Soka Spirit
No. 117 Gorbachev Praises SGI

Jan. 11, 2002

The Justice Chronicle, provided by Soka Gakkai International-USA, is a free monthly e-mail in support of the Soka Spirit movement. Soka Spirit is the SGI’s educational effort to create value and deepen our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism through increased awareness of issues surrounding the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and the spiritual foundation of the SGI movement.


On Dec. 13, 2001, in Paris¹ France, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev held a press conference to announce plans for a joint project between his environmental foundation, Green Cross International¹ and UNESCO. With more than 200 members of the French media, publishers and scholars in attendance, Mr. Gorbachev took the opportunity to report the release of his new books, including a dialogue he conducted with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, Dialogues pour la paix¿ (Dialogue for Peace).

The French parliament is currently pressuring the government and court system to crack down on sects — the term used in France to describe cults. A parliamentary commission has for some time deemed that the Soka Gakkai ranks among the most dangerous of such sects. Mr. Gorbachev was asked by one French reporter whether he was aware that Mr. Ikeda was a controversial figure in Japan, and whether his association with the SGI leader would have a negative impact upon him. The former Soviet president replied that Mr. Ikeda had engaged in dialogue with a large number of other well-known and likeminded individuals in the past. In his view, the Soka Gakkai was a democratic organization in the Buddhist world. He acknowledged that President Ikeda was the subject of considerable controversy, but went on to describe him as a man with a deep sense of humanism who has consistently supported the United Nations. He further noted that Mr. Ikeda was the target of numerous charges as a result of his longstanding criticism of Japanese politics, and dismissed the accusations as groundless.

When asked by Florence Lacroix, a French scholar and vocal critic of the Soka Gakkai, whether GCI had received financial support from Mr. Ikeda, Mr. Gorbachev said the foundation, which experienced some financing difficulties in the past, has managed to survive through honoraria and grants provided by supporters, not including the SGI president. Mr. Ikeda has not supported the GCI financially, he said. The press conference was covered by the major dailies and TV networks, including France 2, which aired a special program highly critical of the Soka Gakkai in 2000.


The following is an excerpt from a speech President Ikeda gave at a youth training meeting, held at Soka University of America in Calabasas, Calif.¹ on Oct. 1, 1991.


Buddhism’s mission must be to impart dynamism to the society and the age in which it is practiced and to the people who practice it. In one of his lectures, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda once fielded this question: You said Buddhism became extinct in India and China, yet many sutras still exist in these countries, don’t they?

President Toda spoke forcefully: There may be sutras, but sutras are by no means Buddhism. They are just books! For without faith, sutras are nothing more than books. No matter how many sutras and temples there may be in these countries, their Buddhism is already dead.

For example, even though a temple may possess original writings in Nichiren Daishonin’s own hand, if that temple embarks on a heretical course, then it does not possess the lifeblood of the Daishonin’s Buddhism. The lifeblood of Buddhism exists only in the correct faith actually manifested in people’s lives. Correct faith — the vehicle of the lifeblood of Buddhism — is transmitted through the mentor-disciple relationship. Only when we follow the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin can we perpetuate the pure flow of the Daishonin’s Buddhism for eternity. Should we follow the corrupt stream of Niko, who betrayed his mentor’s teachings, we would commit the serious offense of destroying the heart of Buddhism.

The traitorous Niko attempted to destroy the Daishonin’s Buddhism in many ways. Nikko Shonin, meanwhile, though having to endure the insult of being called a non-Buddhist, strictly abided by his mentor’s teaching and protected the lifeblood of Buddhism. This contrast is a mirror that reflects the truth, now and always.

I sincerely hope that you, my young friends, will develop the SGI organization in the United States into the foremost in the world. Please take good care of the center of the worldwide kosen-rufu movement. Thank you and congratulations on today’s gathering.

This concludes this series.