Published by Soka Spirit Editor
Posted on January 07, 2013
An excerpt of President Ikeda’s speech at the 43rd Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting at Soka Friendship Hall in Tokyo, June 1, 1991.
To Attack the Great Is to Take Advantage of Their Greatness
When Victor Hugo was in exile, he wrote an essay about Shakespeare, which contains a passage something like: “Those who try to put great people to shame are just trying to enhance themselves by taking advantage of other’s greatness. Eventually, however, they fail in their endeavor and are buried and forgotten with the times. Their lives will end in misery. Their malicious attacks, far from injuring those great people, only serve to enhance their reputations. For the truth is clearly revealed as time passes.”
Likewise, those who slander the Soka Gakkai possess no greatness of character. They also take no action for the good of society. They have rendered no service in propagating the great Law and the cause of kosen-rufu. They have no appreciation toward President Toda, and they have not fulfilled their responsibility to serve the members. They justcontinue to criticize this great organization, the Soka Gakkai, to make themselves look big while, in fact, they are piteously empty. I hope you can keenly perceive the twisted state of their minds. Furthermore, be convinced that the more they criticize, the more the greatness of the Soka Gakkai will shine forth. As I said, the truth will become apparent with the passing of time. This has always been the case and always will be.
President Toda would often quote the portion of the “Teacher of the Law,” or 10th, chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which reads, “Since hatred and jealousy toward this sutra abound even when the thus come one is in the world, how much more will this be so after his passing?” (LSOC, 203)
Being assailed by obstacles proves that we are true practitioners of the Lotus Sutra. In other words, according to the above passage, without any persecution from authority or society, we cannot say that we are true practitioners. On the above passage from the Lotus Sutra, President Toda once explained in a lecture on the writing “On Omens” (May 5, 1956, in Osaka): “This passage indicates that ill feelings were abundant even during Shakyamuni’s lifetime; therefore there would be even more ill feelings now during the Latter Day of the Law. The original Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, appeared during the Latter Day to save us common people, yet he faced much resentment. Of course, compared to the Daishonin, we may be as trivial as specks of dust. However, embracing his teachings, we have arisen to save the nation and refute erroneous teachings and sects. Therefore, I take it as only natural that we encounter all the greater ill feeling. I am a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin. We should not be astonished by persecutions and resentment as we pursue the way of mentor and disciple in the manner befitting us as cubs of the lion king.”
This is the cry of President Toda’s soul. I am his disciple. Therefore, like him, I have fought resolutely against those who would try to destroy the Mystic Law, and I will continue to fight. I fear nothing.
Become Champions Who Possess a Happiness That Shines Throughout the Three Existences
In the same lecture, President Toda also said: “No matter how much people may hate the Soka Gakkai, or try to ensnare us in their schemes, and no matter who may make a big fuss, they are no better than howling jackals, while we are the lion king. How can the children of the lion king afford to fear howling jackals?”
Here President Toda talks about Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit as found in the writing, “On Persecutions Befalling the Sage”: “The lion king fears no other beast, nor do its cubs. Slanderers are like barking foxes, but Nichiren’s followers are like roaring lions” (WND-l, 997).
President Toda then said, “When I speak like this, evil people may get upset.” Then he continued, “But don’t worry; if I were scared of them, first of all, I wouldn’t speak in such a loud voice.” Indeed, he was composed and confident. His point was that because he feared nothing, he dauntlessly said what needed to be said. Appropriately, as individuals born or raised in the Soka Gakkai, I hope you will express yourselves as roaring lion kings, bringing forth true courage from within. This is how I hope you will grasp indestructible happiness throughout the three existences, no matter what others may say, as you receive praise from the original Buddha. In this way, become champions of great good fortune.
It is a human being’s right to get angry when it is justified.
In Italy, there once was a blacksmith’s shop. As he worked, the smith sang out some improvised obscene lyrics to a passage from Dante’s masterpiece, The Divine Comedy. A tall gentleman passing by the shop suddenly rushed inside. Without a word, he grabbed the hammer from the smith’s hand and threw it out into the street. The smith asked in astonishment, “Why did you do that?” The gentleman replied,
“How can I be silent when I hear you destroy what I have worked so hard to create?” The smith responded, “What of yours have I destroyed, pray tell?” In a loud voice that resounded far down the road, the gentleman said, “Your funny words destroy The Divine Comedy, into which I have put my entire being.”
The gentleman was none other than Dante himself. The smith quietly cast his eyes downward, and this time Dante gently said, “Wouldn’t you be upset if someone destroyed your “work?” “Yes, of course,” replied the smith. “Well, the same goes for me.” Thereupon Dante retrieved the hammer and returned it to the smith.
This episode tells us something of Dante’s personality. This master poet was extremely serious toward his work. He put his entire life and soul into every line and phrase. His point was: “Destroying my poem is the same as destroying my life. How can I remain silent toward such a person? Life is strictly a win-or-lose battle.” Until the end of his life, Dante lived with anger, passion, honesty, pride and conviction. That is why he remained youthful until the last moment. He was uncompromising, especially regarding his poems.
This is even more the case with our unity for the Mystic Law, to which we have been devoting all our energies. Diligently we have been building this organization for kosen-rufu, which President Toda once said was more important than his own life. The successive presidents of the Soka Gakkai and millions of noble, common people—courageous followers of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth—have dedicated their entire lives to building this treasure castle for kosen-rufu of the Mystic Law, basing themselves on the Gohonzon and following the mandate of the original Buddha. Our organization is the crystallization of their unsparing and painstaking efforts; it represents hope for all humanity.
No matter who attempts to do so, it is the ultimate act of evil to destroy this castle. It is impossible for us to remain silent in the face of such machinations.
