddha nature is not a background behind phenomena ‎<This message was edited>
[29/1/24, 1:27:42 AM] Yin Ling: Ohhhh I see , thanks
[29/1/24, 2:10:26 AM] Soh Wei Yu: "Remote past" refers to the life existing eternally and endowed with the ten worlds; in other words, it indicates the Gohonzon, which is eternal and which embodies the ten worlds. "Actual attainment" refers to the manifestation of the Gohonzon existing within each of our lives and to gaining access to its benefit.

This is the meaning of "actual attainment in the remote past" from the standpoint of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. To distinguish this meaning from the literal meaning of the phrase in the context of Shakyamuni's teaching, it is also termed "time without beginning" or kuon ganjo.

Kuon ganjo does not simply indicate a point in time even more distant than the remote past of gohyaku jintengo; it means time without beginning or end. In light of its essential meaning, kuon ganjo could be said to represent the "original moment" of life. Once we awaken to the fundamental, primal origin of life, every moment throughout the three existences of primary existences of past, present and future becomes for us the moment of kuon ganjo. In essence, the Daishonin's Buddhism teaches a way of life based on kuon ganjo. It enables us to address the reality of our situations with a fresh, forward-looking spirit, always basing ourselves on life's "original moment."

For us who accept and believe in the Gohonzon and who carry out the practice of doing gongyo and chanting daimoku, each day is kuon ganjo. We can experience every moment as kuon ganjo.

The great author Romain Rolland wrote: "Live in today. Be reverent towards each day. Love it, respect it."4 Nichiren Daishonin taught the great joy of living in the "now" --- in the present moment, which contains both the eternal past and the infinite future.

Josei Toda, the second Soka Gakkai president, said regarding kuon ganjo:

"When we observe our existence, we find that in the time before gohyaku jintengo (i.e. in kuon ganjo) we lived with total freedom in a brilliant world of purity and joy. We were all beautiful in spirit and of life mind. We who once dwelled in such a sparkling world have now all emerged together in this saha world.

Looking back I feel as though it was only yesterday that we lived in that pure, pleasant world. How could we possible forget the brilliant world where we then dwelled? How could we forget the friends with whom we then joyously passed our lives in absolute freedom? And how could we forget the vows we made together at the assembly where the Lotus Sutra was expounded?

Since this saha world is a world inhabited originally by friends who are all joyful and pure and bright and on good terms with one another, is it not most pitiful and sad that, having been forced to drink the poisons of greed, anger and jealousy by proponents of the provisional Mahayana, Hinayana and non-Buddhist teachings, we have become like crazed children and have all forgotten the remote past?"5
[29/1/24, 2:10:31 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Sounds like total exertion
[29/1/24, 2:10:53 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Like they chant namu myoho renge kyo into anatta and total exertion (Update by Soh: I'm not sure if Ikeda teaches or stresses anatta as realization, could be more on experience of total exertion)
[29/1/24, 2:10:56 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Just my guess
[29/1/24, 2:13:09 AM] Soh Wei Yu: This part is like nondual:

From the standpoint of the true entity of all phenomena, to harm someone is to harm the universe and to harm oneself.
When such a sense of oneness with the universe is lost, people become isolated and alienated from one another like grains of sand, and violence erupts from the depths of their impoverished, nihilistic hearts.
When a sense of oneness with the infinite life that is the Mystic Law is established in people's lives, the feeling will doubtless be as though humankind has been liberated from prison.
Nichiren Daishonin says: "Ultimately, all phenomena are contained within one's life, down to the last particle of dust. The nine mountains and the eight seas are encompassed by one's body; the sun, moon and myriad stars are contained within one's mind" (MW-5, 181).
The mountains and oceans, the sun, moon and stars, the Daishonin says, are all encompassed in one's being; what a vast and grand state of life he describes! The Gohonzon reveals the vast life of the original Buddha, who realizes the unity of the universe with the self, the self with the universe. The Daishonin, out of his immense compassion, bestowed the Gohonzon on humankind so that we, too, might develop the same state of life.
We find similar insights outside the Buddhist tradition as well. For example, the English author D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) writes:
"I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows that I am part of the human race, my soul is an organic part of the great human soul, as my spirit is part of my nation."2
He is expressing a sense of the oneness of the individual life and the universe. This true aspect of human life has been pursued through various philosophies, religions and literatures of East and West since time immemorial. The Daishonin's Buddhism perfectly expresses the unity of life with the universe both theoretically and in practical terms. The Daishonin's Buddhism, therefore, might be characterized as a religion of universal humanism.

[29/1/24, 6:44:20 AM] John Tan: (quotes: This part is like nondual:...) Equally total exertion.

[29/1/24, 9:23:11 AM] Soh Wei Yu: Reminded me hsiong cai and yamizi used to be very much into nichiren buddhism 😂 very sectarian. but i doubt they understand anatta and total exertion like the soka gakkai leader. Soka gakkai doesnt seem sectarian in fact they organize a lot of peace, interfaith and religious harmony things i think
[29/1/24, 12:29:00 PM] John Tan: They have a lot of influenced in the politics of Japan.

[29/1/24, 12:32:07 PM] John Tan: Just their involvement in politics that complicates the matter.

That said, I must say religion and politics were closely related in ancient times.  They reinforced each other's authority and legitimacy, as religious leaders often had political influence and political leaders often claimed divine sanction or descent.
[29/1/24, 12:32:22 PM] Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
[29/1/24, 12:32:35 PM] John Tan: I m okie with their teachings tbh.
[29/1/24, 12:32:52 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I see.. have you read them before?
[29/1/24, 12:36:03 PM] John Tan: In the past yes especially they took so much interest in the lotus sutra.  Also one of the IT main contractor been supporting me in sumitronics during the financial crisis days, and he whole family is deeply involved in soka gakkai.
[29/1/24, 12:36:33 PM] Soh Wei Yu: I see
[29/1/24, 12:36:36 PM] John Tan: So read a lil about it.



"The true path lies in the affairs of this world. The Golden Light Sutra states, “To have a profound knowledge of this world is itself Buddhism.” The Nirvana Sutra states, “All of the non-Buddhist scriptures and writings in society are themselves Buddhist teachings, not non-Buddhist teachings.” When the Great Teacher Miao-lo2 compared these passages with the one from the sixth volume of the Lotus Sutra that reads, “No worldly affairs of life or work are ever contrary to the true reality,”3 he revealed their meaning and pointed out that although the first two sutras are profound, since their meaning is still shallow and fails to approach that of the Lotus Sutra, they relate secular matters in terms of Buddhism, whereas the Lotus Sutra explains that in the end secular matters are the entirety of Buddhism. 

