Encouragement

Brilliant Rainbow in the May Sky

The Eternal Citadel of Soka

Mahalia Jackson sings at the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 1963. Sitting at lower right is Martin Luther King Jr., and to the left is activist Whitney Young Jr. During the Civil Rights Movement, Ms. Jackson made her home available for Dr. King and other civil rights leaders to meet. Photo by BOB PARENT / GETTY IMAGES.


The following is an essay from SGI President Ikeda’s series “The Eternal Citadel of Soka,” which originally appeared in the May 10, 2018, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

Photo: Seiko PressThis year marks three decades since May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, was also designated as Soka Gakkai Mother’s Day.

Contrary to the weather forecast on May 3 in Japan this year, the rain stopped and gave way to brilliant blue skies. My wife remarked that the fine weather must have been in answer to the prayers of the women’s division members, adding with a smile that she was glad the visiting members and the staff working at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters complex wouldn’t get rained on.

That morning, my wife, Kaneko, and I drove around the headquarters area as we headed to the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu. There, we did gongyo and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Soka Gakkai Kosen-rufu Gohonzon[1]In addition to the words “For the Fulfillment of the Great Vow for
Kosen-rufu through the Compassionate Propagation of the Great Law,” this Gohonzon also bears the inscription “To Be Permanently Enshrined in the Soka Gakkai.”
that bears the inscription “For the Fulfillment of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu through the Compassionate Propagation of the Great Law.” We prayed earnestly for the health, long life, safety, happiness and victory of all our fellow members around the world.

In March this year, more than 750,000 young people gathered across the globe via simulcast for the World Youth General Meeting. Buoyed by the jubilant momentum set in motion through this event, our youthful members have continued to greatly expand their joyous network.

I am receiving an increasing number of letters from members throughout Japan and the world sharing their wonderful experiences of achieving victories and gaining benefit through their Buddhist practice.

“I was most delighted” (“Nine Thoughts to One Word,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 730)—this was Nichiren Daishonin’s heartfelt response upon hearing of one of his disciples’ triumph over adversity. I feel this is also praise for the members of our Soka family who are celebrating another glorious May 3.

I received many joy-filled reports from members in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, and in Chiba, Toyama and other places, letting me know of the rainbows spanning the sky on May 3 as if in celebration of our anniversary.

Describing the scene in which the Buddhas of the ten directions attest to the truth of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren writes, “It was as though a countless, immeasurable number of rainbows were soaring into the sky” (“Letter to Shimoyama,” WND-2, 705).

My wife and I are chanting that beautiful rainbows of brilliant achievement, friendship, hope, happiness, good fortune, wisdom, harmony and peace will span the skies wherever the women of Soka gather for their small-group general meetings being held this month in Japan.

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It was in Nishi-Kanda in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward that my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, having triumphed over the ordeal of two years’ imprisonment for his beliefs, began to rebuild the Soka Gakkai immediately following the end of World War II.

Recently (on April 30), for the first time in a long while, I visited that area where the old Soka Gakkai Headquarters was located. I fondly remember walking around the neighborhood to promote the Seikyo Shimbun, hoping to someday fulfill Mr. Toda’s dream of having it read by people throughout Japan. He had founded the newspaper (on April 20, 1951), just before he was inaugurated as the second Soka Gakkai president.

I was happy to learn of the ongoing energetic activities of our members in Kanda and the rest of Chiyoda Ward.
I recall the lion’s roar of my mentor, who said: “I decided to throw my entire being into the Soka Gakkai and to die amid the suffering people. I made this vow on May 3, 1951.”

That was the date of his inauguration as Soka Gakkai president, the day he boldly vowed to achieve the goal of 750,000 member households.

After seven years of waging a great, selfless struggle and fulfilling all the vows he made for kosen-rufu, Mr. Toda passed away on April 2, 1958.

On the first May 3 shortly after his death, 60 years ago, I introduced the vision of the Seven Bells, during the Soka Gakkai spring general meeting held at the International Stadium (later the Nihon University Auditorium) in Ryogoku, Sumida Ward.

From its inception, I explained, the Soka Gakkai had advanced in a rhythm of seven-year periods and that, alongside Mr. Toda, we had rung the fourth bell. Now the curtain was opening on another seven-year period, the fifth bell. We would go on to ring the sixth and seventh bells, too, as we continued working toward making kosen-rufu a reality.

I set forth this vision of the Seven Bells to ensure that disciples would keep striving to fulfill their vow to eternally carry on the baton of kosen-rufu passed to them by their mentor, no matter what difficulties they encountered.

We are now boldly advancing along the great path of worldwide kosen-rufu in the rhythm of the second series of Seven Bells that began in 2001.

The second series will conclude in 2050, the midpoint of the 21st century and the 120th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding.

I am filled with emotion when I think of that time and how the humanistic philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism will brightly illuminate the world and our wonderful Soka network will be regarded as a pillar of peace for all humankind.

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It has been 40 years since the establishment of our women’s division groups. Meeting in small groups to talk and to study Nichiren Buddhism, women’s division members have enabled many people to enjoy the benefit of faith in the Mystic Law.

Small gatherings are very important.

Around the time that I was spearheading a fresh groundswell in the development of our people’s movement with my precious fellow members in Kansai (in 1956), the American Civil Rights Movement was expanding under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68).

