The Great Light of Human Revolution

The following is an essay from SGI President Ikeda’s series “The Eternal Citadel of Soka,” which originally appeared in the Sept. 15, 2018, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

Photo by 751 / GETTY IMAGES.

Let me begin by extending my deepest sympathy to those affected by the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that occurred in Hokkaido in the early morning hours of Sept. 6.

Additionally, following the June earthquake that struck the northern Osaka area, Typhoon Jebi hit the Kansai and Chuburegions and other areas at the beginning of September, causing tremendous damage from its high winds, heavy rains and storm surge.

Those affected by the heavy rains two months ago (in July) in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions are still proceeding along the road to recovery. Natural disasters have been occurring around the world, from the series of earthquakes that struck Indonesia to the destructive wildfires in the western United States and the volcanic eruption in Hawaii.

I am praying sincerely that everyone impacted by these disasters can return to their normal routines as quickly as possible, and I am chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for all our precious members who are devoting themselves tirelessly to relief and recovery efforts.

Our prayers as Buddhists are directed toward realizing Nichiren Daishonin’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” and “changing poison into medicine.” They reach every corner of Japan and the entire world.

Nichiren writes: “Misfortune will change into fortune. Muster your faith, and pray to this Gohonzon. Then what is there that cannot be achieved?” (“Reply to Kyo’o,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 412).

We of the Soka Gakkai respond to times of hardship by rousing courage, wisdom and compassion. We are a network of individuals who share the vow to achieve positive social and personal transformation in order to realize happiness for ourselves and others, and to bring peace and security to our communities.

I understand that it is starting to become particularly chilly in Hokkaido as we move into autumn. I am chanting wholeheartedly every day for our members’ health and well-being.

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My wife, Kaneko, and I recently visited Yamanashi Prefecture for the first time in quite a while.

The inspiring members of the Yamanashi Soka family always strive with courage and joy in every effort for kosen-rufu, perfectly united with their fellow members in neighboring Tokyo.

Basing themselves on chanting powerfully, ledby the women’s division, they are advancing dynamically in good cheer, friendship and unity. This gives me great hope for the future.

During our visit, my wife and I prayed for the eternal happiness of unforgettable fellow members in Yamanashi who have passed away.

Sixty-three years ago (1955), my mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, led an outdoor training session of the young men’s division training group Suiko-kai (Water Margin Group) in Yamanashi. When we drove past Lake Yamanaka on our recent visit, I gazed with fond nostalgia at the area where all those years ago members of the Suiko-kai engaged in a sumo wrestling match. At that time, Mr. Toda had looked on as the young men grappled in earnest.

Both Mr. Toda and I loved watching sumo wrestlers who used the pushing technique, tenaciously pressing forward to drive their opponent out of the ring. I will never forget my mentor’s smiling face that day as he eagerly leaned forward and cheered on those young men giving everything they had, whether they won or lost.

The majestic Mount Fuji watched over that brilliant drama of mentor and disciples.

Mr. Toda encouraged youth who were facing challenges with the Daishonin’s words: “Only by defeating a powerful enemy can one prove one’s real strength” (“Letter from Sado,” WND-1, 302). His message was that human revolution could only be achieved by fearlessly confronting the “powerful enemy” of difficult karma.

Shugoro Yamamoto (1903–67), an author from Yamanashi whose works Mr. Toda was fond of reading, once wrote, “It is truly inspiring to see a person who keeps getting up again and again, no matter how many times he or she is knocked down.”[1]1. Translated from Japanese. Shugoro Yamamoto, “Jinsei no fuyu, shizen no fuyu” (Winter in Life and Winter in Nature), Kampon Yamamoto Shugoro zen-essei (Complete Essays of Shugoro Yamamoto), edited by Kuninori Kimura (Tokyo: Chuo University Press, 1974), p. 225.

The name of the protagonist of Mr. Toda’s novel The Human Revolution is Gan Kutsuo, a homonym for Gankutsu-o, or the Count of Monte Cristo [the protagonist of the Alexandre Dumas novel of the same name]. He is the very embodiment of an invincible champion who keeps getting back up, no matter how many times he is knocked down, and continues to communicate the greatness of his teacher.

The protagonist of my novel The Human Revolution, which I wrote as a sequel to Mr. Toda’s, as well as The New Human Revolution, which carries on the story of the Soka Gakkai’s great development after Mr. Toda’s death, is Shin’ichi Yamamoto. His name incorporates the Chinese characters for “mountain” (Jpn yama) and “grow upward” (shin). Shin’ichi Yamamoto thus personifies the unwavering composure of Mount Fuji, the fighting spirit of an invincible champion, and the firm resolve to grow upward like a mighty tree, embodying the victory of mentor and disciple, no matter how many times he is trampled upon.

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The eminent British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975) contributed a foreword to the English edition of my novel The Human Revolution, just before the start of our dialogue in London.

In it, he praised the Soka Gakkai’s “community and its leaders” for their “courage and constancy to endure persecution” and “the sincerity that they have demonstrated by their endurance.”[2] Daisaku Ikeda, The Human Revolution (Tokyo: Weatherhill, Inc., 1972), vol. 1, p. x.