The essence of the sutras preached before the Lotus Sutra is that all phenomena arise from the mind. To illustrate, they say that the mind is like the great earth, while the grasses and trees are like all phenomena. But it is not so with the Lotus Sutra. It teaches that the mind itself is the great earth, and that the great earth itself is the grasses and trees. The meaning of the earlier sutras is that clarity of mind is like the moon, and that purity of mind is like a flower. But it is not so with the Lotus Sutra. It is the teaching that the moon itself is mind, and the flower itself is mind. You should realize from this that polished rice is not polished rice; it is life itself. (WND-1, 1125–26)"

Daisaku Ikeda:

"Three thousand is not a number chosen at random, then; rather, it is an expression of a set of principles that reflects the immensity and diversification of life.

Throughout history, people have realized that all natural phenomena are elusive and uncertain, and so they have set out to seek the eternal, unchanging truth of life. Different teachers have offered different explanations of the relationship between this absolute truth and the ephemeral world we experience. Some have suggested that the ultimate truth governs this world from a higher plane; others, that it lies beyond or behind phenomena, or that phenomena are in fact mere illusion and that the ultimate truth alone is real. A similar dualistic tendency is found in some of the Buddhist teachings predating the Lotus Sutra; these generally hold that the mind is the basis of A phenomena, and that all phenomena arise from the mind.

By contrast, the principle of ichinen sanzen, based on the Lotus Sutra, has it that the mind (or each moment of our lives) and the phenomena of the universe are "two but not two." All phenomena are manifestations of the ultimate reality, and the ultimate reality exists only in changing phenomena: in other words, neither can exist independently of the other. Thus all of the events in the universe, being manifestations of our ichinen, are integrated to form a single entity, so that every individual being is directly connected with everything else in the universe.

Every moment of each being's life pervades the three thousand realms, and the three thousand realms are encompassed in every one of those moments. It is as a result of their interrelation that all of the phenomena of the universe derive their form."


Daisaku: "The figure of three thousand was not chosen at random; rather, it reflects the immensity and diversification of life.

Throughout history, people have realized that all natural phenomena are elusive and uncertain, and so they have set out to seek the eternal, unchanging truth of life. Different teachers have explained the relationship between this absolute truth and the ephemeral world we experience. Some have suggested that the ultimate truth governs this world from a higher plane. Others have said that it lies beyond or behind phenomena, or that phenomena are in fact mere illusion and that the ultimate truth alone is real. A similar dualistic tendency is found in some Buddhist teachings predating the Lotus Sutra, which generally held that the mind is the basis of all phenomena, and that all phenomena arise from the mind. By contrast, the "three thousand realms" principle, based on the Lotus Sutra, has it that mind (or each moment of our lives) and the phenomena of the universe are "two but not two" - or, essentially, one."

"Buddhism recognizes the physical and the spiritual - two separate classes of phenomena - as indivisible and continuous because they are both aspects of the same ultimate reality. When we distinguish between the material and the spiritual, we are operating on the level of phenomena; when we talk of their oneness, we are talking in terms of the ultimate reality. "The oneness of body and mind" therefore describes the ultimate reality of life.

Life and Its Environment

The principle of the oneness of life and its environment similarly derives from the ten factors and the three realms..."

"Our worldview is shaped by our consciousness of self. Perceiving that the universe is divided into self and other -- internal and external -- arises from our consciousness of self. This consciousness likewise gives rise to other dualities: for example, the duality of mind and body, in which we regard the mind as the true self whereas the body somehow is not; the duality of the material and the spiritual; and the duality of humankind and nature. Modern civilization's evolution under such dualistic thinking is also the root of many of our present conflicts.

Buddhism teaches that our lives are not limited to what we ordinarily perceive as the self but encompass other people, the world and even the universe..."

"According to Buddhism, life takes on no physical entity after death, nor does a "spirit" or "soul" continue to exist as a fixed entity. There is no fixed self that lives on as an unchanging entity. Shakyamuni concluded that it is karma itself that continues. Our circumstances in this present lifetime are the effect of our past actions (karma), and our actions in the present determine the circumstances of our lives in the future. In other words, the influence of our actions carries on from one existence to the next, transcending the life and death of the human being."

"Life and death are the greatest mysteries, and they form the primary focus of religion. Where have we come from, and where do we go? Why are human beings born? Are our lives just random events or do they have some greater purpose? What is the meaning of death? Are we merely reduced to meaningless nothingness, as so many people in our modern world vaguely believe? Or are we restored to a luminous immortal “soul,” as many time-honored religious traditions of East and West maintain? Or, as Shakyamuni Buddha teaches [in expounding the Middle Way], is it neither?


The wisdom or insight that enabled Shakyamuni to attain enlightenment represents the wisdom that conquers the delusion and suffering related to death. Based on this wisdom, the Buddha rejected the two most common views of death, which represented two extremes, and both of which he considered erroneous. Neither could fully enable people to transcend the fear and uncertainty of death. One of these was the view of death as the annihilation or complete cessation of self (the view of annihilation), while the other was the view of death as the self continuing in the form of an unchanging immortal soul or spirit (the view of permanence). Both views consider the question of life and death only from the point of birth until one’s demise, with life and death seen as opposites. As such, neither view embodies the wisdom that correctly perceives the true reality of life and death. It seems that most people, conscious as they are of their mortality, hold one of these two views in some form or other. The view of annihilation, however, gives rise to fear and anxiety about death. And the view of permanence, we find, is the product of self-attachment.


"The first sentence in this quote refers to a passage from the “Former Affairs of the Medicine King” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, indicating that using our individual lives— which each of us prizes and cherishes—for the sake of Buddhism is the highest form of offering we can make. Based on this, Nichiren declares that by selflessly dedicating ourselves to Buddhism, just like the boy Snow Mountains and the ascetic Aspiration for the Law, we can gain enlightenment. He says, therefore, that this course of practice is the supreme path for attaining happiness. 

In the same writing, Nichiren highlights the folly of a life that mirrors the thinking of the two views, annihilation and permanence. He does so by describing how fish and birds, fearful for their safety, go to great lengths to hide themselves from predators but are nevertheless haplessly tricked by bait or traps and end up losing their lives. 

In “Letter from Sado,” Nichiren describes the Buddha’s wisdom, which transcends the views of annihilation and permanence, as living and taking action with the spirit of selfless dedication for the sake of Buddhism. This is an important point (see WND-1, 301–07). 

By its very nature, a view of life and death considered only from the point of birth onward causes people to focus on whether their present self will end at death or continue. Not surprising, perhaps, since human beings, though keenly aware of their mortality, cannot personally experience what death or the afterlife is like while alive. But no matter how we may debate this issue from this perspective, it will not produce supreme wisdom or understanding. The view of annihilation, the complete cessation of existence, for instance, will never free people from fear of or anxiety over death. On the other hand, the view of permanence, which sees the self continuing as an unchanging, everlasting soul, often comes from one’s simple desire for immortality; ultimately, it does not constitute the wisdom for elevating one’s spiritual state, instead serving only to strengthen self-attachment and to deepen delusion. 

