Creating A New Century of Happiness and Peace
750,000 SGI youth join the World Youth General Meeting to reaffirm their bodhisattva vow.
Do not ask whether the
mighty flow of kosen-rufu is
an inevitable consequence
of history. Rather, always
ask yourself whether you
have the passion to make
through your own sweat
—SGI President Ikeda
In a powerful tribute to the 60th anniversary of March 16, Kosen-rufu Day, 750,000 SGI youth participated in the World Youth General Meeting on March 11. Some 3,500 youth from 65 countries and territories, including 19 SGI-USA representatives, gathered at the hosting location, Soka University’s Ikeda Auditorium in Tokyo. Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada and Soka Gakkai Senior Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda were also in attendance. The meeting was broadcast live to 1,500 venues throughout Japan and other parts of the world.
For the joyous occasion, SGI President Ikeda sent a message, saying that he and Mrs. Ikeda had chanted Nam-myoho- renge-kyo before the Gohonzon that morning, reporting in their hearts: “President Makiguchi, President Toda! Our young successors have achieved wonderful growth and their numbers have increased exponentially. The future of the Soka Gakkai is solid. Worldwide kosen-rufu will continue to develop limitlessly into the eternal future of the Latter Day of the Law” (see pp. 2–3 for full message).
President Ikeda also praised the youth of Soka for upholding the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism and vibrantly chanting for both their own happiness and that of others amid such troubled times of division and conflict.
“Your continued solidarity and united efforts for peace, culture and education radiate a bright and powerful light that will illuminate the lives of people everywhere, along with the wisdom and hope to build a better tomorrow for our planet,” he said. “This, I wish to loudly declare here today.”
The youth then made a declaration of their own as disciples, expressed in the joint declaration “From the Youth Division of the World: Our Vow as Disciples to Soar and Surpass Our Mentor” (see p. 8 for entire pledge). The SGI youth vow, which was unveiled at the meeting, reads in part: “We vow to share Buddhism in an effort to encourage that one person before us. To
encourage that one person means to expand a united network of hope across the globe. To share Buddhism with friends and guide them toward happiness is kosen-rufu.”
March 16, Kosen-rufu Day
March 16 is celebrated as Kosen-rufu Day by 12 million SGI members around the world. On that day in 1958, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, who was fighting the limits of his own mortality, gathered 6,000 Soka Gakkai youth for a “dress rehearsal” for kosen-rufu. He entrusted them with the responsibility for the future of the Soka Gakkai and its efforts to establish a society where people respect and value the dignity of all human life. Having bequeathed this mission to the youth with Daisaku Ikeda as its central figure, President Toda passed away peacefully two weeks later.
For the World Youth General Meeting, SGI Youth Leader Mitsushiro Takeoka said they were determined to gather 100 times the number of youth who gathered at the historic ceremony 60 years ago as a way to declare to the world that President Ikeda has victoriously advanced worldwide kosen-rufu. In addition to surpassing their attendance goal, the youth of Japan helped 69,000 friends receive the Gohonzon. This was the result of a six-month propagation campaign that launched in September 2017.
“Seeing these multitudes of bodhisattvas with my own eyes left a deep impression in my life that Sensei has been completely victorious in fulfilling President Toda’s dream of raising countless youthful successors around the world,” said participant Brian Lindgren, the Waterfront Chapter young men’s leader in New York.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo- “This Is My Name”
The youth took in three powerful experiences by Menzi Tsotetsi of South Africa, Cynthia McCright of the U.S. and Kentaro Sakai of Japan. Mr. Sakai’s son, Hibiki, was just 2 years old when he was diagnosed with eye cancer. Although doctors successfully removed the cancer through surgery, Hibiki was left completely blind. He would scream and cry every day from suddenly being unable to see any light.
