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Ikeda Sensei

Passing On the Spirit of Faith

The following essay from Ikeda Sensei’s series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution” was translated from the Jan. 6, 1998, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi passed away in 1944. In a letter written to his family from his freezing prison cell in January of that year, Mr. Makiguchi said, “The three of you must not neglect your morning and evening practice of faith.” The “three” he referred to were his wife, his daughter-in-law—who was staying with them while her husband was off to war—and his 4-year-old granddaughter.

In another letter a few months earlier, he wrote to his wife and daughter-in-law: “Raise my young granddaughter with love. The most important thing is for both of you to unite and maintain strong faith.” 

These letters reveal just how deeply Mr. Makiguchi cared for his family, even in his prison cell, and particularly how dearly he prayed for his granddaughter to become a fine practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism.

The World Peace Youth Music Festival held last autumn [in 1997] in Yokohama was a brilliant success. I have heard that the daughters of Mr. Makiguchi’s granddaughter—that is, Mr. Makiguchi’s great-granddaughters—performed in the festival. One is a young women’s chapter vice leader, and the other is a district leader. They are both wonderfully involved in their Soka Gakkai activities.

The grandson of my beloved mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, meanwhile, went on to complete a postgraduate course at the University of Tokyo and receive his doctorate. He is now an associate professor at Soka University. I am sure Mr. Toda must be overjoyed to see his grandson devoting his life to Soka education.

In the second volume of The New Human Revolution, in the chapter titled, “Banner of the People,” I have touched briefly upon the education of my own children in response to a strong demand from readers, especially from members of the women’s division. Our children learned the basics of their faith in what is now known as the future division. When I was serving as acting chapter leader of Bunkyo Chapter, my three sons joined in activities with our Bunkyo Chapter members.

When my eldest was in elementary and junior high school, he often used to go from our home in Ota Ward to meetings in Bunkyo Ward with his two younger brothers in tow. There were times, however, when he didn’t want to take part in Soka Gakkai activities. When that happened, my wife used to say to him: “When you are playing, you may enjoy yourself at the time, but afterward you have nothing to show for it. But it’s different with Soka Gakkai meetings. You may not want to go at the time, but afterward you’re happy that you did.” It seems our children learned for themselves that what she said was true.

My life has been defined by the persecution that always accompanies kosen-rufu. It is something I was prepared for and have accepted. In 1970, for example, I was fiercely attacked and insulted from all directions. The only thing that troubled me about this was the effect it might have on my family, but my wife was always very calm and composed. “If you live according to the Gosho,” she said to me, “persecution is only to be expected.” She always had a smile, even through the harshest times. 

In 1970, my sons were 17, 15 and 12. The subject of the Soka Gakkai used to come up when they were at school. I said to them: “People who try to live true to their convictions and accomplish great things in life invariably run into criticism and attack. I urge you not to be defeated by such persecution.” I always tried to show my sons the right way to live.

I remember when my eldest son was looking for his first job after graduating from university. He had offers from several companies. When he asked his mother for advice, she answered without hesitation: “Working for a big, famous company is not the goal of life. The best life is one lived for the sake of kosen-rufu.” My son felt the same way. He began his adult working life by becoming a teacher at the newly established Kansai Soka Junior and Senior High schools. My second son became a member of the administrative staff at Soka University, and the third took the same course as my eldest.

Kosen-rufu extends horizontally through a network of friends. It extends vertically from parent to child, the inheritance of faith from generation to generation. The future belongs to the young.

On my windowsill smile bright yellow spring adonis (pheasant’s eye), which are known in Japan as flowers of happiness and jubilation. When the adonis plant feels the rays of the sun, it blooms, even from beneath the snows of winter.

It is my deepest wish, every day of my life, that my friends and comrades will be the suns of their families, shining the light of the Soka Gakkai spirit on their children and their children’s children.

October 13, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3

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