Unity and Prayer Come First
The following is SGI General Director Yoshitaka Oba’s encouragement toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival to SGI-USA leaders during the Central Executive Committee teleconference on July 2.
As you may have heard, the Soka Gakkai achieved a historic gathering of youth on March 11. In fact, more than 650,000 young people gathered at 1,500 Soka Gakkai centers across Japan, a number exceeding the goal of 600,000.
What were the keys to this victory? There were several, but I’d like to focus on one: the all-out dedicated efforts of the men’s and women’s leaders at every level of the organization, who were on the front lines, visiting even one more youth, or calling on fellow members to encourage other youth.
I heard that in his recent guidance in the U.S., SGI Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa shared the key tactics for winning in the Sapporo Summer Propagation Campaign of 1955 (see June 15 World Tribune, pp. 6–8):
1. Thorough preparation
2. Strong prayer
3. Unity (the importance of communication)
In addition, I’d like to report that SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda are in high spirits. On the morning of June 9, they drove past the SGI Headquarters in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. While he was in the car, Sensei took a picture of the building, and the next day, we received the photo nicely framed. Because the picture was taken in the morning, the golden letters of the building’s name, the Josei Toda International Center, were shining beautifully, reflecting the sun. Now, this most recent photo taken by Sensei is on display in the center’s lobby.
This is one example of how Sensei, on a daily basis, is thinking about different ways to encourage all the members.
Another way he is doing so is through writing “Vow,” the final chapter in volume 30 of The New Human Revolution (NHR), which appears daily in the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper [as well as on worldtribune.org and twice monthly in the World Tribune]. Sensei says he wants to leave everything for future generations and has diligently been writing the NHR every day.
I ask all the SGI-USA leaders to read volume 30 of the NHR and continue to fight toward this great gathering of 50,000 Lions of Justice on Sept. 23.
In the second chapter of volume 30, President Ikeda writes about how, directly after stepping down as third Soka Gakkai president, he held small-group dialogues with groups of members at various Soka Gakkai centers. In one discussion at the Kanagawa Culture Center with a few young men’s division and student division leaders, he said that the Soka Gakkai has had a fresh start and asked how the young men were doing. One of them answered: “Yes, we’re doing our best. But since you’re no longer able to offer encouragement at meetings [and your guidance is no longer published in the Seikyo Shimbun], we feel quite sad” (tentative translation).
President Ikeda immediately answered: “If you feel this way, then you, as youth, must be the ones to stand up. Otherwise, you’re just bystanders, not protagonists. Decide to take full responsibility for kosen-rufu. Youth must become the force for its advancement” (tentative translation) He urged the youth to accumulate solid results. He told them that plans and ideas generated by the youth can cause new waves of activities, inspiring members of other divisions to listen to and support the youth. Showing actual proof leads to trust.
President Ikeda went on to offer an example of when he had just been appointed in March 1954 as youth division chief of staff, overseeing all the planning and management of Soka Gakkai activities. The board of directors did not accept many of the proposals he made. Even his proposals for the youth sports festival, the precursor to the youth culture festivals, were initially rejected. However, after submitting many revised proposals, everyone accepted this idea. These festivals went on to become emblematic activities of the Soka Gakkai. This was a victory won by the power of youth.
Sensei writes: “In carrying out our Soka Gakkai activities, what we need to heed most is our own emotions, especially when our ideas and thoughts are not incorporated. Don’t let yourself become overcome by disappointment or become emotional and hold grudges toward others.
“Many organizations or religions end up divided or come to a standstill because of opposition and ill feelings that originate from differing opinions about how to manage or carry out a vision.
“We must never let this happen in the Soka Gakkai.
“Today, for the sake of the future, I’d like to discuss what our foremost ironclad guideline is. It is the solid, indestructible unity of many in body, one in mind” (tentative translation).
He then introduced Nichiren Daishonin’s passage: “All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind, transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren’s propagation. When you are so united, even the great desire for widespread propagation can be fulfilled” (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217).
The success of the Sept. 23 festival can build the foundation of the SGI-USA and lead to further development. Together with the support of the men’s and women’s division members, this will be the start of a new chapter in the history of the SGI-USA.
This new chapter can be created only to the extent that the tens of thousands of youth who attend the festival continue in their faith and practice. Right now, I believe that you have come to almost 30,000 registrations [as of July 27, 41,723].
I hope that you will continue to fight together with ironclad unity.
Sensei has also written: “I am continuing to write The New Human Revolution so that all of you can continue to walk the path of mentor and disciple as you courageously challenge, polish and train yourself. Always remain united with everyone, advance forward together and create a solid Soka Gakkai in the 21st century” (tentative translation).
I ask all the leaders of the SGI-USA: While placing foremost importance on unity and prayer, please enjoy great success at your festival on Sept. 23. Here in Japan, we are chanting for the Lions of Justice Festival to become a bright crowning point in the history of American kosen-rufu!