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Buddhism of the Sun

The Future Division—My Young Successors, I Entrust Everything to You!

To My Friends of Each Division Engaged in Our Shared Struggle

Part 5 [51]

The Future Division—My Young Successors, I Entrust Everything to You!

LECTURE

An ability to foster successors is the first requirement of any leader.

At a Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting in August 1976, I offered the following guidelines for leaders of the Mystic Law:

Take good care of our successors.
Take good care of the elderly.
Take good care in your daily words and actions.
Take good care in your personal appearance.
Take good care of women and young women.
Take good care of your workplace and society.

The reason that I made “Take good care of our successors” the very first of these guidelines was to confirm that producing a steady stream of capable successors is the lifeblood for realizing kosen-rufu and ensuring the eternal transmission of the Law.

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Future Division Members Active Around the World

Fostering successors is a goal I have continued to pray about deeply since I became the third Soka Gakkai president. The key to achieving this goal has been the establishment of the various divisions that today form the future division.

As a start, I established the high school division on June 7, 1964, amid my efforts to advance worldwide kosen-rufu.

Now, 55 years later, a steady stream of future division members, young Bodhisattvas of the Earth, is emerging dynamically throughout Japan and the world.

Ikeda Sensei warmly greets a student at the Hong Kong Soka Kindergarten, Hong Kong, May 1993. Photo by Seikyo Press.

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A Treasure of the Soka Gakkai and a Beacon of Hope for Humanity

On the day the high school division was established, inaugural meetings were held across Tokyo. I attended one at a Soka Gakkai community center in Koto Ward, where I said to our bright-eyed young members: “I hope you will all study hard over the next 10 years and build a solid base for your lives. … I also hope that you will become the foundation of the Soka Gakkai and promote kosen-rufu in the future, working for the happiness of others and world peace.”

This remains my cherished wish and prayer to this day.

Each future division member is a treasure of the Soka Gakkai and a beacon of hope for all humanity.

Summer is a time of training, learning and growth. In this installment, I would like to explore passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings with you—my dear friends of the future division who will go on to become “bluer than the indigo”[1] and shoulder the next generation—along with your family members and the leaders who earnestly pray for your growth and support, and protect you. Let us imagine that we are seated in a shady grove together as we study Nichiren’s spirit toward “those who embrace and teach” the Mystic Law (see “On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 401).

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A Story of the Shared Enlightenment of Parents and Children

In the eighth volume of the Lotus Sutra, in the “King Wonderful Adornment” [27th] chapter, we are told how King Wonderful Adornment and his consort, Queen Pure Virtue, were guided to the correct teaching by their two sons, Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye. Now you have been blessed with this daughter, Lady Kyo’o, who can act as a filial child, carrying on your line in this present existence, and in your next existence guiding you to the attainment of Buddhahood. (“Regarding the Birth of Kyo’o,” WND-2, 457)[2]

In “Regarding the Birth of Kyo’o,” Nichiren Daishonin encourages one of his disciples by recounting a story from the “Former Affairs of King Wonderful Adornment,” the 27th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, that describes the shared enlightenment of parents and children.

Long, long ago, there was a ruler by the name of King Wonderful Adornment. He and his wife, Queen Pure Virtue, had two sons, the young princes Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye.

The princes embraced the teachings of the Buddha of that age and practiced them with dedication. Their father was a firm adherent of non-Buddhist doctrines, however, and had no interest in the Buddha’s teachings.

The Buddha sought to lead the king and all those in the realm to enlightenment by preaching the unsurpassed Law. Aware of this, the princes Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye resolved to speak to their parents, the people closest to them, about the Lotus Sutra. In this way, they took decisive action to respond to their teacher’s hopes.

They first conferred with their mother, who suggested they invite their father to attend one of the Buddha’s sermons with them. But since their father was unlikely to want to hear the Buddha’s teachings, she encouraged them to persuade him by performing various types of supernatural feats.

The two princes went to their father, the king, and performed many wondrous acts, such as walking and reclining in midair and producing water and fire from their bodies.

