On May 3, 2023, a secretive closed-door meeting was held at the headquarters, with more than 10 attendees present. According to a whistleblower who attended the meeting and sent information to us, some of the attendees included
The team has received bits and pieces of information from some meetings in Singapore. Thank you for the reports! Thanks to your valuable contributions, we’ve got an idea of what’s currently going on in Singapore.
We are calling for any others who have any type of information such as recordings. Do not worry as we will prepare a secure site for you to drop any files.
To all readers, stay tuned as we release further news very soon…
There had been a surge of readership today especially from Singapore. We heard there is something going on. If anyone has any information, please feel free to send to our email firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2017 last year, we had reported quite extensively on the topic of the 50,000 membership. Now in “The Year of Brilliant Achievement in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu”, there is no better time to review its progress, although SSA has been very quiet about it in the past few months.
For 7 years since 2010, this target of 50,000 membership had always been on the lips of SSA top leaders. The original goal at the start of 2017 was to achieve the target by Nov 18, 2017, to commemorate the 87th Anniversary of the Founding of the Soka Gakkai. However, it was then announced that the deadline of the 50k target was postponed till end of the year instead, obviously to give themselves even more time to achieve the goal. Suddenly, starting from Aug 2017, this topic disappeared as the preparation for the Lotus Sutra Exhibition (LSE) went underway. The final result? As far as we know, it stood at close to 34,000, falling short of 16,000. And the counter at SSA HQ has remained largely unchanged for the past few months. Although SSA top leaders dared not declare it, let us declare here courageously and unequivocally that the campaign is yet again, a complete failure and an utter embarrassment!
Is this an acceptable outcome?
In early 1958, Toda Sensei said to his direct disciple, Ikeda Sensei who has been spearheading the propagation movement towards the great goal of his mentor: “Do you think you can accomplish a membership of 3 million households in the next 7 years?” “Yes”, Ikeda Sensei replied without hesitation, “I will do it. I feel even more determined!” This target was achieved 4 years later, on Nov 1962. This was 3 years ahead of target. The moment that was reached, Ikeda Sensei raised his sights to an even higher achievement: 6 million household! And 4 years later, in the year 1966, Ikeda Sensei, together with the leaders and members, achieved that goal too. This is the kind of proud tradition that Ikeda Sensei left behind for us to emulate. It was always about achieving a propagation target earlier than expected. This is the kind of result which inspired an entire generation of disciples of SGI countries ranging from Taiwan to India, to follow and even surpass.
Once, in Aug 1957, Ikeda Sensei was asked how he was able to achieve a 10% increase in membership – more than 200 new membership households in just a single week. He replied, “Achieving a membership of 750,000 households was the struggle of Toda Sensei’s final years. I was determined for us to achieve it within 1957 so that his mind would be at ease. I resolved to become the driving force for its accomplishment. At the same time, I wanted to create an example of how kosen-rufu should be expanded on into the future.”
“The final struggle of the mentor’s life is to make sure that the disciples are achieving great victories. As disciples, therefore, it is important that we show actual proof so that we can proudly report to our mentor: “I have triumphed!” This is the oneness of mentor and disciple.”
Obviously, Ikeda Sensei owned and shared the goal of 750,000 households with the same commitment as Toda Sensei. Ikeda Sensei and Toda Sensei were in complete rhythm. We are not sure if anyone in SSA owned and shared a deep vow to achieve the 50,000 membership target. Were any top leaders in complete rhythm with Ikeda Sensei?! We all know the answer.
Ikeda Sensei continued, “…when we live with the awareness that mentor and disciple are one, we manifest the life state of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who vowed in the distant past to take on the great mission of kosen-rufu together with the teacher. We will be filled with incomparable strength.”
If disciples were to make up their mind and were dead serious about the 50,000 membership, they would be able to bring forth the wisdom so that even the LSE could become a mean to gather momentum towards the goal rather than regarding LSE as a separate event from the 50,000 membership target.
We heard rather disturbing and defensive statements such as “…the numbers are not important, it is the process that counts, not the figures.” If the figures do not matter, why do we put up a counter at SSA HQ in the first place? By the way, the above statements came from top leaders. What a shame!
Nevertheless, we must congratulate SSA for hosting a successful LSE, with an attendance of about 62,000 in the months of Oct and Nov 2017. This exhibition finally came to Singapore after having travelled to 15 other SGI countries, enabling many members of the public to have a better understanding of the Lotus Sutra and its teachings as well as Ikeda Sensei’s role in it.
SSA has always been very good in declaring empty victories. In great anticipation, we would want to know on how the 50,000 membership issue would be addressed in the coming weeks. Are they going to use the Form Signing Campaign as a way to mask the failure? Or perhaps they are going to use the 62,000 attendance of the LSE as a substitute for the 50,000 membership flop?
With this failure to achieve the 50,000 membership target, SSA has missed a chance to enable the members to see for themselves how involving earnestly in the campaign can change their lives and transform their karma. More worryingly, we fear that this has surely strengthened the very unhealthy culture in SSA that it is acceptable to fail in a campaign miserably. A whole generation of leaders and members, in particular, the youth division will no longer take campaigns seriously, and will view targets set with disdain. Gradually, will members start to look upon the record set by Ikeda Sensei as a fairy tale, a supernatural feat that will never be repeated in future?
