May 2007 Study Meeting Material

This month we continue our study of The Human Revolution. The excerpts below come from Volume V, in Book I of the current edition. Suggested discussion questions follow. Please also see the “highlights” reading, also available on the SGI-USA website, with longer excerpts from Volume V. We encourage all Men’s Division members to own and read the complete work, available through your SGI-USA bookstore.
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“Blazing Sun” p. 563
The following is an excerpt from Toda’s inauguration speech as second president of the Soka Gakkai, May 3, 1951

“Today, if we have a mind equal to that of the Buddha and devote ourselves to the cause with sincere love for the world, then the only path we can take is that of propagation, which is the best way to attain personal happiness, the direct path to world peace and the most effective way to bring prosperity to the nation. Therefore, I think propagation is the highest form of Buddhist practice.

“Since propagation is dedicated to the happiness of all human beings and is the Buddhist concept of salvation, it concurs completely with the Buddha’s life-condition. Those who introduce others to this Buddhism should never forget their act is one of mercy. Propagation is neither religious debate nor a mere means to expand the religion. Propagation translates into practicing the mercy of Nichiren Daishonin and allows us to carry on exactly as he did, acting as his representatives. Don’t ever forget this spirit!

“With such determination, I am going to promote great propagation activities courageously. The time is totally ripe. Next year will mark the 700th anniversary since Nichiren Daishonin declared the founding of his Buddhism. When we think of this milestone, has there been any organization like the Soka Gakkai for these seven hundred years? When and where was it? I want you to be proud of this fact.

“I will consecrate my life to the cause of kosen-rufu. In my lifetime, I will convert by my own hand 750,000 families through propagation. Until that time, I hope that the clergy will prepare for that many converts. If my goal should not be attained by the end of my life, you need not hold a funeral for me, but just throw my remains into the sea off Shinagawa, all right?”

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“Dashing Forward” p. 647
In February 1952, Shin’ichi took the lead for propagation in Kamata Chapter, enabling the members to set a record for propagation, introducing 201 households. Inspired by this breakthrough result, members around the country joyfully accelerated their efforts, and over 1000 joined in March.

The dash was not an empty slogan. Having come to a decision, the spirit of the Soka Gakkai is to accomplish it, no matter what. All the campaign’s participants looked satisfied, having accomplished what they had set out to do. The leaders were completely pure and bright. They struggled nobly in the knowledge that they were participating in the festival of the 700th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism as Bodhisattvas of the Earth – both in name and in reality. The flames of their endeavors toward the commemorative anniversary appeared as fires of faith, lighting up the dark skies of the Latter Day.

Toda felt that his leadership for the success of the 700th anniversary ceremony was to be put to its first test: his first trial as president of the Soka Gakkai. Naturally, he poured his full energies into fulfilling his responsibility. The coming anniversary would commemorate the day when, seven centuries before, Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism was founded. It was also a springboard for the peaceful revolution of the attainment of kosen-rufu.

Nothing is stronger than one’s determination in the moment. The immovable resolution of a single person will, in the end, move the world. The inextinguishable fire of Toda’s determination spread among the hearts of his disciples. A new dawn was about to break in the history of Buddhism.

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“Overwhelming Joy” p.602-3
Following a description of the July 1951 general meeting and Toda’s speech, President Ikeda writes this brief paragraph.

Toda’s productive and meaningful activities in his later years – in a short period of seven years – began at that time. Many people may spend as much as fifty years of their lives pursuing habitual and meaningless activities. Toda’s greatest activities were concentrated in the last seven years of his life and created a history worthy of hundreds of years of effort. The value of a person’s life depends not so much on its length, but on its content.

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“Dashing Forward” p. 632
Toda’s explains the proper attitude in offering gongyo at a New Year’s leaders meeting, 1952.

“When offering gongyo to the Gohonzon, you should think of yourself as being seated before Nichiren Daishonin himself. You must never have a casual, careless or sloppy attitude when doing gongyo, nor should you doze off or yawn. Since we are busily engaged in our day-to-day affairs, it is only during gongyo that we can draw the Buddha’s life from within ourselves. Because of this, the ceremony of gongyo is the most solemn and noble time of the day. How could you doze or yawn in the presence of Nichiren Daishonin? Ponder this!

Now mind you, I don’t mean to imply that you should be anxious about formalities. You needn’t pretend to be other than what you are. The Gohonzon is the entity of the true Buddha, free from all pretense and endowed with the three bodies of the Buddha. Furthermore, this Gohonzon possesses the three virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent. At times, you may be happy; at other times, you may suffer. All you need to do is pray to the Gohonzon sincerely and earnestly as you are. Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo resonantly, with a serene mind. Your pure-hearted prayer will definitely be rewarded by the Gohonzon.”

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Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. In his inauguration speech (the first excerpt), Toda shares his view of the spirit of propagation, saying it is an act of mercy that “allows us to carry on exactly as he [Nichiren] did, acting as his representatives.” What is your own feeling about propagating this Buddhism, and how has it changed over the course of your practice?

2. The first two excerpts above talk about Toda’s determination and the impact it had on the entire Soka Gakkai organization. What is your own determination towards kosen-rufu at this moment?

3. The third excerpt, concerning the latter years of Toda’s life, seems especially relevant for men’s division members. How would you assess the value of your life in this regard, and how can you increase that value from today?

4. How is our attitude towards gongyo related to our human revolution?