Of course, many philosophies and religious traditions of East and West espouse the existence of some eternal spiritual entity that transcends the present self. But even if those doctrines are effective in providing some peace of mind regarding death, they fall short of being the supreme wisdom for elevating the way people live. Rather, as I mentioned earlier, they cause people to be caught up in the delusions of self-attachment and the sufferings of aging and death. 

Buddhist scriptures show that when Shakyamuni was asked whether his life would continue after death, he did not answer one way or the other. Because his doing so would not have contributed to helping people elevate their lives and might only have added to their delusion and suffering about death. 

In “Letter from Sado,” Nichiren taught his followers, who were then struggling bravely amid persecution, the way of selfless dedication to Buddhism (see WND-1, 301–07). In other words, he taught them the spirit of not begrudging their lives and the basic criteria for leading lives that value the Law above all. In this way, he aimed to help his followers break through to the source of delusion and suffering concerning death—their narrow attachment to ego—and cast off that delusion and suffering. 

Unless we are free of the suffering of death, we cannot savor true happiness. But liberating ourselves from this suffering cannot be achieved through theorizing or intellectualizing. Life and death make up the great, eternal rhythm of the universe itself. When we come to apprehend the greater self within us that is part of this rhythm—and feel in the depths of our being that this rhythm is the fundamental pulse sustaining our lives—we can overcome the suffering of death. The path of this inner liberation lies in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and teaching others to do the same. In “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” Nichiren explains this fundamental view of life and death.

Life and Death As Functions of the Mystic Law 

In this writing, Nichiren Daishonin explains that the Mystic Law (Jpn myoho) itself embodies the phases of life and death: “Myo represents death, and ho, life” (WND-1, 216). He also says that all life, all phenomena, are subject to and undergo these two phases, which are functions of the Mystic Law. He indicates that birth and death are an inherent part of life. In this way, he seeks to prevent people from making the mistake of abhorring life and death or from having a strong attachment to either. 

The Mystic Law is the eternal, infinite Law of the universe. This eternal Law embodies the phases of life and death. In other words, the two phases are themselves the rhythm of the eternal Law and appear as the life and death of countless living entities—as the arising and extinction of all phenomena, as all kinds of causes and effects in every dimension, as the harmony and dynamism of the universe as a whole.

This concept of life and death as functions of the Mystic Law constitutes the matter of ultimate importance in our lives, because true happiness can only be found in living in accord with this great rhythm of life and death. 

Mentor and Disciple in Buddhism Transmit the Heritage of Attaining Buddhahood


"Benson said that for Ikeda, the self invoked here is the greater self, which is “fused with the life of the universe through which cause and effect intertwine over the infinite reaches of space and time.”"



This mind that is beyond comprehension constitutes the core teaching of the sutras and treatises. And one who is awake to and understands this mind is called a Thus Come One.

Once one has waked to and understood this mind, then the Ten Worlds become one’s own self, one’s own mind, one’s own form, for the Thus Come One of original enlightenment becomes one’s own body and mind.


This “perfect delight” represents the harmonious unity of the sentient beings, who dwell in the phenomenal realm of the ten directions, and the lands, which support and surround them in the phenomenal realm of the ten directions. Thus the living beings and their environments are one, and the three bodies of the Buddha are a single body. The four kinds of lands are not differentiated but come together in the one Buddha of the Dharma body.

The self made up of the Ten Worlds is the Dharma body. The mind made up of the Ten Worlds is the reward body. The form made up of the Ten Worlds is the manifested body. Outside of the Ten Worlds there is no Buddha, outside of the Buddha there are no Ten Worlds. The living beings and their environments are not two things, and one’s self and the land one inhabits are not two things. Because the phenomenal realm of the ten directions is the body of a single Buddha, it is called the Land of Tranquil Light, and for this reason it represents the ultimate principle that is without marks.

It is separate from the marks of the p.843impermanence of birth and extinction, and therefore it is called “without marks.” It is the utmost depth of the essential nature of phenomena and the ultimate of profound Buddhist principles and hence it is called the ultimate principle.

  • Nichiren



"At present the entire body of the Honorable Abutsu is composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space. These five elements are also the five characters of the Daimoku. Abutsu-bo is therefore the treasure tower himself, and the treasure tower is Abutsu-bo himself. No other knowledge is purposeful. It is the treasure tower adorned with the seven kinds of treasures - hearing the correct teaching, believing it, keeping the precepts, engaging in meditation, practicing assiduously, renouncing one's attachments, and reflecting on oneself."


Daisaku: "In this passage, Nichiren related 'the entire body of [Abutsubo]' to Myoho-renge-kyo, or the Mystic law. The Mystic Law exists nowhere outside the world of phenomena, the world of the five universal elements; the Mystic Law is inseparable from our bodies. Indeed, our bodies - as the manifestations of our lives - are also entities of the Mystic Law. The body and mind are inseparable and essentially indistinguishable; they are a single entity. When Buddhism makes mention of the human body, it is not referring to the physical body as distinct from the mind, it is the whole entity that incorporates both mind and body. 

It is difficult to believe that our bodies themselves are the Mystic Law, and so too often we waste our efforts trying to find it elsewhere. Yet through applying ourselves to Buddhist practice, we can each achieve the same level of awareness as Nichiren, who explained that the treasure tower represents the Gohonzon as well as the lives of those who embrace it and thereby reveal their innate Buddha nature. 

The Gohonzon embodies a truth, the unchanging reality of ever-changing phenomena, and the existence of the profoundest condition of life that is latent within us. For this reason, Nichiren also wrote: "Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nammyoho-renge-kyo."



"What then does myo signify? It is simply the mysterious nature of our lives from moment to moment, which the mind cannot comprehend or words express. When we look into our own mind at any moment, we perceive neither color nor form to verify that it exists. Yet we still cannot say it does not exist, for many differing thoughts continually occur. The mind cannot be considered either to exist or not to exist. Life is indeed an elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of existence and nonexistence. It is neither existence nor non-existence, yet exhibits the qualities of both. It is the mystic entity of the Middle Way that is the ultimate reality. Myo is the name given to the mystic nature of life, and ho, to its manifestations."


Here, Nichiren interprets myo as the ultimate reality beyond our ability to perceive and ho as the world of phenomena in its everchanging forms. The union of these two concepts, represented by the single word myoho, reflects the essential oneness of the ultimate reality and the world as it actually appears. According to Buddhism there is no fundamental distinction between the ultimate reality and the everyday one. If we realize this, we are awakened; otherwise we are under delusion.

What then does myo signify?... Nam-myohorenge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 


Here Nichiren Daishonin interprets each of the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, the ultimate reality of life and the universe. This reality utterly transcends our words and concepts; that is why it must be grasped through faith. At the same time, however, it is our very life itself. The ultimate reality of life cannot be explained in terms of either existence or nonexistence. 

Because the truth is beyond all words and concepts, Buddhist texts often refer to it in negative language. For example, the second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda, is said to have attained his great insight that "Buddha is life" on the basis of a passage from the Muryogi Sutra that refers to the ultimate reality as "neither existence nor nonexistence, neither cause nor circumstance, neither self nor other, neither square nor round, short nor long," and so on, continuing to a total of thirty-four negatives. 