Another big flop is not merely an issue of failing to meet a numerical target but also the great failure on the part of the top leaders of SSA to impart the correct spirit of a genuine disciple to future generations - The spirit of achieving solid victories to put the mentor’s mind at ease.
Ikeda Sensei is 90 years old this year. He is without doubt in his final chapters of his struggle. How can our mentor’s mind be at ease when SSA is basking in self-congratulatory mode with no clear cut victories to show?
We hope the readers can see that SSA has deviated from the path of the oneness of mentor and disciple for too long.
In 2018 this year, in exact accordance of what our mentor Ikeda Sensei shared in his new year message, let’s create a record of brilliant achievement in leading lives of complete fulfilment and advancing our movement for kosen-rufu, each in the sphere of your own vow and mission.
In celebration of Ikeda Sensei's 90th birthday and the 65th anniversary of his inauguration as Young Men's Division First Corp Chief that fall on January 2, Hosshaku Kempon's Editorial Team wishes to present this beautiful cake as our well wishes for our beloved mentor’s excellent health and longevity.
The cake contains two important elements mentioned in Ikeda Sensei's recent guidance namely:
1. Hall of Great Vow
2. Soka Gakkai's Year Theme for 2018
Soka Gakkai will commemorate the 5th anniversary of the completion of the Hall of Great Vow for kosen-rufu on Nov 18, 2018 and the theme for Soka Gakkai in 2018 is “The Year of Brilliant Achievement in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu”.
Ikeda Sensei further shared that the term “Brilliant Achievement” shone for the first time in Gakkai’s Year Theme half a century ago in 1968 and 2018 shall be the year in which the SGI will open the path for the next 50 years of New Worldwide Kosen-rufu.
Towards the end of his guidance, Ikeda Sensei calls out to his youthful disciples who have formed deep karmic connection with him and dedicates the following 3 guidelines to them for their departure towards brilliant achievements:
“Wisdom” – Polish your wisdom by devoting yourself to study gosho! Here lies the direct path to illuminate the future of mankind.
“Passion” – Do not forget the passion for shakubuku! Live for the happiness of both yourself and others! The Gakkai is an organisation of shakubuku for eternity.
“Victory” – Win over yourself and not over others! Win today! The unceasing practice of gongyo and daimoku is the source for victory.
In response to our beloved mentor's expectation, let's practise the guidelines with our lives and set a great vow for kosen-rufu. Together let's highly raise the “Triumphant Cry” of our own human revolution and create the story of “Brilliant Achievement for the Future” in our own respective endeavours!
A sutra says: “If you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present.” (WND-1, 279).
In volume 30 of the epic novel New Human Revolution, Great Mountain, Ikeda Sensei wrote, "Shinichi told himself, 'It’s now or never! Don’t let this precious moment slip by!'" Such was the sense of urgency with which our mentor carried out kosen-rufu movement.
We are already in the third quarter of 2017, the year which Ikeda Sensei designated as the “Year of Developing Youth in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu”.
As the deadline of achieving a target of 50,000 membership by 18 November this year draws closer, let us try to understand its significance.
The target of 50,000 membership was first set in the year 2005, in response to Ikeda Sensei’s call to achieve a target of 1% of the respective countries’ population. This 50,000 membership goal was initially targeted to be achieved in 2010. The achievement of the unprecedented 1,111 Gohonzon Conferment in 2005 gave fresh hopes to many of us that SSA was finally returning to its root of propagation as its original focus ever since it was neglected in the 1990s under the senior youth leadership at that time. Between 2006 and 2009, SSA senior leadership, with youth division as the driving force, kept up its focus on propagation activities.
In 2010, just as the propagation efforts were gearing towards the 50,000 target, this goal was suddenly dropped by the central leaders. It was as if someone had pulled a handbrake. Instead, the central leaders mysteriously re-directed the organisation’s focus to the 20K great discussion meeting exercise and year-end Soka Gakkai 80th anniversary celebration. Thereafter, in December 2010, for some strange reasons, it was announced that the goal to achieve the target of 50,000 membership was adjourned to 2017, a procrastination of 7 years! We find this deviation from the ‘now or never’ way Ikeda Sensei carried out kosen-rufu movement very disturbing.
Finally after 4 years of oblivion, this goal of 50,000 suddenly resurfaced in 2014. With changes in top leadership came different methods to build momentum towards the 50,000 target. Examples included apportioning this target based on some simple linear mathematical calculation, with a uniform increase of the number of memberships per district per year from 2014 to 2017, though the leaders at the zone, chapter and district levels had never seemed to be clear on how it all adds up. YWD came up with their Hi 5! Campaign while the YMD started their 11,11 and Happiness CYCLIST campaigns.
By now, we all know clearly in our hearts that all these methods have brought disappointing results.
With the recent appointment of new adult leadership which essentially comprise former senior youth leaders who led the youth division in the 1990s, we understand that SSA launched the Happiness Counter Campaign at the meeting to commemorate March 16. What is this campaign about?
To understand this, let’s study the total membership of SSA. From SSA official sources, the following table shows the estimated membership over the years.
