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The Brilliant Path of Worldwide Kosen-rufu

Commentary on Volume 25

by SGI Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda

November 18, on which we celebrated the 90th anniversary of our founding, marked the start of a decade for building a new youthful Soka Gakkai toward our centennial in 2030.

The Soka Gakkai theme for 2021, the first in this crucial 10-year period, has been designated as the Year of Hope and Victory. In this significant year, not only will we celebrate 55 years since the start of the men’s division on March 5 and 70 years since the establishment of the women’s division on June 10, but also the 70th anniversary of both the young men’s and young women’s divisions, on July 11 and July 19, respectively. It will also be 65 years since the Osaka Campaign and the Yamaguchi Campaign, golden milestones in our history in which Ikeda Sensei greatly opened the way for the expansion of kosen-rufu.

Speaking about the significance of such commemorative days in the “Bastion of Capable People” chapter of volume 25 of The New Human Revolution, Shin’ichi Yamamoto says:

The purpose is to remind ourselves of the origins of the occasion, pass on our history and spirit to future generations, and forge ahead with fresh determination each year. … Our history and commemorative dates have meaning only if we transform them into sources of strength in the present.[1]

We have built our kosen-rufu movement on a rhythm of striving to progress and achieve our goals toward May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, and November 18, Soka Gakkai’s Founding Day, each year. The purpose of celebrating commemorative dates such as these is not simply to reflect on our history. As they signal a fresh departure toward the future, the important thing is to use them to build momentum—to make a vow and initiate a new challenge in our lives.

Volume 25 details Shin’ichi’s travels to encourage the members in Fukushima, Yamaguchi, Fukuoka, Saga and Kumamoto prefectures in 1977, with the determination to “establish a firm and enduring foundation of faith in every member’s heart.”[2] At that time, the kosen-rufu movement was entering a new phase with the opening of new Soka Gakkai centers in various prefectures and wards across Japan, and Shin’ichi’s visits to these centers became a profoundly significant moment in the mentor and disciple relationship for the members living in those areas.

Learning from the mentor and disciple spirit that is embedded in such significant dates and occasions, and translating it into action, becomes the driving force for us to create a magnificent drama that will endure for posterity.

The youth division in Japan has launched a new campaign, The New Human Revolution Generation Project [grounded in learning from their mentor’s spirit through studying the novel together]. This will run from November 18, 2020, to November 18, 2023.

Aiming toward the Soka Gakkai’s centennial, let us make the mentor’s heart that permeates The New Human Revolution our own and create a most “wonderful story” (“Letter to the Brothers,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 499) that is sure to inspire generations to come.

The Brilliance of Life

In July 2011, it was announced at the 50th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting that serialization of “Light of Happiness,” the first chapter of volume 25 of The New Human Revolution, would begin in September that year, six months after the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In his message to the meeting, Sensei expressed his intention in dedicating the chapter to the Tohoku members who were in the midst of rebuilding their lives and communities:

Together with all of my victorious fellow members of Tohoku, I wish to proclaim once again to the world, and for the sake of posterity, that your determination never to be defeated shines with the great light of happiness—a light that is certain to spread far and wide with ever-increasing brilliance![3]

The “Light of Happiness” chapter begins with the lines:

Spring is here!
The spring of rebirth is here![4]

It then goes on to detail Shin’ichi’s visit to Fukushima Prefecture in Tohoku on March 11, 1977. The following day, on March 12, in a meeting with representative leaders at the newly opened Fukushima Culture Center, he shares with those gathered:

It’s important to be energized and have a life that truly shines. The brilliance of a life that shines is what illuminates life’s darkness. This is the light of happiness.[5]

I can only imagine the immense hope and strength these words of encouragement imparted to the readers in Tohoku whose lives were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.

Next year will mark 10 years since the disaster and the publication of the “Light of Happiness” chapter in the Seikyo Shimbun. In this chapter, Shin’ichi also emphasizes how taking part in Soka Gakkai activities enables us to polish our lives:

Soka Gakkai activities illuminate the direct path to absolute happiness, transforming people’s lives, building a prosperous society and establishing world peace.[6]

Regarding our mission, he further states that our Buddhist faith and practice are what enable us to “stand up resolutely and continue persevering no matter what suffering assails us,”[7] and this is what it means to lead lives as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and genuine members of the Soka Gakkai.

