Sunday, 18 December 2011

Beautiful Buddha Kitty

Our beautiful Buddha kitty. I love her so much!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Marry the night. Face your darkness!

I'm gonna marry the night
I won't give up on my life
I'm a warrior king
Live passionately tonight

I'm gonna marry the dark
Gonna make love to the stark
I'm a soldier to my own emptiness
I am a winner!

Stephanie Germonatta

Monday, 21 November 2011


We are always connected. No matter where you are.

Wondering on a breeze up high.

Life feathers in the wind.

She dances with the power of the mystic law under her feet, a raging burning fire.

Her strength is second to none, her wisdom deeper than the ocean floor.

Alone on the mountain she looks out over the land, seeking the answers to life's big questions.

She is unstoppable.

She is filled with the eternal strength and compassion of the Buddha, innate with in every aspect of her life.

Her name is Nadie Nadine Fontaine.

She is my Buddhist Sister.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

It all begins with you...

Which way? Where should I begin? Do you have the answer?
When we are in a hell state, we are in the lower worlds.

We easily succumb to suffering, illness and negativity of others.
When we chant regularly and believe with all our hearts that we can succeed, we become unstoppable. 

Chanting nam myoho renge kyo is a sure way to build your sense of self.

Life has a funny way of crushing us. We feel like a grain of dust at times, but it's time to stand up, be strong and remove the negative karma, from your family, friends, relationships, and past experiences and choices.

This is a tool which will help you find your self again.

The wonderful thing is, that its all you.

It's all in there already. You dont need a guru. An angel. A retreat. or anyone else. The power to transform the poison in to medicine is in your hands.

Let's begin today.

Monday, 31 October 2011

The angels are coming...

Are you ready?
The angels are coming... the paradigm is shifting... the haze is lifting... the freewill is flowing...the love is growing...the time is nearing...the seas are raging...the fight is ending...the dawn is dawning...the door is closing... your time is coming... the angels are coming... the angels are coming....

You are the angel of your own destiny.

Each one of us are earth angels, bodhisattvas of the earth.

Rise up and bring peace and happiness to the land.


True Happiness comes from within...

True Happiness comes from treasures of the heart.

Relative happiness is happiness that depends on things outside ourselves, such as affluence or social standing.

While the happiness such things bring us is certainly real, it shatters easily when external conditions alter. Absolute happiness, on the other hand, is something we must find within.

It means establishing a state of life in which we are never defeated by difficulties, and where just being alive is a source of great joy.

Space Dust

You and I were forged in the center of a great star!

Round and round we go.

Life dust on the winds of the cosmos.

Strange how our lives bounce, to and forth in the mysteries of time and space.

When we begin to realise that the power of the universe is locked within every single atom in our body, just maybe we might realise how powerful each of us truly are.

Trust in who you are.

Trust in your purpose.

Light the way with love...

Light the way with love.

Fill the Heart with the oil of love.
Place in it the wick of single-pointed mind.
Light it with the Knowledge of Truth and remove the darkness of ignorance around you.

Just as one lamp can light many lamps; let each youth kindle this Light in many hearts.

A Hindi Poem for Diwali.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Up hill struggle!

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
 Keep going!

Why is it so hard to chant when times get tough? Why does it feel like such a huge struggle? - That is because when we chant we are facing our fundamental darkness, our doubts, our fears. We are facing our self. We must chant through the tough times. No matter how difficult it is, we must sit and face our Gohonzon (Our life) and battle through these obstacles. There is nothing you are not capable of. Sit, chant and push through. We can do it together!

NMRK - Bobby

Monday, 29 August 2011

Follow your heart.

Do you follow the crowd? Or do you carve your own path?

Don't follow the crowd.
Follow your heart.
Follow your truth.
Reach out everyday and grab the power innate in your life.

You are a Buddha my friend.

You can transform any poison in to medicine.

You have the wisdom of the Buddha within you.

Take it.



Wednesday, 17 August 2011

What is the point of all this struggling?

Do you ever want to get in to a rocket and just fly away?

It's not about money.
It's not about winning.
It's not about the approval of others.
It's not about fame.

It's not about having the biggest house, or the biggest TV.

It's about living in the moment, and savouring your life, how ever long or short, with deep joy in your heart.

You are better then all of this stuff.

Reach down in to your life and call forth the limitless love and compassion that exists innately in you.

You can have unshakable happiness it lives within your life.

Money is great.
Winning can be a great reward.
Having the approval of your friends and family can feel so so good.
Fame, well... that is a whole different ball of cheese.

What is important is this moment. Right now. Ask your self, "Who am I?" "What do I want?", "What do I want from my life?", "How will I have an impact on the world around me?", "Where am I going?"

Money is not bad, money is not good. Money is neutral. If money is all you worry about, then I think your problem doesn't lie with money, its the fear that is your problem.

I have friends that often say, "I HATE MONEY!!"

I would love it if their small little pile of coins shouted back; "WE HATE YOU TOO!!!"

But it wont, because abundance is something that often comes, when we have already found a deeper happiness.

Now, abundance isnt just about money. It can be food, health, a home to live in. This is a quality of life that all human beings should have and enjoy in their lives on earth.

Sadly this isn't the case for millions of people every day, who have no food or clean water.

The point I am trying to make is one of gratitude. When ever you find your self complaining, look around you and realise how much you really do have.

No matter if you are a rich banker in London, or a young girl living in a shanty town in South Africa.

Each one of us has something to hold on to, some kind of hope.

You may think that its impossible for those in shanty towns in Africa and else where, but I do believe that with deep faith, we can move mountains.

Be you Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish. When we reach deep in to our lives and bring forth a faith, we are able to turn the most horrific situations around and summon the blinding light of our humanity.

Never forget how unique you are as a human being. Each precious moment is your chance to start your life over and be reborn in to a new perfect moment.

Walk away from that violent relationship, quite that job you hate, tell your parents you are gay, stand up to the bully at school... what ever you do, just do something.

At the moment, my life is in deadlock. What I mean by this is that I feel things have stagnated. My friendships have become difficult, my business is suffering, my Buddhist practice has taken a nose dive.

And in this hour of chaos and misfortune, it makes me stop and think. What am I doing? Is this the right direction?

Life has a funny way of showing you signs. It could be illness, it could be a death, it could be sudden loss of money, it could be a broken relationship. What ever it is life has a way of saying, STOP, this needs to be re-thought out.

Where ever you are right now, just remember that your troubles are there for a reason. They are fuel for you, to put in your rocket of life, to help drive you forward. This resistance or fundamental darkness is a natural part of the universe, simply expressing it's self in your life in one way or another.

It's time to stand up, wave your fist and shout at it.


Keep fighting the darkness.

Bobby x

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A Message of hope, in the face of violent riots in London.

What can you do to help improve our society and communities?

