Archive: “The Power of One” vs. “The Cowardice of Many”

“The Power of One” vs. “The Cowardice of Many”

Comments on JN’s lecture, Nichiren Daishonin’s Birthday, posted 2/14/2005.

Jisei Nagasaka reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about the letter and spirit of Nichiren Buddhism in the following quote:

“When all people attain enlightenment, they will naturally manifest the compassion and behavior of the Buddha. At that time, when all people are holding the Buddha’s compassion and behavior, they will never commit meaningless killings like we witness everyday in this world.”

JN misses the most crucial point in Nichiren Buddhism: the very crux of Buddhism centers on “The Power of One” and not with “all people.”

The Lotus Sutra reveals the magnificence of a single life and juxtaposes it against the life of the universe.  Ichinen Sanzen means that a single human life (ichinen) can move the universe (sanzen).  “Opening the Eyes” means to open our eyes that we can instantaneously manifest universal enlightenment.  Nichiren read the Lotus Sutra with his life which means he proved through his own actions that a single individual can surmount any obstacle.  It is one empowered individual that can create world peace, not billions of disempowered individuals.

This is so obvious that I find it shocking the JN is oblivious to this point.  The Gosho states, “Though numerous, the Japanese will find it difficult to accomplish anything, because they are divided in spirit. In contrast, although Nichiren and his followers are few, because they are different in body, but united in mind, they will definitely accomplish their great mission of widely propagating the Lotus Sutra.”  The lion-like spirit of Nichiren was not concerned with numbers, his attitude was, “I’ll do it!”  That should be our spirit as followers.  We should not be cowardly and wait for others.

Buddhism concerns itself with the drama of life, the heroic battle of an individual to develop him/herself to the point that they can triumph over countless obstacles.  JN’s sermons are cold because they are detached from the current of life.  Where are his rejoinders to grow and study?  Where are his examples of how he has transformed his own life?

The Daishonin writes in “The True Entity of Life,” “If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth” (MW-I, 93).  Nichiren lived his life with the spirit of a lion, defeating every obstacle in his path, electrifying his disciples, and changing the very chords of history.  We don’t need millions, we now need lions.  Gandhi said, “What is possible for one person is possible for all people.”  One gifted and determined individual can unlock any tangle of history.  One person can change the trend of the economy.  One person can change the direction of education.  Nichiren’s Buddhism is to create trailblazers, not blind followers.

Again and again Nichiren prodded his disciples to develop themselves, their “Power of One.”  “Even a sword will be of no use to a coward,” “A sword is useless in the hands of a coward,” “A coward cannot have any of his prayers answered,” “Nichiren’s disciples cannot accomplish anything if they are cowardly.”

JN, it is time for you to throw away your tools of disempowerment.  Stop preaching fairy tales that the world will be better when one day everyone practices.  This is a religious teaching that truly is the opiate of the people.  Instead show your members how to take courageous action so with their own hands they can help build a world without killing.


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