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Now Is the Time to Advance With a Spirit of Gratitude

Photo by Molly Leebove.

by Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada

Every New Year brings to mind a memory I have of Ikeda Sensei. Thirty years ago [in 1994], he attended New Year’s gongyo sessions at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, on January 1, and at the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji on the 2nd.

Not only did he offer encouragement on those occasions, but he also took time before and after the meetings to greet and speak with members, forging meaningful connections with them. I recall that as many as 2,000 participants attended over the two days.

Those interactions were more than just simple exchanges. Sensei once said to me, “With the thought that I may never see the person again, I treat each encounter as if it is the last moment of my life.” True to these words, he engaged in an intense, all-out effort to encourage each person there, determined to inspire them to take action and continue practicing Nichiren Buddhism throughout their lives.

Sensei attended New Year’s gongyo sessions the following year and the year after that as well.

Giving his all at every moment, he interacted sincerely and forged heart-to-heart connections with as many people as he could. He showed us through his own behavior from the beginning of the year that one-to-one dialogue is the driving force for progress.

• • •

In his youth, Sensei would visit his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, at home on New Year’s Day to convey his greetings and start off the year together with him. That spirit remained unchanged even after President Toda’s passing.

At the Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting held the day after his mentor’s death, Sensei said, “I believe that President Toda lives on eternally in the Soka Gakkai, in the heart of each of us, his disciples.” The best way to show our gratitude to our mentor, he declared, was to wage a struggle of which we could proudly report to him: “Sensei! See how much we have advanced kosen-rufu!”

Today again, I will fight! Today again, I will win! Always starting with this vow to his mentor, Sensei built the Soka Gakkai into the global organization it is today.

Sensei has forged deep bonds in each of our lives—bonds that are eternal. He lives on in our hearts.

Now, as we embark on this Year of Fresh Departure for a Youthful Soka Gakkai Worldwide, paving the way to the triumphant centennial of the Soka Gakkai’s founding, let us move forward with the spirit of demonstrating our gratitude to our mentor!

The Lotus Sutra states, “Those persons who had heard the Law dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 178). Engraving these words in our hearts, together let’s create a monumental record of growth so that we can proudly declare to our mentor: “See how much we have advanced kosen-rufu!”

From the January 2024 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

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