Feature

Byakuren Group: Founded July 8, 1966

The Spirit of SGI Youth Training Groups

The Byakuren Group supporting the 50,000 Lions of Justice movement, New York, September 2018. Photo by Anjelica Jardiel.


The following is SGI President Ikeda’s encouragement on the founding of the Byakuren Group—a young women’s behind-the-scenes training group.

MOTTOES: > Take quick action with a bright smile > Protect the organization from behind the scenes > Become the core of the young women’s division

he Byakuren Group’s origins can be traced to a sincere and dedicated group of young women who voluntarily set about cleaning up the head temple facilities during the various activities held in connection with the historic Soka Gakkai youth gathering there on March 16, 1958 [the day on which second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda entrusted the youth with the mission of kosen-rufu]. Later, as is well known, I gave this group of young women the name Byakuren (White Lotus).

As they exhausted themselves in their selfless endeavors, the priests only looked on scornfully and snickered at them, without offering so much as a word of thanks. Some even addressed them lewdly.

With their clear, pure and sincere eyes, the Byakuren Group members observed the priests’ contemptuous and degrading attitude toward women. The vast life condition of a Bodhisattva of the Earth is that of a white lotus, which remains unsullied by the muddy water in which it grows.

Bodhisattvas of the Earth are the true champions of the oneness of mentor and disciple, which is based on the spirit of devoting oneself to others’ well-being and struggling earnestly on their behalf. Nothing is purer, stronger or more beautiful than such sincerity. Many people today, though they might seem to have exciting or glamorous lives, are aimlessly pursuing fleeting pleasures or leading lonely, isolated existences. Compared to them, how noble are the efforts of our young women’s division members, and especially our Byakuren Group members! The heavenly deities—the benevolent forces of the universe—cannot fail to protect them, and Nichiren Daishonin is surely praising and watching over them. The growth and development of our young women’s division members leads to the advance of kosen-rufu. (April 22, 2005, World Tribune, p. 3)

Sharing his hopes for the members of the Byakuren Group, Hong Kong, February 1994. Photo by Seikyo Press.

Byakuren—White Lotus Flower

In 1966, Shin’ichi Yamamoto bestowed the name “Byakuren Group” on the young women’s division head temple staff. July 8, the day that he announced the new name, came to be known as Byakuren Group Day.

“Byakuren” means “white lotus flower.” The Lotus Sutra likens the lotus flower to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, with the phrase, “Unsoiled by worldly things like the lotus flower in the water” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 263). Just as the beautiful white lotus blossoms from a muddy pond, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, though they live in the corrupt and polluted world of the Latter Day of the Law, remain pure and unsullied by their surroundings. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, p. 118)

Spirit of Byakuren

Valiant Byakuren! You take the lead behind the scenes, diligently working for the brilliant success of our meetings for kosen-rufu. Your hearts are filled with the deep and lofty prayer that there be absolutely no accidents, while your actions are driven by a strong sense of responsibility to bring hope to many people day after day.

Heroic Byakuren! Serene and unperturbed, you stand alone, utterly committed to fulfilling your duties. Often only faintly hearing the enthusiastic applause inside, you do your very best in the place

where you have been assigned.
Noble Byakuren! When the meeting is over and everyone has gone home, you quietly and indus-triously clean and tidy our “castles of kosen-rufu.”
How infinitely worthy, beautiful and sublime is the youth of our Byakuren Group members who, in this dark, defiled age, sincerely and selflessly work to be of assistance to others.
Vanity and foolishness lead to unhappiness; genuine happiness is found in wholeheartedly serving our fellow human beings. (January 31, 2003, World Tribune, p. C)

Training as Youth

The German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) remarked that the way a person greets others reveals their degree of education. We need to educate and train ourselves. We live in an age that is increasingly disordered, an age where people lean toward taking the easy way, an age where selfishness and irresponsibility prevail. It is a superficial age where many young people let their passing emotions rule their lives and end up drowning in life’s turbid waters.

