Bringing the Light of Hope to the World
SGI President Ikeda's message to the 31st Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting & Kansai General Meeting.
Congratulations on today’s Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting—in this month of February that we traditionally dedicate to “expanding our ranks anew”!1
Congratulations also on today’s joy-filled Kansai General Meeting!
To the young “lions of justice” of the SGI-USA— welcome to Kansai, a place that will forever be close to my heart. Let us once again applaud and warmly welcome these 201 representatives, who have made commendable efforts in introducing Nichiren Buddhism to others.
• • •
The February Campaign took place in 1952, the year that marked the 700th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin establishing his teaching. In a single month, Tokyo’s Kamata Chapter achieved a dramatic breakthrough by welcoming 201 households. Throughout the 66 years since then, my wife and I have continued chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and watching over these wondrous members and their families. I am delighted to see that they have all received great benefits, and that many of their children and grandchildren are now active as leaders of kosen-rufu in Japan and around the world.
Giichiro Shiraki (1919–2004), who went on to become the first men’s leader of Osaka Chapter, began his efforts as a leader in Kansai during that initial February Campaign. I still remember seeing him off at the station when he boarded the overnight train from Tokyo to Osaka. I encouraged him as we discussed our hopes and dreams for the future development of our movement.
Everything starts with sharing Nichiren Buddhism with one person, with encouraging one person. Over time, such efforts to spread the Mystic Law lead to an expansion of immeasurable good fortune and benefit, and the emergence of countless people dedicated to kosen-rufu. This is the principle of “emerging from the earth” (“The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 385).
• • •
Our Ever-Victorious Kansai Soka family encompasses the seven prefectures of Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Fukui, Nara and Wakayama. Our members in each of those areas have been striving wholeheartedly toward today’s Kansai General Meeting. Working together in a spirit of unity in diversity as beautiful as a seven-colored rainbow, they have achieved a fresh record in spreading Nichiren Buddhism.
In my beloved Kansai, members are steadily calling forth “comrades with a shared vow”2 from time without beginning, and embarking on a fresh, hope-filled phase of development. I am filled with excitement as I envisage the wonderful stories of happiness and brilliant achievement they will write, causing “the heavenly deities to rejoice and wave their banners.”3
Congratulations! And thank you!
Today, I would like to present you, my dear friends who share my spirit, with a poem that second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda wrote for me:
What joy to behold
the golden citadel
Let’s give a rousing victory cheer to celebrate the unstoppable, soaring development of our “golden citadel” of Kansai!
Now, I would like to share a passage from the Lotus Sutra that Nichiren quoted in his writings, and that first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and President Toda engraved in their hearts. Shakyamuni proclaims [describing one of the hallmarks of a Bodhisattva of the Earth who upholds and practices the Mystic Law]:
As the light of the sun and moon
can banish all obscurity and gloom,
so this person as he advances through
can wipe out the darkness of living beings.
(The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing
Sutras, p. 318)
Where do these sunlike Bodhisattvas of the Earth come from? They emerge from the broad, expansive ocean of the people, from the great earth of the people, where all are equal. Nichiren, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, states that he came from a commoner family (see “Condolences on a Deceased Husband,” WND-2, 766).
With the same spirit as the Daishonin, we of the Soka Gakkai—sunlike Bodhisattvas of the Earth—have actively gone out among the people. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo based on our vow for kosen-rufu, we have exerted ourselves tirelessly to dispel the darkness of unhappiness and suffering in all their myriad forms.
Sunlike Bodhisattvas of the Earth are genuine, unpretentious, bright and positive. They are warm and generous, embracing all and excluding none. They burn with an inexhaustible passion, never stop moving forward, and unstintingly share the light of wisdom and compassion with others. No storm of adversity can defeat them. Whatever they may go through, they always come out winning and smiling.
Humanity today is shivering with cold in the spiraling darkness of uncertainty and division. What can we do to illuminate and warm people’s hearts, to soothe and uplift them with songs of peace, with “melodies of spring”4 I declare before all of you here that a guiding light of hope and inspiration can be found in the universal religion of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism of the people.
• • •
Above all, the world is in desperate need of the passion and energy of our young champions of justice who study and practice the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. As members of the Soka family, let’s make our vow for kosen-rufu from time without beginning blaze even more powerfully in our hearts. Together, let’s impart the warm light of encouragement to as many people as possible, and work to create a beautifully diverse garden of capable individuals, built on friendship, where the unique potential of all can blossom freely.
I call on the new dawning suns of our youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth to shine brightly so that our
movement continues to unfold under “sunny, ever-victorious skies.”5
In closing, I would like to present you with some words of encouragement Mr. Toda once gave to the Kansai women: “You are all Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and joyfully talk to others about Buddhism. When you do, many friends with whom you share eternal karmic bonds will appear, and a great assembly of Buddhas will form. Courage is the key to success!”
“Let’s forge ahead, without fear”6—each and every one of us—to a future of eternal victory and brilliant achievement.
Stay well! Take good care of your health. I am chanting for you!
1-6. Lyrics from the Kansai Soka Gakkai song “Ever-Victorious Skies.”