We wondered why the membership could fluctuate by as much as a few thousands in some years and to be honest, there was in fact a drop in the membership since the year 2005. We understand that in some years, membership count included the Soka network which essentially comprised of friends of SSA but in more recent years, they were excluded. If what is to be included and excluded in membership depends on the whims and fancy of top leadership, then would the membership figures not be easily manipulated to achieve the organisation’s ends?
As part of the Happiness Counter Campaign, there is a big exercise underway to approach many family members who are inactive to complete membership forms. We must admit that this is a very clever way to increase membership quickly without much effort needed. For example, suppose a Men Division member applied for Gohonzon some years ago when he was a father of three young children. He would have included all his family members in his membership application form. All along, he would have been counted as one Setai member and his family members would have already been included in the Tokang list. All his children and wife are now being approached by frontline leaders to complete separate membership forms, even if they do nothing more than visiting the culture centres once a year during Lunar New Year Open House or chant 3 daimoku each day. In this way, membership count would have increased by 4! The same goes for believers. It is not hard to see that this method will definitely lead to double counting.
With dismal Gohonzon conferment figures in the last few years (not difficult to infer from studying the number of people receiving Gohonzon from SSA Times), SSA top leaders choose to turn their attention on form filling instead of reviewing the failed propagation campaigns. It seems that all they care about is to increase membership count.
Ikeda Sensei wrote in NHR, Great Mountain Chapter, “When the disciples’ resolve aligns with that of the mentor, the wheels of kosen-rufu begin to move powerfully. That is why the unity of mentor and disciple is the lifeline of Soka Gakkai.”
We were recently inspired by the example of Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) Youth Division which aims to achieve 100,000 youth membership. The senior youth leaders recalled the message that Ikeda Sensei conveyed at BSG's general meeting in 2014: "Please lead the youth of the entire world."
Two years ago, BSG went on to accomplish a membership of 110,000 and last year, they broke through a membership of 150,000. In the centre of BSG’s explosive vigour, it has been the youth who took the lead.
We are struck by the way the senior youth leaders explained the goal of 100,000 youths: "Our goal is to create a solidarity of '100,000 Shinichi Yamamotos' rather than the mere increase of membership. What refreshing words!"
They were inspired by Ikeda Sensei who had achieved "100,000 patriots" for his mentor, Toda Sensei in 1958. Instead of just reading what Shinichi Yamamoto has done in NHR, they aspire to practise like the “Shinichi Yamamotos” in the modern era.
Furthermore, once in every two months, the youths will gather at the chapter level in individual division to study the novel. Their spirit is so strong that even new friends are invited to study with them.
The prime point of the mentor and disciple spirit which the Youth Division of BSG cherishes with Ikeda Sensei is contained in the single word "NOW". They wanted to respond to the mentor's call and delight the mentor.
We salute the BSG Youths who are clearly in tandem with the mentor’s heart and we are confident that the great advancement of kosen-rufu for India is assured!
The gap between SSA and BSG in their approach to fight propagation campaigns could not have been wider. SSA is reduced to strategizing to reach membership target while BSG is using membership campaign as a means to increase the Buddha forces as well as to strengthen the faith of current membership.
In the 28th HQ leaders meeting commemorating May 3rd in 2009, Ikeda Sensei said, ‘The Soka Gakkai is an organisation of lions. “Lion” is a symbol for the oneness of mentor and disciple. Both the mentor and the disciple must boldly keep on winning. I have fought like a lion all my life. And I have won. I want the youth to fight like lions too, and triumph in every struggle. I am counting on you!’
BSG senior leaders clearly have engraved Ikeda Sensei’s words to heart. What came out strongly in BSG example is that instead of merely chasing numbers, the propagation campaign provides a mean to transform all members to become Shinichi Yamamotos, in other words, to become lion cubs who are courageous individuals who can win over all obstacles in their lives as they immerse themselves in the propagation campaign. The members are not only fully involved; they understand the significance of the campaign and they are joyful to be part of it. It is clearly a campaign that changes lives and draws members closer to the mentor.
In the case of SSA, on the other hand, by focusing on form filling, we suspect that the original intent of the membership target got lost along the way, even among the top leaders. Majority of the members are not actively involved in the act of propagation at all! A great opportunity to inculcate in them the true spirit of propagation has slipped away.
SSA top leaders need to understand that merely parroting Ikeda Sensei’s guidance at meetings but not engraving them to heart and translating them into concrete actions, they are only practising the mentor and disciple spirit. But, in the essential phase of the second act of worldwide kosen-rufu, true disciples should practise what BSG is practising: the ONENESS of the mentor and disciple spirit.
Makiguchi Sensei once said: “A thousand sheep cannot hold their own against a single lion.”
By hook or by crook, we are quite confident that the 50,000 membership target can be achieved without fail. The glory and credit will certainly go to the senior leaders who “oversee” the campaign.
But without having been inspired to fight like lions, how many of us will truly be celebrating on November 18? Will SSA members become ‘sheep’ in the process of achieving 50,000 membership target?
Buddhism was preached by Shakyamuni in India during 450 BCE and it was transmitted from China and Korea Peninsula to Japan. During the 13th century, Nichiren Daishonin appeared in Japan to establish the form of Buddhism that is practised by the members of the SGI today. It was during the same time, Shakyamuni’s Buddhism in India had died out.
