"You are the pioneers of kosen-rufu in your respective countries and communities. The blessings that you will accumulate are as great as the ocean or a huge mountain, and they will continue to grow limitlessly as the sphere of kosen-rufu expands."
The following is a summary of guidance given by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda at the Second SGI Pan-American Joint Conference held in Minuteman Hall on the grounds of Soka University, Los Angeles (SULA), February 15.
I am overjoyed to see all of you at this meeting despite your busy schedules. I know that many of you must have traveled great distances to be here. With profound admiration and respect, I welcome each of you, a precious child of the Buddha.
As you know, I originally planned to make stops in several South American countries. However, I changed my itinerary because I wanted to focus my efforts on North America this time. I offer my most sincere apologies for this sudden change. From the bottom of my heart, I am praying for the great success of the Tenth World Peace Youth Culture Festival in Brazil and other important events soon to take place. Because I feel that this meeting is like a family gathering, I would like to speak to you today in an informal manner.
All of you are noble forerunners in your respective countries and communities, and the benefits to which you are entitled are immeasurable. This calls to mind a passage from the Gosho "Letter to Myomitsu Shonin."
Although this letter was addressed to a male believer, Nichiren Daishoninís guidance is directed to his wife as well. When the Daishonin wrote to a follower, male or female, he never failed to show great consideration for the personís spouse. The Daishonin respected both men and women equally. Where such an attitude is present ó in the household as well as in the organization ó there is solid growth.
The Gosho reads: "As first one person, then two persons, then a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, and then all the people throughout the country come to chant daimoku, before you know it their blessings will accumulate in your person. Those blessings will be like the drops of dew that gather to form the great ocean or the specks of dust that pile up to become Mount Sumeru" (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 5, p. 203).
As this passage indicates, although at the outset the membership in your country may be small, the Mystic Law will spread without fail when the right time arrives. Thus, there is no need for you to be impatient. If you can achieve something very easily right from the start, you will find no sense of fulfillment or joy. It is in making tenacious, all-out efforts for construction that profound happiness lies.
You are the pioneers of kosen-rufu in your respective countries and communities. The blessings that you will accumulate are as great as the ocean or a huge mountain, and they will continue to grow limitlessly as the sphere of kosen-rufu expands. How fortunate we are and how marvelous is the Mystic Law!
In a letter to the Ikegami brothers and their wives, who had begun practicing during the initial stage of the Daishoninís propagation activities, Nichiren Daishonin states, "Even if other men and women become my believers in the future, they will not replace you in my heart" (MW-1, p. 147). These words of the original Buddha suggest the immeasurable value of pioneers.
For pioneers, hardships and sufferings are inevitable. However, the fact that they have blazed a trail and the growth that they achieve as a result are undeniable achievements. This is indicated by the sutra passage "If you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present" (MW-2, pp. 197-198).
There is no doubt that with the passage of time, and in lifetime after lifetime, you will enjoy immense good fortune welling forth from the depths of your life. You will enjoy both material and spiritual happiness and develop a profound state of life. Some of you may become great leaders in society; others distinguished scholars or master artists ó all working to further advance kosen-rufu. In every lifetime throughout the 10,000 years of the Latter Day of the Law, you will be able to live such full and fulfilling lives. Please be convinced of the great blessings that you will enjoy in your present and future existences. Firm confidence in this will enable you to elevate yourself to an even higher plane.
Because there are many youth division representatives present today, I would like to discuss a number of points that I hope will prove of value for them as they make their way through life.
When I was a youth of twenty-two or twenty-three, my life was filled with storms of difficulty. I alone continued to follow President Toda when his business endeavors had ended in failure. Around that time, I had the opportunity to speak with three people who had themselves received a great deal of assistance from my mentor.
One of them said to me: "You better stop working for Toda.... Itís foolish to push yourself so hard that you damage your health." Though deeply indebted to president Toda, this individual thanklessly repaid him with such words of derogation. He later suffered from mental depression and lived in misery.
The second person I talked to urged me to follow him rather than Mr. Toda, and to work for his company instead. At the time he was well off, but his life later took a downhill course.
The third person said to me: This is the very time that you should support Mr. Toda. You must never harbor doubts about the Gohonzon. That person dedicated himself to the cause of kosen-rufu until the end of his life. He was right and became happy in all aspects of his life.
These three people each approached me with different words and attitudes, reflecting their own way of living and, by extension, the future course of their lives. And each thereby revealed his true colors. The human weakness and strength that I then observed left an indelible impression on my mind. This unforgettable experience has influenced my outlook ever since.
On the surface, President Toda appeared to be a loser at that time; however, I had firm belief in his mission. In a sense, oneís life will be determined by the person whom he follows as a youth. If you get aboard an airplane bound for Beijing when you want to go to Los Angeles, you will never reach your destination; you cannot disembark midway once you are on board. To give up halfway in your practice of faith is like disembarking from an airplane that is in mid-flight.