Raising just one person into a full-fledged believer is indeed an awesome task. Obviously, propagation entails extraordinary hard work and effort.
Many newmembers of our organization are raised by leaders who visit them frequently—sometimes every day—to teach them gongyo, help them gain conviction in faith to overcome all kinds of problems, who pray for them, talk with them and encourage them with tremendous patience and compassion, just as a mother nurtures her newborn baby. No one with any modicum of decency would dare slink about like a thief stealing the fruits of others’ efforts while they are not looking, or like a mangy cat on the prowl for prey. This is not normal behavior for human beings.
Members who are seduced into leaving our organization by such people are unlikely to find happiness. Instead they will only come to discover that the seeds and sprouts of enlightenment sown in their lives have been destroyed. All the hard work we have put into raising them will have been in vain. This would surely cause incalculable grief to the original Buddha.
If there is even the slightest appearance of this happening, we cannot afford to stand by silently in the face of such base evil. To remain silent without fighting back would mean to be giving our tacit approval to evil and aiding and abetting its perpetrators.
The Characteristics of Devils
The world is vast. Even in Japan, there are tens of millions of people who have never heard of the Mystic Law. If those trying to sway our members have true conviction, they should undertake their own painstaking efforts to propagate the Law among those people.
What are the characteristics of the devils that obstruct our Buddhist practice? In a letter the Daishonin wrote to Nanjo Tokimitsu, he cautions: “both those who are close to you and those who are not will unexpectedly admonish you as if they were your true friends, saying, “If you believe in the priest Nichiren, you will surely be misled. You will also be in disfavor with your lord.” Then, because the plots that people devise are fearsome even to worthy persons, you will certainly abandon your faith in the Lotus Sutra. So it is advisable that you do not carelessly let it be known that you are a believer” (WND-1, 800).
1) Devils Speaking Ill of the Person
In the above passage, Nichiren Daishonin clearly explains the devil’s characteristics. First, according to the Daishonin, devils, instead of calling on you to discard the Lotus Sutra, may deduce you into leaving “Nichiren.” In other words, devils in many cases may not explicitly tell you to discard faith. Neither do they necessarily impugn the Lotus Sutra, whose reputation is already established. (In today’s terms, the devils may not necessarily speak ill of the Gohonzon.) Hence, taking advantage of the divided public opinion that existed over the Daishonin during his lifetime, the devils conspired to have his followers leave him. But to leave the Daishonin, ultimately, means to abandon the Lotus Sutra. Because to decide to leave Nichiren Daishonin means that your faith has already been destroyed by devils. In short, devils manipulate believers, not by speaking ill of the Law, but by speaking ill of the Person. This is their primary mode of behavior.
2) Devils Appearing as Allies
Second, as mentioned in the above passage, devils may approach you “as if they were your true friends,” and use honeyed words to convince you to give up faith, saying that they are only concerned for your own sake. For example, those who are not at all close to us or, if anything, treat us rather coldly or disdainfully whenever we meet them, suddenly approach us in a friendly manner—usually with some specific purpose in mind.
3) Devils Putting Human Sentiments Before the Sutra
Third, when the devils seduce you, rather than using straightforward logic, they may approach you by appealing to your natural human desire for acceptance byyour peers and society. They may say that if you follow the Daishonin, you will have a hard time; for instance, your lord—your boss in today’s terms—will not think well of you. Or something like: “You’ll be much more secure with us. There’s no need to willingly bring hardship upon yourself”; or “You should lead a more care free life rather than staying with Nichiren, who is constantly persecuted.” In light of the sutras, such remarks could not be farther from the truth. Yet devils bandy about such words to manipulate and disturb the believers’ faith. Such indeed is the devils’ stratagem.
4) Devils Focus on Particular Individuals
The Daishonin continues in the same Gosho, “Those possessed by a great devil will, once they succeed in persuading a believer to recant, use that person as a means for making many others abandon their faith” (WND-1, 800).
Such are the dark schemes and plots of devils. Devils desire to destroy the Buddha’s influence, although they conceal their true intentions. Focusing on one individual believer and then another, they attack us as though poking holes in an embankment. Behind their seemingly trivial actions lies a sinister whirlpool seething with powerful ambition and intrigue. This is the fourth method employed by ‘‘those possessed bya great devil.”
Now that you know the devils’ clear characteristics from these passages, you will be able to recognize the devils’ foot soldiers when youencounter them.
The Daishonin seems to have left these passages for us today. Please become people of wisdom. If youare foolish, you will only go in the wrong direction. You might be misled toward a life of suffering and pain.
Greed, Cowardice and Stupidity Are the Hallmarks of Betrayers
Then in the same writing, the Daishonin goes on to cite concrete examples of people who functioned as devils: ” Sho-bo, Noto-bo, and the lay nun of Nagoe were once Nichiren’s disciples. Greedy, cowardly, and foolish, they nonetheless pass themselves off as wise persons. When persecutions befell me, they took advantage of these to convince many of my followers to drop out” (WND-1, 800).
From this passage, we can tell that priests like Shofu-bo and Noto-bo, and highly respectworthy senior believers like Nagoe, who was one of the Daishonin’s earliest followers, busily went about contriving to cause the lay followers who gathered round the Daishonin to backslide in faith. I hope you will pay keen attention to this grim historical fact.
The Daishonin states that these betrayers are: greedy, cowardly—people who cannot do anything without looking to the power and influence of those in authority to help them—and of the arrogant belief that they are wise, though in reality foolish and conceited. All in all, what is common to betrayers is their bankruptcy of character. The nature of those possessed by a great devil is universal and unchanging. I think this applies today as well.