Doing just as you please may seem like fun, but it won’t lead you to genuine happiness and a life of true victory and fulfillment. Without hard work and training, you cannot complete and perfect yourself. You cannot attain happiness. A person who has withstood the storms of life is unbeatable. History bears this out.

Getting married doesn’t automatically lead to happiness, either. The important thing is to build a solid foundation for becoming happy. There is all the difference in the world between dreams and reality.

I hope that our Byakuren Group members, therefore, will have deep, deep confidence that through their admirable service to others, they are building an indestructible foundation of happiness for their entire lives. (February 28, 2003, World Tribune, p. C)

Creating Causes for Immeasurable Benefit

Shin’ichi Yamamoto said: “I’ve established various groups to train people and striven so energetically to support them out of my hope to foster Soka Gakkai youth into leaders who will protect and serve the members. Please never forget that as long as you live.

“The members of the Byakuren Group are the ‘faces’ of the Soka Gakkai and the ‘flowers’ of Soka.

“Young women dedicating themselves to kosen-rufu and their fellow members are incredibly admirable and noble. All of your efforts and hard work will adorn your lives in the form of great benefits and good fortune. This accords with the workings of the rigorous Buddhist law of cause and effect.

“Therefore, as a Buddhist, you need to be committed to advancing along your chosen path.
“The only pathway to true happiness is to act based on your own convictions, derived from the teachings of Buddhism, and not worry about how others may judge you.”

Shin’ichi wanted to assure them that although their sincere efforts may seem to go unnoticed by others, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the universe observe all.

Buddhism teaches about the workings of karma. Bad causes produce negative effects, and good causes produce positive effects. Moreover, this law applies throughout past, present and future. One’s thoughts, words and deeds in the past are causes that produce effects in one’s present, and one’s conduct in the present will result in effects in the future.

As Nichiren Daishonin writes, “One who slights another will in turn be despised” (“Letter from Sado,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 305). Everything is up to the individual. Both positive and negative effects in one’s life are the results of one’s own actions. The way to transform the negative karma one has formed and create the most positive effects possible is through practicing the true teachings of Buddhism and dedicating oneself to kosen-rufu. This is the great pathway to certain and unshakable happiness. Buddhist practitioners should strive to live out their lives with an understanding that Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the universe are aware of their actions, based on the causality of life.

The shining examples offered by members of the Gajokai, the Soka Group and the Byakuren Group brim with that spirit. (NHR-24, 121–22)

Making Unseen Efforts for Kosen-rufu

There are days when the cold winter winds blow, when the hot summer sun is beating down, when it’s pouring rain or when heavy snow is falling. But no matter what challenges our young men and women of the Soka Group, Gajokai and Byakuren face, they always greet those arriving at our facilities with the respect befitting Buddhas, just as the passage from the Lotus Sutra states.

They are carrying out their duties with a spirit of venerating and serving everyone as Buddhas. There is nothing more praiseworthy. Through their behavior, they are putting into practice the passage “You should rise and greet [others] from afar, showing [them] the same respect you would a Buddha,” which is “the foremost point [the Buddha] wished to convey to us” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 192).

Our behind-the-scenes group members are serving our members, who are the emissaries of the Buddha, and resolutely protecting the harmonious gathering of the Soka Gakkai, the sole organization advancing kosen-rufu in the present age.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “The blessings to be obtained [by praising and making offerings to the votary of the Lotus Sutra in this latter age] . . . are a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times greater than those to be obtained by conducting oneself with a believing heart in the three categories of body, mouth, and mind, and offering alms to the living body of the Buddha for an entire kalpa” (“Letter to Horen,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 510).

By devoting yourself for the sake of your fellow members, you are all accumulating immeasurable and boundless benefit and good fortune. Your unseen efforts for kosen-rufu will surely activate the positive forces throughout the universe to reward and protect you in accord with the workings of cause and effect. (Youth and the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, pp. 191–92)

(pp. 20-23)