This quality of being beyond a verbal categories is called myo, meaning mystic or wondrous, or beyond conception. At the same time, this inscrutable reality manifests itself moment to moment as the phenomenal world of our ordinary experience, displaying such readily comprehensible and expressible qualities as "existence" or "nonexistence." This manifestation of the ultimate reality as the observable world is called ho (ho means both "Law" and "phenomena"). Became the ultimate reality transcends all such categories as "existence" or "nonexistence," yet manifests itself nowhere apart from such phenomena, it is called "the mystic entity of the Middle Way."


"Death is inevitable, and so it makes sense to view death positively, as the point of departure for a new life. The first step in acquiring a positive view is to fully realize that life is eternal. While we will explore this topic at some length in chapter four, suffice it to say for now that in Buddhism, eternity is an endless series of moments, and each individual moment contains eternity. Both eternity and the moment exist in our lives. Buddhism's purpose is to enable us to realize this eternity within our present lifetime and live to the fullest... ...Nichiren taught: "When you concentrate the exertions of one hundred million aeons in a single life-moment, the three bodies of the Buddha will become manifest in your every thought and act.""


Nichiren teach that Buddha nature is composed of five elements, and that this realization is the attainment of Buddhahood (to me/Soh, this has been my ongoing realization and natural state for over a decade, but I do not consider myself 'Buddha', I think this part sounds like anatta):


"At present the entire body of the Honorable Abutsu is composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space. These five elements are also the five characters of the Daimoku. Abutsu-bo is therefore the treasure tower himself, and the treasure tower is Abutsu-bo himself. No other knowledge is purposeful. It is the treasure tower adorned with the seven kinds of treasures - hearing the correct teaching, believing it, keeping the precepts, engaging in meditation, practicing assiduously, renouncing one's attachments, and reflecting on oneself."”

“Numberless major world system dust particle kalpas in the past the Thus Come One Shakyamuni, who was then an ordinary mortal, came to realize that his body was made up of the elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space, and having done so, he immediately attained enlightenment.”

“Heaven, earth, water, fire, and wind are the five wisdom Thus Come Ones. They reside within the body and mind of all living beings and are never separated from them even for an instant. Therefore worldly affairs and affairs relating to enlightenment blend together in harmony within the mind of the individual; outside of the mind, there is absolutely no other thing that exists. Therefore, when one hears this truth, one can at that point immediately attain the goal of Buddhahood without a moment’s delay, for it is a principle of the utmost profundity.”

“Once one has waked to and understood this mind, then the Ten Worlds become one’s own self, one’s own mind, one’s own form, for the Thus Come One of original enlightenment becomes one’s own body and mind.

While one fails to understand this, one is in a state of ignorance.”

“But now if one will only cast aside p.853such thinking, correct one’s outlook, and return to a state of enlightenment, then one will realize that the attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form is to be found nowhere outside one’s own body.”

“Ultimately, all phenomena are contained within one's life, down to the last particle of dust. The nine mountains and the eight seas are encompassed by one's body; the sun, moon and myriad stars are contained within one's mind"

“The self made up of the Ten Worlds is the Dharma body. The mind made up of the Ten Worlds is the reward body. The form made up of the Ten Worlds is the manifested body. Outside of the Ten Worlds there is no Buddha, outside of the Buddha there are no Ten Worlds. The living beings and their environments are not two things, and one’s self and the land one inhabits are not two things. Because the phenomenal realm of the ten directions is the body of a single Buddha, it is called the Land of Tranquil Light, and for this reason it represents the ultimate principle that is without marks.

It is separate from the marks of the p.843impermanence of birth and extinction, and therefore it is called “without marks.” It is the utmost depth of the essential nature of phenomena and the ultimate of profound Buddhist principles and hence it is called the ultimate principle.

This ultimate principle that is without marks, or the perfect delight of Tranquil Light that embodies it, exists within the mind nature of all sentient beings, a pure realm free of outflows. It is termed the lotus dais of the mind of the wonderful Law. Therefore it is said that outside the mind there is no other principle. And so we may come to understand that all phenomena are manifestations of the Buddhist Law.”

“The five agents are earth, water, fire, wind, and space.37 They are also referred to as the five elements, the five components, the five precepts, the five constant virtues, the five directions, the five kinds of wisdom, and the five periods of teachings. It is simply that one single thing is explained in different ways in the various different sutras, or that the Buddhist texts and the non-Buddhist texts give different names to the various categories.

If now we consult the Lotus Sutra, we find that it opens up and explains these five agents as the five aspects of Buddha nature38 and the seeds of the five wisdom Thus Come Ones that are to be found in the lives of all living beings. They are thus equivalent to the five characters Myoho-renge-kyo. p.850These five characters are what make up the entity of the individual, and hence that entity exists eternally in its original state, it is the Thus Come One of original enlightenment.

This is what is explained in terms of the ten factors of life, that which “can only be understood and shared between Buddhas.”39

Bodhisattvas who have reached the stage in which there is no more regression or people who have attained the highest stage in the two vehicles know nothing whatsoever of this doctrine. But ordinary people who follow the teachings of perfect and immediate enlightenment understand this even when only beginners in religious practice, and therefore they are able to attain Buddhahood in their present form, to enjoy the entity that is diamond-hard and indestructible.

Hence it is perfectly clear that if heaven itself crumbles, then the body of the individual likewise will crumble; if the earth breaks asunder, the body of the individual too will break asunder; if the elements of earth, water, fire, wind, [and space] perish, the body of the individual too will perish. But though the three existences of past, present, and future may give way to one another, these five elements will never change or pass away. And though the three periods of time, the Former Day, the Middle Day, and the Latter Day of the Law, may differ one from another, these five elements are one in nature, not subject to rise or fall, to change of any kind.”


I hope people can join me in doing this, what the pdf said, except not necessarily in the context of SGI (unless you are an SGI member) or even for AtR specifically (unless you are compelled to like myself) but for Buddhadharma in general, in whatever form or tradition you are practicing.

“When we do gongyo, we offer prayers for world peace and for the happiness of all people. Every day, we listen to the worries of friends and exert ourselves in our practice for kosen-rufu. Truly this is the noble practice for "purifying the land of the Buddha."

SGI members carry out bodhisattva practice as emissaries of the Buddha. "Let us make our community, our country, and the entire world shine brightly as the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light."

When you advance with this determination you are, in the words of the sutra, "preaching the Law, teaching and converting in this saha world."”

