The YMD Chief apparently drew the above pictorial representation at the launch in November 2015 and explained that four 1s in the 1111 campaign refer to 1 Mentor, 1 Disciple, 1 Junior and 1 New Friend. The upward lip drawn is supposed to symbolise a happy campaign.
This representation alone reflects clearly the inner world and ichinen of the person who is supposed to be the general among generals. It raises many questions. How is this modelled after the way our eternal mentors set targets in propagation campaigns? What is meant by a “happy” campaign? Can such kind of message galvanise the leaders who attended the meeting to rise up and fight?
Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda set a propagation target of 750, 000 households in 1951 to secure the foundation of kosen-rufu in Japan. In response, the young President Ikeda launched the Kamata Chapter Campaign in 1952 by setting a goal of 200 new households in February to commemorate the births of Nichiren Daishonin and President Toda, as well as to repay debts of gratitude to them.
Setting a target should be a solemn affair. As a disciple of President Toda, young Ikeda was always thinking of what he could do to achieve the target set by his mentor, whether in Kamata Chapter, Osaka or Yamaguchi campaigns. What is starkly absent from that YMD meeting is to explain how the achievement of this 1111 campaign can contribute to the organisational target of 50,000. Not explaining this significance is to deprive the ground of hope and reasons to fight!
Are the SSA top YMD leaders fighting in one mind with Sensei?
As to the meaning of a ‘happy’ campaign, it is clear from the numerous campaigns fought by President Ikeda that happiness is derived from the joy of making personal breakthroughs and victories. The personal anecdotes of members and leaders revealed that they experienced joy through convincing another person to take up faith via his or her personal conviction in the power of the Gohonzon that their lives will be changed. True joy also emerged from the kind of personal victories they achieved in the midst of the campaign or even after the campaign.
A campaign is a life’s battle. It goes against the spirit of campaign when we try too hard to sugar-coat it from the start and naively think that it can be stress free or happily accomplished. By so doing is misleading the ground. What the ground ultimately needs is the top leaders’ ground-shaking lion roar to inspire them to fight. We need not look too far to get ideas on how victories can be achieved. In fact, a formula has been established by President Ikeda.
What are the common elements of the campaigns Mr Ikeda fought and won as a youth?
In the Kamata Campaign, the young Ikeda mentioned that the first step in any challenge is to set clear goals. The young Ikeda resolved to make Chapter Chief Koizumi the best chapter leader in Japan. He said, “We should not conclude that something is impossible even before we embark on it. Why don’t we give it a try first?”
Is there such a determination or resolve among the current top SSA YMD Leaders?
The second step is to begin with earnest and profound prayers. In one occasion, the Kamata Chapter WD chief personally saw the seriousness of young Ikeda’s attitude in reporting the day’s struggle to the Gohonzon from his posture and sonorous chanting of daimoku and reciting of gongyo. She finally understood what it means to “be on the battleground every moment”, with an unrelenting determination to score a victory.
In the Osaka Campaign, young Ikeda quoted from the Gosho to encourage the ground, “Praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood or to obtain water from parched ground.” He then added, “If we have absolute conviction in the Gohonzon, no prayers will go unanswered.”
How many SSA top YMD leaders are role modelling these basic practices and strong conviction to the Gohonzon?
Thirdly, it is to use the best strategy and most effective action. Whether it was Kamata chapter or Kansai, young Ikeda strove to “visit everyone in every corner” and give guidance to each member. Through such meet-ups, many people renewed their determination to introduce friends to Buddhism. These friends, in turn, brought along new friends to discuss on the greatness of this Buddhism. After each visit, young Ikeda followed up by sending members with letters of encouragement. A wave was thus created. Another aspect of effective action is to practise swift and accurate reporting. This allows Sensei to be aware and take quick follow up action.
Are the actions taken by the YMD so far been effective? Are there enough face-to-face and heart-to-heart dialogue? What has been observed instead are merely tonnes of text messages flying around through group whatsapp. Do the YMD top leaders believe even for a moment that the ground will move by itself through such means?
Fourthly, it is to establish confidence in faith based on study of the Gosho. Many members witnessed the young Ikeda holding regular Gosho study sessions to deepen their understanding of the practice and this injected hope, confidence and pride in the members.
How often do current SSA Top YMD leaders study with the members and leaders?
Fifthly, the young Ikeda always moved with lightning speed. In contrast, three months have passed since the launch of the campaign. What is the progress so far in Singapore?
Currently, there is a CYCLIST campaign going on. The purpose aims at bond building. Did President Ikeda build bond at the start of he campaign, in the same way it is done now? No! It is in the midst of fighting the campaigns that the eternal bonds of oneness of mentor and disciple and comradeship are forged. Fighting campaigns after building bond is clearly deviated from the success formula mentioned.
We hope that the YMD top leaders have not mistakenly equating building bond to developing iron-clad unity. President Ikeda clearly explained in a number of occasions that true unity means to stand up alone, and not become dependent on each other. If individual members cannot stand alone with a sense of responsibility, there can be no true unity. Only genuine unity leads to victory.
In whatever platform the YMD holds, it should gear towards the 1111 campaign. Instead, the YMD chief is inexplicably focusing on YMD Formation day meeting even though they are already in the month of march.This only confirms that the YMD chief is not serious about the campaign at all!
President Ikeda said, “There is no campaign if there are no capable people and there is no victory if the central figure has no conviction…An organisation depends on the determination of a leader. It is like the top; the top spins when the core is solid. The same is true for the organisation. This is the true aspect of all phenomena.” This is also in accordance of the Gosho passages, “If the lord of the castle is strong, the soldiers are also strong. If the lord of the castle is weak, the soldiers will be cowardly.” (Gosho Zenshu, p979) and “In a battle, soldiers regard the general as their soul.” (WND, p613).
By drawing a smiley and focusing on a happy campaign, it clearly indicates what kind of general the current YMD chief is portraying and the current pathetic state of the YMD force is.
President Ikeda concluded, “If the central figure is cold, the buds will never blossom, the flower will not bloom, there will not be any capable people. Under the leadership of a warm central figure with great tolerance, buds will sprout and flowers will blossom and bear fruits.”
Using whatsapp chats to replace face-to-face meet ups and dialogues is never going to enable “flowers to blossom and buds to sprout”. The significance of 3.16 is about the youth division taking over the baton of kosen-rufu from our eternal mentor and fulfil the shared vows of the mentor and the disciple.
We cannot truly develop a profound state of life if we have to always depend on the mentor. The way of a disciple lies in embracing the mentor’s teaching and struggling with all one’s might as a self-sufficient practitioner. This is the path of a true disciple. (The Heart of the Lotus Sutra, p248)
The crucial point is the determination to inherit, completely, the mentor’s spirit and pray to wage a great struggle to succeed with this spirit.
At a recent Question and Answer session with SGI Vice Study Department Chief Mr Harada, he responded to a question from a local YMD senior leader who asked about the consequence of failing to achieve target set for a campaign in this way, “If the YMD failed to achieve a target set, we are setting a record of defeat.” Indeed the YMD chief has to come to his sense that if the YMD failed to achieve the target of 1111 that he sets, he is leading the YMD to defeat and ruin. If this happens, he not only fails as a YMD chief but also fails as a true disciple of Sensei!
From the above observations, it is quite evident that the current YMD top leaders are far off the mark in their readiness to take over the baton for Singapore kosen-rufu and have a long way to go in inheriting the mentor’s spirit. When will they ever learn? Singapore urgently needs true disciples to emerge!