Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace

Leaders Who Guide Others to Happiness

Part 3: Kosen-Rufu and World Peace, Chapter 24.


PART 3:
KOSEN-RUFU
AND WORLD PEACE

– Part 2 of 2 –

OVERVIEW OF THIS SERIES

 

“The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace” is a three-part series that features key selections from SGI President Ikeda’s collected works, which thus far have been compiled into 150 volumes in Japanese. These selections introduce core concepts expressing the wisdom and universal message of Nichiren Buddhism. Through this series, SGI members throughout the world are able to simultaneously study the SGI president’s thought and philosophy.

This series has been designated as the material for monthly district study meetings throughout the SGI-USA.

The following is a breakdown of the three-year series, which began serialization in the July 2014 Living Buddhism.

  1. HAPPINESS discusses the differences between relative and absolute happiness; the teaching of the Ten Worlds as a principle for transforming our lives; the significance of carrying out the daily practice of reciting the sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for making that transformation; and the Buddhist view of life and death, in which both are experienced with joy.
  2. HUMAN REVOLUTION focuses on the Buddhist way of life, in which people strive to bring forth their highest potential and shine with courage, wisdom and compassion.
  3. KOSEN-RUFU AND WORLD PEACE takes up the ideals and principles of worldwide kosen-rufu; the movement and humanistic organization of the SGI; the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple shared by the three founding Soka Gakkai presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda; world peace; and respect for the dignity of life.

CHAPTER 24:

Leaders Who Guide Others to Happiness

(Part 2 of 2)

24.6 ■ The Significance of Soka Gakkai Leadership Positions

SGI President Ikeda explains the great significance and responsibility of leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai.

President Ikeda’s Guidance

From a speech delivered at a Tokyo No. 2 Area executive conference, Tokyo, February 3, 2005.

The Soka Gakkai is the organization for kosen-rufu
that is acting in exact accord with the Buddha’s
intent.

All leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai are for the sake of kosen-rufu. For that reason, they have great significance.

Those who recognize the importance of their leadership positions and strive to carry out their duties with a sense of responsibility will lead lives of supreme value and fulfillment. They will accumulate good fortune and benefit that will
endure throughout eternity, and walk a sure path leading in the direction of victory and happiness.

All kinds of organizations, including businesses and governments, have leadership positions. But leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai are of a completely different nature because they are based on the Mystic Law, which permeates life throughout the three existences of past, present and future.

Never put your position in society ahead of, or look down on, your position in the Soka Gakkai.

To make light of Soka Gakkai positions and treat them casually is foolish. Those who do so ultimately destroy their own good fortune and slide down the slope to unhappiness and defeat.

Of course, organizational positions in the Soka Gakkai are not a measure of faith. It is completely inappropriate and inexcusable for leaders to behave high-handedly because of their positions. Leaders have a duty to serve and work for the happiness of the members.

Also, you shouldn’t allow your organizational position to define or limit you as a person. Remain free and true to yourself. Your faith is what matters above all. What’s crucial is your awareness as leaders.

The Soka Gakkai is an organization that exists to help people—to share the practice of Nichiren Buddhism with those who are suffering and enable them to become happy. Nothing is nobler, therefore, than serving in leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai.

I hope you will have an even deeper awareness of your responsibilities as leaders and do your best to fulfill them. Through doing so, you will gain immense benefit and realize a state of life that guarantees you eternally indestructible happiness in lifetime after lifetime.


24.7 ■ Live With Energy and Vigor!

President Ikeda discusses the requirements and qualities needed by leaders in the Soka Gakkai.

President Ikeda’s Guidance

From a speech delivered at a representative leadersgongyo meeting, Tokyo, September 11, 2004.

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda was always in complete earnest in the struggle for kosen-rufu. When the leaders are truly serious, the members will be, too. In such an organization, no matter how intense the struggle, everyone will share a warm spirit of mutual trust.

The commitment and actions of the central leaders are paramount. In accord with the principle of “consistency from beginning to end,” they determine the success or failure of that particular organizational unit as a whole. Buddhism is strict. Our commitment in faith must be firm and true.

Self-centeredness and arrogance not only destroy one’s own faith, but also that of others. Arrogance is a devilish function that destroys faith. Only by banishing arrogance can we achieve new growth and development in kosen-rufu. Please deeply engrave this in your hearts.

Leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai are supremely noble assignments in the struggle for kosen-rufu. The greater your responsibility, the greater the challenges you will face; but also the greater the benefit you will gain.

