Shakubuku "break and subdue" (折伏) is a term that originates in the Chinese version of the Buddhist text, Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra.

Translations of
EnglishBreak and subdue
Glossary of Buddhism

The term has historically been used to indicate the rebuttal of false teachings and thereby break negative patterns in one's thoughts, words and deeds.[1]: 133  In modern times, the term often refers to the proselytization and conversion of new adherents in Nichiren Buddhism and especially Soka Gakkai (see second President of Soka Gakkai Josei Toda), and the rebuttal of teachings regarded as heretical or preliminary.[2][3] However, shakubuku had begun to be de-emphasised by Soka Gakkai leadership by the end of the 1960's, in part because it was leading to an excessive number of lukewarm or undedicated conversions, with many new members soon falling off.[4]

Although often associated with the teachings of the Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren, the term appears often in the SAT Daizokyo and the works of the Chinese Tiantai patriarchs Zhiyi and Zhanran. Nichiren Buddhist organizations such as Kokuchūkai, Nichiren Shōshū and Soka Gakkai continue to use the term today, which is meant to underline or convince a counterpart of one's own interpretation of Buddhism. The term took on a more militant meaning by Japanese Nichiren Buddhist ultranationalists in the Imperial era, such as Tanaka Chigaku and Nisshō Inoue, whose ideas are known as Nichirenism.[5]

Another method of propagation mentioned by Nichiren is shōju (摂受), which underlines the individual's own insight on Buddhism. Nichiren himself referred to both methods in his "Opening of the Eyes" (開目抄, Kaimokushō). A combination of the two is known as shōju-shakubuku (摂受折伏).[6]In Japan, the term shakubuku is used when proselytising adherents of other Buddhist traditions, while shōju is used when proselytising non-Buddhists. In the West today, though, shakubuku and shōju are interchangeably used to refer to the same method of proselytization of Nichiren Buddhism.[7]


  1. ^ Granoff, Phyllis; Shinohara, Koichi (2012). Sins and sinners : perspectives from Asian religions. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-9004229464.
  2. ^ Moos, Felix (March 1963). "Religion and Politics in Japan: The Case of the Soka Gakkai" (PDF). Asian Survey. 3 (3): 136–142. doi:10.2307/3023621. hdl:1808/1135. JSTOR 3023621. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  3. ^ McRae, John (2004), The Sutra of Queen Śrīmālā of the Lion's Roar and the Vimalakīrti Sutra (PDF), Berkeley, CA: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, p. 49, ISBN 1886439311, archived from the original (PDF) on 12 September 2014, All the remaining living beings who stubbornly cling to false teachings, instead of to the most profound Dharma, turn their backs to the True Dharma and habitually practice the corrupt ways of various heterodoxies. These corrupt ways must be subdued by the King’s powers and by the powers of the divine nāgas.
  4. ^ Hashimoto, Hideo; McPherson, William (1976). "Rise and Decline of Sokagakkai Japan and the United States". Review of Religious Research. 17 (2): 82–92. doi:10.2307/3510626. ISSN 0034-673X. JSTOR 3510626.
  5. ^ Large, Stephen S. (2001). "Nationalist Extremism in Early Shōwa Japan: Inoue Nisshō and the 'Blood-Pledge Corps Incident', 1932". Modern Asian Studies. 35 (3): 533–564. doi:10.1017/S0026749X0100302X. ISSN 0026-749X. JSTOR 313180. S2CID 145519638.
  6. ^ Britannica Kokusai Dai-Hyakkajiten article on "shōju-shakubuku".
  7. ^ A Dictionary of Buddhist Terms and Concepts. Nichiren Shoshu International Center, ISBN 4-88872-014-2, page 376-393