Feature

A Blue Deeper Than Indigo Itself

60 Years: Celebrating the Spirit of March 16

Photo: Judy Richards Cappello.


The following are excerpts from the poem SGI President Ikeda penned in March 1988 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of March 16, 1958.


The new day belongs to youth,
Fresh and bracing, like the green wheat fields shining
with morning frost.

Though already in March,
the cold was yet fierce
on Mount Fuji at dawn.
At the call which came
as sudden as a flash of lightning,
six thousand young
Bodhisattvas of the Earth
hastened to come together in high spirits.

With their breath puffing white,
and their footsteps sounding in the dim woods,
they crossed the still-sleeping land.
Young girls with rosy cheeks
and young boys dressed for school—
all stood tall,
though wearing little warm clothing.

In the chill darkness
their eyes shone all the more bright—
fired with the certain beat
of the coming of a great moment at the break of morn.

Ah, the freshness of youth called out
beautifully and powerfully,
heralding the rise of a brilliant new sun.

O March 16,
day of endless import.

On that day,
under our mentor, Josei Toda,
we made up a mini-model of kosen-rufu;
and on that day,
mentor and disciple swore to strike out for their common cause.
This pledge will go on for all time.

This day of deep meaning
is called Kosen-rufu Day.

When this century’s greatest battle had gone by—
a bitter storm for humanity—
the stream of the work of kosen-rufu began to push forth
from the unsparing effort
of one courageous man.
He stood up alone, decided in heart,
shadowed by the darkness, by the rain.

On May 3, 1951,
he said,
“If our goal of 750,000 households is not met before I die,
then cast my ashes into the sea off Shinagawa.”
This thunderous declaration of his tore like a flame through the hearts of his comrades.

For the next seven years,
he took part in pitched battles, one after another,
never begrudging his life,
showing that we are supposed to fight only in the present moment:
Pouring your whole life into today’s struggle
can bring out hundreds of thousands of years of value.

Ah, the days went by—
the waves of joy among friends awakened to their mission
pushed our ranks up to more than 750,000 brave households
of Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

Nichiren Daishonin stood up seven hundred years ago.
Has the time turned ripe?
Or did we make and bring about the time?
How wondrous!
We have laid the foundation for kosen-rufu in the Latter Day of the Law.

Brought on by the heavenly deities,
or as a signal of Bonten and Taishaku descending from heaven,
it was said that our prime minister would come.
That day, March 16, declared our mentor,
would be a preliminary ceremony for kosen-rufu.

Youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth
were the main performers in this grand ceremony.
On short notice, six thousand friends came together,
including the brass band members—
heroes of music for kosen-rufu.
Young angels of peace
in the fife and drum corps
adorned the stage with a magnificent and elegant  march.

Together, in the hard chill of early morning,
we all savored the deliciousness of warm pork soup,
our mentor’s generous spirit
warming our bodies and minds.
Shabbily got up,
but bursting with the pride and happiness
of living for a mission,
our joy in living along with our mentor
and in stepping forward together with him,
sparkled in smiles of the greatest satisfaction.

Without desire for either houses,
fame, wealth, or benefit of any kind,
our pure, brave spirit was all we possessed,
as we sought,
with our mentor,
to give up everything
for the sake of the great Law.
Only with that spirit and that resolve,
transcending life and death
to spread the Law,
were we able to bring about a history of perfect victory,
of moving on,
not giving in to any waves of devilish forces—
as the Daishonin writes in the Gosho.[1]The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin.

Looking back,
on the morning of New Year’s Day, 1958
stricken in his intense battle with the devil of illness,
our mentor told me his unquenchable desire:
“I want to fight for another seven years, to the reaching of a membership of two million households.”
Feeling his longing,
my heart ached deep;
I resolved on that day
that I would take up the torch
for the winning of kosen-rufu,
and carry it successfully throughout my entire life, no matter what.