Dear  Members, 
I hope you are all well. I am writing to you all to share my thoughts and reflections with regard to the recent conflicts we are currently experiencing in London. I have been reading the 2006 Peace Proposal “A New Era of the People – Forging a Global Network of Robust Individuals” (D. Ikeda 2006).
Sensei at the beginning of the proposal gives an overview of the world wide crisis that we experienced in 2005.  This was an historic year marking the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II. Reading it retrospectively, I was shocked at the extent of natural disasters; tsunami, floods and earthquakes, also; poverty, economic crisis, famine, youth violence, increase in hate crimes in particular to the Muslim community. We all collectively experienced the impact of these conflicts and disasters. What shocked me even more with regard to 2011 is the acceleration of these conflicts and the overwhelming scale in which they keeping reoccurring. 
Sensei clearly states that these issues affect all of us either indirectly or directly and “in no instance can we afford to regard them as unrelated to us” (D. Ikeda, 2006). In the Peace Proposal he draws from the 19th century author Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-81) in his classic book, The House of the Dead in which he chronicles his experiences during his four years of hard labour in Siberia. What he expresses in this work is the sympathy extended by residents of the town in Siberia to the criminals amongst them. What the residents were able to do was to possess a kind of sympathy/empathy that enabled them to imagine the context that the criminals came from.
From this position of empathy and understanding, heart to heart communication was able to open up between the residents and the criminals. Sensei goes on to say, “compare this to the pathology of contemporary society, of which youth crime represents only the proverbial tip of the iceberg; its chief symptom is the near-total absence of empathetic capacity”. As we listen to the radio and the news we are hearing a whole range of explanations as to why the young people have behaved in this way.
What I feel is crucial for us as members of the Soka Gakkai is to be the flag bearers of hope and to be exemplary in dialogue and compassion. Let’s strengthen our districts, the place in which we create peace, and further open up the path of dialogue within our communities and families. In the Peace Proposal, Sensei talks about “unleashing the vitality of ordinary citizens – one by one – [as] the only certain way to bring into sight the horizons of a new civilisation, a new era of the people.”
Over the next days and weeks, as a society, we will be reflecting upon and trying to find an explanation to the events we are currently experiencing. It is crucial for us to remain hopeful and support our communities in trying to keep hope and compassion for our young people, and to encourage us as adults to reflect upon and grapple with the notion of collective responsibility for our young people who are the future.
We have our summer courses this month. I am chanting that our youth division have an outstanding victory in their courses and I am determining to make the district the oasis of hope and compassion, and to work with the youth division to create champion districts in North East London.
Warm regards
Women’s Division HQ leader

Friday, 22 July 2011

The power of the sword...

A sword is useless in the wrong hands.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle? But your faith alone will determine all these things. A sword will be useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith."-- Nichiren

Thursday, 14 July 2011

You are not your body

How vast could your world be?
‎"Know that you are not your body; you are not your relationships; you are not your job title; you are not your dreams. Who you truly are is a great and vast energy, shining brightly with many facets. Like a diamond in the sunshine. Allow this essence to come forth now on earth as you walk your unique journey." - Kay Andrews

Monday, 11 July 2011

"Sunset's haze"

A Summer Haze...

Standing entranced by your heavenly glow
In a karmic instant I know
That you and I will not be apart
At least not if the beat of my heart
Has a say in the joy of today
Has a say in how the future will play
Our hearts ablaze in the sunsets haze
Sensing that we have the key
I swallow my pride and turn to thee

And see in your eyes that there is nothing I need to say...

Keith Daglish 14/6/11

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The wild horses of emotion. For my friend Keith....

Escape from those emotions and set your self free.
Cut through the bullshit and the negative emotion, chant nam myoho renge kyo till the dark clouds part.

Put your hands together and take control of the wild horses of your mind, my friend!

Jump on their backs and ride them up the path of victory to a place there the sky is bright and the sun shines like warm golden beams on your face.

Victory is yours. Take it!


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I want others to change. I am angry at my parents for criticising me and my faith.

Who are you?

Hello Mr.Robbie,

I am very sorry for disturbing you. I found myself being criticized for my faith by my parents and girlfriend, something which makes me feel angry and sometimes I'm facing trouble staying content, thus not following the third precept. Is there any way I can manage to preserve a calm stay of mind and stay unaffected by negative words? I am greatly worried to find myself often wanting to go back to my previous philosophy because of the pressure applied on me for that matter, but on the other hand, as you saw yourself, my philosophy of life and the way things are is more on the Buddhist side. I surely found strength and compassion inside me, but I think I need some help on the anger part...what should I do?

Thank you for your time to read this.

Hello Friend,

Thank you for taking the time to write.

It always touches me deeply when a person writes to me to share their life, so I wanted to thank you and show my gratitude to you.

Together we can win in life. You are never alone. Never forget that.

When it comes to anger, I think the biggest thing to realise is that the reaction in our selves is often a reflection of how we feel about ourselves or our faith. If we feel insecure about our selves and our faith, this means we can easily become defensive, as we feel we are under attack.

However, when a person has a strong sense of identity, or an even stronger faith or high life state, they will not react in an aggressive way to even the most horrific criticism, as their confidence in them selves or their faith is unshakable.

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can not hurt me. This may be a cliché but it rings true always.

No matter what others say about you, the single most important thing is how you feel about yourself and how you feel towards your faith.

Chanting earnest diamoku (nam myoho renge kyo) every day, will help you cut through this illusion.

You parents and your girlfriend should be able to see the changes in you as a person with your diamoku.

Using your prayers to transform your relationships with your parents and your girlfriend.

Often, what we want is for others to change. We raise our fists at these people and shout CHANGE CHANGE, WHY WON'T YOU CHANGE?

However, what you must realise is that you can NEVER get others to change. You are the one that must change.

In your heart a change must occur for this obstacle to pass. The more you chant for the happiness of your self and your family, things will change.

As you change, your environment will respond and so will the people in it.

Always focus on your prayer and your study. Learn more about Buddhist teachings.

Prayer, Faith and Study. These three things are key to cutting through the bullshit/illusion that is all around us.

This illusion comes in many forms but most of the time, it is all in our head.

As we create these strong beliefs, we project outwards and manifest situations, relationships, illnesses etc.

Never forget you have the gift of the Buddha nature, within you.

Limitless amounts of wisdom, courage and strength.

Chant Nam myoho renge kyo and use this to transform you life, let go of your anger and feel love.

Fond wishes

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Never stop asking questions...

Do you have a question your afraid to ask?

The Soka Gakkai is an incredibly noble & beautiful gathering of people united together in a spirit of mutual support & encouragement. But this does not mean we should sit in idle passivity, we should challenge other members & even our leaders with questions & discussion. Never simply accept other peoples beliefs unless u understand them fully & deeply. Always speak out if u do not feel comfortable about something.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Take time for your self and the world

Is it time to STOP and evaluate your life?

A time to stop.
A time to take stock.
A time to find a moment for yourself.
A time to figure out life's problems.
A time to be by yourself.

A time to show the world you care.
A time to be at one with what is right.
A time to release the infinite potential of your humanity.

A time to be human.

A time to let go of anger.
A time to let go of hate.
A time to let go of suffering.

A time to show unmeasurable love and compassion to others.

A time to be a Buddha.


Thursday, 19 May 2011

A lion Heart

Do you have the heart of a lion?

Always remember, you can never please all of the people all of the time. If you have a dream or a passion follow it with all your heart. Never let other people tell you, "You can't do that..."

Follow your dreams and accomplish your own human revolution. Stand up and show the world you have the heart of a lion!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

A Priceless Jewel

Each moment is a jewel.

Faith in your life. Faith in your Family. Faith in your Community. Faith in your Humanity. Together we must build strong faith in our lives, and we must base this faith on the supreme law of the Universe. Each one of us is unique, and each moment is unique.

Never forget that within every passing moment lies a unique new opportunity to start again, like a priceless jewel buried in layers of soil and stone, dig deep and take on the challenge life presents to you.


