read Mr & Mrs Ikeda's message for Soka Gakkai Foundation Day
November 18, 2010 —Marking the 80th Anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s Founding
I’d like to congratulate all of you, my dear fellow SGI members, on your festive meeting to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding. My wife and I, here at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters, are thinking of you and picturing your bright faces and happy smiles as you gather for this memorable event.
In a letter to his followers who remained steadfast in their faith despite government oppression during the Atsuhara Persecution, Nichiren Daishonin writes:
Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion king and never succumb to threats from anyone. The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs. Slanderers are like barking foxes, but Nichiren’s followers are like roaring lions. (WND-1, 997)
The history of the first 80 years of the Soka Gakkai exemplifies this noble spirit. The Soka Gakkai began on November 18, 1930, from just two individuals—founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and his disciple Josei Toda. Fourteen years later, on November 18, 1944, President Makiguchi died in prison for his beliefs, a victim of the repressive wartime crackdown on freedom of belief by the Japanese militarist authorities. Mr. Toda, who had been arrested alongside his mentor, survived the ordeal of imprisonment and went on to rebuild the Soka Gakkai. He later entrusted the organization’s future to me as his successor, declaring shortly before his death (in April 1958): “Kosen-rufu can definitely be achieved if there is even one young person who is willing to give their life to it wholeheartedly.”
The heritage of Nichiren Daishonin’s compassion and courage, his commitment to enabling ordinary people to attain enlightenment, was revived in modern times through the selfless dedication to propagating the Law embodied by the first three presidents, linked by the profound bonds of mentor and disciple. The essence of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism began to flow vibrantly in the unsurpassed spirit of mentor and disciple that now pervades the SGI. Today, our movement has spread to 192 countries and territories around the globe, a development I am sure would bring immense joy to Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda.
Buddhism is win or lose. The Daishonin writes: “Strengthen your faith day by day and month after month. Should you slacken in your resolve even a bit, devils will take advantage” (WND-1, 997). I hope all of our members will heed these words, arouse strong faith, and together with me write a heroic, golden history of life in this world as they work for the sake of others’ happiness, kosen-rufu, society, as well as their own happiness.
We are living in a time that is undergoing swift and often turbulent change. Life is an uninterrupted series of struggles. Some of you may now be facing daunting challenges and hardships in your families or places of work. By practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism, however, we can transform our karma and change poison into medicine. Nothing that happens in the lives of those who are striving earnestly in faith is without meaning.
When the Daishonin faced life-threatening persecution and was exiled to the remote island of Sado, he wrote that this development perhaps actually saved him from losing his life in armed conflict that subsequently broke out in Kamakura. Even if we should encounter some unanticipated hardship, the Daishonin confidently assures us: “Great disaster without fail changes into great fortune” (WND-1, 824). Those who remain steadfast in their Buddhist practice will be victorious in the end.
All of you are exerting yourselves for kosen-rufu, striving for world peace based on the humanistic ideals of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. You are all incredibly precious and respectworthy individuals, and you are sure to receive protection from all Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the positive forces of the universe embodied in the Gohonzon. Moreover, the good fortune and benefit you accumulate through faith are sure to flow on to your family and loved ones as well as your descendants in future generations, contributing to their happiness and prosperity.
Just as countless bodhisattvas emerged from beneath the earth in the Lotus Sutra and astonished and impressed the assembly with their dignified appearance, now youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth are emerging in ever increasing numbers around the globe. Like the flow of a mighty river that nourishes the earth as it advances along its course, the second act of worldwide kosen-rufu is moving steadily and surely forward.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: Those who become Nichiren’s disciples and lay believers should realize the profound karmic relationship they share with him and spread the Lotus Sutra as he does. Being known as a votary of the Lotus Sutra is a bitter, yet unavoidable, destiny. (WND-1, 994)
Those who take action for kosen-rufu with this awareness and commitment—no matter where they are or what their circumstances or age—all share a profound connection with the Daishonin and possess a noble mission.
With powerful daimoku, unquenchable courage, and youthful vitality, let’s embark together on a fresh, vigorous advance toward the coming Year of Capable People and Dynamic Development and the triumphant 100th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai in 2030!
My wife and I are praying earnestly every day for the good health, long life, and happiness of all our beloved SGI members around the world. Please stay well.
In commemoration of November 18, 2010