Feature

Opening Wide the Great Path of Kosen-rufu of America

DAN GRAHAM


Yoshiki Tanigawa SGI VICE PRESIDENT

At a kickoff toward Oct. 2, 2020, representative leaders study SGI President Ikeda’s actions during the February 1952 Kamata Campaign as a model for achieving indisputable victory during the 60th-anniversary year of the kosen-rufu movement in the U.S.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.—In an electrifying kickoff themed “Toward 2020—Celebrating 60 Years With Sensei,” West Territory gathered 1,000 representative chapter–zone leaders from throughout California and Nevada on Oct. 12 at the World Culture Center in Santa Monica, California, for a meeting overflowing with determination and hope.

SGI Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa, who traveled from Tokyo to attend the meeting, spoke extensively about SGI President Ikeda’s efforts during the historic February 1952 Kamata Campaign (see speech).

Next year marks the 60th anniversary of President Ikeda’s first visit to the United States on Oct. 2, 1960, which commemorates the start of the kosen-rufu movement in America.

In a moving message, President Ikeda addressed this significant milestone, saying:

My travels for global kosen-rufu started here in the United States. As such, America is the starting point and the source of momentum for the widespread propagation of Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world. The development and victory of your organization in America will lead to the growth and triumph of the SGI!

The SGI-USA is a model for worldwide kosen-rufu.

While taking pride in your great mission, I urge all of you: Advance in your own human revolution! Expand the ranks of capable Bodhisattvas of the Earth! Expand the network for peace and culture! Let’s accomplish this together!

During the meeting, newly appointed West Territory Women’s Leader Beatrice Lopez shared that the SGI-USA aims to celebrate its anniversary by introducing 6,000 youth to the humanistic philosophy and practice of Nichiren Buddhism with the SGI. “We must win,” Ms. Lopez said. “By uniting joyfully in our efforts, it’s time to change our own destiny and the destiny of America.” WT

by Yoshiki Tanigawa
SGI Vice President

Good afternoon, everyone! I offer my sincerest congratulations on today’s kickoff toward next year’s 60th anniversary of kosen-rufu in America! I am very happy to join all of you, leaders who are overflowing with a great fighting spirit!

I have heard that among those here today, some of you have traveled more than seven hours to get here. I truly applaud your passionate seeking spirit to make such a journey to be here. Thank you!

At the start of today’s meeting, we read the wonderful message we received from SGI President Ikeda. In addition, Sensei asked me to convey his best regards to all his fellow members across the SGI-USA, with whom he shares such fond memories. Once again, congratulations to you all!

How exciting it is that next year we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of kosen-rufu in America.

In Japan, reaching 60 years is very significant. It signifies the end of one cycle and the start of a new one. So, when someone turns 60, we have this custom of celebrating a new start to their life. Likewise, our 60th anniversary is like being reborn and beginning with a fresh determination.

In his message to this meeting, President Ikeda says:

My travels for global kosen-rufu started here in the United States. As such, America is the starting point and the source of momentum for the widespread propagation of Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world. The development and victory of your organization in America will lead to the growth and triumph of the SGI! The SGI-USA is the model for worldwide kosen-rufu.

Just as he expressed, the hope that Sensei has for the SGI-USA and the great mission that he has entrusted to you is limitlessly vast and profound.
I understand that, next year, you will have a clear focus for each month so that everyone can unite in their determination and make decisive progress. (See “Roadmap to 6,000 New Youth in 2020,” Oct. 18, 2019, World Tribune, pp. 6–8).

Centering on your general director, Adin Strauss, and your women’s leader, Naoko Leslie, please unite in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind” to create a historic and decisive victory in expansion that shines brilliantly. I will be chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and looking forward to your victory!

With that, today, with all of you, I would like to reaffirm and learn from the example that President Ikeda set as he worked on the front lines of kosen-rufu in the February 1952 campaign in Kamata Chapter. There, he strove under the direction of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda and opened wide the great path of kosen-rufu to realize the vision of his mentor.

During that campaign, the chapter was the main stage. Sensei, who was a young man of 24, led Kamata in shattering any previous propagation results. In addition, this campaign took place in the month of February, which aligns with your first expansion campaign next year.

In an essay he wrote about the Kamata Chapter Campaign, he mentions someone you all know:

The mother of SGI-USA [Executive Advisor] Danny Nagashima was also a dedicated pioneering member. She decided to join the Soka Gakkai when she visited the Shiraki residence, my wife’s family home, which was the main activity base of Kamata Chapter during the February Campaign.

February 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 17

To help us create unprecedented expansion results next year, we can learn many important points by studying this campaign.

“The path of the oneness of mentor and disciple is the great path for bringing ourselves into full fruition.”

