Feature

SGI-USA Youth Visit Ever- Victorious Kansai

201 youth leaders learn the Kansai spirit

Faces of the 577 bodhisattvas who were introduced to the SGI by the 201 training course participants from January 2017 to January 2018.


At the First SGI-USA Chapter Through National Youth Leaders Training Course, 201 youth leaders learn the Kansai spirit to never be defeated and advance eternally together with their mentor.

Olivia Saito
SGI-USA Young Women’s Leader

On January 27, 1993, at the First International Kansai General Meeting held in Santa Monica, California, SGI President Ikeda declared: “Kansai is the heart of the kosen-rufu movement in Japan; Los Angeles, in America; and America, in the world” (My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 202). Twenty-five years later, I was among the 201 SGI-USA representative youth leaders who flew to Japan for the first SGI-USA Chapter Through National Youth Leaders Training Course to seek from our mentor, President Ikeda, and embark on a shared struggle together with him toward the historic 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival in September.

From February 1–4, we received encouragement from Soka Gakkai leaders and attended various meetings in Tokyo and Kansai (see the March 2, 2018, World Tribune for day-to-day coverage). In a message to the U.S.-Japan Youth Friendship General Meeting held on February 2, President Ikeda stated, “I hold the United States as the eternally unchanging point of departure for kosen-rufu worldwide” (March 2, 2018, World Tribune, p. 4), underscoring the significant role that America has played in achieving worldwide kosen-rufu.

President Ikeda sent numerous messages during the training course, each bearing his expectations for the SGI-USA to lead worldwide kosen-rufu and usher in an era that upholds the dignity of life. He even requested that the 50,000 Lions of Justice flag, representing our festival in September, be displayed prominently at the 31st Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting of the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu in Osaka. We SGI-USA youth who attended this training course—and even those who supported from the U.S.—were able to reawaken to our vow from time without beginning to initiate a powerful current of kosen-rufu from America.

Propagation Momentum Toward the Training Course

The life state of Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

What was one of the main reasons this training course was so meaningful for the youth? In the 12 months leading up to our trip, the 201 youth collectively sponsored 577 people to receive the Gohonzon, fueled by our vow to help our friends
become happy and reply to President Ikeda. I could feel the powerful life state of all the participants who awakened lions prior to departing for Japan.

Similarly, the Kansai members, wanting to welcome us with the unshakable life condition of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, challenged themselves to help one person per block (comparable to a group in the SGI-USA) receive the Gohonzon. Two days prior to the arrival of the training course participants, they achieved their goal, with more than 15,000 new members joining throughout Kansai!
In a recent essay where he touched on this training course, President Ikeda praised the propagation efforts of both the U.S. and Kansai members, saying:

Joy emanated from the lives of these young people, who recently achieved a new record in their efforts to spread Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. The Kansai members, who have also realized tremendous membership growth, welcomed them warmly in the same spirit as me.

• • •

Inheriting this spirit of absolute conviction in faith, young lions of justice are standing up not only in the United States and Kansai, but throughout Japan and the world. (April 13, 2018, World Tribune, pp. 2–3)

Tokyo

The United States is the point of departure for worldwide kosen-rufu

In a heartfelt message to the U.S.-Japan Youth Friendship General Meeting (see pp. 16-17), attended by the SGI-USA youth training course participants as well as youth leaders from throughout Tokyo, President Ikeda shared that the United States is the point of departure for the worldwide kosen-rufu movement.

In a speech that echoed that sentiment, SGI Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda said that at every important juncture of worldwide kosen-rufu, President Ikeda has visited the United States.

Mr. Ikeda spoke extensively about the significance of volume 30 of The New Human Revolution, which President Ikeda said will be the final volume of his epic, serialized novel. The final volume is slated to be published in two parts in Japanese. Part 1, which will come out in June 2018, consists of chapters 1–3 and ends with President Ikeda’s travels to Europe in 1981. Part 2 which comes out in November, will include chapters 4–6, beginning with President Ikeda’s visit to New York in 1981, when he penned the iconic poem “To My Beloved Young American Friends—Youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth.”

Mr. Ikeda explained that President Ikeda began volume 1 of The New Human Revolution with his October 1960 visit to the U.S., while part two of volume 30 also begins in the U.S. In one sense, he said, President Ikeda begins and ends the 30-volume series of The New Human Revolution with his travels to the U.S.

During the meeting, Mr. Ikeda displayed the 50,000 Lions of Justice flag and the poster that we gave to President Ikeda on behalf of the youth of the SGI-USA. The flag, which reads—“Sensei, 50,000 Lions of Justice will eternalize the Soka Gakkai”—was prominently displayed at the headquarters leaders meeting on February 4 at the request of President Ikeda. Hearing this, I felt: There is no turning back. I will achieve 50,000!

Kansai

Learning the Kansai spirit to never be defeated

On February 4, the youth training course participants did gongyo to the Kansai Joju Gohonzon, enshrined at the Kansai Culture Center.

The “Determination” chapter of volume 10 of The Human Revolution details the history of the 1956 Osaka Campaign, where President Ikeda talks about the Kansai Joju Gohonzon, which he calls “a tremendous Gohonzon.” This Gohonzon was inscribed at the request of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda and enshrined in the original Kansai headquarters building, which opened in December 1955. The following year, President Ikeda chanted to this Gohonzon together with the members of Kansai to achieve victory in the Osaka Campaign. Furthermore, late at night when everyone else had gone to bed, he chanted alone to this Gohonzon. On the right-hand side of the Gohonzon are the words, “Prosperity of the great law and fulfillment of all prayers.”

President Ikeda traveled to every corner of Osaka, praying in his heart to awaken one person after another to join him in this campaign. In total, he offered personal encouragement to more than 8,000 members. As a result of his efforts, the members of Kansai stood up. The number of new members increased every month until May, when they welcomed 11,111 new households, creating a blueprint for making the impossible possible. This campaign secured the foundation of kosen-rufu in Kansai and served as the beginning of “Ever-Victorious Kansai.”

We learned that Kansai’s ever-victorious spirit is not simply an organizational slogan, but rather a way of life for the Kansai members. They win successive victories in their personal lives and organization because of their conviction in Sensei’s guidance.

Nakanoshima Central Civic Hall

Mentor and disciple only grow stronger when persecuted

On the morning of February 4, we visited Nakanoshima Central Civic Hall. This was the venue where the Osaka Rally was held on July 17, 1957, the evening of Daisaku Ikeda’s release from the Osaka Detention Center, where he was jailed for 15 days on false charges.

We took a photo in front of the hall, then toured the interior and watched a video about the Osaka Incident and the unbreakable bond between Sensei and the Kansai members. This video contained the audio of Daisaku Ikeda’s speech at the rally, which was a lion’s roar that conveyed his unshakable stance to continue fighting against injustice come what may. Together, we vowed to never let up in the fight toward injustice and to become true lions.

Casting Off the Transient and Revealing the True

Rising to action with purpose

President Ikeda has visited the U.S. 27 times, more than any other country outside of Japan. Every visit marked a turning point in the history of the SGI-USA, together with our mentor. In our hearts, we felt that this training course was President Ikeda’s 28th visit to the U.S.

In his closing remarks at the Hall of the Great Vow, Soka Gakkai General Director Shigeo Hasegawa shared with the youth of America that the best way to repay our debt of gratitude to our mentor is to cast off the transient and reveal the true and rise to action with purpose. We will respond to our mentor’s expectations by becoming the Kansai of the world.

(pp. 12-15)