In this important first instalment, we would like to discuss a topic that is close to us as President Ikeda’s direct disciples.
In SGI President Ikeda’s Study Lecture Series, The Teachings For Victory - Special Lecture Commemorating November 18, Soka Gakkai Foundation Day, he wrote:
In January 1998, in an essay sharing my feelings on turning 70, I wrote that my goal by the age of 80 was “the completion of the foundations for worldwide kosen-rufu.” With the completion of our grand citadel dedicated to the great vow for kosen‐rufu [the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen‐rufu, which opened in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, in November 2013], the time has come for all SGI members to joyously make fresh strides forward. I declare that we have now solidly secured the magnificent foundations for kosen‐rufu, and embarked vigorously on the second phase of worldwide kosen-rufu.
On this momentous fresh departure, let us study a section from Nichiren Daishonin’s writing “The True Aspect of All Phenomena,” and pledge together to open new horizons in our movement.
This lecture is written as a special lecture commemorating November 18 and the completion of the Hall of Great Vow for Kosen-rufu. From the opening in this lecture, President Ikeda gave clear directions on how, we as disciples should be embarking on this second phase of kosen-rufu after the establishment of the Hall of Great Vow for Kosen-rufu which signifies the solid securing of the magnificent foundation of kosen-rufu.
In the section titled “Disciples Showing the Greatness of Their Teacher” in the same lecture, President Ikeda continues:
...a vast multitude of bodhisattvas emerges from the earth. Each of them, the sutra states, is “the leader of [their] own great assembly,” and in addition, “each brought with [them] a retinue equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges Rivers”. This is a number of truly astronomical proportions, infinitely greater than the population of our planet… The appearance of these remarkable disciples, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, is the occasion for showing the true greatness of their teacher. At this point, I would like to stress again that the awareness of being Bodhisattvas of the Earth is the starting point of our Soka movement.
President Ikeda states here that it is the remarkable disciples that show the true greatness of their teacher. It has always been the same for all the great sages and teachers in history.
In President Ikeda’s publication “New Horizons Eastern Humanism with Tu Weiming”, he wrote:
...people who can be revered as the four world sages ‐ Shakyamuni, Confucius, Socrates, and Jesus ‐ were not recognized by the masses in their times. They have come to be regarded as great teachers of humanity because of their disciples' efforts to propagate their teachings and prove their true value. Moreover, it is observed that the disciples’ struggle tends to take a few generations.
Without Plato’s and Aristotle’s written works, the modern world would not have known about Socrates. Without Jesus Christ’s twelve apostles, Christianity would not have spread to the magnitude we see today. Without the generations of disciples that compiled the Analects after his passing, Confucius would not have become to be revered as a teacher of humankind. Lastly, without the repeated compilation of the Buddhist Scriptures by Shakyamuni’s disciples, we probably would not be even able to practice Buddhism now.
In our current context, it is of no argument that through his life, President Ikeda has become the “remarkable disciple” that has showcased the greatness of his mentor Mr Josei Toda who is now renowned throughout the world. President Ikeda has already exemplified, through his life, on how one should practice the way of the mentor and disciple. What further excuses do we have, to not become the “remarkable disciples” that our mentor is calling for?
The essential phase has come for us, as President Ikeda's direct disciples, to cast off the transient and reveal our true!
As Bodhisattvas of the Earth, our vow is to propagate this mystic law in this saha world in this lifetime! As “remarkable disciples”, our duty is to establish the greatness of our mentor in history for future generations and posterity!
At this crucial moment in history, we need to ask ourselves if we are fulfilling our roles. In the history of Buddhism, Shariputra, Maudgalyayana, Mahakasyapa and other Shakyamuni direct disciples have done so. Nikko and Nichimoku Shonin have done so as Daishonin’s Direct Disciples. President Toda and President Ikeda have also done so as direct disciples to their mentors respectively. If we call ourselves Ikeda’s direct disciples, have we even started justifying this title?
Since May 3rd 2010, the 50th anniversary of his inauguration as the 3rd Soka Gakkai President, President Ikeda has stopped attending all meetings. In his message to the 41st Headquarters Leaders Meeting on Jun 3, 2010, under the section titled “Everything Depends on the Disciples”, he wrote:
During the assembly where Shakyamuni preached the Lotus Sutra, his disciples repeatedly pledged to him that they would carry out the widespread propagation of the Law just as he had taught, asking him to put his mind at complete ease on that account.