But based on President Ikeda’s encouragement to never give up in the face of hardships, the family chanted through their pain and anguish for a victorious outcome, and six months later, Hibiki told his parents: “I may not be able to see, but I can do anything if I try, so please don’t cry anymore.” Mr. Sakai recalled that Hibiki’s voice was bright and that his son ultimately taught him to pray earnestly, self-reflect and grow stronger.
When Hibiki was 4, he got a taste of his true calling when his hands greeted
a set of drums. He never stopped playing after that, and today, Hibiki, age 11, is a drumming prodigy, who has been featured in the local media. Hibiki’s dream is to spread courage and hope to people all over the world through his performances.
As Mr. Sakai’s experience drew to a close, his son emerged onstage and delivered a thunderous drumroll, which led into the debut of the new SGI youth song “This Is My Name.” The title refers to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, or the Buddha nature in all people.
Hibiki and 11 other youth division artists from various countries took to the stage to perform in the spirit of the song’s lines: “Through the rain and stormy weather / Found a light that lasts forever / Yeah! And it’s brighter than the sun.”
Never Slacken In Your Struggle Against Evil
In his closing remarks, Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada cited President Ikeda’s diary entry in which he reminisced about March 16, 1958, on the two-year anniversary: “Yet the grand celebration of the kosen-rufu of substantiation will not end with this day” (A Youthful Diary, p. 488).
President Harada reminded everyone that the true spirit of March 16 lies in our determination every day to set forth anew and embody the never-giveup spirit. “It is your passionate and indomitable commitment to share Nichiren Buddhism that will light up every corner of the globe and eternalize the significance of this day,” he said.
President Harada also called on the youth to be vigilant in their efforts to advance kosen-rufu, stressing that those who stand up for justice are certain to encounter great persecutions. President Toda’s will to the young Daisaku Ikeda, he said, was: “Never slacken in your struggle against such evil” (The Human Revolution, p. 1911).
Emphasizing the difficulty of “making certain that the Law will long endure” amid Nikko Shonin’s battle to ensure the correct transmission of kosen-rufu, Mr. Harada referred to the five senior priests who betrayed their mentor, Nichiren Daishonin.
To the youth of Soka who have taken up this karmic challenge to build the lasting foundation for eternal victory, President Harada urged, “We must protect the Soka Gakkai that President Ikeda has created for us and ensure its eternal development.” This is the way to recognize and repay our great debt of gratitude to our mentor, he said.
Mr. Harada then imparted President Toda’s words: “The Soka Gakkai has now appeared as the emissary of the Buddha and is following the path of bodhisattva practice to teach and spread this great Law among the people of the Latter Day. In a way, the very existence of the organization—a gathering of many Buddhas—might be given the collective name ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha’ ”
(The Human Revolution, p. 1837).
Our 50K Movement Represents The Dawn of World-wide Kosen-rufu
Concluding the World Youth General Meeting, President Harada led the much-anticipated worldwide simultaneous gongyo ceremony. Onstage were youth representatives from 65 countries and territories. More than 1 million SGI youth from around the world conducted gongyo at the same time from their respective locations. Immediately following the gongyo ceremony, President Ikeda sent a message, congratulating everyone on the success of the general meeting and expressing how happy he was. He also asked the youth to convey his best regards to all the members back home.
SGI-USA Youth Leader David Witkowski, who was in attendance, said everything about the meeting captured the spirit of “Now is the time!” “Sensei has entrusted everything to the youth,” he said. “There is no time to hesitate or assume that someone else will accomplish kosen-rufu.”
Mr. Witkowski also emphasized that many youth from around the world expressed to him that they were looking to the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival as a real powerful source of hope for members everywhere. Some of them have even registered themselves and will travel to the U.S. to accompany their American friends to the festival. When Mr. Witkowski met personally
with Mr. Takeoka, the SGI youth leader said, with utmost conviction and seriousness: “Your 50,000 Lions of Justice movement truly represents the dawn of worldwide kosen-rufu.”
Brian Lindgren contributed to this report.