Let Us Expand Our Network of Friendship and Trust

Exerpts of SGI President Ikeda's video from the 33rd Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting.

SGI representatives from 12 countries and territories participate in the 33rd Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting of the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, celebrating Soka Gakkai Day, at the Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji, Tokyo, April 14, 2018. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Soka Gakkai Women’s Division Group Leaders General Meeting, commemorating the 30th Soka Gakkai Mother’s Day. Photo by Seikyo Press.

Photo: Seiko Press

The following are excerpts from SGI President Ikeda’s speech at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting, held in Tokyo on Dec. 5, 2002. These excerpts were featured in a video of the speech, which was shown during the 33rd Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting of the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, held in Tokyo, on April 14, 2018. The text appeared in the April 26, 2018, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Though numerous, the Japanese will find it difficult to accomplish anything, because they are divided in spirit. In contrast, although Nichiren and his followers are few, because they are different in body, but united in mind, they will definitely accomplish their great mission of widely propagating the Lotus Sutra. Though evils may be numerous, they cannot prevail over a single great truth” (“Many in Body, One in Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 618).

Unity is important. The Soka Gakkai has achieved the global development it has today by striving in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind” in exact accord with Nichiren’s declaration in the above passage. We must never forget this point. It is precisely for this reason, too, that we must never allow ill-intentioned or arrogant individuals to disrupt the pure realm of the Soka Gakkai.

Nothing is stronger than unity in the cause of justice. Let us continue to advance boldly with solid unity!

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Propagating Nichiren Buddhism is the greatest and also the most difficult undertaking. The fact that we have succeeded in our endeavors to such an extent is truly miraculous.

Nichiren writes, “Anyone who teaches others even a single phrase of the Lotus Sutra is the envoy of the Thus Come One” (“A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering,” WND-1, 33). The Thus Come One refers to the Buddha. Those who talk to another person about the greatness of faith in the Mystic Law, even if just a few words, are messengers of the Buddha. Through the very act of talking to someone about Buddhism, whether or not that person starts to practice, we accumulate boundless benefit and good fortune as the Buddha’s envoys.

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A great surging tide of youth have gathered together; they have stood up and begun to take action. I am certain this would make the Daishonin and our first and second presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, extremely happy.

Japanese society is experiencing a declining birth rate along with a rapid graying of its population, which means that the percentage comprised by youth is gradually shrinking. A very challenging time lies ahead.

In this uncertain age, the youth of the Soka Gakkai has taken the lead and begun to make dynamic efforts to construct a new phase of kosen-rufu—for a new age and a new generation. This brings me tremendous joy. It is an extraordinary and miraculous undertaking. The Soka Gakkai’s future is on a clear course to great victory. Let us once more chart a powerful course for our movement—where the youth are the starting point and key to victory.

Members of the youth division, I am counting on you!

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Dr. Hazel Henderson is an internationally renowned civic activist who has campaigned for the creation of a better global environment. She began her career years ago by directly challenging powerful government and business interests, and arrogant academics. Even when showered with a torrent of abuse and criticism for her efforts, she refused to give up. She rebutted each criticism and rebuffed each attack. She struggled persistently until she won. Boldly deploying an arsenal of truth and justice, she disproved every erroneous argument and, in the process, became a world-renowned scholar herself.

No one becomes great without a struggle.

In the course of our discussion, Dr. Henderson said something that I will never forget: “From the start of the movement [we launched], I assumed there would be difficulties. As a matter of fact, I find difficulties exciting.”

She also emphasized that, for a civic movement to be successful, it must have not only solidarity but also a firm philosophical foundation.

In our dialogue, Dr. Henderson remarked: “In its work for peace, culture and education, the SGI is founded on human spiritual reformation. That is why I put great hope in the SGI.”

Dr. Henderson is especially appreciative of the heartfelt communication and interaction among SGI women in their grass-roots activities, saying that it brings tears of joy to her eyes.

It is well known, of course, that her global movement for environmental protection began from small groups of American housewives. As she said to me, “Everything starts with person-to-person friendship and trust.”

How true this is! The Soka Gakkai is indestructible because it values person-to-person friendship and one-to-one dialogue. And it is the members of our women’s and young women’s divisions who are the leaders on this front. They constitute the foremost women’s peace movement in the world, and that is precisely why Dr. Henderson places such great hope and trust in the SGI.

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Women’s division members all around Japan will soon be holding lively small-group general meetings.
The small-group meetings of our women’s division members are so bright and lively that once the talking starts, it can go on from morning till night!

I hope that members of the youth and men’s divisions, who owe so much to our women’s division members, will sincerely and generously support these upcoming general meetings.

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There is a passage in a letter that Premier Zhou Enlai (1898–1976) sent to his wife, Madame Deng Yingchao (1904–92), that reads as follows:

As people age, they tend to reminisce about the past, but in these times [of momentous change], it is more important to look toward the future, to think of future generations and to learn from young people. If we don’t pay attention, we will fall behind. Let us rouse our energies and advance![1]Translated from Chinese. Jin Feng, Deng Yingchao zhuan (A Biography of Deng Yingchao), (Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 1993), pp. 553–54.

This is exactly so. Nichiren Buddhism teaches the importance of the present and the future. The purpose of Buddhism and faith is for us to always be able to advance from today toward tomorrow filled with hope, taking positive steps for the future.

Nichiren writes: “Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. Should you slacken in your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997).

Not advancing is retreating. Let us keep moving forward vigorously throughout our lives, along the path of kosen-rufu.

Madame Deng called out to youth:

Young people must open their hearts wide and reach out to others in friendship. They should also possess the spirit to cooperate with all who are fighting for our cause. If they expand our movement among the people, our effort is certain to be victorious.[2]Ibid., p. 244.

What a wonderful phrase—“expand our movement among the people”! From our perspective, this is our discussion meeting movement—an activity centering on small groups. I hope that our youth division members, in particular, will take the lead in this people’s movement.

Our youth division members are champions of hope, friendship and victory.

Please continue to extend and expand our noble and inspiring network, and build an everlasting and indestructible Soka Gakkai.

by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda

I have considered which course to take in the light of the teachings of the Lotus and Nirvana sutras. If I remain silent . . . in my next life I will most certainly fall into the hell of incessant suffering. If I speak out, I am fully aware that I will have to contend with the three obstacles and four devils. But of these two courses, surely the latter is the one to choose.

“The Opening of the Eyes”
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 239

Forever Advancing With the Courageous Spirit of a Lion King

My thoughts turn to the profound compassion of Nichiren Daishonin, who established his teaching (on April 28, 1253), aware that persecutions would await him, yet also knowing that if he did not speak out he would be lacking in compassion (see WND-1, 239).

He writes, “Of these two courses [to remain silent or to speak out], surely the latter is the one to choose” (WND-1, 239). Inheriting this vow of Nichiren, the mentors and disciples of Soka have risen into action. We have triumphed over all obstacles to open the great path of worldwide kosen-rufu.

I am sure that the Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, would heartily applaud our achievements. The Soka Gakkai will forever move forward with the courageous spirit of a lion king!

The text appeared in the April 27, 2018, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper

(pp. 2-3)

Notes   [ + ]

1. Translated from Chinese. Jin Feng, Deng Yingchao zhuan (A Biography of Deng Yingchao), (Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 1993), pp. 553–54.
2. Ibid., p. 244.

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