Observing these “supernatural wonders,” King Wonderful Adornment rejoiced and asked his sons to take him to see their teacher, the Buddha (see The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, pp. 354–55).

Ikeda Sensei stops to talk to fellow members. A single encounter can change the course of one’s life, Nagano, Japan, August 1988. Photo by Seikyo Press.

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Children Leading Their Parents to Buddhahood

In our lives today, demonstrating proof of our personal human revolution is the equivalent of the two princes displaying supernatural wonders.

These supernatural wonders are what we call actual proof, or “actual fact,” as Nichiren Daishonin puts it, when he says, “Even more valuable than reason and documentary proof is the proof of actual fact” (“Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” WND-1, 599).

Inspired by their teacher’s spirit to help others attain enlightenment, the princes succeeded in leading their parents and the rest of the kingdom to the path of attaining Buddhahood due to the astonishing actual proof they achieved through their Buddhist practice.

To return to the passage in “Regarding the Birth of Kyo’o,” Nichiren expresses his great delight at the birth of his disciple’s daughter, a future successor in faith. He goes on to encourage his disciple by saying that she will be a filial child, carrying on the family line in this lifetime, and in the next existence guide her parents to the attainment of Buddhahood, just like the princes Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye did (see WND-2, 457).

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Family Bonds Forged by the Mystic Law

No bonds are nobler or stronger than those forged by the Mystic Law. From the perspective of life enduring throughout past, present and future, they are wondrous connections that enable us to enter the path of eternal happiness together.

The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai[3] stated that King Wonderful Adornment and his wife and sons were fellow practitioners who sought the Buddha way in their past existences. They became family because of their connection to the Mystic Law.[4]

Buddhism does not see the roles of parents and children as fixed. In terms of faith, children may sometimes encounter Buddhism before their parents do. In fact, there are many examples of parents deciding to practice Buddhism or deepening their faith by observing the growth of their children.

Families whose members are linked by the Mystic Law keep growing together; they are creative families that illuminate their communities and societies with the light of happiness. Each member of such a family is a truly respectworthy individual fulfilling a great vow. They inspire and motivate one another through their shared, lofty mission of kosen-rufu, aimed at elevating all people without exception to the life state of Buddhahood.

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Nurturing Young Successors in the Garden of Soka

In “On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” Nichiren Daishonin stresses the importance of successors, stating: “Even when … [Buddhist] priests set out from Japan to take some sutras [back] to China, no one was found there who could embrace these sutras and teach them to others. It was as though there were only wooden or stone statues garbed in priests’ robes and carrying begging bowls” (WND-1, 401). In other words, without people who embrace and transmit the Buddhist teachings, Buddhism will become as lifeless as “wooden or stone statues garbed in priests’ robes and carrying begging bowls.” The undeniable reality is that no group or organization will endure without people who “embrace and teach” its ideals to others—in other words, without successors.

The simile describing priests whose lack of action is reminiscent of wooden or stone statues dressed in priests’ robes underscores a unique characteristic of Buddhism—that without practi-tioners to carry on and spread it, the spirit of Buddhism will be lost, even though its teachings and images may survive. Buddhism only remains alive and vital through real living people carrying on the teachings in their actions.

From that perspective, our future division members have an incredibly important mission as people who will “embrace and teach” the Mystic Law.

Fostering future division members is creating a bright tomorrow. Let us warmly nurture these emissaries of the future in the garden of the Soka Gakkai, a realm of unsurpassed humanism. Fos-tering and supporting successors who embrace Nichiren Buddhism and advancing kosen-rufu are key to realizing Nichiren’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.” Doing so is the direct path to building a just society and actualizing world peace.

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Successors to Our Movement for Human Revolution

Let’s now take a closer look at the meaning of “embrace and teach.”

What is it that future division members will embrace and teach to future generations? Or conversely, what is it that we should help these emissaries from the future embrace and teach?

The answer is the faith and practice of Nichiren Buddhism taught in the Soka Gakkai that they learn from their family members at home. In other words, the eternal and indestructible Law expounded in Buddhism, the principles and tenets of human equality and respect for the dignity of life.