In particular, men need to value and respect women. Also, seniors must support their juniors and help them grow.

The higher your organizational position, the more humble and courteous you should be to others. That is what makes a person truly admirable.

The important thing is to live with energy and vigor, because that proves the benefit of our Buddhist practice. As Nichiren Daishonin indicates, “You will grow younger, and your good fortune will accumulate” (“The Unity of Husband and Wife,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 464).

Buddhism teaches the principle that “earthly desires lead to enlightenment.” Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with fierce determination, we blast away all problems and worries!

We are living in a time of turbulent change. Everything is moving at a rapid pace. The more this intensifies, the more youthful in spirit our leaders need to be. Those who are passive, timid and don’t fight for kosen-rufu will quickly grow old. Strive, take action and put your mind to work for the happiness of the members. Bravely take on challenges. That will keep you young and living longer, and fill your life with joy.

Winning leaders move forward confidently, with a refreshed, exuberant spirit. They speak convincingly. Their faces shine and their lives brim with vitality.

Leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai are supremely noble assignments in the struggle for kosen-rufu. The greater your responsibility, the greater the challenges you will face, but also the greater the benefit you will gain. You will achieve victory as a human being, and shine and succeed in society. The experience will add something positive to your life.

Some of you have vice leadership positions. If you fail to clearly establish what your responsibilities are and don’t put any real effort into fulfilling them, you will receive no benefit. What matters is whether or not you burn with a genuine fighting spirit for kosen-rufu. “It is the heart that is important” (“The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1000).

If you devote yourself to faith with a pure heart, you can polish the mirror of your life so that it shines eternally.

Please continue to forge ahead on the path of kosen-rufu and leave a record of victory and success on the stage of your mission.


24.8 ■  Finding and Fostering
Capable Individuals

President Ikeda explains that an important mission of Soka Gakkai leaders is finding capable people and then fostering those individuals to surpass themselves.

President Ikeda’s Guidance

From a speech delivered at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, January 20, 1994.

Both Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda put their greatest energy into fostering capable individuals. Everything depends upon people, upon capable individuals. The Law is important, but people are key. It is people who spread the Law, and the Law enables people to flourish.

I hope, therefore, that as leaders, you will devote yourselves wholeheartedly to fostering capable individuals. Never look at your juniors as subordinates or underlings. We successfully foster the growth of others—and ourselves—when we strive with the conviction that they have even greater potential than we do, and resolve to do everything we can to
help them surpass us.

Mr. Makiguchi said that fostering capable individuals is like trying to find gold in sand.”

Leaders need to think about how they can help everyone become happy, become successful and give full play to their potential.

If we just carry out activities routinely, without that special focus, we won’t be able to raise capable people. We need to consciously chant and make active efforts toward that goal. We cannot build a full-fledged golden tower of capable individuals by simply going through the motions.

Mr. Makiguchi said that fostering capable individuals “is like trying to find gold in sand.” That is very true. He praised his fellow members, saying: “You are truly gold found among sand. Yet, though you are gold, you didn’t shine as gold
to begin with; you were like muddy rocks . . . Being ‘found,’ you now shine as splendid gold.”[1]Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), vol. 10, p. 22. All people possess a golden brilliance within them. As leaders, we must constantly bear this in mind and do everything possible to help them reveal their golden light.

It is important for leaders to meet with many people and take wide-ranging action, but what is the ultimate purpose of such efforts? It is to find gold in the form of capable individuals and foster them until they shine with their true golden brilliance. We must never forget that crucial point.

That’s why Mr. Toda, inheriting Mr. Makiguchi’s spirit, declared: “The Soka Gakkai must build a bastion of capable individuals!”

Houston: The members in the early days of the Soka Gakkai rose up with a spirit of absolute determination to triumph and achieve kosen-rufu in their communities. Photo: Raul Teran.

“Building a bastion of capable individuals”—this is our eternal guideline. To fight, win and ceaselessly open the way forward with capable individuals—this is the Soka Gakkai’s creed.

From this year, I am determined to put even greater energy into fostering capable individuals.

I want to foster people who will genuinely work for kosen-rufu, leaders willing to work hard for the members, world-class leaders, not self-serving individuals who sit back and let others do the hard work. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I want to train and foster such leaders.

 


24.9 ■ One Person of Passionate Commitment Is Stronger Than a Force of Untold Numbers

President Ikeda expresses his firm belief that his prayers and efforts based on a vow to protect his mentor and
fellow members by taking on the brunt of all persecutions opened the way to worldwide kosen-rufu.

