Win in the Place of Your Mission

34th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting

SGI President Ikeda has referred to the Shin’etsu region, comprising Japan’s modern-day prefectures of Nagano and Niigata, as a “land imbued with the vow of the mentor and disciple.” Shin’etsu is the birthplace of Soka Gakkai founding President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and where Nichiren Daishonin battled to spread the Law during his exile to Sado Island. Photo by helovi / getty images.

Photo: Seiko Press

SGI President Ikeda sent the following message to the 34th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting of the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu on May 13 at the Soka Gakkai Niigata Ikeda Culture Center in Niigata Prefecture. The gathering was held in conjunction with the Shin’etsu Region General Meeting. Among those who attended were SGI representatives from 12 countries and territories visiting Japan for training sessions. The message was originally published in the May 14, 2018, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

I am reminded once again today of the wondrous karmic connections that exist among mentors and disciples in the realm of Soka.

Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, first set foot here in the Shin’etsu region—comprising Niigata and Nagano prefectures—in 1271, when he was exiled to Sado Island due to persecution by the government authorities.

Precisely 600 years later, in 1871, our great mentor Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the founder of the Soka Gakkai who died in prison for his beliefs, was born in Niigata Prefecture in Shin’etsu, a place with such profound ties to Nichiren.

Mr. Makiguchi loved Niigata and always did his utmost to help and support his friends and those of the younger generation from this area.

Shortly after founding the Soka Gakkai, he traveled to his home village of Arahama in today’s Kashiwazaki City in Niigata Prefecture, accompanied by his young disciple Josei Toda, then in his 30s, and introduced Nichiren Buddhism to friends and acquaintances there.

This was a journey to sow the seeds of happiness and peace in the soil of his beloved home region at a time when militarism was on the rise in Japan. It was also a journey on which Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda—recalling Nichiren’s confident declarations in “On the Buddha’s Prophecy” and other writings that Buddhism would return westward and his teachings would spread throughout the entire world—envisaged the magnificent future of kosen-rufu the Soka Gakkai was sure to achieve.

Mr. Toda later fondly spoke of his memories of this trip with Mr. Makiguchi during our visit to Karuizawa in Nagano during the last summer before he died. It was also at that time that I vowed deeply to compose The Human Revolution, to tell the story of my mentor’s life.

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Congratulations on this headquarters leaders meeting being held today in Shin’etsu, a land imbued with the vow of mentor and disciple! I am overjoyed to hear of the successful efforts of groups and districts throughout Niigata and Nagano in sharing Nichiren Buddhism and fostering capable individuals aiming toward this day.

Let us turn our respective communities into ideal realms where youth are fostered and everyone can bring forth their potential.

I would also like to thank our visiting members from the U.S., South America, Europe, Taiwan and South Korea, who enjoyed wonderful, friendly interactions with their fellow members from Shin’etsu.

I know Presidents Makiguchi and Toda would be absolutely delighted. Let us give a big round of applause in praise of the courageous and spirited efforts of the members of our Soka family in Japan and around the world!

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It is very significant that the Daishonin spent nearly three years here in Shin’etsu after casting off his transient status and revealing his true identity as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.

During that time, he endured harsh northern winters, in which “The snow fell and piled up, never melting away” (“The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 769). He was subjected to persecution by the authorities so severe that, he wrote, “the chances are one in ten thousand that I will survive the year or even the month” (“On the Buddha’s Prophecy, WND-1, 402).

Yet even in those circumstances, Nichiren called forth one new Bodhisattva of the Earth after another, including Abutsu-bo and his wife, the lay nun Sennichi. He taught them that both men and women who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo just as they are are “treasure towers,” emanating the supreme life state of Buddhahood.

Offering guidance and encouragement in faith to this sincere couple and others who had just begun practicing his teaching, the Daishonin helped many in the area form a connection with Buddhism. His efforts eventually won over government officials, local community leaders and even his opponents, greatly transforming society on the island.

In addition to teaching his disciples about faith, the Daishonin himself prayed earnestly—“as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground” (“Rebuking Slander of the Law,” WND-1, 444)—for the safety and security of those living amid the turmoil taking place in Kamakura and other areas. He also composed such major treatises as “The Opening of the Eyes” and “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind” to transmit his teachings for all eternity.

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Reflecting deeply on Nichiren’s bold and courageous actions, let us engrave in our lives this passage from one of his writings composed on Sado:

Among all the persons since the beginning of our present kalpa who have incurred the wrath of their parents or their rulers and have been exiled to distant islands, there can be none who overflow with joy as we do. Therefore, wherever we dwell and practice the single vehicle [the Lotus Sutra], that place will be the Capital of Eternally Tranquil Light. (“Reply to Sairen-bo,” WND-1, 313)

As the direct successors of the Daishonin, no matter what adversity we face or what negative karma assails us, we continue to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and confront all our challenges with courage and joy until we triumph resolutely in the place of our mission. That is the spirit of Soka mentors and disciples.

The journey of mentor and disciple, in kosen-rufu and in life, is filled with unending struggles. Therefore, with indomitable faith, let us joyfully carry out our human revolution, expand our network of Bodhisattvas of the Earth and create a shining oasis of eternally tranquil light in the place where we have vowed to carry out our mission.

At this time when worldwide kosen-rufu is developing simultaneously around the world, let us turn our respective communities into ideal realms where youth are fostered and everyone can bring forth their potential. In this way, we can cause a chain reaction of revitalization to spread far and wide, and illuminate global society with the brilliant light of friendship, trust and peace.

In closing, since today’s headquarters leaders meeting is being held on Mother’s Day, let us pray for the good health and happiness of all Soka women, the mothers of kosen-rufu.

Together with our young people striving energetically across the globe, let’s set forth anew on a journey toward victory in our shared struggle and win in all our endeavors.

Three cheers for beautiful Shin’etsu!

Three cheers for the beautiful mothers
of kosen-rufu!

Three cheers for our beautiful global
Soka family! WT

(pp. 2-3)

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