True victory in this cause can only be achieved when the disciples are serious in their commitment, united in purpose, and pray and take action without begrudging their lives. This is the spirit of disciples who inherit the heart of the Lotus Sutra.
It is for this reason that I have decided not to attend in person today. I hope you will carry on today’s meeting in high spirits together with Soka Gakkai President Harada, knowing that I am there with you in spirit.
Back in the 1950s, as the Soka Gakkai was moving closer, step by step, to its goal of 750,000 member households, Josei Toda, the second president of the Soka Gakkai, increasingly entrusted us, his disciples, with the leadership of our movement. At that juncture, he also decided not to attend every meeting, including some Headquarters leaders meetings, saying: “I’ve fostered you into capable people. Now I leave things up to you. The time has come for you to take responsibility, decide what to do, and see it through on your own.” I realized that Mr. Toda, a great leader of kosen‐rufu, had given long and careful thought to the future of our movement, and that this was his way of training us.
Mr. Toda was keenly aware of the foremost importance of the “time” in Buddhism, and by this well‐ timed step, he opened a course that would enable his disciples to achieve ongoing progress, victory, and growth.
I feel now just as Mr. Toda did then. For now is the time for me to put the finishing touches to my work and leave everything to you.
After reading the above, I believe any genuine disciple of Ikeda cannot misinterpret that our mentor wants us to take the lead for kosen-rufu now. The essential phase for us as Ikeda’s Direct Disciple has begun since May 3rd 2010. Indeed, 4 years has passed. As his disciples in Singapore, each and every one of us should deeply ponder upon ourselves if we are still wasting time doing things haphazardly and thinking President Ikeda will be forever be with us.
We have to recognize there will be a day when our mentor will no longer be physically with us. It is definitive that there will be no 4th mentor and our 3 founding presidents shall be our eternal mentors and that his youth disciples are to take the lead for the future of kosen-rufu. Even at this juncture, our beloved mentor is so compassionate to prepare and train us through giving us a “Dress Rehearsal” of this essential phase by taking a step back and leaving everything to us just as President Toda did to him.
It is time we start repaying our debts of gratitude to our beloved mentor.
What we need to do now is clear and direct as per the concluding passage in the same President Ikeda’s Special Lecture Commemorating November 18, Soka Gakkai Founding Day:
Standing up now with fresh determination and commitment as Bodhisattvas of the Earth constitutes our own personal challenge to “cast off the transient and reveal the true,” a truly fitting challenge as we prepare to enter a new era of worldwide kosen‐rufu.
All people in the depths of their lives are Bodhisattvas of the Earth, a fact to which they can be awakened through contact with other Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
My disciples, rise up and set forth with fresh vitality and vigor to take your places on a new stage where you will carry out your human revolution.
The world of tomorrow is waiting. Humanity of the future is waiting for the great march of the Soka Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
Let your victory cheers, filled with the supreme joy of a life dedicated to kosen‐rufu, resound proudly in the place where you are and in every part of the world, as we make our way together toward a humanistic century of peace.
i. Citadel of Worldwide Kosen-rufu
The community centres of the Soka Gakkai are the main bastions of kosen-rufu. It is not a luxurious palace. A bastion exists for the sake of the battle. Henceforth, the greatest way to celebrate the completion of a bastion for kosen-rufu is to win in our battle for kosen-rufu.
In the essential phase of kosen-rufu, it is the disciples who have to take the lead in scoring decisive victories for kosen-rufu instead of depending on the mentor.
ii. Entering the Essential Phase
Instead of remaining in the realm of theory, we must now take action to achieve something in reality. It is time to evolve from a phase of speaking about our determination and vow, to a phase where we demonstrate actual proof of victory.
iii. Arise, the Direct Disciples
We are also the immediate generation that must embody the correct spirit of the mentor so as to pass it down to future generations.
Being a genuine disciple has nothing to do with positions in the organisation! It is the heart that matters! Unless the disciple makes the mentor’s heart his own and strive with the same commitment as his mentor, he is not walking the true path of mentor and disciple.