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Ikeda Sensei

The Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land

Sandipkumar Patel / Getty Images

To my treasured friends of Los Angeles, the city of my dreams.

A brilliant, burning sun
rises above the newborn land,
aiming toward a new century,
raising the curtain on a new stage
of humanity’s history.
Shedding its light equally on all things,
it seeks the sky’s distant midpoint.

In this land wrapped
in the limitless light
of the morning sun,
my splendid American friends
make their appearance;
bearing the world’s hopes,
with power and vigor they commence
their progress anew.
To my beloved and treasured friends I say:
“Long live America renewed!
Long live the SGI-USA reborn!”

Ah! This enchanting city, Los Angeles!
Land of freedom and pioneering spirit!
From jagged mountain ranges
to the Pacific Ocean,
variegated nature changes ceaselessly—
rich agricultural lands
nurtured by the sun’s dazzling rays,
and the groundbreaking efforts
of those who came before.
Downtown, clusters of buildings soar skyward.

To think that this vast metropolis
could grow from a single aqueduct
stretched across the barren desert
from beyond the distant mountains!

It is said that in America
new winds blow from the west.
And indeed, the fresh breezes
of new ways of thinking,
new styles of living,
have arisen in California
and spread to the entire United States.
So many stories of the silver screen,
created here in Hollywood,
have delivered bountiful gifts
of romance and dreams
to the world’s people.

This rich spiritual soil,
this great earth alive with the diversity
of peoples and traditions—
giving rise to new culture,
a new humanity.

Los Angeles is a city pregnant with future,
a city where, in the words of one writer,
you can set new precedents
with your own energy and creativity.

And more, Los Angeles is a bridge
linking East and West,
a land of merging and fusion
where cultures of the Pacific
encounter traditions of the West.

Ah, the Pacific that opens before our eyes!
The boundless, free and untamed sea
for which the great Melville
voiced his respect and praise:
“It rolls the mid-most waters of the world.
… the tide-beating heart of earth.”

Once, the Mediterranean
was inland sea and mother to the
civilizations of the surrounding regions—
Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In like manner, the Pacific’s depths
must not divide—
but be the cradle of a new civilization,
an enormous “inland sea” connecting
the Americas North and South,
the continents of Asia and Australia.

This is my firm conviction—
California will be the energy source
for the Pacific region
in the twenty-first century
and Los Angeles its eastern capital.

In October 1960, I took my first steps on
the American continent
in California, the Golden State.
The honor and glory of becoming
the first chapter established in North America
belong to the Los Angeles Chapter.

Since then, this city has been
the core and center of kosen-rufu
in the United States, the starting point
for worldwide kosen-rufu.
My dear friends, never forget
this mission which you
so decidedly possess.

In the thirty-three years since that time,
I have visited Los Angeles seventeen times.
Kansai is the heart
whose beating drives the movement
for kosen-rufu in Japan;
Los Angeles plays this self-same role
for the entire world.
For this reason, on each visit,
staking all, I drove in deep
and deeper
the pilings of construction.

In 1980,
the first SGI General Meeting was held,
and in 1987, Soka University of America
opened its doors.

Ah, February 1990!
I postponed my visit
to South America and for seventeen days
gave myself heart and soul
to the work of encouraging
my beloved fellow members
here in Los Angeles!
Those impassioned, consuming days of
unceasing toil and action
are the collaborative
golden poems of shared struggle.

Nor can I ever forget
the spring of 1992—
even now my heart is rent with pain
when I recall how the
tragic news of the civil unrest in Los Angeles
raced around the world.

Heartrending images
of the evening sky shrouded in black smoke,
of buildings collapsing in flames,
once peaceful streets shattered by riot,
the entire city gripped
by a battlefield tension.
People standing lost in confusion,
a woman holding an infant cried out
—What has become of the ideals of this country?
What are we supposed to teach our children?—
Her woe-filled words tore
like talons at my heart.

I received continuous reports,
extended prompt relief.
And, putting everything aside,
I sat before the Gohonzon and
single-mindedly prayed—
for the safety of my treasured friends,
for the immediate restoration of order,
for a world without violence and discrimination.