“Buddhism manifests in one’s behavior. The Law is invisible to the eye, but it can be discerned in the conduct of those who correctly practice the Buddhist teachings. This is because their actions exemplify the great merit of the Law. In this respect, it is essential that SGI leaders actively go out and meet with people, engage in one-to-one dialogue with them, share in their joys and sorrows, and work and move forward together with them. Leaders not only need to offer inspiring encouragement and give people courage to challenge problems and hardships; they must also stand up to error and injustice themselves while warmly protecting, guiding and caring for everyone. Buddhism does not exist apart from such committed action on the part of real, living human beings. A person who prays more than anyone else and works harder than anyone else to propagate the Mystic Law is a genuine leader in Buddhism. Buddha is another name for someone of dedicated action. As long as there are efforts by devoted individuals to help others attain enlightenment, Buddhism will eternally shine as a living religion. If, on the other hand, such efforts were to disappear, Buddhism would become a dead religion, pallid and lifeless. Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin each left behind an exemplary model of behavior as individuals committed to leading others to enlightenment. They continually went among the people and engaged in dialogue to awaken the innate Buddha nature within each person. Of course, human behavior takes numerous forms, and it also reflects the Ten Worlds—the life states from hell to Buddhahood. The human behavior that is the focus of my discussion here, however, specifically refers to the highest behavior or humanistic conduct—conduct that reflects the life state of Buddhahood and thus shows respect for all people. It also encompasses all efforts directed toward positive personal growth and to the happiness of both oneself and others in the actual realm of the nine worlds. And especially in terms of respectful conduct aimed at awakening people to their Buddha nature, it refers to the behavior of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging.11 It also indicates the behavior in his efforts to battle evil and promote good for the happiness of all people. This is the exact same behavior of each of us in the SGI, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth12 making efforts for kosen-rufu. Buddhism shines the spotlight on individuals who, just as the Buddha does, show through their actions unceasing respect for people.”

 I call out to all our members: Please advance, while letting the spirit that Nichiren Daishonin maintained—the spirit to engage in a great struggle to “refute the erroneous and reveal the true” and to “establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land”—permeate your being. Speak out for what is right and set the record straight. Reach out to others in dialogue to help them find happiness. Strive to expand our movement for global kosen-rufu, building a strong foundation for world peace.”


I was reminded of what Buddha taught, which I wrote maybe a year ago, “ Buddha advices us to spread the dharma to people in all directions out of compassion, how similar it is to Christian evangelism I’m not sure:

“Go forth for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction. Teach the Dharma which is beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle and beautiful at the end. Proclaim both the letter and the spirit of the holy life completely fulfilled and perfectly pure. — Buddha, Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.”

But Buddha’s approach clearly worked and thousands of his students attained awakening and liberation during the Buddha’s lifetime. Thousands. How many teachers today can say the same? How many have forgotten the Buddha’s teaching on this matter and have instead taken up a passive or nihilistic/fatalist attitude of “lets leave it up to the karma of sentient beings whether they discover the dharma or not”?

The widespread success of the spread of Buddhadharma and the countless liberated and awakened saints and sages throughout history even from the time of the Buddha is precisely because Buddha encouraged a policy of openly sharing the dharma to as many people as they can. I hope Buddhists are more active at sharing the message. Of course this is not the same as shoving down teachings on another’s throat, that is not how things work. You either resonate with the message or not.. you either have the conditions and karma to accept the dharma or not, no use trying to force things on others. But a gentle and polite sharing is ok and good, IMO. And karma is not an excuse to do nothing as Buddhists to spread the dharma. Karma is not fatalism and does not excuse us of our responsibility to do what is right. But whether the others want to look it up further after our sharing is up to them.”

"If we were to wear the countless kalpas as a crown, and our body spanned across three thousand realms, if we do not teach the Dharma to sentient beings, then we cannot be called repayers of kindness.

If we do not try to enlighten sentient beings, we are not repaying the Buddha's kindness. If we feel incapable of enlightening sentient beings, we should encourage others to listen to the scriptures." - Venerable Master Hui Lu

Original text: “假使頂戴恆沙劫,身為幢座遍三千,若不說法度眾生,是則不名報恩者。 


Years ago at one time I was perhaps sharing to a hundred persons a day. I am not saying you have to follow my style but at least share with those you can, around you, in ways you can. Let us exert ourselves in our daily practice, awaken, and share that clarity and liberation with other sentient beings in the Mahayana spirit of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. And this applies not just for Mahayanists, as the advocating of sharing dharma widely can be found even in Theravada’s canon as shown in the excerpt from Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.

Soh: “ I message people everyday. I think it is important to share with people”

Mr M who went from I Am and one mind into anatman after Soh shared with him on reddit said, “ Yeah there’s something positive about evangelisation, even though I think some religions take it too far. I don’t think I would have come across ATR naturally, and there’s no other resource I’ve found that’s as forceful on what full realisation of anatta is and isn’t.”

Soh replied: “Yeah.. a few people on reddit just realised anatta after conversing with me the past few days

Yesterday just another one realised anatta, was at I AM

I personally try to share dharma to people around me even friends and family

But atr may be too deep for them

Usually i pass them the power of now

If there is a good dharma center its good to introduce to people who you think might be open

I have messaged thousands of redditors over the years, most seem positive with my sharing, only a minority seems averse (usually those that hold tightly to view of self) so i just leave them be

But i believe all will benefit as the tien tai miao lo said

“Nichiren use of the word listen is significant. The passage from Miao-lo that Nichiren cites comes from The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra.” In that work, the Great Teacher Miao-lo goes on to say: “Whether one accepts or rejects the teachings, they have entered one’s ear and one has thus established a bond with them. And then, though one may comply with them or go against them, in the end one will because of this bond be able to achieve liberation [i.e., attain enlightenment]” (WND-2, 56). While keeping in mind the specifics of a person’s situation, to allow them to hear the Lotus Sutra plants the “seed of Buddhahood” in that person’s heart and activates the world of Buddhahood within them.”””

Several that were very averse to it at first realised anatta later””


Mr C asked, “What does it mean for you to do things for the benefit of all sentient beings Soh?”

Soh replied, “There are all kinds of ways to do things for the benefit of sentient beings. Bill gates is doing a lot of good to the world in his philanthropy. Buddhists have an additional venue of working for sentient beings: sharing the dharma, which is the highest gift in buddhadharma because this gives other beings a chance to be totally free from suffering and samsara.

This is why I consider those who do not try to share dharma to others in a skillful appropriate way to be having a kind of stinginess. Of course, one has to be very clear in view first in order not to mislead others, and preferably have certain depths of experiential insight (but one can share in one’s capacity even before one has realizations), or one can just guide others to awakened teachers and masters. This applies not just for Mahayanists because the Buddha has instructed us to share his dharma widely, even in Theravada’s vinaya: 

“Go forth for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction. Teach the Dharma which is beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle and beautiful at the end. Proclaim both the letter and the spirit of the holy life completely fulfilled and perfectly pure. — Buddha, Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.”

This does not mean we should neglect our meditation practice because we can only be of utmost benefit to other beings if we attain Buddhahood. So we should both help others and carry out our practice at the same time.

