Ikeda Sensei, in his recent guidance teaches:
“The value of our victory also depends on the scale of the challenge we tackle. For a champion bodybuilder to lift a heavy suitcase scarcely counts as a victory. It is only when we push ourselves beyond our limits that our success becomes meaningful to ourselves and respected by others. Living a "safe" existence in which we merely abide by society's rules is to shirk the bigger challenges involved in living in a way which both maximizes our positive, creative influence and actively tackles those forces which cause suffering and abuse.
Whether we are striving for promotion at work or encouraging a friend battling depression, in order to succeed we need courage, perseverance and the spiritual strength to withstand hardship and moments of hopelessness. Nichiren stresses that if we are fainthearted we will surely fail, and we each know how miserable it feels to be defeated by our own weakness or cowardice.
Nichiren's own life provides an example of supreme courage in the face of opposition and persecution, and the Buddhist practice he established can help us clarify our goals and also provide tools with which to reach them.
For Nichiren Buddhists, the greatest good toward which one can strive is spreading a deeper understanding of the limitless potential for courage, wisdom and compassion which exists in every individual's life--the hidden treasures collectively described as Buddhahood.
Through chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" which activates this potential, we can deepen our resolve to achieve our goals and develop the strength necessary to win over any obstacles, internal and external, which might hinder our progress. And as we see evidence of the efficacy of the combination of this strong prayer, determination and action in concrete positive results in our lives, we dare to take on bigger, broader challenges and also inspire others to tackle their problems with renewed hope of success.”
In the words of SGI President Ikeda: "Buddhism concerns itself with winning. When we battle a powerful enemy, either we will triumph or we will be defeated--there is no middle ground. Battling against life's negative functions is an integral part of Buddhism. It is through victory in this struggle that we become Buddhas."
I wonder if the word ‘victory’ now takes on a new meaning under the current General Director. In a recent YMD meeting, he said something to the effect that the YMD has won and he was confident that the YMD has a bright future. Singapore has a big mission and that we are going to succeed Sensei’s vision of becoming the indomitable fortress of world-wide kosen-rufu. He was happy and excited that if we continue with this spirit, the YMD will become an unstoppable force.
Is having a nationwide attendance of below 200 consistently in VA daimokukais indicative that the YMD is having a bright future? I recall that we used to have 500 to 600 YMDs attending VA in just a few years back at TBSC. Has the YMD really pushed ourselves beyond our limit? How does that show that the YMDs have a bright future? I seriously doubt so. At least, my zone chief has never pushed me to do anything beyond my limits for each VA daimokukai. Each daimokukai just felt normal and ordinary. I simply cannot feel the ‘unstoppable force’ that GD Tay bragged with regards to the YMD forces. What evidence then, did the general director see that I did not, which makes him having such confidence in the YMD? To be honest, we have not experienced major victory in the YMD for the last few years. Is it because the YMD has grown so weak that we can’t take strict words and not able to accept reality that we are growing weaker with each passing month?
In the recent meeting commemorating 5.3, it was announced that 13 out of 486 districts achieve the Lion King’s district award. Is the general director really very happy and excited about the outcomes? It was reported as a victory. 13 out of 486 achieving LKD award sounds more like a crushing defeat after we spent three years in this exercise! I felt embarrassed and ashamed of this result. Why are the top leaders declaring this a victory? Why has our standard dropped to such abyss? Is the yardstick for victory changed to ‘as long as you do something, it is a victory.’? If it were really true, then I am very confused because this does not seem to follow what Sensei teaches. Are we in an era of indulging in self-consolation and self-deception? Victory, to me is very clear. Sensei, in all that he did, not only achieved the targets set but exceeded them. This is true of all the shakubuku campaigns he has led. This is true of the 192 countries and territories that Sensei has helped Mr Toda fulfil the shared wish of mentor and disciple. When we are defeated or did not achieve what we set out to achieve, we should have the moral courage to admit it openly and search for the correct way. When we keep declaring victory when there are actually none, we can hardly be calling ourselves genuine disciples of Sensei. In fact, we are lying and deceiving the members!!
Therefore, I do not share the same optimism and enthusiasm as the general director of SSA about the future. Maybe he can read more closely on Sensei’s guidance again and try to understand what constitutes true victory and be stricter to the YMDs when the need arises. His misguided ‘feel good’ words may make the current YMD senior leaders arrogant and worse still, think that they are on the right track.
Which part of Sensei guidance I shared above has the top leadership of SSA put into practice? The short answer: none.
Sensei wrote:” Total commitment is the key to victory. No matter what happens, we must not be daunted; we must not lose, but must ever continue to challenge ourselves and our circumstances. This is what contributes true proof of following a correct path in life. I hope that you will strongly maintain this attitude of thoroughly going belief.”
In this month of May when we commemorate May 3rd which signifies fresh and new departure, I wish to borrow a brilliant quote and that is, a time of great defeat (so far) is a time for serious and honest reflection on the part of the SSA top leadership.