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Guidance for Leadership

Toward Raising Youth and Kosen-rufu’s Triumphant Expansion

Affirming the importance of the basics of faith, practice and study through dialogue.

46th HQLM- A bright rainbow over the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu (August 13, 2020). Photo by Seikyo Press.

The following are excerpts of Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada’s speech at the 13th Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting Toward Our Centennial, which was held at the Tokyo Toda Memorial Hall in Sugamo, Tokyo, on May 3, 2023. The speech was originally printed in the May 14, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun. 

Congratulations on holding the 13th Headquarters Leaders Meeting celebrating Soka Gakkai Day and Soka Gakkai Mothers Day, on this glorious occasion of May 3! 

Today we have 37 SGI members from eight countries and territories taking part in our headquarters leaders meeting for the first time since January 2020—three years and four months ago. Welcome and thank you all for traveling great distances to join us!

Ikeda Sensei once offered this guidance:

Mr. Toda presented me with the following poem: 

Winning and losing
are both part of life
but I pray to the Buddha
for final victory 

In a corrupt world, a crafty person who cleverly seeks the easy way through life may be highly praised by others for a time. Yet, the person whose effort is earnest and persistent claims final victory. Indeed, the person of integrity must win out no matter what. Always remember that our vision of kosen-rufu exists so that we may build just such a society. (Tentative translation. Oct. 7, 2015, Soka Shimpo, p. 1)

Praise and criticism follow every struggle, be it in life or in advancing kosen-rufu. That’s why, without wavering between joy and sorrow, let us always sow the seeds for victory regardless of whether we win or lose—that is what the Soka spirit is all about. 

To build a society that enables a person of integrity to succeed, let us redouble our efforts to advance kosen-rufu ever further onward, committed to our mentor to the very end, our hearts burning with the same indomitable spirit of the Count of Monte Cristo [the hero of Alexander Dumas’ novel]. Will you join me? 

Now, as we face a rapidly aging population and declining birthrate [in Japan] and society itself is poised at a significant inflection point, the key in advancing kosen-rufu is raising capable individuals. 

Sensei said the following on the matter: 

Above all else, our goal is to be united in fostering capable individuals. To foster capable individuals is to build a capable organization. Everything is determined by people. There can be no victory unless we find such people, foster them and enable them to shine and develop even further, and continue to expand this effort. (Tentative translation. May 30, 2008, Seikyo Shimbun, p. 4)

What, then, is crucial in fostering capable people for kosen-rufu? 

Sensei shows us through his own efforts that it is found in the basics and imparting a clear understanding of them. 

For example, when Sensei took leadership of the newly formed Katsushika Greater Block, he first made it a point to encourage each member to carry out the basics, especially the daily practice of gongyo. 

During that organization’s inaugural meeting, Sensei stressed: 

How … should we go about building a model block organization? First, we must enable each block member to carry out a thorough and consistent practice of gongyo. … Our aim is to change our karma and carry out human revolution, but the only source of power for accomplishing this is gongyo and Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. (The Human Revolution, p. 1790)

Further, as a young men’s corps leader, during which he tripled the number of capable young men, Sensei revealed that the key to fostering people lies in helping them clearly understand the purpose of our Buddhist practice. 

Why do we do gongyo? Why do we share Nichiren Buddhism with others? Why is it that Buddhist practice leads to victory in life? If members come to understand the basic purpose of faith, they will be motivated to take action themselves rather than passively doing what they are told. And that’s when they demonstrate their true ability. (May 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 21)

In this way, Sensei shared that it’s important to consistently carry out the basics of Buddhist practice, such as gongyo, and to patiently explain and help each person thoroughly understand the purpose of each element of our practice. Such steady, unseen efforts hold the key to fostering people of genuinely high caliber. 

“The better you know others, the easier it is to converse with them. That’s why you must make a serious effort to get to know people.”

Our efforts to sincerely support and understand fellow members will inspire them to rise up. Our seniors in faith were masters in the art of nurturing capable people. They all greatly valued getting to know fully the person they were raising—where they were born and raised, their work and family circumstances, even their hobbies and favorite foods. 

On one occasion, when Sensei visited the Betsukai region in Hokkaido, as soon as he was introduced to a youth working behind the scenes, without a moment’s pause, he said to him: “Thank you! I know you well. You are a pioneer of kosen-rufu in Betsukai. I believe your experience ran in the Seikyo Shimbun three or four years ago. I read it. It was very inspiring!”

Witnessing this firsthand, I was absolutely stunned; and this young man was moved to his very core. 

Whether meeting the leader of a nation or greeting a youth, Sensei’s attitude toward each person he meets does not change in the least. He burns with a seeking spirit to know everything he possibly can about the person before him. Why? Because getting to know the other person is an expression of respect. 

Sensei has said the following: 

The better you know others, the easier it is to converse with them. That’s why you must make a serious effort to get to know people. When you’ve done that, just converse sincerely with them in the way that comes naturally to you. (March 24, 2006, World Tribune, p. 3)

Let’s engage in dialogues with one person after another as we increase the numbers of those who are actively carrying out the basics of faith, practice and study. And together, let’s build an organization overflowing with people who are inspired by their practice of Nichiren Buddhism. 

Based on strong prayer infused with our vow, let us each victoriously adorn this Nov. 18—the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Hall of the Great Vow of Kosen-rufu—with a triumphant song of great progress!

June 16, 2023, World Tribune, p. 8

‘Make Certain That the Law Will Long Endure’

Chant. Study. Take Action. Repeat.