In a letter to Shijo Kingo, Nichiren Daishonin states, "Because you showed your devotion by accompanying me (to Tatsunokuchi), you will no doubt become a Buddha" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 1184). With these words, the Daishonin praises this faithful disciple who, during the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, accompanied him to his would-be execution site and pledged to die at his side.
For my part, I was firmly convinced that because President Toda was the great leader of kosen-rufu, to protect him was to protect kosen-rufu and the Great Pure Law. In fact, because I alone remained with and supported him during that difficult time, I was able to expand my state of life far more than others were.
Nichiren Daishonin states in "The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream," "Alone, Shakyamuni continued his practice and became the Buddha" (MW-3, 288). Those monks who initially practiced with Siddhartha later abandoned him, but the future Buddha concentrated on his pursuit of enlightenment.
Climbing a mountain entails difficulty. And the higher the mountain is, the greater are the difficulties that a climber faces. However, once he reaches the summit, he will be able to savor a state of mind far greater than that attained by those who handily climb lesser peaks.
I hope that all of you become people of courage who, even if you were to be deserted by others, would persevere in the way of faith that you have determined to follow to the very end of your lives, no matter what difficulties may arise. If there is even one such person of genuine faith, waves of kosen-rufu will spread far and wide.
President Toda detested formality. And for this reason, as his disciple, I have tried to place foremost emphasis on substance. Formalities are important in certain cases, but mere formality that lacks substance is an evil. Formalities in and of themselves have no life, whereas substance is alive. Formality is conventional and therefore conservative, but substance provides the impetus for progress and development.
Suppose a meeting is held. If a person is caught up with formality, concerned only about how many people attend or whether the meeting goes off without a hitch, he loses sight of substance. This is a sign of failure as a leader.
Even if the participants are few, if they are convinced of the greatness of faith and feel joy, thereby deepening their confidence in the Gohonzon, the meeting is a success. In this case, you are focusing on substance. Lets say, for example, there are only three people at a meeting, but when they pray to the Gohonzon, read the Gosho and inspire one another, their lives are illuminated by the flame of faith. From the standpoint of Buddhism, such a meeting is a great success.
On the other hand, even though thousands may attend a meeting, and it may proceed smoothly and with an air of grandeur, if it does not inspire the joy of faith in the hearts of members, in the last analysis it is a vast and pointless charade.
Our meetings are held neither for the sake of leaders nor for the sake of the organization. They are intended to awaken and support the development of individual members. Both an organization and its leadership exist for the sake of individuals. This accords with the teachings of Buddhism. If, instead, individuals are manipulated to serve the needs of an organization and its leadership, the spirit of Buddhism is contradicted. In Buddhism, such a perverse relationship between the organization or leadership and the individual will block the power of the Law, stop the flow of benefits and stifle the development of kosen-rufu. Giving warm encouragement and care to each person is the basis for victory.
The organization is a gathering of human beings, a network of individuals. If a leader feels that his organization is dull and lifeless, unable to produce remarkable results, in reality this is an indication of his and the individual memberís states of life.
If, blinded by the mirage of an organization, a leader tries to operate by giving orders and applying pressure, nothing will change, because no spontaneous or genuine power will be generated among the people who make up that body. We must understand the subtle character of peoplesí hearts.
It is essential that you address everyone with sincerity and compassion as an equal, carefully taking into account their individual capacities and circumstances and seek to give them a sense of satisfaction and assurance. As you continue making such efforts, you will definitely see great improvement.
The main point is to enable a single member to stand up by imparting heartfelt assurance and understanding. It is the explosion of faith in the microcosm of an individual that causes the macrocosm of the organization ó a gathering of many such individuals ó to commence its revolution. This is how the doctrine of ichinen sanzen applies to our practice.
Lastly, I hope that young people, with rich and apt powers of critical evaluation in all matters, will always advance toward higher and greater targets, never allowing themselves to become complacent with their present circumstances. On the other hand, as far as the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and the Gosho are concerned, I hope that, regarding them as absolutely correct, you will first and foremost strive to put them into practice. I urge you to do so because this is the shortest route to understanding the essence of Buddhism from the depths of your life.
The Ongi Kuden (Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings) states, "Belief is like [the money equal to] the treasure and wisdom is like the treasure [to be bought with it]" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 725). For example, with one dollar of belief you can only obtain but one dollarís worth of wisdom, but if you summon forth 10,000 or one million dollarsí worth of belief, the wisdom and power you can obtain will increase in like measure. Limitless belief gives rise to limitless wisdom.
I hope that you will be people of firm belief; as such, you will never find yourself in a deadlock. At the same time, as people rich in wisdom, please live up to your mission with complete satisfaction so that you can adorn your existence with the greatest brilliance and joy.
In a very short period of practice, we create benefits and memories that will last forever. On the other hand, you can practice for a long time without seeing any results to justify your efforts. I am confident that with this gathering of the family of the Americas today, we have taken another valuable step that will shine eternally in the annals of kosen-rufu.
Every day I earnestly pray for your happiness, good health and long lives as well as for the peace and prosperity of your respective countries. These prayers never leave my mind. I would like to conclude my greetings with my hope that you will lead lives of the greatest joy and contentment.