Now more than ever, as the world grapples with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, let us take to heart the guidance contained in this chapter. As proud members of the Soka Gakkai, let us go forth and encourage others, illuminating the world with the light of happiness.

Guidelines for Fostering Youth

As explained in volume 25, kosen-rufu is not a special end point to be reached; it is the flow itself. Expanding upon this, Shin’ichi states:

The next wave of kosen-rufu can be generated by the youth. And successive generations must increase the size of these waves that expand kosen-rufu. This ongoing effort is what we mean by kosen-rufu.[8]

This volume is filled with important guidelines about the role and mission of youth in terms of kosen-rufu, as well as key points for fostering youth.

Our youth division members are precious successors of the Soka Gakkai. They are all capable individuals entrusted with the mission of making our movement grow and flourish like never before. In the “Light of Happiness” chapter, during an informal discussion with some leaders, Shin’ichi shares that what he would really like the youth to acquire is the strength and ability to introduce this practice to others and propagate this Buddhism. Unless the youth are fostered into great champions of propagation, he states, the Soka Gakkai will have no future.

We learn through the accounts of propagation activities, such as the Bunkyo Chapter’s “10 per Group” campaign or the Yamaguchi Campaign, that the key to breaking through our perceived limitations in expanding the organization is none other than the shared struggle of mentor and disciple.

In the “Gentle Breeze” chapter, we find:

Offering encouragement and sharing this Buddhism depend on connecting with the other person at the deepest level.[9]

This is the fundamental spirit of all our Buddhist activities.

In any age, the Soka Gakkai’s existence will always depend upon heart-to-heart exchanges, the way of one life inspiring another. The means to greatly advance kosen-rufu is “to be willing to go anywhere for the sake of another person, to share Buddhism with them and to encourage them wholeheartedly.”[10]

Volume 25 also clarifies three important points for the youth division members to fulfill their mission as successors: 1) Gain experiences to deepen conviction in faith; 2) Engage in Buddhist study to understand how to live well based on Buddhist principles; and 3) Deepen the ties of mentor and disciple, and strengthen friendship and solidarity with fellow members.

The “Shared Struggle” chapter contains the following:

Activities for kosen-rufu must be based on an understanding of the changing times, and … effective practical methods needed to be devised in response to the times.[11]

In line with this guidance, and while taking all necessary precautions, the young men’s division across Japan are currently holding special meetings to share experiences in faith and impart courage to those around them. While encouraging one another as Kayo-kai sisters, the young women of Japan are also launching a new campaign of one-to-one dialogue (from December 2020 to January 2021) to give hope to all those around them. Drawing on their wisdom and creativity, these initiatives devised by the youth division are truly an effective and practical response to the times.

Commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding on November 18 this year, Sensei composed the following poem:

Young lions, filled with the joy
of Bodhisattvas of the Earth
from time without beginning,
win and forge vibrantly onward,
transforming great evil into great good.

While praising and encouraging the sincere efforts of our precious “young lions,” let us advance in solid unity as disciples of Sensei and triumphantly open the way to dramas of hope and victory.

Translated from the November 25, 2020, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

Summary of Contents

Light of Happiness
On March 11, 1977, Shin’ichi Yamamoto participates in a gongyo meeting to commemorate the opening of the Fukushima Culture Center in Tohoku.

Shared Struggle
With the determination to launch another Yamaguchi Campaign, Shin’ichi revisits Yamaguchi and offers guidance to the pioneer members about enjoying the final chapter of their lives.

Gentle Breeze
Shin’ichi visits Kitakyushu and Saga to encourage the youth.

Bastion of Capable People
Shin’ichi holds discussions with the members in Kumamoto, Kyushu.

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  1. The New Human Revolution, vol. 25, pp. 299–300. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 91. ↩︎
  3. July 22, 2011, World Tribune, pp. 4–5. ↩︎
  4. NHR-25, 1. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., p. 73. ↩︎
  6. Ibid., p. 69. ↩︎
  7. Ibid., p. 85. ↩︎
  8. Ibid., pp. 83–84. ↩︎
  9. Ibid., p. 231. ↩︎
  10. Ibid., p. 32. ↩︎
  11. Ibid., p. 95. ↩︎

The Journey of Mentor and Disciple—Respecting All People

Volume 25: Chapter One—Light of Happiness