Feature

50,000 Lions of Justice: Ushering in an Era of Hope and Respect!

Introducing the theme for the 50,000 youth gathering in 2018.

Photo: SUNXSAND / GETTYIMAGES.

by David Witkowski, Olivia Saito
and Mike O’Malley
SGI-USA YOUTH LEADER, YOUNG WOMEN’S
LEADER AND YOUNG MEN’S LEADER

The long-awaited theme for SGI-USA’s gathering of 50,000 youth in 2018 has been decided:

50,000 Lions of Justice:
Ushering
 in an Era of Hope and Respect!

The theme is based on discussions among SGI-USA youth of all backgrounds and experiences, reflecting our united desire to create a world in which all people can live freely and with hope about the future of their lives, their families and their communities.

“Lions of Justice” expresses the fundamental spirit of the Soka Gakkai to courageously take action with a stand-alone spirit—the spirit to decide: Even if no one else lifts a finger, I will transform this situation with my own prayer and action! This courageous attitude will enable us to transform our personal karma and the karma of our ailing society. Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi declared: “A single lion will triumph over a thousand sheep.”[1]My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 413. In SGI President Ikeda’s poem titled, “Toward an Age of Buddhist Renaissance,” he further elaborates on these words from President Makiguchi:

“Rather one lion than a thousand sheep,”
said Makiguchi.
Like a lone rock, unyielding, jutting out from the sea,
meet the turbulent vortices of the world
and pierce them through, living as you believe,
polishing that which is most truly you.

The spiritual victory over barbarism—
that is Renaissance.
The power residing within revealed
to breach the walls of oppression
imposed from without—
this is one’s human revolution
and the true meaning of Renaissance.
[2]Jan. 1, 1997, World Tribune, p. 3.

In Nichiren Buddhism, we learn that absolute happiness comes from becoming a person who directly attacks and overcomes the forces of oppression, both external and internal, at the root. To achieve this, we must develop into lions, unafraid of any function in life that attempts to intimidate us and prevent us from fulfilling our unique mission and becoming happy. In President Ikeda’s poem from the March 4, 2017, Seikyo Shimbun, tentatively titled “Creating a Torrent of Capable People,” he says:

I want to develop genuine “lions”
who will persevere on the path of mentor and disciple
I want to raise lions who each possess the power and ability of a thousand.
I want to foster even one more lion of justice
who will remain unperturbed by the harshest storm.
This is my present wish and vow.

(see full poem at the end of the article)

“Ushering in an Era of Hope and Respect” requires that we develop an underlying profound respect for the dignity of all people, regardless of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity and so forth. As Buddhists, we understand that while each person has distinct physical features, experiences, personalities and preferences, we all share a common humanity as Bodhisattvas of the Earth. In his epic poem “The Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land,”

President Ikeda writes of surmounting the superficial distinctions that divide us:

As each group seeks its separate
roots and origins,
society fractures along a thousand fissure lines.
When neighbors distance themselves
from neighbors, continue your
uncompromising quest
for your truer roots
in the deepest regions of your life.
Seek out the primordial “roots” of humankind.
Then you will without fail discover
the stately expanse of
Jiyu
unfolding in the depths of your life.

Here is the home, the dwelling place
to which humankind traces
its original existence—
beyond all borders,
beyond all differences of gender and race.
Here is a world offering true proof
of our humanity.

If one reaches back to these fundamental roots,
all become friends and comrades.
To realize this is to “emerge from the earth.”[3]My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 208.

The youth of the SGI-USA are determined to unite with our mentor, President Ikeda, in this effort to raise 50,000 lions of justice who can powerfully transform the karma of humanity and erase the word “misery” from the face of the earth.


Creating a Torrent of Capable People

The following is a tentative translation of SGI President Ikeda’s poem, published in the March 4, 2017, Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

The entire future
is decided by successors.
If young people
stand up with the life and mission they inherit,
then we can continue
to win forever.
A person who has created
a torrent of capable people
is a true victor.

A successor is different from someone who follows.
Such people put themselves in a safe zone,
unaware of the pioneer’s painful struggles.
There is no way that such followers
could fulfill the responsibilities of true successors.
A successor must be a pioneer,
one who stands at the vanguard,
and plants the banner of victory.

In the world at large there is a tendency
to settle for shallow human relations,
to leave people alone.
But the Soka Gakkai is different.
We take every opportunity to engage in dialogue.
We listen and offer encouragement.
We suffer with others and pray with others.
We move together and struggle together.
As we get to know someone, we deepen our prayer:
“I will ensure they become a capable person for kosen-rufu!”
“I will help them form a bond with our mentor without fail!”
Such deep prayer provides the impetus for expanding the ranks of able individuals.

Those who live the way of mentor and disciple are strong.
They will surely keep winning.
I want to develop genuine “lions”
who will persevere on the path of mentor and disciple.
I want to raise lions who each possess the power and ability of a thousand.
I want to foster even one more lion of justice
who will remain unperturbed by the harshest storm.
This is my present wish and vow.


Roaring Lions

Toward the gathering of 50,000 youth in 2018, the SGI-USA youth have created these milestone meetings in 2017.

JULY

WHAT: Young Men’s General Meetings (July 9) and Young Women’s General Meetings (July 15), commemorating the founding of those divisions in 1951
GOAL: Gather 4,000 young men and 4,000 young women nationwide!

DECEMBER

WHAT: Champions of the New Era Meetings for all youth division members
GOAL: Gather 16,000 youth nationwide!

 

(pp. 6–7)

Notes   [ + ]

1. My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 413.
2. Jan. 1, 1997, World Tribune, p. 3.
3. My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 208.