As you may know, on May 3, 1951, Josei Toda was inaugurated the second Soka Gakkai president, and on that landmark day, he announced his lifetime aspiration of achieving a membership of 750,000 households.
However, the reality was that propagation at the time was not advancing rapidly enough for that to happen.

The next year, in January 1952, a poem by President Toda was published in the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study magazine. The poem reads:

Our gathering
of friends is strong.
The Soka Gakkai
is the great king
of shakubuku practice.

At a leaders meeting held at the end of January 1952, President Toda broke through the stagnant atmosphere, saying: “At this rate, we will never accomplish kosen-rufu. Aren’t there any true disciples here!?”

Around that time, President Toda had decided: “The time has arrived to use Daisaku” (see The Human Revolution, p. 636). Although Sensei was just 24 years old, President Toda appointed him as the advisor to Kamata Chapter.

As a disciple, Sensei resolutely began his great battle.

This all began with the front-line leaders of Kamata Chapter on Jan. 29, 1952, when an emergency unit leaders meeting was called.

At this gathering, 130 leaders traveled through blistering cold winter winds to gather. Sensei said to them: “February is the birth month of both Nichiren Daishonin and Mr. Toda. We have been able to encounter faith in the Mystic Law thanks to the Daishonin’s appearance in this world and the intrepid postwar struggle of Mr. Toda. Let’s achieve a resounding victory in our propagation efforts in this month of February as an expression of our appreciation!” (February 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 13).

This battle began by reaffirming appreciation for the mentor and the desire to respond with that appreciation. It was an initiative that was thoroughly based on the path of mentor and disciple.

Regarding this, President Ikeda writes:

The mentor sets forth the principle. It is up to the disciples to take action to put it into practice . . .

As disciples, the ultimate way of repaying our gratitude to our mentor is to dedicate ourselves to propagating the Mystic Law and leading as many people as possible toward a life of genuine happiness. (February 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 12)

What’s important is actualizing the mentor’s intent by taking serious, all out action.

In addition, he says:

As long as the oneness of mentor and disciple is firm, victory in everything is assured. This is a fundamental point in Buddhism; this is the essence of the Soka Gakkai spirit.

Because you fight together with the mentor, you can break the shell of your lesser self.

Because you fight for the mentor, you can bring forth your true strength and power.

When you are united in the oneness of mentor and disciple, you will not fear any struggles or hardships, and you will advance resolutely on the greatest path of life.

Because I supported President Toda in overturning all the struggles of his failing businesses and opened the way for him to become the second Soka Gakkai president, this is the great conviction I gained in the supreme path of the oneness of mentor and disciple.

With the single-minded determination to thoroughly base myself on this mentor-disciple relationship, I united with everyone in Kamata Chapter. We became a force united in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.” (Feb. 14, 2009, Seikyo Shimbun)

President Ikeda also offered the following guidance, which is conveyed in The New Human Revolution:

Each of you must strive to do the work of a thousand. How can you find the strength to accomplish that?

. . . Since the days of my youth I have fought with the determination to overcome every obstacle in order to convey Mr. Toda’s message to the world, to stand up for him and to give him joy. Living the path of mentor and disciple has been the source of my energy.

■  ■  ■

The path of the oneness of mentor and disciple is the great path for bringing ourselves into full fruition.

When you’re only striving for yourself, you can’t manifest your full potential.

The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, pp. 254–56

He also writes:

I decided that the shared struggle of mentor and disciple means the disciple battling to create victories and to report those victories to the mentor. Even now, I continue to fight with that same determination. (tentative translation, The New Human Revolution, vol. 28, “Great Path” chapter)

The mentor and disciple relationship is not something that we theorize about. What it comes down to is our resolve and awareness as disciples. What’s important is actualizing the mentor’s intent by taking serious, all-out action.

The cause for victory lies in focusing the spotlight on small groups and believing in the potential of new members.

In the early 1950s, 100 had been the maximum number of new members a single chapter could introduce in a month. It was thought that this threshold couldn’t be broken. During the Kamata Campaign, however, Sensei focused on each unit (today’s group level) and set a goal of two households per unit.

He offered three concrete guidelines:

1) Let’s start with chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo;
2) Let’s treasure our neighbors; and
3) Let’s share our experiences in faith. (see February 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 13)

He also said:

Create a clear goal, then you must stand at the forefront of the battle to realize that goal. This is the basic lesson in the study of generals that my mentor, President Toda, engraved in my life. (Feb. 14, 2009, Seikyo Shimbun) Regarding the goal in Kamata Chapter of having two new members join each unit, Sensei once said:

When I decided that the focus of our activities would be to have two people join each unit, everyone was shocked. There were even leaders who opposed this plan. These leaders said that because each unit is mostly made up of new members, they can’t be trusted. But my thought was different. I thought that precisely because they are new members, they can bring a fresh sense of strength. I wanted to bring forth that kind of power from their lives. With new life, you can bring about fresh winds. I was totally focused on bringing out and nurturing these new members. In other words, it was a new way of thinking. New waves of growth come from fresh ideas.

