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Daily Life

My February Campaign of 2022

Lessons from the Kamata Campaign that we can apply today.

Atlanta. Photo by Anthony Wallen

Daisaku Ikeda was just 24 years old when he was dispatched to Kamata Chapter in the winter of 1952 to lead the fledgling organization’s propagation efforts.

In a single month, the members of Kamata, with the young Daisaku in the lead, introduced 201 families to Nichiren Buddhism, breaking all previously perceived limits to propagation. This was the beginning of the “February Campaign” tradition that we still commemorate today.

As we mark its 70th anniversary, what can we learn from the Kamata Campaign, and how do we apply it? It starts with sharing the same commitment as our mentor to rid the world of misery and establish unshakable happiness for ourselves and others. It comes down to challenging our own limitations and breaking through the barriers in our own hearts.

Let’s advance with gratitude for our mentor.

The spark that ignited the February Campaign was an emergency meeting of unit leaders, where Ikeda Sensei encouraged the 130 people gathered to ground their efforts in repaying their debt of gratitude to Nichiren Daishonin and their mentor, Josei Toda, who had enabled them to encounter the Gohonzon and transform their painful karma. Sensei said:

February is the birthday month of both Nichiren Daishonin and [Josei] Toda. We have been able to encounter faith in the Mystic Law thanks to the Daishonin’s appearance in this world and the intrepid postwar struggle of Mr. Toda. Let’s achieve a resounding victory in our propagation efforts in this month of February as an expression of our appreciation! (February 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 13)

The members were not pressured to share Buddhism. Rather, they were inspired by their wish to repay their debt of gratitude to their mentor for having been able to encounter Nichiren Buddhism and improve their lives. Sensei reminds us: “As long as the oneness of mentor and disciple is firm, victory in everything is assured. This is a fundamental point in Buddhism; this is the essence of the Soka Gakkai spirit” (Nov. 1, 2019, World Tribune, p. 7).

Let’s plant seeds of the Mystic Law in our communities.

With a prayer to see every member of Kamata Chapter become happy, Sensei called out: “As President Toda’s disciples, let’s use this campaign to make a breakthrough in our personal problems and each show actual proof of changing our destiny!” (March 2022 Living Buddhism, p. 1).

Sensei says of that time:

They responded with determination and, through challenging themselves in chanting daimoku and telling others about Nichiren’s teachings, transformed themselves into courageous, active Bodhisattvas of the Earth. As the momentum of their efforts to reach out to others grew, they happily shared experiences of overcoming illness, unemployment and other difficulties through their Buddhist faith and practice. This chain reaction of benefit and joy resulted in the record achievement of introducing Nichiren Buddhism to 201 new households in a single month. It created a breakthrough for the realization of my mentor’s cherished wish [of achieving a membership of 750,000 households]. (March 2022 Living Buddhism, p. 1)

Let’s advance one step forward together.

Sensei clarifies that when we spread the Mystic Law, we are actively surmounting our inner-most weaknesses. He says:

The barrier we broke through in the campaign was actually a barrier in our own hearts, our own self-imposed limits, the temptation to give up, feeling that our goal was too difficult and we could never achieve it. (April 2, 2021, World Tribune, p. 3)

When someone was having trouble with propagation, Sensei invited them along to talk to people about Buddhism. All of the Kamata members exerted themselves to spread the Mystic Law while grappling with their own problems. Sensei recalls:

No one could sit still; everyone was spurred to take action. Even members who had never before spoken about their Buddhist practice to those around them, and newer members who hadn’t felt confident enough to talk to others, were able to take a courageous step forward. (February 2016 Living Buddhism, p. 16)

Each member became a protagonist for kosen-rufu. Through his efforts to encourage one person after another, Sensei helped each person bring forth unique strengths and capabilities. The Kamata Chapter members worked together to advance one step forward in their efforts to help awaken others to the Mystic Law.

One year after leading this great victory, Sensei wrote in his diary on Feb. 1, 1953:

Personally resolved to take a great leap forward during the coming year. The February campaign has begun, both officially and personally. As a young man, my foremost desire must be to roll up both sleeves and fully display my power and ability. (A Youthful Diary, p. 135)

With the same spirit, let’s create history in our own lives and for kosen-rufu this February!

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

How can I break through a problem that I feel will never end?