It was until the 20th Century that the Soka Gakkai’s 3 Founding Presidents, Makiguchi Sensei, Toda Sensei and Ikeda Sensei, revived Nichiren Buddhism and established it as a world religion through the historical development of repeating a wide variety of dialogue on religion, ideology and culture. Today, as a great substantiation of "Westward Transmission" prophesized by Nichiren Daishonin himself, the SGI has established a solidarity of 150,000 Soka members in India.
What is the cause of the surge in membership that creates the time for the emergence of the great river? It has to be traced back to the very first drop of the river that took place in 1961.
Ikeda Sensei first visited India in January/February of 1961. He was 32 years old when he was inaugurated as Soka Gakkai’s 3rd President in the previous year. Carrying with him the photo of Toda Sensei who held the dream of kosen-rufu in Asia, Ikeda Sensei stared at the quiet great land of India which has not even a single member back then and chanted daimoku for the advancement of kosen-rufu of this land.
The real turning point of India’s kosen-rufu was during Ikeda Sensei’s third visit in February 1979. He spoke to the 40 members of India then, “The eternal flow of the Ganges River starts from a single drop. Just like the members now, at the very least, with the awareness of yourself as the single drop, believe in the boundless future and advance.”
In February 1992, during Ikeda Sensei’s 4th visit to India, the number of comrades whom he met and encouraged exceeded 1000. Ikeda Sensei composed and presented to the India’s members a long poem, titled "Dawn of India – In Praise of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth".
"So our friends will follow suit
in exact accord with the principle of
'emerging from the earth';
they will without doubt
become a great river
through the inexorable workings of time."
In accordance with their mentor’s guidelines, the Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) members worked perseveringly for kosen-rufu, contributing to their society and creating the time for the emergence of the great river.
Two years ago, BSG accomplished a membership of 110,000 and last year, they broke through a membership of 150,000. In the centre of BSG’s explosive vigour, it is always the youth who takes the lead. There are indeed no limits to the flow of the great river of India’s kosen-rufu.
A recent interview by Soka Shimpo was conducted with BSG’s Young Men Division Leader (Saboo) and Young Woman Division Leader (Gupta). The interview was titled “India Youth Division - Going towards 100,000 disciples!” An excerpt of the interview is as follows:
Interviewer: This year, I heard that everyone in BSG aims to achieve "100,000 Youths".
YMD Chief Saboo: Currently, the number of youth members of BSG is 77,000. For the construction of the civilization of new India and the new world, we will surely have to build a formation of 100,000 people!
YWD Chief Gupta: Our goal is to create a solidarity of "100,000 Shinichi Yamamoto" rather than the mere increase of membership. It is the "expansion of disciples" that exists for our mentor, Ikeda Sensei. Both in shakubuku and encouragement of comrades, the first thing that we will talk about is "the splendor of living for the mentor and disciple".
Interviewer: What kind of efforts are you propelling in order to transmit the spirit of "mentor and disciple"?
Saboo: In BSG, we have determined these two years as "the most important time" to lay the foundation to eternalise the mentor and disciple's spirit. And we are progressing in the campaign of devoting ourselves to study the novel "The New Human Revolution" across the country.
Gupta: Once in every two months, we will gather at the chapter level in individual division to study the novel. We will also invite new friends. The chapter to study was selected in conjunction with the efforts at that time. The next round will be the "Victory" chapter of Volume 5. This chapter is written about Toda Sensei's appeal for "100,000 patriots" and is packed with beautiful guidelines to accomplish our objectives.
It is without doubt that the BSG Youths did not pluck the figure of 100,000 youths from the sky! Rather, they have set this target by following the same path as their mentor, Ikeda Sensei who had achieved "100,000 patriots" for his mentor, Toda Sensei. They are becoming the ‘Shinichi Yamamoto’ just as Ikeda Sensei has wanted them to be as shared in his various recent guidance!
While his mentor, Josei Toda, was still alive, Ikeda Sensei had wanted to reassure him by accomplishing a YMD membership of 100,000. Back in October 1954, there were no more than 10,000 YMD members. Nevertheless, Ikeda Sensei vowed, "Even if I have to do it alone, I will achieve Sensei's dream, no matter what!" As youth division chief of staff, Ikeda Sensei rose to the challenge and devoted all his energy to achieving that goal, calling out to his fellow members to join him in reaching their mentor's vision of "100,000 patriots".
In response to Ikeda Sensei’s call and the committed action he took, the YMD members gradually began to unite. Reaching a membership of 100,000 became their common goal. By December 1957, there were 78,000 YMD members; Ikeda Sensei knew they would reach their target within one more year. Toda Sensei had fallen ill in the autumn of 1957. Although he seemed to be recovering, he was still very weak.
In January 1958, Ikeda Sensei said to Toda Sensei, "Sensei, this year we will reach our goal of 100,000 YMD members."
"That's wonderful!" Toda Sensei replied. Sitting up on his futon, his eyes radiating joy, he continued, "When 100,000 young men are united, they can achieve anything. The dawn of a new age for the people is coming."
"Yes," Ikeda Sensei agreed, "Once we reach our goal, we will celebrate by gathering ‘100,000 patriots.’ I really want you to see it."
"Yes, I'd like that, I'd like that very much," Toda replied, nodding several times.
