Many in Body, One in Mind - "The Spirit of Many in Body, One in Mind" is the Path to Certain Victory

Hoki-bo [Nikko Shonin] and Sado-bo [Niko], and the believers in Atsuhara, have proved the strength of their resolve. If the spirit of many in body but one in mond prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals, whereas one in body but different in mind, they can achieve nothing remarkable.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p618)

It is not known precisely when this letter was written and to whom it was addressed.

From the fact that Nichiren Daishonin mentioned the location where the Atsuhara Persecution took place, the Daishonin was thought to have written this letter to address the situation here.

At the outset of this letter, the Daishonin mentioned “Hoki-bo” – a reference to his disciple, Nikko Shonin who was actively leading the propagation effort sin Suruga Province (present day central Shizuoka Prefecture) – and “the believers in Atsuhara”.

From this, it is believed that the letter might have been sent to one of the Daishonin’s key followers in the province, such as the lay priest Takahashi Rokuro Hyoe, and been composed sometime between the late Bun’ei era (1264-75) – when trouble first began to brew in Atsuhara – and the Kenji era (1275-78).

According to this view, the harassment of the Daishonin’s followers by the authorities, that would later escalate into the Atsuhara Persecution, was already underway.

This letter was, therefore, likely written to stress that unity, or “the spirit of many in body but one in mind”, is the key to overcoming great obstacles.

In other words, because of the very real danger of major persecution descending upon his followers in Suruga at any moment, the Daishonin succinctly explained that unity in faith is the only way for them to prevail over such devilish functions.


In response to the reports her received on the on-going persecutions of the farmer believers in Atsuhara, Nichiren Daishonin encouraged his disciples to overcome this ordeal based on the spirit of many in body, one in mind.

“Many in body” (which can also be expressed as “different in body”) refers to the fact that each one of us is uniquely different as we all have diverse personalities and characters.

“One in mind” (which can also be expressed as “same in heart or spirit”) means sharing the same lofty goal to realize kosen-rufu (peace and happiness of all people) and cherishing the same resolve or determination to fulfill that ideal as fellow disciples.

With regards to the essence of this spirit, SGI President Ikeda explained in his lecture on this Gosho: “In terms of Buddhism, the nucleus of ‘being one in mind’ is faith based on the unity of teacher and disciple – that is, each person taking the Buddha’s will and decree of kosen-rufu as their own individual mission and actively working for its realization. For disciples to strive and win with the same spirit as their teacher is the essence of the spirit of many in body, one in mind.”

On top of this, he also focused on one vital point, stating: “The explicit acknowledgement here that, though we unite in spirit, we are ‘many in body’ or ‘different in body’ is very important.”

The reason being, the individual uniqueness is given due respect though we may share the same purpose or aspiration.

The opposite of “many in body” (“different in body”) is “one in body”. “One in body” signifies unity in militarist conformity whereby one cannot possess his or her own will but to conform to all orders given. If unity is based on such values, the diverse innate potential that lies within the respective individual lives can never be manifested.

President Ikeda added: “By each of us uniting together and fully expressing our own unique potential through the power of the Mystic Law, we can manifest the invincible strength of the spirit of many in body, one in mind.”

The Mystic Law has the power to activate the Buddhahood within our lives. Through faith, one’s highest potential can be fully manifested.

However, uniting with one another in general, can never bring out the highest potential in the lives of every individual. It is only by uniting with one another based on faith (i.e., belief in the Buddha nature in every person) can the best and highest potential in every individual be brought forth to full play.

How then, can we put the spirit of many in body, one in mind in the course of our daily life?

The answer is simple – it means to work together with fellow members for the sake of kosen-rufu. For example, when we attend SGI activities, we should not be by-standers or regard ourselves as “guests”.

Instead, we should attend the meeting with the same resolve and spirit as the organizers of the meeting by working and praying for the success of the meeting.

This includes our monthly discussion meetings.We should pray for the success of the meeting, strive to bring our families and friends along for the meeting, and contribute our part by sharing our thoughts or experiences at the meeting.

It is the same in the case when goals and targets are set for our districts or chapters. We should not regard these goals as responsibilities to be fulfilled by the district or chapter leaders. We should, instead, pray and take action together with fellow members and leaders to achieve the goals set forth in our organization.

Let each on of us pray and take action for the sake of kosen-rufu, so that the spirit of many in body, one in mind would prevail in our districts and in SGI and the movement of kosen-rufu will continue to advance eternally.

Prepared by the Singapore Soka Association Department