Soka Spirit
Making a Vow is the Basis of Buddhism

May 10, 2002

Normiasa Saito
SGI North American Bureau Director

Norimasa Saito, North America bureau director for the SGI, recently made a whirlwind trip to 12 cities in the United States. The following are some of the points he made to encourage SGI-USA members in faith.

A vibrant wave of propagation has been sweeping across Japan since the beginning of this year. As you may know, Japanese society is having a very difficult time economically, politically and spiritually. These nationwide propagation efforts have been geared toward helping people throughout the country. As a result, tens of thousands of people in Japan have newly embraced Nichiren Buddhism. Fundamental to this accomplishment has been the hours of daimoku chanted by members everywhere. Determined daimoku—daimoku focusing on the happiness of specific individuals—has been the key to their success in propagation.

Making a pledge for kosen-rufu is pivotal in practicing Nichiren Buddhism. Interestingly, all personal prayers fall into place when we fulfill our vow for others? happiness and the promotion of kosen-rufu.

Recently, I had a talk with a 17-year-old girl. When I first met her, I immediately noticed cuts on her arm. She told me they resulted from cutting her own arm with a razor. Her self-hatred seemed to compel her to do so, especially when she was alone. This tendency developed due to past abuse from her mother.

I said to her: “Even though your mother abused you so much in your childhood, saying to you it would be better if you had never been born, the teachings of Buddhism would never agree. According to Buddhism, you are a Buddha in essence. This means you have the greatest potential within your life to become happy and to make other people happy as well. In other words, your life is the most precious thing in and of itself.”

She began to chant. Five days later, she called me. “Somehow, the urge to cut my arm has begun to disappear,” she told me. “I am starting to love myself. I really want to practice to the Gohonzon.”After witnessing the positive changes in her life, her boyfriend also began to practice. Of course, since they are both young, they will continue to see many ups and down in their lives. But I can confidently say she will no longer be so vulnerable to the darkness in her mind now that she has had a glimpse of the beauty of her life.

The Soka Spirit movement is being solidified throughout the SGI-USA

It is a historical fact that almost all people, whether they currently practice within the SGI or with Nichiren Shoshu, first encountered Nichiren Buddhism through people who grew up in faith with the SGI. In this respect, it is clear that the essence of the SGI embodies the Buddha’s force or the functions of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. In contrast, the current Nichiren Shoshu, which is expounding its own new teachings, making absolute obedience to High Priest Nikken Abe the top priority over the power of faith in and practice to the Gohonzon, has taken every possible action to undermine Nichiren Buddhism.

If Nichiren Shoshu, instead of claiming that it represents the correct mainstream teaching of Nichiren Daishonin, admitted that what it teaches today is something different from what the Daishonin taught, then the temple issue would be a non-issue. However, as long as they proclaim they represent the correct teachings of the Daishonin, we need to continue to point out the difference between the current Nichiren Shoshu’s doctrines and what the Daishonin really taught.

The more closely counterfeit money resembles real money the more dangerous it is. The relationship between the SGI and Nichiren Shoshu is just like that between genuine and counterfeit money. We need to continue to prove that what is counterfeit is counterfeit in order to enable people to correctly practice Nichiren Buddhism.

In the final analysis, the essential nature and function of High Priest Nikken is none other than what Buddhism terms the devil king of the sixth heaven, the function that obstructs the flow of kosen-rufu. This perception is vital in carrying out correct faith today. And happily enough, many SGI-USA members have solidly mastered this awareness, thus forging on along the correct path of faith.

Justice is only justice when it prevails over injustice

In the days of Shakyamuni, Devadatta attempted to do away with Shakyamuni?s life and his Buddhist order. In the days of the Daishonin, Ryokan, the most highly regarded priest of the time, and Hei no Saemon, a military leader, loathed the Daishonin, attempting to kill him and end his efforts to propagate the Mystic Law.

In the early days of the Soka Gakkai, during the leadership of presidents Makiguchi and Toda, the military government upheld the state religion of Shinto and engaged itself in destroying the movement.

And during SGI President Ikeda?s leadership, great obstacles appeared one after another—sometimes in the form of attacks from the media, sometimes in the form of political authority, and recently in the form of the religious authority of High Priest Nikken and the priesthood. But the SGI, under the leadership of President Ikeda, has defeated the onslaught of all of these destructive forces and, in the process, grown even stronger in its commitment to world kosen-rufu.

It was because Shakyamuni prevailed over the negative influence of Devadatta that he was able to expound the “Devadatta” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in which he proclaimed that even evil people can attain Buddhahood. In other words, through winning over Devadatta, he was able to extend his compassion to such a person. Herein lies a significant Buddhist principle that addresses the issue of the Buddha?s absolute compassion. When we say, “Buddhism is win or lose,” we are basing this upon the premise that only through our decisive victory does it become possible to extend our compassion even toward the enemies of Buddhism.
Along the same lines, the Daishonin revealed his enlightenment by defeating Ryokan and Hei no Saemon, who instigated various plots against his life. And because of his victory over them he could say, “I pray that before anything else I can guide and lead the ruler and those others who persecuted me” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 402).

Conversely, if Shakyamuni had been defeated by the machinations of Devadatta, or if the Daishonin in his time had been killed by his enemies, there would be no correct flow of Nichiren Buddhism for the sake of people?s happiness today. Because of their victory and the ensuing expression of their compassion as Buddhas, we can embrace the Mystic Law today. These enemies of Buddhism can therefore be viewed as ultimately functioning to assist in revealing the correct teachings. In this respect, President Ikeda has said, “Justice is only justice when it prevails over injustice.”

It is vitally important for each SGI member to develop the ability to discern the negative influence that currently comes from the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. The spirit to protect people from this influence should be the basis of all our efforts to promote every aspect of kosen-rufu. In other words, this is the time that we should indeed ponder the true meaning of, and put into action, the passage “Rather than offering up ten thousand prayers for remedy, it would be better simply to outlaw this one evil” (WND, 15).