Concretely speaking, to embrace and teach Buddhism is—as the princes Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye showed their father—for each individual to believe in the infinite potential of their own life and continue to make efforts in their human revolution.

One person’s human revolution can transform their family and those around them, spreading understanding and empathy that can even bring change to their community and society at large. Expanding this movement for human revolution throughout the world and ensuring that it endures is the meaning of kosen-rufu. Those who “embrace and teach” Buddhism are none other than the successors to this movement.

The main theme of my novel The Human Revolution is that, “A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind.” It was also a vow I made while envisioning the magnificent future development of worldwide kosen-rufu, a vow that I wanted to pass on to the successors of our movement.

I began writing The Human Revolution in December 1964, six months after the establishment of the high school division, and it began seriali-zation in the Seikyo Shimbun[5] in January 1965, shortly before the junior high school division was established (January 15, 1965).

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Beginning and Ending With “Dawn”

At a summer training course for the junior high and high school divisions held in August 1965, a member asked how The Human Revolution would conclude.

Noting that I had titled the first chapter of the novel “Dawn,” I said: “In the end, the theme of the novel will return to a new dawn. It started with the dawn and it will close with the dawn. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda ushered in the dawn of the Soka Gakkai before the end of World War II. After Mr. Toda, there is a new dawn with me in the lead, and then after me, you, the high school division members, will create another new dawn.”
Twenty-eight years after that unforgettable exchange, I brought the 12 volumes of The Human Revolution to a close with a chapter titled “New Dawn.”

“Dawn” has the meanings of the end of the night, the first light of a new day and the start of something new. The members of our future division generation have the mission of creating the next era, always setting out from a new dawn.

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“A Person Who Can Inherit the Soul of the Lotus Sutra”

Since childhood, I, Nichiren, have never prayed for the secular things of this life but have single-mindedly sought to become a Buddha. Of late, however, I have been ceaselessly praying for your sake to the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha, and the god of the sun, for I am convinced that you are a person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra. (“The Hero of the World,” WND-1, 839)[6]

Here, Nichiren Daishonin says that he is always praying for his dear disciple Shijo Kingo, firmly convinced he is “a person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra” (WND-1, 839).

At the time, Shijo Kingo was facing one of the greatest crises in his life. Nichiren therefore offers him heartfelt encouragement to help him overcome this difficulty.

In the same letter, he declares: “Buddhism is reason. Reason will win over your lord” (WND-1, 839). Buddhism is the highest form of reason, articulating the eternal truth. By living in accord with that truth we are guaranteed to triumph in the end over every devilish function. Indeed, Buddhism means being victorious.

Shijo Kingo’s troubles were a result of false rumors that turned his lord against him. If he continues to serve his lord with utmost sincerity and patient devotion, Nichiren tells him, he will clear up all misunderstandings and regain his lord’s trust.

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The Disciple’s Victory Is the Victory of the Mentor and of Buddhism

Nichiren Daishonin begins the above passage stating that he has never prayed for his own mundane concerns but only single-mindedly sought to become a Buddha. His life was a series of struggles against obstacles and persecutions arising from his efforts to teach and spread the Mystic Law for the happiness of all people in the Latter Day, in accord with his wish to enable himself and others to attain Buddhahood.

“A person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra” refers to a disciple who, taking Nichiren’s words deeply to heart, battles difficulties based on the Mystic Law, just as the Daishonin did. “The soul of the Lotus Sutra” is the teaching of universal enlightenment that is the sutra’s essence. “A person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra” is therefore someone who dedicates their life to propagating this principle. A disciple who stands up with the same great vow and spirit as Nichiren can ensure the eternal transmission of the Law.

That is why, the Daishonin says, he continues to pray earnestly for the triumph of such a disciple. The triumph of the disciple is the triumph of the mentor and of Buddhism.

Here, we can see the boundless compassion and tremendous hope Nichiren has for “a person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra.”

