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Ikeda Sensei

A Spring Shining With the Triumphant Light of Happiness


This essay appeared in the March 11, 2019, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

The strong, warm voice of my mentor[1] that day still resounds in my heart. In April 1956, during a visit to Sendai in Tohoku’s Miyagi Prefecture, [second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda] was interviewed by a local radio station. Asked what his hopes were for Soka Gakkai members in Sendai, he replied unhesitatingly: “To become happy as quickly as possible. That is my hope.”

Mr. Toda’s heartfelt wish was for his fellow members in Tohoku, a place that he loved, to become happy and also for them to help as many people as possible do so as well.

After visiting Miyagi Prefecture, Mr. Toda traveled to Kansai, where he addressed members gathered under pouring rain at Osaka Stadium. His message there was: “If you base your life on the correct teaching, you are guaranteed to become happy. Those who strive to relieve people’s suffering are the disciples of Nichiren Daishonin. Please stand up and take action with powerful conviction to realize the ideal of ‘establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land,’ doing your best to contribute to the betterment of society and the welfare of the people.”

And now, 63 years later, our dedicated members in Japan are once again making courageous efforts to adorn the spring of 2019 with great victory and the radiant light of happiness as the cherry trees bloom in beautiful profusion.

I am certain that Mr. Toda would have the highest praise for them.

On March 11, eight years ago (2011), a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, also triggering meltdowns at nearby nuclear reactors. It was a disaster of epic proportions. Since then, residents of the affected areas have been forced to endure indescribable hardship, and live under a cloud of uncertainty and anxiety.

The Tohoku members have reached out to their neighbors and others in their communities, making new friends and forging heart-to-heart connections while supporting one another, knowing what each has gone through. They have exerted themselves tirelessly, striving selflessly to help others struggling with pain and hardship. They are truly Buddhas; their actions are those of noble bodhisattvas.

This year, a New Year’s gongyo meeting was held at the Soka Gakkai Futaba Community Center in Tomioka-cho in Tohoku’s Fukushima Prefecture for the first time since the earthquake. A total of 111 members attended, including many who had returned specifically for the occasion from other parts of Fukushima or Japan where they had moved after the disaster. A photograph of the New Year’s gongyo meeting held in January 2011, the year of the earthquake, was on display in the community center.

At this year’s gongyo meeting, having bravely weathered great adversity through their undefeatable spirit, the members joined together for another photograph. That picture—capturing the smiles of these champions of faith shining with the light of happiness, fellow members who had shared one another’s joys and sorrows—now marks a new golden page in the history of the Futaba Community Center.

In areas all throughout Japan, flag bearers of the Mystic Law—fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth—are valiantly working for the happiness of themselves and others, taking great pride in the place of their mission. They are proof of the caring, optimistic and invincible strength that can be found in human beings. They are dauntless and heroic. I call on the world to behold these champions of humanity and hear their joyous songs of victory.

Many natural disasters have continued to assail Japan since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Heavy rains caused widespread damage and destruction in Hiroshima, Okayama, Ehime and other prefectures in western Japan in July last year (2018), and a powerful earthquake also struck the Iburi region in southern Hokkaido in September.

How do we respond to these seemingly never-ending natural disasters? Through the painful experiences of the recent past, people in Japan are beginning to focus on ways of fostering and developing the resilience needed to overcome such challenges.

In his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” Nichiren writes, “If you care anything about your personal security, you should first of all pray for order and tranquillity throughout the four quarters of the land, should you not?” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 24). A commitment to secure peace and happiness for all people based on this spirit of the Daishonin offers a source of great hope for our world today.

We of the Soka family are fortunate in that we have “faith for overcoming obstacles,” indestructible “treasures of the heart” and fellow members with whom we have been united in a shared purpose from the eternal past.

An elderly couple who lived in the area of the Futaba Community Center for many years took up temporary residence in neighboring Tochigi Prefecture after the earthquake.

At their first discussion meeting there, local members welcomed them warmly and sang the Tohoku Soka Gakkai song “The Aoba Pledge.” The couple were so touched that they choked up and were unable to sing along.

But at the next month’s discussion meeting, they sang out proudly for all to hear. This so deeply moved the Tochigi members that this time they were too choked with emotion to join them in the song. The elderly couple have now returned to Tomioka-cho and say they are determined to live happy, healthy lives as an expression of their gratitude to their friends in Tochigi.

In our supportive Soka network, a realm of human harmony, we can see the truth of Nichiren’s words, “When a tree has been transplanted, though fierce winds may blow, it will not topple if it has a firm stake to hold it up” (“Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” WND-1, 598).

The bonds we share as fellow members are eternal, transcending the bounds of life and death.

Encouraging his young disciple Nanjo Tokimitsu, who had lost his father as a boy, the Daishonin writes: “You must … strengthen your faith more than ever. In that event, your late father will surely attain Buddhahood. And if that happens, he will no doubt come and keep you from harm” (“The Source of Aniruddha’s Good Fortune,” WND-2, 566).

When we persevere with strong, unwavering faith in the face of any adversity, our family members and other loved ones who have passed away are sure to attain Buddhahood and protect us as we continue together with them on our journey of eternity, happiness, true self and purity.