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Change the things we can....

Life is full of surprises.
Sometimes being right isn't always the best path.

Sometimes simply by being a good person & leading by example is enough.

Cross-words are not always necessary.

I have learned in my short life that arguments and debate can sometimes be wasted words, as well as wasted time. Our lives on this earth are so short and time is so precious, why would you waste it trying to convince someone else you are right and they are wrong?

There are times in our lives when people will disagree with us and it isn't always possible to win these people over, sometimes it is just better to accept the things we can not change and focus on changing our lives for the better.

In my short time practicing the Buddhism of Nichiren Dishonan, I have met many people who have had various opinions on SGI, and chanting Nam myoho renge kyo.

There have been a few people who have had comments, stories, claims about how one person did this, and another person did that.

Each time I ask my self, have I ever experienced any of this? Have I ever experienced these kinds of things? And each time the answer is no.

I practice Nichiren Buddhism and I am part of the SGI, because it has brought great support to my life, it has connected me with a group of people who seem to really care about the future of our world, and about the future happiness of all humanity.

I feel sometimes that many people in this world, spend so much time trying to convience others that they are wrong, that they miss the whole point to why we are alive.

I believe deeply within my heart that we are put on this planet to love and be loved. To dance, and sing, to cry and hurt. We were put here to share life and loose life. To feel love and to loose love.

We chant nam myoho renge kyo every day becuase we want things to be better.

We want our lives to change and transform, and we want happiness for all humanity.

I want to be VERY CLEAR ABOUT THIS.....

This isnt about BEING PART OF A CLUB or BEING BUDDHIST or BEING A MEMBER OF SGI, this is about being a HUMAN BEING.

This is what it is about. About sharing life, about sharing suffering together and supporting the people around us who need it most.

Through chanting Nam myoho renge kyo daily, it gives us the reminder of who and what we are.

We are creators, we are inventors, we are beings of love. Not hate. Or War.

The suffering, the war and the disease we see in our lives are all the forces we are fighting against.

We have to keep fighting and one day, I believe we will win.

So being part of SGI isnt about being in a club, where you HAVE TO CONVINCE other people to join and that you way is the correct way.

Being part of SGI is about doing your human revolution, becoming more then what you were yesterday.

We are not an exclusive club, we are a family of people who believe that the world can be a better place.

We happen to have been blessed with the writings and teachings of many great men (Shakyamuni Buddha, Nichiren Dishion, Josei Toda, Disaku Ikeda, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi etc)

So you see, it doesnt matter what religion you practice and what you believe, if you are part of the SGI or not.

What matters is what is in your heart and what you want for the world, your country, your community, your family and ultimatly for your own life.

One day we will all stand side by side and look back at our difficult past, and realise that it was all part of the growing pains a young race like Humanity had to go through to learn the important lessons of life.

As far as the universe goes, the existance of Humanity is a blink of the eye.

One thing you can be sure of though is that no matter what happens here on Earth, the Universe will go on spinning, the stars will continue to be born and die.

Just realise that your very very short appearance on this cosmic stage is unique, and it should be treasured like a priceless jewel.

The next time you try to convience someone that your path is the correct way, spare a thought for what I have said and simply be.

Be the person you are and maybe through that, if they are so compelled, they might try walk the same path as you.

And should they choose not to, I would hope you would offer them respect and wave goodbye as you part ways on the golden road back to the center of all that is.

Fond wishes

Saturday, 9 April 2011

God, the universe and beyond.... The fundamental expression of life.

Who or what is God to you?

Hello Sir.

I am a young girl. Recently, I discovered that my view of what is God  and my beliefs in general fit more to Buddhism than any other existing religion. (Buddhism and the logic of the life-stream -we are energy that obtains mass through "birth" and has to clean it until it's pure and doesn't suffer the pains of existence but still exists-)

And...this one is very weird...I sat outside and closed my eyes and saw my spirit uniting with the whole universe. I mean, I felt that we are one. One life-force...I know it sounds weird, but it was beautiful. I am unsure whether I should consider making the big change. That's why I turn to you. I seek the truth, i want to know! I want to clean the life-force in me...what should I do?

------------------- ----------------- ----------------- ----------------- ----------------- -----------------

Nice to meet you.

What you describe is indeed a beautiful thing indeed. Nothing weird at all.

God is a concept, an idea if you will.

God is not something you can put in to words or in a box.

Over the centuries the church has done just that, they have taken the idea of God and put it on a box and tried to sell it, or use it to control people, create fear and suppress the potential of human kind.

If you see how big the churches have become, and how much power they have over peoples lives, you can see the proof there.

God is not a man, or a woman, God is not a human being. God has no form.

God is and all that is is God.

In Buddhism we don't believe in the concept of God.

The creative exuberant power of the universe,  this is exactly what "God" is.

God is the power and energy that weaves its self through all existence, through flesh and bone, stone and grass, water and gas.

Godis the creative force that brings cohesion to all that is.

As you look around you, the world you see, seems separate and solid, but it is not.

Everything around you is simply matter expressing itself in different ways; flesh, stone, gas, liquid etc.

And of course all this matter you see is simply energy, re-arranged in different ways.

What you see is your eyes interpreting a field of energy.

Each object gives off a different field and so when you see it, smell it, touch it, taste it, your body is simply interpreting this energy and sending the information back to your brain.

As you walk through your daily life, you interact with the field, and you interpret it with your eyes, your sense of touch, taste, smell and thought.

So in answer to your question, is yes you are correct. We are all connected.

You, me, the table the chairs, the soil, the mountains, the rivers and the streams, the fish and the birds.

Everything you see, is a part of the web of life. We are a part of it.

Buddhism is about becoming aware of your place in this web and being aware of your actions as a living being.

Through every single thought, word and action we create a ripple of change that spirals outward from the microcosm of our lives to the macrocosm of the universe.

So this is the goal of what we are trying to achieve, through the human revolution and individual personal happiness.

As each person finds happiness within them selves, the effect is like a domino.

Everything happens for a reason, the good and the bad.

Through these situations we are able transform our lives, our societies, our world.

If you watch the first video on my profile is explains what the SGI is about and how our movement is changing one life at a time, empowering people to build strong and unshakable happiness.

The path is not easy, it is fraught with struggles, but I believe that through Buddhist principles we can have the lives and world we dream of.

What's wonderful is that the "power" comes from within us... never from outside us.

So when you chant Nam Myoho renge kyo, remember that you are tapping in to the power of the universe. If you want to call it God, you can.

But always remember it begins with you.

Fond wishes,

Checkout a post by  my fellow SGI Nichiren Buddhist David Hare over on his blog - Thanking the spoon

Monday, 4 April 2011

Is SGI a cult?

Follow the white rabbit.


 I have recently have started to go to SGI meeting with my aunt and have enjoyed them greatly. I even thought about officialy joining. I have been asked by people is it a cult well i dont know from my experiences it is completly sincere and doesnt in any way exsploit its members. what is your take on these people and these opinions

Hello Friend,

No SGI is not a cult. However you cant take my word for it, the definition of cult is as follows;

  1. A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
  2. A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.

I think it recent years it has been seen as a bad word, as it is associated with a lot of negativity.

One of the definitions states that it is an exclusive religion.

If that is the definition we are to use then no, it is not.

It is an inclusive religion that does NOT exclude anyone. It is a faith based on humanistic point of view.

