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Guidance for Leadership

Now Is The Time To Use Our Voices

Photo by Seikyo Press
Photo by Seikyo Press

The following is excerpted from Soka Gakkai Senior Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa’s speech at an SGI-USA staff meeting on March 20.

Filled With Courage and Conviction

The times when we face intense suffering, difficulties and challenges are precisely when we must strengthen and deepen our prayers, and single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to see things through.

This Nov. 18 marks the 90th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding; May 3 will be the 60th anniversary of Daisaku Ikeda’s inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president; and Oct. 2 will signify 60 years since he took his historic first steps for worldwide kosen-rufu here in America.

In this year full of significant milestones, we are facing throughout the world the unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 virus.

This has greatly impacted all areas of our lives including our SGI activities, so I truly appreciate your responsiveness to the ever-changing circumstances as you strive in earnest to continue supporting all the members of SGI-USA.

Nichiren Daishonin writes:


Great events never have minor omens. When great evil occurs, great good follows. (“Great Evil and Great Good,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1119)

• • •

Great evil portends the arrival of great good. (“The Kalpa of Decrease,” WND-1, 1122)

• • •

Matters of minor importance arise from good, but when it comes to a matter of great importance, great disaster without fail changes into great fortune. (“A Warning against Begrudging One’s Fief,” WND-1, 824)

It goes without saying that these passages do not explain how things naturally unfold. Rather, in a reality mired in great evil, our powerful, resolute prayers are vital to transforming this reality into one of great good.

The times when we face intense suffering, difficulties and challenges are precisely when we must strengthen and deepen our prayers, and single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to see things through.

In Nichiren’s writing “On Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins,” we find the well-known passage:

I am praying that, no matter how troubled the times may become, the Lotus Sutra and the ten demon daughters will protect all of you, praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground. (WND-1, 444)

The Daishonin explains “how troubled the times” were in his day, describing frequent extreme weather events, great earthquakes and natural disasters, as well as famine, fires, epidemics and pestilence (see “On Establishing the Correct Teaching,” WND-1, 6).

What’s more, amid such circumstances, Nichiren’s disciples also faced intense persecution from the authorities. In addition, when he sent “On Rebuking Slander of the Law” to his disciples in Kamakura, Nichiren was in exile on Sado Island, living amid life-threatening conditions.

The phrase no matter how troubled the times expresses that no matter what kind of struggles and situations might beset his disciples, Nichiren is determined to ensure that they are all protected.

Even though he was in exile and could not meet or talk with his disciples, or confirm their well-being, he was deeply resolved that no matter the situation he would spur the protective functions to aid and safeguard his precious disciples.

And he assures his disciples that he will protect them with prayer so powerful, “as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground.” In other words, he prayed to make the impossible possible, expressing to them his deep compassion as their mentor.

The Daishonin also states in other writings:

Be resolved to summon forth the great power of faith, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the prayer that your faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of death. Never seek any other way to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death, and manifest it in your life. (“The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” WND-1, 218)

• • •

Strengthen your power of faith more than ever. (“Happiness in This World,” WND-1, 681)

The more difficult the times, the more we must rouse and strengthen our power of faith. Nichiren also 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,” WND-1, 412)

Regarding this passage, SGI President Ikeda explains: “Nichiren [Buddhism] allows us to change poison into medicine and to transform our negative karma. There is no hardship or suffering that we cannot overcome, no darkness that we cannot break through” (April 8, 2011, World Tribune, p. 3).

As we continue to deepen our awareness of the importance of prayer and convey this awareness to those around us, the more earnestly we can face the Gohonzon each day. The more strongly we rouse the power of faith, the more strongly we can bring forth the power of the Buddha and the power of the Law in our lives. By praying with even greater resolve, we will definitely open the way to even greater, unprecedented victory, happiness and fortune.

This is how we can transform great evil into great good and change misfortune into fortune. Let’s advance with the conviction: This is precisely the time to gain new experiences in faith! This is precisely the time to help even more of my fellow members savor the power of faith!

Based on this conviction, let’s bring forth the wisdom and ingenuity to find ways to continue encouraging our fellow members.

Now is the time to use our voices filled with courage and conviction as we engage in the most important task before us: to encourage our fellow members, family and friends as much as possible.

And let’s never forget our heart of appreciation for our mentor, President Ikeda, as we courageously advance kosen-rufu, expand the ranks of capable people and help all our members establish absolute happiness and fortune in their lives.

To boldly transform all poison into medicine, let’s keep in mind these three key points of maintaining our “never-ending seeking spirit,” “consistent Buddhist practice” and “solid unity” as we welcome May 3 with complete victory and aim to create new history toward Oct. 2!

A Springtime of Hope