Jan. 25, 2002
This is an excerpt from a series of informal discussions between by SGI President Ikeda and various SGI members in 1994. It originally appeared in the Nov. 14 1994 World Tribune.
HARDSHIP IS THE SOURCE OF STRENGTH AND FORTITUDE
Life is a struggle. So too are Buddhism and kosen-rufu. If young people in particular are reluctant to strive hard and exert themselves they will be unable to build strong characters. As Shakespeare said Plenty and peace breeds cowards; hardness ever / Of hardiness is mother (William Shakespeare Cymbeline Act III Scene VI). In other words hardship is the source of strength and fortitude.
As I mentioned earlier Nichiren Daishonin described the persecutions he experienced as the evil doings of the Asura King. In another Gosho also written while exiled on Sado he says: An arrogant person will always be overcome with fear when meeting a strong enemy as was the haughty asura who shrank in size and hid himself in a lotus blossom in Heat-Free Lake when reproached by Shakra (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin 302).
The asura had become convinced that he was invincible. The Buddhist scriptures say that he lived at the bottom of the ocean huge and always well-armed. But his size was nothing more than a personal delusion of grandeur. The self puffed up with pride and arrogance is like a balloon; when it comes into contact with something that is really strong it bursts and is exposed as the poor flimsy thing it always was.
That is why we must stride forth firmly and strongly. The second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda stressed that the members of the Soka Gakkai must be strong and courageous.
One in a series.
This series contains Soka Spirit-related excerpts of speeches SGI President Ikeda made in the United States which are contained in the book My Dear Friends in America.
A WORLD RELIGION FOR REALIZING TRUE DEMOCRACY
Nichijun, the 65th high priest, was one of the greatest scholars in the priesthood in modern times. He praised the Soka Gakkai, convinced it represented an organization that would spread Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism for the people to the entire world. Incidentally, it was Nichijun who conducted my initiation ceremony when I was nineteen.
Once, in a discourse on Democracy and Religion, Nichijun remarked: This world is the world of religion. Consequently, in the world of democracy, religion must form the foundation and should be stressed at all times. What I mean by religion here is not religion in general. What is termed religion often takes a variety of forms: many arise out of ignorance, some are developments that have incorporated theory or practice to justify their existence, while some are merely corruptions of existing religions.
These religions are essentially irrational for they ignore reason and the intellect. As a result, they either have no doctrine or, if they do, then it is merely deluded doctrine. It only serves to keep the people in ignorance and darkness. That which is irrational is an enemy to individual development. Democracy is said to be rational. In modern times, issues concerning science and religion are constantly debated, but this debate arises because religion is irrational.
While confirming that the world of democracy must be based upon religion, we must at the same time courageously strive to remove irrational religions as enemies of democracy. When viewed in this light, we must adopt only the religion of Myoho-renge-kyo as the religion for the present and future. For it is a unique doctrine that, in a correct and rational manner, elucidates and actualizes the freedom, equality and dignity of the individual, while revealing that all people possess the Buddha nature and the potential to attain Buddhahood (Dai-Nichiren, October 1949).
The Daishonin’s Buddhism is the great Law that enables all people to develop their inherent Buddha nature and attain Buddhahood. It is the supreme teaching that elucidates individual freedom, equality and the dignity of life in a logical, realistic manner, enabling people to bring out these qualities in their daily lives and in society.
This is what prompts Nichijun to state unequivocally that the Daishonin’s Buddhism is the world religion that will form the foundation for realizing true democracy. He also points out that irrational teachings keep people in ignorance, obstruct the development of individual potential and are enemies of democracy.
Worldwide, we now see a trend toward an era of people and democracy. We must not allow this dramatic change in the course of human history to be set back by confusion and countermovements. That would be a tragedy we cannot afford. Many educated people have begun to recognize the need for a universal humanism, a religious mind and spiritual values capable of providing the foundation for an era of the people.
The time has at last arrived when the Daishonin’s Buddhism is sought by people around the world, and its greatness is being proven to all. The times are moving toward Buddhism. Please be convinced that the time of full-fledged worldwide kosen-rufu has arrived.
In this day and age, religions or ecclesiastics who oppress the people and expect unconditional obedience to authority from them are anachronistic; they will eventually bring about their own downfall. How much graver then would be the offense of anyone behaving in this manner while professing to uphold the Mystic Law, for they would be turning their backs on and going against the Daishonin’s spirit of compassion and equality. As indicated by Nichijun, such people would be irrational and would be enemies of humankind out to destroy democracy. (My Dear Friends in America pps. 116-18)
Two in a series.
SOKA SPIRIT IN THE PUBLICATIONS
This section highlights articles published in the World Tribune and Living Buddhism related to the Soka Spirit movement.
Jan. 25 World Tribune page 1: In his article entitled Soka Spirit Spreads in New York Northeastern Bureau Chief Sean Grover reports on a Soka Spirit activity called Peace is in Your Hands sponsored by the SGI-USA’s New York Youth Soka Spirit Committee.