It is also a lay organisation which means it is run by everyday people like you and me.

Disaku Ikeda is the president, and you could also call him a spiritual leader, but he is no means "in charge".

When he steps down, as the final president, it will be us the youth that picks up the SGI.

There is a system of "people structure" in the organisation, but they are only there to help support people and run meetings. Nothing More. There is NO authoritative hierarchy.

And you are always ACTIVELY encouraged to challenge others if you disagree with their views. Dialogue is key to our peace movement.

The UN, has called the discussion meetings of SGI, the biggest movement towards peace, currently known on earth.

The practice is founded on daily life, and is focused on individual happiness.

Watch the video on my profile, it explains all. (

You will always meet egotistical people, no matter what faith you are in.

There are some wonderfully loving Christians, but also some really egotistical ones.

The same goes for Buddhism.

As a whole, most people I have had dealings with are lovely, kind, compassionate and loving people. Who all want the world to be a better place.

Thats it. Nothing more. Nothing Less. -- this is my blog, as I dont really get much time to make videos any more.

Just trust your heart and realise that this practice is about building yoru self up and becomng the best human being you can be.

Through our suffering and our earthly desires, we can find our enlightenment, that is the official line haha

There are no laws and rules and dogma.

Only that you MUST consider EVERYTHING; your words, your thoughts and your actions.

These all create causes in your life and will result in an effect (karma)

It really is that simple.

Hope that clears up some of your questions.

Fond wishes

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Reach out and help somebody....

In our darkest hour, as the skies turn black and there seems no hope.

A million voices and hands reach out in to the abyss to pull us from our uncertain fate.

Together we are stronger, even though we endure great calamities in this life, this is a
time to show that we are all truly brothers and sisters.

Our humanity knows no borders, skin color, cast or religion.

We are all the same.

You and me, we can make a difference.

Show your support & help others less fortunate then you today.



The Sunset....

"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists."
— Eckhart Tolle

Sunday, 20 March 2011

I will succeed!

Push through to achieve clarity...
There may be times when life seems gloomy and dull. When we feel stuck in some situation or other, when we are negative toward everything, when we feel lost and bewildered, not sure which way to turn--at such times we must transform our passive mind-set and determine, "I will proceed along this path," "I will pursue my mission today." When we do so a genuine springtime arrives in our hearts, and flowers start to blossom.
Daisaku Ikeda

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

How do we appreciate what we do have when we have never truly suffered?

July 8, 1926 – August 24, 2004
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have a found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."

Elizabeth Kübler Ross

Never be defeated! Have Courage! Have Hope! A letter from Disaku on the Japan earthquake and tsumani disaster 2011.

No. 8182
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SGI President Ikeda’s Message

Never be defeated! Have courage! Have hope!

 Never Be Defeated! Have Courage! Have Hope!

I offer my sincerest condolences to those of you who have been affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunamis that struck northeastern Japan five days ago (March 11, 2011) and have left many people still missing and unaccounted for. I can only imagine the fatigue and exhaustion you must be suffering. My wife and I, along with the members throughout Japan and the world, are sending daimoku to you with all our hearts, earnestly praying for your health and well-being and that all Buddhas and bodhisattvas—the positive forces of the universe—will rigorously protect you.

I wish to deeply thank those of you who are selflessly devoting yourselves to the rescue and relief efforts in the stricken areas. I also truly appreciate those of you who are supporting your communities as solid and reliable pillars during this difficult time. Takuboku Ishikawa (1886–1912), a renowned, youthful poet who hailed from Tohoku, the northeastern region of Japan, declared: “Helping one person is a far greater achievement than becoming the ruler of a country.” I, therefore, express my deepest respect and gratitude to all of you.

Nichiren Daishonin writes that even if we should meet with disasters and calamities, they cannot destroy our hearts (cf. WND-2, 135). Nothing can destroy the treasures of the heart. Every adversity is but a trial for us to overcome so that we can attain eternal happiness. The Daishonin’s Buddhism, our practice of faith in the Mystic Law, enables us to transform all poison into medicine without fail.
I am offering solemn prayers for all your loved ones—family members and friends—who have lost their lives. This disaster is truly heartbreaking. Life, however, is eternal, and through chanting daimoku, we can transcend life and death to connect with the lives of those who have passed away. Your deceased loved ones and friends, who through you share a profound connection with the Mystic Law, will definitely be enfolded in the embrace of the heavenly deities, attain Buddhahood, and be reborn quickly somewhere close to you. This is an essential teaching of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

During the Daishonin’s lifetime as well, what was known as the great earthquake of the Shoka era (August 1257) caused unprecedented damage. Grieved by the pain and suffering of the people and amid great persecutions, the Daishonin embarked on writing his treatise, “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” thereby raising the banner of peace and justice for all humankind. He assures us: “When great evil occurs, great good follows” (WND-1, 1119).

Today, March 16, is the day that my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, entrusted his youthful successors with carrying on the work of kosen-rufu in order to eradicate misery from the face of the earth. Now, let us triumphantly overcome this great disaster by further strengthening our vow for kosen-rufu while wholeheartedly supporting and encouraging each other.

I am fervently praying and calling out to each of you: “Never be defeated! Have courage! Have hope!”

(Translated from the March 16, 2011, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai daily newspaper)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Resilliance is key in this world. We must have strong roots in faith if we are to survive.

Hold on tight life has plenty of curve balls for you!
The true victors in life are those who, enduring repeated challenges and setbacks, have sent the roots of their being to such a depth that nothing can shake them. - Daisaku Ikeda

SGI's Activities - SGI Responds to the disaster in Japan.

Broken Japan

 We are passing on to you the most recent information we have from the Soka Gakkai in Japan, firstly Sensei’s message to all those affected by the earthquake published in the Seikyo Shimbun in Japan on 13th March, and then some information on the relief efforts.

Please pass this on freely to all members

Disaku Ikeda's message

"I offer this expression of heartfelt sympathy and support to all those whose lives have been impacted by the massive earthquake that struck north eastern Japan on March 11, 2011. My wife Kaneko and I are sending powerful daimoku to you, my precious, treasured friends, for you to be able to experience the clear and certain protection of the Buddha and the Buddhist deities. As Nichiren Daishonin declares, 'Myo means to revive, that is, to return to life.' (WND vol.1, p.149) Now is the time to muster the indomitable power of faith and practice, in order to bring forth and make manifest the boundless power of the Buddha and the Law as we together strive to transform this great suffering and trial. Again, I offer my deepest sympathy to all who have been afflicted.”

Soka Gakkai Relief Activities

In response to the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunamis which devastated parts of northern Japan on March 11, the Soka Gakkai central emergency communications centre at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Tokyo is coordinating closely with local emergency centres set up by Soka Gakkai in the prefectures concerned to gather information, contact those in affected areas and initiate relief efforts.

Soka Gakkai members continue to visit accessible areas to check on people's whereabouts and well-being, offering support and helping those in need of shelter find accommodation.

Soka Gakkai community centres throughout the affected region have been opened to provide accommodation and food for the public, including seven in the worst-hit Miyagi prefecture where Sendai city is located.

The Soka Gakkai Tohoku Culture Centre in Sendai is now the regional emergency coordination centre for the organization's relief efforts.

Around 600 people spent the night there on March 11 and from 6:30am on the following morning breakfast prepared by volunteers who worked through the night was served. Snacks and doughnuts were provided for children.

