Kōsen-rufu | Lotus Sūtra
Kōsen-rufu | Lotus Sūtra

1. Kōsen-rufu

Kōsen-rufu, a phrase found in the Japanese translation of the Buddhist scripture Lotus Sūtra, is informally defined to as world peace through individual happiness. It refers to the future widespread dissemination of the Lotus Sūtra.

The term derives from Lotus Sūtra's 23rd chapter:

Propagate this chapter widely throughout the Jambudvīpa in the last 500-year period after my death.

Nichiren (1222–1282), the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, took this statement to indicate that the Lotus Sūtra is the Law to be declared and widely spread during the Latter Age.

Kōsen means to widely declare.

Widely implies speaking out to the world, to an ever-greater number and ever-broader spectrum of people.

Declare means to proclaim one's ideals, principles and philosophy.

The Ru (flow) of rufu means a current like that of a great river, and Fu (cloth) means to spread out like a bolt of cloth.

This often requires an active and engaged approach of Shakubuku, propagation of the Dharma, rather than peaceful retreat or meditative solitude.

2. Kōsen-rufu as peace-making

Literally, Kōsen-rufu means to declare and spread widely the teachings of the Buddha.

However, the term “Kōsen-rufu has come to connote World Peace based on the Lotus Sūtra and Nichiren teachings.

The Sōka Gakkai, Risshō Kōsei Kai, and Nipponzan-Myōhōji are Nichiren-inspired new Buddhist movements headquartered in Japan that have incorporated peace activities into their religious practice.

According to the Sōka Gakkai and Nipponzan-Myōhōji, Nichiren stressed the ideal of achieving Kōsen-rufu in Buddhist practice because he felt that the quests for personal enlightenment and the peace and well-being of the entire society were inseparable.

Both the Sōka Gakkai and Rissho Kosei Kai hold that peace-making and social improvement require inner personal transformation:

The Sōka Gakkai labels this as human revolution and Risshō Kosei Kai calls it reformation of the mind.

Both groups reason that since war, strife, and injustice are rooted in the 3 poisons of greed, anger, and delusion existing in the minds of individuals, the creation of lasting peace requires individual self-purification taken on by many people.

From their perspective of Buddhism is daily life, activities at home, school or the workplace become part of the Buddhist practice, opportunities for growth and are means to demonstrate the validity of the Lotus Sūtra.

3. Sōka Gakkai

The largest of the 3 socially engaged Nichiren groups is the Sōka Gakkai.

Since the start of its post-war history it has equated its propagation efforts with a quest to contribute to peace-making.

Its members meet in local community small discussion groups called Zadankai:

Member identification with the organization's goals is strengthened through activities organized around age, gender, and professional interests.

In addition it is active in nuclear arms abolition, support for the United Nations, and engagement with like-minded religionists.

4. Risshō Kōsei Kai

The 2nd largest of these groups is the Risshō Kōsei Kai.

It sponsors peace-making through peace activism, ecumenical, and anti-poverty activities.

In addition to its global footprint its members meet locally in Dharma circles (Hōza) for problem-solving counselling based on the group's teachings.

It also solidifies membership identification through activities organized by age, gender, and professional interests.

5. Nipponzan-Myōhōji

Nipponzan-Myōhōji, with a membership of fewer than 1500 clerics and lay members, is the smallest of the 3 socially engaged Nichiren movements.

It was founded in 1947 by peace activist Nichidatsu Fujii (1885-1985) who was deeply influenced by his personal relationship with Mahatma Gandhi.

Fujii constructed a movement active in building peace pagodas throughout the world and leading peace walks in places with histories of strife.

Whereas the Sōka Gakkai and Risshō Kōsei Kai attempt to create change by working within the system, Nipponzan-Myōhōji engages in non-violent civil protest on behalf of disarmament, human rights, social justice, and environmental protection.