Fighting Against Fanaticism

Why do people become fanatics?

On this subject Ikeda states: “…the belief that people should serve religion leads to fanaticism(My Dear Friends in America, page 152). 

In a further explanation, Ikeda describes the fanatics as having

        unstable and unconfident state of mind… Fanatic people are characterised by their

        refusal to enter into dialogue. Discussion is impossible for fanatics.

        If they were to earnestly discuss contested issues, their repression of their own

        questions would become untenable”.

The Difference between Faith and Fanaticism

Faith is revealed in behaviour. Correct faith would increase one’s maturity and capacity to embrace others :

In Buddhism, faith means a pure heart, a flexible spirit and an open mind".

Obviously, an attitude of arrogance and self-righteousness would disable openhearted dialogue, while:

        Correct faith, however, can be cultivated only in the kind of atmosphere

        where anything at all may be openly discussed. (My Dear Friends, p.153)

Is SGI philosophy “the only correct teaching” among all others?

In his letters, Nichiren mentioned various non-Buddhist sages and philosophers whose humanistic views were based on the happiness and security of ordinary people: “...the wisdom of such men contained at heart the wisdom of Buddhism WND 1122   

On this subject, P Ikeda comments:

        “Nichiren Daishonin writes that some people come to a correct view of life

        through systems of thoughts and philosophies other than Buddhism.


       One who encounters the Lotus Sutra but is prejudiced and does not try to comprehend

       its true greatness is inferior, he asserts, to the wise men and saints of

       non-Buddhist teachings.

       He also writes “When one knows the Lotus Sutra,

       one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs”. The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra Vol 1. p 55

Nichiren’s impartiality and broadmindedness are clear in his statement that:

        “Even before the advent of the Buddha, some Brahmans in India

        realized the correct view of life through the four Vedas.

        In China before the arrival of Buddhism, some realized the correct view

        through Taoism and Confucianism”.

SGI philosophy acknowledges the humanistic values of various teachings. In fact, all beliefs emerge as people’s perceptions of the ultimate reality of life (MyohoRengeKyo). Each religion is a product of the human mind (of the Ten Worlds) and represents its perspective of the essence of the universal truth, The Law of Life.

Nichiren quotes from the Nirvana Sutra: “ All of the non-Buddhist scriptures and writings in society are themselves Buddhist teachings, not non-Buddhist teachings” WND 222 

SGI view of diversity of religions in the world

In the Preface to the Spanish edition of the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin (3 may 2008), P. Ikeda states:

        “The essential purpose of all religions is to impart hope and give meaning

        to our lives.  All religions basically aim to provide inner serenity and contribute

        to happiness and peace. 

        In that sense they share the fundamental goal of benefitting people.  


        I firmly believe that a profound recognition of this common ground

        is the requirement of religion in this age of globalisation. 

        It also serves as the foundation for interfaith dialogue,

        one of the pressing challenges facing human civilisation.

        Of course each religion is unique and different ... But all of these

        differing religious teachings contain, in some form, insights and truths

        for enabling human beings to attain happiness. 

        By learning from those respective insights and truths - while recognising their        

        mutual differences - all religions can improve their capacity for fulfilling their        

        essential role in guiding people to happiness.

        According to the Lotus Sutra - which is the essence of Mahayana Buddhism - 

        the wish of Mahayana bodhisattva to realise happiness for both self and others

        is the fundamental wish of all human beings.  Awakening people to this

        fundamental wish and enabling them to bring forth their positive potential is,

        I believe, the essential mission not only of Buddhism, but of all religions”.  

Achievements of NonBuddhist scholars

It is quiet common to find references in SGI literature to the work or statements

of non-Buddhist scholars.  Many successful individuals in the field of culture or science, did not follow Nichiren Buddhism and did not chant the daimoku in order to arrive at their achievements.  They did, however, devote their efforts in the correct direction, obviously making the proper causes which led to their beneficial results.

People who are successful in their life are in fact intuitively practicing the correct bond of Cause and Effect.  In practical sense, successful individuals world wide did follow the Law of Cause and Effect –  without specifically practicing Buddhism.  The essence of this truth is poetically explained in Nichiren’s remarkable statement:

“Just as flowers open up and bear fruit…

just as a lamp becomes brighter when oil is added,

and just as plants and trees flourish with rain,

so will human beings never fail to prosper when they make good causes”.

According to Nichiren: “all human beings” - will prosper when they follow the correct causes leading to beneficial effects.

This statement clearly shows Buddhist open-mindedness: he did not exclusively mention “my disciples only”…will prosper” - but all people - expressing the impartial character of the Law of Cause and Effect, encompassing all humanity and the environment.

It is also remarkable that Nichiren takes examples from the natural phenomena

such as “plants and trees flourish with rain to indicate that it is also natural for any person - regardless of religion - to prosper if the correct causes are made.

In order to remove the barriers of religious exclusiveness, Ikeda suggests a focus on the aspect of “humanity” in relations - shared by all people:

“Being based on the people is the same as being based on humanity.

This focus on the welfare of humanity shines with a brilliance

that transcends sectarianism and distinction of priesthood and laity.

What can I - an ordinary human being - do for others, for society?

This is the spirit of the Lotus Sutra.” The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra P.56