The centre has a large parking lot that has been made available to local fire stations. Twenty fire trucks are now parked there and continue to engage in fighting the fires which are still breaking out.

The Soka Gakkai Headquarters, as well as Soka Gakkai members in Yamagata prefecture and the Shinetsu and Kansai areas, have sent trucks containing relief supplies such as water, blankets, food, stove burners and portable toilets.

Youth members in Yamagata prefecture on the north western coast, which experienced relatively little damage, collected food and beverages including bananas, sausages and tea, as well as nutritional supplements and medicine, and drove trucks carrying these supplies to Sendai, arriving at the Tohoku Culture Centre at around 2am on March 12, after driving for over four hours.

Mr. Akihiko Morishima, regional leader of Soka Gakkai in Miyagi prefecture, commented, "We are so grateful for the encouragement and support we are receiving from throughout Japan and around the world. Now we are working hard to rescue the survivors. Here we pride ourselves on our 'indomitable spirit,' so no matter what the circumstances, we will not be defeated. We are putting all our energy into transforming this terrible situation."

Warm Regards,

Robert Samuels

Friday, 11 March 2011

The impermanence of life.

a fragile biosphere?
The earthquake and tsunami in Japan is another example of how fragile our lives are on this small blue planet.

Most of us go about our daily lives, playing on our iPhones, updating our Facebook, trying to get attention that our ever growing egos crave. We work, we sleep, we eat and we become so oblivious to the impermanence of our lives.

As we sit and daydream our lives away, we forget how precious each moment really is, until the next massive natural disaster hits our planet and in turn, wakes us up a little more to the important things.

When the sea is raging and the skys turn black with storms; stocks, bonds, credit cards, iphones, fast cars, big houses and our money are all meaningless.

In a world where we have become more and more disconnected from each other, events like this serve as a reminder for our need to be connected with each other.

In the social media world, I look at a lot of clips and read a lot of news. I also soak up the comments and opinions and have been rather appalled by what some people have been saying.

Many of the comments range from; God Bless Japan, to Japan is being washed away because Japanese people dont believe in Jesus or God.

How very loving and compassionate of said Christians…. Frankly if Jesus was in the presence of such comments, I do believe he would weep.

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Storms, Disease, Decay are all natural cycles in nature, every thing that is born must die, and every thing we create will eventually decay and fall apart.

It is the natural law of life. The energy locked with in all living things, the energy that sustains its existence is impermanent, it must and will be freed at some point.

We are part of a framework, in-fact, we are the framework. Unfortunately over the last 1000 years or more, we have become so disconnected from who and what we are.

Human beings see them selves as separate from nature, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are nature, we are part of this web. We are the web. But the more we pick at the web and try to re-arrange it, manipulate it, genetically re-engineer it, reshape it, terraform it, farm it, the more we destroy the natural balance.

From a human point of view, earthquakes and tsunamis are tragic, they destroy our homes, our communities and our lives. But from a natural point of view, from the point of view of the earth, its a necessary part of life on earth.

If the tectonic plates didnt move, the earth would be a barren wasteland, devoid of life.

It would have never become the beautiful rich garden of life that is is now.

As the plates crash and churn, they release minerals and life bringing substances to the surface. 

The minerals feed the plants, the plants feed the animals, the smaller animals feed the bigger animals, and the cycle goes around and around.

So without these processes we would not be here right now. And you would most certainly not be sitting there reading this.

The world would be a very different place. Cold, dark and dead.

Cold, Dark ... Dead?

Cherish your life, your family and your friends.

It could all be gone tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A Proposal For Peace - 2011 - Toward a World of Dignity for All: The Triumph of the Creative Life.

Our dreams of peace and a world free of nuclear weapons can
be in our grasp. It is up to us to create this change.
By Disaku Ikeda.  

 Please do Download and read the FULL 2011 Peace Proposal here as a PDF


Our contemporary society is becoming increasingly fragmented as traditional family and community bonds break down. This is closely linked to a failure of communication, a breakdown of language as words become devalued and degraded.

Few have analyzed the vulnerability of language to abuse as incisively as the French philosopher Henri Bergson, who, guided by the axiom primum vivere (first, live!), warned consistently of Western philosophy's tendency to view everything through the lens of abstracted language and logic. Bergson's optimism can supply a catalyzing vision of a hopeful future, helping to redirect the course of modern civilization. This is the aim shared by all those who uphold the ideals of humanism.

The essence of the Buddhist humanism practiced by the members of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) lies in the insistence that human beings strive to exercise their spiritual capacities to the limit, coupled with an unshakable belief in their ability to do this. It is on the basis of this faith in the unlimited creative capacities of human beings that we must address the concrete issues that face our world today. In this, it is vital to ensure that our responses are not overshadowed by the clash of national interests, and the United Nations must play a pivotal role in ensuring this.
To this end, the UN needs to strengthen and solidify its collaborative endeavors with civil society, and in particular with nongovernmental organizations. Where there is an absence of international political leadership, civil society can step in to fill the gap, providing the energy and vision needed to move the world in a new and better direction.

A world free of nuclear weapons
Together, the people of the world should undertake three challenges toward the creation of a world free of nuclear weapons: We should establish the structures through which states possessing nuclear weapons can advance disarmament toward the goal of complete elimination; we should establish the means to prevent all development or modernization of nuclear weapons; and we should establish a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) comprehensively prohibiting them.

We need a fundamental revision of the framework for nuclear disarmament, such that the goal of multilateral negotiations is not confined to arms control but aims toward a clear vision of nuclear weapons abolition.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the regular convening of a UN Security Council Summit on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. These summits should not be limited to the members of the Security Council: participation should also be opened to states that have chosen to relinquish their nuclear weapons or programs, as well as specialists in the field and NGO representatives.

This process should aim toward holding the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Bringing together national leaders as well as representatives of global civil society, this would be a nuclear abolition summit which could mark the effective end of the nuclear era.

Regarding the prohibition and prevention of nuclear weapons development, the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is key. Non-nuclear-weapon states and civil society organizations should work together to encourage those countries that have yet to do so to ratify this treaty. In addition, there could be interlocking agreements on bi- or multi-lateral levels by which groups of states, such as Egypt, Israel and Iran, would mutually commit to ratify the treaty. A similar arrangement based on the Six-Party Talks could be used to move toward the denuclearization of Northeast Asia.

Finally, we must build on recent developments to promote a Nuclear Weapons Convention that will outlaw nuclear weapons. We stand at a watershed moment: we have before us the potential to bring the era of nuclear weapons to an end through a treaty that comprehensively bans them. We must not allow this historic opportunity to pass.

The crucial thing is to arouse the awareness that, as a matter of human conscience, we can never permit the people of any country to fall victim to nuclear weapons. We must each make a personal decision and determination to build a new world free of nuclear weapons.

The accumulated weight of such choices made by individual citizens can be the basis for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. Such a convention could then represent a qualitative transformation from traditional international law--negotiated solely among governments--to a form of law that derives its ultimate authority from the expressed will of the world's peoples.

A culture of human rights
The term "a culture of human rights" was popularized in part through the UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004), and it refers to an ethos that encourages people to take the initiative to respect and protect the full spectrum of human rights and the dignity of life. This UN framework was realized largely through the work of NGOs. At its foundation lies the awareness that, alongside legal guarantees of human rights--and remedies in the event they are violated--it is necessary to foster a culture that prevents violations from occurring in the first place.