■  ■  ■

Even though we may talk about the organization, the organization is made up of people. As a result of focusing all our attention on the smallest group in our organization, the unit, we were able to offer very detailed encouragement to each person. And from there, with each person gaining a solid understanding of our goal, many people stood up of their own volition. This new wave of determined people set off even more waves of people, creating a fresh momentum throughout the entire organization. If you focus only on large groups, it is inevitable for the focus to become conveying information and direction. The deeper aspects of faith and inspiration become weakened, and the momentum eventually fades.

Nov. 10, 1990, Address, Ota Ward, Tokyo

Here, Sensei is sharing with us the cause for victory in the Kamata Campaign: focusing the spotlight on small groups, believing in the potential of new members and new ideas, and meeting with and directly encouraging each person. This means completely engaging in home visitations and personal guidance.

How was President Ikeda able to achieve victory in the February Campaign 67 years ago?

He says it “was ultimately because I did my utmost to wholeheartedly encourage the person right in front of me” (February 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 15).

He also says:

Kosen-rufu begins with the human revolution of a single individual. One individual who has resolved to take action inspires another to do the same. That second individual then inspires another. Courage calls forth courage. This infinite chain of fresh resolve spreading from one person to another is the unchanging formula for developing our movement. That is why fostering as many committed individuals as possible is an indispensable requirement for achieving explosive growth in the development of kosen-rufu . . .

All our members are noble, capable individuals who shine like sparkling diamonds. Every one of them has a mission to demonstrate the greatness of Nichiren Buddhism. They are precious and valuable without compare.
For that reason, I was eager to encourage all those who were exerting themselves tirelessly on the front lines of our movement during the February Campaign in 1952. I earnestly chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for everyone to joyfully engage in the campaign, and tried to come up with all kinds of ways to inspire them so that they could freely display their full potential.

I was the youngest among the Kamata Chapter leaders at the time. If I had called meetings and acted self-importantly, who would have listened to me? My only option was to do the actual work myself, going out and personally meeting with people, and walking alongside the members in the cold winter wind.

February 2016 Living Buddhism, pp. 15–16

Home visits and personal encouragement are the key to helping the members become happy and to strengthen the organization.

Following the February Campaign of 1952, there was a campaign in Bunkyo Chapter, in which President Ikeda served as the acting chapter leader. And in May 1956, he led the Osaka Campaign. There, he made the impossible possible, helping to lead a historic expansion campaign in which 11,111 households joined the Soka Gakkai in a single month. This is the wonderful model of victory that Sensei created.

In the Osaka Campaign, too, the key to victory was that he traveled throughout the city to visit each member, and in a matter of six months, he rode three bicycles into the ground and visited 8,000 members to offer encouragement.

Sensei made incredible efforts to visit and encourage each member and offer personal guidance—our foundational strategy for achieving victory is found in such efforts.

In addition, President Ikeda says in The New Human Revolution:

It’s crucial that leaders take every opportunity to visit members and encourage them. We must push ourselves to visit even one more family and continue to offer personal guidance to as many people as we possibly can.


That is the way to help our members become happy, to strengthen the organization and to build a strong foundation for the Soka Gakkai. It’s a mistake to think that there’s some other special way to do so.

To grow crops, you need to carefully till the soil with a plow or hoe. To foster capable individuals, you also have to nurture their growth through continued patient efforts to offer personal guidance.

May 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 51

■  ■  ■

Observing many leaders, I have come to the conclusion that those who have dedicated themselves to offering personal guidance to members never give up their practice. I think this is because giving guidance—though hard, unglamorous and inconspicuous work that requires a great deal of patience—truly deepens one’s faith. And as these leaders continue to offer guidance, they reflect seriously on their own lives and are able to guide themselves as well. That is why they don’t abandon their faith.

May 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 52

Regardless of how great your goal or vision, it is vital that you decide: I will accomplish it no matter what! I will definitely realize my goal so that Sensei, my mentor for kosen-rufu, will be overjoyed!

And with this, pray seriously, filled with determination, and build bonds of unity so that all your fellow leaders and members can advance based on the spirit of many in body, one in mind.

Finally, please carry out your activities by visiting one more person and then another, one more home and then another, as you persevere in offering personal guidance and encouragement.

Today, learning together with all of you the actions our mentor took to achieve victory, I am really looking forward to the amazing victories and results that you will achieve next year, the year of the 60th anniversary of kosen-rufu in America! And toward this end, I promise to send serious daimoku [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] your way! WT