Soka Spirit
No. 125 Religion is the Stronghold

March 8, 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.


This is an excerpt from a series of informal discussions between SGI President Ikeda and various SGI members in 1994. It originally appeared in the Nov. 21 1994, World Tribune.


Religion is the stronghold, the final bastion of the people’s spiritual freedom and independence. If this last bastion falls, the imbalance of power will run rampant throughout all areas of human activity, making for an oppressive society. This problem affects all.

We must ensure that the common people are eternally free from domination by evil tyrants. The people are the base upon which all things rest, the most important factor. A power that does not rely on political authorities, that is unswayed by them, is to be found in the power of humanity, of unity and of democracy. We must never allow this power to be diminished. This is the profound signifigance of the Buddhism of human revolution, which stimulates and nurtures this human power to the highest degree.

A religion that does not allow itself to be enslaved threatens the authorities. Meanwhile, a religious group that has become a slave to the authorities hates any living religion that seeks to bring spiritual independence to the people. Throughout history, we have seen political authorities and self-seeking religions join forces to oppress the people. This was also true in Nichiren Daishonin’s day.

The Encouraging Devotion (13th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra presents the well-known doctrine of the three powerful enemies of Buddhism. I’ll leave it to you to study the details on your own, but the second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda, used to explain the three powerful enemies as follows: When neighbors say nasty things [about this Buddhism and its practitioners], that’s an example of the first enemy — lay people ignorant of Buddhism. When priests defame the Law and its practitioners, that’s an example of the second — arrogant and cunning priests. And when a person looked up to in society as a great leader joins forces with the authorities and persecutes the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, that’s an example of the third — false saints.

I will never forget something [else] that President Toda once said: I will tell you when we can accomplish kosen-rufu. It will happen when the three powerful enemies make their appearance. The time will be especially ripe for kosen-rufu when the third group — false saints — appear. They are the most frightening of the three enemies. Yet I shall rejoice when they appear. I would like you all to feel the same. When that time comes, let us fight with all our might.

Those who fight courageously when the challenge is greatest will realize a truly profound transformation in their life-conditions.

Parting ways with the priesthood, which had become a slave of the government, the Soka Gakkai founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, fought against the ruling oppressive powers of the day. He once said: There is a saying that if particles of dust accumulate long enough, they will form a mountain. But in fact no mountain has ever been formed from particles of dust. The most that they might be able to produce is a small mound. True mountains have always been formed by momentous and sudden changes in the earth.

To really change one’s life, transform it at the very core, we must struggle against great evil. It cannot be achieved by merely accumulating many small good deeds like so many minute particles of dust. Only in battling against great evil can the mountain of great good, of benefit and fortune, be built.

When President Toda’s business failed and was facing grave difficulties, I risked my life in the struggle to help and support him. And in so doing, I firmly believe I created the cause for my own good fortune, which is now as vast as a great mountain and shines with the brilliance of the sun.

This concludes this series.


This series contains excerpts of speeches SGI President Ikeda made in the United States which relate to Soka Spirit and are contained in the book My Dear Friends in America.


The author Elie Wiesel, with whom I met the other day (Sept. 25, 1991), said in relating his experience in Nazi concentration camps that it is essential that religion contribute to humankind. I sensed his fervent conviction behind these words.

In contrast, the belief that people should serve religion leads to fanaticism and the creation of hell. I believe that this was the professor’s sentiment when he told me of his experience. Professor Wiesel said: The original purpose of religion is to unite not separate people. At the same time, however, we must not forget the fact that, during the past few centuries, religion has perpetrated a history of bloodshed in the name of God. For that reason, religion now requires a re-humanization.

I believe that the world is seeking a re-humanization of religion. As long as human beings exist, there will always be some kind of religious spirit. For this reason, the humanization of religion must form the core for the humanization of the world.

Let us continue to spread the ideals of humanism throughout the world through our open activities of promoting peace, culture and education based on Buddhism. The time has come when humankind must choose hope toward humanizing the world.

What, then, is fanaticism? Dr. Tillich once described the psychological foundation of fanaticism as the suppression of doubt, saying: Those who choose or prefer the repression of their questions to their uncertainty are referred to as fanatic. Led to the frontier of other thinking or belief, they fall back on old certainties. Thus they show aggression toward autonomous thought, aiming to bring into subjection new possibilities.

To illustrate, it is like the case of people who, while inwardly aware that the SGI is correct in its activities, suppress that understanding, insisting to themselves that these are not their feelings. Instead they attack those who express outward support for the organization and the movement it is promoting.

Such fanatics abominate most of all those who show outward support because they upset the fanatics’ minds, which are bereft of conviction and stability. In fact, such people feel anger and revulsion toward their own inward feelings.

Thus fanatics attack other people, seeking to make them like themselves, or, where this is not possible, they try to destroy them. I think that Tillich’s analysis shows profound insight.

A glimpse at the psychological make-up of such people reveals that they are deeply unhappy and to be pitied. Such people caustically attack the children of the Buddha, seeking to bend them to their will. If unable to do so, they then attempt to destroy their conviction and undermine their confident advance.

Also, fanatic people are characterized by their refusal to enter into dialogue. Discussion is impossible for fanatics. If they were to earnestly discuss contested issues, their repression of their own questions would become untenable.

In other words, because inwardly they are highly unstable, like a tottering structure made of building blocks, they spurn the company of, and have no desire to talk to, persons who may upset their inner balance. Correct faith, however, can be cultivated only in the kind of atmosphere where anything at all may be openly discussed. (pp. 152-53)

Six in a series.


This section highlights articles published in the World Tribune and Living Buddhism related to the Soka Spirit movement.

March 8 World Tribune page 8: In his article Soka Gakkai Wins Defamation Suit, World Tribune managing editor Jeff Farr reports on the Tokyo District Court’s Feb. 22 ruling in favor of the Soka Gakkai in a defamation suit against Nichiren Shoshu related to the Seattle Incident case.