Skip to main content

Guidance for Leadership

Hardships Are the Catalyst for Generating Strength and Compassion

Members from Chantilly, Va. Photo by Nicole Walters.

These text contains excerpts from Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada’s speech given at the Seventh Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial, held on Feb. 6, 2022, at the Hyogo Ikeda Culture Center in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. The text appeared in the Feb. 13, 2022, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

My heartfelt congratulations on the Seventh Headquarters Leaders Meeting and the Hyogo General Meeting!

Three Basic Guidelines for Propagation

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the original February Campaign, the start of our proud February tradition. 

Upon becoming second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda aspired to increase the membership to 750,000 households. Yet even after nine months, things were not progressing as hoped. At the time, in February 1952, the average chapter grew by no more than 100 households per month.

Ikeda Sensei, who was 24 years old, was appointed the advisor to Kamata Chapter to break that impasse. And he did so in stunning fashion, with his chapter increasing by 201 households—a feat that fueled the Soka Gakkai’s dynamic growth and subsequently enabled it to achieve its goal of 750,000 households. 

How did Sensei succeed in this historic struggle that shines in the annals of kosen-rufu?

One of the leaders in Kamata, who fought alongside Sensei at the time, bore testimony to what occurred. He said that Sensei provided three basic guidelines to his fellow members as they set off on their propagation campaign: 

  1. Propagation begins with prayer. 
  2. Propagation starts with talking to our neighbors.
  3. Propagation involves sharing faith experiences.

Sensei’s guidelines were all things he himself had embraced and put into practice. And I can’t help but feel that by earnestly following through on each point, we can find that the quintessence of faith for one’s human revolution and kosen-rufu is, in fact, condensed in these clear, concise guidelines. 

Early on, when Sensei called on the chapter members to achieve the goal of welcoming 200 new households that month, this same leader, convinced that the target was a pipe dream, uttered, “It can’t be done.” 

To this, Sensei gently replied without hesitation, “I will do it.” 

He was saying that he would do it himself, instead of asking others to do it. The starting point for every endeavor begins with such a sense of responsibility. 

Some members scoffed at Sensei, saying he was just talking big. But when he heard such comments, he would shrug them off and say, “I’ll make it happen.” 

And that’s just what he did. Showing actual proof by getting things done—that’s the example Sensei set in all his endeavors. As his disciples, let us determine to learn from him and follow in his footsteps.

Now Is the Time to ‘Reveal the True’ for Yourself and the Soka Gakkai

Seventy years have passed, and, today, we are in the midst of tackling the challenge of a global pandemic. 

At the start of the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu (in 2014), Sensei offered these words of advice: “We [must] further expand our life condition, deeply and significantly, and cast off the transient and reveal the true for ourselves and the SGI in an astonishing manner” (see Jan. 16, 2015, World Tribune, p. 6). 

Nichiren Daishonin writes that with “causes and conditions functioning in harmony,” we can “utilize the pity and compassion of one’s freely exercised transcendental powers to bestow unhindered benefit upon living beings far and wide” (see “The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 860).

Our mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth exists as a cause within our lives. And encountering “karmic catalysts” in the form of fierce adversities or arduous trials can prompt us to bring forth the inexhaustible and bountiful power of compassion to lead all people to happiness.

In short, this is precisely the time in which we can brilliantly cast off the transient and reveal the true, not only for ourselves but also for the Soka Gakkai. 

Let us embrace this spirit as we forge ahead, boldly and valiantly, to overcome whatever obstacles stand before us, so that the Soka Gakkai can truly develop into a religion practiced around the world.

A Deepening Appreciation for Our Mentor and Fellow Members

The spirit that runs through the February Campaign is Sensei’s deep desire to express his gratitude for his mentor and to celebrate his mentor’s birth month by expanding our kosen-rufu movement.

And we, in turn, can express our gratitude to Sensei by protecting and developing the Soka Gakkai, which he poured his very life into creating. 

Sensei once shared this guidance by President Toda: 

The sutras speak of “the harmonious body of believers,” emphasizing that, in order for the religious community to develop and progress, it must be valued and protected. I would like to stress that cherishing the organization, the “harmonious body of believers,” is the supreme Buddhist practice today for the attainment of kosen-rufu. (tentative translation)

After sharing this, Sensei affirmed: “Protect our harmonious body of believers for kosen-rufu! Let us always remember to heed our mentor’s call.” This is important guidance. If one forsakes the Soka Gakkai, there is no mentor-disciple relationship, no kosen-rufu and no human revolution.

That’s why, during this unprecedented pandemic, the good fortune you are accruing as leaders is incalculable as you strive to fulfill your responsibilities, regardless of your own difficulties, coming up with creative ways to encourage your fellow members and engage in Soka Gakkai activities. 

The Daishonin admonished followers who abandoned the kosen-rufu movement when faced with persecution, writing that they “think themselves wise enough to instruct me” (“Letter from Sado,” WND-1, 306). He rebuked them for their deluded belief that they knew better than he. 

An appreciative person is humble. An ingrate is arrogant. Let us push ahead in our efforts to deepen our sense of gratitude, ever aware of the strict law of cause and effect, while renewing our appreciation for Sensei and our fellow members.

In explaining the history of the February Campaign, Sensei wrote in The New Human Revolution, “When disciples have a seeking spirit toward their mentor and determine to fight alongside him, then the mentor’s life—the mentor’s commitment to kosen-rufu—pulses and flows through the disciples’ veins” (vol. 3, revised edition, p. 291).

Let us seek our mentor and strive alongside Sensei and, by casting off the transient and revealing the true, illuminate society and our communities with hope, like the sun! 

Redefining Joy Amid the Times