A Wonderful Story of the Victory of Mentor and Disciple
The Eternal Citadel of Soka
The following is an essay from SGI President Ikeda’s series “The Eternal Citadel of Soka,” which appeared in the Dec. 1, 2017, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.
Each time I visit the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall—a palace of mentor and disciple on a beautiful hillside in Hachioji—I am struck by its grandeur. On my most recent visit (on Nov. 16, 2017), it was bathed in soft sunlight and surrounded by the gold and scarlet hues of autumn.
At the hall, my wife, Kaneko, and I did gongyo and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the Tsunesaburo Makiguchi Room to pay tribute to our first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who nobly gave his life in the struggle for kosen-rufu and the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” [passing away in prison on Nov. 18, 1944].
Mr. Makiguchi remained unflinching in the face of persecution by Japan’s wartime militarist authorities. Even when imprisoned for his beliefs, he dared to speak with the prison guards about his unwavering conviction in the power of Nichiren Buddhism.
In the last letter he sent to his family, he wrote: “It is only natural that the three obstacles and four devils should have assailed me; it is just as the [Lotus Sutra] states.”
He was 73 years old. Even in his cramped, freezing prison cell, the fierce heart of a lion king blazed within him.
When my wife was a young girl, she chanted with Mr. Makiguchi at a discussion meeting that was being held at her parents’ home. The powerful, dauntless sound of his chanting, she says, is forever engraved in her life.
In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren Daishonin discusses the meaning of the term “lion’s roar” (shishi ku, in Japanese), which appears in the Lotus Sutra. He says, “The ‘roar’ is the sound of the teacher and the disciples chanting in unison” (p. 111).
As Soka Gakkai members, united by thebonds of mentor and disciple, we do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, carrying on Mr. Makiguchi’s spirit of selfless, wholehearted dedication to kosen-rufu. That is why we have absolutely nothing to fear from the three obstacles and four devils.
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The fundamental purpose of our movement is to enact the grand and exciting drama of bringing happiness to all humanity and peace to the world. It is an epic poem that will continue to be told and passed on from mentor to disciple, from parent to child and from generation to generation.
Let’s keep pressing forward as long as we live. Let’s emulate King Rinda who, Nichiren says, was able to bring forth physical strength and perceptive powers many hundreds and thousands of times greater than they had been before (see “King Rinda,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 986).
Those who dedicate their lives to the Mystic Law do not stagnate physically or spiritually. They can tap limitless life force from within and also bring forth immeasurable good fortune and wisdom.
My wife and I are praying each day for the health, happiness and brilliant achievements of our dear fellow members everywhere, who are striving throughout the seasons with noble dedication to kosen-rufu and writing their own wonderful, unique stories of human revolution.
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On display in the Tsunesaburo Makiguchi Room of the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall is Mr. Makiguchi’s copy of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. Throughout the book, we can see evidence of his rigorous study of the Daishonin’s writings, on a par with a great swordsman mastering his art. In “The Opening of the Eyes,” we find that Mr. Makiguchi marked the words
“Here I will make a great vow” (WND-1, 280) with a double line and wrote “Great Vow” in red in the margin.
This vow or commitment is the true spirit of practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, the essence of Nichiren Buddhism, and the heart of all Buddhist teachings.
When Shakyamuni was asked to name the “highest blessing,” he replied that it was “directing oneself rightly”—which could also be expressed as forging a correct commitment or vow to guide one’s
life. This, he stressed, was the “highest blessing.”
Those who make a firm vow are strong and invincible. They are not swayed by circumstances or by negative things others may say.
A correct vow is a source of unwavering strength, allowing us to lead lives of confidence and joy. It is the state of life described by Nichiren in “The Opening of the Eyes,” when he says, “All other troubles are no more to me than dust before the wind” (WND-1, 280).
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What is a correct vow? It is a steadfast commitment to the most correct way of life.
I was 19 when I first met second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda at a discussion meeting in Kamata, Ota Ward. I asked him, “What would you say is the correct way of life?”
He responded patiently and in detail, even though I was just a young man he was meeting for the first time.
He convincingly explained that Nichiren answers the most crucial questions of human existence—that is, offering a way to overcome the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death, and illuminating the dignity and preciousness of life. He then powerfully encouraged me to try practicing Nichiren Buddhism with the daring spirit of youth.
Seventy years have passed since I placed my trust in Mr. Toda and embarked on the path of my vow. I am endlessly grateful that I have been able to create and widely share a story of the most correct life lived together with my mentor and my fellow members.