However, Josei Toda did not live to hear the announcement that his cherished dream had been achieved. He passed away on April 2, 1958. The YMD reached their target a little less than six months later, at the end of that September. Ikeda Sensei was deeply disappointed that his mentor could not witness the dynamic gathering of the 100,000 YMD members. Together with the youth division chief of staff, these original 100,000 YMD members became a core support for the Soka Gakkai. After Ikeda Sensei became President of SGI, the YMD members united with him even more solidly, working with one heart and mind to achieve an overall membership of 3 million households, initiating a powerful surge of growth and advancement.
By early May 1961, the YMD membership had grown to some 250,000. Ikeda Sensei had been proposing to the YMD leaders for some time that they held a meeting with the 100,000 representatives to mark a fresh beginning for the youth who will build a new Soka Gakkai and usher in a new era for humanity. Thus, at the May 3 Headquarters General Meeting, marking the first anniversary of Ikeda Sensei’s inauguration as president, YMD Chief Einosuke Akiya announced that the gathering of 100,000 young men be held at last.
The top leaders of the YMD shared Ikeda Sensei's spirit in this regard and worked with all their might. As a result of their efforts, within only a short span of six months, the YMD membership had surged from 250,000 since the May 3 Headquarters General Meeting to an incredible 350,000 by the November YMD general meeting. In other words, from the day on which Ikeda Sensei had proposed to the youth division leaders that they designated 1961 as the "Year of Youth," the YMD had expanded by 100,000 members.
Ikeda Sensei said, “Mr Toda declared that the existence of 100,000 genuine 'patriots' would guarantee that the people would be relieved of their suffering. I never want to let these words of our mentor become false.”
The 100,000 target set by the BSG’s Youth Division Leaders’ clearly resonates with the above episode from the New Human Revolution Novel, “Victory” Chapter.
“Create a solidarity of ‘100,000 Shinichi Yamamoto' rather than the mere increase of membership!” “Determined these two years as 'the most important time' to lay the foundation to eternalize the mentor and disciple's spirit!”
These are concrete targets showcasing the oneness of Mentor and Disciple! They must have surely wanted the mentor to witness their targets being achieved!
In concluding the interview in Soka Shimpo, the Interviewer states: Please share with me the origin of the mentor and disciple with Ikeda Sensei in which the Youth Division of BSG cherishes.
Gupta: It is "now". The disciple responds to the mentor's call. And delights the mentor. We have a mission which is to build up the expansion to transmit to the future.
Saboo: In 2014, in the message to BSG's general meeting, Ikeda Sensei called out to us, "Please lead the youth of the entire world." In order to meet the expectation of this mentor, BSG expanded the membership to 110,000 people the following year. And last year, we were able to extend it to 150,000 people. In addition to what Sensei concludes in the "headwater" chapter of New Human Revolution volume 29, we the BSG wrote down that the "the battle is now" through our huddle that created a breakthrough in membership of 150,000 people as our "eternal history". There is no limit to the joy of ours. We will continue to fight till the end of our lives. As "Shinichi" of the new era.
Congratulations to the BSG Youth! As long as the BSG Youths continue in the same spirit and action to emerge victorious as their YMD and YWD leaders who are in tandem to the mentor’s heart, the great advancement of kosen-rufu for India is assured! There will be no limits to the flow of the great river of kosen-rufu in India, the great land of the moon!
This year has been designated as the “Year of Developing Youth in the new era of World-wide kosen-rufu”. In his new year’s message, Ikeda Sensei called on the youth in all SGI countries this year to become youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth and be the light of hope for humanity. Ikeda Sensei urged in his message, “Let’s strive even more to encourage and support each one of our young successors. And let’s make 2017 a year that leads to further dynamic expansion of our Soka network of youthful global citizens who are dedicated to world peace and humanitarian ideals.” In a separate New Year message to all SGI countries to elaborate on the SGI theme, one of the key focus is to “foster our successors in the youth division and promote propagation activities, with the youth at the forefront.”
In response to Ikeda Sensei’s call, disciples from around the world have taken concrete steps to build dynamic network as mentioned in Ikeda Sensei’s New Year message this year. For example, we are encouraged and inspired by the way Taiwan Soka Association (TSA) run their discussion meeting this year. Allow us to share their discussion meeting agenda for February / March:
All these take place within a meeting which lasts no more than one and half hours. The fact that one third of a total discussion meeting time is devoted to youth clearly shows TSA’s alignment to SGI theme this year. The agenda enables the youth leaders and members to be involved and engaged at discussion meetings and to be filled with youthful spirit. The youths are clearly at the forefront in the discussion meetings. Such thoughtful planning and implementation will not have been possible without the directions from the top leaders of the organisation.
What about Singapore? Those of us who attend discussion meetings regularly all these years can memorise the familiar format:
Why is it that we can memorise the agenda? Because it has not been changed all these years! What is the proportion of time spent on youth- related matters? It is almost non-existent! With such predictable agenda which lacks vitality, it is not surprising that even the leaders themselves do not sound or look excited, let alone the members. No wonder we rarely see youths (and even youth leaders) attend discussion meetings. We hesitate to bring new friends to discussion meetings because we are not confident of the quality of discussion meetings. For those of us who brought new friends, they only came once and subsequently declined further invitations.