Many fellow comrades,
unaware of the severity of our mentor’s illness,
remained hopeful about his recovery.
I alone,
having a long-range view of bringing about kosen-rufu in the future,
fixed my resolve deep in my heart,
never to forget his instructions, even in my sleep;
my mentor, too, telling me never to leave his side,
trained me wholeheartedly.

I will never forget his heartfelt desire:
“There is nothing more that I want.
All I hope for is capable people whom I can trust.”

Ah, March 16.
The prime minister did not come,
but his wife and son-in-law came in his stead.
As the ceremonies opened,
despite his illness,
our mentor stood up bravely
at the head of this array of young Bodhisattvas of the Earth;
and there he passed on to us his great desire to accomplish kosen-rufu.

Mystically,
this hallowed event
became a solemn ceremony at which
the royal banner of succession was handed on
from mentor to disciple.

Our mentor, a father to us all,
ignoring his weakened body,
dared to determinedly take the lead.
A special litter was prepared by one of his disciples,
but he chided me:
“This is too big to head the whole assembly.”
Yet he set himself on it, saying, “I will use it,
for you made it out of your sincerity”;
in the depths of our lives, our understanding knew no bounds.

“No matter who may argue his success or failure,
truly he has given all he had to give
to the last moment of his life.”

The figure of our mentor riding in the litter,
like the courageous bearing of K’ung-ming on the Wuchang Plain,
described in song,
casts a brilliant light that will shine forever.

The bold declaration of a hero without equal in the
history of kosen-rufu—
“The Soka Gakkai is the king of the religious world”—
rang out through the gigantic, seven-hundred-year- old cedar trees.

For all posterity I want to set forth
his honorable triumph
as an uncrowned king of all humankind,
to sound over all the world
for the ten thousand years
of the Latter Day of the Law—
in significance, his pales even the great march
led by Alexander the Great.

His illness
was most serious;
wringing the last bit of energy from his life,
he uttered these words to me firmly as I held his arm:
“Now at last my work is complete.
I feel I am ready to die any time.
The rest will be up to you, Daisaku.”
This still rings clear in my ears.

My mentor was then fifty-eight;
I, his disciple, was thirty.
Perhaps because he bequeathed to me long life,
for his sake, this year
I reached the milestone of sixty years of age.

You, young friends!
I ask
that you carry on in my footsteps
with the same heart as his.

• • •

Don’t ask
Whether or not this mighty flow of kosen-rufu
will turn out to be a historical necessity.
Rather, always ask yourselves
Whether or not you carry the passion of heart
to make kosen-rufu inevitable,
through your own sweat and toil.

Kosen-rufu calls for us
to make the flowers of the Renaissance of Life
bloom eternally all over this great earth,
as the supreme seat of the Buddha’s life
is set up within the soul of all humanity,
exactly in accord with the Daishonin’s will.

T’ien-t’ai states,
“From the indigo, an even deeper blue.”[2]“Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light,” WND-1, 457.
Something dyed with indigo comes out even bluer
than the indigo plant itself.

You, too,
to your hearts’ content,
chart a great course on the sea of history
to the victory of the people,
embracing the fundamental Law
that penetrates all things in the universe,
and drawing out infinite splendor from within your lives.
This is my constant prayer.

What promise did you make,
that you, courageous youths with a worthy mission,
are emerging in succession
now, at the start of the Era of Youth!

• • •

The time has come around again
for us to observe Kosen-rufu Day.
This day signifies the dawn of hope
for my dear disciples.

Youth,
always push on.
Now is the time;
we should not go back even a step.

Youth,
sing the bright and brave song of youth
proudly and hopefully,
continuing to challenge your daily efforts courageously,
in your pursuit of study and training.

With a golden unity that will never break down,
give yourselves to accomplishing this,
our sacred undertaking,
bringing in a new day in the history of humankind.

With my deep prayer for the happiness and long lives of all those who gathered in the cold wind in the early morning hours of March 16, 1958.

March 9, 1988

(pp. 16-17)

Notes   [ + ]

1. The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin.
2. “Hell Is the Land of Tranquil Light,” WND-1, 457.