Let’s Share the Truth and Justice of Soka Far and Wide
The following are excerpted remarks by Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada delivered at the 34th Headquarters Leaders Meeting of the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, held in conjunction with the Shin’etsu General Meeting on May 13, 2018, at the Niigata Ikeda Culture Center in Niigata City, Japan. Participants included 82 SGI members from 12 countries and territories. The text appeared in the May 19, 2018, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.
A few days ago, I attended a reception for Premier Li Keqiang of China that was held to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
When I conveyed SGI President Ikeda’s words of welcome, along with a Chinese poem that he had written for him, Premier Li responded, “I still vividly recall my meeting with President Ikeda 33 years ago.”
It was clear that he truly treasured this memory.
In March 1985, 33 years ago, Premier Li visited Japan as the vice leader of a Chinese youth delegation. The leader of this delegation was Hu Jintao. Their delegation was visiting Japan in response to a visit to China the year before by 3,000 Japanese youth.
President Ikeda was very appreciative of the welcome the Japanese youth members had received in China. And because he viewed the youth visiting from China as important leaders of the future, he completely shifted his travel plans so that he could return to Tokyo and meet with them.
He truly treasures young people and strives to respond to sincerity with even greater sincerity, which is the basis for the kind of friendship that grows in brilliance with the passage of time. This reception was an opportunity for me to reaffirm this for myself.
This past April, I had the opportunity to visit France, Spain and the U.K.
In France, we visited the Institut de France and met with President and Mrs. Edmond Lisle of the Fraternité d’Abraham, and Bernard Esambert, who is active in a range of economic endeavors. I was also able to have a fruitful exchange with Dominique Trotignon, Director of the French Institute for Buddhist Studies.
At the SGI-France General Meeting, commemorating the 45th anniversary of the formation of the European Conference, a special award for dialogue for peace was presented to President Ikeda by the major publishing house Éditions L’Harmattan.
In the U.K., where the SGI celebrated having gathered more than 6,000 youth [this past March], I met with London’s Deputy Mayor Matthew Ryder at London City Hall.
At Taplow Court, an opening ceremony for the “Seeds of Hope” exhibition on sustainability was attended by many distinguished guests, reflecting the success of the members’ efforts to contribute to the local community.
[President Ikeda] truly treasures young people and strives to respond to sincerity with even greater sincerity.
Once again, I was reminded of the great challenges and struggles involved in advancing kosen-rufu in Europe, a region of immense ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity.
President Ikeda once said: “Nichiren Buddhism must be tested and proven in Europe if it is to truly take flight as a world religion. It is with this determination and prayer that I took my first steps for European kosen-rufu” (translated from the Jan. 19, 2016, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper).
In France, the concept of “laicism” or “secularity” accords freedom of religion in private life, but does not welcome the presence of religion in the public sphere. This way of thinking is rooted in historical developments dating back to the French Revolution.
As a result, there was a time when the SGI was not viewed fairly or objectively in France.
In December 2001, the dialogue between President Ikeda and former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, titled Moral Lessons of the Twentieth Century, was released in French. Mr. Gorbachev, himself, attended the publication press conference that was held at the Institute for Political Studies in Paris.
Later, he appeared on a popular TV program in Paris. There, the host of the show asked Mr. Gorbachev a series of questions that demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about President Ikeda and the SGI, reflecting the circumstances facing the SGI in France at the time.
But, as soon as the host had finished, Mr. Gorbachev responded in a clear, firm tone, saying: “All right then, I understand that there are certain baseless ideas about President Ikeda, but the only place I have encountered questions such as yours is France. I don’t understand where these ideas come from. They are completely without any basis in fact. My dialogue with Mr. Ikeda has been published in a number of countries, and has been greatly appreciated by readers in each of those countries. That is the first point.
“Next, before engaging in dialogue with me, Mr. Ikeda met with more than 100 leading intellectuals from every continent. Not one of them had anything negative to say about Mr. Ikeda.”
Mr. Gorbachev’s response was very clear-cut. Realizing how inappropriate the questions were, the host hurriedly backed off from the topic, saying: “That’s true. You’re right.”
This incident shows the strength of the bonds of friendship President Ikeda has forged around the world.
Mr. Gorbachev’s example inspired members of SGI-France to engage in a struggle of their own, using words that were just as filled with conviction.
This was equally true for members in Spain and the U.K.
In this way, European members have shown most remarkably the actual proof that marks the development of Nichiren Buddhism as a world religion.
Nichiren states, “Nichiren . . . has never begrudged his body or life in order to expose the faults of his powerful enemies!” (“In the Continent of Jambudvipa,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 1062).
As kosen-rufu advances, the three powerful enemies are certain to appear. This is why it is vital that we be proactive in exposing baseless rumors and criticisms. Only by removing the poison of malicious rumors that has spread deep within people’s hearts, can we engage in earnest dialogue that truly pierces and moves their hearts.
With great conviction that “nothing is more eloquent than the truth” and “nothing is more powerful than courage,” let us hold our heads high as we share the truth and justice of Soka far and wide. The first lines of The New Human Revolution were written here in Shin’etsu (the region in Japan encompassing Nagano and Niigata prefectures).
After a quarter of a century [since President Ikeda began writing The New Human Revolution series], the first half of volume 30, the final volume of the series, will be released in June [in Japan]. Toward July, the month of mentor and disciple, let’s absorb with our entire being each word and phrase of this novel that Sensei has dedicated his life to writing, putting his words into practice.
In so doing, day after day, let’s also add new pages to our own story of human revolution.