President Ikeda’s Guidance

From a speech delivered at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, February 24, 1996.

In August 53 years ago (in 1947), I became a disciple of Josei Toda. Soon after joining the Soka Gakkai, I read Nichiren Daishonin’s writing “On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings.” There is one passage that says:

Once you become a disciple or lay supporter of the votary who practices the true Lotus Sutra in accord with the Buddha’s teachings, you are bound to face the three types of enemies [arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages].[2]Three types of enemies: Also, three powerful enemies. Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, described in the concluding verse section of “Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China summarizes them as arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages. Therefore, from the very day you listen to [and take faith in] this sutra, you should b e fully prepared to face the great persecutions of the three types of enemies that ar e certain to be more horrible now after the Buddha’s passing. (WND-1, 391)

As a disciple who took Mr. Toda’s spirit as my own, I made the following vow: “Let me alone bear the brunt of any persecutions. Allow me to protect my mentor Mr. Toda and all the members
of the Soka Gakkai.”

Over the last 53 years, I have constantly prayed and striven to fulfill that vow. It is my greatest personal pride that, while fighting fiercely against the three types of enemies predicted by the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren’s writings, I have been able to open the way for worldwide kosen-rufu, extending our movement to 163 countries and territories [now 192], without a single person losing their life to persecution.

When he was about to be executed at Tatsunokuchi, Nichiren Daishonin exclaimed: “What greater joy could there be?” (“The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 767). And when he was exiled to Sado, he declared: “Because I view things this way, I feel immeasurable delight even though I am now an exile” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” WND-1, 386). In life and in the struggle for kosen-rufu, all our sufferings and earthly desires are fuel for our enlightenment. The tougher the challenges we face, the greater the joy and benefit, and the higher the life condition we will ultimately savor.

It’s important for leaders to resolve to work harder than anyone. They should also keep striving and live their lives cheerfully and confidently, determined to enjoy themselves more than anyone. People with such resolve are invincible; no one is a match for them. One person of pa ssionate commitment is stronger than a force of untold numbers.

The outcome of a struggle is decided by the leaders’ determination, by their sense of responsibility.

Minneapolis:One person of passionate commitment is stronger than a force of untold numbers. Photo: Val Bourassa.

The members in the early days of the Soka Gakkai rose up with a spirit of absolute determination to triumph and achieve kosen-rufu in their communities. If you have that determination, capable people will appear and join you in realizing that goal. Your resolve will also be communicated to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the universe, who will respond to your dedication. In other words, resolute prayer is the key. And just as the fields burst into flower when spring comes, all of your efforts, too, will blossom without fail when the right time comes.

 

 


24.10 ■ Having Sincere Concern for the Members

President Ikeda expresses his appreciation to members who made the journey to attend a Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting in spite of difficult travel conditions caused by record snowfalls.

President Ikeda’s Guidance

From a speech delivered at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, January 6, 2006..

From the end of last year (2005), many areas around Japan, particularly Hokkaido, Tohoku, Shin’etsu, Hokuriku and Chugoku, have been experiencing record snowfalls. To all our members who are battling heavy snows in places such as Akita, Niigata and Fukui prefectures, please know that my prayers and thoughts are with you. My deepest appreciation also to everyone who has traveled here despite many snow-related delays and inconveniences. I know that it has taken our Akita Prefecture women’s division leader, who runs a bakery, two whole days to get here. I have heard of many other similar cases.

Twenty-four hours a day, I receive an unending stream of reports on matters, big and small, concerning our members. If there has been a traffic accident, I know where it’s happened. I know who’s in the hospital at the present moment and what condition they are in. Reports pour in from morning until night. Many times, a report has prompted me to jump out of bed in the middle of the night to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Leadership positions in the Soka Gakkai have nothing to do with status or rank like those found in society. Genuine Soka Gakkai leaders are those who fulfill every task before them with a solemn sense of responsibility, working single-mindedly for the welfare of the members and for kosen-rufu. This is something that must never, ever be forgotten.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Concerned about my life in the mountains, you had your messenger make his way through the snow to call on me. Your sincerity has no doubt been recognized by the Lotus Sutra and the ten demon daughters [guardian deities of Buddhism]” (“No Safety in the Threefold World,” WND-1, 891). When I heard about the damage caused by the heavy snowfalls, I immediately thought of this passage.

