Encouragement

Growing With the Future Division

SGI President Ikeda’s series “The Eternal Citadel of Soka.”

Precious— New York Zone future division members build friendships at the SGI-USA New York Culture Center, Sept. 10. Photo: Hosea Johnson.


The following is an essay from SGI President Ikeda’s series “The Eternal Citadel of Soka,” which originally appeared in the Aug. 1, 2017, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

Photo: Seikyo Press.

What a wonderful thing it is when a new life is born into this world!

A passage from one of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, in which he expresses his joy at the upcoming birth of a disciple’s child, resonates in my heart: “You will surely bear a jewel of a child who is going to inherit the seed for the propagation of the Lotus Sutra. I wholeheartedly congratulate you” (“Easy Delivery of a Fortune Child,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 186).

Each member of our future division is a “treasure tower” of the Mystic Law, a “jewel of a child” who has appeared at this time to carry on the mission of kosen-rufu.

• • •

I first began working at my mentor Josei Toda’s publishing company when I was 21 years old. It was very challenging, but at the same time, I really loved the work I was given—namely, editing a children’s magazine.

My hope was that all children would lead a good life in which they loved justice and peace. With that in mind, I contacted many of Japan’s leading authors in my effort to introduce the most inspiring words and best writing to my young readers. I sincerely told the writers of my aspirations for the magazine, and they readily agreed to contribute articles or ongoing series.

I fondly remember a particular occasion when one of the authors missed a deadline and I filled in by writing an article about the life of the great Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827), publishing it under the pen name of Shin’ichiro Yamamoto.

Pestalozzi declared that seeing boys and girls grow and bloom is a source of indescribable happiness.

I felt the same way. Fortunately, today I can still carry on heart-to-heart dialogues with our precious young members through such means as the Future Journal (the Soka Gakkai’s monthly newspaper for the junior high and high school divisions) and the Boys and Girls Hope News (the Soka Gakkai’s monthly newspaper for the elementary school division).

The sight of our future division members, who are striving to bring the flower of their mission to blossom, always makes my heart overflow with joy.

• • •

At the July Headquarters Leaders Meeting (on July 8, 2017), members of the elementary school, junior high and high school divisions gave a vibrant choral and musical presentation.

In their efforts leading up to their moving performance, they put their all into their studies and club activities, and helping their parents at home. I also heard that some of them overcame challenges—such as the illness of a family member or bullying at school—through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and making courageous efforts.

At the meeting, they sang the future division song “Torchbearers of Justice.” I composed the lyrics for this song in Okayama Prefecture in July 1978, in the midst of the first priesthood incident.[1]First priesthood incident: On April 24, 1979, Daisaku Ikeda resigned from his position as third Soka Gakkai president, attempting to bring an end to attacks on the Soka Gakkai and its members by self-serving priests of Nichiren Shoshu. He used this seeming setback as a springboard for focusing on global kosen-rufu as the president of the Soka Gakkai International. Under President Ikeda’s leadership, the SGI has expanded to 12 million members in 192 countries and territories. They contain the lines:

You, too, must not give in,
for someday we will fulfill the vow we made together,
walking this noble path. Through blizzards and raging storms,
we boldly press on.

I intentionally made it “you, too,” not just “you.” The spirit I wished to convey by doing so was: “My young friends in faith! You have fellow members who are facing challenges with the same goal as you! You have mothers and fathers of Soka forging ahead to open the difficult path on which you are advancing. People are praying and waiting expectantly, looking forward to your growth and victory. That is why you, too, must not lose, cannot lose. With your fellow members, with your parents, may you, too, boldly traverse the path of truth and justice!”

The future division members of that time who inherited this baton, this vow, are now shining as leaders of society and kosen-rufu.

The annual Future Division Dynamic Growth Month is under way in Japan [corresponding to the summer holiday period]. Fostering future division members is vitally important to ensuring the Soka Gakkai’s continued development.

Let us all wholeheartedly support our future division members as they take part in the many events and activities available during this time, including the future division English-Speaking Contest, the Book Review and Writing contests, and the Boys and Girls Hope Art Exhibition.

• • •

An important feature of humanistic education is that it is a process through which teacher and student learn and grow together, as opposed to one-sided instruction from teacher to student. This was one of the pioneering insights of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the founder of Soka education.

In the Soka Gakkai, the wisdom for fostering young people has accumulated through older and younger members working and striving together.

A number of events, like the Soka Family Gatherings, are being held so that future division members can gather with their families to learn about the history of the Soka Gakkai and the significance of activities for kosen-rufu, and together deepen their faith.

I would like to express my sincere admiration and appreciation to all those who are working so hard to nurture our future division members. I am also very grateful for the invaluable support of the Soka Gakkai Education and International departments in this regard.

• • •

Young people who are the age of our future division members are achieving great things around the world. There are also some remarkable young athletes preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. And recently, in the realm of shogi (Japanese chess), a junior high school student [Sota Fujii] has taken Japan by storm with his record-breaking debut as a professional player.

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda also loved shogi, and I played with him on occasion.

