SGI-USA Men’s Division Monthly Meetings
Suggested study material for November, 2006
The suggested material below is excerpted from SGI President Ikeda’s speech, "The Basis for All Victory," at a representative leaders’ conference commemorating July 3rd, Day of Mentor and Disciple, published in the October 20, 2006 issue of
World Tribune, page 2 and 3.
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We don't always get the results we hope for, and I know many people struggle because of this. But the challenge itself enables us to grow and do our human revolution. And there is no greater joy than when our efforts bear fruit.
Nichiren says, "Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase" (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 386). The benefit gained by those who share the Mystic Law with others is boundless and immeasurable. I hope that you, burning with a mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, will chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together, encourage one another and rejoice together as you plant seeds of hope, victory and happiness in all those you encounter.
Victory is ultimately achieved through faith, determination and unity.
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Exactly 50 years ago today, on July 8, 1956 - a Sunday - I was at the Kansai Headquarters. It was the morning of the decisive battle of the Osaka Campaign, which I had led and through which I had chanted and fought with all my might.
At about 5 a.m., the ringing of the telephone echoed through the quiet headquarters. I immediately sensed that the call was from second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda in Tokyo. Straightening my posture, I lifted the receiver, and then I heard my mentor's voice: "How is the situation in Kansai?" he asked. I replied without a moment's hesitation: "We will win!" It was the immediate response of a disciple.
"Is that so? You will win? You will win for me? I am very, very happy." I can still remember his voice, expressing his joy from the depths of his being. And indeed I won together with my dear fellow members of Kansai. We achieved the impossible.
A genuine mentor shows his disciples the way to victory. Or rather, by living true to the path of mentor and disciple, the ability to win no matter what wells up abundantly from within. At the same time, the Buddhas, bodhisattvas and protective forces of the universe will definitely protect us.
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True disciples struggle resolutely and honor their mentor with their victory. That is the essence of repaying the debt of gratitude to one's mentor.
"Will you win?" "I will!" That exchange that took place between Mr. Toda and me that July morning many years ago symbolizes the profound, united spirit of mentor and disciple, the source of all victory, and I wish to transmit this spirit to all the young men and women who will follow in my footsteps.
In the first poem that appears in his famous work Leaves of Grass, the great American poet Walt Whitman vigorously declared, "The Modern Man I Sing." Leaves of Grass was a favorite book of mine in my youth. Prior to this line, Whitman wrote, "Of life, immense in passion, pulse, and power, /Cheerful, for freest action form 'd under the laws divine." He sang a paean to "the Modern Man," a new kind of individual.
We, too, are now engaged in fostering new individuals to shoulder a new age. No other movement is more admirable or praiseworthy. That is why we ourselves must undergo a rebirth, transforming our lives and stirring a fresh groundswell of advance.
Toward that end, it is important that we foster more new people and expand our alliance for fresh victory.
The path of those who blaze new trails is always fraught with persecution. When Whitman first published his poetry, the critics were harsh. Some even burned his works. One magazine wrote, "Walt Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics." But did the poet let this discourage him? Absolutely not! It only roused his spirits and made him more determined. When attacked, we must fight back; when challenged, we must respond.
A year later, Whitman published the second edition of Leaves of Grass with many new poems added. In "Song of the Open Road," which appeared in the second edition, he wrote, "I will recruit for myself and you as I go..../ Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me." These words resonate with the Soka Gakkai spirit.
Regardless of what anyone might say, we proceed proudly along the "open road" of human happiness that is kosen-rufu. As we joyously continue onward, we increase our circle of friends committed to the same goal and spread our network of good across the globe.
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SUGGESTED DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1. President Ikeda describes the benefits of teaching others to the best of one's ability as boundless and immeasurable. Can you share benefits you have gained from sharing Buddhism with friends and acquaintances?
2. Our own rebirth and transformation is both needed to foster new people, and also is a benefit that results from helping new people into the SGI family. What have you experienced from your efforts to foster and support people starting their Buddhist practice?
3. Having discussed "What the Oneness of Mentor & Disciple Means to Me" at MD meetings, what is your perspective on President Ikeda's statement that the ability to win no matter what wells up from within when one lives true to this path in life?