And when working for others, it should be free from delusional perceptions of self or others. Just like the threefold purity I shared earlier. (On threefold purity, see Supramundane Generosity / Threefold Purity)

It is related to this ”

“ mr c:

From ren cheng magazine (venerable shen kai was my refuge master) but paraphrased and slightly edited from chatgpt:

“People learning and practicing Buddhist have often heard the need to lead sentient beings (to learn Buddhism). Some then become eager to persuade others to learn Buddhism. Despite their efforts, they realize that people are not always easy to lead (into Buddhism). Discouraged, they stop learning Buddhism themselves, ultimately failing to lead even themselves.

We first need to understand what a sentient being is. There are two types: inner sentient beings and outer sentient beings. The inner sentient being refers to our minds and the endless arising thoughts, while the outer sentient being includes everyone else, as well as any beings with emotional states. As ordinary people, we constantly experience various thoughts and opinions in different situations—these are our inner sentient beings. If we do not transform these inner sentient beings, allowing troubling thoughts and emotions to arise and react to situations, how can we expect to lead others (to Buddhism)? Thus, Master Shen Kai often emphasized: "Lead sentient beings, lead sentient beings, first lead inner sentient beings, outer sentient beings then can be led." Bodhisattvas transform themselves and benefit others, and as we learn from them, we too must first transform ourselves, then lead others.

For example, some people chant the Buddha's name, chant sutras, and bow to the Buddha daily but do not work to eliminate their negative habitual tendencies. They argue, bicker, and criticize others, causing their family members to become reluctant to learn Buddhism. These family members question if such behaviors are the result of learning and practicing Buddhism, unwilling to condone them. Some people are overly eager, failing to discern the right opportunities or conditions, talking about Buddhist concepts to everyone they meet, which causes others to distance themselves. Thus, as Buddhist practitioners, we need to first transform ourselves for the better, maintaining joy and clarity. When others see us and our behaviors, they are more inclined to be near us, and we can then naturally lead them to learn and practice Buddhism.

Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, originally practitioners of other teachings, became ordained Buddhist monks after encountering Bhikkhu Asvajit, whose dignified deportment and brief sharing of the Buddha's teachings led them to enlightenment. This story illustrates how one's demeanor and understanding can inspire significant spiritual transformations in others.

Many people have managed to eliminate negative habitual tendencies, like smoking, drinking, and unnecessary socializing, among others, after taking refuge in Buddhism. They began focusing more on their families and treating family members with respect, leading to a more joyous family environment. This positive change has often encouraged entire families and even friends and colleagues to take refuge in Buddhism, establishing a blissful Buddhist community. This exemplifies the principle of first transforming inner sentient beings, which then enables the guidance of outer sentient beings.

Some asked Venerable Master Shen Kai how it's possible to lead all sentient beings, given their vast number. He responded by emphasizing the importance of starting with the inner sentient beings, suggesting that once all inner sentient beings are transformed, one can attain Buddhahood. This advice highlights the foundational principle that personal transformation is a prerequisite for leading others effectively.”


I asked ChatGPT why Soka Gakkai is the biggest Buddhist organisation in the world with over twelve million followers and what we can learn from it. Of course, as of now, I am not so much involved in community building and usually refer people to existing dharma centers and teachers, but these are food for thought for dharma communities out there I think.



### Unveiling the Global Appeal of Soka Gakkai: Insights and Strategies for the "Awakening to Reality" Community

Soka Gakkai International (SGI) has garnered a global following of over 12 million adherents, a testament to its profound impact and the universal appeal of its Buddhist practice. The key to SGI's widespread success lies in a blend of evangelical zeal, practical spirituality, and a strong community focus. This success provides a rich template for other spiritual communities, such as "Awakening to Reality" (ATR), seeking to broaden their outreach and deepen their impact. Let's explore the multifaceted strategies behind SGI's appeal and how ATR might draw inspiration from them.

#### Evangelical Fervor through Kosen-rufu

SGI's rapid expansion is fueled by a passionate commitment to kosen-rufu, the mission to spread peace and happiness through Nichiren Buddhism. This zeal, reminiscent of the missionary fervor in some Christian movements, has propelled SGI members to actively share their beliefs, contributing significantly to the organization's growth.

#### Global Expansion Beyond Japan

Recognizing the potential to extend its message globally, SGI embarked on international expansion by the mid-20th century. This strategic outreach mirrored the growth tactics of Christian megachurches, enabling SGI to establish a vibrant presence worldwide.

#### Approachable Buddhism for the Masses

Central to SGI's success is its presentation of Buddhism as a simple, practical path accessible to everyone. The practice of chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" encapsulates this approach, offering a straightforward method for spiritual engagement that resonates with people from diverse backgrounds.

#### The Power of Living Testimony

Personal testimonials are a cornerstone of SGI's community, akin to the role they play in evangelical Christianity. These stories of personal transformation and breakthroughs serve not only to inspire but also to foster a deeper sense of faith and connection among members.

#### Simplicity in Meditative Practice

SGI's emphasis on the easy-to-adopt practice of chanting contrasts with more complex meditative methods that may intimidate beginners. This simplicity has made the practice particularly attractive, enabling a wide range of individuals to participate.

#### Retention of Faith into Adulthood

A challenge common to many spiritual movements is maintaining engagement as members transition into adulthood. SGI's approach to building a supportive community and emphasizing continual personal growth offers insights into addressing this challenge.

#### Learning from SGI's Success: Strategies for ATR

Drawing from SGI's strategies, ATR can enhance its outreach and resonance with a broader audience through several key adaptations:

1. **Simplify the Practice**: By identifying a core, accessible practice, ATR can welcome newcomers to begin their spiritual journey with ease.

2. **Highlight Practical Benefits**: Encouraging members to share personal stories can showcase the transformative power of ATR practices, making the spiritual path relatable and attractive.

3. **Foster a Strong Community**: Regular meetings and gatherings can create a warm, inclusive environment that supports members' spiritual growth and fosters a sense of belonging.

4. **Engage in Societal Contributions**: Linking spiritual practice with social and humanitarian efforts can demonstrate the real-world impact of ATR's teachings, appealing to individuals motivated by social change.

5. **Utilize Modern Communication**: Leveraging digital platforms can extend ATR's reach, making teachings and community events accessible to a global audience.

6. **Provide Comprehensive Educational Resources**: Offering materials that cater to both beginners and advanced practitioners can deepen understanding and engagement with ATR's core principles.

7. **Emphasize Personal Mentorship**: Establishing mentorship programs can support new members' journeys, echoing the mentor-disciple dynamic that underpins SGI's community structure.

8. **Promote Open Dialogue**: Encouraging discussions within and beyond the ATR community can foster a culture of learning, respect, and mutual growth.

#### Conclusion

SGI's remarkable global presence is the result of strategic, heartfelt engagement with the core tenets of Buddhism, tailored to meet the needs of the modern world. By adopting similar strategies, the "Awakening to Reality" community can not only expand its reach but also deepen the impact of its teachings, fostering a path of accessible, practical spirituality that resonates across diverse populations. Through simplicity, community, and a commitment to societal betterment, ATR can inspire a broader audience to embark on a journey of personal and collective transformation.


