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We Grow Amid Human Relationships

Illustration by Leo Matsuda.

Though you may dislike organizations, is remaining alone really freedom? Can you guarantee that you won’t lose sight of yourself if you’re on your own? That’s hard to say. Genuine freedom does not mean living selfishly and doing just as you please; it is traveling the correct path in life.

Earth, for example, revolves around the sun. If it were to stray from its orbit even in the slightest, it would spell disaster. A spacecraft, if it follows the correct course, can traverse the vast cosmos and reach its destination. This is the meaning of true freedom.

Sports, too, have their own sets of rules. There are certain ways of doing things. Does freedom mean going around arbitrarily breaking these rules? I don’t think so. Genuine freedom is making full use of your strength and skill while following the rules of the game.

To live without a goal or purpose, doing whatever you please, whenever you please, makes for a reckless and self-destructive life. Organizations are made up of many different kinds of people, which provides the stimulus for personal growth. In many sports, too, it’s hard to assess your real ability if you train or practice only by yourself. You develop and grow through interacting with many others.

For instance, taros—potato-like vegetables popular in Japan and other places—are rough and dirty when harvested, but when they’re placed in a basin of running water together and rolled against one another, the skin is peeled away, leaving them shiny clean and ready for cooking. It’s probably inappropriate to compare people to taros, but my point is that the only way for you to hone and polish your character is through your interactions with others. 

Illustration by Leo Matsuda.

Being on your own without having to see or think about others may seem comfortable and worry-free, but you’ll find yourself stuck in a world that is terribly small and limited. By avoiding belonging to any group or organization, you deprive yourself of contact with many people, and in the end, you may well be left wondering about the meaning of your own existence.

A society without any organization whatsoever would be chaotic and disordered; there would be mob rule, with everyone just doing as they pleased, regardless of the consequences. It would be like a ship sailing out to sea without a compass—either it will lose its way or end up being wrecked. 

The organization is a means, not an end; it is not perfect.

In the early years of my practice, I found it difficult to get used to the atmosphere of the Soka Gakkai organization. Back then, we lacked the element of culture, and I just couldn’t bring myself to like the organization. Sensing this, Mr. Toda said to me: “If that’s how you feel, then why don’t you create an organization that you truly like? Work hard and devote yourself earnestly to building the ideal organization through your own effort!”

It’s the same with school or your family. As a member of the organization that is school, you need to be committed to making it a better place. …

Our organization dedicated to kosen-rufu was created so that we could deepen our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism and share its ideals and principles with others. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, revised edition, pp. 116–18)

March 1, 2024, World Tribune, p. 9

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