Making one’s way through the snow for the sake of the Mystic Law—taken in the broadest sense in terms of our activities for kosen-rufu today, this corresponds to our earnest efforts to offer guidance and encouragement, to share the teachings of Buddhism with others, and to be diligent in organizational communications and reporting.

Genuine Soka Gakkai leaders are those who fulfill every task before them with a solemn sense of responsibility.

The Daishonin highly praises such dedication, telling the letter’s recipient [the lay priest Matsuno Rokuro Saemon] that he appreciates his sincerity and pure intent. In the same way, he is surely applauding all of you most heartily for your devoted efforts. Your benefit is beyond measure.

Naturally, I don’t want any of you to overexert yourselves or put yourselves at risk. I ask our leaders not to place unreasonable demands on members, but to always give foremost priority to everyone’s health and safety.

I am praying with all my heart for the safety and well-being of our members living in heavy snowfall areas.


 

24.11 ■ The Foremost Message of the Buddha

President Ikeda declares that the foremost message that Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin wished to convey
to us is to respect our fellow Buddhist practitioners and our fellow human beings.

President Ikeda’s Guidance

From a speech delivered at a joint conference of prefecture leaders and Tokyo ward leaders, Tokyo, December 21, 1991.

Your selfless, unsparing and tireless efforts for the sake of your fellow members, sincere practitioners of Buddhism, and for kosen-rufu are incredibly noble. The essence of the Lotus Sutra and the fundamental spirit of Nichiren Buddhism pulse vibrantly in such actions to protect and care for others.

Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Francisco J. Palacio.

This is the final message that Shakyamuni taught in the 28 chapters of the Lotus Sutra: Treat those who uphold the sutra as if they are Buddhas. I am referring to the passage from “Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy,” the 28th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in which Shakyamuni tells Bodhisattva Universal Worthy: “If you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 365).

This is the very last teaching presented by Shakyamuni in the Lotus Sutra. It is also a passage that we of the Soka Gakkai have put into practice in our own lives.

The fundamental attitude of Soka Gakkai leaders must always be to value their fellow members to the highest degree and serve them sincerely. This spirit is what has enabled the Soka Gakkai to grow to the extent it has. Putting the members first is the eternal and unchanging spirit of the Soka Gakkai.

The essence of the Lotus Sutra and the fundamental spirit of Nichiren Buddhism pulse vibrantly in such actions to protect and care for others.

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren comments on that passage from the “Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy” chapter as follows:

In this chapter Shakyamuni Buddha revealed the foremost point he wished to convey to us. The Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra over a period of eight years, and eight characters sum up the message that he has left behind for living beings in this later age, the Latter Day of the Law. It is in the passage that reads, “Therefore, Universal Worthy, if you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” particularly the eight characters that make up the end of the passage, “you should rise and greet him,” etc. With this passage the words of Shakyamuni Buddha in the sutra come to an end, thus in effect ending the sutra.

The word “should” shows that these words refer to the future. The words “should rise and greet him from afar” indicate that the sutra passage is saying that one should without fail show the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra the kind of respect one would show to a Buddha. (OTT, 192–93)

We need to respect and value most highly those who embrace the Mystic Law. That is the “foremost point [the Buddha] wished to convey to us.” The word “should” [in the phrase “you should rise and greet him from afar”] refers to the future, the Latter Day of the Law in which we are living at present. In a specific sense, the “practitioners of the Lotus Sutra” refers to Nichiren Daishonin, but in a general sense, it refers to all his disciples dedicated to kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law.

Respect the practitioners of Buddhism, respect all human beings—this is the foremost message the Buddha seeks to convey. We of the Soka Gakkai are inspired by, grateful for and in complete understanding with this humanism, this love of humanity, that pulses vibrantly in the teachings of Shakyamuni and Nichiren Daishonin. Let us vow together to advance forever in perfect accord with this message.

Translated from the January 2017 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai monthly study journal.

With President Ikeda’s permission, some minor edits and revisions have been made to the original Japanese, and excerpts of remarks originally in dialogue format have been recast as monologues for ease of reading.

—Selected Excerpts Editorial Committee

(pp. 55–63)

Notes   [ + ]

1. Translated from Japanese. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Makiguchi Tsunesaburo zenshu (Collected Writings of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi), (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 1987), vol. 10, p. 22.
2. Three types of enemies: Also, three powerful enemies. Three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, described in the concluding verse section of “Encouraging Devotion,” the 13th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Miao-lo of China summarizes them as arrogant lay people, arrogant priests and arrogant false sages.

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