SGI President Ikeda’s New Year’s Message for 2015
Spreading Our Hope-Filled Philosophy throughout the World
We have ushered in the Year of Dynamic Development in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, committed to spreading the SGI’s hope-filled philosophy of respect for the dignity of life even more widely throughout our blue planet, the grand stage of our endeavors.
All of you, the members of the SGI, are striving earnestly to contribute to the welfare of society as good citizens in the respective places of your mission. Wishing each of you peace and happiness in the year ahead, I pray that you will make 2015 a truly meaningful year of dynamic development filled with good fortune, health, and joy.
It was 740 years ago, in a troubled age when society was racked by war and natural disasters, that Nichiren Daishonin wrote: “Can there be any doubt that, . . . the great pure Law of the Lotus Sutra [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] will be spread far and wide throughout Japan and all the other countries of Jambudvipa [the entire world]?”(WND-1, 550). This was the unshakable conviction and monumental vision of the Daishonin, who wished for the peace and happiness of all humankind. And we of the SGI have affirmed this conviction and made his vision a reality.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, a conflict that resulted in unprecedented destruction and loss of life.
On July 3, 1945, just before the war came to an end in Japan, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda was released from prison. Along with his mentor, first president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, he had been arrested and detained for opposing Japan’s militarist authorities, refusing to compromise his beliefs. As the true disciple of Mr. Makiguchi, who died in prison, Mr. Toda stood up amid the ruins of war-ravaged Japan. He declared his intent to relieve people of suffering, asserting that the time to embark on kosen-rufu and change the destiny of humankind had arrived.
Recalling this courageous declaration that Mr. Toda made seven decades ago, let us further strengthen and solidify our network of global citizens built on friendship and trust, transcending differences of ethnicity and culture, as we aim for the dynamic development of kosen-rufu—that is, the peace and harmonious coexistence of all humankind.
Last year, I published a dialogue with the Australian peace scholar and poet Stuart Rees. In it, Dr. Rees speaks of a photograph taken in Sydney (in 2000) of Nelson Mandela (1918–2013), who was a dear friend of mine. The photograph shows Mr. Mandela smiling as he commends the achievements of two Australian women who had worked tirelessly to advance the cause of human rights and peace.
Dr. Rees shared that one of these women, Dr. Stella Cornelius (1919–2010), founder of the Conflict Resolution Network, constantly encouraged people to say “and” rather than “but.” She did this, he explained, based on her awareness that while “but” tends to be a preface to pessimistic remarks, “and” is more likely to be followed by positive words that offer a constructive solution to a problem.1
Certainly, when faced with a difficult challenge, people are likely to give in to feelings of powerlessness, saying, “I’d like to try, but it’s not realistic” or “I wish I could, but the
1 Cf. Stuart Rees and Daisaku Ikeda, Heiwa no Tetsugaku to Shi-gokoro o Kataru (A Dialogue on Peace Philosophy and the Poetic Spirit), (Tokyo: Daisanbunmei-sha, 2014), p. 277. The remarks of Dr. Rees are based on his original English text.
conditions aren’t right.” This approach does not engender the hope for moving forward.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The three obstacles and four devils will invariably appear, and the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat” (WND-1, 637). When we encounter adversity, do we retreat, our hearts filled with fear, or do we face it with optimism and courage? The Mystic Law is the source of the ultimate power and wisdom for all people to brim with the courage of the wise and keep forging ahead, never fearing, despairing, or giving up.
A victorious drama of human revolution unfolds when we take a step forward with determined prayer and boundless life force.
Fifty-five years ago (in October 1960), I set forth on my journey for worldwide kosen-rufu. I began my struggle by wholeheartedly encouraging each person right in front of me—whether in Hawaii or in other parts of the United States, Canada, and Brazil—taking that first step together in human revolution.
Wherever I went around the world, I fervently chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as if to permeate the land with my daimoku, praying that Bodhisattvas of the Earth would joyfully emerge there someday. I also sincerely endeavored to enable all whom I met to form a connection with Buddhism.
The SGI was founded four decades ago at the First World Peace Conference, held in Guam on January 26, 1975. On that occasion, I remarked: “It could be said that this is a small conference, a gathering of nameless people from various countries and territories. But I believe that today’s gathering will shine brilliantly in history for centuries to come, and your names will no doubt be engraved not only in the annals of the worldwide spread of Buddhism but in human history, as well.”
Representatives of 51 countries and territories were at that meeting. Today, the mighty river of kosen-rufu has grown to embrace 192 countries and territories, and the Buddhism of the sun is illuminating the world. The seeds of the Mystic Law are blossoming as flowers of happiness, and the names of our members, who have made untold contributions to world peace, shine ever more brightly.
On the Balkan Peninsula in Europe, the scene of terrible ethnic strife during the 1990s, SGI members are now sharing our activities with others and spreading our humanistic network. Lively discussion meetings, characterized by beautiful unity in diversity, are being held, and many new members, especially young people, are joining the SGI.
I am happy and delighted to see our members there working together to change their personal destiny and also the destiny of society.
Praying together, encouraging one another, striving to bring forth their own and others’ Buddha nature, the highest and most positive potential inherent in life—this, I believe with all my heart, is the surest and soundest way to build peace in our world where war and violence continue to rage unabated.
Prof. Kim Chong-suh of Seoul National University, former president of the Korean Association for Religious Studies, has said that the criterion for determining a religion’s merits is not the length of its history. Rather, he asserts, it is the particular religion’s
effectiveness in truly helping those who are suffering. The SGI has reached out and helped many overcome their sufferings, which is why it continues to grow, he concludes.2
With unshakable faith and compassion, you, our SGI members, are chanting for the
happiness of others and actively engaging in value-creating dialogue. You are striving as good citizens to promote social flourishing and world peace. This makes you the treasures of your communities and of global society.
Over a year has passed since the completion of the Hall of the Great Vow for
Kosen-rufu in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. Members from throughout Japan and around the world are joyfully gathering day after day in this magnificent citadel imbued with the shared vow of mentor and disciple.
In November last year, I had an unforgettable encounter there with participants of the
SGI Autumn Training Course. Their eyes shone with a noble vow and commitment, with powerful determination and undefeatable joy. They are all leaders solidly united with their fellow members striving for kosen-rufu in their respective communities. In meeting them, Ifelt as if I was meeting all of my fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth throughout the world.
This year, marking the 40th anniversary of the SGI’s founding, is an important year in which Nichiren Buddhism will continue to develop dynamically as a world religion.
The Daishonin calls out to his disciples: “You must summon up the great power of faith more than ever” (WND-1, 1000).
Determined to exert ourselves “more than ever,” let’s set forth and challenge ourselves anew in this Year of Dynamic Development in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, striving together harmoniously with courage and hope.
My dearest and most precious fellow members, I wish you and your families good
health, happiness, and victory in the coming year.
Soka Gakkai International
2 From an article in the Seikyo Shimbun, June 10, 2014.