He also said, “already Soka Gakkai is a world affair,”[3]3. Ibid., p. xi[/ref] expressing his high hopes that our movement of human revolution would result in a major transformation of humanity’s spiritual values.

I am sure he is watching in delight as we, the global citizens of Soka, are bringing people around the world together through our network of human revolution that is surmounting all manner of trials.

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On Sept. 8, the serialization of the 30th and final volume of The New Human Revolution came to an end.

The whole process, starting from The Human Revolution, which I began writing in Okinawa, has taken 54 years.

It was an undertaking to which I devoted my entire life. Because of the sincere support of my fellow members, I have gained the benefit of “prolonging my life through faith” and seen these works to their conclusion amid the great development of worldwide kosen-rufu that was my vow to first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Mr. Toda.

As a disciple, I am filled with deep emotion and cannot find words to express my gratitude.

I understand that on Sept. 8, just two days after the recent Sept. 6 earthquake in Hokkaido, the Seikyo Shimbun carrying the final installment of The New Human Revolution was printed and distributed there on time. This was thanks to the prayers of the members, not least the women’s division, and the tireless efforts of everyone involved.

I would like to reiterate my sincerest appreciation to everyone throughout Japan and the world who supported my endeavor in every possible way.

I am humbled to hear many say they are sad to see the series come to an end. But there is no end to the challenge of human revolution that we are engaged in as mentor and disciples. I am reminded of something I once saw at a Fife and Drum Corps performance—a young woman at the rear of the stage swiftly dampening the reverberations of her percussion instrument with her hand each time after she played. To me, her action carried the message: “Don’t linger in the aftermath of achievements; always move on to the next challenge.” This spirit of “true cause”—of continuously moving forward from the present moment on—is the heart of Nichiren Buddhism. The curtain falling on one challenge is the curtain opening on the next.

This is the essence of Nichiren’s words: “Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. Should you slacken in your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997).

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Twenty-five years ago, in September 1993, just after I began writing The New Human Revolution, I gave a lecture at Harvard University titled “Mahayana Buddhism and 21st-Century Civilization.” In it, I posed the following questions. Does religion make people stronger or does it weaken them? Does it make people better or worse? Are they made wiser or less so by religion?

A truly humanistic religion must enable people destined to live out their lives amid the turbulent currents of change to achieve constant growth and become stronger, better and wiser.

Dr. Jim Garrison, former president of the John Dewey Society in the United States, has expressed his agreement with this point, affirming that human revolution is the process by which each individual develops their precious potential in the real world and makes a positive contribution to society. As such, he states, the SGI, which upholds the ideal of human revolution, is a religion of never-ending growth.

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My motivation for writing The New Human Revolution was—mirroring the one-to-one training I received from my mentor at what I call “Toda University”—to engage in a life-to-life dialogue with young people throughout Japan and across the globe.

Now, youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth worldwide are studying the spirit of “human revolution” and making Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s heart their own. I am delighted to see that they are boldly and vigorously achieving proof of brilliant success in both their lives and kosen-rufu, just as I hoped.

The Human Revolution starts with the chapter “Dawn,” describing how my mentor stood up alone to break through the darkness of war, and the novel ends with the chapter “New Dawn,” telling how his disciple, fully united with him in spirit, inherited his mission.

The New Human Revolution begins with the chapter “Sunrise.” It describes Soka mentor and disciples embarking on the mission of worldwide kosen-rufu with the energy of the rising sun.

It is an account of my tireless efforts as an extension of my mentor to bring the compassionate light of Nichiren Buddhism to the world. It tells how I leaped into the throng of humanity, of the people, and stirred a whirlwind of dialogue. And the final chapter that brings the story to its conclusion is titled “Vow.”

Nichiren states: “My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow” (“The Dragon Gate,” WND-1, 1003); and “The ‘great vow’ refers to the propagation of the Lotus Sutra” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 82).

By making the same great vow as our mentor to spread the great Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can tap infinite power—the underlying strength of the noble Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

The sun of the vow of mentor and disciple is a beacon shining ever more brightly now, illuminating Mother Earth and the boundless future.

Our friends are to be found in every country and region. The world’s people are waiting for us. With fresh determination, let us embark anew
toward achieving worldwide kosen-rufu, the goal of world peace that humankind so earnestly longs for.

I will advance. Please advance, too.
I will fight. Please fight, too.
I will win. Please win, too.

Let us join together to spread the great light of human revolution and compose a new and magnificent epic of Soka mentor and disciples! Our journey to fulfill our vow will go on forever! WT


Notes   [ + ]

1. 1. Translated from Japanese. Shugoro Yamamoto, “Jinsei no fuyu, shizen no fuyu” (Winter in Life and Winter in Nature), Kampon Yamamoto Shugoro zen-essei (Complete Essays of Shugoro Yamamoto), edited by Kuninori Kimura (Tokyo: Chuo University Press, 1974), p. 225.
2. Daisaku Ikeda, The Human Revolution (Tokyo: Weatherhill, Inc., 1972), vol. 1, p. x.
3. 3. Ibid., p. xi