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Guidance for Leadership

Exert Ourselves Joyfully to Enrich Our Districts

Photo by Yvonne Ng.

The following words were shared at the Sept. 17 Central Executive Committee and Executive Council Conference. 

by Yoshiki Tanigawa
SGI Vice President

Congratulations on holding the SGI-USA Executive Council meeting. Thank you also to the members of the Central Executive Committee for your participation.

At today’s executive council meeting, the renewal of the terms for SGI-USA General Director Adin Strauss and other national leadership positions were approved. 

Also in Japan, a fresh lineup of leaders for the young men’s division was announced, with Hideaki Yanashima serving as the new national young men’s division leader; he is the first alumnus of Soka University of America to be appointed to this role. Congratulations!

A saying goes, “Start each day anew with a fresh spirit.” While leadership terms were renewed this time on the national level, let us together refresh our spirit as though we were all appointed today and begin our powerful advancement.

Today, we reconfirmed that the “District is the Core,” an initiative in which you have already been engaged. I am convinced that this is an extremely important focus for steadily moving in the direction of even greater development.

In his poem dedicated to district men’s and women’s leaders, titled “An Ode to District Leaders: The Front-Runners of Kosen-rufu,” Ikeda Sensei calls out as follows:

Worthy men’s district leaders
and noble women’s district leaders!
How beautiful and admirable
you are
as you earnestly emulate
the Buddha’s behavior! …

Nichiren Daishonin declared
with affection and sternness
to a disciple striving valiantly
in Suruga Province:
“I entrust you with the propagation of Buddhism
in your province.” …

All of you
are Bodhisattvas of the Earth,
who have been entrusted
with “your province”—
or, in today’s terms,
“your district”—
directly by the Buddha
of the Latter Day.

The Daishonin also says:
“In this defiled age,
you should always talk together
and never cease to pray
[to attain enlightenment].”

With strict compassion,
he clearly states
that the more turbulent and
troubled the times,
the more important it is
for his disciples to gather together
and talk with each other.

Encourage one another,
he urges, and
together triumphantly attain
Buddhahood in this lifetime,
together victoriously achieve

Also in The New Human Revolution, volume 1, “A New World” chapter,  Sensei writes:

If we liken the Soka Gakkai to an orchard, each district corresponds to a single fruit tree, while the fruit represents each of you. Without the tree, there will be no fruit. Everything depends on the tree. Similarly, the real basis of the Soka Gakkai is each district that composes it. One could even say that the district itself is the Soka Gakkai.

When a district is formed and becomes fully functional, kosen-rufu in that area will progress by leaps and bounds.[2]

With all leaders united in heart, let us devote ourselves in developing and enriching the districts. To this end, I would like to confirm a few points. 

The first point is to exert ourselves joyfully.

Ikeda Sensei speaks about “exerting ourselves joyfully” as follows:

In life, it is important to enjoy our challenges. Every effort requires hard work and entails difficulties of one sort or another; the key is not to lament difficulties but to enjoy them as challenges. That’s the secret to opening the way to happiness. You cannot exercise your full abilities if you’re only motivated by a sense of obligation. Those who find joy in life’s challenges and do their best with a positive, eager attitude are unbeatable.[3]

Addressing members, Sensei also says:

“Everyone I’ve met here is so bright and cheerful. That is very important. Victory in the realm of faith, simply put, comes down to whether everyone is practicing joyfully.

“Data such as propagation results and discussion meeting attendance is necessary to assess the state of the organization. It is also valuable for planning activities. But numbers alone do not give a complete picture of the realm of faith.

“When we meet members, we need to discern whether they are practicing joyfully or just going through the motions out of a sense of obligation. From this, we can see the true state of the organization. The Soka Gakkai exists to enable all members to feel joy and conviction. That is also why we have leaders.”[4]

For us as leaders, this point of “exerting ourselves joyfully” is extremely important to keep in mind to ensure that everyone can exert themselves with a sense of assurance and to raise capable individuals. Above all, this is something that Sensei himself has been putting into action.

Then what is needed to “exert ourselves joyfully”

First, we need “life force.” Sensei says:

Life is filled with ups and downs. Those with strong life force can always traverse life’s mountains and valleys with confidence and composure. They can make their way cheerfully, sometimes viewing cherry blossoms, sometimes pausing to enjoy a snack, sometimes relishing the challenge of climbing a steep incline. But if our life force is weak, then we will become exhausted; we cannot enjoy the surrounding scenery and instead feel only pain.

We were born in this world to enjoy life to the fullest. To do so, we need strong vitality, and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the wellspring of such vibrant life force.[5]

As leaders, let us challenge ourselves in chanting daimoku and, with boundless life force, giving wholehearted encouragement to our fellow members who are exerting themselves in the districts.

The second point is to never forget the bond of mentor and disciple. 

In our journey of kosen-rufu, we will encounter unexpected obstacles and hardships. Nichiren Daishonin says:

If you propagate it, devils will arise without fail. If they did not, there would be no way of knowing that this is the correct teaching.[6]

In a sense, we may say that fighting against ongoing obstacles—namely, the “three obstacles and four devils” that vie with one another to interfere—is the real basis of kosen-rufu.

Now and 
in the future, too, 
together sharing joys and sufferings— 
how wondrous our connection!

When he was inaugurated as second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda composed this poem for Sensei. 

The struggles we experience as we advance kosen-rufu are struggles that we undergo because we uphold and strive to achieve the same ideal as our mentor, Ikeda Sensei. When we are aware of this, there is no struggle that makes us prouder or more exuberant, and nothing surpasses the joy of reporting to Sensei our victories of overcoming and triumphing over such obstacles.

As long as we do not forget this point, we can exert ourselves brightly, cheerfully and joyfully in any situation.

The third point is for leaders to take the initiative. 

Sensei says:

“For instance, instead of just saying ‘Let’s all engage in dialogue about Buddhism,’ such a leader would actually take action herself and then share her experience with others, telling them, ‘This is how I practice Buddhism.’

“It is important that you also share your disappointments. Even if you don’t achieve the desired results, frankly share the difficulties and joys of making the effort and demonstrate your resolve to keep on trying.

“If you do that, everyone will begin to think: ‘I can do that too. I’m going to give it a try.’ That dedicated, steadfast attitude will rouse sympathy in everyone, transcending the generation gap. Just be yourself, nothing more and nothing less.”[7]

How do we create momentum toward victory at the beginning of our campaigns? How do we overcome deadlocks when we encounter them as we strive toward our goals? The key lies in how the leaders take the initiative.

Just as the Daishonin states:

In battles soldiers regard the general as their soul. If the general were to lose heart, his soldiers would become cowards.[8]

If leaders take the initiative and exert themselves, trust and unity will be created. When we challenge ourselves with courage, we can create joyful momentum.

SGI-USA’s momentum in advancing toward 2030 will impact the entire world. With the youth, who are growing at a remarkable pace and leading our movement, let us make a fresh new start as we vow with one another to expand and show dynamic progress, more than ever before!


  1. May 3, 2007, World Tribune, p. 2. ↩︎
  2. The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, revised edition, pp. 113–14. ↩︎
  3. NHR-23, 29. ↩︎
  4. NHR-27, 354–55. ↩︎
  5. NHR-4, revised edition, 75–76. ↩︎
  6. “Letter to the Brothers,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 501. ↩︎
  7. NHR-25, 289–90. ↩︎
  8. “The Supremacy of the Law,” WND-1, 613. ↩︎

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