SGI Quarterly staff: How can religion come to be seen as a "savior of humanity," not a threat to humanity?
Patriarch Bartholomew: On the sixth day of creation, God created man and woman in His divine image and likeness. Yet, what most people overlook is that the sixth day is not dedicated to the formation of Adam alone. That sixth day was shared, according to the Book of Genesis, with "living creatures of every kind; cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the Earth.î This close connection between humanity and the rest of creation is a powerful reminder of our intimate relationship with the environment. While there is undoubtedly something unique about our creation in God's image, there is more that unites us than separates us, not only as human beings but also with creation. It is a lesson we have learned the hard way in recent decades. The connection is not merely emotional; it is profoundly spiritual, providing a sense of continuity and community as well as an expression of identity and compassion with all of creation. In the seventh century, Abba Isaac the Syrian said: "A merciful heart burns with love for all creation: for human beings, birds and beasts--for all God's creatures." When we recognize this connection, then we shall be instruments of peace and life, not tools of violence and death. Then everything will assume its divine purpose, as God originally intended for the world."
Nichiren Daishonin: "I expounded this principle a long time ago, so it should not be new to you. One of the six stages of practice in the perfect teaching is the stage of perception and action. At this stage “one acts as one speaks and speaks as one acts.” Those at the stage of being a Buddha in theory only and at the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth believe in the perfect teaching; but even though they praise it, their actions fail to reflect their words. For example, countless people study the non-Buddhist works known as the Three Records and the Five Canons, but not even one case in ten million is found where a person governs society and behaves as the texts teach. Thus it is very difficult to establish peace in society. One may be letter-perfect in reciting the Lotus Sutra, but it is far more difficult to act as it teaches. The “Simile and Parable” chapter states, “If this person... on seeing those who read, recite, copy, and uphold this sutra, should despise, hate, envy, or bear grudges against them...” The “Teacher of the Law” chapter reads, “Since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound even when the Thus Come One is in the world, how much more will this be so after his passing?” The“Encouraging Devotion” chapter reads, “Many ignorant people will attack us with swords and staves... again and again we will be banished.” The “Peaceful Practices” chapter states, “It [the Lotus Sutra] will face much hostility in the world and be difficult to believe.” Although these quotations from the sutra are the Buddha’s prophecies, there is no reference to when these persecutions will occur. In the past, Bodhisattva Never Disparaging and the monk Realization of Virtue read and lived these passages. But setting aside the two thousand years of the Former and Middle Days of the Law, now, in the Latter Day, in all Japan only Nichiren seems to be doing so. From the present situation, I can well imagine how followers, relatives, disciples, and lay supporters must have grieved in the past when during the reigns of evil kings so many of their sage monks met persecution.
Nichiren has now read [and lived] the entirety of the Lotus sutra. Even a single phrase or verse assures one's enlightenment; since I have read the entire sutra, how much more certain is my enlightenment. I am more confident than ever. Though I may sound presumptuous, my most fervent wish is to realize the the security and peace of the entire land. In an age when none will heed me, however, it is beyond my power. I will close now to keep this brief."
Commentary: How much more difficult to create peace and harmony with the Bible and Q'uran as your guide?