Laying the groundwork may sound unexciting and lack the brilliance that attracts people’s attention. However, such painstaking work is indispensable and extremely important. Once the foundation is solidified, on it you can construct anything."
The following is the text of a speech given by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda at the SGI-USA Representatives Conference commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of SGI-USA, on February 13.
The thirtieth anniversary of SGI-USA’s founding is a truly significant milestone. I hope this conference will be a memorable occasion, filled with aspiration for the future.
Today I would like to talk briefly on five points that I hope you will always bear in mind.
In the first place, please advance steadily with the awareness that you are now building a foundation for the next thousand years of the kosen-rufu movement in the United States. There is no need to be impatient. Anything that is accomplished quickly and easily will not long endure. Now is the time to concentrate on the construction of a solid foundation. I hope you will complete this work slowly but surely, filled with hope and joy.
Laying the groundwork may sound unexciting and lack the brilliance that attracts people’s attention. However, such painstaking work is indispensable and extremely important. Once the foundation is solidified, on it you can construct anything. Please remember that the task of building the foundation of the castle of the Law, which will endure for a thousand years, is in the hands of the current generation of SGI-USA members. For my part, I will spare no effort in supporting you in any way I can.
The second point that I want to make is that capable people are the greatest treasure. Without capable people neither the eternal establishment of the Law nor kosen-rufu can be achieved. First of all you must "find" capable people. Just as a miner searches for gold ore in ordinary rocks, you have to look for members who possess great potential, and then work to develop their ability with your heart and soul.
Prayer is most fundamental in raising capable people. You should pray earnestly to the Gohonzon that the person you have found will become an able person important to SGI-USA. And then, with this prayer, you take the utmost care to help that person develop himself.
In Japan, among the many people in the organization, there have been some who, on account of sloppiness in financial matters and other aspects of their daily lives, forsook their faith and left the pure and harmonious world of the Soka Gakkai.
However, never have I allowed anyone whom I decided to raise to fall out of the ranks. Once I have found capable people, even among older individuals who were disciples of President Makiguchi or President Toda, I have done my best to thoroughly protect and develop them. The capable people I have raised are now active as pillars of the kosen-rufu movement in all areas of society.
You should sincerely respect capable people and raise them with the determination to make them even more outstanding and abler than you are yourself. Looking down on one’s juniors or exploiting them for personal gain is an offense comparable to that of slandering the Law. Please remember that one who raises capable people is great. Such a person is truly capable and important.
The third point concerns holding joyful meetings and conducting dialogue that is imbued with joy and wisdom. By making these your mottoes and living up to them, SGI-USA can become an exemplary organization for kosen-rufu.
The raison d’etre of the world of faith is to help people become happy. In essence, it is a gathering of supreme freedom and joy. No one has the right to reprimand and cause suffering for others. Nor is anyone obliged to let himself be reproved and made to feel badly.
For example, whether or not someone succeeds in helping others take faith in the teachings of Buddhism, the simple fact that he or she practices is in itself most praiseworthy. If one can feel heartfelt joy in being able to expound the Law and share it with others, his blessings will increase still further. Joyfully engaging in propagation and further activities — this is the spirit of Buddhism.
Again, no matter what difficulties you may have, when you go to a meeting and see friends, you feel relief and a sense of joy, and your heart becomes filled with hope. It is my sincere hope that you hold wonderful meetings of this kind — happy gatherings where friends warmly pat each other on the back, encourage one another and share their joys and sorrows.
My wish is that SGI-USA will become an organization overflowing with smiles, friendship and humanity. I hope that all of you, without a single exception, will lead lives of the greatest fulfillment and joy.
Intellect will play a very important role in the coming age. By intellect, I mean refined wisdom, clear reasoning, profound philosophy, and broad-ranging knowledge. We are entering an age when the people will develop their intelligence and wisdom, infusing society with their new outlook.
This is the course that [SGI organizations in] Japan and many other countries today are following. I ask that SGI-USA also make efforts along these lines.
Fourth, you must respect those who are fighting for kosen-rufu, irrespective of their race or nationality.
There are many differences, for instance, between the cultures, climates, and social systems of Japan and the United States. Therefore, it is only natural that there might be differences in how kosen-rufu is advanced in the two countries.
Fundamentally speaking, however, infinite variety derives from the one Law, and the true entity of life — as described by the one hundred worlds and one thousand factors as well as ichinen sanzen — is the same in all societies. Viewed from this dimension, it is important that we respect anyone who is struggling on the forefront of our movement for kosen-rufu. This attitude will become a great driving force behind the spread of the Mystic Law.
President Toda once said, "If you fail to respect those who are fighting for kosen-rufu, you will be unable to develop correct faith and there will be no development in the organization that you are leading." In this sense, I ask that you receive guidance on what is important for advancing kosen-rufu.
Fifth, I would like you to forge ahead, always taking good care of your health. All of you are extremely precious children of the Buddha who are dedicated to the cause of kosen-rufu. Nothing would be more regrettable than for you to impair your health.
Therefore, I ask that you maintain a rhythm in your daily life and get ample rest. Things that you volunteer to undertake on your own initiative aside, there is no need to overstrain yourself at the expense of your health on account of organizational pressures.
I sincerely hope that you will devote yourself to kosen-rufu and Buddhism while living with a correct rhythm and carrying out meaningful and enjoyable activities. Please establish a splendid life. I would like to conclude my speech with my prayers that you will be able to open up a path for the prosperity of your families.