The Connections of Hope concerts given by the Music Corps after the Tohoku earthquake offered tremendous inspiration and encouragement to people in the affected areas.

Song and music have enormous power to unite people and lift their spirits. They impart the joy of living, revitalize the spirit and rouse courage.

The Soka Gakkai–affiliated Min-On Concert Association, working together with world-famous musicians, radio stations and local people, produced a Tohoku Hope Concert series that has been held at elementary and junior high schools in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The first concert took place at a junior high school in Rikuzentakata in Iwate in May 2012, with the 75th concert being held at a junior high school in Kesennuma in Miyagi in December last year.

There is no brighter light of hope for reconstruction and renewal than the beaming faces of children listening to songs and musical performances.

On the morning of March 5, while driving in the area around the Soka Gakkai Headquarters complex, the gleaming “palace of music,” the Min-On Culture Center, caught my eye. Celebrating its 55th anniversary last autumn, the Min-On Concert Association has engaged in cultural exchange with 110 countries and territories, and [nearly 120 million people have attended Min-On-sponsored performances in Japan].

With deep gratitude to all who have supported Min-On over the years, I took a photo of the building.

It was in April 65 years ago (1954) that Mr. Toda, standing at the ruins of Aoba Castle in Sendai, offered the eternal guideline that we must make our organization a bastion of capable people.

The lyrics for the well-known Japanese song “Moon Over the Ruined Castle” were written by the poet Bansui Doi (1871–1952), inspired by Aoba Castle and also Tsuruga Castle in Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture. One of the song’s verses closes with the line: “Where is the glorious light of days gone by?” All things are constantly changing.

The day Mr. Toda visited Aoba Castle, he declared at a Sendai Chapter general meeting that the Mystic Law is the power source for making everything in life change for the better.

Our prayers for achieving our human revolution and realizing Nichiren’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” change every aspect of our lives and our societies, no matter how challenging or problematic, in a positive direction, in the direction of happiness and victory.

Oka Castle in Taketa City in Kyushu’s Oita Prefecture—that served as inspiration for the composer Rentaro Taki (1879–1903), who wrote the music for “Moon Over the Ruined Castle”—was a fortress renowned for its impregnability.

I have fond memories of singing this song with Kyushu members at the site of the ruins of Oka Castle (in 1981). This took place as I was en route to Kumamoto Prefecture, two days after the presentation of my poem “Youth, Scale the Mountain of Kosen-rufu of the 21st Century.”

A scholar once likened the strength of Oka Castle to “one individual withstanding an army of 10,000.” Likewise, when a single champion of kosen-rufu stands up, he or she becomes an invincible bastion for peace as strong as a thousand or 10,000.

The 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes struck with great force across a wide area of central Kyushu, including Kumamoto, Aso and Oita. Members there can be proud of the fact that they rose to the challenge and worked together to navigate the arduous road to recovery, refusing to let anything defeat them.

The castle of Soka should protect the people, providing them and their communities with security. Our struggle to “establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land” is really nothing other than building an indestructible castle of the people. Each member’s sincere efforts to help as many people as possible form a connection with Nichiren Buddhism, motivated by their wish to see their communities thrive and prosper, serve to make that castle ever more solid and secure.

The Lotus Sutra relates how the 8-year-old dragon king’s daughter attained Buddhahood in her present form. In other words, a young woman, like those in the future division and young women’s division, opened the noble path to victory for all people.

In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin states, “The word ‘eight,’ or opening, reveals that the body and mind of the dragon girl are the Wonderful Law [Mystic Law]” (pp. 104–05). “Eight” has the meaning of opening the world of Buddhahood inherent within us.

Eight years have passed since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Let’s have absolute confidence that we are now ushering in a springtime of victory that will open the way for bringing new hope and revitalization to people’s lives, and enable us to expand and elevate our own state of life.

Declaring “Watch me attain Buddhahood!” (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 227), the dragon king’s daughter demonstrates proof of attaining Buddhahood in her present form before the eyes of her doubters. Seeing her triumph, they react with “hearts filled with great joy” (see LSOC, 228).

This perfectly describes our sincere Tohoku members, who brim with the Soka Gakkai spirit, determined not to let any onslaught of destiny defeat them.

Our members around the world are “filled with great joy” at the beautiful treasures of the heart and the magnificent actual proof of our peerless Tohoku members as they transform all poison into medicine through their courageous faith.

A year has passed since the World Youth General Meeting of March 11 last year, which brought members around the world together. Now, in accord with the vow made by successors of kosen-rufu each year on March 16, a steady stream of young people embodying the principle of “from the indigo, an even deeper blue” is emerging from the youth division in Tohoku and many other places.

You, my young friends, are the Bodhisattvas of the Earth with the mission to realize Nichiren’s golden words: “When great evil occurs, great good follows … [T]he great correct Law will spread without fail” (“Great Evil and Great Good,” WND-1, 1119).

My dear, trusted successors, whose lives are one with my own, join me in building an everlasting castle of Soka!


  1. SGI President Ikeda’s mentor is second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. ↩︎

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