December 2007 Study Meeting Material

SGI-USA Men’s Division Monthly Meetings
Suggested study material for December, 2007

This material, from Volume XII in Book 2 of the current edition of The Human Revolution, concludes our study program for this year.  Volume XII is over 250 pages long, and covers the last months of President Toda’s life, and the events leading up Daisaku Ikeda’s inauguration as president.  Please see the “highlights” reading, also available on the SGI-USA website, for longer excerpts from Volume XII.  Thank you for your support and participation throughout this year, and special thanks to David Barol, Ken Nakagawa and Marc Sachnoff for all their efforts in preparing this material all year long.  Let’s win through the end of 2007, have a happy and fulfilling holiday season, and a great 2008!

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Cool Breeze, pp 1740-41
Prior to the kickoff meeting for Yubari chapter, the newly appointed chapter leader was initially
 unable to secure an adequate meeting place, and proposed an unacceptable compromise.  
Shin’ichi speaks to him sternly.

 “Are you going to give in and seek the easiest solution simply because you couldn’t get anyone to rent you a place?  You must rent the biggest place in Yubari where the members can gather most easily.  Isn’t this your maiden battle as a chapter leader?  You haven’t been able to secure a single venue because you lack an absolute determination to rent a place, no matter what.  With such an irresolute attitude, you cannot enable your chapter to grow; you cannot defeat negative influences and lead your members to happiness.  If you have a strong determination to really find a meeting place for the sake of kosen-rufu, then you will find a place right away.  And ultimately you can even make that meeting place your own if you really want to.  This is Buddhism.”

…. Unfavorable winds will always blow along the way to kosen-rufu.  But progress toward kosen-rufu begins when just one person stands alone to break through such adversity.  The way to kosen-rufu cannot be forged if the central figure is swayed by circumstances.  If this should happen, the members for whom that person is responsible will lapse into a complacent sort of faith, only following the status quo.  Then not only will kosen-rufu fail to advance, but those members will be unable to develop their state of life or change their karma.

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Sadness, p. 1832
In December, 1957, the Soka Gakkai accomplished Toda’s membership goal of 750,000 households.  Toda reflected deeply on the next step needed, and developed what became the “eternal guidelines” of the Soka Gakkai.  Here, prior to the year-end leaders meeting, he explains to Mr. Konishi the importance of each member developing correct faith.

“It is important to advance with a target in mind,” Toda replied, “but what we need to do now is to solidify our foundation.”

“Oh.  What do you mean by solidifying our foundation?”

“I mean that now it is time for us to clarify and thoroughly affirm just what this practice is for and what each member should strive for in order to develop solid faith.

“It is fine to set a numerical goal, but if everyone feels they are being pressured to propagate this religion for the organization’s sake, then they will lose their sense of joy and their energy to practice.  If that should happen, the members will stop gaining benefit.”
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New Dawn, pp 1965 and 1968
After finally agreeing to become the third president, Shin’ichi reflects on his experiences with his mentor since 1947.  The entire Volume XII and this chapter in particular contain numerous passages concerning the relationship of mentor and disciple, two of which are excerpted here.

It takes a human being to raise and foster another human being.  The mentor and disciple relationship had been a core element of Buddhism from its earliest days.  Buddhist practice has its origins in those who decided on their own accord to embrace the Buddha, Shakyamuni, as their mentor, following him and listening to him preach the Law.  The mentor-disciple relationship of Buddhism is different from any societal system or contract.  It is always based on the free and spontaneous will of the individual, an expression of that person’s seeking spirit.  It has nothing to do with personal gain or self-interest.  It is a spiritual bond of the purest kind, arising from a desire to pursue a life dedicated to the highest truth.  Because of this, the bond of mentor and disciple is as strong and imperishable as a diamond.

Shin’ichi had looked up to Toda as a mentor and earnestly followed him but not because Toda or anyone else had asked him to do so.  It came out of a personal commitment:   He had vowed to become Josei Toda’s disciple because he was convinced that there was no other leader genuinely committed to realizing kosen-rufu or who embodied Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism as Toda did.
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A Buddha is not a fantastic other-worldly being.  Buddhas cannot exist apart from the people.  A person who spreads the Law is an emissary of the Buddha.  And to protect and support such a person is to staunchly protect Buddhism.  That is why Shin’ichi had tenaciously served and protected Toda, his mentor.  And it was through this intense struggle – in which he exerted a hundred million of aeons of effort in each single moment of life – that he had brought his own mission and capability to blossom.  In this way, he had absorbed and embodied Toda’s spirit and was approaching the same state of life his mentor had attained.

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New Dawn, pp. 1968-1969
At the conclusion of his reminiscences, Shin’ichi reflects on the principle of human revolution, as embodied by his mentor.

Josei Toda had enabled countless ordinary people to awaken to their mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.  By accomplishing a Soka Gakkai membership of 750,000 households, he had shown how to actualize the emergence from the earth depicted in the Lotus Sutra of bodhisattvas equal in number to the sands of sixty thousand Ganges.  His achievement amounted to a fulfillment of the Louts Sutra’s prophecy, proof that Toda had directly inherited Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit.

The challenge now awaiting Shin’ichi as Soka Gakkai president and heir to Mr. Toda’s legacy would be actualizing this vision of countless bodhisattvas emerging from the earth throughout the world.  When individuals awaken to their innate mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, it imparts to their lives a deep and essential meaning.  This awareness is the pivot on which human revolution turns – transforming people’s lives, directing them toward the creation of value and enabling them to change the most painful karma into the most wonderful mission.  When individuals strive to fulfill their unique mission, they accomplish a sublime human revolution within, which can ultimately transform the destiny of an entire nation.
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Epilogue, pp 1975 and 1976

In one sense, through writing The Human Revolution I have kept up a day-to-day dialogue with my mentor.  Particularly in writing this twelfth volume, which chronicles President Toda’s life from August 1957 up through his death, there were many times when I, recalling those final days, found myself swept by powerful emotions.  During that period, though he was growing weaker with each passing day, he summoned forth the death-defying energy and mounted his final struggle for kosen-rufu….

…What I feel I must do now is fight on in my mentor’s stead for the sake of world peace and the happiness of humankind, survive and fulfill my mission in this life.  This is the path I must follow as a disciple, to repay my debt of gratitude to my mentor.  It is the path of human revolution that he forged for us.  As I proceed along this lofty and noble path of the Soka Gakkai, President Toda continues to live on in my heart.  I can only pray that he will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all our fellow members.

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Suggested Discussion Questions:

  1. How can we apply President Ikeda’s encouragement concerning a leader’s determination ourselves each day?
  2. While powerfully advancing propagation of Nichiren Buddhism and growing the SGI-USA, how can we ensure that our fellow members never “lose their sense of joy and their energy to practice?”
  3. Based on the excerpts from “New Dawn” and the Epilogue, how is challenging ourselves to practice the oneness of mentor and disciple related to our attaining our own human revolution?