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Ikeda Sensei

You Are All Courageous Champions!

Photo by Zongnan Bao / Unsplash.

Originally published in the February 2023 Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

During our historic February Campaign[1] of Kamata Chapter [in 1952], braving cold winds, praying and exerting ourselves tirelessly, we reached out widely to those around us to share Nichiren Buddhism.

A passage from Nichiren Daishonin’s treatise “The Selection of the Time” that we read together moved and inspired us deeply: “Those concerned about their next life would do better to be common people in this, the Latter Day of the Law, than be mighty rulers during the two thousand years of the Former and Middle Days of the Law” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 544).

It is a far greater honor to dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu—chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and voluntarily taking on hardships for that cause—as unheralded “common people” in this corrupt age than to be “mighty rulers” in the most glorious era.

Filled with gratitude to Nichiren Daishonin and our mentor Josei Toda for teaching us the supreme pride and joy of being “common people in this, the Latter Day of the Law,” we in Kamata Chapter dove into the midst of those who were suffering and urged them confidently to join us in attaining happiness.

As we were tallying the final results of our efforts that month, having broken through all barriers together, a district women’s leader dashed into the room and, with a beaming smile, announced breathlessly: “Wait! One more household has started practicing!” That is how we reached the astonishing record of 201 new member households in one chapter in just a single month.

Our Soka family is a great gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth with a profound mission. Even when struggling with daunting onslaughts of karma, our members keep striving with invincible faith and unpretentious humanity to help one person after another form a connection to Nichiren Buddhism as a cause for their happiness.

In the early days of our movement, many in society disparaged our members because they were struggling with poverty and illness. With a hearty laugh, Mr. Toda responded to such critics: “Well, just how many suffering people have you helped, then?”

No matter what anyone might say, those who strive tirelessly and unstintingly for the sake of Buddhism and for the welfare of others, their communities and society shine with the dignity and fortune of champions of the people.

On a snowy day in Europe six decades ago, I spoke with members about the importance of continuing to press forward courageously even amid blizzards of adversity. We affirmed that when we take action, our hearts made small by fear will open and expand; and when we apply ourselves with courage and determination, our circles of friendship and understanding will grow.

With the conviction that “The Soka Gakkai is the king of the religious world!” as Mr. Toda proudly declared, let us entrust the crown of champions of the people to our youthful successors, who are developing so dynamically!

Burning with the courage
of the lion king,
break through barriers
and open the way
to bring happy smiles to the people.

From the March 2023 Living Buddhism


  1. February Campaign: In February 1952, Ikeda Sensei, then an advisor to Tokyo’s Kamata Chapter, initiated a dynamic propagation campaign. With the Kamata members, he broke through the previous monthly record of some 100 new member households by welcoming 201 new member households to the Soka Gakkai. ↩︎

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SGI-USA San Francisco Buddhist Center