Ah, America, land bringing together
so many different peoples!
A republic of ideals
born beneath the lofty banners,
the uniting principles of
freedom and equality.
As this century draws to its close,
the soul of your idealism
grieves at the stark realities of racial strife.
What is to become of the
spirit of your nation
fostered by so many people of
wisdom and philosophy?

My treasured friends,
There is no question that
your multiracial nation, America,
represents humanity’s future.
Your land holds secret stores
of unbounded possibility, transforming
the energy of different cultures
into the unity of construction,
the flames of conflict
into the light of solidarity,
the eroding rivulets of mistrust
into a great broad flow of confidence.
On what can we ground
our efforts to open
the horizons of such a renaissance?

It is for just this reason,
my precious, treasured friends,
that you must develop within yourselves
the life-condition of Jiyu
Bodhisattva of the Earth.

As each group seeks its separate
roots and origins,
society fractures along a thousand fissure lines.
When neighbors distance themselves
from neighbors, continue your
uncompromising quest
for your truer roots
in the deepest regions of your life.
Seek out the primordial “roots” of humankind.
Then you will without fail discover
the stately expanse of Jiyu
unfolding in the depths of your life.

Here is the home, the dwelling place
to which humankind traces
its original existence—
beyond all borders,
beyond all differences of gender and race.
Here is a world offering true proof
of our humanity.

If one reaches back to these fundamental roots,
all become friends and comrades.
To realize this is to “emerge from the earth.”

Past, present, future …
The causes and effects of the three existences
flow ceaselessly as the reality of life;
interlinked, they give rise to all
differences and distinctions.
Trapped in those differences,
human society is wracked by
unending contention.

But the Buddhism of True Cause,
expounded by the Daishonin whose
teachings we embrace,
enables us to break the spell
of past karma, past causes and effects,
and to awaken to the grand humanity
—the life of Jiyu
that had lain dormant in our hearts.

My mentor, President Toda,
taught us that when one embraces
the Mystic Law,
all intervening causes and effects
ebb and retreat, and there emerges
the common mortal of beginningless time.

This, another name for Bodhisattva of the Earth,
is the greatness and splendor
of the human being writ large,
after all false distinctions and adornments
have been removed.

Awaken to the life of Jiyu within!
When the bright sun of True Cause rises,
the stars and planets of
past cause and effect grow dim,
and the supreme world of
harmonious unity emerges—
the unity of friends and comrades
each manifesting the life-condition
of Bodhisattva of the Earth,
offering timeless proof that, indeed,
“The assembly on Eagle Peak has not yet dispersed.”

Ah, my treasured friends,
whom I so deeply love and respect!
It is critical for you now
to directly perceive
the web of life that binds all people!

Buddhism describes
the connective threads of
dependent origination.
Nothing in this world exists alone;
everything comes into being and continues
in response to causes and conditions.
Parent and child.
Husband and wife.
Friends. Races.
Humanity and nature.
This profound understanding
of coexistence, of symbiosis—
here is the source of resolution for
the most pressing and fundamental issues
that confront humankind
in the chaotic last years of this century.

The Buddhist scriptures include
the parable of “Two Bundles of Reeds,”
aptly demonstrating this relation
of dependent origination.
Only by supporting each other
can the two bundles stand straight—
if one is removed, the other must fall.
Because this exists, so does that;
because that exists, so does this.

For several brilliant centuries,
Western civilization has encouraged
the independence of the individual
but now appears to be facing
a turbulent twilight.
The waves of egoism
eat away at the shores of
contemporary society.
The tragedy of division
wraps the world in a thick fog.
Individuals are becoming
mere scraps, mere fragments,
competing reed bundles of lesser self
threatened with mutual collapse.

My friends!
Please realize that you already possess
the solution to this quandary.
First you must break the hard shell
of the lesser self.
This you must absolutely do.
Then direct your lucid gaze
toward your friends, fellow members.

