A Comparison of the Lotus and Other Sutras - Creating the Fundamental Cause for Peace through Dialogue

Buddhism is like the body, and society like the shadow. When the body bends, so does the shadow.

(Passage from “A Comparison of the Lotus and Other Sutras”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p1,037-40)

This letter was written in Minobu to Toki Jonin in Shimosa in the fifth month of 1280.

In the sixth month of the previous year (1279), a deegation of Mongolian envoys arrived with a leter for Hojo Tokimune, the regent of the Kamakura regime. However, Tokimune had them beheaded and sent fleet of army to Kyushu to protect Japan from an impending Mongolian invasion. These events threw Japan into turmoil, creating ripples of fear and distress in the lives of the Japanese people throughout the nation. How much it must have pained Nichiren Daishonin to witness such misfortune befalling the people in Japan time and again.

Just before this passage, the Daishonin stated, “Because Buddhism has gradually been turned upside down, the secular world also has been plunged into corruption and chaos.” (WND, p1039) In other words, the Daishonin was saying that because the people in Japan had turned their backs on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, the secular world is in turmoil, plagued by calamities and disasters. The Daishonin was thus teaching us the principles of “Buddhism manifests itself in society” and “Faith equals daily life”.

By saying that “Buddhism is like the body”, the Daishonin revealed that it is Buddhism that determines the condition of the secular world and society.

The statement, “When the body bends, so does the shadow” teaches that if the people base their lives on partial or erroneous teachings, it will not be possible to achieve individual happiness and social prosperity. The Daishonin further explained that true peace and happiness can definitely be achieved based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. In this way, Nichiren Daishonin revealed the profound relationship between Buddhism and the lives of the people and society.

The Chinese character for the word, “bend” also contains the meaning of “distort”. No one “distorts” his or her life intentionally. Such “distortions” in individual lives is a built-up of cumulative evil causes and negative habitual tendencies, which are eventually manifested as a “distorted shadow” in reality as misfortunes in life.

SGI President Ikeda once said that “while all people belong to the world of Humanity, there are some who, in terms of their basic life tendency, act mostly from the world of Hell, for example, and others who act mostly from the world of Bodhisattva” and that “our basic tendency in a sense determines out life.” This means that even though one is born human, it does not automatically mean that one will act with noble human qualities. Thus it is important to consistently polish our lives through the practice of chanting daimoku and mount faith as the central bastion in our lives.

In his “Lecture on the Expedient Means and Life Span Chapters of the Lotus Sutra”, President Ikeda stated, “A body and its shadow are an inseparable entity. If crookedness in the ‘body’ – distortions of philosophy, thought and religion – are not rectified, then all attempts to produce a straight ‘shadow’ are bound to fail. Through our movement to conduct dialogue, we are contributing to society on a fundamental level by helping to straighten out this ‘body’. We are creating the fundamental inherent cause for peace and prosperity.”

What President Ikeda taught here is that although we may not possess any inborn talent, special skills or qualifications, we are in fact contributing to the betterment of society at large through our daily practice of propagation and sharing the humanistic teachings and values of Buddhism with others. With this conviction, let us cherish the society around us – our families, place of work and communities – and cheerfully engage ourselves in heart-to-heart dialogues.


The life of Mrs Aya Kamio, a Women Division leaderin Akita prefecture, attests to this.

Aya was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism in July 1954 by her elder brother who rejoined the working force after overcoming tuberculosis and regaining his health completely through his practice of faith. She decided to take up faith with her husband with the earnest wish of regaining her good health as she had congenital gastrasthenia (inborn disorder of the stomach).

Since her conversion, she practiced her faith single-mindedly and was even appointed the first women division chapter leader of Towada chapter. She exerted herself even more traveling far and wide throughout three prefectures of Amori, Akita and Iwate with her husband, carrying bags of rice and can food, to extend their warm care to poor members and to introduce Nichiren Buddhism to relatives and friends. As a result of their tireless efforts, more than 100 families were able to enjoy true happiness after taking faith in Nichiren Buddhism.

Amidst this struggle, her husband, Hsiao, who was a coal miner, was suddenly expelled from the Coal Miners Union. At that time, being expelled from the union is as good as losing one’s job. The Union’s management had unjustly expelled Mr Hsiao due to their lack of understanding and prejudice towards the Soka Gakkai. They saw the growth and development of the Soka Gakkai as a grave threat to the union and this eventually led to the unreasonable expulsion of Hsiao.

Very soon, Aya, Hsiao and their family were ostracized by the entire coal mining district and their source of income was cut off. The only way Hsiao could find a job was to leave town but he felt that he could not do so: “I’ve done nothing wrong. If we leave this town, who is going to look after our fellow comrades of faith? They’ll be left in the lurch. We’re not going to leave this town.”

Having resolved to dedicate their entire being for the happiness of others, Aya and Hsiao did not retreat a single step. Inspired by their passion and strong faith, not a single member discarded their faith during this trying period.

Mr Hsiao decided to seek court action against his unjust expulsion. Half a year later, the Union offered to have an out-of-court settlement, agreeing to withdraw the order of expulsion of Hsiao. With unwavering faith, the couple had won a complete victory, bringing great joy and conviction to fellow members in their region.

Today, Aya is 84 years old and she enjoys complete good health, just as she had wished for. Her home is not only used as a venue for kosen-rufu activities, it is also open for her community’s residents council and women committee to hold their meetings.

President Ikeda once said, “The root of all matters boils down to ‘courage’ based on the Buddha’s wisdom.” Aya’s and Hsiao’s determination to protect their fellow members even at the cost of their lives are certainly the model examples of people of “courage based on the Buddha’s wisdom”.

Let us continue to exert orselves in expanding the circle of happiness through sincere dialogues in this turbulent world filled with spiritual distortion.

Translated and adapted from an article written by Shin Anyoji, Women Division Study Chief for Akita Prefecture, published on September 2006 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.