To be fair, frontline leaders do try to inject new ideas to energise the discussion meetings. However, unless this is part of a national effort, it will not have a huge impact on the ground. What is clearly lacking is the direction from the top leaders of the organisation to plan and align themselves with the direction of the SGI theme of the year! They think that the ground can move by itself!
This brings to mind the following passage from the introduction chapter of “Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra”. In it, Ikeda Sensei explained, “The essence of ‘This is what I heard’ is the oneness of mentor and disciple, and that is the quintessence of the transmission of Buddhism. The drama of the oneness of mentor and disciple, in which there is a mutual resonance and response between the Buddha's wish to save all living things and the resolve of the disciple who seeks to embody and propagate the Buddha's teaching, is epitomised in this expression, "This is what I heard ... "
In other words, the spirit of the Lotus Sutra, from beginning to end, is that of the oneness of mentor and disciple. It is as clear as day that the first three presidents of Soka Gakkai practised “This is what I heard” with their lives. While the top leadership of TSA is also truly practising “This is what I heard” through their actions, the same cannot be said of SSA top leaders. The million dollar question is: Why are SSA top leaders “hearing” it differently?
Another related issue is the growing (but not new) concern in SSA that there is not enough youth to take on district leadership. To “resolve” this issue, we learnt of the recent organisation expansion plans in SSA. One key part in the expansion plan is the formation of new districts. We are struck by one particular criterion on the leadership make-up. We understand that in forming a new district, there must be both Men Division and Women Division district leaders present. But for the youth division, it states that it is only necessary to have at least one leader or student helper from either Young Men Division or Young Women Division. In other words, a new district can be formed as long as we have the following minimum leadership make-up:
This new district formation criteria reminded us of the following guidance given by Ikeda Sensei in 1989 at the 20th Headquarters Leaders’ meeting. He said, “...In brief, a major factor contributing to the Portuguese decline was the fact that its rapid expansion had outstripped the country’s ability to sustain it. … This was true of Spain. Though one of the two world naval powers along with Portugal, Spain lacked the basic national strength to use its hard-won riches to develop the nation’s capital base. Both Portugal and Spain lacked the fundamental strength to maintain and expand on their prosperity; the greater the sphere of their activities grew, the more difficult they became for the countries to support. As their problems multiplied, the very foundation on which the nation stood were shaken, and their prosperity began to crumble. “
Ikeda Sensei warned, “This is a significant point that must be seriously taken into account by any group – whether a country or organisation.” He continued, “I believe that in order to take another great step forward, we now must once again focus on solidifying the foundation on which we stand and thus build our internal strength. Organisational adjustments should be made, as necessary, and we should exert ourselves to the utmost to foster and train capable people. Unless we proceed in this manner, the Soka Gakkai will not be able to fulfil its mission of securing and expanding the uninterrupted flow of kosen-rufu, which is the will of Nichiren Daishonin.”
He cautioned, “Therefore, no hasty development of the organisation should be attempted at the present time. We need to exercise patience, and above all concentrate on raising capable people.”
If raising capable people is the pre-requisite to expand new districts, isn’t SSA being too hasty in this regard?
The first issue is that the responsibility of student helper is not clearly defined. Student helpers being students, they may not be as committed as district leaders as they are not appointed leaders. During examination periods, we cannot fault them for not attending discussion meetings, let alone attending planning sessions. Furthermore, Student Division already have its own monthly activities. Are we overloading them with too much expectation and responsibilities? The more active student members may be overstretched in the process and run away instead. This is the last thing we want to see. It is one thing putting names on paper to fulfil the criteria so that new districts can be formed and quite another in expecting student helpers to replace district leaders. This is surely not the way to raise capable people.
Have the top leaders considered the feelings of the adult division district leaders when the Youth Division is hardly present? Are we resolving the issue or creating more problems?
This district expansion plan and enforcement will only delay or sweep under the carpet the real issue: the lack of serious efforts to foster the youths and the failure in the propagation efforts in the organisation organised by the top leaders of the Youth Division in recent years.
Secondly, this leadership make-up criteria shows SSA top leaders’ tacit acknowledgement that SSA Youth Division is not able to develop sufficient youth frontline leaders to cope with the expansion plans. Instead of first addressing the problem head on, it seems that the top leaders are side-stepping the issue. At a deeper level, this criteria is also sending a signal that district expansion plans will continue even though there is a lack of the ready Youth Division frontline leaders. One could not help but wonder: why is there a need to rush ahead with forming new districts? Why is there a need to form new districts when only the adult divisions are ready? SSA seems to be willing to accept a weakened Youth Division frontline leader composition.
This enforcement criteria only serves to make the adult top leaders look good. Put it simply, the adult division seems to be telling the Youth Division that “WE WILL NOT WAIT FOR YOU.” Rather than displaying the spirit of unity of the four divisions, this expansion plan very clearly implies that the adult division is forsaking the Youth Division. It is quite interesting that this comes at a time soon after the longest serving ex-youth chief of SSA was appointed as the new MD chief.
How is this criteria “encouraging and supporting our young successors”?
In what way is this criteria “leading to further dynamic expansion of our network of youthful global citizens”?
How is this criteria putting youth at the forefront?
This enforcement criteria looks more like repeating the mistakes of Portugal and Spain as mentioned above. Without a doubt, the expansion plans of SSA runs counter to SGI Theme of “Year of Developing Youth in the new era of World-wide kosen-rufu” and deviates from the directions of Ikeda Sensei!
