The Key to Development Lies in Valuing the Youth
The World Tribune
“There are many paths in life. Paths leading to celebrity. Paths leading to fame. Paths leading to high social standing. And the list goes on. But where do we find the path to attaining Buddhahood? It is found only in efforts to expand the flow of kosen-rufu. Nichiren Buddhism teaches faith that is dedicated to advancing kosen-rufu.” The following are excerpts from Ikeda Sensei’s speech at a Soka Gakkai headquarters leaders meeting, held at the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji, Tokyo, on Jan. 8, 2002. The speech was originally published in the Feb. 8, 2002, World Tribune, pp. 6–7. Today, Jan. 8, is a solemn day of mentor and disciple. It marks the date when 57 years ago Josei Toda first learned of the death in prison of his mentor, first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi [who had passed away two months prior on Nov. 18, 1944]. Mr. Toda, who was also incarcerated, heard this news from one of the preliminary judges during routine questioning. He had been totally unaware of his mentor’s death until then. Back in his cell, he wept all through the night, shedding tears of bitter grief and anger. Such is the bond of mentor and disciple.1 From that day on, Mr. Toda became an indomitable fighter for kosen-rufu. He resolved in his heart: “I will not seek personal greatness. I will take my martyred mentor’s place and devote my life to actualizing his spirit.” As the third president of the Soka Gakkai, I also struggled for kosen-rufu with the same spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple, taking on the full brunt of all attacks and persecutions, which Nichiren Daishonin predicts will inevitably befall the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Encountering persecution is proof that we are championing the cause of good. A great struggle waged with the spirit of not begrudging one’s life and selflessly devoting oneself to propagating the Law—this is the mentor-disciple spirit shared by Mr. Makiguchi, Mr. Toda and myself, a spirit that runs through the Soka Gakkai. It is easy to speak of not begrudging one’s life, but few people translate it into action. We repay our debt of gratitude through earnestly striving to expand kosen-rufu. Iam delighted on this auspicious date to report together with all of you to presidents Makiguchi and Toda on the immense actual proof of worldwide kosen-rufu that we have realized by achieving a network that now extends to 180 countries and territories [now 192 countries and territories]. Nothing makes me happier. In “Flowering and Bearing Grain,” Nichiren teaches the principle that the benefits the disciple obtains from propagating the Lotus Sutra always return to the mentor (see The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 909). Our strenuous efforts as disciples serve to repay our debt of gratitude to our mentor. This is Buddhism. This is the path of humanity. It follows, then, that the best way of repaying that profound debt is through earnestly striving to expand kosen-rufu. In “The Selection of the Time,” the Daishonin writes: Little streams come together to form the great ocean, and tiny particles of dust accumulate to form Mount Sumeru. When I, Nichiren, first took faith in the Lotus Sutra, I was like a single drop of water or a single particle of dust in all the country of Japan. But later, when two people, three people, ten people, and eventually a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, and a million people come to recite the Lotus Sutra and transmit it to others, then they will form a Mount Sumeru of perfect enlightenment, an ocean of great nirvana. Seek no other path by which to attain Buddhahood! (WND-1, 579–80) There are many paths in life. Paths leading to celebrity. Paths leading to fame. Paths leading to high social standing. And the list goes on. But where do we find the path to attaining Buddhahood? It is found only in efforts to expand the flow of kosen-rufu. Nichiren Buddhism teaches faith that is dedicated to advancing kosen-rufu. Faith equals daily life. Therefore, as long as we persevere in faith that is committed to kosen-rufu, it is possible for us to be successful and victorious in our daily lives and in society, no matter what trying times we may find ourselves in at present. A wonderful opportunity to accumulate good fortune is now before us. In a letter to one of his lay followers, Nichiren Daishonin says, “I entrust you with the propagation of Buddhism in your province” (“The Properties of Rice,” WND-1, 1117). I hope that each of you will accumulate boundless good fortune—fortune that is as vast as the legendary peak of Mount Sumeru—in the place where you have a profound mission, which has been entrusted to you by the Daishonin. Life is eternal. We have been fortunate enough to embrace the Mystic Law in this lifetime and have a wonderful opportunity to accumulate good fortune. If we do not do so when we can, we will be the ones who lose out. In particular, the good fortune we accumulate through our efforts for kosen-rufu will form the foundation for our eternal happiness. As a result of such efforts, it is absolutely certain that we will be reborn in lifetime after lifetime as Buddhas, as champions of life. For that reason, let’s do our utmost now! It is a Soka Gakkai tradition for youth to shoulder full responsibility. The youth have really come into their own in recent years. The Soka Gakkai must always remain a youthful organization. It is a tradition in the Soka Gakkai for youth to resolutely stand up and shoulder full responsibility for kosen-rufu. If we lose our youthful spirit and grow old at heart, we will no longer be the Soka Gakkai. From this year on, I am determined to throw my full energies one more time into fostering youth in earnest. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was a great leader who cherished youth. He emphasized three points that are important in fostering youth and bringing forth their potential: 1) Respect them; 2) Value them and give them responsibility; and 3) Learn from them. Premier Zhou himself set an example by doing precisely that. He also treated me, a person 30 years his junior, with immense courtesy. [At the time of their meeting, on Dec. 5, 1974, Premier Zhou was 76 and Sensei was 46.] The Soka Gakkai has also readily given responsibility to youth and learned from them. That is why it has made such phenomenal development. I have consistently dedicated myself to fostering youth. An organization that does not value young people will inevitably decline. That must never happen to the Soka Gakkai. I state this for the sake of the future. Those who have forged a spirit as strong as steel will always be successful. Youth should forge themselves amid struggle! No selfdevelopment comes from shunning challenges”—these were Premier Zhou’s sentiments. President Toda also said: “Wage a struggle! Forge yourself in its midst!” That is why I have wholeheartedly fought, struggled and challenged myself. Sometimes, I was so exhausted when I got home after a busy round of Soka Gakkai activities that I did not have the energy left to even take off my shoes. At the time, I also suffered from tuberculosis. In spite of poor physical health in my youth, I have continued working for kosen-rufu from the time I embraced faith to the present. This is all due to the strict training I received from President Toda. Premier Zhou said that only through receiving training and undergoing various rigorous challenges are people refined into the hardest tempered steel. Life is a battle. Unless one has an unbreakable, steellike spirit, one cannot accomplish momentous undertakings. When we look at historical figures and figures in modern society as well, it is only those who have forged a spirit as strong as steel that are victorious or successful. There is no one who has achieved success by taking it easy. There is no ultimate victory to be found in such an approach. The source of the Soka Gakkai’s victories is the power of the people. Ihave cited Premier Zhou’s words in tribute to the fact that today is the anniversary of his death. He died 26 years ago at 9:57 a.m. on Jan. 8, 1976. This morning, my wife and I offered sincere prayers in his memory. At the loss of the “people’s premier,” many Chinese were deeply grieved and saddened. But his wife, Madame Deng Yingchao, stoutly encouraged everyone: “Let’s be strong. Let’s not cry. Crying won’t bring anyone back to life. I myself wept only on three occasions [after my husband’s passing] . ... What we must do is dry our tears and carry on Enlai’s work. And we must work for the greater prosperity of China. Doing so is the best offering we can make to Enlai.” Such strength! Such commitment! It echoes with our Soka Gakkai spirit. Madame Deng stood in the vanguard and fought. She battled with determination against the Gang of Four, which had attacked and persecuted her husband. At a crucial moment, men are sometimes cowardly, but women with firm resolve are strong. Finally, the day came when the Gang of Four was toppled. Until the very end of her life, Madame Deng lived with the same commitment as Premier Zhou. She traveled the world for the sake of peace. When she was in her 70s, those around her were worried about her health, which was not robust. At that time, Madame Deng said: “This is my work. I have to do it, because it is a duty the Chinese people have bestowed on me. It was the same with Enlai.” She never strayed from the path of her mission. She never ceased fighting. This was the life of Deng Yingchao. Let us, too, strive with a wholehearted desire to work for the happiness of our friends and the realization of kosen-rufu to the end of our days. Zhou Enlai said: “The source of power is the people. Ultimately, all victories are achieved by drawing on the power of the people.” The source of the Soka Gakkai’s victories, too, is the power of the people. They are due to the efforts of our members striving hard on the front lines of the organization. They are due to the efforts of all of you who have striven to encourage your friends and to spread the Mystic Law. The Soka Gakkai is a great, noble organization of the people foremost in the entire world, a network of faith that has spread from one ordinary person to another and has triumphed in all endeavors through hearts united as one. The power of those who wield authority in society is insidious and evanescent. There is nothing nobler than the people and nothing stronger. Because we are a people’s organization, Premier Zhou valued and trusted the Soka Gakkai. It is time for youth to courageously inherit the ‘shakubuku’ spirit of the pioneers. Today, we also have with us a great mother of kosen-rufu all the way from Brazil. She is a Rio de Janeiro Chapter advisor. Thank you very much. She embraced faith in Nichiren Buddhism 26 years ago and has personally introduced a total of 485 households to this practice. She has simply prayed with the powerful desire to share the Mystic Law with those who are suffering and continued to talk to others about Buddhism with sincerity and courage. When we include the households introduced by her husband, who died three years ago, and her three children, the number exceeds 730. The family has also made available a fine private community center for use by the local members. She is here with her son, who has inherited her spirit of faith. Let us sincerely applaud this noble mother of kosen-rufu of Brazil and her entire family. Obrigado! [“Thank you” in Portuguese] In Japan and countries around the world, there are many such treasures of kosen-rufu to be found. I hope you will always remember this. They have tirelessly striven to advance kosenrufu—the most noble undertaking there is for a human being. These are people who have made outstanding contributions. Their achievements are far more valuable than any other secular accomplishment. I ask the youth to courageously inherit the shakubuku spirit of such respectworthy mothers and fathers of kosen-rufu. I wish to entrust the youth with the full responsibility for the Soka Gakkai’s next generation!