Future Division Members, Grow Strong and Tall!
Exceprts from SGI President Ikeda’s essay on the importance of treasuring and fostering future division members.
On May 5, we celebrate Soka Gakkai Successors Day. The following are excerpts from SGI President Ikeda’s essay, stressing the importance of treasuring and fostering the future division members, especially at the frontlines of our organization. The essay originally appeared in the Aug. 1, 2014, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.
The present future division members are a crucial generation as they will be the core members of the youth division at the centennial of the Soka Gakkai’s founding in 2030. Those taking on the responsibility of raising these members, these emissaries of hope, are honorable pioneers who are opening up the vast horizons of kosen-rufu into the eternal future.
• • •
A steady stream of capable young people, including the future division members, is developing in a chapter that encompasses the scenic area of the Five Lakes of Mikata in Fukui Prefecture.
The first chapter leader there set the tone for giving priority to fostering the future division, and this remains the chapter’s proud tradition today. Its efforts can be summarized into three main points.
The first point is to make the discussion meeting a place to raise the next generation.
The original chapter leader, along with fellow members, always did his best to involve the young members in discussion meetings. Still today, future division members are given responsibilities such as reading passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings aloud. The men and women carefully support them from behind the scenes, warmly watching over them and praising their efforts. When a future division member shares about an achievement
at school, everyone applauds them. With such support, young members grow confident and look forward to attending discussion meetings.
“Raise your children in the realm of Soka”—this is the key to fostering successors in faith.
• • •
The second point is to regard all future division members as if they were one’s own children.
The men’s and women’s division members are very supportive of the young members in their chapter and frequently praise them. In addition, if any of their young members engage in self-destructive behavior or stray toward a negative path, they have the compassion to strictly talk to them about it. Even the ones who usually pay no heed to what adults say, listen to the advice of their “aunts and uncles” in the Soka Gakkai.
Believing in the future division members, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo wholeheartedly for their happiness and engaging with them life-to-life—this earnest commitment of the men and women is what reaches the hearts of young members.
• • •
The third point is to help future division members develop a love for their community.
The men and women in this chapter frequently speak with pride to the young members about the history of kosen-rufu in their local area, sharing with them the arduous efforts of the pioneer members who built the foundation of the movement there.
One young women’s division leader who was born and raised in this area of Fukui returned home after graduating from Soka Women’s College in Tokyo. She recalls how, when she was a future division member, her “big sisters” and “aunts” in the Soka Gakkai would always give her a big hug and rejoice with her whenever she accomplished something at school or in extracurricular activities. When she experienced times of sadness or difficulty, they empathized with her with tears in their eyes and hugged her even tighter.
Filled with gratitude and a wish to give back to her local community, this young woman today strives to encourage her fellow young women’s division members in the same way that she was encouraged in the past.
• • •
“Raise your children in the realm of Soka”—this is the key to fostering successors in faith that was constantly stressed by my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda.
The SGI abounds with rich encouragement that inspires individuals to awaken to their greatest potential and gain unwavering confidence, peace of mind and hope. As SGI members, we have a philosophy that enables us to live our lives with the utmost pride and awareness
of our true selves.
When you encourage the future division members and talk about subjects such as the true nature of life, mission or the path of mentor and disciple, they may not fully understand what you mean at that moment right then. However, your words will plant the seeds for growth in their hearts, from which solid roots of faith will develop and take hold over time.
More importantly, young members can sense and notice the earnestness with which you strive for the happiness of yourselves and others, and how courageously and joyfully you carry out activities for kosen-rufu. (Sept. 19, 2014, World Tribune, pp. 4–5)
SGI President Ikeda shares three keys to raising future division members in the district, from a chapter that has made this their proud tradition:
1. Make the discussion meeting a place to raise the next generation.
2. Regard all future division members as if they were one’s own children.
3. Help future division members develop a love for their community.