Feature

50 Years of the Men's Division: Let’s Create a New History of Victory

SGI-USA Men’s Leader Cliff Sawyer on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the men’s division.

General Director Hiroshi Izumida encourages men gathered on March 5, 1966.


Congratulations to all the members of the SGI-USA! We have welcomed this Year of Expansion in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu with many victories.

For the men of the SGI-USA, we have the added excitement and privilege of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the men’s division on March 5!

Last September, I had the honor of being appointed the national men’s leader, and, on that occasion, returned to the core points that SGI President Ikeda expressed when the men’s division was established. This history is detailed in the “Crown Champions” chapter in volume 10 of The New Human Revolution. CliffSawyer_2015_v2In this chapter, Sensei describes the atmosphere and spirit of the establishment of the men’s division. There are five points regarding the role of the men’s division that serve as inspiration for me. Based on this, let’s unite the men of America and build an organization in line with our mentor’s vision:

1) “While one of the men’s division’s main functions is to foster men, I hope you will not view yourselves as just one of the Soka Gakkai’s divisions but that you will promote harmony among all and shoulder responsibility for protecting the Soka Gakkai and the entire membership.” (p. 318)

2) “I would particularly like you to support the young men as they strive to reveal their potential, providing them with opportunities to actively work on the front lines and taking full responsibility for their development. I would also like you to warmly support and protect the women’s and young women’s members.” (p. 319)

3) “The men’s division is a model of faith for the other divisions.” (p. 319) During the March 5, 1966, meeting establishing the men’s division, a representative leads the reading of Daisaku Ikeda’s essay titled “Valiant Champions of the Mystic Law,” Shinanomachi, Tokyo.

4) “If you persevere with strong faith no matter what happens, members of the other divisions will readily follow your admirable example.” (p. 319)

5) “No matter what circumstances we may encounter, it is vital that we never regress in faith” (p. 320); “Each of you possess great ability. I hope you will apply all of your talents to the advancement of kosen-rufu.” (p. 321)

During the March 5, 1966, meeting establishing the men's division, a representative leads the reading of Daisaku Ikeda's essay titled "Valiant Champions of the Mystic Law," Shinanomachi, Tokyo. Photo: Seikyo Press.
During the March 5, 1966, meeting establishing the men’s division, a representative leads the reading of Daisaku Ikeda’s essay titled “Valiant Champions of the Mystic Law,” Shinanomachi, Tokyo. Photo: Seikyo Press.

These points clarify the role of the men’s division and also shed light on the impact that one person can have on our organization.

We sometimes face situations where we are inspired to take on the great challenge in front of us, but also feel overwhelmed by the enormity of our responsibility for kosen-rufu. Knowing exactly what we go through, President Ikeda finds many ways to express his confidence in our faith and abilities. For example, during the historic March 5, 1966, meeting where the men’s division was established, he urges the men to live lives of no regret based on this passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings: “Since death is the same in either case, you should be willing to offer your life for the Lotus Sutra. Think of this offering as a drop of dew rejoining the ocean, or a speck of dust returning to the earth” (“The Dragon Gate,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1003).

President Ikeda says to the men:

A lifetime passes quickly. And the period in that lifetime when we can be energetic and active is limited . . .

If you don’t stand up now, when will you? If you don’t exert yourselves now, when will you? How many decades do you intend to wait before you take your stand? There is no telling what condition you will be in then. You are in the prime of your life. It is a precious time in this present finite existence. I say this because I want you to have no regrets! (The New Human Revolution, vol. 10, pp. 321–22)

As President Ikeda prepared to leave that March 5 meeting, he bowed to all the participants, then raised his fist and called out: “Everyone! Let’s strive together! Let’s make a history of fresh achievements! If we are going to live this life, let us use it striving dynamically for the sake of the Law!”

With this same spirit, I ask all the men of the SGI-USA to make their own “great vow” to spread the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism far and wide, as we strive toward the 50th anniversary of the men’s division’s founding. Let’s meet together, where possible at the region or zone level, from February 28 to March 5 with a goal of gathering more men during this period of time than ever before—a great opportunity to create our own personal victories and mark a major advancement in American kosen-rufu.

In closing, I offer my deepest appreciation to the members of the women’s, young women’s and young men’s divisions for their untiring efforts and support!