During that period, the famous singer Mahalia Jackson (1911–72) made her home available for Dr. King and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement to meet. Ms. Jackson, who reminds me of our wonderful members of the Arts Division who happily participate in Soka Gakkai activities, spoke of the profound impact those small gatherings had on her, “I realized I had lived to see a new day dawn for [African Americans] and history was being made.”[2]Mahalia Jackson with Evan McLeod Wylie, Movin’ on Up (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1966), p. 128.

Dr. Vincent Harding (1931–2014), a noted historian and close friend of Dr. King, also valued one-to-one dialogue. He said emphatically to me, “No matter how small the group, when people get to know and understand one another and share their thoughts and opinions, they can discover a path to new possibilities and unexpected transformation.”[3]Vincent Harding and Daisaku Ikeda, America Will Be!: Conversations on Hope, Freedom, and Democracy (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dialogue Path Press, 2013), p. 120.

Strong bonds are formed when people get together on a regular basis to talk, engage in dialogue and encourage one another. Such gatherings provide a truly rich environment for creating value.

Mr. Toda said: “Discussion meetings are assemblies of Nichiren Buddhism. They should brim with compassion and be the most enjoyable gatherings in the world.”

The women’s division group motto is “Let’s talk together, learn together and become experts in the art of happiness together!”

I would like to ask our men’s and youth division members to do their utmost to support the joyous women’s division general meetings being held throughout the month of May.

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District women’s division leaders are incredibly busy. Not only are they the mothers of our Soka family, which is made up of members of many different professions, ages and circumstances, but they are also shouldering the responsibility for the happiness of their communities.

Some of them have small children. Some are juggling their time between work and Soka Gakkai activities. And many are contributing to kosen-rufu in their communities by delivering the Seikyo Shimbun early each morning.

I pray deeply every day that these noble, admirable mothers of kosen-rufu will take care of their health and well-being.
Nichiren praised Nichigen-nyo, Shijo Kingo’s wife, saying, “[You are] even firmer and more dedicated in your faith than I myself” (“Rebuking Slander of the Law,” WND-1, 436). He also wrote to her:

When you shake your head, your hair sways; when your mind begins to work, your body moves. When a strong wind blows, the grass and trees can no longer remain still; when the earth shakes, the seas are atremble. Thus if one can move Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, can the grass and trees fail to respond, can the waters remain calm? (“The Buddha Statue Fashioned by Nichigen-nyo,” WND-2, 811)

Life presents all sorts of challenges, from financial hardship to illness to caring for the elderly, and various other family difficulties. But by having a firm resolve and tackling your problems based on chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you can overcome suffering and sadness and attain a life of fulfillment and joy. You can savor benefits greater than you ever imagined possible.

This is the power of the Mystic Law, which enables us to change poison into medicine, and the essence of practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

Our firm resolve calls forth the protective functions of the universe that safeguard the development of our movement for kosen-rufu.

Life presents all sorts of challenges . . . But by having a firm resolve and tackling your problems based on chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you can overcome suffering and sadness and attain a life of fulfillment and joy.

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The cover photograph of the May 2018 issue of the SGI Graphic, whose headline reads, “Radiant Women—Happy Oceania,” shows a field of lupine flowers in splendid blossom beside New Zealand’s Lake Tekapo. It is an idyllic scene.

Speaking of lupines, there is a wonderful story about the flowers titled Miss Rumphius by American writer Barbara Cooney. In it, a little girl’s grandfather asks her to do something in her life that will make the world more beautiful.

Her opportunity to reply to her grandfather comes later in her life, when she decides to sow lupine seeds all throughout the village she has moved to. Some people call her crazy, but the following spring, the village is filled with colorful lupine flowers, delighting everyone. She succeeds in making the world more beautiful, just as she had promised her grandfather. She becomes known fondly as the “Lupine Lady,” and then entrusts her great-niece with the same dream.

The daily efforts of our members also comprise a story that transcends generations and connects them with the vision of making the world a more beautiful place.

This describes the actions of the women of Soka, who are engaged in the compassionate endeavor of spreading Nichiren Buddhism. They move actively throughout the places of their mission like a refreshing breeze, in the spirit of the Soka Gakkai song “Ever in High Spirits,” sowing the seeds of Buddhahood through dialogue. In this way, they are expanding a wonderful garden of happiness and peace for themselves and others.

Their example will live on after them to inspire their successors.

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At the spring general meeting on May 3, 1958, thinking of my mentor’s rousing declaration that “the Soka Gakkai is the king of the religious world,” I shared this passage from a letter the Daishonin wrote to the lay nun Sennichi: “[The Lotus Sutra] is superior to all other sutras. It is like the lion king, the monarch of all the creatures that run on the ground, and like the eagle, the king of all the creatures that fly in the sky” (“The Sutra of True Requital,” WND-1, 929–30).

My friends, youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth, let us set forth anew, as fearless as lion kings, as free as mighty eagles, on a fresh journey of kosen-rufu!

Ringing the bell of development and victory, let us express our profound appreciation and gratitude to our wonderful women’s division members, the treasures of Soka!

(pp. 2-3)

Notes   [ + ]

1. In addition to the words “For the Fulfillment of the Great Vow for
Kosen-rufu through the Compassionate Propagation of the Great Law,” this Gohonzon also bears the inscription “To Be Permanently Enshrined in the Soka Gakkai.”
2. Mahalia Jackson with Evan McLeod Wylie, Movin’ on Up (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1966), p. 128.
3. Vincent Harding and Daisaku Ikeda, America Will Be!: Conversations on Hope, Freedom, and Democracy (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dialogue Path Press, 2013), p. 120.