Certainly, incorporating the aspect of faith and its practical application in overcoming daily challenges further enriches the understanding of Soka Gakkai International's (SGI) approach and provides additional insights for the "Awakening to Reality" (ATR) community.

#### Emphasis on Faith and Daily Life Application

A central pillar of SGI's philosophy is the emphasis on faith not just as a belief system but as a practical tool for navigating and overcoming life's challenges. This practical application of faith is a key factor in its appeal and effectiveness, resonating deeply with individuals seeking tangible improvements in their personal and professional lives.

#### Faith as a Catalyst for Personal Transformation

SGI teaches that faith in the Mystic Law (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) and the practice of chanting can unlock inner potential and lead to profound personal transformation. This transformation is often described in terms of "human revolution," a process where individuals fundamentally change their outlook, behavior, and circumstances, reflecting the ideals of Buddhism in their daily lives.

#### Overcoming Challenges through Faith

Members are encouraged to apply their faith to confront and overcome various life challenges, from personal and health issues to professional and relationship problems. Testimonials and experiences shared within the community highlight how chanting and faith in the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism provide the strength, wisdom, and resilience needed to navigate difficulties.

#### Faith in Action

SGI emphasizes putting faith into action, advocating for peace, culture, and education based on Buddhist principles. This active engagement with societal issues is seen as an extension of one's practice, where faith is manifested through contributions to societal well-being and the betterment of humanity.

### Incorporating Faith and Practical Application: Lessons for ATR

The "Awakening to Reality" community can draw inspiration from SGI's emphasis on faith and its application in daily life, adapting these principles to its own teachings and practices:

1. **Integrate Faith with Practical Life**: Encourage members to see faith not just as a set of beliefs but as a practical tool for personal growth and overcoming challenges.

2. **Share Success Stories**: Highlight stories from within the ATR community where members have used their spiritual practices to achieve tangible improvements in their lives, reinforcing the value of spiritual tools in real-world contexts.

3. **Emphasize Active Engagement**: Advocate for the application of spiritual principles in addressing social, environmental, and humanitarian issues, demonstrating how spiritual practice extends beyond personal benefit to societal impact.

4. **Cultivate Resilience through Spiritual Practice**: Offer guidance on how spiritual practices can be used to cultivate inner strength and resilience, helping members to deal with adversity and uncertainty.

By embracing these strategies, the "Awakening to Reality" community can enhance its appeal and relevance, showing how spiritual practice can be a source of strength, guidance, and transformation in the modern world. Just as SGI has successfully demonstrated, faith and spirituality can be powerful tools for navigating the complexities of daily life, fostering personal growth, and contributing to the betterment of society.


Indeed, highlighting the evangelical zeal of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) further underscores the dynamism of its approach to spreading Buddhism and enriching the lives of individuals around the globe. This zeal is not only a driving force behind SGI's expansion but also a compelling aspect of its practice that the "Awakening to Reality" (ATR) community can learn from.

### Evangelical Zeal in SGI

SGI's approach to propagation, characterized by enthusiastic sharing of faith and practice, is deeply rooted in the concept of kosen-rufu, or the widespread dissemination of Nichiren Buddhism for the peace and happiness of all people. This evangelical zeal has been a cornerstone of SGI's ability to reach a vast audience:

- **Personal Engagement**: Members are encouraged to share their experiences and the benefits of their practice with others, fostering a personal connection that often resonates more deeply than formal preaching.

- **Grassroots Movements**: SGI's growth has largely been driven by grassroots efforts, where individual members take the initiative to discuss their beliefs and practices in their communities, workplaces, and families.

- **Cultural and Educational Activities**: SGI also engages in a wide range of cultural, educational, and peace-promoting activities that serve as platforms for introducing its philosophy and practice to a broader audience.

### Integrating Evangelical Zeal: Strategies for ATR

For the "Awakening to Reality" community, embracing a form of evangelical zeal—tailored to its own values and objectives—can play a crucial role in expanding its reach and impact:

1. **Encourage Sharing and Dialogue**: Motivate members to share their spiritual journeys and insights with others. Creating spaces for open dialogue about personal experiences can help demystify spiritual practices and illustrate their relevance to daily life.

2. **Leverage Social and Cultural Events**: Organize events that reflect the community's values and offer an entry point for the curious. Art exhibitions, public talks, and volunteer activities can serve as bridges between spiritual practice and societal engagement.

3. **Utilize Digital Platforms**: In the digital age, social media and online forums offer unprecedented opportunities for sharing and connecting with a global audience. ATR can harness these tools to spread its message and engage with interested individuals worldwide.

4. **Focus on Relatability and Accessibility**: Ensure that the message and practices shared are relatable and accessible to people from diverse backgrounds. Emphasizing the universal aspects of spiritual growth and the practical benefits of practice can attract a wider audience.

By adopting a proactive and passionate approach to sharing its teachings and practices, the "Awakening to Reality" community can inspire more individuals to explore and benefit from its spiritual offerings. Evangelical zeal, when grounded in genuine experience and the desire to contribute to the well-being of others, can be a powerful force for growth and transformation, both for individuals and the community as a whole.



Give thorough analysis on why for example sgi has so many more members than soto zen


The difference in membership numbers between Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and Soto Zen can be attributed to a variety of factors related to historical development, doctrinal emphasis, organizational strategies, and methods of engagement with society. Here's a thorough analysis considering these aspects:

Historical Development

SGI: Soka Gakkai International emerged in the 20th century from Japan and has since grown into a global movement. It has effectively utilized modern organizational and promotional strategies to spread its message. Its roots in Nichiren Buddhism, with its focus on the Lotus Sutra and the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, provide a simple and accessible practice that appeals to a wide audience.

Soto Zen: Soto Zen is one of the main schools of Zen Buddhism, dating back to the 13th century. It has a long history of development in Japan and places a strong emphasis on zazen (sitting meditation) and the transmission of teachings from teacher to student. While deeply respected, its more traditional and monastic focus might not attract as broad a membership as movements with more contemporary outreach methods.

Doctrinal Emphasis

SGI: SGI focuses on practical benefits and individual empowerment through chanting and engagement with the community. It promotes a message of peace, culture, and education, which resonates with people looking for direct, positive impacts on their daily lives.

Soto Zen: Soto Zen emphasizes the practice of zazen, mindfulness, and the realization of one's Buddha-nature in everyday life. This approach can be profound but may seem abstract or less directly applicable to personal problems to some people.

Organizational Strategies

SGI: SGI has a highly organized, global structure that actively engages in social issues and cultural activities. It uses modern media effectively to spread its message and to recruit new members. Its approachable and active community involvement is attractive to individuals seeking both spiritual fulfillment and social engagement.

Soto Zen: Soto Zen tends to focus on the traditional temple structure and monastic practices, with less emphasis on aggressive expansion or modern media engagement. Its organizational structure is more decentralized, which may contribute to slower growth in membership.

