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On the Cover

The Life-to-Life Bonds of the Soka Gakkai

Illustration by ladyastronaut / Fiverr.

Ikeda Sensei: Offering personal guidance is of course easier said than done. The Soka Gakkai is made up of all kinds of people. Some may refuse to meet or speak with other members, while others perhaps joined as children along with their parents but do not consider themselves believers. We may even come across members highly critical of the Soka Gakkai. Others may be suffering so deeply from financial difficulties or illness that they have lost all hope.

It is no easy task to visit the homes of such members, to try and make conversation, forge bonds of friendship, talk about the importance of faith and teach them about chanting and Buddhist principles. Doing so is far more challenging than talking with members we see at meetings or organizing various activities.

But it is these very efforts that enable us to polish ourselves. In striving to help others grow, we grow too. Furthermore, struggling in this way constitutes true Buddhist practice. Promoting activities together with those who regularly attend meetings is simple, but this in itself will not enable Nichiren Buddhism to spread. To concern ourselves only with such members would be comparable to the captain of a ship bound for a distant shore being content with sailing around the harbor. Leaders must realize that the main stage of Soka Gakkai activities is not meetings themselves but the hard work that takes place beyond the meetings.

The network of life-to-life bonds that is the Soka Gakkai was built through the efforts of individuals to visit and personally encourage their fellow members. Just as a broad interwoven network of roots that sink deep into the earth supports a mighty tree, it is the consistent and painstaking actions of members to offer personal guidance at the grass-roots level that hold up the Soka Gakkai. …

Those who personally talk to and encourage their friends and the people they meet are true emissaries and children of the Buddha; they are the real champions of faith. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 8, revised edition, pp. 86–88)

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