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Appreciation for Those Who Encourage and Support the Future Division

Making Nichiren Daishonin’s heart our own and sharing the spirit “I don’t need anything else—all I hope for are capable people,” both President Toda and I devoted ourselves to training and fostering capable individuals. This is the foundation of everything. Young people to whom we can entrust the future are crucial. Fostering a single precious future division member creates immeasurable good fortune and benefit that will lead to the expansion of kosen-rufu.

In order for our successors in the future division to grow, it is extremely important that they have “good friends”[7] who closely support them, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for them and cheer them on. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those in the youth division, student division, the men’s and women’s divisions, and our education department who have been devoting themselves tirelessly on this front. I hope you will make the summer holiday period this year another wonderful occasion for fostering and encouraging our future division members.

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Treasuring Our Precious Emissaries of the Future

Fostering future division members is like weaving a fabric. In addition to the horizontal strands of leaders’ encouragement, the vertical strands of parents’ efforts to pass on their faith to their children are important and, in fact, key.

It goes without saying that no matter how close the family, children don’t always grow up the way their parents hope.

I recall that in question-and-answer sessions held by President Toda, many parents brought up the difficulties they encountered in trying to communicate their Buddhist faith and practice to their children.

Addressing a parent whose child was opposed to the practice, Mr. Toda said very clearly, “Just love your child with all your heart.” Offering a simple, concrete first step for dealing with this issue, he said, “The most important thing is to show your children how much you love them.”[8]

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “When the parents attain Buddhahood, then so will the child. And when the child attains Buddhahood, then so will the parents” (Gosho zenshu, p. 813).[9]

The attainment of Buddhahood by parents and children is interconnected. There’s no need to worry or rush things. The seed of Buddhahood that has been sown is guaranteed to sprout even-tually. Parents just need to pray earnestly that they will be able to lead their children to the path of attaining Buddhahood.

Nichiren also states, “One also owes a profound debt to one’s teachers for preventing one from following erroneous doctrines and leading one to
the correct way” (“Explaining the Causation of the Ten Worlds,” WND-2, 204). Having a teacher who instructs us in the correct teachings of Buddhism is crucial. Indeed, the princes Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye were inspired to take action in response to their teacher’s wish to help all people attain Buddhahood.

President Ikeda sits down together with children in San Francisco, March 1974. Photo by Seikyo Press.

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Transforming a Society Racked by Conflict and Division

My mentor, Josei Toda, stood up amid the ruins of postwar Japan and embarked on his great lifelong goal of realizing kosen-rufu and Nichiren Daishonin’s ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.” Because of that, we young people were able to carry out our human revolution based on the Mystic Law and devote ourselves to achieving happiness for both ourselves and others.

Mr. Toda once said to a gathering of young children: “In the future, we must build a peaceful world of global citizenship, free of national and ethnic division—a world in which everyone can experience true happiness.

I hope you will remember what I’ve said here today and contribute to achieving this dream, even in a small way.”

Overcoming conflict and division and building a peaceful world in which all can savor genuine happiness—that was my mentor’s dream, and I made it my dream, too. It is also the dream that I have entrusted to our youth division and to members of the future division. The protagonists who will make that dream a reality are each and every one of you, youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth who hold high the banner of the Mystic Law, the banner of human equality and respect for the dignity of life.

That’s why it is so important that all of us in the Soka Gakkai make even greater efforts to interact sincerely and earnestly with our future division members and teach them the Soka Gakkai spirit. Children have the ability to see truth and what is right. Each one of them is a precious “person who can inherit the soul of the Lotus Sutra.”

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From the Soka Gakkai’s Centennial—Onward Into the Future

In 2030, the centennial of the Soka Gakkai, you, today’s future division members, will be very active as young adults in your late teens and 20s. As “proud bearers of the flag of victory,”[10] you will play a leading role in the first half of the 21st century. You will have the important mission of fostering the capable individuals who will shoulder the 22nd century and passing the baton of kosen-rufu to them. You are champions linked by a wondrous karmic connection who will eternally carry on the mentor-disciple spirit of the first three Soka Gakkai presidents.