SSA top leadership still has a long way to go from practicing “This is what I heard”. Don’t they realise that ultimately, it is the ground and frontline leaders who suffer? In fact, given a choice, many district leaders may not want to split the districts. Could this criteria be a plot by top leaders to “force” the districts to split?
As long as SSA continues to sweep real issues under the carpet and refuse to pour energy to resolve them head on, problems will only get worse. Instead of focusing only on paper expansion and making things look good on the surface, SSA should humbly learn from TSA practice of having a nation-wide, youth-focused agenda in discussion meetings for a start. It is an excellent example to “foster our successors in the youth division and promote propagation activities, with the youth at the forefront”.
The basis of a genuine district expansion should be based on the organic growth of membership in the district. The way to achieve this growth of membership is none other than through concrete propagation efforts and results. Genuine district expansion and genuine growth of membership must go hand in hand. Otherwise, all of these are just bubbles, waiting to be burst.
In October 12, 1279, Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon for the sake of mankind and in October 2, 1960, the third President of Soka Gakkai, Ikeda Sensei began his overseas kosen-rufu movement which would last for more than 35 years. Both events, though occurred almost 600 years apart have one thing in common: the clear evidence of the great victory of the propagation movement which preceded them.
We all knew that Nichiren Daishonin was moved to inscribe the Dai-Gohonzon because he had witnessed the growing conviction amongst the lay believers in protecting the Mystic Law, even at the cost of their lives, as exemplified by the three martyrs in the well-known Atsuhara Persecution. The reason for the surge in the number of lay believers at that time was due to the serious all-out propagation efforts led by the Daishonin’s genuine disciple, Nikko Shonin. We can even say that Nikko Shonin brought about the time for the Dai-Gohonzon to be inscribed.
Fast forward to the 20th century, the key battles led and won by Ikeda Sensei at Kamata Chapter in 1952, Osaka in 1956 as well as Yamaguchi in late 1956 to early 1957 gave hope and impetus to the 750,000 household membership goal set by Toda Sensei in 1951. It could be said that it was not until these key battles were won that this goal became believable. In fact, this monumental goal was achieved earlier than expected. If disciples such as Nikko Shonin and Ikeda Sensei had not engraved their mentors’ guidances in their heart, shared their mentors’ goal and staked their lives to win these victories, kosen-rufu would have been delayed. Many more members would not have encountered Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism and changed their lives.
Outside Japan, genuine disciples have emerged. Mr Zhu Wanli was one such individual, of whom we mentioned in the last two editorials. Fellow SGI organisations of Brazil and Korea have demonstrated tremendous advancement in propagation in recent years as well. More recently, Bharat Soka Gakkai of India inspired us with the astounding achievement of 111,111 households from 50,000 in a mere eleven months! Taking the lead in this breakthrough are the members from Mumbai which has earned the nickname “Kansai of India”. We can feel the strong resolve, the iron-clad unity, excitement, energy and joy exuding from the four division members when they talked about the 100,000 membership campaign in a video shared at discussion meetings this year. The top leaders of India no doubt used 11,111 memberships achieved by Ikeda Sensei in Osaka, Kansai in 1956 as an inspiration and galvanised the members to join them in this campaign to change their lives. We can sense the oneness of Mentor and Disciple pulsating in the organisation. This vow to achieve the goal of 100,000 membership was shared amongst all the members throughout the organisation. Everyone wanted to follow the footsteps of Ikeda Sensei and to achieve this victory for Ikeda Sensei in order to reassure him that true disciples and Bodhisattvas of the Earth have emerged in India. Similar to what Ikeda Sensei has achieved in the Osaka Campaign, the target was achieved earlier than expected. In this way, they truly exemplified what genuine disciples in the second act of kosen-rufu should do and behave.
The last time such a sense of excitement and energy which were evident among SSA members was more than 10 years ago when 1,111 Gohonzon conferment was achieved in 2005. There was a similar itai-doshin spirit and determination pervading the organisation. This excitement has since sadly and mysteriously dissipated. We have been talking about achieving the 50,000 membership target for many years. Instead of emulating Soka Gakkai’s proud tradition of achieving any target set earlier than expected, SSA now has developed the unenviable habit of delaying the deadline of meeting targets again and again. If memory has not failed us, the target of 50,000 membership was originally set to be achieved in 2010 and this has since been postponed for seven years till 2017. The top leadership tried to justify the delay in different ways through the years. We can’t help but start wondering if the current top leaders of SSA share the same vow of attaining the noble goal of kosen-rufu as Ikeda Sensei.
In the March editorial this year, we mentioned that Young Men Division of SSA launched the ‘11,11’ campaign. The latest we know is that there were only 30 odd YMDs Gohonzon recipients as of October. This figure is embarrassingly dismal! Where is the vow and resolve in the YMD? How is this result supporting the 50,000 membership target of the organisation?
Another pertinent question springs to mind: What is the current total membership of SSA? How far are we from this target of 50,000? No one seems to be sure, not even the staff. In 2010 organisation annual report, it was reported that there were about 35,000 active membership. In 2013, it increased to 38,000 and a year later in 2014, it became 32,000. Recently, it was announced that it is about 33,000. It is puzzling that the membership could fluctuate as much as a few thousands in a year.
