01 Jul 2019 From the Indigo, An Ever Deeper Blue
SSA General Director’s July 2019 Editorial
The month of July brings to mind many significant dates: July 3 Mentor and Disciple Day—the day when second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda was released from prison in 1945 (Mr Toda and first Soka Gakkai president Mr Makiguchi were arrested as “thought criminals” by the Japanese militarist authorities for refusing to recant their beliefs during World War II) and third Soka Gakkai president Daisaku Ikeda was arrested on false charges 12 years later in 1957, revealing a mystic bond that binds the mentor and disciple; July 11—the formation of the Young Men Division (YMD); and July 19—the formation of the Young Women Division (YWD).
At the occasion of the inauguration of the YMD where 180 YMD members gathered amidst the pouring rain on July 11, 1951, Mr Toda declared, “Kosen-rufu is a mission that I must fulfil without fail. I hope that each of you will be aware of your noble role in this endeavour.” Many of the young men gathered then, though not well-off, were filled with the burning passion to respond to President Toda and achieve kosen-rufu.
At the inauguration of the YWD a week later on July 19, Mr Toda gave the following guidance to the YWD members, “Everyone in the Soka Gakkai’s Young Women Division should become happy down to the last member… You are young women who embrace Nichiren Buddhism. You need not grieve over your destinies any longer. This hinges, however, on the condition that you carry through with pure, strong faith throughout your lives.”
These heartfelt words from the mentor to his youthful disciples 68 years ago, were borne out of his heartfelt wish for each of them to be empowered with hope and conviction and to ensure that a new generation of youthful leaders could shoulder the future of the Soka Gakkai. A year later in 1952, Mr Toda went on to form the Suiko-kai (“Wisdom and Strength” group) and the Kayo-kai (“Flower-Sun” group) to personally train a handful of young men and young women respectively on wide-ranging subjects based on faith. Today, many of these young men and young women trained by Mr Toda are striving at the forefront of the Soka Gakkai as shining models of faith.
Specifically, our third Soka Gakkai president Ikeda who inherited his mentor’s will and actions, was in his fourth year of faith when he attended the inauguration of the YMD. Like Mr Toda, President Ikeda believes in the vast potential of the youth, and have been encouraging them ceaselessly throughout his years of presidency. Having been fostered directly by Mr Toda, President Ikeda has gone on to fulfil all his mentor’s wishes, in particular, spreading Nichiren Buddhism to more than 192 countries and territories today. We have witnessed how a youthful disciple when awakened, can achieve and even surpass what the mentor had envisioned, just as the Chinese Buddhist teacher T’ien-t’ai taught, “from the indigo, an even deeper blue”.
As we commemorate July 3— Mentor and Disciple Day, the formation of the YMD and the YWD, let us once again reaffirm the importance of strengthening the oneness of mentor and disciple spirit in us regardless of our age. It is only when we are able to inherit the mentor’s spirit, as evident in how President Ikeda had done so from Mr Toda, that the true essence of Buddhism can be transmitted down the generations.
In the months ahead, let us continue to upkeep the momentum of SSA’s “Encouragement Months” and engage one more person in Buddhist dialogue! Let us permeate the entire organisation with waves of dialogue and encouragement! In particular, I would like to call out to all our youth, who are now busy with the preparations of this year’s National Day Parade, to forge strong camaraderie with each other, challenge the tasks at hand with a resilient spirit, and strengthen your faith. In the process, you will become the splendid “deeper blue” who can create breakthroughs for kosen-rufu and bring great joy to our mentor. We are counting on you!
Lastly, I would like to dedicate a stanza of the poem President Ikeda presented to SSA during his first visit to Singapore in 1988, to our precious youth:
Young lions who have departed on your journey
To scale the mountain of the new century,
Train yourselves today and again tomorrow.
And while I await the day when you dash ahead,
Running on and on,
Live, as you boldly train yourselves again today!