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Encouragement

Walking the Cherry Blossom Path of Soka With Open Hearts

Yoshiyuki Kaneko / Getty Images.

As the anniversary of the death of our mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda,  approaches [on April 2], I hear his voice in my mind—words spoken during an interview for a Tohoku Broadcasting radio program in 1955. I was present at the recording.  

“Our aim,” he said, “is to join hands and advance together to attain a life state of absolute happiness.” 

Making this spirit of our mentor our own, we reached out to those who were suffering and opened the joyful cherry blossom path of Soka, with the conviction that “winter always turns to spring” (“Winter Always Turns to Spring,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 536).

Spring—Cherry blossoms in full bloom photographed by Ikeda Sensei in Tokyo, March 2018. Photo by Daisaku Ikeda.

This year again, the cherry blossoms that my mentor so loved are coming into bloom across Japan, starting from Okinawa and Kyushu in the south and gradually moving up to Hokkaido in the north. As we aim for our next two milestones of April 2 (the anniversary of Mr. Toda’s passing) and May 3 (Soka Gakkai Day), let us advance even more with the powerful life force of Bodhisattvas of the Earth.   

This month marks the 70th anniversary of Josei Toda’s first guidance trip to Tohoku in March 1952. It was right after Kamata Chapter’s historic February Campaign. [1] At the time, Tohoku’s Sendai Chapter joined alongside Kamata Chapter in leading the country in propagation efforts. 

“Our aim is to join hands and advance together to attain a life state of absolute happiness.”

Mr. Toda often said: “Learn from Sendai Chapter!” and cited three key elements for success in developing our movement:

  1. New members deeply imbued with the Soka Gakkai spirit.
  2. Leaders taking action with strong conviction in faith. 
  3. Effective use of the Seikyo Shimbun for our movement. 

These were also the underlying power source for the invincible spirit demonstrated by my dear and most precious fellow members in Tohoku during the unprecedented ordeal of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. This month marks 11 years of reconstruction, of bringing back the light of happiness, following that devastating disaster. 

The recent strong earthquake that shook the Tohoku region earlier this month (on March 16) has also caused considerable damage and distress. But the firm and indestructible bonds of our Tohoku members—flagbearers of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth—have been called a model of hope by leading thinkers around the world.  

In this time of turmoil and trouble, I call out loudly in the same spirit as my mentor: “Let us learn from our members in Tohoku!”

This month throughout Japan, graduation and induction ceremonies for our inspiring Young Men’s Division Academy were held in high spirits. My wife and I are also delighted to hear that young women’s gatherings—under the banner of the First “Kayo College” Meeting—are being held with great success [in March and April]. The members of the student division and future division, too, are showing amazing growth.

Each day spent working earnestly together with your peers and encouraging one another as you exert yourselves in Soka Gakkai activities is incredibly noble. All your efforts will “remain as [memories] of your present life in this human world” (see “Embracing the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 64) and endow you with good fortune and wisdom.

Describing the Latter Day of the Law as a time when natural disasters strike in succession, Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Even the large-hearted become narrow, and even those who seek the way adopt erroneous views” (“A Father Takes Faith,” WND-1, 845). This, he lamented, leads to endless conflict.

Our movement for kosen-rufu and establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land entails opening the hearts of people in the Latter Day of the Law through the power of the Mystic Law and uniting them based on the Buddhist principle of respect for the dignity of life.

The Soka Gakkai’s mission is to formulate a grand vision for peace for future millennia and pave the way for the happiness of humanity for eternity.

Mr. Toda declared that the Soka Gakkai’s mission is to formulate a grand vision for peace for future millennia and pave the way for the happiness of humanity for eternity, thereby repaying our debt of gratitude to Nichiren Daishonin. 

With our gaze on that distant future, let’s chant even more strongly for the safety and security of the entire global family and continue to solidify and wisely expand our beautiful grassroots network for peace.

The following essay was translated from the March 29, 2022, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun. 

References

  1. February Campaign: In February 1952, as a 24-year-old chapter advisor, Ikeda Sensei led Tokyo’s Kamata Chapter in achieving the unprecedented monthly propagation result of 201 new households, breaking through the previous monthly record of around 100.  ↩︎

Ikeda Sensei and Mrs. Ikeda Recite Gongyo at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters