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. ▼

What Can I Expect from Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo?

Obstacles! I will find a way around you no matter what!
Please be aware that Daisaku Ikeda, would not normally every quantify Daimoku. I believe that this quote was given to someone in private, and was never really ment to be shared. However, I do get the sentiment behind it. It is'nt about quantity, it is about the faith to continue. It is easy to begin, its much harder to continue along this path. 

Chant daily and for the rest of your life, to always give thanks and feel the empowerment of your own Buddhahood.

I have removed his name from this quote, as it is believed to be unverified. 

"What should I expect from chanting daimoku?''

When you chant 1hour of daimoku, you will see changes in yourself.
When you chant 2hours of daimoku, you will see changes in other people.
When you chant 3hours of daimoku, you will see changes in your environment.
When you chant 5hours of daimoku, you will experience miracles in your life.
When you chant one million daimoku, you can feel your fortune.
When you chant 7million daimoku, your foundation as human being will change.
When you chant 20million daimoku, even though you try to escape from it, fortune will continue to follow you.
When you chant 70million daimoku, you can become the king of faith.

... source: Unverified.

Become the Master of Your Mind!

Sensei's (Japanese for Teacher) Guidance and Encouragement...

It may seem perfectly all right to put ourselves and our own wishes first, to simply follow the dictates of our emotions and cravings, but the truth is that there is nothing more unreliable than our own mind.

Life doesn't always go like clockwork and things will not necessarily turn out as we hope or plan.

Consequently, Nichiren Daishonin frequently stressed:

"You should become the master of your mind, not let your mind master you."

We mustn't allow ourselves to be ruled by a self-centered mind.

Rather, we have to discipline our mind and gain mastery over it.

This is the Daishonin's strict admonition.

Come On Obstacles! I've Been Expecting You!

Sensei's Guidance and Encouragement...

Whether we regard difficulties in life as misfortunes or whether we view them as good fortune depends entirely on how much we have forged our inner determination.

It all depends on our attitude or inner state of life.

With a dauntless spirit, we can lead a cheerful and thoroughly enjoyable life.

We can develop a "self" of such fortitude that we can look forward to life's trials and tribulations with a sense of profound elation and joy: "Come on obstacles! I've been expecting you! This is the chance that I've been waiting for!"

Daily Encouragement by Daisaku Ikeda
Tuesday, October 27, 1942:

Monday, 7 March 2011

You are unique!

When you hold fast to your beliefs and live true to yourself, your true value as a human being shines through. Buddhism teaches the concept of "realizing your inherent potential." In other words manifesting your true entity, your innate self, revealing it and bringing it to shine, illuminating all around you. It refers to your most refined individuality and uniqueness.
- Disaku Ikeda

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Stardust, that's what we are.

Look in the mirror.

You and me we are the same.

Dance till your problems leave the
room and sing till your voice chases
away the fear.

Look in the mirror.

Do you see what I see? I see more of you
then you see.

Look again, can you see it?

Sing again, dance harder, run faster.

Can you see it yet?

Stardust, and sound that's what we are.

You and me. We are the same.

Look in the mirror. Can u see what I see?

When you see it you'll be free.

- Robbie

Saturday, 5 March 2011


How many years can some people exist,
before they're allowed to be free?
And how many times can a man turn his head,
and pretend that he just doesn't see?

The answer my friend is living in your heart

Daily Guidance from Jason Swindle


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