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Seeking Spirit

The New Human Revolution, “Seeking Spirit” Chapter, Installment 55

Volume 27, Chapter 4

By Daisaku Ikeda

The Soka Gakkai Headquarters made a film based on the moving experience Sugitaka shared at the 19th Young Men’s Division General Meeting. It was titled Trailblazer.

After seeing the film, Shin’ichi said, “For such an inspiring experience to come from a place like Betsukai, there must be a trailblazer in faith encouraging the members there and offering them guidance.”

Shin’ichi’s focus was on leaders who diligently supported members behind the scenes. That trailblazer was Katsuji Sugayama. With deep emotion, Shin’ichi sent him a book in which he inscribed words praising the young man’s valiant efforts in overcoming countless trials.

Sugayama wept when he received Shin’ichi’s encouragement.

“President Yamamoto has taken the trouble to praise and encourage someone like me! I want to respond to his kindness. I want to show even greater actual proof of Nichiren Buddhism in my community. I will make my dairy operation a model in the area!”

Despite his resolve, Sugayama didn’t have the money to upgrade his facilities. If he were to take out a loan, he would be in over his head. Many had been forced out of the dairy business because they overinvested.

To make the most of his meager savings, he decided to build a cattle barn and silo himself. He started by felling trees his grandfather had planted and then set to work, teaching himself about milling lumber and construction. His neighbors looked at him skeptically.

Having ridden his motorbike all across the frozen wilderness to encourage his fellow members, Sugayama didn’t see this construction as a hardship.

Those who have trained and polished themselves based on Nichiren Buddhism can show incredible strength in both their lives and in society.

The Japanese educator Inazo Nitobe (1862–1933), who spent his youth in Hokkaido, said, “Human life is a training in and for strength.”[1]

The pleasant sound of construction reverberated over the fields of Betsukai in a hope-filled rhythm.

In 1973, after three years of hard work and with his family’s support, Sugayama completed a 400-square-meter (4,300-square-foot) cattle barn.


  1. Inazo Nitobe, Editorial Jottings, vol. 2 (Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1938), p. 70.

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