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Looking Forward to Your Wonderful Contributions

Why did Shakyamuni, Many Treasures Buddha and the Buddhas of the ten directions and three existences assemble in the Lotus Sutra? To ensure the perpetuation of the Law in the Latter Day—in other words, to ensure that all the children of the Buddha would attain Buddhahood.[11] The wish of the Buddhas throughout the universe is for all people of the Latter Day of the Law to become happy. And today, it is we of the Soka Gakkai who are advancing worldwide kosen-rufu in actuality.

Friends around the world are praying and looking forward to the wonderful contributions that will be made by you, our present future division members, toward creating secure and prosperous societies, and a peaceful world of harmonious coexistence in the period from the Soka Gakkai’s centennial on into the 22nd century.

The glorious stage on which you, our “Torchbearers of Justice,” will take your place stretches out limitlessly before you. A new hope-filled dawn in human history has begun.

Translated from the August 2019 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

References

  1. The simile “blue dye is bluer even than indigo itself” derives from a writing of the Chinese philosopher Hsün Tzu. The liquid extracted from the indigo plant is not a deep blue color, rather it is only obtained by repeatedly dipping the cloth into the dye until it attains a blue more intense than the color of the juice from the plant itself. The simile expresses the meaning of deepening one’s learning and knowledge through study. It is cited in T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight. Nichiren Daishonin often employs this simile of the indigo plant not only in the context of deepening one’s Buddhist practice, but also growing as successors. ↩︎
  2. Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter in 1272 while in exile on Sado Island. In it, he affirms that no matter how troubled and confused the times, those who believe in the Lotus Sutra, the Gohonzon, are certain to attain Buddhahood. ↩︎
  3. T’ien-t’ai (538–597): Also known as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai or Chih-i. The founder of the T’ien-t’ai school in China. His lectures were compiled in such works as The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra and Great Concentration and Insight. In the latter work, a record of lectures he delivered, he presents the doctrine of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.” ↩︎
  4. In The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai says that in a past existence King Wonderful Adornment, Queen Pure Virtue and the princes Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye were all Buddhist practitioners. They had agreed on an arrangement in which one of them worked to support the other three and allow them to devote themselves exclusively to their Buddhist practice. As a result, the three practitioners attained enlightenment, but the one who worked to support them did not. Because of the benefits he had acquired through his support for the others, however, he was always reborn as a king. The other three, meanwhile, decided to become the king’s family members in order to lead him to the Buddha way and thus repay their debt of gratitude from the past. ↩︎
  5. The Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper. ↩︎
  6. This letter was written to Shijo Kingo in 1277. At the time, he was in disfavor with his lord, Ema, as a result of events relating to the Kuwagayatsu Debate. In the debate, Nichiren Daishonin’s disciple Sammi-bo defeated a priest named Ryuzo-bo, who was under the patronage of Ryokan of Gokuraku-ji temple. Shijo Kingo merely attended the debate as an observer, and did not utter a word, but it was alleged to Lord Ema that Shijo Kingo had burst into the debate with a number of confederates with weapons drawn and disrupted the proceedings. Believing this false charge, Lord Ema ordered Shijo Kingo to compose a pledge renouncing his faith in the Lotus Sutra or his estates would be confiscated. ↩︎
  7. Good friend: Also, good companion. One who leads others to the correct teaching, or helps them in their practice of the correct teaching. In this sense, “good friend” may also be called good teacher. ↩︎
  8. See translated from Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Writings of Josei Toda), vol. 2 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1982), pp. 300–01. ↩︎
  9. “Oko kikigaki” (The Recorded Lectures); not translated in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1 or 2. ↩︎
  10. A line from the future division song “Torchbearers of Justice.” ↩︎
  11. In “The Opening of the Eyes,” Nichiren Daishonin writes: “If we examine the ‘Treasure Tower’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra, we find Shakyamuni
    Buddha, Many Treasures Buddha, and the Buddhas of the ten directions who are emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha gathering together. And why? As the sutra itself says, ‘Each … has come to this place on purpose to make certain the Law will long endure’ [The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 216]” (WND-1, 286). ↩︎

Proudly Studying Nichiren Daishonin’s Teachings and Savoring the Joy of Human Revolution

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