From SGI President Ikeda’s Study Lecture Series
Learning From The Writings: The Teachings For Victory
 “Letter From Sado,” Part 1 My Disciples Win With The Heart of a Lion King!
Dedicate This Supreme Life to Buddhism
The way of the world dictates that one should repay a great obligation to another, even at the cost of one’s life. Many warriors die for their lords, perhaps many more than one would imagine. A man will die to defend his honor; a woman will die for a man. Fish want to survive; they deplore their pond’s shallowness and dig holes in the bottom to hide in, yet tricked by bait, they take the hook. Birds in a tree fear that they are too low and perch in the top branches, yet bewitched by bait, they too are caught in snares. Human beings are equally vulnerable. They give their lives for shallow,worldly matters but rarely for the Buddha’s precious teachings. Small wonder they do not attain Buddhahood.
(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 301)
E arlier, by noting that people often lose their lives in accidents or in armed conflicts—which he expresses as “the pain of fire” and “the flashing of swords” (WND-1, 301)—Nichiren Daishonin reminds us that all people treasure their own lives.
In this next section, he also points out that there are many examples of people laying down their lives in accord with their society’s moral conven- tions and values.
There are also many cases of people foolishly duped into sacrificing their lives, try as they might to protect themselves from harm. The behavior of the fish and birds described in this section are based on the insights of ancient thinkers documented in such works as Zhenguan zhengyao (The Essentials of Government in the Chen-kuan Era),1 a Chinese classic on the art of leadership. “Tricked by bait” is a metaphor for how human beings—even though taking various measures and precautions to stay safe—may be swept away by immediate desires or have a lapse of judgment due to narrow thinking, leading ultimately to their self-destruction. Sadly, such human folly remains very much in evidence today.
Nichiren, therefore, counsels that rather than giving our lives—the most valuable possession of all—for “shallow, worldly matters,” we should dedicate them to “the Buddha’s precious teachings.”
We speak of “not begrudging one’s life,” but Nichiren Buddhism is definitely not a teaching of reckless self-sacrifice or martyrdom. Mr. Makiguchi, Mr. Toda and I—the first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai—have taken action with the resolve to advance kosen-rufu in such a way that not one member is sacrificed, and we have willingly given our all toward that end. In the future as well, this must remain the spirit of successive Soka Gakkai presidents.