On the other hand, when the total attendance in monthly discussion meetings has been averaging between 13,000 to 14,000, how do we account for the difference of about 20,000? Do we consider this 20,000 members active? We also know that believers and new friends are included in the monthly discussion meeting attendance figures. This means that the average number of members attending monthly discussion meetings are very likely to be below 13,000. Will SSA eventually resort to include Soka Network to achieve their 50,000 membership target?
Although it has been the practice to register all believers using the Believer Registration Form all these years, there was a renewed push to get believers and Soka Network to register themselves this year. The district leaders have always been diligently updating the Tokang (District membership) list annually. However, the list which is returned to them from HQ each year will always include names of members whom they have deleted the year before. We can empathise with many of these Men Division frontline leaders who lamented that the updating exercise has become a waste of time. We understand that some of the members whose names have been deleted might have passed on or have become uncontactable. If this list of deceased members and uncontactable members are still in the database, is SSA also counting them in the 50,000 membership? Without clarity on this and together with the stuttering propagation campaign, we seriously question how SSA is monitoring the progress of the 50,000 target.
After speaking to a number of members and leaders of different divisions, it is quite evident that an overwhelming sense of lethargy has set in within the organisation in this 50,000 membership campaign, in the midst of a protracted period of poor results.
Ten years ago, Ikeda Sensei warned in his guidance given at the HQ leaders meeting in November 2006, “Though a mentor may have many disciples, it is a sad and lamentable situation if none of them actually embraces the same spirit as their mentor or are willing to share their mentor’s sufferings and joys. This is not the way of mentor and disciple of the Soka Gakkai.”
Has the above warning rung true for SSA senior leaders? When the frontline leaders are not inspired to take serious actions in propagation, the top leaders must surely shoulder most of the blame. Are the top leaders themselves leading with conviction at all? What exactly are the priorities and ichinen of the top leaders? It is quite clear by now that they are deviating from the winning formula which Ikeda Sensei has shared in a number of books written on propagation campaigns. Why do they choose not to practise the winning formula? What is holding them back? The other SGI countries are showing results by employing the same winning strategies of setting clear prayers, conducting one to one dialogues and studying the gosho with the members. As Bharat Soka Gakkai's example has shown, we just need to do exactly what Ikeda Sensei has done.
Toda Sensei sternly warns, “No matter what happens, I will win without fail. The most important thing is kosen-rufu, the Daishonin’s mandate; it mustn’t be delayed for even a day!”
[Awakening to the Profound Mission of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, Nov 2006]
If Toda Sensei were to be alive, the SSA top leaders would surely receive a severe rebuke from him. Failure to arouse the joy of propagation amongst the members is equivalent to robbing the local members’ of opportunities to repay debts of gratitude and accumulate good fortune in their lives. Genuine disciples in the second act of kosen-rufu should report victories to reassure Ikeda Sensei, instead of giving him more worries!
It seems that at the moment, the top SSA leaders have been so busy sharing the victories of USA, Brazil and India to the point of forgetting to create victory of our own or worse still, is it possible that they are busy sharing the victories of others precisely because there are no local victories to share?
The 3 Founding Presidents will be addressed as 'Sensei'
In the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, Soka Gakkai held its 72nd General Affair Committee Conference on 4 Nov 2016 at Soka Bunka Centre in Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku.
Ikeda Sensei once shared in his guidance that every Buddhist principle has already been imparted to his disciples. Following that, is what the disciples have to carry out on their own initiative.
In the aforementioned conference, Ikeda Sensei’s direct disciple President Minoru Harada made a proposal for the revision of ‘Soka Gakkai Constitution’ and was approved by all participants attended.
Firstly, this revision included a guidance from Toda Sensei in the introductory statement stating that in future Buddhist scriptures, the Soka Gakkai would be referred to as ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha’ from the fact that Soka Gakkai is the only orthodox organization that accords with Buddha’s intent and decree to realize the worldwide kosen-rufu.
Toda Sensei’s guidance states:
Being the true Buddhist samgha (harmonious community of believers) organization that is directly connected to the Daishonin to accomplish kosen-rufu, the Soka Gakkai is the Buddha per se and will be known as ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha’ in future Buddhist scriptures.
Based on this guidance, Ikeda Sensei indicated that Soka Gakkai per se is the ‘existence of Buddha’. He further stressed that it is none other than the Soka Gakkai that acts in accordance with the original Buddha’s immense compassion for the widespread of the great law in the raging saha world and it is the reason for Toda Sensei to declare the ‘Soka Gakkai Buddha’.
It is truly a clear declaration of Soka Gakkai’s religious uniqueness and its significant appearance as true Buddhist samgha (harmonious community of believers) organization. The new resolution was intended for the posterity of future Buddhist gathering.
In addition to the aforementioned constitution, the ‘3 Founding Presidents’ was to be specified as the ‘Eternal Mentors of Kosen-rufu’ and the title of the ‘3 Founding Presidents’ was newly specified as ‘Sensei’.
In line with the direction of Soka Gakkai in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, Hosshaku Kempon website will adopt the title of ‘Sensei’ for the ‘Eternal Mentors of Kosen-rufu’, from this moment onwards in our articles and reports.