Ikeda-kun's Classmate  

By Mona Sadhwani  

Many years ago, some friends invited me for dinner and asked me to help them shakubuku their friend, whom I shall refer to as Mr. Y. They really wanted him to chant because he had been diagnosed with cancer.  

Mr. Y was a very nice Japanese gentleman and I figured him to be in his 60's. We had a very enjoyable dinner. We shared a lot of jokes and laughs. He told me about his family, his successful business, and his lovely vacation home. I talked to him about my life, Buddhism, and Ikeda Sensei. Mr. Y was very polite and listened very carefully to what I had to say.  

He then looked me straight in the eye and said, "I understand how you feel about Ikeda Sensei. You feel that he is a great man, and I can see that not only do you respect and admire him, but his works as well. However, I regret to inform you, that he is not the man who you think he is. You see, I know that because I know him very well. He was my classmate in school for many years. It is impossible that he does all those things you claim that he did. During our school days, he didn't have many friends, because he was sick all the time. He used to be absent a lot and when he did come to school, he would sit very quietly in the back and read. In other words, he was your basic school nerd. As the class leader and sports captain, I tried to get him to participate more, but he was so weak. So you see, I know him, and I know that the Ikeda-kun (kun in Japan is a title that is added to young Japanese boys) I knew, cannot be the Ikeda Sensei that you claim him to be."  

I replied to him with two words: "Thank you". He looked surprised. He said "What do you mean by ‘Thank you’? I have told this story to several Gakkai people and they are always ready to argue with me. You sit there, sipping your sake, and say ‘Thank you’?"  

I told him. "Ikeda Sensei himself tells us in the Human Revolution how he was sick as a young boy. You have just proven to me that he is not a liar. More importantly, you have just proven to me the power of the Gohonzon. If a man like Ikeda-kun can become Ikeda Sensei, I wonder how much more a class leader like Y-Kun could become. Too often, people make the mistake of criticizing Sensei or the organization; what they forget is that we become Buddhists because we want to become happy. That the Gohonzon and chanting are powerful enough to change ourselves and our karma. According to your words, Sensei really changed his karma and also did a lot of human revolution; try as I might, I cannot imagine Sensei in the corner in the back. You have just given me tremendous hope on what I can do and become. I respect Sensei because he helps me keep the fire of my belief burning; but, in the end, it is only my own chanting and Gohonzon that can change my karma. Even though I am telling you ‘thank you,’ don't forget that even you can achieve human revolution by chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo."  

We ended up the evening with promises to meet again. Mr. Y invited me to his vacation home and I promised that I would visit. I went home and chanted that somehow I would be able to shakubuku him. Hey, I even had visions of maybe meeting all of Sensei's classmates and shakubukuing all of them. But alas, that was not to be. Before I had a chance to visit Mr. Y again, his illness became very serious and he passed away. According to my friends, the last words he said were "Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo."  

To read this experience in Spanish, go here