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The Brilliant Path of Worldwide Kosen-rufu

Timeless Encouragement From Volumes 1–10

This special installment contains key encouragement from volumes 1–10 regarding commonly held questions and concerns. The original content was published in the August 14 and 28, 2019, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

Prayer Based On a Vow for Kosen-rufu Is the Source of Victory

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

In October 1960, Shin’ichi Yamamoto attended a discussion meeting in São Paulo, Brazil. In encouraging a member who was an immigrant farmer, he spoke of the importance of chanting with a vow.

What Is a “Vow”?

“Yes, a pledge … This means to make a vow of your own accord and pray to fulfill it.

“Of course, there are many ways of praying. Some people may pray that everything just falls into their laps without having to make any effort. But a religion that encourages such prayer will lead people to ruin.

“Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism means to chant based on a pledge or vow. At its very core, this vow is to attain kosen-rufu. It means chanting resolutely with the determination: ‘I will realize kosen-rufu in Brazil. Therefore, I will show magnificent actual proof in my work. Please enable me to somehow bring forth my greatest potential.’ This is what our prayer should be like.

“It is also important that we establish clear and concrete goals for what we hope to achieve each day and then pray and challenge ourselves to achieve each of them. This earnest determination gives rise to wisdom and resourcefulness, thereby leading to success. In short, to win in life we need determination and prayer, effort and ingenuity. It is misguided to dream of getting rich quick, expecting to encounter a rare stroke of luck or some shrewd money-making scheme. This is not faith. It is mere fantasy.

“Our work is the mainstay that supports our lives. Unless we show real evidence of victory in our work, we cannot demonstrate the principle that faith manifests itself in daily life. Please rid yourself of any laxness and reapply yourself wholeheartedly to your work with a fresh determination.” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, revised edition, pp. 268–69)

Be an Example for Others, Be True to Yourself!

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

In November 1960, Shin’ichi visited Nagano. One evening, at the inn where he was staying, he engaged in dialogue with a young men’s leader who worked as an auto mechanic.

As someone without formal education, I’m worried about my ability to guide the members as a young men’s leader.

“Actual ability is what counts. Academic qualifications have nothing to do with it! It’s enough if you work hard as a mechanic, getting covered in oil and grease, and become an example for others through your work.

“Even if another’s line of work differs from ours, his or her experience of becoming a winner in society based on faith will be a source of inspiration for everyone. Members are attracted to a leader’s faith and fine character.”

■  ■  ■

“There’s no need to lose confidence because you lack a formal education; the main thing is to do your best where you are, in a way truest to yourself. This is the path to victory in life.

“When I was working for President Toda, I was forced to drop out of night school. Not having a formal educational background is nothing of which to be ashamed. Trying to learn is not a disgrace; it’s not studying that is something of which to be ashamed. I study every day. Even just twenty or thirty minutes a day is enough. What counts is making every effort to find even a spare minute to study or read a book. Persevering this way will become a powerful asset for you in the long run.

“I want you to gain genuine ability and become a truly capable leader.” (NHR-2, revised edition, 213–14)

The Determination and Action to Accomplish Everything

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

During his visit to Maizuru, Kyoto, in May 1961, Shin’ichi answered a question from a youth.

How do I balance both work and Soka Gakkai activities?

“To get right to the point, it boils down to making a decision to do your best in everything and then having the determination not to retreat a single step. In severe circumstances, people tend to give up all too easily. They are convinced that the situation is hopeless before even considering what concrete actions they could take. In their hearts, they have already conceded defeat without even putting up a fight. That, in fact, is the cause of all failure.

“The crucial thing is to determine to do your absolute best both at work and in Soka Gakkai activities, and to find time to seriously chant about your situation. You have to bring forth your wisdom and life force, and then exercise your ingenuity …

“For instance, leaders who cannot get around to see their members because they have to travel frequently on business can encourage them by writing them letters regularly while on the road. Or, if they have to work overtime until late at night six days a week but have Sundays off, they can do a week’s worth of activities on that day …

“If you are the central figure in your organization, it is particularly important to train someone who can lead activities in your absence. It’s vital that you be determined, no matter what, to achieve the targets everyone has agreed on as an organization. You must not allow the organization to come to a standstill simply because you can’t be as active as you would like.”

