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Encouragement

Let’s Always Strive With Courage, Perseverance and Unity!

Photo by Michael Spadoni / Pexels.

The following are excerpts from Ikeda Sensei’s speech at the Fifth Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting held at the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Tokyo in March 2007. Video footage of the speech was broadcast during the 12th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial held on on Jan. 7, 2023. The excerpts were translated from the Jan. 23, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun. 

Today, the skies are clear and sunny.

Today’s fine weather is a bright harbinger that we will celebrate May 3 this year with complete victory.

What has been the driving force behind the Soka Gakkai’s success? It is courage, along with perseverance and unity. 

Never forget these three keys to the Soka Gakkai’s success: courage, perseverance and unity—harmonious and supportive unity.

Nichiren Daishonin stresses the importance of striving in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind.” To be united based on faith is to practice in accord with Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. 

Today, our members are enthusiastically holding aloft the banner of Soka, the banner of kosen-rufu, not only in Japan but throughout the world. No one expected that our movement would grow to this extent. It is truly a wonderful, noble and magnificent accomplishment. The Soka Gakkai has achieved this tremendous victory in these times through your steadfast faith in the Mystic Law, your unparalleled courage and your sincerity and effort. 

Let’s forge ahead proudly, aiming for May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, and together celebrate that auspicious anniversary with a joyous cry of shared victory!

I am praying earnestly for the health and happiness of all of you. Genuine leaders don’t just chant for the fulfillment of their own wishes but also chant wholeheartedly for the happiness of their fellow members. This is the resolve and commitment our leaders must have at all times. 

Genuine leaders don’t just chant for the fulfillment of their own wishes but also chant wholeheartedly for the happiness of their fellow members.

It is also especially important to be courteous and respectful to those who offer their homes for meetings and to thank them deeply for their generosity. As long as this spirit of gratitude is alive, the Soka Gakkai will flourish.   

On March 8, 1274, while in exile on Sado Island, Nichiren Daishonin received a letter of pardon from the government.[1] He survived two and a half years of exile on Sado—a punishment then normally regarded as a death sentence—and returned triumphantly to the capital, Kamakura.  

After receiving the letter of pardon, Nichiren departed from Ichinosawa on Sado on March 13, and arrived in Kamakura on March 26. He then met with Hei no Saemon-no-jo, the de facto leader of the military government, on April 8, and solemnly remonstrated with him again. This was just a month after receiving the letter of pardon.  

Important is action. Important is speed. Nichiren took lightning-fast action. The Soka Gakkai has also triumphed through lightning-fast action, through speed.

I faithfully put into practice all of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s guidance and instruction as his disciple. That’s why Mr. Toda went so far as to say: “Look at Daisaku. He personifies the true essence of the Soka Gakkai. He embodies my spirit.”  

The Daishonin later described his motivation in remonstrating [this third and final time] with Hei no Saemon-no-jo, as follows:  

Being so fiercely hated merely for trying to give advice that would save the country, I suppose that, when I was pardoned from exile, I should have left Sado and hidden myself somewhere far off amidst the mountains or by the seashore. But instead I went to Kamakura, because I hoped to explain the situation one last time to Hei no Saemon, and thereby save those people who might manage to survive an attack on Japan [by the Mongol forces]. (“Reply to the Lay Priest Takahashi,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 608)

The Daishonin directly confronted the devilish nature of authority out of his fervent concern for the happiness of the people. We must never forget his great spirit. This passage resounds with the voice of justice, with true courage and with the most honorable way to live. Let’s emulate the Daishonin’s spirit!  

I have acted with this same spirit in all my endeavors. The first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai as well as all of you, our noble members, have walked the same great path as the Daishonin himself and striven tirelessly to realize the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.”   

In a letter addressed to the Ikegami brothers after his meeting with Hei no Saemon-no-jo, Nichiren writes: “You must grit your teeth and never slacken in your faith. Be as fearless as Nichiren when he acted and spoke out before Hei no Saemon-no-jo” (“Letter to the Brothers,” WND-1, 498). 

I wish to stress that living out our lives in this spirit is the essence of faith directly connected to the Daishonin; it is the Soka Gakkai spirit.  

I’d now like to share with you some words of wisdom from East and West.

In his epic poem The Iliad, the ancient Greek poet Homer writes, “Godlike Greeks, don’t stand there waiting for the Trojans, but each pick out your man and put your heart into the fight.”[2]

Our struggle to set the record straight and communicate the truth about our movement is based on Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit to refute error and propagate the correct teaching of Buddhism. We can’t win in a struggle if we’re passive. Making active efforts to the very end is the way to victory. 

Nichiren Daishonin writes of refuting one opponent after another (see “On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” WND-1, 392). We must engage actively to make our voices heard. The Soka Gakkai has won precisely because we have striven in accord with Nichiren’s teachings and the guidance of Mr. Toda. Please never forget this.  

One of the characters in The Iliad addresses a warrior: “But you, Thoas, never waver in battle and are good at inspiring others when you see them giving up. So don’t slacken now.”[3] And he exhorted him to keep urging others on.  

I hope you, my friends in the youth division, will strive in the vanguard of our efforts for truth and justice, triumphing over those who attack and malign our organization. 

I would like all of you to develop into people of genuine courage, who always warmly support and encourage their fellow members striving so sincerely for kosen-rufu.  

Moving on to my next subject, in my 20s I often met with Sohachi Yamaoka (1907–78), author of the well-known epic novel Tokugawa Ieyasu. Later, valuing the relationship we had forged, Mr. Yamaoka allowed the Seikyo Shimbun to serialize another of his famous novels, Takasugi Shinsaku, over a period of two years and four months [from August 1962].  

In this novel, Takasugi Shinsaku (1839–67) [a pivotal figure who helped usher in Japan’s modern era], says: “Cheer up! … Don’t let setbacks get you down. Just quickly come up with a new plan and press forward!”[4]

In our work for kosen-rufu, too, there’s no need for us to be discouraged by temporary setbacks or problems. We possess great good fortune and benefit from all our efforts and daimoku. 

Let’s make our motto “The next step is key! Let’s keep pressing forward!”   

In a conversation in the novel between Shinsaku and Sakuma Shozan (1811–64), a renowned scholar and intellectual of the time, the latter says, “Do-nothings can achieve nothing.”[5] This is an important truth. 

Let’s get to work and do what needs to be done each day so that we can successfully advance kosen-rufu! It is only through such continued steady efforts that the door to victory will open. There is no nobler way to live. With this firm conviction, I’d like to close my speech today.

Thank you!

March 3, 2023, World Tribune, pp.2–3

References

  1. The government issued the letter of pardon on Feb. 14, 1274, and it arrived to Sado on March 8. ↩︎
  2. Homer, The Iliad, originally translated by E. V. Rieu, revised and updated by Peter Jones with D. C. H. Rieu, edited by Peter Jones (London: Penguin Books, 2003), p. 358. ↩︎
  3. Ibid., p. 222. ↩︎
  4. Translated from Japanese. Sohachi Yamaoka, Takasugi Shinsaku, vol. 2 (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2006), p. 334. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., p. 141. ↩︎

This Month in Soka Gakkai History (March)