It is not because they have been codified into law that human rights have value. The spiritual wellspring that supports the law is found in the struggle to gain and realize our rights, the succession of courageous individuals who take up the challenge of extending and expanding them.

Drafting work continues on a UN declaration on human rights education and training. In order to gain the support of as many states as possible in the UN General Assembly, and to ensure that the declaration is implemented worldwide, the consistent backing of civil society is indispensable. To this end, the development of collaborative relations between the UN and civil society would be assisted by the formation of an international coalition of NGOs for human rights education, and by the creation of a standing specialized UN agency to promote human rights education.

There is also a need to focus on the role of youth in human rights education. The importance of youth in challenging seemingly intractable social realities and creating a new era cannot be overstated. One possibility would be to explore youth initiatives for human rights education on a regional basis, including opportunities for direct exchange. Such exchanges can promote the spirit of recognizing human commonalities and respecting diversity as a source of creativity and vitality.

Finally, dialogue among different faiths can greatly promote the construction of a culture of human rights. It is through real-life daily struggles and challenges that a genuine sensitivity to human rights is inculcated. The foundation for this must be the workings of conscience, a determination to behave at all times and in all situations in a manner that one can proudly affirm. And it is the original mission of religion to encourage the growth and development of such an ethos.

It is only when the norms of human rights are elevated to a personal vow that they become a source of inexhaustible energy for social transformation. The world's religions should conduct dialogue toward the shared goal of constructing a culture of human rights and strive together to foster in people the capacity to take the lead in this endeavor.

When each of us makes our irreplaceable contribution and we develop multiple overlapping networks of solidarity, we can construct a new era founded on respect for the inherent value and dignity of life. Each of the world's seemingly ordinary individuals can be a protagonist in the creation of this new era. Members of the SGI are determined to continue working in solidarity and partnership with those who share our aspirations toward this goal of a new global society of peace and coexistence.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Faith in Revolution - Essential Reading for anyone thinking of joining SGI. (Sokka Gakki)

Taken from Tricycle Article - Winter 2008

DAISAKU IKEDA is President of the Soka Gakkai International, the world’s largest Buddhist lay group and America’s most diverse. In a rare interview, Ikeda speaks to contributing editor Clark Strand about his organization’s remarkable history, its oft-misunderstood practice, and what its members are really chanting for.
Disaku Ikeda - President of SGI. Teacher, Poet.
From Hollywood celebrities to renowned jazz musicians to everyday practitioners around the world, Soka Gakkai Buddhists are best known for their familiar chant, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. What they are chanting is the Japanese title of the Lotus Sutra, which posits that all of us—without exception—can attain enlightenment through faith in its teachings.

The Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society) was founded in 1930 by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi [1871–1944], a Japanese educator whose theories were strongly influenced by the teachings of Nichiren, a 13th-century Buddhist priest who sought to reform Japanese society by bringing its leadership in line with the Lotus Sutra’s teachings. Makiguchi was arrested under the Peace Preservation Act in 1943 by the Japanese government for refusing to consolidate with other Buddhist sects under the banner of State Shinto, effectively challenging the authority of the military government. He died in prison a year later. After the war his disciple Josei Toda [1900–1958] turned the Soka Gakkai into a national phenomenon, increasing its membership dramatically and establishing it as a grassroots social movement that championed peace and the rights of ordinary people. At Toda’s death in 1958, the task of spreading the Soka Gakkai’s Nichiren Buddhist teachings to the international community fell to Toda’s disciple Daisaku Ikeda [b. 1928], who founded the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) on the island of Guam in 1975.

With 12 million members in 192 countries, SGI is the world’s largest Buddhist lay group and the largest, most ethnically diverse Buddhist school in America, where its members gather in 2,600 neighborhood discussion groups and nearly 100 community centers nationwide.

Among Western convert Buddhists, there has always been a sharp division between members of SGI and meditation-oriented students of traditions like Zen, Vipassana, and Vajrayana. Students of the meditation approaches tend to know little, if anything, of SGI. So what is the practice of SGI? What are its teachings, and how do they account for its rapid spread to so many different cultures around the world?

This interview with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, the first granted to any American magazine, was conducted this summer via email by Tricycle contributing editor Clark Strand and translated by Andrew Gebert. It is the culmination of a two-year-long conversation with SGI’s top leadership on the future of Buddhism as it relates to interreligious dialogue and issues of pressing global concern.

Most Americans know little about Nichiren Buddhism, except that its followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the title of the Lotus Sutra. Could you help our readers to understand the role of this core practice in Nichiren Buddhism? Nichiren used the following analogy to explain the daimoku, or “Great Title,” and how it works: “When a caged bird sings, birds who are flying in the sky are thereby summoned and gather around, and when the birds flying in the sky gather around, the bird in the cage strives to get out. When with our mouths we chant the Mystic Law, our Buddha-nature, being summoned, will invariably emerge.”

To chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is to call out the name of the Buddha-nature within us and in all living beings. It is an act of faith in this universal Buddhanature, an act of breaking through the fundamental darkness of life—our inability to acknowledge our true enlightened nature. It is this fundamental darkness, or ignorance, that causes us to experience the cycles of birth and death as suffering. When we call forth and base ourselves on the magnificent enlightened life that exists within each of us without exception, however, even the most fundamental, inescapable sufferings of life and death need not be experienced as pain. Rather, they can be transformed into a life embodying the virtues of eternity, joy, true self, and purity.

On its surface, this seems just like the other singlepractice teachings that came out of Kamakura Japan— like Dogen’s practice of just sitting or Honen’s chanting of the nembutsu. As you note, there are apparent similarities between these practices and Nichiren’s practice of chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra. These can, I believe, be attributed to a shared response, conscious or unconscious, to the particular conditions and challenges of the Kamakura era, a conflict-torn age when Japan was transitioning to a samurai-centered political system.

The Zen practice of just sitting is representative of the kind of jiriki, or “self-power,” practice that makes no appeal to any kind of absolute truth or being beyond oneself. On the other hand, the chanting of nembutsu, relying on and seeking salvation in Amida Buddha, is representative of the tariki, or “otherpower,” approach. Drawing upon the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren declared that it was wiser to avoid leaning too much on either the self-power or the other-power approach. Nichiren’s practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo leads us to discover a power and wisdom that exists within us and at the same time transcends us. It embraces aspects of both the self- and other-power practices.

In a sense, then, you seem to suggest that it represents the best of both worlds.
Yes, and because Nichiren’s approach is both so accessible and so practical, it enables ordinary people to cultivate the vast sources of energy and wisdom they already possess within. It empowers us to live courageously and victoriously amidst the terrible realities of this era of conflict and strife. As such I am confident that it can play a vital role in illuminating the path forward for humanity.

Nichiren Buddhists chant the daimoku to get what they want—a successful career, better health, a good marriage, even world peace. Nevertheless, from a purely traditional point of view, it would seem a violation of basic Buddhist doctrine to chant for the satisfaction of earthly desires rather than striving to overcome them. Isn’t this a contradiction? If you think that the purpose of religion is happiness, there really is no contradiction. The ideal of Mahayana Buddhism is the realization of happiness for oneself and for others. Nowhere is this more completely set out than in the Lotus Sutra, which recognizes the Buddha-nature in all people—women and men, those with formal education and those without. It declares that all people, without regard to their class, origin, personal, cultural, or social background, can attain enlightenment. Our recitation of the title of the Lotus Sutra is a way of renewing our vow to live in accord with this ideal.

Even so, the Buddhist tradition—even the Mahayana tradition—has tended to focus on a monastic approach to enlightenment. Do you see in the Lotus Sutra the suggestion of some kind of populist reform?
The Lotus Sutra does not deny the validity of monastic practice, of people dedicating themselves to their practice in a setting conducive to overcoming deluded impulses and attaining a peaceful state of mind. The problem arises when the practice comes to be seen as an end in itself, rather than a means of entering into the path of wisdom. Nichiren was the first to make the attainment of wisdom through faith a possibility for all people. By following his teachings, it becomes possible to use every occurrence in life—pleasant or painful—as an opportunity for the further development of our innate wisdom. When Nichiren declares that earthly desires lead to enlightenment, he is describing a process by which even ordinary people living in the midst of deluded impulses and earthly desires can manifest their highest wisdom.

I still think a lot of non-Nichiren Buddhists will have a hard time understanding how chanting for earthly desires leads to enlightenment.
Well, to begin with, I think it is important for all Buddhists—even members of the SGI—to understand that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is not some kind of magic formula to be recited to fulfill desires. It is a practice that expresses our faith in the truth and brings our lives into rhythm with that truth. It is a path for overcoming the so-called lesser self that is attached to desires and tormented by deluded impulses. It is a process of training and transforming our lives to be able to manifest our greater self, to bring forth our Buddha-wisdom and the compassionate capacity to realize happiness for ourselves and other people.

In its early days, the Soka Gakkai was despised and laughed at in Japanese society as a gathering of the sick and poor. Josei Toda, my life mentor, took this as a point of pride, however, and declared with confidence: “The true mission of religion is to bring relief to the sick and the poor. That is the purpose of Buddhism. The Soka Gakkai is the ally and friend of the common people, a friend to the unhappy. However much we may be looked down on, we will continue to fight for the sake of such people.” Faced with the devastation of postwar Japan, Toda was convinced that, in the eyes of the Buddha, this was the most noble action.

Moreover, the Lotus Sutra doesn’t deny the value of worldly benefit. By allowing people to start to practice in expectation of such benefit, the teachings of the Lotus Sutra establish a way of life based on faith, and through this faith—developed step by step, starting from wherever we happen to find ourselves in life when we come to the Buddhist path, and with whatever natural human worries or concerns happen to have us in their grip at the time—we enter the path of wisdom. By believing in this sutra that teaches universal enlightenment and by purifying our mind, we are then able to bring our daily actions into harmony with the core spirit of Buddhism. In the Lotus Sutra and the teachings of Nichiren, there is no essential dichotomy between enlightenment and the lives of ordinary beings.

Western scholars have observed that Nichiren was the first Buddhist leader to speak with a truly prophetic voice, insisting that Japanese leaders embrace the dharma and make it a social reality. What inspired Nichiren to take such a bold step, risking his life to assert a Buddhist vision of society in a country where religion had traditionally been expected to support the existing power structure rather than hold it to account? You’re right that in Japan religion has traditionally been expected to support authority. Nichiren’s very different response to power holds a key to understanding his character.

Nichiren felt compassion for the sufferings of the common people and a sense of responsibility for doing something about this. And this empathy and earnest commitment to social transformation are at the very core of all Nichiren’s actions.
Thirteenth-century Kamakura Japan was a terrible time to live. Life was constantly threatened by earthquakes, droughts, and other natural disasters, as well as famine, pestilence, and armed conflict. But neither the political nor the religious authorities of the day were able to see beyond their attachment to their own power and position to take effective action. The result was a pervasive sense of powerlessness and despair among the populace. Nichiren was by nature incapable of turning a blind eye to other people’s pain. So he spoke out, launching a battle of ideas that challenged the existing order.

Daisaku Ikeda and his wife Kaneko
Daisaku Ikeda and his wife, Kaneko [second from left], visiting members of the Soka Gakkai International in Tokyo in 1979. © Seikyo Shimbun

That sounds very risky. It was. But Nichiren understood the risks. In 1260, he presented his treatise, Rissho Ankoku Ron (On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land), to the highest de facto authority of Japan, the retired regent Hojo Tokiyori. He did this because he was convinced that in a feudal society, changing the awareness of those at the top of the pyramid of power was essential. In the years that followed, in spite of persecution and the constant threat of assassination or execution, Nichiren fiercely maintained his independence, insisting on holding those in power to account. He gained many adherents among the common people at this time by teaching them that happiness in this world was indeed possible. But his influence among the downtrodden sectors of society was naturally perceived as a threat by those in power.

Nichiren had clearly foreseen all of this, and his writings record with great frankness the doubts and questions that assailed him early in his career as he pondered whether or not he should speak out. At one point he confessed to a disciple: “I, Nichiren, am the only person in all Japan who understands this. But if I utter so much as a word concerning it, then parents, brothers, and teachers will surely censure me, and the ruler of the nation will take steps against me. On the other hand, I am fully aware that if I do not speak out I will be lacking in compassion.” After a process of intense self-questioning, Nichiren recalled the words of the Lotus Sutra urging that this teaching be spread after the Buddha’s passing, and he made a great vow to transform society and enable all people to live in happiness.

How did the Soka Gakkai take Nichiren’s legacy forward? The Soka Gakkai’s first leaders, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, were both innovative educators dedicated to the reform of educational practices in Japan. Mr. Makiguchi converted to Nichiren Buddhism in 1928, two years before he founded the Soka Gakkai, and Mr. Toda followed him in embracing faith in Buddhism soon after. Like Nichiren, they dedicated themselves to the happiness of ordinary people struggling to live their lives.

During World War II, however, they found themselves facing persecutions when they resisted the currents of Japanese militarist fascism and criticized the state’s use of Shinto to spiritually unite the Japanese people behind the war effort. They were arrested and imprisoned as a result. In 1944, Mr. Makiguchi died in prison from extreme malnutrition. He was 73 at the time of his death. Mr. Toda emerged from prison to rebuild the organization amid the devastation of defeat.

But it wasn’t just the military government that opposed the Soka Gakkai’s message of peace and radical inclusion, correct?
That’s right. During the almost seven centuries since his death, Nichiren’s Buddhism had become desensitized to the interests and concerns of the common people. At times it had even been interpreted as a highly nationalistic teaching. Mr. Makiguchi rediscovered Nichiren Buddhism as a religion dedicated to the happiness of ordinary people. He sought to promote such happiness, starting at the foundations of society, by reforming educational practices in Japan. With time, his goals expanded to include sharing the practice with people from all walks of life as a means of transforming the lives of ordinary people and thus society itself.

Didn’t Nichiren Buddhism also unite behind the war effort, as required by the government, like virtually all other schools of Japanese Buddhism? During Japan’s years of militarist madness, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, with which Makiguchi was associated, gave in to pressure from the political authorities. For example, they agreed to modify or delete passages from the writings of Nichiren that were considered problematic by the authorities. In contrast, Mr. Makiguchi upheld the original intent of Nichiren Buddhism—a humanistic dedication to the happiness of ordinary people—and died in prison as a result.