■  ■  ■

“Again, in trying to strike a balance between work and activities, you have to consider the problem of time. It is only natural that a student, for example, should study hard before an examination. And there are similar critical times on a job. At such times, it is natural to devote most of your time to work.

“So how to balance things has to be considered case by case. Also, rather than viewing things only in the short term, it’s important to have a long-range perspective.

“While we are young, however, we should exert ourselves so that we can honestly say that we’ve done our best in both our work and Soka Gakkai activities. That’s because our efforts during this time will become the foundation for our entire lives.”

■  ■  ■

“There are two sides to everything. Not seeing things just one way is very human. Life involves striking a balance amid the tensions of conflicting issues while striving always to improve ourselves and move ahead. While we may think that concentrating on one thing—work, for example—would make life a lot less complicated, it’s a mistake to cast aside other commitments or pursuits on that account.” (NHR-4, revised edition, 149–52)

Humanitarian Competition for Peace

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

During their visit to Vatican City in October 1961, Shin’ichi Yamamoto and his group had a discussion about interfaith dialogue.

How should we view other religions such as Christianity?

“The most important thing … is to initiate dialogue. Refusing to talk with other religions because they do not share our beliefs is cowardice. Though their religious beliefs and tenets may be different from ours, if they are genuinely committed to religion, they will desire world peace and be thinking seriously about the happiness of humanity. That spirit has much in common with Buddhism. Our task is to bring forth the inherent goodness in people’s hearts and, based on the concerns we share as human beings, work together in our own capacities for peace and happiness …

“From one perspective, certainly, human history has been one of religious warfare … That is precisely why dialogue among members of different religious groups is needed to ensure a new era of peace. This will be especially crucial in the future. We have to initiate dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism, and Buddhism and Islam. Though our perspectives may differ, we all share the ideals of peace and happiness. Simply put, we are all human beings. And this common humanity is the key to uniting the human race. Instead of religions waging war on one another, I think that they should compete in trying to accomplish good …

“By competing for good … I mean competing to see who has done the most for peace, who has done the most for humanity. This would be, as Mr. Makiguchi said, ‘humanitarian competition’ that promotes the happiness of oneself and others. There are many humanitarian ways in which religions could compete: for example, in producing many people of integrity who are committed to contributing to world peace; or in how much hope and courage each religion can give to the people.” (NHR-5, revised edition, 119–20)

Personal Guidance Is the Most Important Activity

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

In February 1962, Shin’ichi visited Athens, Greece. While viewing the Ancient Agora of Athens, a gathering place for citizens at the time, he spoke about Soka Gakkai discussion meetings.

Although many critics and journalists attack the Soka Gakkai, few recognize the value of our discussion meetings, which are the centers of humanistic growth.

“In most cases … the things that no one pays much attention to are really the most wonderful and important of all. People are captivated by a fine house, but they don’t pay any attention to its foundation. The foundation holds up the house—our discussion meetings are our movement’s foundation.

“The most important thing of all, though, is giving personal guidance and encouragement. It goes without saying that we should encourage those who attend discussion meetings as much as possible, but I always tend to think of those who do not attend. That’s why I’ve often visited such members, to encourage them personally. This is the most fundamental part of a leader’s activities.

“A human being is made up of many individual cells. When each of these is healthy and vital, the whole person is healthy and vital. In the same way, individual members sustain and support the Soka Gakkai. When each member is joyful and energetic, we can undertake dynamic activities to revitalize society as a whole. That is why personal guidance, focusing on each individual, is the most important of all our activities.

“Socrates, too, was a great master of the art of dialogue. His philosophy’s brilliance was revealed through dialogue. Since we subscribe to the supreme philosophy of life, we have to engage in sincere dialogue, giving encouragement that illuminates the depths of the human heart and leads to true happiness.” (NHR-6, revised edition, 73–74)

The Stand-Alone Spirit Breaks Deadlock

Illustration courtesy of Seikyo Press.

During a Suiko-kai training course held in Amagi, Izu, in July 1963, participants gathered around Shin’ichi Yamamoto for a guidance session.

