Transforming Karma Into a Radiantly Brilliant Mission

A report on the North America Study Conference,


140 representative youth leaders from the five Southern California zones and SGI-Canada gathered on Aug. 27 at the World Peace Ikeda Auditorium to take part in the second day of the North America Study Conference, led by SGI Study Department Leader Seiichiro Harada.

Mr. Harada presented lectures on volume 1 of The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra as well as key passages from The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings in the first North America Study Conference to be held since 2019. The day’s first lecture was broadcast live to youth members at 69 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The day before, on Aug. 26, Mr. Harada led the first day of the study conference, attended by representative men’s and women’s leaders (see the Sept. 8, World Tribune, pp. 6–8).

A religion for the people.

Mr. Harada opened his first lecture with the turbulent context of Ikeda Sensei’s groundbreaking six-volume dialogue The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra. The dialogues commenced in the early ‘90s, in the midst of the second priesthood issue. Mr. Harada was a student division member at the time, just preparing to enter college.

The Soka Gakkai had, since its establishment, striven to accomplish kosen-rufu, supporting the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood while speaking out at crucial junctures against it’s more disturbing tendencies. Yet, as the Soka Gakkai expanded into a global movement and Sensei engaged in dialogues with leading thinkers the world over to open pathways to peace, the chief priest Nikken Abe, blinded by jealousy and rage, hatched a plot with other priests to sow division within the Soka Gakkai— a plan they named “Operation C,” with the letter “C” standing for “cut.”

After denying all of the Soka Gakkai’s requests for dialogue, the priesthood, on Nov. 28 1991, excommunicated some 10 million Soka Gakkai members worldwide in an attempt to wrest control of the organization’s laity and resources. What’s more, they stopped conferring the Gohonzon to those who joined or belonged to the Soka Gakkai, thus attempting to use the object of devotion in Nichiren Buddhism as a tool of coercion.

Mr. Harada recalled how, amid this unjust oppression from the priesthood, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun, began publishing Sensei’s serialized lectures on the “Expedient Means” and “Life Span” chapters of the Lotus Sutra. And his dialogue, The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, began its serialization in the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal, adding powerful momentum to the Soka Renaissance.

“Sensei cast off the chains of an authoritarian religion that subjugated the common people, and he freely and dynamically began to teach the significance of Nichiren Buddhism being a ‘religion for the people’ from its inception,” Mr. Harada said.

Two years after its excommunication, in 1993, the Soka Gakkai began conferring the Gohonzon based on one transcribed by Nichikan Shonin, the great 18th-century restorer of Nichiren Buddhism. This marked the start of the organization’s dynamic development toward achieving worldwide kosen-rufu.

Ultimately, the priesthood’s scheme, “Operation C,” failed, causing a dramatic plunge in its own lay membership, while the Soka Gakkai, having achieved its “spiritual independence,” expanded its solidarity of the people to 192 territories and countries.

“In the midst of this battle with the priesthood, we studied The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, and I can say that for myself, my starting point in Buddhist study was reading this work by Sensei,” Mr. Harada said. “Once more, I will study in earnest together with you, our young successors in the youth, student and future divisions.”





The World Tribune