Josei Toda and Tsunesabaro Makiguchi

Josei Toda [left], the second president of the Soka Gakkai, and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the founding president, ca. 1930. © Seikyo Shimbun

Would you say that the modernist, global-reaching humanism of the postwar Soka Gakkai was born of Makiguchi’s resistance to the war? Yes. Though “inspired by” might be a better way of putting it, because President Makiguchi’s struggle to preserve humanistic values stands as an enduring example for us. It was his disciple Josei Toda who, having survived the prison experience, really defined what can be recognized as “modern Buddhism.” In prison, Mr. Toda read the difficult-to-grasp words of the Lotus Sutra with his very being, gaining the groundbreaking insight that the Buddha is nothing other than life itself. I am personally convinced that this is an insight of profound significance within the larger history of Buddhism. Through his awakening in prison, Mr. Toda developed a universal means of expressing the core message of the Lotus Sutra in a way that made it accessible to contemporary humanity, reviving it as something potently meaningful to daily life in the modern world, regardless of race, religion, or cultural background.

Toda was convinced that the Soka Gakkai was heir to the mission to widely propagate Nichiren Buddhism for realizing a peaceful society, and he made this pledge central to the identity of the organization. Although he himself never traveled outside of Japan, he was deeply concerned about the peace of the world.

In September 1957, just six months before his death, he issued a historic call for the banning of nuclear weapons, which he denounced as an absolute evil threatening humanity’s right to exist. In this way he sought to communicate the Lotus Sutra’s commitment to the sanctity of life and peace to the entire world. I am convinced that Mr. Toda’s efforts greatly contributed to the work of universalizing Nichiren Buddhism.

But it wasn’t Toda who took the Soka Gakkai global. That has been your mission in the founding of the Soka Gakkai International, correct? As the organization’s third president, I have been deeply inspired by my predecessors. I have felt a powerful responsibility to universalize and ensure the long-term flourishing of the teachings. Just weeks before he died in April 1958, Mr. Toda called me to his side and told me that he had dreamed of going to Mexico, that there were people there waiting to learn about Buddhism. In terms of the teachings, I have tried to separate out those elements in the traditional interpretation of Nichiren Buddhism that are more reflective of Japanese cultural and historical contingencies than they are of the underlying message. To this end I have continued to engage in dialogue with a wide range of people around the world in order to refine and universalize the expression of my ideas. Because I am convinced that all cultures and religions are expressions of deep human truths, I have regularly referenced philosophical traditions other than Buddhism, bringing in the ideas and insights of literature, art, science, and medicine, and sharing the inspiring words and insights of thinkers from a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds with people, including the membership of the Soka Gakkai.

I remember that in his book on the Soka Gakkai, the American scholar Richard Seager noted with surprise that there were no traditional Buddhist images or icons visible on the grounds of Soka University’s Japanese or American campuses, though he found statues of Victor Hugo and Walt Whitman. The British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) wrote about religion: “Its principles may be eternal, but the expression of those principles requires continual development.” To me, this is especially true for Buddhism, which is a dynamic life philosophy that responds to people’s unchanging desire for peace and happiness across different historical and cultural settings. This is why dialogue between cultures is so crucial for the development of Buddhism in the next millennium. While staying true to its essence, Buddhism needs to encounter, learn, and evolve. In this sense, I am convinced that the work of rediscovery, purification, and universalization—taken on by the SGI as its core mission— is the very essence of Buddhism.

You have recast the teachings of the Lotus Sutra in terms of a process you call “human revolution.” The first part of that term gives expression to your philosophy of Buddhist humanism. But there’s also revolution. What are some of the more revolutionary aspects of Buddhism as taught by the SGI, and how does religious humanism spark that kind of revolution? Buddhism is inherently revolutionary. I can’t think of anything more radical than enlightenment. It is both a return to our most natural state and a dramatic change. To quote Nichiren, “There is definitely something extraordinary in the ebb and flow of the tide, the rising and setting of the moon, and the way in which summer, autumn, winter, and spring give way to each other. Something uncommon also occurs when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood.”

The expression “human revolution” was made famous by President Toda. It is a way of expressing the idea of enlightenment in contemporary language. In Nichiren Buddhism, enlightenment always impacts society. Through an inner, spiritual transformation individuals can awaken to a genuine sense of the sanctity of life. This counters the disregard and mistrust for life that is at the root of what is wrong in contemporary society. This inner change is thus the basis for realizing both individual happiness and a peaceful society. Again, in Nichiren Buddhism the two are never separate.

In terms of the individual, Mr. Toda explained it this way: “Human revolution isn’t something special or out of the ordinary. It could be as simple as someone who had been lazy and uninspired becoming enthused and committed. Or someone who hadn’t been interested in learning putting themselves into their studies. Or a person who has struggled with poverty becoming more stable and comfortable in their life. Human revolution is a change in a person’s basic orientation in life. And it is the transformation in awareness caused by Buddhist practice that makes that possible.”

Yes. But that’s a very different conception of Buddhahood than most of us are used to. By using the language of “human revolution,” Mr. Toda transformed the idea of Buddhahood, which in Japan and other parts of Asia had come to be understood as pertaining principally to the afterlife, into the clear and profound goal of developing and bringing to fruition our own unique capacity and character while we are alive. I earnestly believe that when people who are making such efforts unite and realize grassroots solidarity on a world scale, we will see the path opened to the realization of a nonviolent global revolution.

At the very end of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha declares, “If you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha.” How do you interpret Shakyamuni’s words? I believe that these words offer a clear guide for Buddhists living in a religiously plural world.

Nichiren states that the eight Chinese characters that translate as “you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha” express his first and highest transmission— the human qualities Shakyamuni hoped most to see in those who practiced the Lotus Sutra in the future after his passing. In other words, the most fundamental thing is our action and behavior as human beings, our ability to care for and treasure a single individual.

There is a chapter of the Lotus Sutra dedicated to Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, who reverentially saluted each person he encountered with the words: “I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparaging and arrogance. Why? Because you are all practicing the bodhisattva way and are certain to attain Buddhahood.” This provides us with a concrete model for our interactions with others as modern Buddhists living in an age of international interconnection and global issues and concerns.

According to the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, the period of time we are living in is called the Latter Day of the Law, an era of conflict and strife when all things tend toward conflict. The only way of resisting and countering the violent tides of such an age is with strong faith in the Buddha-nature of oneself and of others. And the way that this is put into practice is through the respect we can offer others.

We don’t see much of that today in international relations, although there is always hope for the future. Indeed there is, and Buddhism can offer ways to cultivate just that kind of hope. To believe in both oneself and others, and to treat others as one would a Buddha—this is the practice that awakens and calls forth the Buddha-nature that resides within us all. It is here that the practice of straightforward propagation advocated by Nichiren has its true significance. It is precisely because we are able to muster faith in the Buddha-nature of the other person that we can bring forth compassion from within ourselves and, desiring happiness for all, continue an earnest and respect-filled process of dialogue. This is the real spirit of propagation— of spreading Buddhism from one person to another. It first and foremost involves building trust and friendship through respectful, ongoing dialogue.

All people are equally endowed with the inherent capacity to respect others, and this capacity is a source of inexhaustible hope because it embodies a universal truth that transcends the specifics of religious creeds. The respect offered by Buddhists to other people is offered in virtue of their humanity, without regard to their religious belief or creed. Nichiren described this with a poetic metaphor, saying that when we bow to a mirror, the figure in the mirror bows back reverentially at us. This is the true spirit of Buddhism, and yes, it is reason for great hope. ▼


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