Fighting 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 BuddhismWND 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 is 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 viewing its essence through particular perspective. 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  and “All phenomena are manifestations of the LawWND 403.

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. In practical sense, successful individuals world wide did follow the Law of Cause and Effect – in terms of their causes and efforts -  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”.


This statement clearly shows Nichiren’s open-mindedness: he did not exclusively mention “my disciples…will prosper” but all “human beings…will prosper”, 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 environment such as “plants and trees flourish with rain” to indicate that it is 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


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The struggle against narrow-mindedness  


SGI Interfaith Activities


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