I began writing my novel The Human Revolution in my beloved Okinawa, out of a wish to convey to future generations, through the Soka path of mentor and disciple, the answers to such questions as “What is true Buddhism?” and “What is the correct way of life?” Tomorrow, Dec. 2 (2017) will mark 53 years since I started writing the novel’s first chapter, “Dawn.” I understand that “district family general meetings” to commemorate that event will be held throughout Okinawa.
I will soon begin chapter five—which is titled “Kachidoki” (Cheers of Victory; tentative translation)—of volume 30 of The New Human Revolution. I have managed to continue writing this far solely through the warm support of all my readers.
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Sohachi Yamaoka (1907–78), a noted author of historical novels, whose work Takasugi Shinsaku was serialized in the Seikyo Shimbun, spoke about the subject of human revolution on many occasions.
As a citizen of Japan, the only nation to have suffered the devastating effects of nuclear weapons, Mr. Yamaoka keenly felt the cruelty of war. In the afterword (dated September 1953) to the first volume of his famous novel Tokugawa Ieyasu, which was originally published in serial form in a number of regional newspapers from 1950, he wrote, “Only when a human revolution based on a new philosophy is achieved, and individuals who have undergone that revolution transform society, government and the economy, will atomic science be changed into a cultural asset for the next, peaceful generation of humanity.” And he voiced his determination to depict as fully as he possibly could the “potential for human revolution” in his novel Tokugawa Ieyasu.
I am sure that Mr. Yamaoka would be delighted to see the great Soka network of human revolution that now encompasses 192 countries and territories around the world.
I, too, wish to continue writing to the limit of my strength, with the spirit of engaging in a shared struggle with my fellow members who are striving to spread truth and justice, starting with our “uncrowned heroes,” the dedicated members who deliver the Seikyo Shimbun every morning.
“A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind”—with that as my theme, I am determined to chronicle the drama of revitalization and renewal experienced by millions of ordinary people, and write a wonderful story of the victory of mentor and disciple.
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To commemorate this year’s 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, former Chinese Minister of Culture Wang Meng and I have published a dialogue. Mr. Wang recently observed that because people today have focused solely on material values, as exemplified by science and technology, the world is now facing a crisis of the human spirit. It will become increasingly crucial, he said, to redirect our focus to creating spiritual values.
Buddhism teaches that “From this single element of mind spring all the various lands and environmental conditions” (“The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas,” WND-2, 843). It is not an exaggeration to say that war, famine and environmental destruction can all be traced back to a problem with the “single element of mind.”
We practice Nichiren Buddhism, a teaching that imparts wisdom and richness that expands our hearts and minds, whose workings are mysterious and difficult to grasp, and leads them powerfully toward goodness, truth and peace.
Filled with this confidence and pride, let us illuminate our families, communities, workplaces, societies and countries with the light of hope shining brightly in our own hearts.
A future of one brilliant achievement followed by another is created through living in the present to the fullest.
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The Soka Gakkai’s theme for 2018 is the Year of Brilliant Achievement (Eiko no toshi, in Japanese) in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu.
The first time the word eiko, meaning “glory” or “brilliant achievement,” appeared in our theme was five decades ago, in 1968—which we designated the Year of Glory. The theme was announced at the Soka Gakkai youth division general meeting held in November 1967. On that occasion, I presented the youth with three guidelines—wisdom, passion and victory, confident that they would be the protagonists of the Year of Glory.
Next year (2018) will also mark the fifth anniversary of the completion of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu, which will open the way for a new five decades of worldwide kosen-rufu.
As we set forth on our way to brilliant achievement, I wish to reiterate those guidelines to the youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth in whom I place my trust, as well as all our members throughout Japan and around the world who are linked together by profound karmic bonds:
Wisdom—Diligently study Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, and polish your wisdom. This is the direct path to illuminating the future of humanity.
Passion—Always have a passion for sharing Buddhism with others. Strive for the happiness of yourselves and others. The Soka Gakkai is eternally committed to spreading Nichiren Buddhism.
Victory—Be victorious, first and foremost, over your own limitations. Win again today. A steadfast practice of chanting and gongyo is the driving force for victory.
The German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) said: “In thy life postpone no duty, / And thy life be deed on deed.” Life is limited. Having been born into this world, let’s make the most
of our lives. A future of one brilliant achievement followed by another is created through living in the present to the fullest.
Nichiren states, “The vow we speak of is the vow to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and propagate the teachings” (Gosho zenshu, p. 846).
Let us set forth with our friends around the world, embracing our great vow for kosen-rufu. Let us join together in giving resounding cheers of victory in our human revolution.
Have confidence that your achievements in kosen-rufu and the development of your communities are all part of an inspiring story of brilliant achievement that will live on into the future!