The organization I am supporting has very few members and the reality is extremely challenging. What can I do to change this situation?

“You need to rise to action! … Youth have to stand alone! By doing so, everything will change. This is what I have done. After [second Soka Gakkai President Toda] Toda died, the media and others predicted that the Soka Gakkai would fall apart. Some older leaders changed their attitude after Mr. Toda’s death, and took advantage by becoming willful and selfish. Others plotted to exploit the organization. I realized that if nothing was done, the Soka Gakkai might fall apart. That is why I took a stand. As general administrator of the organization, I worked behind the scenes, taking full responsibility for everything. I was thirty years old at the time.

“My spirit all along was to stand up alone amid the harshest of circumstances. This was the case when, as a staff member of Kamata Chapter, I took the lead in introducing people to the Daishonin’s Buddhism. At the time, the number of households joining the largest chapters in any given month hovered around one hundred. I knew at this rate we would never reach Mr. Toda’s goal of 750,000 member households. Who was going to do it? It was up to his disciples. So I waged a battle, and in one month Kamata Chapter achieved a new membership record of 201 households.

“I was 24 years old. There were, of course, men’s and women’s division members in the chapter. In fact, almost all of the leaders were older than I. But in the end, they all fought alongside me. Why? Because I was so determined. I was more determined than anyone. They all thought: ‘We cannot do this on our own, but if we do what this person tells us, we can break through our current deadlock.’ And I produced results.

“Wherever I went, the circumstances were the worst they could be, but I won against all obstacles and met Mr. Toda’s expectations. That is the way of a disciple …

“I want you to stand up! You have to rise to action! I’ll be watching!” (NHR-8, 101–02)

A Leader Is Not Defeated by Difficulties

In October 1964, Shin’ichi Yamamoto visited Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Throughout his trip, he encouraged comrades struggling with economic and health problems, appointing many of them as Soka Gakkai leaders for their country.

Everyone is facing various difficulties and are struggling to overcome them. Can such people become leaders of the Soka Gakkai in their respective countries?

“Are you saying that you think we should search out people of status and wealth who have nothing to worry about and make them leaders? …

“For starters, no such person exists … Everyone has some kind of problem or worry. After all, none of us can escape the universal problems of birth, aging, sickness and death. Furthermore, a person who hasn’t suffered will never shine with great humanity. There is nothing shameful about having problems. Haven’t the top leaders of the Soka Gakkai today been able to take on the challenge of promoting Soka Gakkai activities by using their struggles as springboards for advancement? In other words, it was precisely because of their personal problems that they were able to devote themselves to working for kosen-rufu. The most important thing for a Soka Gakkai leader is not to be defeated by difficulties. This is the primary requirement.” (NHR-9, 206–07)

Continuing to Challenge Leads to Confidence

In October 1965, the Soka Gakkai’s Europe Headquarters was divided into two, with one headquarters based in France and the other based in Germany. Shin’ichi appointed Koichiro Sada as the headquarters leader in Germany.

I really don’t have any abilities, and I don’t feel confident about fulfilling such a big responsibility.

“No one is confident that they will succeed before they try—unless they are taking the responsibility lightly or they’re just arrogant. Take Shigeo Nagashima of the Yomiuri Giants, for example. He is considered the best baseball player in Japan. But though everyone calls him a brilliant hitter now, at first he probably didn’t have any confidence, either.

“I’m sure that he gave great thought to how he could increase his batting average and what his weak points were, then sought ways to improve his swing. Gradually, he acquired a sense that a certain way of batting would produce good results and allow him to bat successfully. But things didn’t always go the way he expected, so he studied some more, tried new techniques and practiced some more. In the process, his batting results actually improved, and that in turn gave him self-confidence.

“Self-confidence isn’t something you acquire overnight. You don’t need it at the start. The important thing is the spirit of challenge, the courage to keep trying. It is the strength to persevere through all without becoming discouraged, without giving up and without packing it in, no matter what happens.

“Mr. Sada, I hope you will look on this appointment as your mission, and start by just doing your best for one year.” (NHR-10, 213–14)

Ikeda Wisdom Academy: November 2019

Significant Events From Volumes 1-10