Let’s Strive Together for a Year of Victory! Part 2 of 2

Light of the Century of Humanity

Pictured is Japanese painter Katsushika Hokusai’s “Under the Wave Off Kanagawa,” the best-known print in his world-famous woodblock series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.” Hokusai attributed his development as an artist to the indignity he had suffered in his younger years. SGI President Ikeda writes: “As a youth, Hokusai endured the painful experience of having a painting he had put a lot of work into not only ridiculed but also torn up and thrown away in front of him by one of his seniors. Trembling with anger, Hokusai vowed at that moment to become the world’s best painter and avenge this humiliation.” Photo by KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI / WIKIPEDIA.

The following is the conclusion of SGI President Ikeda’s essay from the “Light of the Century of Humanity” series, which was originally published in the March 27, 2009, World Tribune insert. Part one was reprinted in the Sept. 14, 2018, World Tribune, pp. 2–3.

Photo: Seiko Press

Many leading thinkers across the globe are voicing deep understanding and high expectations for the SGI’s movement for human revolution. One of them, Dr. Ved Nanda, vice provost at the University of Denver in the United States, has said that the members of the SGI are encouraging and inspiring others to carry out their human revolution.

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“Once you take the first step, overcoming each difficulty that arises is an easy matter.” These are the confident words of Madame Xie Bingxin (commonly known by her pen name Bing Xin), a great Chinese writer with whom my wife and I enjoyed an unforgettable friendship. She wrote this in a letter one January during a period that was fraught with hardship and adversity.

In this Year of Youth and Victory [2009], let us take action with a youthful and courageous spirit, one step after another. Let us keep pressing energetically forward, ever forward, toward a glorious golden victory.

On Nov. 5, 1961, the year after I had been inaugurated as the third president of the Soka Gakkai, I organized a gathering of 100,000 young men for a young men’s division general meeting at the National Sports Stadium in Tokyo to fulfill my vow to my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. Usually, a large scoreboard looked down over the expansive field of the stadium, but on that day, it was covered by a huge sign with the word Victory in vivid black Chinese characters. The sign was 20 feet high and 60 feet wide, and the word Victory stood out boldly. It left a powerful impression on the 100,000 youth who eagerly gathered that day, stirring a victory cry from the depths of their beings: “Yes, we have triumphed! And we will keep winning again and again!” I gazed up at the sign along with our members with a sense of delight and exhilaration.

In fact, creating the sign and attaching it to the scoreboard had involved great behind-the-scenes efforts. At first, a staff member of the stadium who was in charge of our event had rejected the idea of the sign, as well as many other requests made by the young men’s division members. He placed numerous restrictions on the conduct of the meeting and was brusque in his dealings with the members.

Faced with this obstacle, and knowing that nothing could go forward if this man didn’t change his mind, one youth thought to himself with passionate resolve: “This sign we want to put up is a symbol of the victory of mentor and disciple, which President Toda entrusted to President Ikeda. I’m not going to give up! This is a battle to promote understanding for our movement and good relations with those around us. This is a crucial moment. I’ll definitely realize our plans!”

This young men’s division member repeatedly met with the staff person and spoke with him candidly from his heart. Finally, something changed inside the staff person. The passion and sincerity of the youth had opened the closed door of the man’s heart.

Fifty young people hung the sign on the scoreboard, working without rest throughout the night in the pouring rain. Their invincible spirit lives on steadfastly in our stage crew and other event staff even now.

On the day of the meeting, as they entered the stands, the members who had exerted themselves with such unswerving determination to accomplish this dream of mentor and disciple—a gathering of 100,000 young men—all saw the huge Victory sign standing out brilliantly against the clear blue sky.

Kosen-rufu is a struggle. It is a fierce battle between the Buddha and negative forces. It can never be won through halfhearted efforts. That is why it is so important to stay true to our convictions, to summon all our wisdom and to do our utmost—so that we can win in that struggle.

Mr. Toda also made a particular point of teaching me his philosophy on successful human diplomacy. He once said: “Never forget that the realm of the human heart can change without limit. It’s crucial to be courteous, sincere and tenacious in your efforts when meeting with people.”

SGI President and Mrs. Ikeda meet members at the Nagano Training Center in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, Aug. 6, 2018. Aug. 6 marked 25 years since President Ikeda began writing his epic novel The New Human Revolution in Karuizawa in 1993. Photo by SEIKYO PRESS

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Resolutely remain
undefeated by blizzards,
you and Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji has been a favorite subject of the arts in Japan, from poetry to painting and photography. There is an interesting story about Katsushika Hokusai, the painter who created the designs for the world-famous woodblock print series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.” As a youth, Hokusai endured the painful experience of having a painting he had put a lot of work into not only ridiculed but also torn up and thrown away in front of him by one of his seniors, the painter Katsukawa Shunko. Trembling with anger, Hokusai vowed at that moment to become the world’s best painter and avenge this humiliation. He then set himself assiduously to polishing and perfecting his art. In later years, he attributed his development as an artist to the indignity he had suffered at that time.

In any endeavor, it is by undergoing the harshest and most bitter trials and tribulations, and persevering to overcome them, that character as towering as Mount Fuji is built. It is by withstanding life’s fierce gales that we can forge unshakable selves. As Nichiren Daishonin writes, it is “one’s powerful enemies who assist one’s progress” (“The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 770). I would like the youth division members to engrave these words deeply in their hearts.

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At the beginning of 1958, citing the passage from Nichiren’s writings “You must not spend your lives in vain and regret it for ten thousand years to come” (“The Problem to Be Pondered Night and Day,” WND-1, 622), Mr. Toda called out to us: “Strive with faith that grows stronger day by day, month by month and year by year. This is the key to realizing our goals for the coming year, as well as our goals throughout life. First, make a firm determination. And when you’ve done that, set forth courageously.”

Now let’s set out together and climb the brilliant summit of victory. Aiming toward the 80th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding (in 2010), may you record golden entries in the diary of your life day after day.

My beloved friends, my youthful disciples: Let us advance bravely and vigorously, challenge ourselves with all our might and win decisively in every sphere.

As champions of kosen-rufu
and Soka,
victory after victory
again this year

(pp. 2-3)

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