I will never forget the day during the turbulent period after World War II, when it was decided, because of Mr. Toda’s business troubles, to end publication of the children’s magazine I worked on. Mr. Toda cheerfully invited a close business acquaintance who stopped by the office that day to a game of shogi, as he always did.

Seeing his dauntless and unperturbed demeanor, I resolved to also remain unshaken by whatever lay ahead, and to do whatever needed to be done.

• • •

In shogi, a pawn remains a pawn until it is moved. As it advances square by square, however, and eventually enters enemy territory on the board, it becomes a “promoted pawn” and can move the same as a “gold general.” The movement of the knight in shogi is also interesting. It can remain still until the critical moment and then suddenly block the opponent’s attack.

Each piece in shogi is unique. None of them is without significance. In the struggle unfolding on the board, each can display its special, inherent abilities.

The same is true of people. Buddhism teaches the principle of “cherry, plum, peach and damson blossoms”—in other words, a way of life in which each individual cultivates and reveals their unique potential.

Because the time of youth—the teen years in particular—is a sensitive period of life, young people often experience myriad emotions as a result of comparing themselves to others. Nevertheless, they mustn’t become pessimistic.

By leading a life based on the Mystic Law that is dedicated to the great vow for kosen-rufu, anyone can bring the flower of their unique and infinite potential to bloom to the fullest extent.

• • •

Shogi is thought to have originated in the ancient Indian board game called chaturanga. As the game was introduced to China and East Asia, it evolved into the form it has today in Japan. It is very interesting that this coincided with Buddhism’s gradual spread eastward from India.

Recently (July 22–23, 2017), 200 youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth from India, a country that is making tremendous strides in kosen-rufu, visited Kyushu, a trailblazing region of our movement in Japan. At exchange meetings held in Kyushu, our spirited future division members greeted the visitors with songs and welcoming smiles.

The Soka Gakkai is a garden of “human flowers,” each unique and beautiful in their own way, transcending national and cultural differences, sharing a common purpose and encouraging one another while moving forward together. It is a model of the human harmony the world so desperately longs for.

Let us confidently communicate our joy, our noble goal and our hope to our young global citizens!

• • •

Nichiren Daishonin states, “When the chick is ready to hatch, it taps the eggshell from the inside while the mother bird taps the shell in the same place from the outside, because the minds of chick and mother bird are one” (Gosho zenshu, p. 810).[2]“Oko Kikigaki” (The Recorded Lectures); not included in volumes 1 or 2 of The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin.

When a parent gives their all for the sake of their child, the child responds to that effort and prayer, and can break through the hard shell that surrounds them. The hearts of parent and child commune on the deepest level of life. Although it may take time and a circuitous path to get there, a parent’s commitment to faith will definitely be communicated to their child.

As parents, there is no need to try to appear to be something you’re not, or to be afraid of failing. Just continue to advance cheerfully along your chosen path, without compromising your beliefs. Such a way of life is the greatest treasure you can impart to your children.

• • •

Cloth dipped in the liquid produced from the indigo plant becomes a deeper blue through repeated dyeing. In the same spirit, we should strive to foster a neverending stream of successors and raise them to surpass us.

It’s important that we have faith in this principle of “from the indigo, an even deeper blue.”

Only a lion can foster a lion. The noted peace scholar and activist Elise Boulding (1920–2010), an unforgettable friend, declared in our dialogue: “I saw raising children as peace work.”[ref]Elise Boulding and Daisaku Ikeda, Into Full Flower: Making Peace Cultures Happen (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dialogue Path Press,  2010), p. 27.

Enabling the life of a single future division member to shine is a great endeavor for peace that will illuminate the world with hope. The Future Division Summer Training Course will soon begin at Soka University in Hachioji, Tokyo (Aug. 1–3, 2017).

Across the globe, future division members are also gathering together to participate in meaningful training sessions in their respective areas.

At a training session in Italy, members studied Nichiren’s writing “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” which I have lectured on to high school division members in the past (in 1966). The person who presented the lecture on this writing in Italy this summer was someone who was in the first class of the lectures I gave back then. Over the last half-century, a mighty river of fostering capable individuals has spread simultaneously in regions worldwide.

Let us encourage the treasures of Soka, the hope of humanity, our future division members!
Let us grow with them!

With pride in taking part in the noble endeavor to establish an eternal flow of kosen-rufu, let’s enjoy a summer of growth and fulfillment, while remembering to take good care of our health!

Our future division members embody
the principle of “emerging from the earth.”
What a joy it is to see
these noble capable people
developing throughout the world.

 

(pp. 2-3)

Notes   [ + ]

1. First priesthood incident: On April 24, 1979, Daisaku Ikeda resigned from his position as third Soka Gakkai president, attempting to bring an end to attacks on the Soka Gakkai and its members by self-serving priests of Nichiren Shoshu. He used this seeming setback as a springboard for focusing on global kosen-rufu as the president of the Soka Gakkai International. Under President Ikeda’s leadership, the SGI has expanded to 12 million members in 192 countries and territories.
2. “Oko Kikigaki” (The Recorded Lectures); not included in volumes 1 or 2 of The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin.