Q: 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival. What is the significance of such a large number of people?
Towards September 23, 2018
When we engage in any long-term endeavor, it’s helpful to have short-term challenges and goals that help us grow, expand our abilities and refresh our spirits. The same applies to our Buddhist practice and SGI activities. Without goals and challenges, it is easy to become complacent and idle or lose the vitality and drive necessary to achieve our dreams.
SGI President Ikeda explains: “Traveling along a flat, straight road can become boring and monotonous. But facing a road that goes up mountains, down valleys and through fields fills us with the excitement of fresh challenges and spurs us to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead . . .
“If an organization just contents itself with doing the same old thing year after year, it will be like an outdated black-and-white television. It goes without saying that our traditional day-to-day Soka Gakkai activities, such as discussion meetings, are crucial. But if you also plan an inspiring large-scale event, it will allow the members to joyfully display their talents and abilities, and will strengthen the organization as a whole” (March 2018 Living Buddhism, pp. 49–50).
Ultimately, the purpose of our SGI activities—whether small discussion meetings or large-scale events—is to help us continually revitalize our faith and develop a magnanimous state of life in which everything we experience serves as a source of joy and fulfillment.
Therefore, holding large gatherings from time to time offers practical opportunities for us to stretch our capacity and develop our abilities in many ways.
For instance, in the process of rehearsing for performances, planning logistics and ensuring the security of the festival, we discover our strengths and weaknesses, and challenge ourselves to develop our capabilities as individuals as well as our capacity to work in unity with others. The skills honed through this process help us become even more capable in all other aspects of our lives too.
And beyond developing practical skills, what’s most important is that, as we challenge ourselves for events like the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, we strengthen our abilities to advance kosen-rufu. For example, in promoting this festival, we are personally meeting with our family, friends and acquaintances to explain the significance of the event, which is to inspire young people to stand up for justice and usher in an era of hope and respect.
The underlying purpose of this effort, as with all of our SGI activities, is to awaken more and more people to their mission as protagonists for creating a peaceful society. In this process, we not only discover more capable people, but we also develop our own inner qualities of persistence, patience, courage, confidence and compassion. And as we grow the number of capable people who are engaged in their own human revolution, we are strengthening our collective ability to support everyone in becoming happy.
“Additionally,” President Ikeda writes, “participants are sure to vow to each other to achieve a goal, like introducing a friend to Nichiren Buddhism, as they rehearse toward the event. Others may use the date of the event as a target for overcoming a problem they are facing. It will inspire everyone to earnestly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and take on fresh challenges” (March 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 51).
Thus, we can use the grand goal of gathering 50,000 young people in September as a great opportunity to challenge ourselves to go beyond our limitations and reach for our wildest dreams. Connecting our personal goals with such a grand goal moves us to seriously chant and thoroughly challenge ourselves to revolutionize our lives.
The true significance of our Lions of Justice Festival lies in each person working hard toward achieving their own personal victory and building in the process a grand palace of happiness and joy in the depths of their hearts. And as each of us constructs such a wonderful palace in our own lives, we are also elevating the life condition of society as a whole and helping to establish a solid foundation for peace, hope and respect in our world.
SGI PRESIDENT IKEDA’S GUIDANCE
The following are excerpts from The New Human Revolution, vol. 30, “Vow” chapter, in which SGI President Ikeda writes about the purpose of culture festivals in the Soka Gakkai. He appears in this novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.
The most vital requirement for young people to grow as successors for kosen-rufu is to gain unshakable conviction in faith, and to develop themselves and forge their character based on an awareness of their profound mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth. It is extremely important, therefore, that they achieve personal growth by developing such qualities as the spirit of challenge, persistence and a sense of responsibility. To provide opportunities for young people to do that, Shin’ichi had proposed holding youth-centered culture festivals on the prefectural and regional levels.
Soka Gakkai culture festivals are celebrations of the triumph of ordinary people, giving expression to the joy and vitality gained through their practice of Nichiren Buddhism. They are microcosms of human harmony, showing the beauty and strength of unity arising from trust and friendship. They are festivals of hope, proclaiming a vow for the realization of kosen-rufu, or world peace. (May 3, 2018, World Tribune Insert, p. 2)
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Many of the young people who performed in the culture festival were of a generation that disliked intensive training and large group activities. They were also busy with work or school. For them, participating in the many rehearsals and practice sessions leading up to the culture festival was a battle—a battle not to be defeated by their own weakness and a battle with time. Throughout, they had chanted, continued to challenge themselves based on faith and encouraged one another not to give up.
As a result, they had each created a drama of human revolution and written countless stories of friendship. Through participating in the culture festival, they had learned the Soka Gakkai spirit of bravely confronting and battling hardships, and put that spirit into practice in their own lives