People can only live fully
by helping others to live.
When you give life to friends,
you truly live.
Cultures can only realize
their further richness
by honoring other traditions.
And only by respecting natural life
can humanity continue to exist.

Now is the time for you to realize
that through relations
mutually inspiring and harmonious,
the greater self is awakened to dynamic action,
the bonds of life are restored and healed.
And blossoms in delightful multitude
exude the unique fragrance
of each person, of each ethnicity,
in precise accord with the principle of
cherry, plum, pear and damson.

Our goal—
the Second American Renaissance.
Holding high the standard of humanity,
we advance—
from divisiveness to union,
from conflict to coexistence,
from hatred to fraternity.
In our struggle, in our fight,
there cannot be
even a moment’s pause or stagnation.
My beloved friends,
Bodhisattvas of the Earth
readying yourselves
for the new century’s dawn!
With your own efforts
bring about a renaissance here,
in this “magnetic land”!

The certain signs of America reborn,
Los Angeles rejuvenated,
are to be found within your hearts.
With this pride and conviction,
be victorious in your daily life,
overcome your own weaknesses every day.
Never forget that it is only through
relentless challenge
—one step following another—
that you can steadily transform
your ideals into reality.

Buddhism is reason.
Therefore, always maintain self-control.
Be the master of your actions.
Exercise common sense in society.
Keep a smiling countenance at home.
Be courteous to your friends and fellow members,
like a warm spring breeze to the suffering.
Reason exhaustively with the confused.
But, when you deal with the arrogant ones,
be bold and fearless like the Lion King!

Seen from the Malibu Training Center,
the Pacific Ocean’s unbounded expanse
is bathed in radiant California sun.
An ocean of peace across whose surface
innumerable waves murmur and dance.

Beloved Los Angelenos!
I want you each to be
like the California sunshine,
showering on all people
the bright light and warmth
of your compassion.
Be people who extend hope and courage,
who inspire respect and gratitude
wherever you go.

Buddhism teaches us the means
to overcome life’s fundamental pain
—the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death—
which none can escape,
and which no degree of wealth and fame
can relieve in the slightest.

Everyone, anyone—
when returned to
their solitary human existence,
is but a karma-laden “reed,”
trembling before the onslaught
of the four sufferings.

Seeking eternity within impermanence,
crossing over delusion to nurture confidence,
building happiness from anguish,
rush forward from today
toward tomorrow
in the prodigious battle that is
our human revolution!
For you are the Buddha’s emissaries
upholding the ultimate philosophy of life!

Fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth!
Born here, gathered together here in Los Angeles
that you might fulfill your mission—
Raise your voices in songs of praise
for freedom, democracy and humanity!
Wave the banners of culture and peace!

Ah, Los Angeles!
Here is to be found SUA,
a palace of intellect for
the Pan-Pacific era of the twenty-first century.
Here is located the World Culture Center,
dynamo of American kosen-rufu.
And here rises the splendid form
of the future site of the SGI Headquarters—
which will become the mainstay
of the grand endeavor of worldwide kosen-rufu.
Truly a new wind will blow from the west!
Los Angeles, the stage on which
you act with such freedom and vigor,
is the launching site for world kosen-rufu,
the cornerstone that links East and West.
Walt Whitman, giant of
the American Renaissance, penned these words:
“Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race
the sun ever shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.”

Ah, Los Angeles!
The sun rises beyond the Rockies,
spreading its light over the wide Pacific.
Now! In its luminous beams,
let friend and friend pull together
in perfect unity, rowing into the seas—
embarking on a new leg
of our journey of kosen-rufu!

Grip the rudder,
hold firm to your course—
the Stars and Stripes,
the tricolor flag of the SGI,
ripple as a hopeful breeze fills our sails.
The lapping waves beat out their message
of congratulations upon our ship’s bow!
Our destination—
America’s distant future,
the lights and colors
of a Century of Life,
the brilliant glory of human harmony.

Commemorating the Second SGI-USA General Meeting
January 27, 1993

Daisaku Ikeda

Celebrating 30 Years of ‘The Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land’ With a New Pledge for Peace!