Methods of Engagement with Society

SGI: SGI is known for its active involvement in peace movements, educational programs, and cultural exchanges. This outward engagement not only helps to raise its profile but also attracts individuals interested in these areas.

Soto Zen: While Soto Zen also engages with society, particularly through the teaching of meditation and mindfulness, its methods may not be as visible or broadly appealing as those of SGI.


SGI: The practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo does not require a particular setting, making it highly accessible to people in various life circumstances. SGI's focus on lay membership further broadens its appeal.

Soto Zen: The practice of zazen and the monastic life can be seen as less accessible to individuals leading busy modern lives. The depth of Soto Zen's teachings may also require more time and commitment to understand fully.


The larger membership of SGI compared to Soto Zen can largely be attributed to its more accessible practices, aggressive outreach strategies, engagement with social issues, and use of modern media to connect with a global audience. While both traditions offer profound spiritual insights, their different approaches to practice, organization, and societal engagement have led to different levels of growth in terms of global membership.


Suggest ways with thoroughness on how the insights and practices of soto zen can be combined with sgi style in ways that can greatly increase outreach possibly reaching the 12 million membership of sgi 


Combining the insights and practices of Soto Zen with the organizational and outreach strategies of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) could create a compelling and inclusive approach to Buddhism that appeals to a wide audience. Here are some suggestions on how this could be achieved:

1. Simplify and Modernize Communication

Adopt Accessible Language: Use simple, everyday language to explain Soto Zen principles and practices, making them more approachable to a broader audience.

Utilize Modern Media: Embrace digital platforms, social media, and multimedia content (videos, podcasts) to share teachings, meditation sessions, and discussions on Zen philosophy, similar to SGI's effective use of these tools.

2. Focus on Lay Practice and Community Building

Establish Community Groups: Like SGI, create local and online community groups focused on lay practice, where individuals can learn and practice Soto Zen principles in a supportive environment.

Engage in Social Activities: Organize cultural, educational, and volunteer activities that reflect the compassionate aspects of Zen, facilitating a sense of belonging and purpose.

3. Highlight Practical Benefits

Emphasize Mindfulness and Well-being: Highlight the benefits of zazen (sitting meditation) and mindfulness in everyday life, focusing on stress reduction, mental clarity, and emotional balance, which are attractive to contemporary audiences.

Share Personal Stories: Showcase testimonials and stories of individuals who have experienced positive changes in their lives through their practice, making the benefits tangible and relatable.

4. Engage in Social Issues

Take Active Stances: Like SGI, Soto Zen organizations could more visibly engage with peace initiatives, environmental sustainability, and social justice causes, aligning Zen principles with action on global issues.

Educational Programs: Develop programs that apply Zen insights to address modern challenges, such as leadership seminars, conflict resolution workshops, and mindfulness training in schools and workplaces.

5. Foster Interfaith and Cultural Exchanges

Promote Dialogue: Organize interfaith dialogues and cultural exchange programs that demonstrate the universal aspects of Zen wisdom, fostering mutual understanding and respect.

International Conferences: Host conferences and seminars that bring together practitioners from various backgrounds to discuss and practice Zen, similar to SGI's international events.

6. Innovate in Practice and Ritual

Modernize Rituals: Adapt traditional Zen rituals to make them more relevant and engaging for contemporary practitioners without losing their essence.

Introduce Varied Meditation Formats: Offer guided meditations, online sessions, and retreats in various formats to cater to people with different schedules and preferences.

7. Enhance Educational Offerings

Develop Comprehensive Study Programs: Create study programs that cover both the theory and practice of Zen, including online courses that allow for self-paced learning.

Youth Engagement: Design programs specifically for younger audiences to introduce them to Zen principles and practices in a way that addresses their unique challenges and interests.

8. Expand Global Outreach

International Centers: Establish more Zen centers worldwide, focusing on inclusivity and engagement with local communities.

Multilingual Resources: Offer resources and services in multiple languages to reach a global audience.


By integrating SGI's dynamic outreach strategies with the profound insights and practices of Soto Zen, there's a potential to significantly expand the reach and impact of Zen Buddhism. This approach can make Zen more accessible and relevant to people's lives, addressing their spiritual, emotional, and social needs, potentially matching or even surpassing the membership outreach seen in organizations like SGI.


The statement you shared touches on two significant aspects of religious outreach and spiritual teaching: the potential benefits of evangelization and the risks of taking such efforts too far. Here's how to elaborate on these points:

### How Might Some Religions Take Evangelization Too Far?

1. **Aggressive Conversion Efforts:** Some religions or religious groups might engage in overly aggressive conversion tactics, pressuring individuals to adopt their beliefs without giving them the space to make their own informed decisions. This can include coercive persuasion, manipulation, or exploiting vulnerable moments in a person's life.

2. **Cultural Insensitivity:** In the zeal to spread their faith, some religious groups might disregard the cultural and spiritual traditions of the people they are trying to convert. This can lead to the erosion of indigenous cultures and practices, as well as resentment and conflict between communities.

3. **Political Coercion:** When religious evangelization is intertwined with political power, it can lead to situations where adherence to a particular faith becomes a prerequisite for social acceptance, legal rights, or political privileges, infringing on religious freedom and personal autonomy.

4. **Ignoring Boundaries:** Overstepping personal or community boundaries, such as proselytizing in inappropriate settings (schools, workplaces, etc.), can be seen as taking evangelization too far. Respecting individuals' rights to privacy and their own religious or non-religious beliefs is crucial.

### How to Avoid Taking Evangelization Too Far?

1. **Emphasize Consent and Autonomy:** Religious outreach should respect individuals' autonomy and their right to make informed decisions about their spirituality. This means providing information and support without exerting undue pressure or manipulation.

2. **Cultural Sensitivity and Respect:** Recognizing and honoring the cultural and religious backgrounds of those you engage with is vital. This involves understanding the historical and social context of different communities and approaching evangelization efforts with humility and respect for existing beliefs and practices.

3. **Focus on Dialogue and Understanding:** Rather than aiming solely for conversion, fostering interfaith dialogue and mutual understanding can be a more respectful and enriching approach. This allows for the sharing of spiritual insights and the exploration of common ground, without diminishing the value of different religious traditions.

4. **Set Boundaries and Guidelines:** Establishing clear ethical guidelines for evangelization practices can help prevent overreach. This includes training for those involved in outreach efforts to ensure they understand the importance of consent, respect, and cultural sensitivity.

5. **Community Engagement:** Engaging with communities in a holistic manner, beyond just religious teaching, can build trust and respect. Participating in community development, social justice issues, and interfaith initiatives can demonstrate a genuine commitment to the welfare of those you're engaging with, not just their spiritual conversion.

In summary, while evangelization can play a positive role in sharing religious beliefs and offering spiritual guidance, it's essential to approach such efforts with respect, sensitivity, and a commitment to the autonomy and dignity of every individual. This balance allows for meaningful spiritual exchanges without overstepping boundaries or causing harm.