Conviction Four

Respect for Human Dignity & Reverence for the Sanctity of Life Provide a Baseline Ethical Standard

This fundamental standard has far-reaching implications. How much damaging behavior depends on a denial of the inviolable integrity of persons and our planet? To name just two examples, widespread reports of torture and stark evidence of environmental catastrophes indicate that human dignity and the sanctity of life do not figure as strongly in our calculations as they must if we are to advance toward creative, sustainable cultures of peace. To respect this standard would require a major recalibration of our systems of interaction with each other and our world. For example, we might acknowlege the limitations of market-based economies in providing for the well being of all people and our planet. We might also question the use of military actions as a strategy for social change. The Ikeda Center supports behaviors that respect and nurture the "Buddha nature," or inherent positive potential, of all people.


The first [connection between Nichiren Buddhism and American Transcendentalism] is a respect for human dignity, a reverence for the mystery and sanctity of life. Both discover limitless possibility and the ultimate value in life itself. Both express belief that all life is endowed with an inherent dignity, that life in all its manifestations is unique, irreplaceable, and worthy of respect. (2004)

The Lotus Sutra teaches that all people possess an unsurpassed and inviolable dignity, which it terms “Buddha nature.” According to the sutra, expression and manifestation of one’s Buddha nature is life’s most fundamental goal. (2004)

In “Civil Disobedience” Thoreau states, “There will never be a really free and enlightened State, until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority is derived, and treats him accordingly.” (2004)

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